Well we made it through 2020 Election Day and yes it’s still a lot to take in. But even as the Presidency is still being determined, this latest Episode of Ingressive Voices takes a look at what, if anything the local data can teach us about Texas turnout. Spoiler Alert: It’s more complicated than the national media is assuming.
Category Archives: Houston Politics
IVP 13: Ingressive Voices Podcast- Full Text
Though Texas Leftist has been pretty quiet over the last few months, I have been so pleased to hear from readers who have also become listeners of the Ingressive Voices Podcast. The content on the podcast shares much in common with articles one would find on Texas Leftist, with the added elements of audio thrown in.
But the other day, I was asked by a listener to consider posting transcripts of the Episodes, and I kind of like the idea. Some folks prefer to read along and listen simultaneously. So we’re giving this a try!! Feel free to listen below, AND read along. That way you can even tell when I get off script LOL.
IVP 13: Lege Sine Die, Justice Democrat Eyes Texas, Lone Republican Eyes Impeachment and LGBTQIA+ Pride
==== Last week was a very big week for two of America’s largest cities, as both Dallas and San Antonio held their runoff elections. State Representative Eric Johnson will become the next Mayor of the great City of Dallas, after he handily defeated challenger Scott Griggs by a margin of 10 percentage points. But the race in Texas’ Second Largest city of San Antonio was much, much closer, as Mayor Ron Nirenberg narrowly held off challenger Greg Brockhouse to claim a 2nd term. The race was decided by just a few thousand votes. An interesting point for both cities… Once the new elected officials are installed, BOTH Dallas City Council and San Antonio City Council will be MAJORITY FEMALE legislative entities. Along with the City Council of Austin which is already majority female and the Fort Worth City Council which is at gender parity, 2019 marks an historic advancement in representation for Texas women in municipal elections. In case you’re wondering, Houston still has a ways to go on this front.
====But even if Houston and Harris County government haven’t reached gender parity, there’s still some very positive progress being made, especially on the voting and elections front. As Zach Despart of the Houston Chronicle reports, Harris County working hard to help citizens vote…
Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday voted unanimously to apply for state approval to expand the use of countywide polling places to general elections.
County Clerk Diane Trautman said a trial run of the system during the low-turnout school board elections in May was successful. Trautman’s goal since taking office in January has been to implement countywide polling, in which voters can cast ballots at any location rather than their assigned precincts, in high-turnout general elections that can draw more than 1 million voters.
The Texas Secretary of State’s office must approve the proposal. In March, then-Secretary of State David Whitley permitted Harris County to try county-wide polling in the May election.
So the county has approved the changes, but one thing that Houstonians and Harris County voters must be sure and watch… without a Secretary of State, it will be important to watch who is appointed to this post by the Governor, and to ensure that they approve Harris County’s plans.
==== Monday, May 27th was the official close of the Texas Legislature’s 86th session, otherwise known as Sine Die (Sign-eh Di-eh). But, with all due apologies to the legal community, we’ve got to work on our Latin pronunciation. Shouldn’t it be pronounced “Sine Die”? Whatever the case, the session proved to be much less eventful on the drama front than Texans have seen previously. Though Governor Greg Abbott couldn’t let the 86th Session go by without keeping Texans in some suspense about which bills he would sign, and which he chose to Veto. All bills must be signed or vetoed no later than June 16th. As discussed in the previous podcast, the signature of achievement of Texas’ school finance bill was signed into law by the governor, marking an important step to provide needed resources to Texas school kids.
But for Democrats that might be worried about how to champion the Republican Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker’s progress now, and then worry about how to run against Republicans later, here’s a message for you from Ariana Grande… Thank You, NEXT. There used to be a time in American Politics when people understood this concept… celebrate and join with people when they do right, but on the campaign trail, run them into the GROUND when they do wrong. For Democrats that are glad that school finance has been improved, just say Thank You, NEXT. What are we going to do about all of the Texans still suffering without healthcare? When are we going to Expand Medicaid and help these people and save our rural hospitals? It’s great that kids and schools have money for books, but if their parents get sick and die it’s still going to be a problem. The campaign for any and ALL Democrats running in 2020, from the State Legislature to the United States Senate should be laser focused on the next BIG thing that must be done for citizens of our state. It’s past time to expand Medicaid.
