Tag Archives: Texas

Texoblogosphere: Week of March 9th

The Texas Progressive Alliance is all about springing forward as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff sadly reminds a fifth-generation Republican who doesn’t want to lose her Obamacare insurance subsidies that Greg Abbott doesn’t care about her at all.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos heard the President give one of the most memorable and moving speeches of our lifetimes.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. GOP Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants to bust the spending cap, without having to pay, politically, for busting the spending cap, GOP Wants To Change The Rules In The Middle Of The Game.

“What the BLEEP happened to hip-hop?” asked PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Texas ranks 43 in the US as a place to live for children. That’s what happens when Republicans run the place. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme says pro-life is just another way to say ‘I’ve got mine, who gives a rats behind about you!”

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

Grits for Breakfast applauds Ted Cruz’s flop-flop on marijuana.

The Rivard Report documents the crowded ballot that awaits San Antonio voters this May.

Randy Bear does the same for the charter amendments, and worries about trying to make changes in a low-turnout context.

The Lunch Tray would be happy to have celebrities market vegetables to kids.

Paradise In Hell declares that the real threat to marriage in Texas is serial heterosexuals.

BOR highlights the 2014 Texas League of Conservation Voters National Environmental Scorecard.

Better Texas Blog puts Texas’ Medicaid spending in context.

Texas Clean Air Matters echoes the US military’s call to diversify our energy options and shift more toward a clean energy economy.

Nonsequiteuse calls on Free Press Summerfest acts to speak up about R Kelly being in the lineup.

Texas Vox reports on lobbying efforts to preserve local control.

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(Today’s feature photo is an aerial shot over Dallas, Texas.  Taken by L. Wayne Ashley)

Texas Leftist Impact 2014

As we say goodbye to 2014, it is right to take a moment for reflection. So Texas Leftist wants to answer the ephemeral question…

For the year that was 2014, who had the greatest impact on Texas Politics??

 

There are of course lots of contenders. Attorney General Greg Abbott handily defeated rival Wendy Davis, and is set to become the state’s second Governor elected in the 21st Century. The reign of Rick Perry will officially come to an end as we ring in the new year. Democrat Davis ran a good campaign and certainly performed well in two debates with her Republican opponent. But in the end, her message was not enough to combat an historically-low voter turnout, and Abbott, along with most other Republican Party contenders, claimed victory once again.

Even with this reality, there were still some bright spots for Texas Democrats, and for Progressivism. The citizens of Denton exercised their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by banning fracking in their municipality, much to the dismay of Big Government Republicans in Austin who have immediately moved to sue the town for working to improve the community.

San Antonian Nico LaHood ousted the Republican Imcumbent to become the next District Attorney of Bexar County. Running on a platform of Bi-Partisanship and reformation of drug convictions, he also rises to the front ranks of the Texas Democratic Party.

But it is another San Antonian that claims the title of of this post… State Senator Leticia Van de Putte.  Though her bid to be the state’s Lieutenant Governor proved unsuccessful, Van de Putte certainly gained attention through a disciplined, common-sense campaign that stayed focused on the issues of Texas, and not partisan gridlock. She never compromised or apologized for her principles, whether they be standing up for LGBT equality in her only statewide debate, or pledging to fight for free tuition to Texas Community Colleges on the stump.

The year’s loss was definitive… Dan Patrick will be the next Lieutenant Governor. But rather than play it safe with her Senate seat, Van de Putte found the courage to risk it all once again, resign her Senate seat and run for Mayor of her hometown. It’s a fighting spirit that has been absent from Texas Democrats for almost two decades.

For awakening the fighting spirit with dignity, courage, wisdom and grace, Leticia Van de Putte had the greatest impact of 2014.

 

Texoblogosphere: Week of December 15th

The Texas Progressive Alliance is dusting off its recipes for wassail and figgy pudding as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff says that the actual election results do not support exit polls that claim Greg Abbott received 44% of the Latino vote.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and Daily Kos is not the least bit surprised to learn that two Texas Regulators Get Fired for Doing Their Jobs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is calling for Nora Longoria to resign. How can she be a judge when she got very special treatment?

