Category Archives: Houston

TRIED It: How Chicago’s Bean War Will Backfire in Houston’s Favor

So apparently, Chicago has some beef with Houston.

Wait, not beef, but another protein which is essential to a regular diet.  This proxy war is not erupting over beef, but beans.

UGH– Here’s the scoop, from Drew Schwartz of Vice News

Earlier this week, Houston unveiled a 21,000-pound, stainless-steel Goliath of a sculpture outside its Museum of Fine Arts called the “Cloud Column,” made by Anish Kapoor—the same artist who brought Chicago “Cloud Gate,” better known as the Bean.

But seeing as there’s been some tension simmering between the two cities for a while—Houston’s on track to outstrip Chicago as America’s third-largest metropolis, which is a sore spot—things are really heating up now that they both have big-ass metal beans.

On Tuesday, Chicago Tribune columnist Kim Janssen fired the first shot in the battle of the beans with a scalding hit piece: “Unoriginal 4th place Houston gets its own bean sculpture… whatever.” After a kind of lackluster diss about Houston’s bean being “uptight” (because it’s upright) and Chicago’s being “chill” (it’s horizontal), Janssen took out the claws.

“If being surrounded by a cultureless abyss insufficiently communicates to confused tourists that they are in Houston, the bean’s verticality will therefore act as an additional reminder of their poor life choices,” he wrote.

Yep, he definitely TRIED it.

Of course Houstonians could not let such ridiculous shots go unanswered.  You can read the back and forth between Janssen and the Houston Chronicle’s Lisa Gray for further bean drama.

But instead of fanning the flames, Texas Leftist would instead like to thank Mr. Janssen for the robust opportunity.  Instead of bringing us down, the attacks on Houston have yielded the opposite effect, by pouring worldwide attention on to our new sculpture, and the cultural oasis which surrounds it.

Thanks for giving Houstonians the opportunity to highlight our world-class arts institutions, like the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Menil Collection and Children’s Museum of Houston, all mere blocks away from our illustrious new bean.

Of course you may run into a crowd while doing so, as Houston’s Museums are some of the most well-attended in the United States.  In fact, with nearly 2.3 million visitors in 2015, the Houston Museum of Natural Science even outranked Chicago’s famous institutions for that year, and has been growing in numbers since.

It’s no secret that the city of Houston is a king of sprawl, with a land mass nearly 3 times the size of Chicago.  But even with this being the case, some parts of Houston can offer a lot of excitement even for visitors used to more urban, dense environments.  And thankfully, the new bean is at the heart of some of Houston’s most exciting attractions.  Far from the “cultureless abyss” suggested by Janssen, Houston’s offers a ton of world-class attractions, be it music, sports or urban exploration.

So there you have it.  If Chicagoans really want to start a war over the beans, they are welcome.  But in the end, they may end up helping Houston’s ultimate goal.  Houstonians, get your selfie sticks ready.

 

UPDATE:  Point of Order for Houston… Does this sculpture really look like a bean?? Why should we let Chicago name our new thing. Instead of the ‘Houston Bean’ we should call it the Houston Space Pod.  Thoughts??? Put ‘em in the comments.

High School Students Hold Inaugural “Day Of Unity” To Promote Civil Discourse

Sometimes words like “historic” just don’t get the job done. But if this weekend’s events weren’t already historic enough to show the capabilities of our nation’s young people with the March For Our Lives events on Saturday, some young Southeast Texans decided to forge yet another new path.

From Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune, here’s the story on today’s event…

BELLAIRE — For several hours Sunday, an auditorium at Bellaire High School played host to an uncommon sight in Texas politics: an organized attempt at unity.

Hosted in part by Texas High School Democrats and Republicans, the Day of Unity that was held here drew two of the state’s most well-known partisans: GOP U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio. And it brought together the Democratic and Republican state party chairmen — Gilberto Hinojosa and James Dickey — for what was billed as their first joint appearance ever.

