All posts by L. Wayne Ashley

Thanks for visiting!! My name is Wayne, and I live in Houston, Texas. I wouldn't consider myself a "diehard" liberal activist, but I definitely have a Progressive view on most issues. I'm a proud Millennial, and I feel like the voice of my generation in Texas gets overshadowed by the older, more established groups. This is my effort to change that. Please come back and read when you can.

#FreeDennis: Austin High School Students Protest ICE Detention of Senior

 

Frequently portrayed in the media, “Immigration Reform”, “Dreamers” and “DACA” can often seem like rather remote concepts, especially for those that follow the news from Washington.  For over a decade, Congress has been perpetuating  loop of partisan stalling tactics, party line bickering and a series of flat out refusals to address the issues.  We’re to the point now where some Democrats in the United States Senate consider it a win to even “hold a debate” on the issue.

But for cities like Houston, the consequences of the Federal Government’s horseplay are creating earthquakes across large segments of our community.  The fear of deportation is inescapable, and the consequences of when loved ones are ripped from their communities do not end with the next day’s news cycle.

Dennis Rivera-Sarmiento is a Senior at HISD’s Austin High School, just months from graduation.  Here’s what happened to him, directly from the United We Dream petition

On Tuesday, January 30th, after he was repeatedly bullied by his classmates, he decided to defend himself. Things escalated and he found himself in an altercation with one of the bullies.  Instead of de-escalating the situation, and guiding Dennis and his classmate in reconciliation, HISD’s troubling protocol allowed HISD Police Department to arrest Dennis on charges of assault, which the District Attorney immediately filed against him. Within hours he was transferred to Harris County Jail where an ICE hold was placed on him for being undocumented.

Students go to school for education, and they should feel safe while they’re there. They shouldn’t have to fear that they’ll be disciplined by police – or worse end up in detention or deported.

Dennis was eligible for, and paid, a $2,000 bond, but instead of being released to his family, the Sheriff’s Department handed him over to ICE. This is because the Sheriff’s Department has a policy to work closely with ICE by sharing information, allowing them to interrogate individuals in the jail, and to pick them up before they leave the jail. Because Dennis was not given any information about his rights, the information he shared about himself alerted ICE of his presence at the jail. This ongoing collaboration between the Sheriff’s Department and ICE is just a way to increase mass deportations locally.

A high school Senior at Austin High School, Dennis was accepted to both Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Lamar University, and plans to study computer science. If deported, Dennis will be sent back to Honduras, a place of extreme violence and insecurity. And he will not be able to graduate in May or attend college in the Fall of 2019.

The outrageous reality is that too many systems have failed Dennis and many other immigrant youth. HISD failed Dennis by letting police officers decide that incarceration is the solution to bullying. The District Attorney’s office failed Dennis by using their discretion to charge and prosecute Dennis, and to file a second case against him for forfeiting his bond, which was of no fault of his own because he went into ICE custody. The Sheriff’s Department failed Dennis by obtaining information from him that was shared with ICE and then allowed ICE to arrest him from the jail.

So today during their lunch period, the students of Austin High School decided to take a public stance in solidarity with one of their own.  Video from KPRC Local 2 News Reporter Rose-Ann Aragon captures the protest, as students overtake the street adjacent to their school.

Lest we forget, this is Houston, under the jurisdiction of Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who allegedly ended automatic cooperation with the ICE officials (a program known as 287(g)) within months of assuming office in 2017.  If you recall, ending the program was a central tenet of Sheriff Gonzalez’s campaign platform, due in part to the fact that Harris County jails are already too overcrowded that they should not be housing non-violent offenders.

Umm, Sheriff… is that practice over?  After all the talk about ending 287(g), is it still in effect??

The story is still developing, but one thing is for sure.  The Immigration “debate” is anything but remote for Houstonians.

#FreeDennis

Texoblogosphere: Week of February 12th

The Texas Progressive Alliance reminds everyone that early voting for the primaries begins next week as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff emphasizes that the bathroom bill issue isn’t going away any time soon.

