Category Archives: Houston

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.

matt-murphy-2016

2016 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire

As Early Voting is literally days away for the Lone Star State, Texas Leftist has once again seeking to grow the information available to voters by asking candidates directly.  For the 2016 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire (TLCQ), candidates across the region  have already been sent information, and each response will be published as it is received.  Texas Leftist will also issue endorsements for select races.  This year, a common set of questions has been sent to candidates, regardless of the office being sought.

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

  1. 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. 

 

 

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

 

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

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Though much attention this cycle has been focused on the Presidential race, it is very important to highlight the races of down ballot candidates.  If elected, they are the ones who will have the most immediate impact on the lives of Greater Houston residents, and all of Texas.  Check here for the responses, and endorsements coming soon.

tlcq-2016

SAVED? Commissioners’ Court Moves Forward On Astrodome Plan

Last year as Houston’s world-famous Astrodome celebrated its 50th Anniversary, many of the folks in attendance were left to wonder if that celebration would be its last.  Since Harris County voters rejected a 2013 proposal to rehab the structure, many have been watching and waiting for some bad news to come.  Even as Judge Ed Emmett continued to push for solutions and not give up the cause, many have prepared themselves for some inevitably tough news.

Which is why this week’s discussions about a new plan to save the dome seemed equal parts fact and fiction.  Have county leaders really devised a plan that would not only save the historic structure, but do so at less than half the cost of the 2013 plan?? It doesn’t seem possible, but apparently this is what has happened.

Here’s the story from Mihir Zaveri of the Houston Chronicle

Harris County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday morning to move forward with a major renovation project that could keep the Astrodome from being demolished for years to come.

The $10.5 million approved Tuesday is the first piece of a $105 million project that would raise the floor of the Astrodome two levels and put 1,400 parking spaces underneath. County officials believe that would make the Dome suitable for festivals or conferences and usher in potential commercial uses in the more than 550,000 square feet that surrounds the core.

From Judge Emmett, here are more details of the plan, via Ted Oberg of ABC 13

Raise the Astrodome floor 30 feet to ground level, greatly easing vehicular and equipment access.

Install two levels of underground parking beneath the raised floor, adding approximately 1,400 premium parking spaces and additional storage.

Raised floor will create nearly eight acres of secure, column-free and weatherproof open space for use by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Offshore Technology Conference, boat show, auto show and more than 100 festivals and community events that are currently subject to threatening weather and /or parking limitations.

The Astrodome’s upper levels encompass more than 500,000 square feet and will become available for redevelopment for a variety of uses.

The plan saves the iconic Astrodome for future use while converting the building into a revenue-generating asset for the taxpayers of Harris County.

After years of sifting through scores of elaborate solutions, in typical Houston fashion, simplicity seems to have won out in the end.  Best of all, the funding scheme put forth by Commissioner’s Court will not raise taxes, and does not require voter approval.  So basically, the Astrodome will be sticking around for a while.

In the coming weeks and months, this is sure to be a hot topic around Houston, as area voters discuss the merits of the plan.  Supporters of the Dome may find the project underwhelming, while opponents will call it a waste.  But the far greater injustice is what has happened over the years as this incredibly unique has sat idol, collecting dust.  It would be nearly as expensive to tear down, so citizens should be encouraged by what County leaders have offered today.

Look out Houston… we just might save the dome after all.

save-the-dome

 

Texoblogosphere: Week of September 19th

The Texas Progressive Alliance prefers tote bags for its deplorables as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff encourages you to read the Houston Chronicle’s story about how special education services have been systematically denied to Texas families.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos is not in the least bit surprised to know TX Governor Greg Abbott threw his hat into the ring with the The Grand Wizard of Birtherism.

On Sept. 11, Socratic Gadfly looked back at 9/11 and reminded readers of many repeated, recurring causes of death that kill almost as quickly as 9/11, some with political connections, that still don’t get truly addressed.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme blames Republicans for playing mean political games instead of addressing real problems like the spread of the Zika virus. Cruel like Texas Republicans denying services to disabled children

Political polling wizard Nate Silver tells Democrats they can start to panic this week, as passed along by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value took the Harris County Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrar class this past week. It takes a long time to really be able to register anybody after you take the class because the Republicans who run the county don’t want you to register anybody. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

The gap between the lived experiences of White Americans and Americans of color is significant. With this in mind,Texas Leftist offers a viewpoint on and justification for Black Lives Matter. Most that have lived the experience of being unlawfully detained (or worse) by police see the movement as not only valid, but necessary.

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

Better Texas Blog has a bit of good news in the fight against food insecurity.

The Lunch Tray packs up six years of lunch packing advice.

Grits for Breakfast interviews Rebecca Bernhardt, executive director of Texas Fair Defense Project, which is one of the plaintiffs suing Harris County over its bail practices.

Streetsblog wonders why TxDOT doesn’t believe its own data that show Texans are driving less per day on average than they were a decade ago.

