Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Updated: No News. Is that Good News?

I tried taking a gander at the new Texas Tribune media venture since they announced a recent launch via Facebook, Twitter, and they also won't stop calling me.

In any case, I am an FB'er and a Twitterer so I have been reading many messages from and about the Tribune and the new staff. They are doing a lot of hiring these days and their happy employees keep living their fabulous Austin lives (and being all chismosa, too) while the rest of us anticipate the news from the Texas Tribune.

But I can't find the news
. Where is it? If the publication has launched, shouldn't they be working, filing reports and whatnot? And if they are doing that stuff, how do we know it? I guess we can make the whole world "friend" or "follow" Stiles, Ramshaw & Elise Hu, then we'll know that they made open records requests and that they are, indeed, working.

There are links on the Texas Tribune to news stories from other media sources about the Texas Tribune, but there are no actual Texas Tribune news stories to read or view on the website.

And by the way, some people (like Tacho) think that having a 98% white staff is less than representative of the population of Texas. There are lots of people of color in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso, the Rio Grande Valley and the Gulf Coast. I have to wonder if the Texas Tribune plans on covering issues that affect these regions because it is necessary for to have bilingual, multicultural staff to effectively cover the diverse communities of Texas. I know several journalists who would be great additions to any media company. But it seems to me that there isn't much of anything to join just yet.

If there is no news reporting, maybe they are not fully functional. I'm intrigued, I must say, but as a certified news junkie they sound kinda ... not ready. They may need more time, which is completely fine, but why the build-up? Why only news releases about themselves, and why are they asking people for money?

They have this interesting offer on the front page of the website in which they compare themselves to NPR and PBS. So what's the offer? You get the opportunity to become a "Founding Member" of the Texas Tribune for the low, low price of $50. Mkay!

Is Matt Stiles going to put on a bird costume and teach my niece Avery her A-B-C's? Is Emily Ramshaw going to attach herself to the 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team as they head to Iraq later this year? PBS gives us a pretty good bang for their donors' & taxpayers' buck. NPR goes into war zones. We know they do good work. And the reporters at the new Tribune have stellar reputations for their excellent reporting. That's not the issue.

The issue is that there are no issues, yet, so what's in it for us?

That's a fair question, I think.

Update: As Helen Slater said in the Legend of Billy Jean: "Fair is fair!" Below are comments sent to me by Matt Stiles in response to my post:
1. we need time to get the operation up and running, so that's why we're not publishing until november. it takes time to build a web site and buy computers and get the phones working, etc.

2. our staff isn't 98-percent white. our technology director, higinio, is mexican. elise is chinese. others speak spanish. we're not as diverse as i'd like, of course, but consider the reporters in the austin bureau staffs of the major papers in texas. they are ALL white. that's a general journalism problem, not a tribune problem. who are these journalist we should be considering, btw? we'll consider them.

3. we're raising money because we're a non-profit newsroom. that's the point. we want to do public-interest journalism and not worry about advertising revenues declining the way they are at newspapers.
Points well taken. Thanks to Matt for his response.


Campaigning is the type of work that requires incredible sacrifice, discipline and focus. It keeps you away from the people and things you love. It's not easy.

It's hard work being everything to everyone while staying true to your ideals and the fundamentals of the campaign. Sometimes you just have to suck it up, take one (more) for the team, and RSVP to the next damn candidate forum.

I had to prepare for 9 different multi-candidate forums. It wasn't fun. It was predictable, repetitive and obvious that nothing any of the candidates did or said at these forums would sway the election, one way or the other. The main reason we accepted these invitations to appear with opponents at the forums was because the people in each community, neighborhood or organization had legitimate questions that needed answers. Plus, you already said you were going.

The Gene Locke campaign announced early Tuesday that they were canceling on the Houston Press and UH-Downtown sponsored forum after confirming last week that they were still attending. The Annise Parker campaign also announced Tuesday that they were passing on the event. I know that after 40 forums, your time seems better spent elsewhere than at another *blasted* forum. What I don't understand is how you accept the invitation from a university with 12,000 students and a local media outlet weeks in advance and then freaking cancel the DAY BEFORE THE EVENT. The Press had been promoting this event for weeks in their Hair Balls blog and UH-D did the same via Facebook and all around campus.

