Monday, November 11, 2019

The 'Winter is Coming' Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance's weekly round-up of the best lefty blog posts, news, and Tweets about and around the Great State is woefully late -- and abbreviated -- today due to doctors' appointments and preparations for the incoming cold front.  (Will be adding to this post tomorrow.)

The battle between the state of Texas and the parents of Luna Younger, first reported in last week's Wrangle, has become a national story.

Amber Briggle, writing for TIME, excoriates Ken Paxton for being a hypocrite and violating the "privacy and safety" of a trans child.

In another case that has received nationwide attention, the fate of Rodney Reed still lies in the hands of a mute Greg Abbott.  Reed's growing support network has been anything but silent. 

Houston's muni elections shift into runoff overdrive, and Kuff gave his initial thoughts.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs made predictions in the races in three separate posts, with a fourth on the alphabet districts still to come.

With some 2020 presidential developments, SocraticGadfly offers a trifecta of Green Party stories. First, he talks about the big hot mess the nomination process has become and why.  Second, he says Jill Stein is slouching further toward Gomorrah with her apparent support for one ticket.  Third, he looks at the financial and ballot difficulties in running as a Green.  And PDiddie also had his weekly update, with Beto out and Bloomberg in, a new Libertarian declaring, and an early preview of the next Democratic debate on November 20.

In the wake of the state's takeover of HISD, the TEA has scheduled community hearings this week to explain what's happened, and what happens next.

Dan Solomon at Texas Monthly adds some context to that Atlantic story about Texas secessionists.

Therese Odell at Foolish Watcher takes a break from documenting all things impeachment to highlight the appearance of Donald Trump Jr. and his ex-Fox News girlfriend on The View.

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer reminds us that our old pal Rick Perry is now a key figure in the whole Ukraine debacle.

TransGriot looks forward to the 20th anniversary of Transgender Day of Remembrance.

And the TPA is saddened by news of the death of transgender activist Nikki Araguz Loyd.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

YouGov is polling Texans right now on the Democratic presidential primary and Senate race, so look for some fresh numbers, post-Beto, shortly.  The survey includes this question:

-- "I would prefer to support a candidate who is willing to take on established interests to fight for big ideas and pass legislation that will bring about larger changes"

-- "I would prefer to support a candidate who is willing to compromise with Republicans to work together and pass legislation that will bring about incremental changes"

Those are the choices, aren't they?  The two answers to the question, besides 'do nothing and see what happens' (the GOP answer).

At a moment in history when the science concludes that our Earth is within 12 years of being uninhabitable; when hundreds of people die every day because they cannot afford to go see a doctor or pay for their medicine; when one generation, or class, or creed says to another, "If you will just wait ! ..." when there is no time left; when waiting means dying ... then the philosophical divide -- the political division -- comes into tighter focus.

I've always felt it was about empathy.  Conservatives have little to none, centrist liberals have some to varying degrees, and progressives have ... well, too much for our own good at times.  This is why Bernie Sanders speaks to me when he says: "Will you fight for someone you do not know?"

Because he always has.

On to the horse race.

"OK Bloomer" was a big hit briefly, for flowers, bread, and old-fashioned underwear.  For the billionaire who has reconsidered his withdrawal from the primary?  Not so much.

Sneaky Pete also had a bad week.

What he's offering is yet another bastardization of the word 'progressive'.


Makes me long for video of Amy Klobuchar eating a salad with a comb.

But the best snark came from sad/mad Betocrats under the at-least-initially-serious hashtag #PeteforGovernor.

And *BOOM*

Hard to top all of this with some serious news, but I'll give it a go.

Billionaires Behaving Badly:

It's not Elizabeth Warren that all of these wealthy people, Wall Street, etc. are worried about.  She's just a strawman for Bernie.  Allow Hillary Clinton to demonstrate.

Which begs the question ...

Not snark.  Totally serious.

Couple more things.

On November 1, Jacob G. Hornberger declared for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination. He is better known than the other declared candidates for that nomination. In 2000 he sought the party’s presidential nomination, losing to Harry Browne. For many decades he has headed the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Hornberger hails originally from Laredo.

We know about Facebook's refusals to police lying in political advertising on their platform, and via Election Law Blog's Rick Hasen ...

Issue One’s latest report, “Digital Disaster: The failures of Facebook, Google, and Twitter’s political ad transparency policies,” reveals how piecemeal, voluntary approaches by the largest social media platforms to stop disinformation campaigns fail to protect our political system from foreign interference.

