Election throwback: Corridos, madrinas and how to woo the Latino vote

A day away from the presidential election, early voting returns show an increase in Latino voter turnout in key states across the country, including Texas.

In Texas alone, Latino turnout in 20 of the state’s largest counties had already exceeded Latino early voting turnout in 2012 by 26 percent, and voters with Spanish surnames made up 18.8 percent of the 3.8 million ballots cast through Wednesday in those 20 counties – a 20.1-percent increase over their share of the electorate in 2012.

Latino turnout is also poised to make a significant impact in key states like ArizonaFlorida and Nevada, where the early voting period was extended until 10 p.m. Friday at a grocery store in a heavily Latino area of Las Vegas to allow all people in line to cast their vote.

And although the scope and impact of the increase in Latino turnout for this presidential election will not be fully known until after Tuesday, the noted rise cannot be denied.

“We’re seeing more Hispanics register to vote and, like the numbers say, we’re seeing more Hispanics show up,” Derek Ryan, a political consultant and former research director of the Republican Party of Texas, told the American-Statesman last week.

This presidential election, perhaps because of Donald Trump’s statements about Mexican immigrants and building a border wall, has seen an increase in outreach to Latino voters. Notably, the history of Latino voter outreach in national elections goes as far back as 1960 with the campaign of John F. Kennedy airing Spanish language ads featuring Jackie Kennedy urging Latinos to vote for her husband.

Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, also benefited from Latino support. Historical photos often show voters at campaign stops with “Viva Johnson” posters.

But as the recent PBS documentary “Willie Velasquez: Your Vote is Your Voice” shows, it was a Republican, John Tower, who first used the power of the mass media to woo Latino voters on a large scale during his 1978 re-election bid for the U.S. Senate.

With the help of advertising executive Lionel Sosa (a longtime Republican, who has said he will vote for Hillary Clinton this year), Tower put together a media campaign based around “El Corrido de John Tower,” a song written as a traditional Mexican ballad that espoused Tower’s record of helping the Latino community. Notably, the song only notes one Latino issue, bilingual education, that Tower had worked on.

That did not matter. Tower won 32 percent of the Latino vote, a traditionally Democratic stronghold, which helped him edge out Democrat Bob Krueger by less than a percentage point.

In another show that Republicans can turn out Latino voters, George W. Bush won 40 percent and 44 percent of the Latino vote nationally in his respective presidential races in 2000 and 2004.

More recently, Gov. Greg Abbott aired a television ad during his 2014 election campaign that featured his mother-in-law, who is Latina, espousing his Catholic faith and values. In the ad, she says she is not only Abbott’s mother-in-law but also his madrina, a Spanish word that means godmother but is also loaded with affectionate connotation for Latinos.

During this presidential elections, both campaigns had pretty dismal attempts at wooing Latinos.

Trump, who started his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, further alienated himself through botched attempts to reach out to Latinos. On Cinco de Mayo, (which, for the record, is not Mexican Independence Day) Trump posted a picture on Twitter of himself eating a Taco Bowl at Trump Tower with a message that read “I love Hispanics” and later pivoted to a “What Have You Got to Lose?” appeal to Latinos and other voters of color.

For her part, Hillary Clinton, was criticized when her campaign posted an article titled “7 things Hillary Clinton has in common with your abuela” that was seen as a failed effort to connect with Latinos that perpetuated stereotypes. The article listed similarities such as “she cares about children” and unnecessarily interspersed Spanish words into its text, in what was largely criticized as a move to “Hispander,” or pander, to Hispanics. She was also criticized for her campaign’s attempt to brand her as “La Hillary.”

Those criticisms may not be enough to affect her popularity with Latino voters, who have traditionally viewed Clinton and her husband, Bill, favorably.

On Tuesday, we’ll have a clear answer to who wooed the Latino vote better. But we can always be proud that the first politician to really channel his efforts into a concerted Latino outreach campaign was a Texan.

 

Carmen Aristegui, renowned Mexican journalist, to speak at UT

Carmen Aristegui, the renowned Mexican journalist behind blockbuster public corruption investigations into top government officials, will speak at the University of Texas on Tuesday.