Richard Connelly handed their asses to them and deservedly so. Anyone who knows this guy understands that was going to happen. Unless you're an out-of-towner.

The planned candidate forum between Gene Locke and Annise Parker at UH-Downtown and their sudden cancellations have Peter Brown smelling like a rose. He doesn't look out-of-touch with young people or the tech-savvy crowd because no one has been tweeting or blogging all day about how Peter Brown sucks for backing out of the candidate forum at the last minute. Meanwhile, Brown's commercials have him riding the airwaves alone. It kind of works in his favor that thousands of college students and Press followers are pissed at his opponents and not Peter Brown.

To Annise Parker's credit, she released a video explanation about her decision not to participate.

Maybe the Locke campaign will do the same.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Lab Rat's fiefdom

Ms. alerted me to the Women in Crime Ink blog and its recent post regarding the murder of Yale grad student Annie Le.

The accused is your typical, undereducated macho male of limited power -- a guy by the name of Raymond Clark. Details surrounding motive are being scrutinized because of comments made by New Haven Police Chief James Lewis:
“I think it’s important to note this is not about urban crime, not about university crime, not about domestic crime — but an issue of workplace violence, which is becoming a growing concern around the country.”
Well, there you go, Yale community. No need to worry about a mad man on the loose, a scary bogeyman, lurking in dark corners or stairwells -- this was simply an *isolated* incidence of "workplace violence." Chief Lewis felt it necessary to announce to the media that he had thoroughly ruled out all other possible motives to keep his investigation from getting too messy and/or political. Why is that?? So he won't have to find out if that Clark guy's obsession over mice cages was a badly disguised character flaw that led to (allegedly) murdering someone who refused to give him the time of day?

The chief shouldn't dismiss evidence before collecting it. I have friends in law enforcement and understand that they really don't like it when the public draws conclusions about a case before they have a chance to investigate it. So what's the difference here? Raymond Clark is a psychopath that looked for opportunities to denigrate women. It's why he made the mice cages his "personal fiefdom" and laid a trap for Annie Le.

Violence against women happens in the home, in public, on TV, in the movies and anywhere the recalcitrant male ego exists, which means it is more than likely it will happen at work, too.

Poor Annie.

She probably just ignored the weirdo as much as she possibly could, and it finally set him off. It's not like she emasculated him by taunting him and calling him Beaker or Willard, like I would have. Annie Le just wanted to do her work, get married, and not think about the loser in the lab.

She deserves justice and the first step is acknowledging this case as one of violence against women.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gene Locke is a good man

He's raised two successful daughters, has an incredibly smart, fantastic wife and has hired women to do the important jobs in his campaign.

I've met some sexists in my time as a political person in Texas, and there are PLENTY of them in the Democratic Party. Gene Locke is not a sexist although it may be politically expedient to call him one.

I am beyond furious at Annie's List because it is just not true. Gene Locke is a stand up guy and I am proud to support him. I'd like to make a suggestion to them - don't piss off your supporters with this kind of hit piece. If Gene Locke had a disdain for women and if your endorsed candidate was doing well in the first place, you wouldn't have to connect the dots for us in your orange and red crayons.

It may be hard to gauge Houston politics from all the way in Austin, but shit doesn't run here the way in does in Austin. In Houston, we generally do not fall in line with the white liberals but instead consider candidates on their merits. There's no such thing as "it's my time" or "it's my turn" in Houston. We work for what we want in this city and the BS stops at the Harris County line.

Annie's List attacks a pro-choice male candidate because they think I don't know better. Spare me.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dead Horse

I'm having flash backs to 9th grade, when my friend Roger Castillo used to scare me with his death metal music. There was this one band, called Dead Horse.

Roger and his crazy Dead Horse music scared the hell out of me. Back in 1988, I listened to Power 104 and 93Q. So when Roger transferred out, he took his Dead Horse music with him and I thought I'd never hear those tunes again.

But here we are in the 2009 Houston political cycle, and some participants in local politics feel the need, for whatever reason, to beat a dead horse when the horse just wants to gallop away to horsie heaven.

Harris County Tejano Democrats love horses and we would like to bury the hatchet (and the poor dead horse) while we all live to campaign another day for our favorite Mayoral candidates.

