The Texas Progressive Alliance doesn’t need hindsight to know that invading Iraq was a tragically stupid decision as it brings you this week’s roundup.
Off the Kuff is pleasantly surprised to hear that the Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority and US Rep. John Culberson have reached an accord in their longstanding feud over funding for light rail in Houston.
Letters from Texas provides a step-by-step guide to using your hypocrisy to justify your bigotry.
Appointed by Council, the great city of San Antonio has a new Mayor. Here’s the breaking news story from KENS channel 5…
City Council has chosen Ivy Taylor as the new interim mayor….
Taylor is the city’s first black woman mayor. She started her career in Housing and Community Development Department and Neighborhood Action Department. Taylor joined District 2 as a councilwoman in 2009. Taylor also boasts a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning and has a Bachelor’s from Yale.
The vote came down to the 10 council members at Tuesday’s meeting. Mayor Julian Castro is headed to Washington D.C. to begin his job as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Thursday.
Taylor’s tenure as Mayor commenced immediately following Secretary Designate Castro’s resignation, both of which occurred in today’s meeting of City Council.
District 2’s former Council member also announced that she has no plans to run for Mayor in 2015. This being the case, it’s unlikely that Taylor would try to re-fight old battles, which should give the LGBT community some measure of comfort. Sans an incumbent or a clear front-runner, the race promises to be exciting. But for now, it’s time to hope for the best, and look forward to some great municipal politics in 2015.
In the state of Texas, the options for Democratic politicians are somewhat limited, especially if said persons have aspirations towards a national-level office. The overwhelming majority of Presidents or Vice Presidents are chosen from the pool of Governors, or Senators. Democrats in the Lone Star State haven’t been able to break into statewide office in 20 years. No access to statewide office typically means no ability to enter the national arena.
But there is one alternative route, be it far less traveled… being pushed into the national spotlight as a member of the President’s cabinet. It appears now that this may be San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro’s way to break the Texas ceiling. Here’s the scoop from the Washington Post…
President Obama is preparing to nominate Mayor Julián Castro of San Antonio as his new secretary of housing and urban development, elevating one of his party’s Hispanic rising stars as part of a cabinet shuffle that has possible implications for the 2016 presidential race, Democrats informed about the plans said on Saturday.
Mr. Castro, who has often been mentioned as a potential vice-presidential candidate for the Democrats, would take the place of Shaun Donovan, who is to become director of the Office of Management and Budget. That job is being vacated by Sylvia Mathews Burwell, whom Mr. Obama tapped to be secretary of health and human services and who seems headed to Senate confirmation.
A cabinet-level position definitely has its advantages, even over winning a statewide election. For one thing, you get to leave electoral politics behind, and focus on affecting real policy changes. A big reason why Hillary Clinton is viewed so positively today is because she hasn’t had to run for office since 2008. A White House post will afford Mr. Castro the same opportunity.
There’s been no official announcement yet, but most predict it’s only a matter of weeks.
Perhaps better than any of her predecessors, Houston Mayor Annise Parker knows that discrimination is a real issue for the LGBT community. She was a Past President of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, and her activism is remembered from civic protests to consultation in the landmark Lawrence V. Texas case. And of course, the mayor’s recent wedding to her long-time partner is still illegal in her home state, pending further court decisions.
Given this history, it was especially heartening to hear Parker, in her 3rd and final inaugural address as Mayor, pledge that the time has come to pass a comprehensive, LGBT inclusive Non-Discrimination ordinance (AKA Human Rights Ordinance) in Houston.
Other Houstonians say that it’s time as well. Texans Together Education Fund, an organization founded to increase civic engagement in underserved communities, has started a petition to get the ordinance passed, and whose members are actively lobbying to bring it forth to City Council. Unlike years past, Non-Discrimination has now mobilized Houston’s progressive community to the point where it will impossible for municipal government to ignore. And of course, Houston has a nearby example with San Antonio’s recent NDO, led by Mayor Julian Castro.
But it appears that even the planned ordinance for Houston will not include *direct* discrimination protections for those working in the private sector (which of course is the majority of the workforce). Here’s what Parker had to say on Houston Matters earlier this week…
Craig Cohen: When can we expect a comprehensive Non-Discrimination Ordinance that protects all Houstonians regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and will such an ordinance protect those employed in the Private Sector?
Mayor Parker: I hope to have it passed by the end of May. It will affect the Private Sector in as much as if they do business with the City of Houston. It will affect the Private Sector if they operate public accommodations or multi-family housing. But the first draft I’m working on does not apply to the Private Sector otherwise.
Why can’t this first version of the ordinance include private employment? In short, the answer is simple politics. Sources say the Houston ordinance will lose votes on Council if it affects private employers. It’s true that any step is a step forward, especially in these times of heightened contention in politics. But if a Council Member wants to allow discrimination to continue, they deserve to be put on record with a vote. Instead of protecting them, Parker and her administration should let them deal with the Progressive community’s ire. Texas Leftist cannot confirm at this time which persons are against equal protection, but if that information is ever revealed, it will surely be passed along via this blog. As for now, we’ll wait to see what develops this May.
As parts of the United States continue to evolve on the issues of LGBT equality, progressives in Texas often feel like they’re running behind. and of course they feel that way because they are. The Republican-controlled state government has pledged pledged at every turn to deny reality, and actively promote LGBT discrimination.
But the Lone Star State may not be that way much longer if San Antonio has anything to say about it. Directly from the San Antonio Express-News…
An issue that starkly divided San Antonio this summer was resolved Thursday when the City Council approved an ordinance that adds protections for sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran status to the city code.