Aristegui is the featured speaker for the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latino Studies’ annual “Austin Lecture on Contemporary Mexico,” which invites public figures from that country to speak about current issues. Past speakers have included prominent historian Lorenzo Meyer, human rights activist Sergio Aguayo, political activist Marcela Lagarde and writer Javier Sicilia.

Aristegui is widely regarded as one of the top journalists in Mexico and is the leader of an investigative team that has broken the biggest stories on public corruption in the country in recent years. In March 2015, she and her team were fired from MVS Noticias after the radio station said the team used its logo on a whistle-blowing effort called MexicoLeaks without authorization.

The fired journalists were responsible for breaking the “White House scandal” that implicated the Mexican first lady in buying a house from a government contractor. The story, and subsequent follow-ups, raised questions about conflicts of interest involving the presidential family, and the journalists’ firing was seen by many as a reprisal for their aggressive coverage.

Aristegui and her news team, who now broadcast on CNN en Español and continue to write on their website and in some major Mexican newspapers, have given extensive coverage to the case of 43 students who vanished in the southern Mexican city of Iguala two years ago and are believed to have been attacked and arrested by local and federal police working with drug gangs and are presumed dead.

This year, Aristegui’s team published a story showing that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto had plagiarized parts of his thesis project at the Universidad Panamericana in Mexico City.

Ariel Dulitzky, a human rights lawyer with extensive experience in Mexico and a UT law professor, nominated Aristegui as the speaker for the annual series.

“When I nominated Carmen, I was asking who in Mexico is a public figure who contributes to the public debate and is also making contributions to strengthen democracy and the rule of law,” Dulitzky said. “Carmen is that person. … She creates the space to have critical reflection on what is happening in Mexico, what the problems are and what the potential solutions are to those problems.”

Dulitzky, who has been interviewed by Aristegui for his human rights work, said she represents “independent journalists who are willing to investigate and show corruption, human rights abuses and the failure of the government.”

“Because of her work, she suffered some reprisals,” Dulitzky said. “It’s very important to recognize independent voices and Carmen is the best example of that.”

The lecture will begin at 5 p.m. in the Texas Union Theater room UNB 2.228. The event is free and open to the public. Seating will be given on a first-come, first-served basis.

¡Ahora Sí! wins 11 Jose Martí awards for excellence in journalism

The weekly Spanish newspaper, ¡Ahora Sí!, produced in association with the Austin American-Statesman, received 11 Jose Martí awards for excellence in journalism during the annual National Association of Hispanic Publications convention, which took place from Oct. 19 to Oct. 22 in McAllen, Texas.

Among the accomplishments was a second-place award for Best Spanish Weekly in the country for its circulation size, five first-place awards, four more second-place awards and a third place in editorial and design.

¡Ahora Sí! readers are familiar with the passion of our team, because our coverage keeps them up to date with the most important issues and stories,” said Josefina Casati, editor at ¡Ahora Sí!. “But it’s wonderful to receive these recognitions, and to see that our work is the best in the country under so many categories.”

During the ceremony, the association awarded one of the most prestigious first-place awards to the story Niños migrantes: prisioneros sin condena, “Child Migrants: Prisoners without sentence,” written by reporter Marlon Sorto. The article, which won Best Immigration Article, deals with the harsh reality that hundreds of undocumented mothers face when they’re detained with their children in Texas’s immigration detention centers, some of which don’t meet certain standards.

Another first-place award was given to a story by reporter Liliana Valenzuela, Titúlate en línea: Era digital cambia la educación, “Online titles: Digital era changes education.” Recognized as the Best Education Article, the report explores all the options that Latino adults in Texas have to continue their education, primarily through online programs.

The report Latinos regresan a sus raíces de judaísmo, “Latinos return to their Jewish roots,” written by reporter Samantha Badgen, who is now at Univision in Miami, won first place under the Best Culture Article category. Badgen looked into how some Latino families rediscovered their Jewish heritage after finding out their ancestors were forced to adopt Catholicism and suppress their Judaism.

The other two first-place awards were handed to Sorto for Best Political Article, El voto latino importa, y mucho, “The Latino vote matters, and a lot,” and to Alexander Linton and Randal Oliver for Best Design.

The second-place awards were given for the categories: Best Entertainment Section, Best Latin American Culture Article for Valenzuela’s Danzantes Honran a la Virgen Morena, “Dancers honor the brown Virgin Mary,” Best Community Service Article for Sorto’s Adultos latinos abren ventanas a una mejor vida, “Latino adults open their windows to a better life,” and Best Business Article for Sorto’s Más que una sucesión, una herencia familiar, “More than a succession, a family legacy.”