Stace provides some insight on the latest voter registration data from Harris County.

Socratic Gadfly notes that various activist groups can’t get on the same endorsements page.

Neil at All People Have Value said it is okay not to give money to the rich. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

For all the press and hype which surrounds the leading Democratic candidates for Governor, Texas Leftist continues to wonder when the actual FUNDRAISING will show up. Less than a month from the primary, it’s past time to make some money moves!!

=====================

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

G. Elliott Morris interprets the state of the polls.

Durrel Douglas finds lessons from the Astros for Democrats.

Juanita would like to know when Rep. Blake Farenthold is going to pay us taxpayers back for that sexual harassment settlement money.

Paradise in Hell collects a list of things Mike Pence was surprised to learn.

The TSTA Blog casts a wary eye on the latest anti-education campaign from Empower Texans.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!!

TLCQ 2018: Levy Q. Barnes Jr.

In the Twelfth installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Levy Q. Barnes Jr.,  candidate for the U.S. House, Texas’ 14th Congressional District.

Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted ver batim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.

 

TL:  What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?

LB:  Dr. Levy Q. Barnes, Jr.

TL:  Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?

LB:  no

TL:  As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?

LB:  Philosophers like Aristotle and Confucius thought of Politics as a means to keep people protected and that they can have a happier lives. I agree with that form of thinking. Government is important so that citizens have equal opportunities to succeed. Government is also important because it unites people of common interests and goals. Through it we are able to protect our country through military efforts, provide assistance for disadvantaged citizens, beautify our nation, and continually have citizens advance. Through our government we can ensure that equality is properly dispersed so that our citizens can have the pursuit of happiness.

TL:  If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for the upcoming legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.

LB:

As the next US Representative of my district, I plan on accomplishing several things which are my top priorities. I plan on creating an incentive plan for educators who go to Title 1 schools and other schools in economically challenged areas. The educators are the key to improving our educational system. Securing proper funding to compensate qualified Educators is important to make sure we don’t have Educators fleeing that Industry.

The second thing I plan on accomplishing is creating a tax plan for businesses to move to or be started in economically challenged cities so that we can assist the distribution of wealth across our nation. A lot of these economically challenged cities do not have job opportunities for their citizens. There are other cities that do have job opportunities but they are mostly minimum wage job opportunities. I want to see the minimum wage increase, but in the event that we are unable to accomplish this I would like to have a reward system in place for businesses that pay their base employees above minimum wage.

The third thing I wish to accomplish in office is putting legislation in place to protect more minorities. There is still a large amount of Injustice in our country and it is based around our Criminal Justice System, employment, and treatment of our local citizens. I do not plan on excluding this just to minorities but also people of different economical social classes, ages, and genders. Protecting those who cannot protect themselves is important and it is the reason why we are the land of the free and the home of the brave.

TL:  In the coming years, the state of Texas is on course to have an unprecedented boom in the state’s population. But with more people and more opportunities comes an ever-increasing strain on Texas roads and infrastructure. Describe your thoughts on what needs to be done to improve Texas infrastructure now so we can plan for a bright future for the state.

LB:  As a Texas resident it is burdensome to have dilapidated roads and narrow freeways in highly populated areas. This slows the level of production. In other populated areas in Texas there are no sidewalks. This is dangerous for our children. A lot of these issues are handled on a city and state level but I feel that it is necessary for certain cities with a certain population to have sidewalks for children. It is also important that as cities plan to grow they also plan to expand their highways and Roads. Transportation is also very important. In areas that are immensely populated having a more advanced transportation system is necessary to see the continued flow of the city. An example of this is Houston Texas. With the population that is there, having an expanded public transit system is important. So there is a lot of work that needs to be done regarding our infrastructure and Roads.

