Tag Archives: Texas 2018 Elections

Redistricting War: SCOTUS To Hear Texas’ Gerrymandering Case

If there’s one thing Texas seems to do well, that has to be disenfranchise and suppress minority voters.  After the mostly Republican state legislature drew maps that were clearly, undeniably discriminatory from the 2010 census, minority rights groups immediately moved to sue for fairer maps.  Now, for the majority of the decade, the state’s redistricting process has been caught up in court.

As Alexa Ura of the Texas Tribune reports, the Redistricting War now enters year 8 as the Supreme Court finally wades in, this time at the request of Republicans…

Further extending a drawn-out legal battle, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case over whether Texas’ congressional and House district boundaries discriminate against voters of color.

[…]

The Supreme Court’s decision to weigh the state’s appeal will further delay any redrawing efforts even after almost seven years of litigation between state attorneys and voting and minority rights groups that challenged the maps. It’s unclear when the court will schedule oral arguments in the case, which is formally known as Abbott v. Perez.

In ruling against the maps last year, a three-judge panel in San Antonio sided with the voting and minority rights groups who accused Republican lawmakers of discriminating against voters of color, who tend to vote for Democrats, in drawing the maps. The state has denied targeting voters by race and admitted instead to practicing partisan gerrymandering by overtly favoring Republicans in drawing the districts.

The panel specifically flagged two congressional districts and nine House districts in four counties as problematic. But the Supreme Court in September temporarily blocked the lower court rulings — and any efforts to redraw the maps — in two 5-4 decisions as it considered the appeal from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

So in case you missed that, Texas Republicans are only denying blatant gerrymandering based on race, but they’re perfectly fine with blatant gerrymandering based on political party.

But at some point, the buck on this type of behavior has to stop.  Surely the 9 Justices of the Supreme Court are smart enough to see the unfairness of of one neighborhood like Houston’s diverse Museum District being sliced, or cracked between three Congressional Districts (because you know, minorities).  The practice of extreme gerrymandering, in combination with the state’s stringent Voter ID laws, should be more than enough evidence o the wrong that has been done.  Even if the Republicans consider this a win, let’s hope it also presents an opportunity for fairness.

 

TLCQ 2018: Glenn “Grumpy” Williams

In the First installment of the 2018 Texas Leftist Candidate Questionnaire, we hear from Glenn “Grumpy” Williams candidate for the Texas State Senate, District 5.

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?
GW:  Glenn “Grumpy” Williams
TL:  Are you a current or former elected official? If so what office(s)?
GW:  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?
GW:  Government’s main purpose (on all levels) should be to serve victims. This includes prevention (insuring that individuals do not suffer discrimination from racism, sexism.
homophobia and abuse programs to address elder abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, and abuse/discrimination directed toward minorities of all descriptions)
prosecution of those who abuse or discriminate, elimination of programs that facilitate economic oppression, and compensation for those who have suffered governmental abuse or discrimination.
TL:  If elected, name your top 3 priorities you hope to accomplish for the upcoming legislative session. Describe how you plan to accomplish them.
GW:  Engage all Texans in meeting needs of abused and neglected children through a series of programs including election of vulnerable citizen commissioner, reversing the disastrous course of privatization of conservatorship function of Department of Family and Protective Services and rewriting DFPS policies to make them friendly to ‘customers’ of the Department. (more fully discussed on my manifesto “Twelve Modest Proposals for the State of Texas, the Greatest State in the Greatest Nation of the Greatest Planet in the Greatest Solar System of the Greatest Solar System of the Greatest Galaxy in the Greatest Universe Known to Man” found on the ‘ Read My Propaganda’ section of my website located at www.WilliamsforSD5.com  proposals 1 and 2,)
Level the playing field so that prosecution of police officers for excessive force does not face unfair and often insurmountable burdens favoring the police officer defendants.  (more fully developed in my manifesto – proposal #4.)
Address the ‘lack of exercise’ epidemic by developing a physical fitness voucher (more fully developed in my manifesto proposal number 6)
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.
GW:  I would start by implementing the recommendations of the American Society of Civil Engineers, I would reverse the trend toward the building of more toll roads, and examine more fully what the legislature can do to promote public transportation.
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? 
GW:  A major cause of the crisis in rural health care is the uncompensated costs that hospitals face – we need to address this by expanding Medicare and by restoring rates that were slashed due to a flawed study (Rider 315 in 2015)
On a national level we need to support single payer system
We need to increase prevention efforts (see my manifesto – proposal 3) and deal with the lack of exercise epidemic through a physical fitness voucher (see my manifesto proposal number 6)
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.
GW:  This was a terrible decision which has many negative ramifications. I would support legislation but it needs to be on a federal level. We can not have fifty different sets of rules and regulations addressing the internet.