The publication’s website, ahorasi.com, also received third place for Best Online Publication.

The 11 National Association of Hispanic Publications awards will be added to the seven received by ¡Ahora Sí! in April by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors. Then, the Spanish publication received three first-place wins, among them best online website and articles in the categories of news and special reports.

 

Latino Vote: As elections near, advocates urge Latinos to make their voices heard

With less than a month to go before the presidential elections, advocacy groups are urging Latino voters to make their voices heard at the polls.

On Thursday, Janet Munguia, the president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza – the largest Hispanic advocacy and civil rights group in the country – will speak at East Austin College Prep about the lack of political outreach to Latino voters.

Later in the month, the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) will hold a “Get out the Latino Vote” breakfast at Angie’s Restaurant on 1307 E. Seventh Street. That event, on Oct. 21 at 8:30 a.m., will be attended by Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, who will inform prospective voters on what documents they will need to present to vote in November.

Several Austin business owners launched a ‘Guac the Vote’ campaign this month to use the ubiquitous taco trucks in the city as voter registration locations.

The General Consulate of Mexico in Austin has also been hosting citizenship drives this year to engage Mexicans in the United States who qualify for citizenship in the American electoral process.

Carlos González Gutiérrez, the consul general of Mexico in Austin, has said in the past: “We will aggressively ask people to exercise their rights and the possibilities they acquire by becoming U.S. citizens.”

On Monday, Travis County announced it had registered more than 90 percent of its eligible voters. County officials said they would make a big push Tuesday – the last day to sign up to register to vote in the presidential election in November – to make sure people get registered before the deadline.

The county’s main tax office at 5501 Airport Boulevard will be open until midnight and voter registrars will be signing people up to vote at all Thundercloud Sub and Alamo Drafthouse locations in the county.

Column: On the veep debate, basketball on summer nights and ‘that Mexican thing’

FARMVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 04: Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine (L) and Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence (R) debate during the Vice Presidential Debate at Longwood University on October 4, 2016 in Farmville, Virginia. This is the second of four debates during the presidential election season and the only debate between the vice presidential candidates. (Photo by Andrew Gombert - Pool/Getty Images)
FARMVILLE, VA – OCTOBER 04: Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine (L) and Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence (R) debate during the Vice Presidential Debate at Longwood University on October 4, 2016 in Farmville, Virginia. This is the second of four debates during the presidential election season and the only debate between the vice presidential candidates. (Photo by Andrew Gombert – Pool/Getty Images)

I didn’t do college right.

I was a first-generation college student and when I came home for summer from my first two years at UCLA, I didn’t head off to an internship like many of my friends. I didn’t know any better. I was just happy to be home.

So what did I do? I read a lot, ran miles upon miles to lose the weight I’d gained in the dining halls and did chores to keep my mother happy. But my favorite part of those summers was playing basketball with my friends almost every day at Philadelphia Park on the south side of Pomona, Calif.

We’d show up at 5 p.m. and not stop until until the dark of the night prevented us from seeing the orange leather sphere anymore. Those hours upon hours spent at the park are some of the best memories of my life.

So why am I telling you this? Well, it was what popped into my mind as I watched the vice presidential debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence.

Now, how did that pop into my head you may ask? Well our pick-up games at the park inevitably attracted a motley crue of characters.

There were little kids who had shown up to the park with their families and gravitated toward the ball courts, old Mexican guys who had unexpected Dirk Nowitzki-like skills to sink 15-foot jump shots, gangsters who had traveled from the next block over and guys who were completely uninterested in doing anything but shooting three-pointers every time they got the ball.

There was also a recurring character. A scrappy guy with average build. Nice enough, but nothing special on the court. If you had him on your team you were guaranteed that he wouldn’t really hurt you as long as he stuck to his script and didn’t try to do anything fancy. But if you were playing against him, he could annoy the heck out of you with his persistent defense.

That guy was Tim Kaine on the vice presidential debate stage Tuesday night. He came in with a plan: remind the American public about Trump’s tax issues and controversial comments. Stay on that point until you wear yourself out.

