Houston’s LyondellBasell refinery’s management turned off an advance warning system near the front gates of the plant, where striking USW workers walk the picket line. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs says that if this is how they demonstrate their concerns for worker safety, it’s no wonder they won’t end a work stoppage despite the national settlement.
In a fiery speech at his Inauguration last week, the new Lieutenant Governor for the Lone Star State said it several times…
“What day is it?? It’s a new day in Texas.”
This is what Dan Patrick proclaimed shortly after ascending to the state’s second highest office. But under his leadership, it may be the state’s highest office in actuality. The old dynamics of the Perry era– a “showboat Governor” at the helm with a more passive, pensive Lieutenant Governor on the dyess– have been turned on their head. In the new guard of state leadership, there is no question that Governor Abbott has the cooler head.
Only hours into his new post, the Lieutenant Governor is wasting no time to implement his fringe Right agenda. Via Texpatriate, Patrick has begun his reign over the State Senate by decimating Democratic leadership…
Making good on two longstanding committees, Patrick both consolidated the number of committees and significantly reduced the number of Democratic chairs for those committees that remained. Three committees (Government Organization, Jurisprudence and Open Government) got the ax, and a further two committees (Economic Development and Natural Resources, respectively) were merged. This had the overall effect of slashing the total number of committees from 18 to 14.
All three folded committees had been chaired in the 83rd session by Democrats, as did a further three committees. Thus, 1/3rd of the committees had Democrats at the helm, roughly the proportion of the chamber controlled by the minority party. Patrick kept State Senator John Whitmire (D-Harris County), the dean of the chamber, in charge of the Criminal Justice Committee, a position he has held for many years. He also tapped State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Cameron County) as the chair of Intergovernmental Relations, a rather low-ranking post. Reportedly, this was an olive branch extended to the upper house’s most centrist Democrat. Lucio was the one Democrat this past week to vote for the elimination of the 2/3rds rule, as well as for the omnibus anti-abortion bill HB2 (the one Wendy Davis filibustered) in 2013.
Yes Texas… your new Lieutenant Governor has axed the Open Government committee. Anyone see the irony here??
The committee shake-ups come less than one week after the Senate scrapped one of its oldest traditions of requiring a two-thirds majority to deem a bill filibuster proof. This prevents any other Democrat from creating moments like Wendy Davis did in 2011 and 2013.
One thing can be said in earnest for Patrick though… he has stayed true to his word. So far, he has honored each and every promise he made to swing Texas government even further to the fringe Right than once thought possible. Democrats will have no place in the Senate in 2015, unless they can beg Republican friends for support.
So yes, we can all agree with our new Lieutenant Governor… it is indeed a new day in Texas. The question is… what challenges will that new day bring?
Hang on everyone. Looks like we’re in for a bumpy ride.
The clock is slowly ticking on towards the Houston municipal elections. But one area that has seen significant action is the race for Mayor. This week, another major candidate has made moves that are sure to shake up the race. Theodore Schleifer of the Houston Chronicle reports that all the signs point to an impending announcement from Garcia…
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia is sending every possible message that he intends to run for mayor this year, aggressively increasing his political operations and signaling to some close advisers and backers that a campaign may be imminent.
Garcia, under the Texas Constitution, would have to resign as a county official immediately upon declaring his candidacy. That presents Garcia, who watchers expect to immediately move to the field’s top tier if he joins the burgeoning mayoral fray, with a fateful decision: Does he step down as the county’s top Democratic officeholder to make a bid that would make him either Houston’s first Latino mayor, or politically unemployed?
“At the end of the day, it’s like standing at the craps table, placing the bet – and you could walk away with nothing,” said Garcia confidant Greg Compean.
Perhaps most tellingly, county sources say, is that Garcia’s top staff at the Sheriff’s Office are looking to jump as they eye other county positions that would give them a landing place beyond Garcia’s tenure and vest them in the county’s pension system. Garcia’s top lieutenant and close friend, Armando Tello, left last month for a lower-profile post in Precinct 6, and other executive officers currently are scoping out other opportunities.
“He’s running,” said Hispanic Chamber of Commerce head Laura Murillo, who once considered her own bid for mayor. “He’s getting ready to make his announcement very soon.”
