Category Archives: Houston Politics

Famed Karolyi Gymnastics Ranch Under Investigation By Texas Officials

For a state well known for highlighting its achievements, there’s no doubt that one sight near Huntsville was a definitive point of pride.  The famous Karolyi Ranch has been perhaps the most famous gymnastics training site on the planet for over 35 years.  Each Quadrennium, Texans would regularly watch news reports from the secluded ranch, featuring interviews from a group of young ladies destined to rule the summer Olympics.

But within that secluded space, Texans did not know the horrors which occurred away from the glare of the cameras.  In the wake of long-time USA Gymnastics Team Doctor Larry Nassar being sentenced to prison for the sexual molestation of nearly 200 girls, the ranch itself is now coming under heavy scrutiny.  Here’s more on that from Ayan Mittra and Emma Platoff of the Texas Tribune

Nearly a week after prominent USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to prison for the sexual assault of several female gymnasts, Gov. Greg Abbott has asked the Texas Rangers to investigate misconduct allegations at the famed Karolyi Ranch, the U.S. Olympic training facility in southeast Texas, north of Houston, where Nassar treated athletes.

“The public statements made by athletes who previously trained at the Karolyi Ranch are gut-wrenching,” Abbott said in a statement Tuesday. “Those athletes, as well as all Texans, deserve to know that no stone is left unturned to ensure that the allegations are thoroughly vetted and the perpetrators and enablers of any such misconduct are brought to justice. The people of Texas demand, and the victims deserve, nothing less.”

The Governor is adding some major state resources to look into matters at the site.  As Cody Stark of the Huntsville Item reports, they may have reason for this thanks to the work of local officials that were getting close to filing charges…

Local charges are still a possibility for a disgraced sports medicine doctor who was sentenced to decades in prison this past week for sexually assaulting more than 100 female athletes over the years, some of which reportedly took place at the USA Gymnastics National Training Center in Walker County.

Sheriff Clint McRae said Friday that his office had an ongoing open investigation into alleged criminal activity by Larry Nassar at the Karolyi Ranch in southeast Walker County. He did not comment on specifics of the case.

“This is an open investigation, but I cannot comment any further on what type of investigation it is at this time,” McRae said last week. “We are gathering information in anticipation that more charges could be pending.”

As of last week, the United States Olympic Committee has officially ended all training activity at the ranch, and with famed coaches Bella and Marta Karolyi.  With now multiple investigations under way, more news is likely.

 

TLCQ 2018: Adam Milasincic

In the Fifth installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Adam Milasincic,  candidate for the Texas State House, District 138

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?

AM:  Adam Milasincic

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

AM:  I am an attorney and first-time candidate.

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

AM:  When run properly, state government ensures an equal playing field and high quality of life for all residents. From our public schools to our flood-control infrastructure to the highways we drive on, decisions made in the state Capitol affect the everyday life of everyone who lives or even travels through our state. Unfortunately, government can be (and currently is being) used for the evil purpose of stigmatizing and bullying people—something that I am fighting to end.

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

AM:

  • Invest in public schools as our #1 budget priority: Restore the state’s share of public school funding to at least 50 percent and use Rainy Day funds to repair the still-devastating consequences of the funding “gap” created by the $4 billion school funding cut in 2011. Improve pay and benefits for public school teachers.

  • Enact flood control solutions: Control carbon emissions to reduce Texas’ contributions to climate change. Toughen rules for new construction to protect existing homes. Create and properly fund a 13-county regional Flood Control District to accept responsibility for all storm water issues.

  • Stop all the hate: Racism and discrimination have never gone away, but these evils are becoming even worse today under Trump and Greg Abbott. We must resist and repeal discriminatory laws such as the “Show Me Your Papers” Senate Bill 4, and the never-ending flood of anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ bills filed every session. Stopping the hate also encompasses an end to all racial profiling, pretextual traffic stops, and other abuses in the criminal justice system that predominately harm African American and Hispanic people.