As the report shows clearly, the companies’ political ad transparency policies are a mess, and they do not measure up to the existing standards governing political ads on broadcast television and radio or the guidelines set by the bipartisan Honest Ads Act. The databases of political ads that they’ve created to help the public monitor digital ad spending in U.S. elections are also deeply flawed.

Yes, yes, don't believe everything you read online.  And certainly don't retweet or republish it on Facebook if it's a questionable source.

Their heads are quite clearly not in their hands.

Don't we have more important things to worry about, anyway?

This book should be a best-seller.

And hey, we've got ten for the debate in eleven days (but not Castro, unfortunately).

The clock is ticking for Democratic presidential contenders hoping to make the fifth debate on November 20 -- just 4 days left to qualify-- and the sixth debate on Dec. 19. And a new survey of the Iowa caucuses by Quinnipiac University has given two candidates the final qualifying poll they need. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard got 3 percent support in the new poll, which qualifies her for the November debate, while Sen. Amy Klobuchar earned 5 percent, putting her on the December stage. By our count, this means 10 candidates have now made the fifth debate and six have qualified for the sixth, so let’s check in to see where things stand for the other candidates.

First up, the November debate. It looks as if Gabbard might be the last candidate to qualify by the Nov. 13 deadline. Of the six other “major” candidates who haven’t yet qualified but are still in the race, not one has a single qualifying poll for the fifth debate. Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro has met the donor threshold, but he’s had no such luck in the polling department, so watch out -- Castro might drop out soon, as he has said it will be “the end of my campaign” if he doesn’t make the stage.

One thing driving the pundits' yaps furiously is where Beto's support may be going.  It seems clear it won't be going to Boot Edge Edge.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Houston's runoffs, part 2

Blog posting schedule: today will also include another lengthy 2020 Update, with (perhaps) the third part of Houston's runoffs tomorrow, the Funnies on Sunday, and Monday's regularly slated Wrangle.


Space City could have five Democrats sitting in the At-Large seats around the Bagby horseshoe come January 1, 2020, or five Republicans.  Or some combination of the two, if a bunch of bipartisan weirdos split their votes.

The current conservative faction of Mike Knox, Michael Kubosh, and Jack Christie have held a 3-2 edge, reflecting what liberals hope is the evaporating trend of suburbanites voting Republican.  (Even Dennis Bonnen said so, after all.)  In AL 1, Democratic turnout pushed Cowboy Knox -- he has friends who are black; scroll down -- into a runoff with hard-working millennial Raj Salhotra, who represents in every single fashion the progress Houston needs to take entering the next decade.

The AL 2 runoff is a carbon copy of 2015, with ultra-conservative pastor Willie Davis squaring off again with incumbent CM David Robinson.  This one isn't a brainer.

AL 3 features another odious conservative, Michael Kubosh, who has done the best job of scamming African Americans out of their votes of any Republican in the city.  It's truly remarkable how much hypocrisy he's been able to get away with.  If you want to know when this long con began, start here (hint: red light camera ordinance, feeding the homeless ordinance.  Thanks, Annise!).  Janaeya Carmouche is just the woman to end this madness.

And At Large 4 offers H-Town voters a similarly stark choice between a regressive, inexperienced, unqualified Republican running against a talented, capable African American woman: Anthony Dolcefino versus Leticia PlummerPreviously blogged, there is just no sense in voting for a young man whose residence is listed as a couch in his dad's office to represent nearly five million of us.  His dad is looney toons, and that's who'll be calling the shots here.

Christie will be replaced with either the highly competent establishment Democrat, Sallie Alcorn, or the ridiculous Republican Eric Dick -- laughable not just because of his surname.

Alcorn, to quote Beto O'Rourke, seems to have been born for municipal service.  She has served the past decade with 3 CMs -- Pam Holm, Steve Costello, Greg Travis --  and Costello as 'flood czar'.  She also worked with Chris Bell when he was the Congress critter for the 25th, from 2003-05.  That's one of the largest piles of bipartisan credibility you'll find on your ballot in any year.

You might note that two of those bosses are Republicans, and the other two might as well be.  That's H-Town government for ya.  While Alcorn may be Charles Kuffner's or John Cobarruvias' idea of  the best representative of the people in public service, in my iteration as DSA/Green/Berniecrat/whatever, I endorsed Ashton Woods early on in this race for the change at City Hall I believe is needed.  But Alcorn is quite obviously knowledgeable about the inner workings of municipal government and should be a most capable member of Council.

None of the above, as everyone knows, could be said of Dick.  Vote for Ms. Alcorn in AL 5.