Eileen Smith has a few questions about those charitable Trump portraits.

The TSTA Blog sounds the warning about school vouchers again.

houston-freeways

(photo credit:  TexasFreeway.com)

Harris County Officer Escapes Indictment in Death of Ashtian Barnes

The numbers are startling, the similarities are haunting, and the frequency… incomprehensible.  As citizens across this country continue to be unlawfully detained, arrested and even killed by police under circumstances that are questionable at best, the grieving families of these victims are left with little peace or consolation.

Such is the case for the family of Ashtian Barnes, 24, who was killed by Harris County Police Officer Roberto Felix on April 28th.  Today, Officer Roberto Felix was No-Billed by a Harris County Grand Jury, which means he will not be indicted or face charges for the death of Barnes.  Here’s more from Fox 26 Houston

– After two sessions, a grand jury has not indicted a Harris County Precinct 5 deputy constable in the April 28 deadly shooting of Ashtian Barnes.

“What we can say is that the presentation was comprehensive and responsive to the needs of the grand jury,” said Harris County District Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Division Chief Julian Ramirez. “The 183rd Grand Jury handled this case with great care.” The grand jury of twelve people included three African Americans and three Hispanics.

[…]

At least nine of the 12 grand jurors needed to find probable cause to indict the deputy constable. DA Anderson said that the panel’s decision shows there was not enough evidence for a charge.

But the newly released video via Black Lives Matter- Houston has many people seeing the outcome differently.  The video, which seems to counter the officer’s account of the incident, is leading many viewers to cry foul with the Grand Jury’s decision.  As one may recall from earlier this summer, those standards to find Probable Cause against policemen were significantly toughened when a Supreme Court decision decimated the Fourth Amendment, giving police virtual right to profile and suspect any citizen that they want. As seen and heard from the video, the officer seems to be looking for reasons to conduct a search of Barnes’ vehicle. Beyond the lack of probable cause, BLM members also stated that officers and lawyers for Felix were “laughing in the face” of activists outside the trial.

At this moment, BLM members are gathering for a protest in front of the Harris County courthouse, calling for Justice for Ashtian Barnes.  The protest begins at 6pm.  Texas Leftist will be following the developments.

Do you agree with the Grand Jury’s assessment??  Leave your feedback in the comments.

Ashtian Barnes

Mayor Turner Takes Chron to Task On Affordable Housing Debate

Across the United States, election season is coming to a fever pitch.  But one year ago, Houstonians were already preparing for a crucial series of elections which would shape the future of the city, region and beyond.  Most of the debate last year was around the defeated Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, with few other issues able to take center stage.

But even if less discussed than the tough fight over HERO, last year’s election was a critical in determining the city’s direction over one of our most difficult challenges… the rapid decrease of affordable housing.  In the next few years, will Houston still be a place where it is affordable to live?  Or will we continue to price out our citizens?

In the past few weeks, that set of challenges has landed squarely on City Council’s doorstep.  Thankfully for us, it appears that Houston made the right choice for Mayor last November.  After the Houston Chronicle’s Editorial Board lambasted Mayor Turner’s decision to reject a new housing development, he took the opportunity to inject some much-needed perspective in a rebuttal.  You really must read the whole post, but here is just a portion…

The “silver bullet” to eliminating systemic poverty is not moving families from areas that have been overlooked and underserved. Rather, the answer is to invest in these neighborhoods with quality affordable and mixed income housing, good schools, retail and economic development, parks and green space, transit options, and job and business opportunities. Far too often people who live outside high-poverty areas believe that the answer to eliminating poverty or improving school test scores is to close neighborhood schools and move these low-income families across town. That suggestion does not require any accountability from institutions to improve these neighborhoods and schools.

I have no problem with people disagreeing with my decisions – that comes with the job. I do, however, have a big problem with an institution that does not reflect the diversity of this city publishing a lecture on race and class that does not elevate all children, regardless of where they live. I know the people and their dreams because I was born and raised in such a community, where I still live. My dreams came true because my parents, neighborhood pastor and teachers believed in me. I choose to still live there today because it is my way of living by example for the youngsters in my neighborhood.

In an era where inequality is growing far faster than economic prosperity, and where the media often serves as our only line of defense against special interests, Mayor Sylvester Turner’s words here are an inspiration to millions of Houstonians, and those across our country.  What he says here is absolutely true… we will never solve our communities housing crisis, or the whole of issues that poverty and inequality catalyze by abandoning those communities for “somewhere else”.  It didn’t work with the first waves of so-called “white flight” in the mid 20th century, and it won’t work during the gentrification era of today. Every American deserves access to a safe neighborhood, work opportunity, living wages and affordable housing.  A big thanks to Mayor Tuner for reminding this city of that most basic American Dream.

Just one year ago, Houstonians had a big decision to make in choosing our next Mayor.  We definitely made the right choice with Sylvester Tuner.