TL:  Even as impressive growth continues in around the state’s urban centers, rural Texans are faced with a healthcare crisis.  According to Laura Garcia of the Victoria Advocate, rural communities across the state have lost 18 hospitals in less than five years, and this was before any additional challenges worsened by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey.  Without hospital services in or near their local communities, the medical and emergency care is at an increasing risk our citizens.  As a legislator, how would you plan to address this issue and help Texas’ vital rural healthcare facilities stay open?  

LB:  Having an efficient amount of hospitals is very important to rural. Not having enough poses a threat to the lives of citizens who can’t reach a medical facility in time. Having incentives for medical providers to move their practices to rule communities and ensuring that the citizens in these areas have health coverage will help prevent the closure of more hospitals. In most cases, when a hospital closes? they are looking at either the lack of tenants to rent spaces or a quota of patients coming to the hospital. If there are no doctors coming to that area opening practices, then the hospital will not be able to provide spaces to them. Also if people in that area do not have health coverage they would shy away from going to Medical providers, thus increasing the amounts of death due to health issues. There are several incentive programs out there for Physicians to go to rural areas like the one that pays off student loans for medical providers going to rural cities. Having incentives in place like this for medical providers to go to these rural communities can ensure that the citizens have quality healthcare providers and promotes the growth  of hospitals. Also having adequate healthcare for Citizens will ensure that hospitals in these areas can keep their quotas up.

TL:  In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to overturn an Obama-era rule which classifies internet service providers as public utilities, and thereby governed under the 1934 Communications Act.  This decision essentially erases the principle that Internet Service Providers should treat all online content equally without giving preference to particular sources, otherwise known as Net Neutrality.  Please describe your views on this decision, and whether or not you would support legislation at the State or Federal level to uphold the principle of Net Neutrality.

LB:  I plan on upholding Net neutrality. Coming from my perspective as an internet user and others that I interact with, it is a public service utility. It is important for people to have equal access to this.

TL:  What makes you the best candidate for this office?

LB:  I am the candidate who has experience with a diversity of fields and people. As a business owner I have worked with hundreds of businesses and I understand important needs for businesses to thrive and employees to be properly compensated. I have also worked as an educator in Title 1 schools and I know the needs that our students have in failing schools to guarantee them an equal opportunity for top-notch education.

I am a candidate for the people. As a humanitarian, civil rights and peace activist, and preacher my interest have been for the greater good of people. I’ve spent countless hours in community service for seniors and lower income families. I have experience with the mentally ill and have gone to volunteer in prisons. I am the candidate that will have compassion on our people and push agendas that will benefit them succeeding in life. What is needed in the perfect candidate is diversity . Even when people look at my campaign team it consists of all nationalities and multiple backgrounds including Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Muslim Americans, Caucasian Americans, and Latino Americans. The reason why is because is because I am American and I want to represent Americans of all ethnic backgrounds to ensure that we all will succeed and Rise together!

TL:  When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?

LB:  Besides spending time with my campaign and my business, I love to spend time with my two sons and my wife. With the free time that we all have we like to go to volunteer senior citizen facilities, cook for families in need, and holding Ministry services. We always like to take on projects to stimulate the activity in our rural community as well. We have a car club group that raises money for families who can’t afford to bury their deceased loved ones. We also have a television show that inspires people to believe in miracles. So in summary we like to inspire others with our free time.

 

Thanks to Dr. Barnes for the responses.

 

Texas Primary Election Day is Tuesday March 6th, and Early Voting begins February 20th.  For the Primary, you must register to vote no later than February 5th (if you’re unsure of your voting status, here’s where you can check your registration).  Early voting procedures can differ depending on your county, but here are helpful links to some: Harris CountyFort Bend CountyBrazoria CountyMontgomery County, and Galveston County

For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.

(if you like this Texas Leftist post, please consider a donation!  Help us encourage Progressive, common sense ideals in the Lone Star State!!)

 

Attorney General Sessions Commends Sheriffs for Upholding “Anglo-American Heritage” of Policing

Wait, what???