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.

AM:  The state is already investing large sums in highway construction, but our flood-control infrastructure is vastly underfunded and overlooked. Through construction impact fees and other revenue sources, we must invest the money now to assure that when the next super storm hits, our families and homes will be better protected.

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?  

AM:  At the federal level, Congress needs to act by restoring adequate Medicare and Medicaid payments for these rural hospitals; underfunding at the federal level is a primary mover behind this crisis. As a state legislator, I will fight for expanding Affordable Care Act coverage within Texas so that quality healthcare is more accessible to low-income individuals in all communities. Additionally, we must expand loan-forgiveness and other incentives for medical students attending our state universities who commit to establishing practices in rural and other underserved communities.

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.

AM:  I oppose the FCC’s decision and support Net Neutrality. A free, open internet is vital to our modern economy, and the FCC’s approach is yet another example of favoritism toward mega-corporations. Although state-level laws that directly attempt to contradict the FCC’s ruling would arguably be preempted by federal law if challenged in court, states can and should take creative steps to at least partially address the issue until we have a Congress and president willing to act. For example, some states are requiring internet service providers with state contracts to follow the Net Neutrality approach if they want to keep their state contracts.

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

AM: Winning experience and progressive values. I have a winning record of fighting and beating many of the richest and most powerful corporations in the state. Having litigated all the way through appeals courts on legal interpretation issues as in-the-weeds as how the placement of a comma affects a law’s meaning, I am ready to contribute on day one with substantive legislation and amendments. I am not intimidated by special interests and have the record to back it up. In today’s climate especially, we need our Democratic legislators to be tough, proven fighters and strategic planners if we are to successfully block the reactionary agenda that is ruining the lives of too many people in our state.

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

AM:  Volunteer work, reading mystery novels, and traveling to new places.

 

Thanks to Mr. Milasincic 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!!)

Texoblogosphere: Week of January 22nd

The Texas Progressive Alliance is now fully aware of what the phrase “freeze your keester off” means as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff expresses skepticism about a “loose coalition” of business and education interests aiming to weaken Dan Patrick by aiming at his Senate enablers.

SocraticGadfly talks baseball. With Cardinals icon Yadier Molina announcing he’ll retire when his current contract ends, is he a Hall of Famer or not?

EgbertoWillies.com said that many Democrats seemed to have believed that because Trump is unpopular they would coast to a Blue Wave. Those who warned were attacked as pessimists not reading the data objectively. The double-digit Democratic generic poll lead evaporated. There is work to be done.

Neil at All People Have Value shared a picture from the weekly John Cornyn Houston Office Protest held each Tuesday 11:30 AM to 1 PM at 5300 Memorial Dr.

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

Jeff Balke writes all your driving-related New Year’s resolutions.

S. L. Wisenberg grapples with the art of men who do despicable things.

Michael Li interprets the latest SCOTUS action on Texas redistricting.

G. Elliott Morris gives a short course in poll tracking.

Therese Odell says we should ignore Trump’s “Fake News Awards”, but we still have to take them seriously.

The Bloggess celebrates Eeyore Day.

Stuart Williams urges Texas Democrats to compete in rural areas.

Texoblogosphere: Week of January 8th

The Texas Progressive Alliance knows where the really big buttons are as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff gave his initial impressions of the primary ballot.

SocraticGadfly talked about Beto O’Rourke’s visit to Northeast Texas.

With so many candidates on the Primary Ballot, It’s easy to understand how some Texas Democrats might still be in a state of shock. But in the face of a VERY good problem, Texas Leftist is doing their part to gather solid information for voters. This year’s Candidate Questionnaire, or TLCQ 2018 is up and ready to go, so please check it out and look for responses to come in soon.

Neil at All People Have Value noted that Trump was making a case for street protests against corrupt government in his tweets about demonstrations in Iran. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

G. Elliott Morris gives five numbers that frame where the 2018 Congressional elections stand.

Mike Snyder wants to consider the question of how Houston should grow post-Harvey.