There was another recurring character on our basketball court at Philadelphia Park. A fundamentally sound guy with a decent jump shot. He didn’t do anything fancy but he was so smart about the shots he took that, while he didn’t sink every shot, his output resulted in an overall plus for his team. And he was tall enough to play solid defense and make some good blocks on the other team.

That was Mike Pence Tuesday night. No matter how much Kaine prodded him to defend Donald Trump’s controversial comments, Pence wouldn’t take the bait. Showing tremendous restraint and a spotty if not selective memory, Pence deflected point after point from Kaine on Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, his suggestion that women who had abortions should be punished and Trump’s remarks against a Mexican-American judge hearing a case against Trump University.

Whatever you want to say about the lack of fact-checking from the moderator in the debate, Pence on Tuesday night was tall enough to play the solid defense the Trump campaign needed from him.

In contrast to Kaine’s strategy of pressing his point until exhaustion (and possibly an undecided voter’s chagrin), Pence took a different approach. The reality of his running partner’s statements notwithstanding, Pence came off for much of the debate as aloof, calm and collected to those who (like much of the American public) do not follow every single turn of the campaign.

He interrupted far less than Kaine and, much like Hillary Clinton in the first debate, he let arguments slide off of him and appeared to take the high road as his opponent stayed on the attack.

But near the end of the debate, I realized that no one had really made any attempt to appeal to Latino voters. The immigration segment of the debate, where most people seem to like to pigeonhole Latino voters, offered no new information on the candidates that would change a person’s mind.

And although either side could have used the issue of refugees (there are plenty of them from Central America) or foreign policy (Colombia just decided against a peace treaty to end a half a century of war with Communist guerrillas, the U.S. has re-opened diplomatic ties with Cuba, and Mexico, our neighbor to the south, offers an ally that is at the same time rich with potential and plagued by drug wars and political corruption), to appeal to Latino voters neither of them even tried.

This again brought me back to the basketball court of my college years. During our hours of revelry on that asphalt, we became so enthralled in the competition, so enraptured by the joy of basketball on summer nights with our friends that we often forgot the world around us.

But right next to our basketball courts there were soccer fields. There, groups of paisanos who came to the park after work ran pick-up soccer games and enjoyed, in their language, the game that they loved. Sometimes, it was our neighbors or tíos and tías who were on the sidelines of that soccer field watching their kids play a middle of the week game.

We didn’t really pay that much attention to them. We were too caught up in our game. But they always noticed when something happened to us, whether it was someone causing trouble, a fight breaking out or somebody getting seriously hurt during a play.

For much of the debate, Pence played brilliant defense. On immigration, he side-stepped and avoided elaborating on Trump’s plan, which could have made his numbers among Latinos even worse.

But near the end of the debate, Pence blurted out: “You whipped out that Mexican thing again” when Kaine brought up Trump’s characterization of Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals.

No one had really appealed to Latinos throughout the entire debate, but when Pence said that, you better believe the Latino voters on the soccer field of America started watching the vice presidential basketball court. That’s the line Latinos are going to remember after this debate.

Now Pence and Trump have to walk out of that basketball court and through the soccer fields to get home. On Nov. 8, we’ll see if Latinos let them.

Mexican Independence Day Celebrations in Austin 2016

A Mexican flag waves at the Fiesta del Grito at the Capitol on Tuesday September 15, 2015. The City of Austin, the Consulate General of Mexico, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus and the Fiesta de Independencia Foundation hosted the Diez y Seis celebration on the south steps. The event marked the 205th Anniversary of Mexico's independence from Spain, and climaxed with the re-enactment of El Grito, Father Miguel Hidalgo's 1810 call for independence by Mr. Carlos Gonzales Gutierrez, Consul General of Mexico. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
A Mexican flag waves at the Fiesta del Grito at the Capitol on Tuesday September 15, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

This Friday, Mexico will celebrate 206 years of independence from Spain. For those looking for festivities in Austin, you’ve got plenty to choose from. Here are some of the Mexican Independence Day celebrations you can attend while in Austin. And the best part? They’re all free.

Diez y Seis de Septiembre

When: Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Austin Community College, Riverside Campus 1020 Grove Boulevard.

