Texoblogosphere: Week of January 9th

The Office of Texas Progressive Alliance Ethics remains intact as we bring you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looked ahead to the upcoming Houston elections for 2017.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos understands that if pain and suffering have to be inflicted on the American people, the cruelest party for the job is the Texas Republican Party. Yes they are coming after Social Security. Worse the hatchet man is a Texas Republican.

With Jan. 20 just two weeks away, Socratic Gadfly takes an initial snapshot look at President Obama’s legacy from the left. Updated Presidential rankings to follow.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme remembers the greedy corporate interests fighting the white nationalists in the 2000s. The white nationalists won that one. We’re at it again with today’s Texas Legislature.

The latest — and hopefully the last — on “русские сделали это” was posted by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value was out on the streets of Houston calling for kindness, respect and not giving up. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

John Wright makes five queer predictions for LGBT Texans in 2017.

Paradise in Hell wants the holes in the Texas Freedom of Information Act to be patched.

The Bloggess submits an application to become a vampire.

The TSTA Blog explains how the state abuses school property taxpayers.

It’s Not Hou It’s Me gives you a hand with your New Year’s resolutions with a guide to working out in Houston.

This week’s feature photo is the Hoya Land Office Building  in Nacogdoches, Texas.  Orginally constructed in 1897, the structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It is thought to have been the first fireproof building in the city.

 

Music Musings: BET Celebrates The Obamas

As America prepares for a new President and uncertain times, many across the nation have had a tough time accepting the inevitable.  In the coming days, the Obama Presidency will end.  Even as folks do their best to sound reasonable and put on a brave face, the coming Inauguration is going to be difficult for a large part of this nation.

But thankfully, a much-needed healing agent is available to soothe us in our grief.  If you missed BET’s Extraordinary Salute to President and First Lady Obama at the final White House musical event of his Presidency, it is highly recommended.  Top notch performances abound from Jill Scott and Janelle Monae, to Usher, Common and De La Soul, Kierra Sheard, Yolanda Adams and Michelle Williams, this event might leave you crying, but it may also fill the soul with hope for the future.  BET pulls all the stops to let our nation’s President an First Lady know that they are loved, and will be missed.  As the President said himself, “thank you for coming to MY Block Party”!!

None of us can know what lies ahead, but we can be thankful for what this First Family has accomplished over the last 8 years:  always graceful, always thoughtful, and ALWAYS taking the high road despite all of the challenges thrown their way.  That is definitely worth a celebration.

Patrick Determined to Waste Taxpayer Time, Money On ‘SB6’ Bathroom Bill

With all of the hope and promise that 2017 brings to the state of Texas, it also brings another set of critical opportunities to accomplish the People’s Business in the 2017 Texas Legislative Session.  Per the Texas state constitution, our state legislatures meet on biennial basis for approximately half of the year. For a state more populous than the country of Australia and a GDP nearly equal to that of Russia, the work done in each cycle of the #TXLege is critical to keep the state, and the entire nation moving.

It may be a New Year, but it’s the same old Texas leadership.  So it’s of little surprise that Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is less interested in doing the People’s Business, but would rather, umm… clog it up.

Say hello to SB6– The Texas Privacy Act.  But don’t be fooled by the appealing name… This is simply another Discriminatory ‘Bathroom Bill’ designed to target innocent Texans, especially aimed at the Transgender Community.  Lt. Gov. Patrick and others in the GOP leadership are determined to file the legislation and take it up in the Texas Senate, even after seeing that similar bills in states like Indiana and North Carolina have been met with devastating results to the state business community.  As Lauren McGaughy of the Dallas Morning News points out, there’s also one other thing that SB6 would do…

AUSTIN – Cities like Dallas and Austin will have to undo local laws that protect transgender people from discrimination if Texas passes the so-called “bathroom bill” unveiled Thursday, a proposal panned by the business community that’s wreaked havoc on other states’ economies.

[…]

The bill mirrors similar legislation passed in North Carolina and Indiana in recent years. Those laws have caused substantial political headaches for those states’ leaders – Indiana’s was later amended to include some LGBT protects and North Carolina’s failed to be repealed in a special legislative session – and both cost millions in lost business investment.

The bill, Senate Bill 6, will impact cities, public schools and state agencies and will enhance some criminal penalties.

First, if passed into law the bathroom bill would prohibit cities from passing any ordinance that applies to a private business’ bathroom, locker room and shower rules. Cities that have already passed anti-discrimination laws to allow transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity would be kept from enforcing them.