The TSTA Blog urges teachers to be the voting bloc some legislators fear they can be.

The Texas Living Waters Project talks to Dr. Andrew Sansom about his freshwater environmental activism.

Lone Star Ma shared her New Year’s resolutions.

Jordan Maney wants to make San Antonio a more welcoming place for young black artists and innovators.

2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire

Remember when we said that in 2018, the goal is not to “Get Ready”, but to STAY Ready??

Such is the case with the TLCQ 2018:  The Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire.  This year, we are focusing on the March 6th 2018 Democratic Primary, and depending on those results, may do a second cycle for the General Election.

 

1. What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot?

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

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

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

5. 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.

6. 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?  

7.  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.

8. What makes you the best candidate for this office?

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

 

And there you have it… the questions for TLCQ 2018.

Happy New Year! But…

Are you READY?

Recently, I had the esteemed pleasure of once again appearing on Houston Matters for a special edition of their Good, Bad and Ugly  Hosted by Craig Cohen, fellow panelists Natalie Arceneaux, Joe Holley and myself took part in which we reflected on the many events of the year.  It was a wonderful discussion.

In Case You Missed It you can listen here.

 

Our first realization is one with which you can probably identify.  With so many twists and turns endured in 2017, it almost feels like we’ve been through several years since our last flip of the calendar.  The drama and trauma, whether from Washington, from Austin or elsewhere, has been nearly non-stop.

A big contributor to that is from the many natural disasters.  From earthquakes to hurricanes, fires and historic floods, nature has made itself known to the Americas in 2017.  The local effects of Hurricane Harvey might not always seem apparent at a quick glance, but if you stop and speak to just a few Houstonians, one is quick to realize that we are not yet out of the woods.

Not so for our smaller neighbors like Dickinson, Rockport, Port Arthur and Port Aransas.  Clean-up may be getting done, but that’s a far cry from economic and financial sustainability.  As Joe Holley says mentioned, much of our towns along the Texas Gulf Coast  depend on a healthy stream of tourists to make a living, and the lack the resources or attention that is placed on a national epicenter like Houston.  As taxpaying Texans and Americans, they are waiting and hoping for help from the government they’ve invested in all of their lives.  As we roll into the New Year, we cannot forget about them.

Which is something of a supreme irony when juxtaposed against United States’ current political climate and those occupying the seats of power.  Even as Trump and the Republicans tried each day to undermine the importance of a Federal Government, mother nature served as a constant reminder that certain needs for the American People can only be addressed when our collective resources are utilized.  At least we hope they’ll be utilized for those affected by disaster next year.

But after months of trying to take away healthcare, then months of trying to, still take away healthcare, the GOP was finally able to inflict some serious damage to the Affordable Care Act, courtesy of the only major piece of legislation they managed to pass.    As Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner reports, the damage done in 2017 is just the beginning…

In the wake of the Republican victory on tax reform, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said that his priorities for 2018 will be welfare reform, healthcare, and entitlement reform.

[…]

“I don’t think the health care issue is done,” Ryan said in an interview with the Weekly Standard‘s Stephen Hayes. He suggested revisiting the Obamacare issue as early as January. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to go after the root cause—health care inflation and entitlements. Welfare reform is going to be our next lift.”

Though conceding that Trump is opposed to tackling Medicare and Social Security, he said he would continue to push on the issue. “We’re never going to give up on entitlement reform and the things we need to do to get the debt under control,” Ryan said. “With one more reconciliation, I think we have a pretty good shot at getting some of these things done.”

Which, again, for Speaker Ryan is highly ironic.  Lest one forgets, every single member of Congress that is sent to Washington to take these votes is not only paid by the government, but they receive excellent government healthcare, retirement and pension benefits courtesy of us, the American taxpayers.  They write the laws, decide what benefits they want, and we get to pay for them.  Now that’s entitlement if I ever heard the term.