So we’ve all heard the phrase “assuming the worst” of a person or of a situation.  Given his history of documented, overt racism, it was certainly easy to assume the worst of our nation’s current Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.  After openly using racist slurs, and demonstrating that he cares little for communities of color, Americans would be right to not expect much progress under the law enforcement arm of the Trump Administration.

But then, there are days like today, when Jeff Sessions just gives us a new low all on his own, unprompted.

Here’s what he actually said…

Since our founding, the independent, elected Sheriff has been the People’s Protector who keeps law enforcement close to and accountable to the people through the elective process.  The office of Sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American Heritage of Law Enforcement.  We must never eroode this historic office.

And here’s coverage of the same clip via C-SPAN for any doubters.

Please feel free to play the clip again, and seek out multiple networks.  He did indeed say it.  And the sad part about all of this?  He’s completely correct.  Though you don’t have to tell that to communities of color in this country.  Here’s more on that sordid history from Time magazine..

…the U.S. police force is a relatively modern invention, sparked by changing notions of public order, driven in turn by economics and politics, according to Gary Potter, a crime historian at Eastern Kentucky University.

Policing in Colonial America had been very informal, based on a for-profit, privately funded system that employed people part-time. Towns also commonly relied on a “night watch” in which volunteers signed up for a certain day and time, mostly to look out for fellow colonists engaging in prostitution or gambling.

[…]

In the South, however, the economics that drove the creation of police forces were centered not on the protection of shipping interests but on the preservation of the slavery system. Some of the primary policing institutions there were the slave patrols tasked with chasing down runaways and preventing slave revolts, Potter says; the first formal slave patrol had been created in the Carolina colonies in 1704. During the Civil War, the military became the primary form of law enforcement in the South, but during Reconstruction, many local sheriffs functioned in a way analogous to the earlier slave patrols, enforcing segregation and the disenfranchisement of freed slaves.

So when Langston Hughes writes in his famous poem “America was never America to me”, that’s a major part of what he’s trying to capture.  Even in the 21st century, communities of color still have many well-documented reasons to harbor fear against law enforcement agencies, despite the incredibly diligent work of some police to change and evolve this terrible history, and allow all Americans to feel safe in their communities.  The very difficulties and old wounds which Attorney General Sessions seem to be blissfully unaware are the reasons so many American citizens have taken to protest their government in movements like Black Lives Matter, and will continue to do so until citizens are treated equally under the law.

Which clearly ain’t gonna happen as long as Trump and Sessions occupy our nation’s highest law enforcement positions.  Instead, we have to suffer with an Attorney General whom uses his platform to perpetuate our nation’s torrid history of racism and violence, and can’t possibly be of help to the real work of policing in today’s complex society.

Will these folks ever learn??

Sorry Students: US Department of Education Officially REJECTS Transgender Complaints On Restrooms

Oh, how much has changed over the last 13 months.

After historic progress for the LGBT community under the Obama Administration, it seems that our nation’s 45th President, and our Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, are determined to put America’s  students and their real educational concerns on the back burner.

UGH.  Here’s the scoop, from Dominic Holden of BuzzFeed News

The Education Department has told BuzzFeed News it won’t investigate or take action on any complaints filed by transgender students who are banned from restrooms that match their gender identity, charting new ground in the Trump administration’s year-long broadside against LGBT rights.

It’s the first time officials have asserted this position publicly as an interpretation of law. No formal announcement has been made.

For nearly a year, the Trump administration took a less clear stance, with officials saying they were studying the issue. When the Education Department and Justice Department withdrew Obama-era guidance on transgender restroom access in February 2017, Trump’s officials said in a memo and court filings that they would “consider the legal issues involved.” Then last June, the Education Department issued another memo saying it was “permissible” for its civil rights division to dismiss a trans student’s restroom case. However, in those statements, officials never cemented their intent to reject all restroom complaints issued by trans students.

For the past three weeks, BuzzFeed News called and emailed Education Department officials attempting to pinpoint the agency’s position.