Murillo is not in Garcia’s inner circle, but several of the sheriff’s other allies confirmed a bid is all but inevitable.
Sheriff Garcia joins a growing field of possible candidates… including State Representative Sylvester Turner, former Congressman and City Council member Chris Bell, current Council Members Stephen Costello, Jack Christie and Oliver Pennington, Ben Hall, Bill King and Orlando Sanchez. Crowded doesn’t even begin to tell the story here, but it’s important to note that some candidates have more potential than others. From the pillars of potential money and name ID, Garcia presumably sits in the upper echelon of contenders right out of the gate with Sylvester Turner. Though there is certainly nothing to stop Ben Hall from bank rolling his own massive campaign, as we basically saw from 2013.
Side note… are there any women interested in running for Mayor? Any??
By far, a Garcia run will have the most immediate impact on local politics. As Dos Centavos points out, his resignation as County Sheriff could mean a substantial roll back of the Progressive policy agenda that has been actualized in recent years. Would a more Conservative Sheriff dismantle aggressive Mental Health reforms and LGBT protections in Harris County law enforcement? That remains to be seen. But those fears aside, there is no doubt that Garcia is a most worthy candidate to lead the city of Houston.
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.
Though the dust hasn’t even begun to settle on 2014’s contest, it’s pretty amazing how one tweet can set off a whole new political firestorm. But such was the case this week in San Antonio, where a recently defeated Democrat is proving that she still has plenty of political clout. Here’s what’s going on from the Houston Chronicle, via AP…
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Democrat Leticia Van de Putte says she will likely decide next week whether to leave the Texas Senate and run for San Antonio mayor.
Van de Putte said Monday she has long admired her local government and praised former Mayor Julian Castro, who gave the office a higher profile as an up-and-coming Democrat.
Van de Putte spent the past year running for lieutenant governor but lost badly to Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick.
Others are already eyeballing Van de Putte’s seat. Democratic state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer says he will give serious consideration to make a run at the upper chamber if Van de Putte steps down.
Van de Putte says she is focusing this week on a charity event in honor of her late grandson who died last year.
Along with Martinez Fischer, fellow State Rep Jose Menendez is also closely vying for the possible Senate seat. Further complicating matters is Rep. Mike Villarreal, who officially declared his race for Mayor and resigned from the Legislature within days of the November results being read. Van de Putte jumping in would pose a serious challenge to his hopes of being the Alamo City’s top elected official.
Two paths to consider here… what’s best for the Senate, and what’s best for Leticia Van de Putte. Given that the person on the Dais was her opponent for this election season, it’s understandable why Van de Putte may not feel welcome at the Capitol for the upcoming legislative session. But that aside, losing the experienced state Senator means that we also lose an important bipartisan voice in the state. Again, that assumes that she’d be welcome in the first place with the new leadership in town.
What’s best for Van de Putte? It’s true that she lost her campaign for Lieutenant Governor. But what she gained is a massive improvement in stature and name ID, and has risen to the top ranks among all Texas Democrats. The nonpartisan City Council, where Van de Putte could actually set the legislative agenda and get things passed seems a much better position to launch another statewide run than suffering under a boastful Lieutenant Governor in Austin. It’s unlikely at this point that much in the way of bipartisan cooperation is going to be achieved anyway.
By any account, it’s a tough choice given the grueling months the whole Van de Putte family just spent on the campaign trail. Though we don’t know her next role, at least this much is clear… we’re not even close to Leticia Van de Putte’s finale in Texas politics.
Literally, that is the question on minds all across the nation right now.
With 2014 in the books it’s time to take a look at what happened to Democrats this go round. Why were the results so drastically different than the last two Presidential elections? Despite the efforts of groups like Battleground Texas, it seems that the Republicans had little to no competition in the end. But what also needs to be said is that the so-called “Red Wave” of 2014 shares some similarities with its predecessor in 2010. Here’s what Talking Points Memo had to say about the results…
Older voters helped propel Republicans to sweeping victories Tuesday in Senate and gubernatorial races nationwide, according to exit polls from NBC News.
The disparity between the under-30 and over-60 was the widest it’s been in a decade, those polls found. The seniors comprised 37 percent of the electorate; young people made up 12 percent.
