Author: HectorMBarajas

A communications expert with decades of political, legislative and media experience. Nationally recognized for his work on political campaigns, ethnic media outreach, and public affairs from Capitol Hill to Sacramento. The Hearst Corporation has recognized Hector as one of the 20 Latino Political Stars nationwide, and Campaigns and Elections magazine named him one of the Top 50 Influencers in the United States.

The Cuomo and Newsom Nightmare Continues

The latest videocast/podcast: The summer of Cuomo and Newsom – two pillars of the Democratic Party could be gone in September.

You can listen to the podcast here: https://anchor.fm/hectorandmikeexperience/episodes/The-Cuomo-and-Newsom-Nightmare-Continues-e15gpk2

Bank of America Wants to Stop Working with the State of California

Hector Barajas & Mike Vallante

It’s no secret California’s Employment Development Department is a disaster. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, the struggling state agency has lost billions to fraud and has been under constant fire from state lawmakers who say the agency isn’t doing enough to help those hit hardest by the economic downturn. 

Millions of calls from Californians looking for unemployment benefits are going unanswered. 

Things have gotten so bad that America’s second largest banking institution – Bank of America, which has had an exclusive state contract with EDD since 2010 – announced it no longer wants anything to do with servicing EDD accounts. The EDD’s situation is so untenable that the bank is seeking to exit the partnership as soon as possible.

Things have gotten so bad for EDD and its continually jammed phone lines that the Legislature is stepping in and has permitted state lawmakers to hire staffers dedicated solely to respond to the flood of requests from their constituents struggling to receive unemployment benefits.

“The good news is legislative offices are going to get extra help so we can serve more people who have still not been paid what they are owed,” said State Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), a harsh critic of the EDD. “Many of these people have already gone back to work and are trying to recoup funds that EDD never paid them.”

BofA expressed to lawmakers that it lost “’hundreds of millions of dollars on the contract last year as it scrambled to respond to California’s rampant unemployment fraud,” according to CalMatters. Experts say that the fraud could total to upward of $31 billion.

Unfortunately—but most likely—the fraud cost will fall on taxpayers yet again. 

Hector Barajas is a communications expert with decades of political, legislative and media experience. Nationally recognized for his work on political campaigns, ethnic media outreach, and public affairs from Capitol Hill to Sacramento. 

Mike Vallante has extensive experience in communications and public relations. Mike served as the Regional Administrator for U.S. Small Business Administration’s Region IX. He previously served as Chief Staff to the Co-Chairman of the Republican National Committee in Washington, DC. Before that, he was Chief Operating Officer of the California Republican Party from 2003 to 2007. 

Biden Puts An End to Defund the Police, But Will Liberals Follow?

By: Hector Barajas & Mike Vallante 

President Joe Biden announced last week that “state and local governments would be allowed to use their billions of dollars in COVID relief money to bolster their police departments — hiring new officers, paying for overtime, and buying gunshot detection systems to quickly detect and respond to acts of violence — part of a broader effort to address a rising wave of violent crime in the nation’s big cities.”

Murders and violent crime are on the rise nationally. 

The “Defund the Police” politicians will have to contend with those seeking reelection in 2022. 

This past week Eric Adams, a former police captain who advocated for more officers on the street, was emerging as the Democratic Party’s preferred mayoral candidate in New York. The line that Adams used time and time again: “The prerequisite for prosperity is public safety.”

“For William Bratton, the former Los Angeles and New York City police chief, [‘Defund the Police’] had dire consequences when it was put into action. ‘They got what they wanted,’ Bratton told the New York Times last month. ‘They defunded the police. What do they get? Rising crime, cops leaving in droves, difficulty recruiting.'” 

Will Democrat defunding supporters like  Mayor Keisha Williams of Atlanta, who now has a whole part of her city wanting to secede because Atlanta has become a war zone; Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, who has a city where there are more shootings per weekend than there are farmers markets; Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland which has been a city under siege since last year, and other defunding supporters take advantage of this opportunity to make their city safer?

Common sense says that with crime on the rise in most major U.S. cities and Biden allowing for COVID relief money to be used to hire more police officers, dealing with violent crime is the new key issue for many voters.  

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Hector Barajas is a communications expert with decades of political, legislative and media experience. Nationally recognized for his work on political campaigns, ethnic media outreach, and public affairs from Capitol Hill to Sacramento. 

Mike Vallante has extensive experience in communications and public relations. Mike served as the Regional Administrator for U.S. Small Business Administrations Region IX. He previously served as Chief Staff to the Co-Chairman of the Republican National Committee in Washington, DC. Before that, he was Chief Operating Officer of the California Republican Party from 2003 to 2007. 

California Law Protects Shake Down Attorneys

By: Hector Barajas & Mike Vallante 

Sam Stanton with the Sacramento Bee wrote that Sacramento attorney Scott Johnson was indicted in May 2019 on tax charges. Johnson had filed thousands of disability lawsuits in Sacramento and seemed to have moved on to the Bay Area. 

