Tag Archives: Sylvia Garcia

Brookshires, Kroger Don’t Support Equal Pay for Texas Women

Sad, but very true. This shocking story came from Patricia Kilday Hart at the Houston Chronicle

Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a bill that would have let victims of wage discrimination sue in state court after receiving letters against the measure from the Texas Retailers Association and five of its members, mostly grocery stores, according to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, who authored HB 950 mirroring the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, said she unaware that the group and the businesses opposed her bill, or that they sought a gubernatorial veto.

Among the businesses advocating for a veto was Kroger Food Stores.

“I shop at Kroger’s for my groceries,” Thompson said. “I shopped there just last week. I’m going to have to go to HEB now. I am really shocked.”

Also writing to seek a veto were representatives of Macy’s, the Houston grocery company Gerland Corp. [Food Town], Brookshire Grocery Company, Market Basket, the Texas Association of Business and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

HEB is a member of the Texas Retailers Association, but lobbyist Rusty Kelley said the company did not lobby against the bill.

The letters to Perry provide a behind-the-scene glimpse of the legislative process. Entities such as the Texas Retailers Association can seek a gubernatorial veto without the knowledge of sponsors. Thompson and her Senate counterpart, Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, say they were blind-sided by Perry’s veto and the retailers’ opposition.

Veteran Austin lobbyist Bill Miller said seeking a gubernatorial veto is a common lobby tactic. “That’s a smart play. You don’t fade the heat (by publicly opposing a bill) on the front end and you win on the back end.” He said that, except for the Chronicle’s open records request, “no one would be the wiser. You do what you gotta do to protect your client.”

Makes you wonder how many of Perry’s other seemingly ludicrous vetos were done in this manner. But in any case, this is unacceptable. I can’t believe that I have to write sentences like these, but women are equal citizens in every way. Why would anyone support laws that discriminate against a woman’s ability to earn fair wages, and pursue those fair wages if they’ve been stolen from her? It’s because of that reasoning that the bill passed the hyper partisan Texas Legislature with bi-partisan support… it’s the right thing to do!! And yet Governor Perry would rather please his lobbyist friends than stand with Texas women?

Give me a break.

Houstonians may be less familiar with Brookshires, but the grocery store chain is a staple of East Texas. In fact for many small towns north of Houston and East of Dallas in the state, Brookshires may be the only major grocery store for 30 miles. Brookshires also has stores located in Arkansas and Louisiana.

Gerland Corp is a prominent grocer in the Houston area as well, as the owner and proprietor of all Food Town grocery stores. I plan to boycott all of these businesses, because I don’t want my money going to places that don’t support Texas women. Kroger is going to be especially tough, but it will happen. Houston State Senator Sylvia Garcia, who had a scheduled appearance at a Macy’s store earlier this week, cancelled that and all other events for businesses affiliated with blocking the legislation. Progress Texas already has a petition drive for the boycott. As readers, I would urge you to do the same. And to make it even easier, here are some handy maps letting you know where NOT to go.

Fellow blogger Dos Centavos has an excellent post on this as well.

An Orange Rally with Blue Roots

Yeah ok… As a Democrat and someone who didn’t go to UT-Austin, I have to admit that I would have preferred a different set of colors for the Stand With Texas Women movement. What’s worse is having the Anti-Choice counter attack steal our blue. Not cool.

But the irony of yesterday’s Stand With Texas Women’s Rally in downtown Houston? It may have been orange from the outside, but you could feel some serious energy within to Turn Texas Blue.

The crowd started off reasonably strong… 200 or so people standing by the Discovery Green stage, mostly trying to stay out of the punishing sunlight, signing petitions and rapidly buying their burnt orange shirts. You could tell that the people showing up in Houston had just left work (like me) and were tired from the busy day they had already experienced.

But as soon as the crowd got word that the Stand With Texas Women Tour Bus was pulling up, new life seemed to take over the crowd. They suddenly found a collective Second Wind, and the strength to stand and shout at Discovery Green park. And finally, after another brief delay, the real rallying started. Texas’ newest political rockstar Wendy Davis, accompanied by Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, and State Senators Sylvia Garcia and Rodney Ellis of Houston, Jose Rodriguez of El Paso, and Kirk Watson of Austin. What felt like a few hundred people dispersed around Discovery Green swelled quickly to 1,000 as we condensed near the stage in a veritable sea of orange.

Cecile Richards kicked things off…

“It’s wasn’t just that Gov. Perry and some of his allies in the Legislature ended the women’s health program and cut more than 130,000 women in Texas off of preventive care, but now the Legislature is considering a bill that would force dozens more health centers in this state to close their doors making it even harder for women to get care and ending access to safe and legal abortion.”

