Category Archives: Houston

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.

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  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.

Texoblogosphere: Week of August 8th

The Texas Progressive Alliance is feeling the Olympic spirit as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff is pleased by the changes to voter ID requirements that were agreed to last week.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme, like the US Hispanic Congressional Caucus, is disgusted with the CEO of IBC bank doing business in South Texas while supporting Donald Trump.

Taking into account both real and hypothetical options, SocraticGadfly uses ranked choice voting to explain how he would vote, or like to vote, in this year’s presidential election.

The Green Party‘s presidential nominating convention in Houston kept PDiddie at Brains and Eggs busy most of the week. There’s also a CNN town hall scheduled for next week for the Jill Stein-Ajamu Baraka ticket.

Neil at All People Have Value walked on Houston’s fabulous Airline. Dr. with a sign regarding the need for respect for all people. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

Pamela Coloff‘s 2006 story on the UT Tower shooting received a lot of attention on the 50th anniversary of that horrible day.

Better Texas Blog explains how Texas can support kinship caregivers.

Eileen Smith keeps trying to make sense of Donald Trump.

Dan Wallach contemplates election security as national security.

The Texas Living Waters Project argues that desalination could harm Texas’ bays.

Juanita is seeking support for Glen Maxey’s ballot by mail program.

The TSTA Blog sees through the latest school finance “reform” idea.

Last week the 2016 Summer Olympics commenced in Rio, and so far it has been a banner games for Team USA.  Texas Leftist wishes our amazing Texas athletes and all of Team USA good luck and a great competition in Rio.  The Dallas Morning News has a great interactive page tracking Texas athletes and what events for which they compete by day.  Hope y’all bring home the gold!!

Rio Gold

 

The Green Party Brings Its Mission to Houston

Even as it continues to urbanize and become increasingly diverse, it’s doubtful that anyone familiar with American politics considers Texas to be a harbinger of Progressivism.  Thanks to many factors like voter suppression and mis-education, the Lone Star state is expected to once again skew Conservative for the upcoming election.

Though the constraints of America’s often challenging two-party system would want voters to think otherwise, the terms “Progressive” and “Conservative” do not belong to exclusively to Democrats or Republicans.  In fact 2016’s two major party candidates are causing many American voters to look outside of the traditional “big tent” status quo.

This week, a major player in a Progressive politics is taking over Houston, as Mihir Zaveri of the Houston Chronicle reports…

The odds seem long for the Green Party of the United States. In a presidential election, it never has won more than 2.7 percent of the popular vote.

Right now, its presumptive candidate is slated to be on the ballot in only two dozen states.

Still, members say the November election could provide a unique opportunity for the progressive party, now in its fourth decade, to capture voters who will not vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump.

That will be one of the central themes as the Green Party kicks off its three-day national convention Thursday at the University of Houston, where delegates are expected for the second straight election cycle to nominate Jill Stein, a Lexington, Mass., physician, author and environmental advocate, for president.

“I think we’re trying to take advantage of something this year,” said party spokesman Scott McLarty. “That is the widespread realization by a lot of people, among non-voters, among independents, and, interestingly this year, among a lot of Democrats and Republicans, that the two-party status quo is failing us.”

It’s been something of a ‘Powerhouse’ Political year for the University of Houston, whom not only welcomes the Green Party this week, but also played host to a Republican Debate earlier this year.

Spoiler Alert:  at this point it is unlikely that Dr. Jill Stein, or her running mate Ajamu Baraka will win this years election.  At present, they have reached the General Election ballot in 24 states and the District of Columbia.  But that situation in the Presidential race doesn’t discount the real successes that its membership has garnered elsewhere.   The party currently has 134 elected officials serving in 15 states, including Arkansas, Mississippi, and yes, Texas.

Per the schedule of events, convention activities begin today August 4th, with the highlights of Keynote speaker Dr. Cornel West, the roll call of states, and the official Presidential Candidate nomination and acceptance all slated for August 6th.  There’s even a special welcome for Bernie Sanders supporters.

Will the Green Party’s mission be advanced by their time in Houston?  At this point it is uncertain.  But Texas Leftist plans to find out.  Look for more Green Party Convention coverage right here.

Green Party Houston