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

GW:  Being totally devoid of charm and charisma I will allow voters to focus on issues.
Having 41 plus years experience as a lawyer  (with 40 of them being employed in governmental service as CPS attorney, Legal Advisor for Killen and Austin Police Departments and Deputy City in Wichita Falls) I believe I can best demonstrate how various proposals will effect individual Texans.
TL:  When not on the campaign trail, how do you like to spend your free time?
GW:  Dance!   I do Zumba, Jazzercise, Afro-Brazilian, Hula, etc. (I like to brag that I am usually the best male dancer in these classes but I guess I should admit that I am usually the only male dancer in these classes and that if another guy shows up I am automatically relegated to being the second best male dancer, and if two other guys show up I become the 3rd best male dancer, you get the picture.)
Thanks to Mr. Williams for the responses.
Texas Primary Election Day is Tuesday March 6th, and Early Voting begins February 20th.  Early voting procedures can differ depending on your county, but here are helpful links to some: Harris CountyFort Bend CountyBrazoria CountyMontgomery County, 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 solutions in the Lone Star State!!)

Texoblogosphere: Week of January 8th

The Texas Progressive Alliance knows where the really big buttons are as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff gave his initial impressions of the primary ballot.

SocraticGadfly talked about Beto O’Rourke’s visit to Northeast Texas.

With so many candidates on the Primary Ballot, It’s easy to understand how some Texas Democrats might still be in a state of shock. But in the face of a VERY good problem, Texas Leftist is doing their part to gather solid information for voters. This year’s Candidate Questionnaire, or TLCQ 2018 is up and ready to go, so please check it out and look for responses to come in soon.

Neil at All People Have Value noted that Trump was making a case for street protests against corrupt government in his tweets about demonstrations in Iran. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

G. Elliott Morris gives five numbers that frame where the 2018 Congressional elections stand.

Mike Snyder wants to consider the question of how Houston should grow post-Harvey.

The TSTA Blog urges teachers to be the voting bloc some legislators fear they can be.

The Texas Living Waters Project talks to Dr. Andrew Sansom about his freshwater environmental activism.

Lone Star Ma shared her New Year’s resolutions.

Jordan Maney wants to make San Antonio a more welcoming place for young black artists and innovators.

Texoblogosphere: Week of December 25th

 

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes a Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it as we bring you this weeks’s roundup. From the FINAL week of 2017…

Off the Kuff looked at Democratic filings for State Senate and for races in counties neighboring Harris County.

SocraticGadfly took a look at various regional election filings by both D’s and R’s in Northeast Texas and in the Metroplex, while wondering when and how Joe Straus is going to stay active in GOP politics.

The lingering Russian obsession that has morphed into neo-McCarthyism has PDiddie at Brains and Eggs more than a little perturbed.

Even as the state continues to surge in population and become more concentrated in key cities and suburbs, any politician would be unwise to ignore the voices of rural Texans. Texas Leftist believes that 2018 is the year for Texas Democrats to leave their urban safe zones and reach out across all areas of the state. For those brave enough to run a true, comprehensive statewide campaign, this dedicated community of voters provides a great place to start.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote about a great work of public art in Houston called Hubcap In Grass. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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

Jeff Balke celebrates the end of Christmas commercials on TV.

Better Texas Blog highlights the impact on Texas of a national DREAM Act.

Paradise in Hell steals a look at Roy Moore’s Christmas playlist.

Texas Vox calls for private industry to contribute to Harvey recovery.

The Lunch Tray bemoans the utter failure of “self-regulation” to limit exposure of junk food ads to kids.

G. Elliott Morris recommends the best political books he read this year.

Wired Magazine pens a long and deservedly appreciative profile of Eric Berger, the Space City Weather founder who everyone turned to for information about Harvey.

BYE: Congressman Blake Farenthold To Not Seek Reelection

First elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010, Congressman Blake Farenthold has been an interesting character to watch in Texas politics, and a rather confusing presence for the good people of the state’s 27th Congressional District.  The winner of a razor-thin contest that year, the district was then gerrymandered (or as some prefer to say, gerrymangled) so much that it now leans heavily Republican.  This has perpetuated a series of easy victories for the Congressman, even when he says and does things that may conflict with the needs and values of his constituents.  His views on issues like immigration, for example, have been the source of much controversy.  But with such a safe district now in his favor, Texans have wondered if there would ever be a way to challenge the legislator.