In describing the need for the event, one of the organizers, Adam Hoffman, a student at Robert M. Beren Academy and chairman of the Texas High School Republicans, said the country’s “being ripped apart from within. Our social fabric is tearing.”

[…]

The Day of Unity also featured appearances by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, and the city’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, who provided a proclamation recognizing the day. On the panel featuring Dickey and Hinojosa, the state’s party chairs, things got chippy on the topic of gerrymandering, through the two reached something of a consensus on polarization being less of a problem when elected officials are closest to their constituents.

Yep, you read that right… the living human known as Texas Senator Ted Cruz actually showed up for this event… in Texas.  An impressive feat if there ever was one.

Oh, sorry… the point of this post was Civil Discourse.  Still working on it, I guess.

In coverage leading up to the event with Houston Matters‘ Joshua Zinn, organizers Adam Hoffman and Alex Kontoyiannis discussed how the goal of the event was to be expressly non-political.  By all measures that goal was a success.  Though the first event occurred in Texas, Hoffman and Kontoyiannis also revealed that the Day of Unity Texas is quite possibly the start of a national movement, as other student leaders from across the country have already expressed interest in hosting similar events.

After Perplexing Attack On Sarah Davis, Have Texas Women Had It With Greg Abbott?

There was a time when some Texans had high hopes for Greg Abbott’s tenure as Governor. (emphasis on the term “some”). The mostly jovial and mild-mannered former Attorney General gave the impression that, perhaps, his administration would bring forth an elevated political discourse which puts the needs of real Texans before inter-partisan bickering and personal vendettas.

Of course… we know how that turned out. Behind the friendly smile lies a politician that really takes that “bully” part of the bully pulpit to heart.

For evidence of this, we need look no further than last year, which found the Governor telling lawmakers that he was “keeping a list” of anyone who opposed his initiatives during the Special Session.

But while Abbott has indeed taken several retaliation measures, one particular lawmaker has received an unprecedented wave of attacks. Here’s more on that from Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle

[Sarah] Davis, a West University Place state representative, lawyer and breast cancer survivor elected in 2010, represents House District 134. She sits on the powerful appropriations committee and chairs the committee on general investigating and ethics. Her power and influence only go so far.

But she’s one of the few moderates who hasn’t given up on Texas politics, who is willing to fight the often-futile battle against motivated, moneyed ideologues who have hijacked the Republican Party.

And for that she has drawn the ire of one of the most powerful, moneyed ideologues of them all: Gov. Greg Abbott. The governor, in a rare move, has come after several moderate Republicans who aren’t inclined to carry his water, but he seems to have reserved a special vintage of vengeance for Davis.

He has not only endorsed Davis’ opponent, Susanna Dokupil, whose chief qualification seems to be that she once worked for Abbott at the attorney general’s office. He has hit the campaign trail for the elusive Dokupil,

‪Not only is HD 134 known as a notorious swing district, but it also has some other unique attributes, like being the home of the world-reknowned  Texas Medical Center, Rice University and some of the most prominent biomedical research centers in the United States. For Governor Abbott to prop up an anti-vaxxer candidate in one of the most Doctor and Medical Professional-heavy electoral districts in the country?? Well…it smacks of either total ignorance or a simple lack of concern for the real issues of Texans in this district. Your guess is as good as mine.

Or perhaps, this fight serves as a proxy for Abbott’s fight against Texas Women. Most will recall that Davis’ record on women’s issues is starkly different than her Republican colleagues. Abbott, on the other hand, has distinguished himself as an ‘anti-woman Governor’ with all deliberate speed. Why else would he veto bi-partisan legislation designed to focus on Women’s Health issues?

Here’s more on that from Sophie Novack of the Texas Observer

Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, the highest rate of repeat teen pregnancy in the United States, the highest uninsured rate in the country and an ongoing Zika outbreak that threatens pregnant women. Yet Governor Greg Abbott unilaterally ended a committee that advises the state on women’s health programs.

Abbott on Thursday vetoed a bill with bipartisan support by Senator Borris Miles, D-Houston, that would continue the Women’s Health Advisory Committee past September.