In four separate public forums since mid-August, more than 1,500 people approached the dais at City Hall and addressed the council, speaking passionately in support of and against the ordinance that drew national attention. Final public comments were heard about three hours before the council took its vote.
In separate votes, the council approved adding veteran status 9-2, and approved adding LGBT protections 8-3.
“It’s a common-sense ordinance that’s going to treat everyone equally,” Mayor Julián Castro said after the vote. “Nobody will be a second-class citizen in San Antonio. Here, there will be basic fairness and common decency for everybody.”
This ordinance is definitely historic for the city of San Antonio, but it is not without state precedent. Houston’s non discrimination ordinance protects people based on race, religion, gender and sexual preference. But in 2010, Houston Mayor Annise Parker extended further non discrimination protections to city employees and contractors by executive order. The cities of Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth have the most comprehensive non discrimination ordinances in the state of Texas.
But given the fight that ensued just to extend these basic protections to municipal employees, one has to salute Mayor Castro and Council for having the guts to advance equality in the Alamo City. Congratulations San Antonio!
Before any true goal can be realized, it must first be visualized, idealized, and then actualized.
Over the last few weeks, there’s been a lot of buzz about the Texas Democratic Party… lots of talk about how it’s only a matter of time before Texas becomes a swing state. I’ve certainly done my fair share of prognostication too (See here from before the 2012 election and here for afterwards). But now in February 2013, has anything concrete taken shape to make this goal a reality?
The current answer is… kind of. The biggest news out of Texas’ blue prospects is the creation of Battleground Texas, a left-leaning money group that is meant to help revive Lone Star Democrats. The group has pledged to put big money into the efforts, and have an aggressive media presence. If that is their true intent, it seems that they are off to a slow start. There is a website up, but it hasn’t had any activity since January 29th, and the site still lists as “Under Construction. Same for the Facebook page… no updates or activity. Of course, 2013 is not an “election year” in Texas, at least not for state-wide offices, but make no mistake that this is a critical time for political mobilization in the state. The Legislature is convened from now until June, and local elections will be held all over the state this November in cities like Houston. Without a Presidential or Gubernatorial race, it may seem like an off-year. But in my opinion, it’s anything but.
Of course it’s not like a true Texan to wait around for someone else to get a job done. Texas Democrats are working hard to get ready for 2014 right now. Groups like the Harris County Democratic Party (Houston) and the Dallas Democrats have launched new websites geared for social media organizing, and are off to an impressive start in fundraising. In Harris County, the party is focused on holding year-round events and community efforts, to not only raise money for Democrats to stay competitive, but to keep voters actively engaged year-round.
These are the types of cues that the national Democratic party should take in Texas. In order for this state to turn blue, it’s going to take serious grassroots organizing, just like we typically see in Ohio, Florida and the other “traditional” battleground states.
The other essential factor for blue state success in Texas? Strong candidates. Thankfully, the Texas Democratic bench is looking stronger than ever before. 2014 will bring state-wide races for 3 critical offices… Governor, Senate and Lieutenant Governor. Eventhough some candidates like Julian Castro have decided to sit out 2014, there are still some very capable Texans that can compete in a state-wide race.
One person to definitely watch is State Senator Wendy Davis from Ft. Worth. In a swing district that voted for McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012, Senator Davis defeated a Republican Incumbent for her first trip to the Senate, and won again in 2012. A tireless advocate for Texas public education, she has garnered much attention by mounting aggressive opposition to Republican lawmakers. If Ms. Davis were to run for either Governor or Senator, she has a serious shot, and is my TOP contender for 2014. Make sure to put her on your radar!!
Houston Mayor Annise Parker has garnered an impressive record in her nearly two terms leading the nation’s 4th largest city. She has taken bold steps to help Houston weather the economic downtown, and now public sector employment is being restored. Houston has also been a national leader in job growth during the Recovery, and all signs point continued prosperity for the city in 2013 and 2014. Not only jobs, but Mayor Parker has also worked hard to improve the quality of life for Houstonians through massive investments in the city’s infrastructure, parks and bike trails. She’s managed to do it all through meticulous work on the city’s budget, and partnering with local business leaders. Though Mayor Parker has already committed to run for a third term, Texas Democrats can expect big things from her in the near future.
Equally impressive at the local level is San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. He garnered national attention last year after delivering the keynote address for the Democratic National Convention. Thanks to that, more Americans now know his name. But what they may not know is how hard he’s been working on behalf of the great city of San Antonio, whose voters not only re-elected Castro by a whopping 82 percent in 2011, but approved a landmark new early childhood initiative in 2012. Pre-K for SA establishes city-wide Pre-Kindergarten for all San Antonio kids, and is funded by city taxpayers. It’s sure to be a national model not unlike what President Obama mentioned in the 2013 State of the Union speech. Thanks to Mayor Castro’s leadership, San Antonio is getting is done. Texas Democrats… don’t be surprised if President Obama shows up in Texas soon. And if he does, expect Mayor Castro to be in the vicinity. For the moment, Castro has again committed to run for a 3rd (and final) term as Mayor of San Antonio. With such hearty commitments to Texas’ children, Wendy Davis and Julian Castro would make quite a team on a state-wide ballot.
Mayor Castro’s twin brother is U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro. Though he’s a freshman in Congress, Joaquin is no slouch to Austin politics having just finished a 10-year run in the Texas legislature. He’s built his political career on a solid record of bi-partisan accomplishments, and has lately become a very popular commentator with the national news media. As Immigration reform continues to be a hotly- contested issue on Capitol Hill, we should all expect Congressman Castro to be a key figure. That alone would be enough to put him on the radar for a state-wide office.