Finally on Thursday, Liz Hill, a spokesperson for the agency, responded “yes, that’s what the law says” when asked again if the Education Department holds a current position that restroom complaints from transgender students are not covered by a 1972 federal civil rights law called Title IX.

Asked for further explanation on the department’s position, Hill said Friday, “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity.”

This represents a complete and total about face from policies of the Obama Administration, which sought to protect the rights and safety of all students, including the Transgender community.  Here’s an excerpt of a joint memo from the Departments of Justice and Education, dated May 16th, 2016…

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status.  The guidance makes clear that both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.

“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.  “This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies.  I look forward to continuing our work with the Department of Education – and with schools across the country – to create classroom environments that are safe, nurturing, and inclusive for all of our young people.”

“No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.  “This guidance further clarifies what we’ve said repeatedly – that gender identity is protected under Title IX.  Educators want to do the right thing for students, and many have reached out to us for guidance on how to follow the law.  We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence.”

“Every child deserves to attend school in a safe, supportive environment that allows them to thrive and grow.  And we know that teachers and administrators care deeply about all of their students and want them to succeed in school and life,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “Our guidance sends a clear message to transgender students across the country: here in America, you are safe, you are protected and you belong – just as you are.  We look forward to working with school officials to make the promise of equal opportunity a reality for all of our children.”

“Our federal civil rights law guarantees all students, including transgender students, the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities without sex discrimination as a core civil right,” said Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon.  “This guidance answers questions schools have been asking, with a goal to ensure that all students are treated equally consistent with their gender identity.  We look forward to continuing to work with schools and school communities to satisfy Congress’ promise of equality for all.”

Yet more confirmation that the Trump Administration is not only out of step with America’s school system, but that they seem to only care about the needs of certain American students.  Of course, given how much of our tax money is being given out the door to the 1 percent via the massive Tax Cut and Jobs Act, I guess sweeping Transgender Americans under the rug isn’t much of a surprise.

Elections have consequences folks.  And in this case, they are quite shameful.

So PLEASE don’t forget to VOTE in the upcoming March 6th Primary Election, and the November 6th General Election.  The only way to protect our students is to send lawmakers to Washington that care about them, which doesn’t seem to be getting done with the Republican majority.  Texans have a say on decisions like this one in November, as one of the Senators that not only supported Trump, but voted to confirm Betsy Devos, Ted Cruz, is up for reelection.

The first step in reversing tragedies like this one is to LOOSE CRUZ THIS NOVEMBER.

TLCQ 2018: Tami Walker

In the Eleventh installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Tami Walker,  candidate for the U.S. House, Texas’ 10th Congressional District.

Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted ver batim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.

 

TL:  What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?

TW:  Tami Walker

TL:  Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?

TW:  No

TL:  As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?

TW:  Government should serve the people.  Government should work to improve the lives of its constituents and provide needed services and order.  The Constitution states that the functions are to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, to insure domestic tranquility, to provide for a common defense, to promote the general welfare and to secure the blessings of liberty.  Our current government seems to have lost sight of all of this and seems only motivated to serve corporate donors and special interest. I would like to give the power back to the people.

TL:  If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for the upcoming legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.

TW:

(1)Affordable and accessible for all–I believe we should adopt a single payer Medicare System.  If that has to be phased in, we should stabilize the ACA and then work toward a single payer system. I would support negotiated prices on imported prescription drugs to reduce costs.  We should protect Medicaid programs serving vulnerable children, adults with special needs and the elderly and we should fund Planned Parenthood to make reproductive care more accessible.  Mental health and addiction should be treated as any other health problem and we should fund mental health and addiction treatment facilities. I would support legislation to save rural hospitals and emergency services.

(2) Bringing power back to the people with voting rights reform and campaign finance reform–I would enact campaign finance reform to prevent corporations and special interests from buying elections and influencing the votes of lawmakers. I support federal legislation to prevent the disenfranchisement of minority voters. I support automatic voter registration when obtaining a state issued ID, adequate polling locations, expansion of early voting and the prevention of the purging of voter rolls immediately prior to elections. I support non-partisan redistricting commissions in all states and measures to prevent cyber interference in elections.