Once again, hypocrisy abounds in Austin.  After spending 8 years crowing about the Federal Government’s oppressive restrictions on our state, the Texas Big Government Overlords seem to think nothing of oppressing the will of municipal and county residents.  If passed, SB6 would be yet another unprecedented move to snatch local control from Texas citizens, from the same leaders whom preach all day against “big government overreach”.

If state government has gotten to the point where it’s monitoring Number 1 and Number 2, overreach has descended to a whole new level.

With this in mind, Texans are already organizing to fight back. Today in Houston, business leaders, political leaders and activists from across the state gathered in response to the Lieutenant Governor’s filing saying that the Texas Legislature needs to “Flush Senate Bill 6” and the hashtag #FlushSB6 was immediately trending on twitter.  Here’s a link to the full press conference, via Facebook Live.

Texas State Senator Sylvia Garcia was quick to push back against the measure in a statement…

“All Texans want to go to the bathroom in peace, including transgender people.  That’s why it’s already illegal to enter a bathroom to harm someone and always will be.  According to the Texas Association of Business, legislation like this could flush $8.5 billion and 100,000 jobs down the toilet.  We need to focus on classrooms not bathrooms.  My district needs bills that will create jobs, not political grandstanding job killers.”

Given that Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has already indicated that a bill like SB 6 would not a priority in his chamber, grandstanding is a likely outcome for the Lieutenant Governor during the upcoming session.  But if 2015’s HERO backlash and the 2016 elections have taught any lessons at all, the first of them should be to expect the unexpected.  Any advance of such harmful legislation should be fought hard and fought now.

So there we have it… Happy New Year Texas. Let’s hope this clog gets flushed out of the Legislature quickly, so we don’t have to waste taxpayer time and money on blatant discrimination.  AGAIN.

 

Texoblogosphere: Week of December 12th

The Texas Progressive Alliance can remember a time when Republicans thought Russian meddling into our affairs was a bad thing as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff notes that businesses have calculated the cost of Dan Patrick’s bathroom bill, but wonders if they have calculated the cost of Dan Patrick.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos is grateful to a Houston Chronicle business reporter for exposing Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s rationale for his bathroom obsession. Practicing bigotry to mask fiscal and ethical failures. How we can expose this mal-practice?

Socratic Gadfly looks at Trump’s so-called “generals’ cabinet,” and suggests some additional generals.

The December 7th anniversary nobody in Southeast Texas wants to commemorate was shared by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is alarmed over Trump’s military cabinet choices. This is how a junta starts. He did promise regime change.

Neil at All People Have Value said Oakland warehouse fire victims used alienation to create rather than to attack. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

The Great God Pan Is Dead contemplates fire codes and art spaces in the wake of the tragedy in Oakland.

Lone Star Ma calls for action to help the women and children released from family detention centers.

Naveena Sadasivam talks to retiring environmental lobbyist Tom “Smitty” Smith.

Juanita gets mad about the latest governmental intrusion into uteruses.

The Lunch Tray notes the likely demise of the pending Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR).

Better Texas Blog highlights how much Texas will lose if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

 

Houston Mayor Names New City Department Leaders

For all of the Federal Government’s turmoil and uncertainty with the impending Presidency of Donald Trump, Houstonians can be assured that municipal leaders have their act together.

As if Mayor Sylvester Turner’s deal with Uber this week wasn’t enough, the Chief Executive of Texas’ largest city had more big news to make this week.  Here it is directly from the city’s Press Release…

In a sweeping announcement, Mayor Sylvester Turner named four new department directors and a reappointment Thursday.  Pending City Council confirmation, Art Acevedo of Austin will assume the position of police chief and El Paso’s Samuel Pena will take over the fire department.

“Acting Police Chief Martha Montalvo and Acting Fire Chief Rodney West have performed exemplary in dealing with some challenges and we are indebted to them for their service,” said Mayor Turner.  “I had said all along that once we reached solution to our pension problems, I would move quickly to fill key positions.  This is the team that will carry us into 2017 and beyond.  We are going to build upon the successes of 2016 and be even more transformative, innovative and responsive.”

Acevedo has served as Austin’s police chief since 2007.  His 30 years of law enforcement experience began as a field patrol officer in East Los Angeles.  In Austin, he oversaw a department with more than 2,400 sworn officers and support personnel and a $370 million annual budget.  He joined the department at a time when relations with minorities were strained due to questionable police shootings.  He has been credited for a commitment to police legitimacy, accountability and community policing and engagement.  His accomplishments include creating a special investigative unit to criminally investigate officer involved shootings and a new disciplinary matrix.  Acevedo holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from the University of La Verne, is a graduate of the FBI’s National Executive Institute and speaks fluent Spanish.

