Texoblogosphere: Week of March 23rd

The Texas Progressive Alliance roots for underdogs even to the detriment of its own brackets as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff argues against having a state spending cap, much less making it tighter.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos makes a solid case as to Why The Right is so Wrong given the last few weeks of national political events.

The Poop Cruz is now boarding and ready to set sail, announces PDiddie at Brains and Eggs. Or is that ‘shove off’?

Neil at All People Have Value saw the real spirit of Texas at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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Texans for Public Justice concludes that transferring the Public Integrity Unit would reward crooked politicians by undermining prosecutorial independence.

Concerned Citizens wants to hear voices of support for San Antonio Mayoral candidates.

Better Texas Blog calls the latest effort to restrict spending in the Legislature a really bad idea.

Michael Barajas says to stop calling Houston a “sanctuary city”.

Texas Clean Air Matters rounds up the energy, water, and climate bills in the 84th Legislature.

The Texas Election Law Blog highlights systemic issues documented in Battleground Texas’ post-election report.

Music Musings: Charli XCX ft. Rita Ora “Doing It”

As the 2010s roll on through the 2nd half of the decade, many in the pop music world have begun to look for the sounds and trends which define this decade.  Will the 2010s be nothing more than a re-hash of the 1980s?  Will Disco make a triumphant return?

The answer is still unclear, but if there is one artist that seems to have her finger on the most definitive sounds of today, British pop sensation Charli XCX seems a likely candidate.

A master co-writer of Millennial anthems like Icona Pop’s Mega-Hit I Love It and Iggy Azalea’s Fancy, XCX is now creating a stir with her new solo effort Sucker… named the Best Pop Album of 2014 by Rolling Stone Magazine.  Here’s an excerpt from that publication’s rave review

Charli runs the album’s rock & roll guitars and attitude through enough distressed digital production and thumb-type vernacular to make this the first fully updated iteration of punk pop in ages. It’s also a fitting cap to a music year often defined by powerful young women. Aitchison understands that the difference between a big dumb song and an awesome big dumb song is often just a tiny bit more groove and musk.

That electricity thoughout XCX’s Sucker is well-evidenced in the jam Doing It featuring fellow English pop star Rita Ora.  A careful concoction of throwback feel and cutting-edge clarity, Doing It is a girl power anthem with potential to power up any dance floor.

Check out the video for Doing It below, and be on the lookout for more Charli XCX.

Music Musings: Gorgon City Ft. Jennifer Hudson “Go All Night”

If we had to isolate a single term to define pop music in the 21st century, the task would be a momentous one indeed. So far, this century has seen almost every type of music have at least a small moment in the sun.

But among the main genre groups, only one can stand up as a uniquely 21st century art form. EDM, better known as Electronic Dance Music, has come to define and distinguish what we consider as 21st century sounds. So far, it is the sound of the Millennial generation.

So what happens when you take a cutting edge EDM track and pair it with one of the Century’s most epic voices to date? That’s what listeners experience on the sizzling track by Gorgon City featuring Jennifer Hudson– Go All Night.

From the album Sirens, this EDM track is perfect triumvirate of beauty, beat and boom. The RnB songstress unleashes a timeless, soaring vocal over GC’s spell-binding production. Hudson herself has been on a roll lately, with appearance des everywhere from the smash hit show Empire to awesome features with the likes of rapper Iggy Azalea. But her work on this tune is tough to beat.

The British group is in the midst of a tour across the U.S. Check out their dates in both Austin and Houston this weekend if you can make it.

 

 

JHud

 

GroJ

(Photo credit:  Screenshots from the Go All Night music video)

 

 

 

Texoblogosphere: Week of March 16th

The Texas Progressive Alliance is still full from celebrating Pi Day as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff reports on the last (we hope) special legislative election of the year.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos is both outraged and embarrassed by the 47 GOP U.S. Senator saboteurs. The Snow Made Them Do It.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is terrified that private entities are controlling are access to water. Oligarchy is the Republican way.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. The GOP in Texas used to be for local control, now they’re not. Why is that? They’re For Local Control As Long As They Control The Locals.

A tale of letters, email, and self-inflicted wounds was told by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value visited the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Neil hopes that any race of super-smart alien cows who visit us have mercy on our souls. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The Makeshift Academic reminds us that Obamacare is about people, not states.

Austin Contrarian illustrates the problem of disconnectivity in the streets.