As chair of the organization, I am honored that our endorsement means so much to candidates. Kinda makes all the long hours and personal resources I spend worth the effort. I respectfully ask that The Annise Parker campaign discontinue from touting the endorsement of Harris County Tejano Democrats. She lost. End of story.

Pobre horse. Let it die.

Shiz Storm

I hate it when people put words in my mouth.

That's why I started this dumb blog, and for about 2 years, I managed to gather about 5 readers.

But for all those who have discovered this, I only blog when I've got something to say. In the meantime, I keep busy with my job, my family, my friends, the Houston Texans and reading all the stuff YOU have to say.

So don't come looking here for a back & forth shit talking extravaganza. I've said what I've had to say. And as a point of clarification, I don't "feud" with anyone. I just kick ass on Election Day and let the returns speak for themselves.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I MUST chime in

The City of Houston is officially in the middle of campaign season. Unlike the other cities in Texas, Houston has the Strong Mayor system, meaning that anyone who wants to be Mayor of Houston must bench press at least 250 lbs. & complete the HFD Physical Agility Course at the Jahnke Training Facility in 3 minutes or better.


But in all seriousness, Houston is the only city in Texas that operates under the strong mayor system. City managers are for sissy cities. Since our elections are held in November, we get the benefit of long, drawn out City Council and Mayoral campaigns that wear us out emotionally and physically just in time for the March Primaries.

Lucky for me, my friend and super cool former boss, District H Council Member Edward Gonzalez, has no opponent in November. I have a new job now and am quite fortunate to leave the city election campaigning and heavy lifting to the candidates and their own operations.

My group, the Harris County Tejano Democrats, has endorsed Gene Locke for Mayor. It was the right thing to do for our community after talking to all 3 major candidates. Tejano Dems received a strong commitment from Gene to renew the black/brown coalition from the 1980's that was formed by Congressman Mickey Leland, Attorney Frumencio Reyes, Jr., candidate Locke and many others who saw the need for the disenfranchised and overlooked to stand together and improve the political conditions of people of color in Houston. With only 2 Latinos on Houston City Council, a coalition of this type is needed now as much as it was 25 years ago.

What we didn't receive, and no, we were never promised, was a plan for a "Hispanic Museum." The Annise Parker campaign and her supporters claim that such a promise is pandering and detrimental to City services:
"Locke's promises of new city departments, new museums and increased government spending to his insider friends would lead to tax increases or cuts in vital services, such as public safety."
HCTD only became Locke's "insider friends" when he got the endorsement and she didn't. Several of our past and current members are Houston Police officers, Houston Fire Fighters, Harris County deputies and even the Sheriff himself. We take public safety very seriously because our neighborhoods are historically under served and would welcome the resources and the attention other areas receive. Yes, Houston Heights, in Central Patrol, I'm talking about you.

Harris County Tejano Democrats promote and support candidates who are best for the Latino community. Dragging some random Telemundo sports anchor to talk to our group doesn't cut it. Telling us you're the best for the Latino community while your staffers, allies and friends work to defeat a Latino candidate in a Latino district is not forgotten, either. By the way -- how many Latinos do you have on staff (either on your campaign or at the City) and how many speak Spanish?

Let's get one thing straight. The idea of a museum, exhibit or acknowledgment of the contributions of Latinos to Houston is not silly, but what is silly is the constant mention of this idea (that's ALL it was - an idea) as a means to ridicule the Locke campaign. Team Parker has attempted to do this for the last month or so and it is getting old. The person most enthralled with "Hispanic Museum" talk is Houston blogger John Cobarruvias.

I understand that Annise Parker has the strong backing of many Democrats, progressives and liberal-minded people, as well she should. Her Democratic creds have never been in doubt and it's natural that Democrats would flock to her campaign.

But there are those of us who believe that we must work with people from across the political spectrum to get the job done. Gene Locke has hired the best staff in the business to do outreach to the community and to develop a strong ground campaign. HCTD will do its part to turn out support in the Latino neighborhoods that were disregarded earlier this year.

I am issuing a notice and fair warning to candidates who have thoughts of dismissing or disregarding Latino voters in November and have one thing to say: