Category Archives: Texas

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.

Texas Leftist 2018 Endorsements- Democratic Primary

For those interested, here are the Texas Leftist Endorsements for the 2018 Democratic Primary.

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 Countyand Galveston County

For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.

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, comprehensive immigration reform, healthcare expansion, living wage and economic prosperity.

 

Though not endorsed by Texas Leftist, candidates Margarita Ruiz Johnson, Matt Harris, Glenn “Grumpy” Williams, Kevin Nelson, Tahir Javed and Levy Q. Barnes Jr. did participate in this year’s Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire.  Please consult their interviews for more information. 

 

Federal Races

United States Senate                            Beto O’Rourke

United States House TX #2               Silky Malik

United States House TX #7                Ivan Sanchez (TLCQ)

United States House TX #10             Tami Walker (TLCQ)

United States House TX #14              Adrienne Bell

United States House TX #18              Sheila Jackson-Lee

United States House TX #22              Steve Brown

United States House TX  #27             Vanessa Edwards Foster (TLCQ)

United States House TX #29               Sylvia R. Garcia

United States House TX #36               Dayna Steele

 

State Races

Governor                                                                    Andrew White

Lieutenant Governor                                            Mike Collier  (TLCQ)

General Land Office Commissioner             Miguel Suazo

Railroad Commissioner                                       Roman McAllen

Agriculture Commissioner                                Kim Olson

Comptroller                                                                Joi Chevalier

Texas State Senate #5                                Brian E. Cronin (TLCQ)

Texas State Senate #15                             John Whitmire

Texas State Senate #17                              Fran Watson (TLCQ)

Texas State House #28                               Meghan Scoggins

Texas State House #29                               Dylan Forbis

Texas State House #126                            Undrai Fizer

Texas State House #129                            Alexander Jonathan Karjeker

Texas State House #130                             Frederick A. Infortunio (TLCQ)

Texas State House #133                             Sandra G. Moore

Texas State House #134                             Allison Sawyer

Texas State House #138                              Adam Milasincic (TLCQ)

Texas State House #139                              Randy Bates

Texas State House #142                              Harold V. Dutton Jr.

Texas State House #146                               Shawn Nicole Thierry

Texas State House #147                               Garnet Coleman

 

Harris County Races

Harris County District Clerk                            Marilyn Burgess

Harris County Clerk                                              Diane Trautman

County Treasurer                                                   Dylan Osborne

Harris County Commissioner #2                  Adrian Garcia

Harris County Commissioner #4                   Penny Shaw

County School Trustee Position #3             Josh Wallenstein

 

Judicial Races

Texas Supreme Court, Place 2              Steven Kirkland

14th Court of Appeals, Place 3            Jerry Zimmerer

14th Court of Appeals, Place 8            Michele Chimene

55th Civil District Court                          Latosha Lewis Payne

113th Civil District Court                        Rabeea Collier

185th Civil District Court                       Jason Luong

188th Civil District Court                        Scott Dollinger

234th Civil District Court                        Lauren Reeder

269th Civil District Court                          Cory Sepolio

281st Civil District Court                           George Arnold

246th Family District Court                      Angela Graves- Harrington

289th Family District Court                      Barbara J. Stadler

309th Family District Court                      Kathy Vossler

Harris County Probate Court #2                         Jim L. Peacock

Harris County Probate Court #4                        James S. Horwitz (TLCQ)

Harris County Criminal Court #2                        Harold J. Landreneau

Harris County Criminal Court #5                        David M. Fleischer

Harris County Criminal Court #7                          Andrew A. Wright

Harris County Criminal Court #11                         Gus Saper

Harris County Criminal Court #12                        Juan A. Aguirre

Harris County Criminal Court #13                         Raul Rodriguez

Harris County Criminal Court #15                        Kris Ougrah

 

In addition to the TLCQ 2018 series, the following resources were also consulted for the 2018 Texas Leftist endorsements: Off The Kuff, Dos CentavosHouston GLBT CaucusProject Vote SmartThe Texas TribuneThe Houston Chronicle Endorsements, The Dallas Morning NewsThe League of Women Voters Guide and Ballotpedia.

 

(if you like this Texas Leftist post, please consider a donation!  Help us encourage Progressive, common sense ideals in the Lone Star State!!)

 

TLCQ 2018: Ivan Sanchez

In the Fourteenth installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Ivan Sanchez,  candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, Texas’ 7th Congressional District.

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?

IS:  Ivan Sanchez

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

IS:  No.  I have never held public office.

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

IS:  The purpose of government is to provide, as best as possible, a system guided by what is in the best interest of the common good.  It must protect and defend the principles of our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence; wherein, “all men are created equal”, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, “that among these are life, liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

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

IS:  As a freshman congressman, I realize I will have limited opportunity to directly introduce legislation; however, I will passionately support and advocate for legislation that: (1) acknowledges climate change and the need to control abuse of our ecosystem, including development of renewable energy; (2) is designed to implement a path to citizenship for DREAMers and other (non felony) immigrants; and (3) will provide single payer healthcare.

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.

IS:  Improving Texas’ infrastructure must be addressed as a two-fold issue—addressing current infrastructure and developing sustainable long-term solutions.  Currently, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute is involved in “developing solutions to the problems and challenges facing all modes of transportation.”  This research, along with the work being conducted by the Houston-Galveston Area Council and NASA must be collaborated to maintain an effective and efficient infrastructure as we know it today.  At the same time, these same types of agencies and enterprises must collaborate to create visionary modalities of transportation and infrastructure.  The recent news items regarding the Dallas-Houston bullet train are indication that we are headed in the right direction, but the bullet train must not be the only solution.  Government must step up to partner with industry to develop urban area transportation infrastructure that does not only increase current highway capacity (adding more lanes to a highway is not a sustainable solution), but considers automation and other technologically informed solutions.  There must be paradigm shift from single-vehicle transportation as the mode to mass-transit as the mode.

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?  

IS:  The rural healthcare issues and concerns are symptomatic of a national healthcare crisis.  Providing affordable healthcare is the goal, which is to-date being compromised by the greed of huge pharmaceutical companies and the skyrocketing cost of providing healthcare.  Shifting the conversation of healthcare as a right, not a privilege implies government intervention in regulating the industry to limit excessive costs of R&D and profit-margins passed along to the consumer (patient).  Addressing the healthcare crisis will inherently benefit the rural healthcare enterprise.

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.

IS:  What the light bulb was to the 19th century, the internet is to the 21st century.  It is an everyday convenience that touches every aspect of our lives.  We are in an informational era, and the opportunity to utilize all that the internet has to offer must not be limited by corporate giants who seek to profit based on the speed of a person’s connection, or which web pages and services someone wants to access.  I am a strong proponent of net neutrality, who believes the government must ensure the Internet continues to be treated as a utility, and internet providers cannot charge different rates, or favor certain websites over others.

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

IS:  I know the struggle.  I came to the U.S. as a child when my mother, seeking asylum from the violence that prevailed in Colombia, wanted to raise her children in a safe environment that would provide opportunity for her and her family.  It took me seven years, since I had to work multiple jobs, to complete a four-year program and earn my bachelor’s degree.  This great land has provided many opportunities and given me much.  I say I am DREAMer with papers, yet because of our democracy I am a candidate for the U.S. Congress.  I am passionate about being part of the solution to bring change to a compromised system, to ensure that our country maintains its edge as the greatest country on earth and continues to be the land of opportunity for all.  My passion is supported by my youth, providing an unparalleled level of energy and fresh perspective, and a contemporary of the next great generation.  And, despite my youth, I have had the great fortune to work as a senior liaison in a congressperson’s office.  I have developed a network of federal agency leaders, working to solve issues related to such areas as Social Security, immigration, and homeland security.  I am familiar with and comfortable to move throughout the bureaucracy, and challenge the status quo as needed.

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

IS:  I am committed to my family, most especially any opportunity to visit with my toddler niece.  My girlfriend and I enjoy evenings alone or among friends, enjoying fellowship.  I am energized being around people, and any chance I have to celebrate life is my greatest joy.

 

Thanks to Mr. Sanchez 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!!)

#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

Planned High Speed Rail Selects Houston Terminus

Even in the face of uncertainty and some fierce opposition, the bold plan for a high-speed rail line connecting Texas’ two largest metros marches forward.  In fact, as Dug Begley of the Houston Chronicle reports, yesterday’s news on the project represents a rather significant leap forward…

Once a Houston destination for shopping, movies and visits with Santa, the site of Northwest Mall is poised for revival as a bullet train terminal, with local officials and train backers seeing dollar signs from the sales tax growth potential.

Texas Central Partners and Houston-area elected officials on Monday announced that the company, which is seeking federal approval for a 240-mile high-speed train line, has chosen the mall’s 45-acre tract near Loop 610 and U.S. 290 as its preferred site for the southern terminal.

Mayor Sylvester Turner called the announcement further proof of a dramatic change in how — and where — people will travel in the Houston region.

“We are moving to a new phase in this city,” Turner said at a Monday ceremony announcing the site selection and releasing renderings of the proposed station.

The station would alter mobility for miles around it, as Houston — with some yet-to-be-determined help from Texas Central — aims to connect the location to downtown, both Houston-area airports and other major job and entertainment centers.

Here’s a clip of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Press Conference announcing the preferred site…

Last week, Texas Central Partners in junctions with Dallas city leaders, made a similar reveal of the Dallas terminus, to be located just south of the cities’ Downtown.

The announcements come on the heels of a whirlwind round of contentious public hearings by the Federal Railroad Administration, where many residents shared concerns, complaints and a few praises about the project.  Even with these large steps forward, the high speed rail line still faces major hurdles.

But if completed, this project could be the catalyst for what Mayor Turner calls a “Transportation Reformation”, especially for the Houston region.  Though still a ways from reality, plans for local light rail projects which would connect downtown, the Galleria and to Houston’s airports have been accelerated.  These associated projects could prove a major leap for Houston’s many complex transportation needs.  Of course, funding them would require some serious buy-in from Houston voters, so it remains to be seen.

That’s the latest news.  Off the Kuff has more excellent coverage.

(from the Mayor’s announcement, a rendering of the proposed station at the Northwest mall site)

(GPS view of the proposed station location)

 

TODAY is the Voter Registration Deadline for the March 6th Primary!!

The Big Question for today… ARE YOU REGISTERED TO VOTE?!?!

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).  Remember for the Primaries you can vote for either the Democratic Slate, or the Republican Slate, but not both.

Early voting procedures can differ depending on your county, but here are helpful links to some: Harris CountyFort Bend CountyBrazoria CountyMontgomery Countyand Galveston County

For other areas, visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Elections Page for your county information.

Be sure to check your registration today!

(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 15th

The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks a house of cards built by a hyperactive six-year-old is more stable than Donald Trump as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff takes a shot at predicting which female candidates for Congress in Texas have the best shot at getting elected.

SocraticGadfly is still waiting for Lupe Valdez to actually take a political stance.

In a sidebar, he had snarky pieces about Trump’s alleged payoff to Stormy Daniels and what’s new on Gorilla Channel viewing both run with Ken Silverstein’s Washington Babylon.

Neil at All People Have Value discussed the great Houston Democratic Socialists of America endorsed slate for 2018. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Even as larger communities like Houston have welcomed the New Year and largely turned the page on Hurricane Harvey, this is not the case for many other Texas communities. As Texas Leftist shares, Harvey is very much a 2018 reality for coastal towns like Rockport.

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

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

Jim Schutze observes that life as we know it has gone on in Dallas even after tearing down the statue of Robert E. Lee.

The Current documents the brief but impactful life of the #DentonTrumpster.

Leah Binkovitz ponders the Houston region’s transit future.

Better Texas Blog plans to face 2018 with a fierce sense of optimism about what can be accomplished.

Therese Odell reluctantly climbs down into the shithole.

Leif Reigstad rounds up the Texans we lost last year that we’ll miss the most.

Grits for Breakfast points out a problem with life-without-parole sentences.

Michael Li outlines the Texas redistricting case SCOTUS has agreed to hear.