==== And speaking of 2020, there’s some very interesting news coming up for the 2020 Federal Election in Texas. From Julia Wallace of the Laredo Morning Times, here’s a very interesting development…
A 26-year-old Laredoan, former valedictorian of Early College High School and current immigration and human rights attorney, Jessica Cisneros is announcing her campaign Thursday to run for Congress in 2020 to represent Laredo and the rest of Texas’ 28th District, which spans from San Antonio to Mission.
“I’m super excited to finally have the opportunity,” said Cisneros to Laredo Morning Times. “I’ve been working for it and praying for it, to be able to give back to my community here in South Texas. From a very young age, I’ve known that I wanted to give back to my community. I’ve been inspired by the people here in Laredo.”
Cisneros will have the chance to give Laredo’s Rep. Henry Cuellar a serious primary challenger in this very blue district, which has solely been represented by Democrats since it was created in 1993.
Cisneros is backed by Justice Democrats, the progressive advocacy group that famously recruited Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her successful primary bid to represent New York’s 14th congressional district. And Cisneros’ platform reflects Justice Democrats’ core values, which have become emblematic of the progressive left. According to a release from the Justice Democrats, they include: fixing the U.S. immigration system, ending family separations, opposing the border wall, instating a $15 minimum wage and a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, the end of corporate money influencing elections, free public college, women’s health and reproductive rights, gun reform, expanding Social Security, and making the wealthy pay their fair share.
Cisneros has pledged to reject campaign contributions from corporate political action committees and lobbyists.
Though it may be only one race so far, the fact that groups like the Justice Democrats have decided to recruit candidates in Texas represents an important shift within the state. Cisneros’ entry into the race will be the first contested Primary for the 28th district in a decade. It also means a high likelihood of stars like A-OC and other prominent Progressives adding some Texas stops to the campaign trail. Keep a close eye on this race.
====On the last episode, we discussed the situations swirling around and within the current White House, the case for Impeachment of President Trump, and the many reasons for why Impeachment proceedings should start sooner rather than later. The case for these actions seems to strengthen by the day, even gaining new fuel from President Trump’s recent comments to George Stephanopolous saying that he would not only welcome foreign interference for the 2020 election, but that he doesn’t care to report any suspicious activities to the FBI. Even Republicans have come out against these latest comment.
Of course, what should be done and what is being done are obviously two different stories. Despite overwhelming amounts of evidence, Impeachment of President Trump depends wholeheartedly on a Congress which is willing to see it through. And on that note, lots of important developments have been happening.
One major development? At long last, the Republican “Red Wall” defending President Trump to no end has begun to crack. Thankfully for us as a nation, that crack is coming from the very smart, independent-minded and articulate Michigan Congress Member Justin Amash. In a series of carefully constructed tweets, CM Amash has gone it alone to make the growing voices for Impeachment, possibly of BOTH President Trump and Attorney General Barr, a bi-partisan effort. Here are the tweets directly from CM Amash on May 18th (it’s basically a whole statement)…
Here are my principal conclusions: 1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report. 2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. 3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances. 4. Few members of Congress have read the report.
I offer these conclusions only after having read Mueller’s redacted report carefully and completely, having read or watched pertinent statements and testimony, and having discussed this matter with my staff, who thoroughly reviewed materials and provided me with further analysis. In comparing Barr’s principal conclusions, congressional testimony, and other statements to Mueller’s report, it is clear that Barr intended to mislead the public about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s analysis and findings.
Barr’s misrepresentations are significant but often subtle, frequently taking the form of sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies, which he hopes people will not notice. Under our Constitution, the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” While “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not defined, the context implies conduct that violates the public trust.
Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment. In fact, Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.
Impeachment, which is a special form of indictment, does not even require probable cause that a crime (e.g., obstruction of justice) has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct.
While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct.
Our system of checks and balances relies on each branch’s jealously guarding its powers and upholding its duties under our Constitution. When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law—the foundation of liberty—crumbles.
We’ve witnessed members of Congress from both parties shift their views 180 degrees—on the importance of character, on the principles of obstruction of justice—depending on whether they’re discussing Bill Clinton or Donald Trump. Few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report; their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation—and it showed, with representatives and senators from both parties issuing definitive statements on the 448-page report’s conclusions within just hours of its release.
America’s institutions depend on officials to uphold both the rules and spirit of our constitutional system even when to do so is personally inconvenient or yields a politically unfavorable outcome. Our Constitution is brilliant and awesome; it deserves a government to match it.