Pena joined the El Paso Fire Department in 1995 and then rose through the ranks to the position of fire chief, which he has held since 2013.  He has previous experience as a fire fighter, paramedic, media spokesperson, advanced medical coordinator, Combined Search and Rescue Team member, Hazardous Materials & Special Rescue Task Force member and academy training chief. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas at El Paso.  He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force where he served for four years as an air control specialist. Like Acevedo, he is fluent in Spanish.

Along with the high profile appointments of Chief Designates Acevedo and Pena, Mayor Turner also appointed Judge Elaine Marshall to preside of the Municipal Court system, while Tom McCasland, currently serving as Interim Director of Houston’s Department of Housing and Community Development, will now ascend to the permanent post.  Municipal court Judge Phyllis Frye, the first openly transgender judge to ever serve in the state, was also reappointed to the city’s Municipal Court.

Once again surrounded by a diverse coalition of Council Members, Mayor Turner was all smiles in naming the “full house” of appointments.

Today’s news comes at the end of an unprecedented sweep of progress for the new Administration’s 1st year in office.  After the announcement of an historic pension reform plan last month, and a city budget that was passed unanimously by Council in the Spring, Mayor Sylvester Turner seems to be living by his mantra that Houston is “a can do city”.  If the game of politics is won with leadership by example, then Mayor Turner appears to be nothin’ but net.

Of course one final showdown is yet to come.  We’ll see what the State Legislature has to say about the pension deal next year.

Check out the Mayor’s Press Conference here.

 

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Center, Incoming Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.  

After Latest Dust Up, FBI Finds Nothing New In Clinton Emails

For most Americans, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI is an agency which seems to live in secret.  There’s no doubt that public interest has likely increased since the hit ABC series Quantico, which delves into the world of FBI agent training.  But for the most part, the men and women of this agency focus much more on their work than talking about it because, well, they’re the FBI.

Sadly in 2016, those rules have flown out the window.  As of this summer, the agency had already played an unprecedented role in this year’s Election by not only revealing details of an investigation into Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, but clearing her of wrongdoing.  That was in the summer, but just a couple of weeks ago to the surprise of the entire nation, FBI Director James Comey set off yet another national firestorm when he revealed to members of Congress that the email investigation was being reopened after they found more communications on a computer owned by Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband Anthony Wiener.

Could this be it for Hillary Clinton??  After 40 years in politics and 25 in the national spotlight, did this final set of emails reveal THE smoking gun Republicans have hoped for??? 

Umm, yeah… you guessed it.  The answer is NOPE.

Here’s the story from Eric Bradner, Pamela Brown and Evan Perez from CNN Politics…

FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers Sunday the agency hasn’t changed its opinion that Hillary Clinton should not face criminal charges after a review of new emails.

“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July,” Comey wrote in the new letter to congressional committee chairmen.
Comey dropped a bombshell on the presidential race last month when he sent a letter to Congress saying the FBI had discovered emails in a separate investigation that could be connected to the now-closed probe of whether Clinton mishandled classified information. The move infuriated Democrats and emboldened Republican nominee Donald Trump.
So after all the drama, the FBI basically concluded that they found more run-of-the-mill emails that were of a personal nature, and that while Clinton’s use of the private server was careless, she did not harbor malicious intent and will not be charged with a crime.
Wait… let’s repeat that last part…

In her emails, Hillary Clinton did not harbor malicious intent and will not be charged with a crime.  

As you can probably guess, Donald Trump and Republicans are not happy with Director Comey’s update, saying that it’s impossible for the FBI to review 650,000 emails in 8 days.  But like most of the things he’s said throughout this Presidential campaign, Donald Trump is wrong yet again.  Here’s more on that from Andy Greenberg of Wired
“You can’t review 650,000 emails in eight days,” Trump said Sunday in a campaign speech in Michigan hours after Comey’s latest update to Congress came out. “You can’t do it, folks. Hillary Clinton is guilty.” Trump supporter General Michael Flynn did the math on Twitter:

But fortunately for Comey’s eyesight—and for Clinton’s presidential campaign—Trump is wrong: the FBI can review hundreds of thousands of emails in a week, using automated search and filtering tools rather than Flynn’s absurd notion of Comey reading the documents manually. “This is not rocket science,” says Jonathan Zdziarski, a forensics expert who’s consulted for law enforcement and worked as a systems administrator. “Eight days is more than enough time to pull this off in a responsible way.”