“I am shocked and frustrated by the governor’s veto,” said Representative Donna Howard, D-Austin, who wrote the House companion to Miles’ bill. “At no point during the past six months had the governor’s office expressed any concerns to me over the legislation. This absentee style is disgraceful, and it is now jeopardizing the health and safety of women across the state.”

A very confusing decision, especially after the Governor himself highlighted maternal mortality as a focus of the Special Session. If he cared that much about the issue, what sense does it make to scuttle a panel devoted to research and recommendation?

And in case you’re wondering… a co-sponsor of this bill in the Texas House?  Rep. Sarah Davis.

Whatever the Governor’s motivations, one thing has become clear… Texas women are watching.  Abbott’s curious attempts to oust Davis have drawn major headlines across the state and all over the country.  But while he may believe that his efforts will draw far-right Primary voters to support Dokupil, most that actually live in the district are wondering if the attacks will ultimately serve to actually help Davis.  Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest strong turnout for Davis, including some Democrats that voted in the Republican Primary just to support her.  We’ll find out the final outcome with tonight’s Election results.

But one thing is for sure… this race has exposed a palpable weakness for Governor Abbott.  The misguided decision to meddle in this race could ultimately prove more detrimental to his agenda, and his political future than anyone else.

So back to the opening question… Have Texas Women HAD IT with Greg Abbott??  We’ll find out some opening thoughts on that tonight, with more to come in November.

#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 March 27th

The Texas Progressive Alliance promises to repeal last week’s roundup and replace it with something better and cheaper this week. It’ll be easy.

Off the Kuff identifies the top legislative districts to target in 2018.

SocraticGadfly sees Greens and other left-liberals talking libertarian-style about getting rid of the Federal Reserve and offers them a reality check about it, with suggestions for proper reform, while noting its neededness.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme warns Texas Republicans on track to destroy local rule, another anti-democratic war on citizens and war on voters.

It was another lousy week to be a Republican as Trumpcare went down in flames, the Russian problems flared up again, and the TXGOP started fighting with each other right out in the open. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs managed to cram all the action into one blog post, with some crow left over for the Democrats.

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

Beyond Bones provides a road trip map from spring breaks of yore.

Lone Star Ma encourages you to set up a meeting with your Congressperson to discuss your opposition to the AHCA.

Better Texas Blog reminds us why school vouchers are such a lousy idea.

Streetsblog highlights five good transportation bills in the Lege.

Jennifer Mercieca identifies the real harm of Trump’s conspiracy theories.

Michael Li shows what a redrawn CD27 might look like.

Teddy Wilson investigates the state’s contract with the anti-abortion Heidi Group.

Juanita has one last laugh over the AHCA debacle.

 

Texas Leftist 2016 Endorsements

For those interested, here are the Texas Leftist endorsements for 2016.

Texas Leftist has chosen to endorse candidates because they have demonstrated a commitment to advancing public policies that will improve the lives of Texans.  Though each person’s individual positions vary, they are generally candidates that stand for equality, social justice, healthcare expansion, living wage and economic prosperity.

Election Day 2016 is Tuesday November 8th, and Early Voting runs from October 24th through November 4th.  For Houston area voters, here’s early voting information for Harris CountyFort Bend County, Brazoria County, Montgomery County, and Galveston County.  For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.

 

 

Federal Races

U.S. President:                                                 Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)

U.S. Rep. District 2:                                       Pat Bryan (D)

U.S. Rep. District 7:                                      James Cargas (D)

U.S. Rep. District 9:                                       Al Green (D)

U.S. Rep. District 18:                                    Sheila Jackson Lee (D)

U.S. Rep. District 22:                                    Mark Gibson (D)

 

State Races

Railroad Commissioner:                             Mark Miller (L)  [TLCQ 2016]

State Board of Education, 6:                     R. Dakota Carter (D)

Justice, Supreme Court Place 3:            Mike Westergren (D)

Justice, Supreme Court Place 5:            Dori Contreras Garza (D)