(3) Climate Change.  The Clean Power Plan should be implemented. The plan is focused on reducing emissions from coal burning power plants, and increasing the use of renewable energy and conservation. We should rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. Congress should provide tax incentivizes for carbon capture, use, and storage.   Infrastructure investments can reduce emissions and improve resilience to climate impacts. Congress should fund international programs to help other countries reduce carbon emissions.  The U.S. should also implement a carbon fee and dividend program, with an international trade component to incentivize climate friendly consumer choices.

TL:  In the coming years, the state of Texas is on course to have an unprecedented boom in the state’s population. But with more people and more opportunities comes an ever-increasing strain on Texas roads and infrastructure. Describe your thoughts on what needs to be done to improve Texas infrastructure now so we can plan for a bright future for the state.

TW:  We should implement a comprehensive infrastructure plan to invest in clean energy, rebuild crumbling roads, bridges and dams, upgrade airports, build flood control and sea walls, add light rail in cities to address traffic issues, and build internet to rural areas.  We should create tax incentives to encourage companies to: manufacture in America; develop products and jobs of the future through research and technology; lessen their carbon footprint; and develop and utilize more clean energy, such as wind and solar.  There is currently too much emphasis on privatization, which limits projects that are not big “money makers” like rural bridges.  This should be done for public safety and for job growth.

TL:  Even as impressive growth continues in around the state’s urban centers, rural Texans are faced with a healthcare crisis.  According to Laura Garcia of the Victoria Advocate, rural communities across the state have lost 18 hospitals in less than five years, and this was before any additional challenges worsened by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey.  Without hospital services in or near their local communities, the medical and emergency care is at an increasing risk our citizens.  As a legislator, how would you plan to address this issue and help Texas’ vital rural healthcare facilities stay open?  

TW:  I would support the Save Rural Hospitals Act HR 2957, make federal grants available to rural hospitals and extend loan forgiveness programs to health care workers willing to serve for a period of time in rural hospitals.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2957

HR 2957 increases payments to, and modifies various requirements regarding, rural health care providers under the Medicare program. Among other provisions, the bill: (1) reverses cuts to reimbursement of bad debt for critical access hospitals and rural hospitals and extends payment levels for low-volume hospitals and Medicare-dependent hospitals.

TL:  In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to overturn an Obama-era rule which classifies internet service providers as public utilities, and thereby governed under the 1934 Communications Act.  This decision essentially erases the principle that Internet Service Providers should treat all online content equally without giving preference to particular sources, otherwise known as Net Neutrality.  Please describe your views on this decision, and whether or not you would support legislation at the State or Federal level to uphold the principle of Net Neutrality.

TW:  It was a terrible decision that will allow internet service providers to charge more for certain content or block certain content.  I would absolutely support legislation to preserve net neutrality.  We need a free and open internet.

TL:  What makes you the best candidate for this office?

TW:  I have 28 years of legal experience in different industries related to energy and infrastructure, including gas transmission, telecommunications, transportation, wind farm development and engineering. I’ve worked in a lot of different regulatory frameworks with state and federal agencies. This will enable me to work across the aisle for practical solutions.  I have been a working mother and understand the needs of working families.  I understand the inequalities that still exist in the workplace.  This district has three distinct segments (Austin, Houston and rural Texas).  I grew up in another area of rural Texas; I lived in Austin for 18 years and the Houston area for 14 years. I can relate to all three populations.  I am passionate about change and I’m willing to do the work implement policies that transform Texas and Congress for the better.

TL:  When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?

TW:  I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, entertaining in my home, and reading books.  I am also very active with some political groups in the Katy area and enjoy spending time with those friends.

 

Thanks to Ms.  Walker for the responses.