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted to ensure that people with disabilities have access to places of public accommodations, such as retail stores, restaurants, places of entertainment, bars, and stores. The ADA was enacted with good intentions, but it has created an industry for people like Johnson, who file thousands of drive-by lawsuits. 

Attorneys like Johnson file ADA violation lawsuits for imperfect language or font size on handicapped parking signs, the height of the counters or toilet grab bars or imperfect handicap parking slots.  

Johnson is a quadriplegic who rides a motorized wheelchair to places such as restaurants, gas stations, and dentist offices. He then sends a letter claiming that they have an ADA violation. 

The letter that Johnson sends comes with an offer to settle and avoid costly court charges. Those settlements can range between $4000 – $20,000. And, if you don’t have the money to pay the settlement, a payment plan is offered. Some business owners aren’t so lucky. Some businesses are forced to fold up shop.

And, let’s be honest, the businesses that are often targeted for these drive-by lawsuits are minority-owned. The lawyer preys on their fear, and those businesses are the most likely to go under.

 “The calculation is always this: How afraid are the clients, and how much are they afraid of having to pay a lawyer than perhaps paying to settle the claim? It’s very calculated and very jaded.”

As reported by the law firm Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP, in some parts of the country, judges are beginning to crack down on serial ADA disability claimants:

“In yet another blow to certain plaintiffs and their attorneys who file multiple cases each year asserting violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a New York federal judge has stated firmly that enough is enough.” 

Common sense says we accommodate those who need help, not capitulate to the legal blackmail of shyster attorneys. It’s time the courts in America take a stand for people with disabilities and the businesses who seek to accommodate them and against attorneys that line their pockets with frivolous lawsuits.

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Hector Barajas is a communications expert with decades of political, legislative and media experience. Nationally recognized for his work on political campaigns, ethnic media outreach, and public affairs from Capitol Hill to Sacramento. 

Mike Vallante has extensive experience in communications and public relations. Mike served as the Regional Administrator for U.S. Small Business Administrations Region IX. He previously served as Chief Staff to the Co-Chairman of the Republican National Committee in Washington, DC. Before that, he was Chief Operating Officer of the California Republican Party from 2003 to 2007. 

Transgender Youth Sports Ban, Yet CA Still Allows Travel for College Sports

By: Hector Barajas & Mike Vallante 

California Attorney General Rob Bonta just announced that California is banning taxpayer-funded travel to several more states. 

Bonta called for a state-funded travel ban to Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and West Virginia in response to legislation in those states that restrict transgender youth from playing school sports “consistent with their gender identity.”  

Bonta further stated that “a wave of discriminatory new bills” was sweeping across the country, and he was required to act. 

There are now 17 states subject to California’s travel restrictions. 

But here is where the hypocrisy starts, and commonsense goes out the door. 

The Sacramento Bee wrote that while “The University of California, the Board of Regents of the University of California and the California State University are all subject to the travel restrictions, [their] athletic programs have continued to attend games and events in the state banned from state-sponsored travel.”

So why are youth sports in another state a problem for the Attorney General, yet California’s college sports continue to travel without restrictions? 

COMMONSENSE says…. You can’t have it both ways and expect the public to take you or this issue seriously. If the AG believes what he says, he should ban athletic teams from State Universities and Colleges from traveling to those banned states to compete. Otherwise, it’s just another political charade.

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Hector Barajas is a communications expert with decades of political, legislative and media experience. Nationally recognized for his work on political campaigns, ethnic media outreach, and public affairs from Capitol Hill to Sacramento. 

Mike Vallante has extensive experience in communications and public relations. Mike served as the Regional Administrator for U.S. Small Business Administration’s Region IX. He previously served as Chief Staff to the Co-Chairman of the Republican National Committee in Washington, DC. Before that, he was Chief Operating Officer of the California Republican Party from 2003 to 2007. 

Part 1: The “Please, Don’t Hit Me” Party

After spending a few days in Washington, D.C. interacting with party leaders and activists from across the country, listening to their stories and asking questions about their organizational structure and how they communicate to the public; It became clear that the battle ground members and those leading the massive marches in DC and yesterday in Berkeley, are fighters, willing to push back and take on the challenge, while many, California Republicans, have adopted the, “Please, Don’t Hit Me” strategy.

California Democrats deserve credit, for taking almost any issue and converting it into a crisis. They use this approach to mobilize thousands of people through email, social media and community organizations; with a unified voice, they blame it all on Republicans.

A few weeks ago they began spending $25,000 a month of taxpayer money to hire former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, nearly a month before Donald J. Trump took the oath of office, because of Trump’s campaign speeches.