Longtime Texas legislator Gonzalo Barrientos will be the special guest speaker at this celebration of Mexican Independence Day. Other speakers will include Mayor Steve Adler, County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and Council Member Delia Garza. Consul general of Mexico in Austin Carlos González Gutiérrez will also speak at the event.

Fiesta del Grito 

When: Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Where: West end of the Texas Capitol on Colorado Street between Eleventh and Thirteenth streets

Organized by the Fiesta del Grito Foundation, the Mexican consulate in Austin, the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus and Univision, this event will include musical performances and traditional Mexican folk dances. The event, which will be televised on Univision, has been held in the city for 24 years and will culminate with the traditional “Grito de Independencia” at 9 p.m., which is a reenactment of Miguel Hidalgo’s call to his countrymen for independence from Spain.

Viva Mexico! 2016

When: Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: Mexican American Cultural Center

Consul general of Mexico in Austin, Carlos González Gutiérrez, will give the opening remarks for this celebration at the Mexican American Cultural Center. The event will also include mariachi, traditional folk dances and other musical performances.

Mexican Independence Day Fiesta

When: Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 from noon to 10 p.m.

Where: Fiesta Gardens Park West

Enjoy an entire day of free music, dancing and Mexican Independence Day celebrations during the 38th annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration. More information at diezyseis.org.

RELATED: Where to celebrate Diez y Seis in Austin

Correction: Mexico’s Independence Day is Sept. 16. 

New 5K charity race announced to promote Latino community in Central Texas

Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, Consul General of Mexico in Austin, delivers a $70,000 check to Julian Huerta, Deputy Executive Director of Foundation Communities, the non-profit that will oversee and facilitate the MEXAUSTIN Scholarship program, during a press conference announcing the launch of the program at the Consulate General of Mexico in Austin on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015. (Tamir Kalifa for American-Statesman)
Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, Consul General of Mexico in Austin, delivers a $70,000 check to Julian Huerta, Deputy Executive Director of Foundation Communities, the non-profit that will oversee and facilitate the MEXAUSTIN Scholarship program, during a press conference announcing the launch of the program at the Consulate General of Mexico in Austin on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015. (Tamir Kalifa for American-Statesman)

The Consulate General of Mexico in Austin and “Believe & Train” a running company based in Austin on Saturday announced a new charity race to raise funds for scholarships for Latino students in Central Texas and promote healthy habits within families in the Latino community.

The 5 kilometer race called “Corre Latino” will be held Saturday, Oct. 15 at the H-E-B Center at 2100 Avenue of the Stars in Cedar Park. Registration for the event is now open online at correlatino5k.com. Registration for adults is $30 during August, $35 during September and $40 during October. Children can enroll in the race for $25.

The Mexican consulate will provide financial assistance for low-income families who wish to participate in the race, organizers said during a news conference on Saturday at the Mexican American Cultural Center.

Funds for the event will go toward raising money for the MexAustin scholarship organized by the Mexican consulate and Foundation Communities, which provides financial assistance to Mexican and Latino students in Central Texas who are going to college. The scholarship fund gave out 140 scholarships worth $1,000 to students in its first year.

Organizers are hoping to raise $5,000 for the scholarship fund and to have at least 400 participants in the inaugural race.

“We ask you to spread the word to your friends, to people you know to other families,” Jorge Euran, owner of Believe & Train said in Spanish on Saturday. “The first year is always the hardest … but if we reach our goal the following years will be great.”

 

 

Barragan: After offensive comments, Zimmerman is unapologetic

City Council member Don Zimmerman listens at a city council meeting at City Hall on Thursday August 6, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
City Council member Don Zimmerman listens at a city council meeting at City Hall on Thursday August 6, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

This story was updated at 5:13 p.m. to include a statement from Don Zimmerman’s office. 

There are times when we in the news media take what a politician says and run with it.

When I saw the headline to the American-Statesman’s online story: “Zimmerman to largely Hispanic group of kids ‘Do something useful'” I certainly thought that was the case. In this day and age, social media outcry is too often too quick to cry wolf on what a certain politician or public figure (usually one the poster doesn’t agree with) said or meant to say. News outlets, urged by lots of “social media traffic” often pick up on stories that they should actually pass on and do more harm than good to the discourse around heated issues.