That was even more extreme than 2010, another great Republican year, when the split was 32 percent over 60 and 12 percent under 30.
As we know, an older electorate is more likely to be a Conservative electorate. But what else was very true about voters this week was that there were simply fewer of them that showed up to the polls. In fact, fewer voters showed up than anyone previously thought possible in the state of Texas… over 200,000 fewer than the pathetic voter participation rates of 2010. When you include all registered voters, a full 66 percent of people sat out on this election. Greg Abbott was elected with 20 percent of the actual voter population, Wendy garnered 13 percent, and the rest, well they D.G.A.F…
Yes, I know it’s not a phrase you often find in what one considers “serious” political writing, but is there truly a better descriptor for what happened on Tuesday? The vast majority of Texans Didn’t Give A ____ about the future of our state. And if they did, they still did not care enough to go out of their way and participate in a most critical decision. In other words, a decisive majority of voting-age Texans did not vote at all.
This post is not meant to sound bitter about the current historic levels of voter apathy in the Lone Star State. But at the same time, it is no longer acceptable to keep waging these issues in such polite and non-provocative terms. We want our voters to care enough about who leads Texas through the next four years, and into the next decade. This is important.
And as one would guess, the 2014 electorate will probably reveal a less diverse group of Texans who showed up to the polls. There are no official numbers yet, but one need only look at Harris County Early Voting totals to see that the practice was low in many minority EV locations.
So there you have it. The state’s race for Governor was decided by a puny minority of the state. And yet the political pundits have to use the decisions made from these voters as some validation that Texas is and will forever be a Red State? Some blogs, like Texpatriate are fully convinced of this. But given just how large the IDGAF majority is in the above chart, it’s just impossible to say for certain what this state will do in future election cycles. When you start reading all these articles about the impressive Republican ground game, don’t take it as the gospel truth of the situation.
Personally, I happen to be a voter, a racial minority, relatively young, and someone who used to not GAF about voting or politics. This Silent Majority can be moved if they are empowered by the right set of opportunities. Let’s use 2014 as a teaching tool, and get back to work.
For years now, the Dallas Morning News has been a trusted source for news coverage analysis across the state of Texas. The work of their staff reporters is often praised for sound knowledge and journalistic integrity.
The editorial board on the other hand? Well, let’s just say they seem to be suffering from a momentary lapse in judgement. Much to this reader’s surprise, the Dallas Morning News has endorsed Greg Abbott for Governor of Texas.
Or wait a minute, let me be perfectly clear… The Dallas Morning News has endorsed their hope of a “new” Greg Abbott, because the guy they talk about in this piece doesn’t actually exist. And instead of actually comparing the real records of either candidate, they appear to have sided with Abbott because they are afraid of what a Davis win would do to the state’s political climate…
Texas Republicans’ hard-right swing in recent years is troubling. Too many Texans feel alienated by a ruling party that seems indifferent, for example, to the plight of the working poor, the uninsured or youths caught through no fault of their own in immigration limbo.
As governor, Abbott must be a moderating influence and guide a realignment of his party. He has outlined plans that could advance that effort. Where Davis would be likely to encounter ideological battles at every turn, Abbott has the best chance to inspire legislative progress.
Davis has fought valiantly. But for all her progressive promise, and alignment with this newspaper on many issues, Texas cannot afford to provoke the kind of partisan stalemate her victory would probably bring, much like the gridlock that has paralyzed Washington. As much as Texas needs to counterbalance its GOP hard-liners, we fear Davis would only invigorate them.
Interesting argument against Davis there, but they’ve forgotten to mention one thing. Greg Abbott is FAR from the center of his party on any ideological scale. While he may have a warm demeanor, envious hairline and camera-friendly smile, he hasn’t shown any indication that he would do the things DMN hopes for. Given that this endorsement shows that the editorial board is in serious need of some education, who better to accomplish that than Texpatriate blogger and actual University of Texas student Noah M. Horwitz. Here is an excerpt from his opinion article in The Daily Texan…
Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, has demonstrated time and again that he is not ready for primetime. He has failed at his current job, prioritizing political grandstanding over the real work necessary to be an effective steward of the state. He maintains illogical and extreme political positions on a plethora of issues, namely those of special importance to students. Most importantly, despite feel-good ads and insincere debate performances, Abbott truly shows no signs of moving back toward the middle if elected. Make no mistake: An Abbott administration would be a dream come true for right-wingers. For all these reasons, I simply cannot recommend a vote for the Republican in good faith.