The crowd definitely cheered at times, but also listened intently to each person at the mic. Like the above, it “felt” different… maybe because it wasn’t technically a political rally, but because this was a group of Texans that were putting up a fight. But no one was lost to the fact that this was a Democratic affair. State Senator Garcia, with Wendy Davis standing directly behind her, got the loudest cheer of the night.

“Instead of Texas women always having to fight our Governor, maybe it’s time for a Texas woman to BE our Governor.”

Yeah, that was basically all it took to make that group happy. And that’s when it hit me… Texas’ conversion to a swing state is happening right before our eyes. Even a couple years ago, Democrat and Leftist forces would have never put even a dime into something as intricate as a bus tour in Texas. When the 2011 legislature decimated our education budget (Wendy Davis’ first filibuster), most of the media wrote it off as “par for the course” in Perrystan. But now in two short years… who am I kidding… 4 short weeks… We’re standing here rallying and recruiting activists like we’re just west of Florida’s I-4 corridor. This is the stuff that I remember watching all across the country in 2010 and 2012. Every time Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi said something even halfway controversial, the other side had a bus ready to go. And for the GOP, they barely need an excuse to wait. But in Texas politics? Complete dormancy.

The Bus Tour is evidence that Texas Democrats are beginning to put the puzzle together. If the GOP continues to suppress and oppress, then it’s up to Democrats to not sit silent, but stand up and fight. Keep shining the light on GOP atrocities and tie these events into voter registration. Work hard to wake up the massive group of disengaged people out there. And if that can happen, they’re going to roll right through the orange patch, and turn Texas blue.

The Texas Lege Dredge 2013

Now that the Special Session is approaching a feverish end, it’s time to share some thoughts about the 2013 Texas Legislature. I haven’t written much about the Lege on this blog, choosing instead to continue focus on local politics and select national issues for two reasons. The first being excellent coverage from fellow bloggers Texpatriate and Off the Kuff… They have monitored the many twists and turns with careful accuracy, and I highly suggest consulting their work. Secondly, as a frustrated Liberal, I just didn’t have high hopes for this legislative session. I expected some Republican legislators to waste the critical time and money of Texas taxpayers on things like Anti- women’s rights bills, which they did, and for them to continue to cripple our state’s vital educational resources, which they did.

Now don’t get me wrong… I’m very proud of the hard work of Texas Democrats like Senators Wendy Davis and Sylvia Garcia. They fought tooth-and nail to restore most of the massive cuts made to Texas schools in 2011. But across the state schools remain severely under-funded, especially when you consider that the state has roughly 140,000 MORE children than it did two years ago. That means Texas educators are still faced with an array of impossible choices. You’d think for all the boasting Republicans do nation-wide about the so-called “Texas Miracle” they’d want to invest in our children’s future. And you’d be wrong.

The other event I expected from this years session? For Governor Perry to kill what little bi-partisan cooperation occurred in a massive slew of vetoes. And that’s exactly what he did. Particularly hurtful to Senate Democrats was the Governor’s veto of the Fair Pay Act… a bill meant to tweak Texas laws to be more in tune with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Houston Chronicle reported the following reactions to Perry’s veto…

Davis, along with Sen. Kirk Watson, blasted Perry on Friday in a news conference, likening the veto and his addition of abortion issues to the special session call as a “concerted effort to attack and erode women’s rights and quality of rights.”

“Once again the governor has made women’s health and women’s rights a target in an effort to bolster his own political standing,” Davis said.

Watson added: “These are political decisions that are part of a political war. Women are, at best, the collateral damage in that war.”

No wonder the state’s nickname is Perry-stan.

And of course, no summation of Texas political events would be complete without mention of the deplorable Texas Redistricting drama. After November 2011, when federal judges concluded that the GOP-dominated legislature’s new redistricting maps discriminated against African American and Hispanic voters, three separate interim maps were drawn by a San Antonio federal court in 2012. Though a mild improvement over the lege, the federal maps are still drawn by people that have no input or understanding of the majority of Texas communities they’ve been asked to affect. It’s like you living in the same place for decades, and knowing how to get to the bank, but one day you decide to map it in Apple maps just to laugh at how illogical the computer’s map is. If the GOP can’t have their fantasy map, they’d much rather stick to the highly unfair status quo. So it appears that the kink-ridden, “Apple maps.0” version of Texas Redistricting will be made permanent.

As Rice University political scholar Mark P. Jones reminds us, it could’ve been worse. The Legislature was no where near as tragic as they were in 2011’s Tea-Party tantrum. And sure some of the state’s Democrats actually managed to get a few things done. But comparing the 2011 and 2013 sessions is like comparing Hurricane devastation to Tornado devastation… if it’s your particular house lying in a pile of rubble, you’re still the one that’s out of luck. Texas Democrats can breathe a sigh of relief that it wasn’t as bad, but if they ever want to put a true end to Perry-stan, it’s time to plan for 2014 and 2015 right now. Or else, the state is at risk to have another 2011… perhaps worse.