Zimmerman, one of the few Republicans on Austin’s City Council, has made a name for himself on the council as a watchdog for taxpayer dollars and espouses socially conservative views that vary widely from the image of Austin as an open and progressive city on social issues. Last year, Zimmerman sparked controversy with Facebook comments asking how those in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage could turn around and justify not allowing pedophiles to marry children.

In short, he’s become a person that many people in Austin do not agree with and do not necessarily like.

So when I first saw the headline, I thought folks might be jumping all over Zimmerman and nitpicking what he said.

I was wrong.

In addressing a group of mostly Hispanic kids who had accompanied their parents to the City Council podium to advocate for more social equity in the city’s budget, Zimmerman said:

“I’d ask for everyone here, including the children, when you grow up, I want to ask you to pledge to finish school, learn a trade, a skilled trade, get a college education, start a business, do something useful and produce something in your society…”

RELATED: Zimmerman owes Austin schoolchildren an apology

Up until here, Zimmerman is arguably on solid ground. If you edit out the part about Latino kids “learning a trade,” which implies that they are not smart enough to pursue a college degree or be admitted into a university, Zimmerman’s speech is typical of a politician. The message is “get an education and do better for yourself than your folks could.” No major problem up until then, although he could have done without the “do something useful” part, which comes off as condescending. In fact, you might say his message was almost encouraging.

But then, we get to the heart of the problem. He followed that message with: “so you don’t have to live off others.”

The crowd reacted instantly, booing as Zimmerman tried to sign off with a “Thank you.”

I have so many questions for Zimmerman. Why did he make that comment? And, especially, why did he address it to the kids in the audience – presumably the most innocent people in the room?

Does he mean that Latinos in the city are “living off others”? Is he just making a general point about those he believes are “living off others”? Was he misunderstood? Does he wish he had made his point differently? Does he think it’s okay to say these things out loud? Does he feel any remorse for saying it?

Who knows? He hadn’t respond to my request for comment by Friday afternoon. But this was his response to KXAN:

“On behalf of those non-subsidized taxpayers being forced out of our city by legions of special interests, I apologize for the greed and selfishness of those willing to expand city government force, through the ‘political process’ to maintain and increase their own subsidies at the unaffordable expense of others.”

That does not sound like a man who was misunderstood or is sorry about what he said. Given a chance, Zimmerman doubled down on his comments.

The problems with Zimmerman’s comments abound: he’s making insulting comments toward kids, he’s generalizing about Latinos, he’s generalizing about people who turn to the government for assistance. As a freedom loving American I’m fine with people having different opinions, I encourage it. I especially love hearing from minorities in government, who often have different perspectives, so I always like to hear Zimmerman’s take on things.

But when you become a public official, the stakes change. People expect a certain decorum and demeanor of you. What you say and how you say it matters.

The other people on that dais Thursday understood that. Council Member Sabino “Pio” Renteria took issue with one of the points made by the advocates who brought the kids to the podium. They were asking for a freeze on the Austin Police Department’s budget, arguing that more police officers didn’t make the streets safer.

“When you’re talking about cutting the police budget, you know, District 1, District 3 and District 4 have the highest violent crime there is,” Renteria said. “So I hope you’re not saying you’re satisfied with that. … It’s very important that we have to support our police department.”

Some back and forth followed, which ultimately resulted with a group member telling Renteria: “Your people are here saying they don’t like you.” But Renteria responded that he wasn’t going to get in an argument with a member of the public. Decorum.

Sheri Gallo showed that same decorum when instead of wading into whether she agreed or disagreed with a group giving a public comment, she did as she always does when a large group of kids visits council chambers and asked them to raise their right hands and pledge to register to vote as soon as they turned 18.

Kathie Tovo expressed her thanks to the group, as did Greg Casar who told the families in Spanish how he hoped that one day one of their children would be filling his seat in council.

A clearly emotional Delia Garza later weighed in on the situation, fighting back tears:

“Earlier Council Member Zimmerman said something that was really offensive…I want our community to know that we do not condone what he said. And we have your back, not just the ones that are brown or black on this dais. There are other progressive members of this council that support you and understand your issues.”

As applause broke out in the council chambers, Zimmerman looked down at his desk and read his notes. He did not react or say anything in return.

Later that night and into Friday, he was skewered on social media. Gina Hinojosa, the Democratic candidate to replace Rep. Elliott Naishtat, tweeted that his comments were “unbelievable and completely offensive.”