In what seemed to be an impromptu public statement on Tuesday May 29th, Special Counsel Attorney Robert Mueller tried to basically ward off any possible requests from Congress to have him testify about the contents of his report. At the opening and closing of his remarks, he urged the public to take seriously the actions by foreign entities to interfere with our elections, and stated that this would be his only public comments on the matter.
But even in Mueller’s resistant remarks, the need for him to testify at public, televised Congressional hearings was only strengthened. A growing number of citizens are disappointed with the seeming lack of urgency being displayed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the Democrat’s leadership team. As calls for an Impeachment Inquiry intensify, it’s highly unlikely that Mueller will get to sit out on public witness to the many facts which have been discovered.
Even as all of the controversies around the White House continue to swirl, it must be observed that Democrats in the House aren’t just sitting around doing nothing. With each new week, they continue to send major pieces of legislation to the Republican- controlled United States Senate. A recent quote from Ella Nilsen of Vox reveals just how prolific Democrats have been after less than 6 months in control…
1. HR 259 — Medicaid Extenders Act of 2019
2. House Resolution 271 — Condemning the Trump Administration’s Legal Campaign to Take Away Americans’ Health Care
3. HR 986 — Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019
4. HR 987 — Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act
5. HR 1520, the Purple Book Continuity Act (bill aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs)
6. HR 1503, the Orange Book Transparency Act of 2019 (bill aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs)
1. HR 1 — For the People Act of 2019
2. HR 5 — Equality Act
3. HR 7 — Paycheck Fairness Act
4. HR 124 — Expressing opposition to banning service in the Armed Forces by openly transgender individuals
1. HR 8 — Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019
2. HR 1112 — Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019
1. HR 9 — Climate Action Now Act
2. HR 1331 — Local Water Protection Act
3. S 47 — National Resources Management Act
4. HR 2578 — National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2019
1. HR 840 — Veterans’ Access to Child Care Act
2. HJ Res. 37 — Directing the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress
3. SJ Res. 7 — To direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress
4. HR 31 — Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019
5. HJ Res. 30 — Disapproving the President’s proposal to take an action relating to the application of certain sanctions with respect to the Russian Federation
1. H.Con.Res. 24 — Expressing the sense of Congress that the report of Special Counsel Mueller should be made available to the public and to Congress.
1. HR 1585 — Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019
2. HR 1500 — Consumers First Act
3. HR 1994 — SECURE Act
4. HR 1644 — Save the Internet Act of 2019
5. HR 2157 — Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2019
6. HR 269 — Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019
7. HR 251 — Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Extension Act
8. S 24 — Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019
9. HR 430 — TANF Extension Act of 2019
10. Concurring in the Senate Amendments to HR 251 — Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standard Program Extension Act
11. HR 790 — Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act of 2019
12. HJ Res. 46 — Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on February 15, 2019
13. H Res. 183 — Condemning anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values and aspirations that define the people of the United States and condemning anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contrary to the values and aspirations of the United States, as amended
14. H Res. 194 — Rule Providing for Consideration of H.R. 1644 and H.R. 2021
15. HR 2480 — Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
16. HR 375 — To amend the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 to reaffirm the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for Indian Tribes (also known as the “Carcieri Fix”)
Just last week, we can add to the list a major Immigration bill which protects dreamers and provides a pathway to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants in the country, and the long-awaited and sweeping Disaster Relief bill (which was previously upheld by REPUBLICAN members of the House). Democrats and Pelosi have in fact passed over 50 major pieces of legislation, the vast majority of which continues to languish at the door of the United States Senate. And they’ve done all of this right alongside conducting several investigations of the Trump Administration and issuing more subpoenas than anyone would have previously thought necessary.
For any Democrat in House that is wondering if they’ve “done enough” before crossing the divide to support an Impeachment Inquiry, the answer to this question is simple… tell your constituents about your record, and tell them exactly why these bills have not become law.