Republicans will be strongly motivated in turning out the vote for Crazy Pants Richie Rich Buzbee and this slate of freaks above.  Kubosh in particular sells himself as a check-and-balance against Mayor Turner's so-called worst instincts.  In the first round last week I voted for more progressive candidates, but the choices above would keep the city on the road to progress, and the wrong ones won't.  Let's flip these seats and get going on the changes we know need to be made.

Lagging behind with these, so the rest will come after the Weekly D-2020 Update.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Houston's runoffs, part 1

Thanks to TXElects for their comprehensive wrap of last night this morning's final results.

Four council incumbents -- Martha Castex-Tatum (Dist. K) Robert Gallegos (Dist. I), Dave Martin (Dist. E) and Greg Travis (Dist. G) -- and City Controller Chris Brown won re-election outright.

My predictions here were 4 for 5.  Brown got dented but survived the challenge from Orlando Sanchez.  Blue turnout -- 54-33 in the EV -- got him there.

Mayor Sylvester Turner (47%) will face Tony Buzbee (28%). Turner’s 2015 runoff opponent, Bill King, was a distant third with 14% followed by council member Dwight Boykins (6%). Turnout citywide was 22%.

Turner should be able to get this done.  Buzbee has already shot $10 million of his wad, and who knows how high he will go to win.  He's got a tall hill; Boykins' and Sue Lovell's and possibly some of the others' votes will transfer to Mayor Sly.  Hizzoner will have to beg, plead, and borrow with his cash network, his troops will have to beat the streets in the precincts, and the turnout will have to be there, but this year should look a lot like 2015, when he eased past King for the big chair.

I doubt if it matters whether Chris Bell endorses Buzbee.

The council seat runoffs:
  • A: Amy Peck (45%) and George Zoes (17%)
  • B: Tarsha Jackson (21%) and Cynthia Bailey (14%)
  • C: Abbie Kamin (32%) and Shelley Kennedy (15%)
  • D: Carolyn Evans-Shabazz (17%) and Brad “Scarface” Jordan (15%)
  • F: Tiffany Thomas (39%) and Van Huynh (23%)
  • H: Incumbent Karla Cisneros (38%) and Isabel Longoria (27%)
  • J: Edward Pollard (30%) and Sandra Rodriguez (30%)
  • At Large 1: Incumbent Mike Knox (36%) and Raj Salhotra (22%)
  • At Large 2: Incumbent David Robinson (38%) and Willie Davis (27%)
  • At Large 3: Incumbent Michael Kubosh (48%) and Janaeya Carmouche (22%)
  • At Large 4: Anthony Dolcefino (21%) and Leticia Plummer (16%)
  • At Large 5: Sallie Alcorn (23%) and Eric Dick (20%).
The December runoff date has not been set by the council.

That Peck, Jackson, Thomas, and Plummer have to run off with someone who should have been technically disqualified from the ballot could simply be the typical, casual indictment of poorly informed voters.  Or it could be something worse.

Let's refresh our memories.

Dolcefino lives with his parents at a home they bought in Braeswood Place. The family moved there from Katy in February.

To fulfill the requirement for the full year, Dolcefino said he switched his residence last year to his father’s Kirby Drive office building.

“We’ve consulted with election lawyers about the situation ... They didn’t seem to have a problem,” Dolcefino said.

His father, former TV investigative reporter Wayne Dolcefino, acknowledged his son spent much of his early period of residency in Houston at addresses other than the Kirby Drive office he claimed. Still, he said the law allows that location, with an Ashley HomeStore couch, to pass muster.

Vote for Dr. Leticia Plummer, please.

Van Huynh is on less shaky ground.

Huynh listed his address as a house he rents just off Brays Bayou, but he and his wife have owned a home in Brays Oaks for two decades.

That home-- in District K -- is where they still claim a homestead exemption, according to property records.

Huynh said he stays in the rental he listed on his filing form two to three nights a week because it is “more convenient” for his work in District F, where he is chief of staff to incumbent Steve Le.

“Sometimes we have a late meeting and everything, I don’t have to go to the other place,” he said of his primary residence on Wrenthorpe, a 15-minute drive away.

Huynh provided a copy of his lease for the rental within the district, which likely qualifies him under the law. That lease says Huynh has his “main address” at the home outside the district.

The family is in the process of moving to a new home on Turtlewood Court, which is in the district, but they did not purchase that home until July of this year.