The Bible verses that contain the words “the poor will be with you always” do not mean what Rick Perry thinks they mean, says PDiddie at Brains and Eggs. And not what many other Christians think they mean, either.

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

Texans Together considers the way forward on campaign finance reform.

Candice Bernd feels railroaded by the Railroad Commission in Denton.

The TSTA Blog reminds us that education is only a priority if it is funded like one.

Natalie San Luis offers a lesson in how not to do PR.

SciGuy laments the budget cuts that will make it that much harder to get to Mars.

The Lunch Tray explains what the “cromnibus” spending bill means for school lunches.

Concerned Citizens bemoans the process that San Antonio’s City Council followed in passing restrictive regulations on transit network companies.

Honorary Texan The Slacktivist chides Rick Perry for his deep ignorance of what the Bible actually says.

 

Wishing all who celebrate a very Happy Hanukkah!!  

Hanukkah

 

 

 

(PEC Lights Display in Johnson City, Texas.  Photo Credit:  Dave Wilson on Flickr)

PETITION: Raise Houston’s Minimum Wage

If you are a regular Texas Leftist reader, then you have probably come across some posts regarding the Minimum Wage.  This blog was even mentioned on the Forbes.com website over the issue.

It’s important to blog about why an increase in the minimum wage is needed.  But along with the blogging, I am exploring some options for how to take more substantive actions within the city of Houston.  We all know that there is not much hope for a statewide wage increase after the results of this year’s election, but individual municipalities may be able to make more progress.

May is the operative term there, as just this week, we are seeing more disturbing news from the office of Governor-Elect Greg Abbott.  For all of the talk he preaches about “small government” local control, he sure is swiping the hand of big government against Dallas County by trying to prevent Commissioners there from raising the minimum wage for their employees and contractors.  It’s a preview for what may happen if other counties and cities tried to raise wages as well.

As it stands, current Texas state law prohibits cities from raising the minimum wage via ordinance or charter provision.

But Abbott’s convoluted ethics shouldn’t prevent Dallas County, or anyone else from trying to do what is right.  In the interest of this goal, I decided to create a petition on Change.org calling for a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in the city of Houston.  Here is the text of the petition…

We the citizens respectfully call for a ballot initiative which mandates that the City of Houston enact a raise of the minimum wage to $15 per hour over a series of reasonable increments.  This measure should be taken up by Houston City Council without delay.

The current minimum wage throughout the state of Texas is the federally mandated $7.25 per hour, including Houston, Texas.  But for residents in the city of Houston, this wage is not enough for a full-time working individual to support themselves, especially if they would seek to do so without government assistance. The city has experienced astronomical increases in property taxes, which then get passed on to renters, and the entire consumer population.  Houstonians deserve to be paid a living wage.

We can’t survive on $7.25!

If you support the cause, please sign the petition, and share it with your friends.  With enough interest, we can make this happen for the City of Houston, and hopefully other Texas cities will follow suit.

Houston City Council Proposes 2015 Charter Amendments

Many that follow Houston municipal government have expected a charter amendment proposal to remove the city’s voter-imposed revenue cap on taxes.  With rapid growth and exploding property costs, most Houstonians understand that the cap hinders the city’s ability to carry out basic functions.

But as Texpatriate reports, City Council is doesn’t plan to stop with just the one charter amendment for the upcoming elections…

Texpatriate has learned that the Houston City Council’s ad hoc “charter review committee” has assembled a memorandum of four proposed rule changes to the city’s constitution-like document and plans on holding a public hearing on the matter. On December 4th at 1:00 PM, a week from tomorrow, the council will hold a public hearing on these four proposals, which I will delineate below. Additionally, to call it a “committee” is a misnomer, as the whole council sits on this special group. Mayor Pro Tem Ed Gonzalez (D-District H) will preside.