====Make Room for PRIDE Month
June is LGBTQ Pride Month, and a significant milestone in LGBTQ history. This year marks 50 years since the Pride movement was born. Houston, Texas, home to one of the largest Pride celebrations in the United States, is marking the special occasion by highlighting an important segment of the community. Here’s more from Brandon Wolf of OutSmart magazine…
This year’s honorary Pride marshals are four Houston trans women of color who have been making a difference in the lives of other local trans women of color: Ana Andrea Molina, Atlantis Narcisse, Dee Dee Watters, and Monica Roberts. By choosing to honor these four Houstonians, the committee of former Pride marshals pays tribute to the trans women of color who are credited with initiating the Stonewall Inn civil-rights rebellion in 1969: Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Stormé DeLarverie. This year’s “Summer of ’69” Pride theme looks back 50 years to three seminal events from the 1960s—Stonewall, the NASA moon landing, and Woodstock.
Read more of the article to learn about these incredible women, the many harrowing challenges they have faced and how they have been able to persevere through all of them.
–Ingressive Media, 2019.
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The Ingressive Voices Podcast– Check It Out!!
So you may recall back before the elections that I announced that Texas Leftist would soon be wrapping up. This is still true, for the most part, but I may not be done with the blog just yet.
But if you have enjoyed the content from Texas Leftist over the years, please consider taking a listen to my brand new Podcast called Ingressive Voices. It is much of the same topics that have been covered from the blog, just in a new, and exciting format. The episodes are far from polished thus far, as I still have a lot to learn about podcasting. But I’m glad to have started out 2019 with something new, and I hope you’ll join me on the new journey.
You can find Ingressive Voices on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple, Stitcher, and most other places you may listen.
See you, er well… hear you there!!
Texas Vietnamese Community Worries As Trump Administration Threatens Deportations
From venerable institutions like Mai’s restaurant and Les Givral’s in Midtown Houston, to the bright bustling scenes of Saigon Plaza on the city’s West Side, to Radio Saigon piping across the airwaves of the Southeast Texas, the influence of Texas’ Vietnamese Community is a palpable and celebrated part of the Houston region’s diverse mosaic. With a multi-generational populace over 80,000 strong since the fall of Saigon in the 1970s, most Houstonians today couldn’t imagine their city without them.
Which is why many Houstonians are disturbed to hear of the Trump Administration’s constant efforts to weaken and threaten immigrant communities. Here’s the story from Charles Dunst and Krishnadev Calamur of The Atlantic…
The Trump administration is resuming its efforts to deport certain protected Vietnamese immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades—many of them having fled the country during the Vietnam War.
The White House unilaterally reinterpreted the agreement in the spring of 2017 to exempt people convicted of crimes from its protections, allowing the administration to send back a small number of pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants, a policy it retreated from this past August. Last week, however, a spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Hanoi said the American government was again reversing course.
Washington now believes that the 2008 agreement fails to protect pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants from deportation, the spokesperson, who asked not to be identified by name because of embassy procedures, told The Atlantic.
“The United States and Vietnam signed a bilateral agreement on removals in 2008 that establishes procedures for deporting Vietnamese citizens who arrived in the United States after July 12, 1995, and are subject to final orders of removal,” the spokesperson said. “While the procedures associated with this specific agreement do not apply to Vietnamese citizens who arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995, it does not explicitly preclude the removal of pre-1995 cases.”
In true Trump fashion, the Executive Branch is once again exhibiting behavior which blatantly Un-American. Thankfully come January, there will be at least one real-time check on these misdeeds, via the Democrat-controlled House Of Representatives.
But the fact that such vile can fly under the radar of municipal, county and state leaders is equally inexcusable. Texas Leftist is calling on Members of Houston City Council, former and currently serving state legislators, and our state–wide elected officials to call out the Trump Administration for these hate–filled tactics.
It’s time for our political leaders to stand up and protect the great Texans in this community. If you can’t do that, you don’t deserve to hold office.
Point of Light: The Passing Of Bush 41
President George H. W. Bush’s record of achievement is unparalleled… from bravery in battle to political bravery during the height of constitutional crisis, from navigation of complex foreign relations to unprecedented champion of the disabled.
But above all, his example as a good man, devoted husband and loving patriarch continues to inspire us all. Just as President Bush spoke of 1000 Points of Light in his inauguration speech, his incredible legacy will continue to shine bright in the hearts of Americans, and citizens of our great global community.
My sincere prayers to the entire Bush Family.
Ray Hill: Never Afraid To Speak Out
Everyone has moments in their life where we are faced with an immediate choice. When we witness an injustice, do we speak out at that very moment, or do we shy away and try to make sense of it in our individual way? Rarely is this inner struggle an easy one. But whether easy or not for Houston human rights activist and LGBT icon Ray Hill, we do know that he found the courage to speak out, and fight for justice over the course of decades.