One former FBI forensics expert even tells WIRED he’s personally assessed far larger collections of data, far faster. “You can triage a data set like this in a much shorter amount of time,” says the former agent, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid any political backlash. “We’d routinely collect terabytes of data in a search. I’d know what was important before I left the guy’s house.”

So there’s some last minute fact to add into all the noise that is being bantered about by the Trump campaign and his ReTRUMPlican hounds.  For your sake and mine, let’s hope that this is the last week that we have to care about what Trump says about anything.

Speaking of that last point… Have you voted yet?? Election Day is tomorrow, so you’ve got one more chance!!  Go to I Will Vote if you have any questions about your polling place.  Let’s get Hillary Clinton in office, and Trump out of the picture.

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President Obama Urges Black Community to VOTE

In case you forgot Texas, today is Election Day.  Across the Lone Star State, voting is already happening like never before.  As of Thursday evening, over 3.7 million Texans had already voted.  This shatters previous records from 2012 when 3.1 million residents voted early, and there’s still one full day of early voting results to go!!

But even in this era of historic voter turnout, important questions remain, like who is turning out to vote at such high numbers?  According to the Washington Post, this turnout does not appear to be driven by the African-American community…

By most accounts, Hillary Clinton’s path to victory relies on substantial turnout among black and Latino voters. And while early voting numbers so far appear to favor the Democrats, reports in recent days have suggested that although Latino participation may be up, African American turnout may be lower than in 2012. How concerned should the Clinton camp be?

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In 2012, African Americans overperformed in states such as North Carolina and Texas. But this year, black voting rates are trailing other groups relative to their size of the electorate, with some swings on the order of 5 to 10 percentage points.

Per the Texas Tribune, African-American Texans led the state in 2012, voting at a higher percentage of their total population than any other racial or ethnic group.  This is a very interesting fact given all of the negative stereotypes out there which suggest that the Black community is ‘uninformed’ or ‘uninterested’ in elections.  But so far in 2016, Black voters appear to be trailing other parts of the state in the early vote, and are significantly behind their landmark participation rates from 2012.

This lack of voter enthusiasm should be an alarm bell to Democrats.  How is it possible that a candidate as divisive as Donald Trump has not inspired huge turnout in all minority communities??

One prominent African-American is highly concerned, and that is President Obama.

This week on the Tom Joyner morning show, he had this to say, via Black America Web

If you really care about my presidency and what we’ve accomplished, you are going to go and vote. And if you don’t know where to vote, go to www.iwillvote.com .If you’ve already voted, but your mama hasn’t voted, your cousin hasn’t voted, your nephew hasn’t voted, I need you to call them and say that the President and Michelle personally asked you to vote. It’s not that hard. And I know it’s not that hard because we’ve done it before.

But if we let this thing slip and I’ve got a situation where my last two months in office are preparing for a transition to Donald Trump, whose staff people have said that their primary agenda is, to have him, in the first couple of weeks, sit in the Oval Office and reverse every single thing that we’ve done – all the work we’ve done to make sure people get overtime, all the work we’ve done to make sure women get paid the same as men for doing the same job, all the work we’ve done so that 20 million people get healthcare, all the work we’ve done to make sure we’re doing something about climate change, so that we don’t have a situation where the whole world is not scrambling to figure out where they’re going to live and where they get enough water and crops failing and bigger hurricanes – if I’ve got to look at that the last two months, because folks stayed home, even going on the Tom Joyner cruise won’t help me then. If I’m on the cruise, I might jump off.

So yes Black America, sadly the nation’s first Black President is not on the ballot.  It is a difficult fact to accept, but that should not be an excuse.  Donald Trump’s policies on education, banking, the economy and a myriad of other aspects of American life would decimate the black community.  He has promised time and again to pass on massive tax cuts to the wealthy, which will lead to divestment in minority communities.  If a President Trump were to actually scrap the Department of Education and end student financial aid to college, it would bring about the swift demise of universities across the country, with Historically Black Colleges and Universities among the first to close their doors.  Even if President Obama himself is not on the ballot, America needs to know that in 2016, Black Votes Matter.

Early Voting may be over for Texas, but there’s still a chance to vote this Election Day.  Don’t wait until it’s too late!!

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A Voice for the Rest of Texas