 

Texas Primary Election Day is Tuesday March 6th, and Early Voting begins February 20th.  For the Primary, you must register to vote no later than February 5th (if you’re unsure of your voting status, here’s where you can check your registration).  Early voting procedures can differ depending on your county, but here are helpful links to some: Harris CountyFort Bend CountyBrazoria CountyMontgomery County, and Galveston County

For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.

(if you like this Texas Leftist post, please consider a donation!  Help us encourage Progressive, common sense ideals in the Lone Star State!!)

TLCQ 2018: Brian E. Cronin

In the Tenth installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Brian Cronin,  candidate for the Texas State Senate, District 5.

Please note: Responses have been received directly from the candidate, and have been posted ver batim from the email received. This is done out of fairness to all candidates. Publishing these responses does not constitute an endorsement, but will be considered during the endorsement process.

 

TL:  What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?

BC:  Brian E. Cronin

TL:  Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?

BC:  Williamson Country Democratic Precinct Chair

TL:  As a political candidate, you clearly care about what happens in certain levels of government. In your own words, why is government important?

BC:  Many Americans do not participate in the political process because they feel that their participation will not make a difference in an election, or they feel that the government is corrupted beyond help.  I can understand their frustration.  There is much to do to bring back the integrity of these offices, particularly in Texas.  However, it is important to remember that the government has an influence on nearly every facet of American life, including roads and utilities, education, healthcare and family planning. I believe we need representatives that will fairly represent all people in Texas and make decisions that benefit the greater good. It is too important to not invest time and energy into who is making the decisions that affects so much of our lives.

TL:  If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for the upcoming legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.

BC:

(1) Invest in public education.  I understand that funding public education is the right thing to do. Public education helps provide life-long opportunities, financial freedoms, and equal footing to all families. Public education also creates stronger communities as our children become adults investing back in their local economy.

Currently, Texas ranks 43rd in school quality and 49th in high school diploma rates, all the while per-student education spending by the Texas Legislature is declining. I believe we must leverage Texas’ vast resources to invest in our kids and the future of the people our District.

A strong education system will build a 21st century, skilled workforce to drive the future economy in Texas and attract businesses as they see our community provides the right skills locally to succeed.

(2) Ensure quality healthcare.  Access to quality health care is the cornerstone of healthy and thriving communities. We must take care of Texans, including our seniors who can no longer work, our lower income kids and families struggling to make ends meet, disabled persons and those with chronic or terminal medical conditions, and all women seeking healthcare.

Currently, Texas has more uninsured residents—over 4.5 million—than any other state, and the highest percentage of uninsured citizens in the country. We also have the highest rate of Maternal Mortality in the developed world. Yet the Texas Legislature declines over $8 Billion dollars per year in Federal Health Care support, which means this money is diverted to other states for their health services.

I believe we need to change this and bring that money here to care for Texans. We also need to look closely at the health care needs of our District and push for that funding to be allocated in ways that keep our community healthy and safe.

(3) Create opportunities.  I believe Texas can build the strongest, most innovative, and capable workforce on the planet. We have diverse, hard-working people in every corner of our District.

To do this, we need to work with K-12 schools, community colleges, and higher education universities along with small and big businesses to build a pipeline of training and education programs that will help our youth today become the high-performers of tomorrow.

At the same time, I believe we need to create job systems to retrain people leaving industries and careers affected by automation and offshoring and prepare those individuals to quickly take on new careers. For example, we need a system that helps single parents in our District obtain the professional development they need and that supports retirees who want to pursue a second career.

TL:  In the coming years, the state of Texas is on course to have an unprecedented boom in the state’s population. But with more people and more opportunities comes an ever-increasing strain on Texas roads and infrastructure. Describe your thoughts on what needs to be done to improve Texas infrastructure now so we can plan for a bright future for the state.

BC:  Reducing traffic and increasing mobility is a critical issue facing our area. As your representative, I will be focused on building better roads and modernizing Public Transportation with increased clean-fuel buses; additional commuter train lines, and investments in high speed Rail. This will take cars off the road and help bring all people in our community to opportunity: schools, jobs and local businesses — including restaurants and entertainment. Great transportation is not only a priority for residents but mobility from airports to venues and urban areas is the cornerstone of tourism and a better economy. Linking Texas’ cities and towns will also help to improve the standard of living and create new jobs.