Now Ray himself may have referred to this speaking out as a “performance piece” in some circumstances… he was willing to yell, scream, get arrested and perform any type of civil disobedience as needed to draw attention to issues. But whether performing or not, Hill was known as someone that generated important results.
Over this weekend, the legendary Ray Hill passed away. From the Houston Chronicle…
Hill, who late in life eschewed leadership roles in activist circles to hone a career as a monologuist — a dramatic undertaking that gained him appreciative audiences in New York, Pennsylvania and New England — died of heart failure in hospice care Saturday. He was 78.
A legend in his own right — and in his own mind — Hill’s business card described his profession as “citizen provocateur,” a proudly worn label he received from a Supreme Court justice after a long-ago legal battle with the cops.
“I was born to rub the cat hair the wrong direction,” he once said.
A rabblerouser, a social gadfly with a sting, Hill made the issues that mattered to him matter to everyone — or at least to those in power. He launched his activist career in 1975 after returning to Houston from a four-year stint in prison for burglary and larceny.
Ever willing to fight the man, at one point Hill bested the City of Houston in the highest court in the land when he got the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an ordinance that made it illegal to interrupt police officers.
Hill’s work continues to have an impact. Long before the days of cell phone video, Hill fought for the constitutional rights of citizens as they encountered law enforcement. A case he won against the City of Houston in the Supreme Court not only struck down the city ordinance, but is now used across the nation as more documentation of these interactions are known to the public. His experience as a prison inmate turned prison reform activist have caused substantive changes in an aspect of Texas that few may understand, but that affects us all.
For decades, Ray Hill showed Houston, the state of Texas, and the entire world the true power of refusing to accept one’s contemporary circumstance. Be it through civil disobedience (and maybe occasionally un-civil), wielding drama or plain old persistence, Hill was willing to work for change when he saw the need for it. And as a result, he left an indelible influence on a whole generation of Texas activists.
I was fortunate enough to meet Ray Hill on a couple of occasions, but the one I remember most was sitting down with him and fellow activist Jenifer Rene Pool when she was a guest of his on KPFT. Pool was running for Houston City Council, and I served as her Social Media director at the time. As they spoke about various topics, the notion of finding one’s place came up. After a moment of back and forth, Hill finally said, “but it’s not always about finding your place. If you can’t find it after a while, you better just make it.”
And that was Ray Hill, a true Texas original. Because of his work, many more of us have a place in the conversation. But that’s no excuse to stop making new ones as well.
Thank you Ray.
Houston Region Prepares For New Era With Harris County Judge-Elect Lina Hidalgo
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again… Elections have consequences.
Speaking on Election Night 2018 after her incredible victory, Harris County Judge-Elect Lina Hidalgo reflected briefly on another recent election…
Like thousands of women across the country this year, I decided about 15 months ago that I wasn’t just going to let things be. That I was going to do things myself. I never thought I would work in politics. I never thought I would run for office. I thought I would continue my career working, pushing for the system to work better from the outside.
But I had to step up. And truth is, with the turnout we saw this year, we’ve all stepped up. We realized that Democracy depends on our participation.
And because she stepped up, Hidalgo will now be the top government official of the third largest County in the country… a county larger in population than 26 states.
To many, the result is something of a surprise. Even this very blog endorsed Judge-Elect Hidalgo’s opponent Ed Emmett, largely based on his record of service and his ability to put the needs of citizens largely above politics.
But with the race now settled, Texas Leftist looks forward to Ms. Hidalgo’s leadership, and many possible changes to come.
One change is already clear. Joining Hidalgo will be Commissioner-apparent Adrian Garcia (at present Commissioner Jack Morman has yet to concede the race) and Commissioner Rodney Ellis, which marks the first Democratic majority in charge of Harris County in over a generation.
And what can we expect to see under Judge Hidalgo’s leadership?? Issues highlighted during her campaign were to create a county government that is “proactive, not reactive” when it comes to flood protection, disaster preparation, comprehensive public transportation, education and government transparency.
Check out this wide-ranging interview done with political blogger an media strategist Egberto Willies. For those with any doubt, this should make it perfectly clear that Judge-Elect Hidalgo is ready to lead the 4.6 million residents of Harris County.