Well, as it turns out, the greatest challenger to Blake Farenthold happens to be his own behavior.  As Abby Livingston of the Texas Tribune reports, the powerful Congressman’s time in Washington is now coming to an end…

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, will retire from Congress after finishing his current term, a source close to the congressman told The Tribune Thursday morning. Farenthold soon confirmed the decision in an emotional video posted on Facebook.

The decision came after a difficult December for the four-term congressman. Farenthold, one of the quieter members of the Texas delegation, found himself embroiled in a charged atmosphere of sexual harassment allegations in Washington, D.C.

The final blow came in the form of a CNN report on Wednesday night highlighting new sexual harassment allegations that included former employees describing the congressman as verbally abusive and sexually demeaning.

[…]

While he “expected a tough primary campaign” and “was looking forward to it,” Farenthold said he would retire instead.

“I would be forced to engage in a month-long campaign for personal vindication,” he said. “That’s not why I came to Congress. Quite simply, my constituents deserve better.”

And on that last point, we have to agree.  the constituents of his district definitely deserve better, and have deserved better for a long time.  Just like US taxpayers deserved better than to have to pay $84,000 in taxpayer money for to settle a previous sexual harassment claim against him.  Only when knowledge of the settlement became public did Farenthold, a millionaire, pledge to reimburse the funds with his own money.

With its present boundaries, Texas 27th will still be a tough race for any Democratic hopeful looking to flip the District.  But at least now, they don’t have to worry about the incumbent.

Or to coin the phrase of another famous Texan…

 

 

 

‘Missing’ Ted Cruz Ignores Constituents

Sure, it’s a popular mantra among Democrats since his failed run for President, but for everyday Texans on both sides of the political spectrum “You Cruz You Lose” is suddenly sounding with a much deeper resonance.

As Katherine Blunt of the Houston Chronicle reports, Ted Cruz may be well known in Washington, but in his home state of Texas,  the distinguished Senator is essentially M.I.A…

Ted Cruz is still missing.

The U.S. senator from Texas didn’t appear at a town hall meeting Saturday, much to the dismay of several organizations that have for months tried to corner him during his trips to Houston. Hundreds of constituents appeared in the hope of peppering him with questions before he returns to Washington, D.C., but they were forced instead to address a panel of speakers assembled in his absence.

Cruz isn’t really missing, of course. His spokesman noted that the senator took questions from 200 employees at a NASA subcontractor in Stafford last week.

But he has for months declined requests from left-leaning groups including Indivisible Houston, Pantsuit Republic Houston and others to attend town hall meetings with local voters concerned about education, health care, immigration and other issues that became particularly contentious when President Donald Trump took office. With Congress in recess until Friday, the groups raised $5,000 to host the event in a Texas Southern University auditorium regardless of whether Cruz showed up.

“We are legitimately concerned about things happening in Texas,” said Lauren Summerville, an organizer with Pantsuit Republic. “The people have a lot of questions.”

If you’re struggling to keep track, this now marks the Second Congressional Recess in a row that Senator Cruz has REFUSED to hold an official public Town Hall.  This being the case while several of Cruz’s colleagues are doing their civic duty as elected officials, even if it isn’t always easy.

So what could be the reason that the Texas Senator can’t seem to muster the courage to meet his own constituents face to face?? I suppose Texans could understand if the expense of having to fly back and forth from Washington placed an undue burden on Cruz’s paltry salary of $174,000 per year (multiply that by 6 years in office, and you’ve hit over $1 million that Cruz has been compensated by the very Taxpayers he seems to ignore), but luckily for Senators, flights to and from the Capitol are are covered by… well, us.

Granted, this has been Cruz’s first term in office.  Hosting Constituent questions in a Town Hall can be of great challenge to even the most experienced elected official.  I guess that could be an excuse, if not for all of those Town Halls, Teleconference Sessions, Open Forum Debates that Cruz seemed to master during his 2015-2016 Presidential Campaign.  From the looks of it, Senator Cruz seems to have spent more time listening to the concerns of Iowa and New Hampshire residents than those who sent him to Congress in the first place.  Not a good statistic for a politician rapidly approaching reelection.

And in case you’re wondering… at least one opponent for Ted Cruz’s seat is having no problem facing the public.  Just last week, Congressman Beto O’Rourke held another Town Hall in El Paso, facing tough questions from his constituents concerned his bid to challenge Cruz would detract from important work for the people of his district.  O’Rourke is now 4 for 4 on his promise to host monthly Town Halls, even after the launch of an ambitious Senate campaign.

Sounds like the current Senator could take a couple of cues from his rival.  In any event, he better do something.  Like the warming temperatures, this campaign won’t stay cool much longer.  Let’s hope Texas finds its Senator soon.