Justice, Supreme Court Place 9:            Eva Guzman (R)

Court of Criminal Appeals Place 2:      Lawrence “Larry” Meyers (D)

Court of Criminal Appeals Place 5:      Betsy Johnson (D)

Court of Criminal Appeals Place 6:      Robert Burns (D)

 

State Senator, District 13:                            Borris Miles (D)

State Rep. District 126:                                 Joy Dawson- Thomas (D)

State Rep. District 127:                                 Joseph McElligott (G)

State Rep. District 134:                                 Ben Rose (D)

State Rep. District 135:                                 Jesse A. Ybanez (D)

State Rep. District 137:                                 Gene Wu (D)

State Rep. District 147:                                   Garnet Coleman (D)

State Rep. District 149:                                  Hubert Vo (D)

State Rep. District 150:                                  Michael Shawn Kelly (D)

 

District Races

Chief Justice, 1st Court of Appeals:          Jim Peacock (D)

1st Court of Appeals, Place 4:                       Barbara Gardner (D)

14th Court of Appeals, Place 2:                   Candance White (D)

14th Court of Appeals, Place 9:                   Peter M. Kelly (D)

11th Judicial District:                                         Kristen Hawkins (D)

61st Judicial District:                                          Fredericka Phillips (D)

80th Judicial District:                                         Larry Welman (D)

125th Judicial District:                                      Kyle Carter (D)

127th Judicial District:                                      R.K. Sandill (D)

129th Judicial District:                                      Michael Gomez (D)

133rd Judicial District:                                      Jaclanel McFarland (D)

151st Judicial District:                                       Mike Engelhart (D)

152nd Judicial District:                                      Robert K. Schaffer (D)

164th Judicial District:                                      Alexandra Smoots-Hogan

165th Judicial District:                                      Ursula A. Hall (D)

174th Judicial District:                                      Hazel B. Jones (D)

176th Judicial District:                                      Nikita “Niki” Harmon (D)

177th Judicial District:                                      Robert Johnson (D)

178th Judicial District:                                       Kelli Johnson (D)

179th Judicial District:                                       Randy Roll (D)

215th Judicial District:                                       Fred Shucart (R)

333rd Judicial District:                                       Daryl Moore (D)

334th Judicial District:                                       Steven Kirkland (D)

337th Judicial District:                                       Herb Ritchie (D)

 

Harris County Races

District Attorney:                                                 Kim Ogg (D)

Sheriff:                                                                         Ed Gonzalez (D)

County Attorney:                                                  Vince Ryan (D)

County Clerk:                                                          Ann Harris- Bennett (D)

County Commissioner, Pct. 3:                      Jenifer Rene Pool (D)

County School Trustee Pos. 2:                      Sherrie L. Matula (D)

County School Trustee Pos. 4:                      Marilyn Burgess (D)

Constable, Precinct 1:                                        Alan Rosen (D)

Constable, Precinct 6:                                        Silvia Trevino (D)

Justice of the Peace, Pct. 5, Place 1:          William “Bill” McLeod (D)

HISD Proposition 1:                                            AGAINST

 

The following resources were consulted for the 2016 Texas Leftist endorsements:  Project Vote SmartHouston Association of Women Attorneys, The Texas Tribune, The Houston Chronicle Endorsements, The Dallas Morning News, Houston GLBT Caucus, Off The Kuff, and Ballotpedia.

 

2016

 

 

TLCQ 2016: Matt Murphy

In the First installment of the 2016 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Matt Murphy, candidate for the Texas House of Representatives, District 147.  He is a Republican.

Please note: Responses are 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 may be considered during the endorsement process.

 

TL:  What is your name, as it will appear on the ballot and the office that you are seeking in 2016?

MM:  Matt Murphy (R) for Texas House of Representatives-District 147

 

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

MM:  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?