For the rest of us, he’s concerned that there just isn’t enough money in the budget to support such critical needs for Americans.  He and Republicans should be concerned… after all, they are the ones who voted to give away money which could be used to sustain and improve those same programs.  If the Speaker is so concerned about funding for vital programs, maybe he should set an example and be the first in line to donate his salary and his healthcare to the cause.   Don’t take away from others what you can’t seem to do without yourself.

Yet another reason why the upcoming 2018 Elections are going to be so important.  The decisions made by the current Congress and Presidency have already set the American People back, this year offers our a major opportunity to change direction.

So yeah… I know holiday recovery is in full effect.  Please enjoy and celebrate that you have seen 2018.  That is wonderful, and important!!   But this is not the time to ease into the important work that lies ahead.

Happy New Year.  But… Don’t Get Ready.

STAY READY.

 

 

 

Unless GOP-led Congress Acts, Texas Children Risk Losing Healthcare Next Month

As President Trump eggs them on, Republicans in the United States Congress are racing towards their own self-imposed finish line at historic speed.  Desperate for a major legislative accomplishment, they are clearing every possible hurdle to pass a massive, omnibus, and until last Friday afternoon, mysterious tax bill which will have major implications for generations of American citizens.  To give you an idea of the speed with which this legislative “process”  has occurred, the first actual bill was introduced in the US House on November 2nd, 2017– just 48 days ago.

But while Republicans have put all of their eggs into one HUGE “Tax Reform” basket, millions of American families have been left to worry and wait.  In a few short weeks, Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program will begin to run out across the country, leaving real kids and families without the ability to pay for life-saving medications, doctor’s visits and medical procedures.  While every state is set to run out of funding by July of next year, children in Texas are at risk of losing their funding by the end of January.  Here’s more from Sam Petulla of CNN

Sixteen states will run out of federal funding for CHIP — the Children’s Health Insurance Program — by the end of January, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Three-quarters of all states expect to exhaust funds by the end of March unless Congress can agree to fund it. (Scroll to the bottom for the full list.)

CHIP provides health insurance coverage for just shy of nine million children whose families have too much income to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford the cost of insurance. It is increasingly used by families whose employer-provided insurance is too expensive. CHIP is provided for free or the program’s premiums are pegged to an amount based on a family’s annual income.
CHIP has come into the news lately because Congress has not yet reauthorized its funding mechanism and, as a result, states are running out of money. Once the money runs out, potentially hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of low-income kids could lose their health insurance. That could be a dire situation for some families.
Low and middle income kids like the ones in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.   As Santiago Caicedo of KGBT News- Valley Central.com reports, Texas has a plan in place to cover additional funding, but it won’t last very long…

By the end of Feb. 2018, 400,000 children in the state of Texas could be without government subsidized health insurance through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP.

“You have counties along the Texas-Mexico border where three quarters of the children are enrolled in either Medicaid or CHIP,” said Anne Dunkelberg, Associate Director for Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities.

[…]

In the meantime, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is giving Texas $135 million to continue the program through February. After that, CHIP will no longer receive funding from the federal government.

“The alternative is, do we pay bills, our gas, our light, or do we buy medication?” said Diana Martínez from McAllen.

Amazingly enough, the whole situation has been surprisingly quiet on Capitol Hill, with Republican leaders continuing to assure the press that the funding will be renewed, and Democrats, understandably, hesitant to make this a political issue.  Healthcare for our nation’s kids should never be political.
But at some point, we have to state the obvious.  If everyone is so confident that this is going to get done, then why hasn’t it already been done?  And WHY does something like a Tax bill take precedence over the health and safety of families?? The inauguration was held on January 20th.  This could’ve been passed long before December.  Should American families be worried that one of their top priorities continues to languish at the wayside, while Congressional leaders hoist all of their strength into tax cuts??
For the children of Texas, the choice is crystal clear.  Maybe Congress needs to reconsider its priorities, and put our children first.  

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