The four proposals were initially suggested by City Councilmember C.O. Bradford (D-At Large 4). They are eliminating the so-called “revenue cap” for local property taxes, allowing for secret sessions of the council, modifying term limits and allowing a coalition of at least six councilmembers to add agenda items.

Removal of the municipal revenue cap seems to have support on both sides, so it is unlikely to stoke much in the of controversy as Houstonians head into November 2015.

But the proposal for term limits is a somewhat different matter.  Many expect the committee to propose shifting limits of the Mayor and City Controller from a maximum of three 2-year terms to a maximum of two 4-year terms.  This would not only lower the number of elections these public servants have to endure, but would also increase the total amount of time they could serve in office by 2 years overall.  There are points to be made on both sides of the issue. Points in favor would be that fewer elections means more time for governing and more experienced office holders. In opposition would be that the elected official doesn’t have to be held accountable to the public as often for their actions.  In a constituency as large and diverse as Houston, I tend to believe that our elections are important enough to hold every two years.  Rather than reform the frequency of when elections occur, it would be a better idea to reform how they are held– i.e. campaign finance restrictions that level the playing field.

On the other hand, allowing a contingency of Council Members to place an item on the meeting agenda without prior approval of the Mayor seems not only reasonable, but long overdue.  It is a way to go about the people’s business in a more efficient and direct manner.

For all of the positive that would come expanding agenda abilities to members of Council, the proposal to allow secret sessions of City Council seems confusing at best.  As Texpatriate pointed out, it has potential to cause conflict with the open meetings act of the Texas Constitution.  Of course the other side to that is many Council Members feel that the open meetings act is actually too restrictive– they’re not allowed to even informally discuss an issue if not convened in an official meeting.

All of this to say that November 2015 looks to be yet another very important election for Houstonians.  There won’t be a President or Governor on the ballot, but the new Mayor, Council Members and whatever charter amendments are passed could have a huge impact on the city.

 

Growing Support For Texas Medicaid Expansion?

Politicians tend to say a lot of things when on the campaign trail.  They make a barrage of promises to different audiences, trying to court voters at every turn.  The 2014 election was certainly no exception for Greg Abbott, who handily defeated Democratic challenger Wendy Davis just weeks ago.

But sometimes what is not said is just as important in politics.  After a resounding victory, Governor-Elect Abbott, who vowed on the campaign trail to never seek any form of healthcare expansion under the Affordable Care Act, has remained surprisingly silent on the issue as he prepares to lead the state.

Meanwhile the chorus of state leaders supporting a Texas solution to healthcare expansion continues to grow louder by the day, even among persons Abbott has hand-picked for the state’s top administrative offices.  Here’s more from the Texas Tribune

Gov.-elect Greg Abbott’s pick for Texas secretary of state voted for a local resolution last year endorsing the expansion of Medicaid — a central tenet of the federal Affordable Care Act that Abbott fiercely campaigned against.

In a phone interview, Carlos Cascos, a Republican judge from Cameron County, said that as secretary of state he was “not just going to go along to get along” with Abbott, and that on health care issues there would be “policy disagreement” among Republican officials.

Last year, when Cameron County officials endorsed expanding Medicaid, Cascos told NPR, “It’s contrary to what the leadership in Austin is recommending, but we thought it was important enough to take a position.”

On Thursday, Cascos qualified his support for extending Medicaid coverage to more than 1 million low-income Texans, saying, “At the time, I was looking at it from a local perspective in terms of the uninsured we have here in the [Rio Grande] Valley.”

Abbott’s very selection of Cascos seems to suggest that the opinions of RGV Republican leaders are important.  The Secretary Of State Designate’s opinons come on the heals support from another influential group, this time appointed by Governor Rick Perry.  Again, more from the Trib

A board of medical professionals appointed by Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday that the state should provide health coverage to low-income Texans under the Affordable Care Act — a move the Republican-led Legislature has opposed.