Late Friday afternoon, Zimmerman’s office put out a statement characterizing his words as an “off-the-cuff comment following a long day of city business” that some City Council colleagues assumed had a racist motive. In the statement, Zimmerman said he would give the same advice to his own son and pointed to several other times when he had made similar statements to children at council meetings.

“If my comment was designed to humiliate our young guests yesterday evening, then that begs the question: why would I say that about my own newborn son, or even myself?”

Sometimes, a politician’s words are taken out of context and morphed into something they did not say. That was not the case with Zimmerman. In fact, with the additional context, his comments come off looking even worse because he followed Gallo’s enthusiastic call for civic engagement from the youngsters with an insult that was uncalled for.

Zimmerman meant what he said, he doubled down on it and he is unapologetic about it.

Follow live: Hillary Clinton speaks at 2016 NABJ-NAHJ Convention

Reporter James Barragán will tweet as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at the 2016 National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) joint convention at 10 a.m. Central Time.

Watch a livestream of Clinton’s appearance below.

And catch up on tweets from the event here:

 

Poll: Latinos oppose Trump, back Clinton, lean Democrat

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop at the Flynn Center of the Performing Arts in Burlington, Vt., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
A poll released Wednesday indicates that nearly 80 percent of Latinos in battleground states have an unfavorable view of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Latinos in battleground states oppose Donald Trump’s proposals and lean toward ideas espoused by the Democratic party, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The poll conducted by Latino Decisions on behalf of the Latino Victory Project surveyed 800 registered Latino voters in battleground states during last week’s convention has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted in English and Spanish based on the respondent’s choice and used a mix of online surveys and landline and cell phone interviews. Respondents to the poll came from Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin

The Latino Victory Project is a non-partisan group co-founded by Eva Longoria that works to ensure that the voices of Latinos are heard at all levels of government. It has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

Seventy-one percent of Latinos in battleground states said they would likely vote for Clinton if the election was today, compared to 24 percent who said the same about Trump. Sixty-four percent said the Democratic Party was more aligned with their views, compared to 26 percent who said the Republican Party was more reflective of them on issues.

The poll found that 75 percent of Latinos have an overall favorable view of President Barack Obama. Sixty-two percent have an overall favorable view of Hillary Clinton, while only 20 percent have an overall favorable view of Trump. The Republican vice presidential candidate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, did only slightly better with 24 percent of respondents saying they had an overall favorable view of him.

And the poll indicated that Trump would have an overall negative effect on other Republicans. Overall, 62 percent of respondents said they are less likely to vote for a Republican who says they disagree with Trump on many things but will still support him in the presidential election. Even if Republican candidates said they would not support Trump, only 33 percent of respondents said that would make them overall more likely to vote for that candidate.

Seventy-five percent of Latinos in battleground states said Trump had encouraged audiences to be angry and hostile toward Latinos, Muslims and immigrants. Similarly, 73 percent said Trump’s campaign events had been violent and dangerous, and 71 percent said Trump had contributed to making the country angrier and more divided on racial issues.

On policy proposals, respondents also rejected Trump and tended toward ideas pushed by the Democratic party.

Ninety-five percent of those surveyed said people should be required to pass a background check to buy a gun and 67 percent supported a ban on assault weapon sales. Eighty percent of Latinos said they supported addressing climate change by making clean energy technology and jobs.

Eighty-two percent said they supported a comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. Thirteen percent of respondents said all undocumented immigrants living in the country should be deported.

Sixty-eight percent supported raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and 86 percent supported giving parents paid leave. Ninety-four percent said that overall they supported strengthening laws to ensure women get paid the same as men for equal work.

In contrast to a perception of Latinos as more conservative leaning on social issues, the poll showed that 68 percent believe that laws should not interfere with women’s reproductive health care, including access to contraception and abortion.

Twenty-six percent of respondents supported Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country, but 57 percent said that a religious test that singles out a single group is against American values.

Thirty-five percent of Latinos said the Affordable Health Care Act should be repealed, as Trump has promised to move to do on his first day in office. But 59 percent said it is working well and should remain in place.

In this year’s election, 36 percent of Latinos in battleground states are more motivated to vote than they were in 2012 and 35 percent of those respondents attribute that to wanting to stop Trump and fight back against racism.

Click here for the full results of the survey