The TSTA blog previews a couple of bad education bills.

Texas Vox calls for renewables to push out coal.

Mean Green Cougar Red supports doing away with Daylight Saving Time.

Rafael McDonnell recalls a meeting and interview he had with anti-gay pastor Flip Benham 20 years ago.

Raise Your Hand Texas testifies that an A-F grading system for schools and school districts is a bad idea.

TyrellPulbicLibraryBeaumont

 

(This week’s feature photo is the 1903 Tyrell Public Library in Beaumont, Texas.  The 112 year old building was originally constructed for the First Baptist Church of Beaumont.  Photo credit:  L. Wayne Ashley)

Big Oil Sues To Weaken Houston Pollution Regulators

In an era where many of the nation’s richest cities have forged their wealth in big banks and stock market trading, Houston has maintained its standing as an industrial town.  A large part of the metropolitan economy centers around production and shipping.  One third of America’s plastics, and one fourth of all gasoline production is done in or very near the city limits.

With all of that heavy industry comes the burden of heavy pollution.  Its no surprise that practically every night’s newscast features a major chemical spill, localized air quality alert or concerns from a community trying to discover the truth of a recent pollution event.  These realities are a fact of life for residents of Southeast Texas.

It’s also why Houston works so hard to protect its residents from such hazards.  The City of Houston’s Bureau of Pollution Control and Prevention (BPCP) has an extraordinary task of maintaining balance between the region’s economic growth and environmental safety.  The roots of the Houston BPCP go back to the 1960s.

But some Big Oil companies want to weaken the BPCP’s abilities to protect Houstonians.  Here’s the story from Dave Fehling of Houston Public Media

In a case scheduled to be heard later this year before the Texas Supreme Court, a group of big energy companies will argue that the City of Houston is breaking Texas law.

The big companies – which include ExxonMobil and Conoco Phillips – say only the state can legally enforce Texas environmental laws. Lawyers for the industry did not make themselves available for an interview. But in briefs filed with the court, they argue that Houston is going rogue, enforcing state pollution laws because: “Houston disagrees with the TCEQ’s enforcement actions.”  TCEQ is the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

It’s no secret that Houston and Harris County officials have for years complained that the TCEQ isn’t nearly aggressive enough in monitoring plants and pursuing polluters. In briefs submitted by environmental groups, they call the TCEQ “severely underfunded” and say that’s why it’s critical the city help out by having its own pollution police.

Which, according to the city’s pollution control bureau, is exactly what the state’s TCEQ has been asking Houston to do for years.

“We receive complaints from TCEQ weekly, “said Daisy James, acting chief of the Houston Pollution Bureau. “We used to have a contract with TCEQ.”

Even with the TCEQ often in cooperation with the local agency, some Big Oil companies have chosen to try and snatch local control away from the city, even if it means exposing Houstonians to more dangerous pollutants.  Keep in mind that the lawsuit isn’t actually about whether the companies themselves are violating state regulations, but rather who catches them in the act.  They know that state monitors, by nature are both less capable of being a local watchdog and less familiar with the violations in place.

This is a story that needs more awareness across the state.  Houston residents deserve to have the best environmental protections available to them.  Not to be bullied by companies that don’t want to meet the highest standards in the first place.

It’s time for Big Oil to clean up its act.  Then they won’t have to worry about who’s watching.

houston plants

(photo credit:  wikipedia)

Could Legal Marijuana Soon Come to Texas?

After years of misguided state drug policies, it appears that some lawmakers at the Capitol have finally begun to “see the light” on Marijuana.  Here’s more from Kevin Reece of KHOU News Houston …

Calling it “a gift from God”, a Republican state lawmaker has introduced a bill to completely legalize marijuana possession and marijuana use in the state of Texas.

“I don’t advocate the irresponsible use of anything,” said State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview). “But it’s a plant God made, he didn’t make a mistake when he made it, and government doesn’t need to fix it.”

Monday, Simpson introduced HB 2165, which he calls “a comprehensive repeal of all marijuana or cannabis offenses.”

[…]

“First of all I said thank God that somebody is speaking out as a true Republican,” said Ann Lee the founder and executive director of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition.

“It’s freedom. Freedom to do what you think is best. The government shouldn’t stand in the way,” said Lee a Republican who became a convert to medical marijuana use after her son suffered a severe spinal cord injury in the 1990’s and said that marijuana was the only solution to his constant pain.