The 15-member Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency recommended that the state’s health commissioner be authorized to negotiate a Texas-specific agreement with the federal government to expand health coverage to the poor, “using available federal funds.”

“We’re trying to look at actions whereby more Texans can be covered,” said board chairman Steve Berkowitz, the president and founder 0f SMB Health Consulting. “We’re trying to take the politics out of it.”

As if advocates for Texas citizens themselves were not enough, don’t forget that Texas hospitals, tired of losing billions of dollars to uncompensated care costs, are also facing some tough choices if the state continues to ignore the situation.  This is exactly why the Texas Hospital Association also renewed its call for the legislature to find a Texas solution that helps them, and those seeking medical care.

For Abbott to remain silent when so many groups are speaking out is telling.  Is he listening to the bi-partisan coalition to help Texas families?  Will he change his position on the issue and allow our Texas tax dollars to come back where they belong?  Even if Abbott were to come out in support, what are the chances of finding support withing the legislature, or of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick even bringing such an issue to the Senate floor?

The answers to all will be revealed soon, but for now, the best thing Texans can do is keep talking.  At least then, there is a small chance that our voices will be heard as well.

 

(photo credit:  Travel Trip Journey)

City Revises Subpoenas, Removes Request For Sermons

Since the story caught wildfire and continues to ricochet across the internet, the City of Houston has decided to revise the HERO Subpoena request.  Here’s more from Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle

Mayor Annise Parker on Friday followed through on her pledge to narrow the scope of subpoenas sent to local pastors who led opposition to the city’s equal rights ordinance earlier this year.

Though the subpoena’s new wording removes any mention of “sermons” — a reference that created a firestorm among Christian conservative groups and politicians, including Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who accused Parker of trying “to silence the church” — the mayor acknowledged the new subpoenas do not explicitly preclude sermons from being produced.

“We don’t need to intrude on matters of faith to have equal rights in Houston, and it was never the intention of the city of Houston to intrude on any matters of faith or to get between a pastor and their parishioners,” Parker said. “We don’t want their sermons, we want the instructions on the petition process. That’s always what we wanted and, again, they knew that’s what we wanted because that’s the subject of the lawsuit.”

As readers know, the subpoenas became the quick subject of national news, rising up through the Conservative blogosphere, and landing major fodder for every media outlet from Fox News to Time magazine.  And yes of course, Texas Leftist was also reeled in hook, line and sinker.

Further into the press conference, Mayor Parker reveals to ABC 13 reporter Miya Shay that she doesn’t regret the city’s actions

Miya Shay: “Mayor do you think you would’ve bothered to change the language if not for all of the attention?”

Mayor Parker: No, we wouldn’t have.  They knew what we wanted. […] There was nothing inappropriate with their request, but it was worded in a way that allowed misinterpretation.  But no, we wouldn’t have weighed in if it hadn’t been brought to our attention.

Attorney Feldman also commented that the other side broke protocol in an effort to gain press attention.

Feldman:  In the normal discovery process… if the other side has a problem your discovery request, before you file a motion to quash, you are supposed to confer about the issue.  Had they done that in this case… they could have told us they had an issue with this request, and we would’ve agreed.  But they decided to make it a media circus.

From watching the press conference,  it seems pretty clear that the issue has caused a fair amount of stress for the Mayor’s office, due to the heinous amount of hate mail it has likely generated.  Parker was very direct with her responses, and probably just wants the saga to be over. In the end though, it is much better that the City revise and clarify the subpoenas so as not to mislead people assuming sinister intentions.

Firestorm aside, the most important aspect of these cases is yet to come.  The actual trial to determine if there will ever be a HERO referendum takes place in January.  Just remember that as was seen this week, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is still needed, and in fact laws like it need to be expanded to citizens across the state.  Kudos to the Mayor and the City Attorney on fulfilling a promise they made earlier in the week.  For the sake of all Houstonians, let’s try to move forward from this misstep.

Check out the press conference below…