For the past 12 years, Abbott has served as attorney general of Texas. Historically a low-key post, it has been best known in recent years as serving as the main vehicle for going after deadbeat parents delinquent on their child support, as well as representing the state in lawsuits. These suits historically have been unifying exercises where the attorney general seeks justice on behalf of Texans. A major example was when a former officeholder, Dan Morales, secured more than $17 billion in a settlement against big tobacco companies. But ever since the creation of the tea party five years ago, Abbott has appeared content with using the office as his personal soapbox. Filing frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit, Abbott brags about his wasteful litigiousness in office, saying his typical day consists of waking up, suing the president and going home.
Unfortunately, Abbott shows no signs of reforming this lacking governing strategy if elected. Stump speeches, TV ads and debate performances show Abbott’s almost pathological obsession with harping on the perceived failures of President Barack Obama rather than focusing on why people should elect Abbott and not his opponent.
On the issues, Abbott does no better. He opposes a woman’s constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy,even in cases of rape and incest. He continues to harmfully defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions, even after it has been ruled unconstitutional. Recently, he even made the absurd claim that banning same-sex marriage could reduce the number of children born out of wedlock. Such outdated political positions fly in the face of shifting public opinion and should not be supported.
(Check out the full article here, and be sure to also visit Horwitz’s work at Texpatriate)
Nor can the DMN editorial board be bothered, apparently, to read their own paper. Had they scrolled back through a few recent articles from their staff, they could a learn lot about Greg Abbott’s actual record of governance. Maybe they would have caught the piece where James Drew exposed Abbott’s merciless crusade in search of non-existent voter fraud, which resulted in an armed police raid of innocent Houstonians… guns, bullet-proof vests, unlawful destruction of property and all… only to drop the charges after decimating the organization’s ability to operate. Using the police to bully and scare innocent citizens?? I guess that’s inspiring legislative progress, if you’re a mob boss.
And then there are all of the positions where we simply don’t know how far Greg “Boss” Abbott is willing to go. When he says he is Pro-Life, does that mean that he would try to ban all forms of contraception? Given his incredibly vague statements on the matter, that is a very open question. Do Texans really want to elect a Governor that wants to ban all forms of birth control, and severely limit women’s healthcare??
But thankfully in this election, there is a real choice. Texans don’t need an insider mob boss leading our state… we need a fighter. And that fighter is Wendy Davis. Though she may be best known for her 2013 filibuster to protect women’s healthcare, she also filibustered the horrendous 2011 budget cuts to state educational institutions. At that time, Wendy said real teachers would lose their jobs, real classrooms would be over-burdened and real students would lose valuable time, resources and programs… all of this was proven to be true.
Wendy is also fighting for Texas families across the state with no access to healthcare because state leaders, including Boss Abbott, have refused any form federal healthcare expansion funds. As a result, Texas is losing out on $136 billion dollars that would not only give millions of Texans access to vital healthcare options and help lower the current cost burdens on our hospitals, but fuel. By sending our federal tax dollars to Washington and refusing to act, we’re funding better healthcare for other states. Davis knows that there is a bi-partisan coalition forming in the state that supports doing what is best for all Texans. As Governor, this is something that she can achieve.
I’m sure that the Dallas Morning News editorial board means well with this endorsement. But instead of looking at the Greg Abbott that they hope to create, they need to see Greg Abbott for who he really is. And then they, like you, need to vote for Wendy Davis. Make no mistake Texas… it’s all on the line for 2014.
Articles like this one today are an important reminder that sometimes just your vote is not enough. On this Blog Action Day, Texas Leftist is proud to endorse Senator Wendy Davis for Governor of Texas. If you needed any more convincing, just take another look at the information above.
Wendy really can win this election, but she needs your help to get it done. Give to the campaign and help elect Wendy Davis as the next Governor of Texas. Now is the time when your donation dollars and volunteer hours make the most difference for 2014. Please share this post on social media and help spread the word with the hashtag #GiveToWendy. To make a donation, click the image below.