TL:  Even as impressive growth continues in around the state’s urban centers, rural Texans are faced with a healthcare crisis.  According to Laura Garcia of the Victoria Advocate, rural communities across the state have lost 18 hospitals in less than five years, and this was before any additional challenges worsened by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey.  Without hospital services in or near their local communities, the medical and emergency care is at an increasing risk our citizens.  As a legislator, how would you plan to address this issue and help Texas’ vital rural healthcare facilities stay open?  

BC:  The Texas legislature has been declining a sorely-needed $8 billion in Federal health care aid. It is a moral failure on their part to play with Texans’ lives for politics’ sake. We need to take care of our most vulnerable citizens by increasing Texas’ investment in Medicare and Medicaid, as well as using the money that is available to us to support rural hospitals and clinics.

The legislature has also inserted itself into women’s healthcare and found a way to close half of the clinics that provided  breast cancer screenings, gynecological examinations, and access to birth control and health services. This affected rural towns the most, leaving many low-income women without local clinics for vital care. I would oppose legislation that punishes women for political purposes.

TL:  In 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to overturn an Obama-era rule which classifies internet service providers as public utilities, and thereby governed under the 1934 Communications Act.  This decision essentially erases the principle that Internet Service Providers should treat all online content equally without giving preference to particular sources, otherwise known as Net Neutrality.  Please describe your views on this decision, and whether or not you would support legislation at the State or Federal level to uphold the principle of Net Neutrality.

BC:  The decision to eliminate net neutrality protections was a travesty for a free and open internet for all. All Americans should have equal access to what the internet has to offer, without discrimination.  I support net neutrality protections on all levels.

TL:  What makes you the best candidate for this office?

BC: My combination of personal, education, and professional experiences have given me a true passion for serving as a Texas State Senator. I understand that people and communities thrive when our government is unified and operates effective education, health, infrastructure, workforce, justice, and revenue systems. On a personal note, when I was in elementary school, my mom and dad owned a small family restaurant, which suddenly had to close its doors creating a difficult financial situation for them. My parents, who were hard working and loving, began to realize that putting food on the table and keeping their home was becoming increasingly difficult without an income. During this period, my parents had to turn to government aid for a short time. Through this support and through my parents hard work, my family got back on its feet and recovered the business. But I still remember the reassurance this most basic level of assistance brought to me during that tough time. I want to make sure people across Texas have this same support if ever in a time of need.

After childhood, I earned two advanced degrees, including a doctorate, focusing on Industrial and Organizational Research. For the nearly 20 years since, I have worked to make government agencies more effective as a national expert in workforce and organization development. Through my professional work, I have learned the importance of making sound decisions to improve public initiatives while maintaining efficient use of government resources. Over my career, I have led more than 50 government projects with organizations such as the Texas Governor’s office, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Department of Family Services, Department of Correction, Departments of Transportation, the US Department of Labor, the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Department of Agriculture, and scores of other state and federal agencies. In short, I understand how to work with government leaders, congressional committees, and stakeholders to get results.

I look forward to serving the people of this great community and the State of Texas.

TL:  When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?

BC:  I have a strong and beautiful wife of 14 years, Candace, and four sweet children. I have also enjoyed serving as a foster parent and feel blessed to be an adoptive parent, coach for my kids in YMCA sports, and resident of District 5 in the great state of Texas.

 

Thanks to Mr. Cronin for the responses.

 

Texas Primary Election Day is Tuesday March 6th, and Early Voting begins February 20th.  For the Primary, you must register to vote no later than February 5th (if you’re unsure of your voting status, here’s where you can check your registration).  Early voting procedures can differ depending on your county, but here are helpful links to some: Harris CountyFort Bend CountyBrazoria CountyMontgomery County, and Galveston County

For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.

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