[…]

HB 2165 was also applauded by more liberal groups like the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana laws, who agree with Simpson that pot shouldn’t be a government’s concern.

While there have been previous efforts, HB 2165 is unique in that Simpson is finally asking for full legalization of marijuana, and that it has garnered unprecedented support.  Of course this still doesn’t mean that Simpson’s bill, essentially swinging the marijuana door wide open, is likely to pass. But it may create the space needed for other bills to make some progress.

And that’s just progress at the state level.  Less than a week after Rep. Simpson’s state bill, 3 Senators have also filed a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the national level.  Senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Rand Paul unveiled the legislation on March 10th, that would end the confusing patchwork of state laws surrounding the criminal punishment, distribution and sale of cannabis in its various forms.

With such impressive momentum at both the state and federal level, Texans shouldn’t be surprised to see some changes in the laws which govern marijuana soon.

Off the Kuff has more.

Pot Texas

Texas Wins: Business Leaders Push Back Against Discrimination Efforts

With historic progress now being made toward the goal of marriage equality in the state of Texas, new initiatives are ready to take on a much larger, more complex fight.

The new campaign, called Texas Wins, is focused on stemming the tide of Anti-Equality populism that has taken over many state legislatures across the country.  Here’s more from their inaugural press release

AUSTIN, TX – A new multi-million dollar campaign, Texas Wins, kicked off today amid alarming efforts to openly promote – and expand – discrimination in the Lone Star State. Through business outreach, strategic communications, advertising, opposition research, and grassroots mobilization, the campaign will amplify the values of opportunity and fairness shared by a majority of Texans. Former George W. Bush media advisor Mark McKinnon will serve as chair of Texas Wins.

“All hardworking Texans should be able to put food on the table and a roof over their heads,” said Christina Canales Gorczynski, Texas Wins campaign director. “So it’s shocking that gay and transgender Texans can still be fired from their jobs or denied housing simply because of who they are. And, just as bad, such discriminatory policies are potentially expanding beyond the LGBT community to include veterans, single moms, people of faith, and many others. This is a can of worms we don’t want to open. Discrimination of any kind is not in line with Texas values.”

At the Capitol, aggressive efforts from Republican legislators are seeking to roll back municipal protections passed in many Texas major cities, like the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which seek to ban discrimination of all citizens including the LGBT population.

But within weeks of the launch of Texas Wins, the state received possibly its biggest win on the issue.  Here’s more on that from John Wright of the Texas Observer

The Texas Association of Business has come out against two religious freedom resolutions that critics say would enshrine a “license to discriminate” against LGBT people in the Texas Constitution.

TAB, which is the state’s powerful chamber of commerce, unanimously adopted a resolution last month opposing House Joint Resolution 55 and Senate Joint Resolution 10, by Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) and Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), respectively.

Chris Wallace, president of TAB, said more than 100 members of the board voted to add opposition to the resolutions to the group’s legislative agenda at a statewide meeting Feb. 17.

“We feel that this will certainly make our state look very much unwelcoming when it comes to business recruitment,” Wallace said of the resolutions. “We also have several businesses within the state, our large corporations for instance, that have diversity policies already in place, and what we’re hearing from them is they want their state to look the same way.”

[…]

In addition to LGBT issues, the chamber is concerned the resolutions would allow people to claim religious exemptions to criminal, tax, health and safety, environmental quality and zoning laws. Wallace said the resolutions would also lead to a spike in litigation, costing businesses and taxpayers.

No matter how severely Rep. Villalba and Sen. Campbell want their bills to pass, most wager it will be hard to do so without the support of the state’s most powerful business organization.  In all likelihood, TAB’s resolution moves HJR 55, SJR 10 and any legislation like it in the “no-go” category for this session.

One can’t be sure that the resolution by the Texas Association of Business and the launch of Texas Wins are directly related, but timing does seem to matter in these events.  As people hear of TAB’s decision not to support the bills, they also encounter the voices of prominent Texans like Billionaire Mark Cuban come out against discrimination.

Whatever the case, one thing is for sure… Texas definitely scored some wins this week.

Visit Texas Wins and the Texas Association of Business for more on those organizations, and Off the Kuff has more on the story.

Texas Wins

(photo credit:  Texas Wins twitter feed

 

 

A Voice for the Rest of Texas