Trump was sworn in office just ten days ago and when Holder was hired, no one knew what policies or changes he would actually suggest to congress, or who will fill all of the Secretary posts, or what executive orders he will undo. This single move, of hiring Eric Holder blanketed the airways, newspapers, social media, and was used to mobilize communities around the notion that: Donald Trump is dangerous to California and we need protection.

California Democrats charged that Trump would attack California on climate change, immigration, Obamacare, and stated, “‘[Holder] will be our lead litigator, and he will have a legal team of expert lawyers on the issues of climate change, women and civil rights, the environment, immigration, voting rights — to name just a few,’ Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said in an interview.”

The best part of this Democratic strategy is the claim that it is being done in the name of bipartisanship, when the actions taken have been strictly partisan.

As an example, the California Democratic leadership has said, they fear Donald Trump will begin with massive deportations, yet Trump’s last comments dealt with deporting only undocumented immigrants that are criminals and finding a solution for the rest. Where was that anger and fear, when President Obama was deporting three million immigrants? Why wasn’t Eric Holder hired then? The reason is that the Democrats’ strategy is to blame Republicans, as Republicans sit idle and accept the blame.

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While some Republicans are comfortable with their crumbs, others are afraid of reprisal and some just lack a spine.

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The Democratic Party has controlled both houses of the state legislature for the better part of 20 years. Yet opposition research, policy challenges, and contrasts usually happen during the election season, when it should be occurring 24-hours, 365 days out of the year.

There should be other opinions and challenges inserted into the conversation and that requires a new strategy of a willingness to “push back,” rather than the tendency to not act and simply say, “Please, Don’t Hit Me.”

Adding Football To The Latino Vocabulary

As the National Football League (NFL) players begin their training camps, I have been fascinated by the league’s continued efforts to bridge the American culture in a bilingual and bicultural way to expand their fan base with the Latino community.

In the past few years the NFL has partnered up with Spanish language networks to put together a foundational understanding of the generational, ethnic, socio-economic and regional difference that exist within the Latino community. The NFL educated itself to understand that Latinos are not monolithic, we vary by region, dialect and customs.

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With the help of its media partners, the NFL has been running Spanish language ads promoting Sunday as a time for family, unity and of course sports.

Fox Deportes became one of the first Spanish-language networks in the U.S. to televise NFL games. For the newly acquired Latino fans who didn’t get enough football on Sunday, they can now catch Monday Night Football on ESPN Deportes.

Locally, the NFL began sponsoring bilingual events at schools and tailgate parties. During Hispanic Heritage Month, the NFL runs ads highlighting Latino players and individual teams have also launched their own fan base programs such as “Vamos Bears”, sponsoring local pass, kick and run the ball events and handing out “De Todo Corazon” (with all my heart) Bronco t-shirts.

The effort is paying off.

Tom Van Riper, contributor to Fobes, noted:

Hispanics comprised 8.7% of the viewing audience of NFL games in 2014, up from 5.5% in 2004 (numbers for the partly-completed 2015 season aren’t available yet). That translates to 1.5 million people, a jump from 779,000 a decade ago. It’s still a small percentage of the U.S. Hispanic population, estimated at some 50 million, but no longer an insignificant piece of the NFL viewership pie. Naturally, the league has shifted advertising dollars in kind. During the 2014 season, according to Nielsen, the NFL spent $243.8 million on Hispanic media, a 60% increase over five years. Most of that is television, where ad spending rose to $230 million from $139 million.

Hispanic fans tend to follow the same players as anyone else, too. The most well-known player in the market: Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, who scores an 84% awareness level among Hispanic consumers. He’s followed by the Manning brothers, Peyton and Eli (80% and 76% respectively), along with Reggie Bush (67%) and Richard Sherman (65%).

The NFL has done a tremendous job at seeking to capture the hearts and minds of Latinos and Latinas. They realize that building a loyal following will take years and their efforts include speaking to Hispanics in Spanish and English and understanding the culture and nuances that exist within each subgroup.

According to Morgan Stanley analysts, “The Hispanic population in the U.S. reached 55.4 million in 2014, or 17.4% of the country’s total population. According to Census Bureau figures, Hispanics are projected to number 106 million by 2050.”

Not only will the Latino population continue to expand, so will their wallets.

While these efforts have become commonplace for marketing agencies dealing with automotive, digital and beverage industries, it is still a relatively new field in public affairs, issue advocacy and community mobilization.

As the population and income growth number show, our industry can’t continue to ignore this important group of voters, consumers, community leaders and decision makers – It is time for our industry to add its own Latino vocabulary.

Hispanics Tune Into Donald Trump Speech in Cleveland, Ohio

There is no doubt that Hispanics across the United States are eager to see what the GOP nominee has to say. More than a million Hispanics aged 25+ tuned to Univision on the final night of the National Republican Party convention this past Thursday.

RNCHispanics