MM:  The Declaration of Independence and Constitution clearly shows how to govern effectively and protect our individual Liberty. It is important to have a representative democracy where the voice of the people can be heard. If partisian politics would follow the Constitution as it is written and all politicians actually started representing the people instead of their party platform, our society would be better. It also takes the participation of the voters, however most have become so apathetic to the process. It is time to be different in our approach to help maintain our FREEDOM. 

 

 TL:  If elected, what is your top priority in office for the upcoming term? Describe how you plan to accomplish it.

MM:  As a political outsider, I choose to reverse the current trend of representation by going into the community instead of waiting for the community to come to me. This refreshing approach has helped me gain a diverse group of supporters from Republicans,Democrats, and Independents while also encouraging new voters to get involved in the political process. 

Our campaign encourages people to “Know Your Neighbor”. If we can strengthen our relationships with our neighbors, we can unify local leaders and unite as one voice for better streets, better schools and better crime prevention. By avoiding divisive social agendas pushed from the top down, we can refocus on the core role of government, and free up resources to address pressing concerns. I have always said that if you know your neighbors name, then you are obligated to look after them regardless of your differences. 

 

TL:  Recent years in American Politics have yielded an environment of hyper-partisanship, the results of which have often led to government inefficiency, and sometimes total government gridlock.  Describe how you plan to break through this partisan gridlock for the good of your constituents, and work with those from differing political ideologies.  

MM:  Most partisan politics are lead by the elite few leaving most of America without strong leadership. This becomes very discouraging to many because their vote does not matter, so they stop voting altogether. One of the biggest ways this has happened is because the politicians pander to the political PACs with money instead of depending on the grassroots efforts for the people. Grassroots efforts are rarely appealing because it does not account for enough money to run a campaign. This has resulted in a politician having to listen and vote the way that those that “give them money” want them too instead of represent those they represent in their district. However, incumbents continue to get elected by a large majority because their name recognition is increased while in office and low voter turnout. We may never be able to change this through legislation, but if candidates were willing to stay determined and resilient towards the grassroots movement, they will eventually get elected and become a strong voice for the people that will focus on creating an efficient government that looks at the source of problems instead of the surface of problems. 

 

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

MM:  For over 25 years the people of Texas House District 147 have not been given a choice in who represents their values in Austin because my opponent has ran unopposed. This lack of accountability has resulted in my opponent ignoring the responsibility to represent our diverse district with an equal voice. He has also showed a complete disrespect of the law and our freedoms. He is a political insider that feels untouchable. 

The people of Texas House District 147 want a CHOICE. They want a leader that represents their values of Faith, Family, Freedom, Patriotism, and Building Stronger Communities. They want a leader that will put his own opinions aside and represent the community opinion as the way a representative democracy was invented. The people of this district are yelling, “I Matter!”

I am completely different than my opponent because I choose to be in the community instead of forcing the community to come to me in Austin. I choose to educate the community on the facts surrounding issues instead of giving them my own personal opinions in efforts to make them a more informed voter. Once I receive a consensus of the community, I can go back to Austin and vote based on their values while maintaining an open channel during the process. This continues to resonate with the voters in this district and hopefully results in our success on election night. 

 

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

MM:  I am fortunate to have an amazing son, Shawn, and a smoking hot wife, Rachel that I love to spend time with when I am not on the campaign trail. We love to explore our district by going to all of the amazing parks, businesses and restaurants in Downtown, Midtown, Museum District, Third Ward, OST/South Union, Sunnyside, South Park and Hobby Airport area. Since we live so close to Hermann Park, we love to ride our bikes there to enjoy a good picnic, feeding the ducks, playing frisbee, or going to a great performance at Miller Outdoor Theater. Our district is amazing, and we need a true representative that believes in the values of the voters that will protect our great places. I hope my campaign can get out the “good news” that District 147 finally has a choice, because “Your Choice Matters!”

 

Thanks to Mr. Murphy for the responses.

Election Day 2016 is Tuesday November 8th, and Early Voting runs from October 24th through November 4th.  For Houston area voters, here’s early voting information for Harris CountyFort Bend County, Brazoria County, Montgomery County, and Galveston County.  For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.

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