District F has a habit of sending Vietnamese men to City Hall regardless of party affiliation, so Tiffany Thomas must recharge her ground game to get past what might be expected to be a groundswell from the Viet-American community.

The candidacy of George Zoes appears to be a joke, and if that's a reflection on Amy Peck's tenure as Brenda Stardig's chief of staff, then District A is in serious trouble.

Zoes lists his address in the shopping center where he owns Ruby’s Wig Salon.

He owns a home nearby on Westview Drive that is less than a one-minute drive from the store, but that house is located in the small city of Spring Valley, outside Houston city limits.

Reached by phone, Zoes said he lives in the strip mall on Bingle Road.

“What are you checking on, exactly?” he said. Then he said he was getting a call on another line and agreed to call back later. He did not respond to questions when reached later.

His lawyer, Joe Synoradzki, said Zoes has been forced to live in the shopping center because his Westview home flooded in Hurricane Harvey.

Sounds like a prospective CM willing to be held accountable to his voters, doesn't he?

Cynthia Bailey is the only one of these whose ballot disqualification should have happened not because of a residency violation.

Bailey was convicted in 2007 of theft over $200,000 and sentenced to 10 years in jail, though she did not have to serve the full sentence.

Bailey declined an interview, but provided the Chronicle with a statement.

“I am eligible to run to serve the great people of District B, as I have paid my debt to society, my voting rights have been restored and I meet all necessary criteria to run and serve,” the statement said.

Tarsha Jackson and her TOP crew should be able to win this runoff.

I'll blog the other races above tomorrow.

On to December

Houston mayor: Sylvester Turner and Tony Buzbee.

Wearing his Marine jacket, rolling up his right sleeve so that his shark tattoo was visible, and appearing more than slightly intoxicated at his election night party, Buzbee would be a complete embarrassment if he were elected mayor of the nation's fourth-largest city.  He would be no more accountable to the electorate than Trump.

Continuing with additional Houston results:

I'll have some early predictions for the runoffs here later.

HD-148 (replacing Farrar):  With three precincts still out at 6:30 a.m., Anna Eastman (D, 20.3%) and Luis La Rotta (R, 15.8%).

Early prediction: Eastman will hold this seat for the Blues.

HD-28 (replacing Zerwas): Eliz Markowitz (D, 39%) and Gary Gates (R, 28%).

Early prediction: Since Markowitz was the only Democrat here, her share of the vote bodes ill for her flipping the seat.  Gates will be a lousy replacement for the principled John Zerwas.

HD-100: Unless a recount alters the outcome, the Democrats will select one of Lorraine Birabil and James Armstrong III or Daniel Clayton.

And all statewide propositions passed except for Prop 1.

Monday, November 04, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

With the week's round-up, the Texas Progressive Alliance thanks you for casting your ballot.

Tuesday is Election Day. Texas voters will decide the fates of 10 constitutional amendments, elect three new state representatives (or at least narrow the fields to two candidates per seat), elect local officials and settle other propositions and special elections.

Harris County early in-person and mail ballot voting will be released shortly after polls close at 7 p.m., but Election Day tallies will be delayed to the wee hours of Wednesday morning.  The Texas Secretary of State's requirement that all MBBs at polling places throughout the county must be physically transported to the central counting station -- rather than electronically transmitted remotely -- means a long wait deep into the night for the ('unofficial') final results, or you can just go to bed and read about who won and who lost right here.

About 800,000 Texans voted early statewide, accounting for 5% of registered voters. Roughly one out of every five early votes was cast in Harris County, where early turnout was 6.5%. Turnout in Dallas County was just south of 3%. Early turnout exceeded 10% in 19 of the state’s 254 counties, peaking at 28% in Deaf Smith County, where voters are considering a $36 million bond package for a new sheriff’s office and jail. Reported turnout was less than 1% in six counties. The lowest reported early turnout was in Starr County, where 0.3% of registered voters have cast ballots.

Early voting turnout in HD28 appears to be around 12% and around 10% in HD148. We do not have an estimate for HD100.

Regarding Houston' municipal elections, we know -- thanks to political consultant Keir Murray -- that the early vote turnout was about even with previous cycles, and that the voter demographic profile skews older, whiter, Democratic, and female.  I would posit that this is good news for Mayor Turner, Controller Brown, and the Democrats running for at-large seats.

Legal matters weighed heavily on Texas bloggers and lefty pundits last week.

Meredith Lawrence at the Dallas Observer, Eoin Higgins at Common Dreams, and Kuff looked at the lawsuit filed by Democratic groups over the new law banning temporary voting locations.  Ballot Access News reports that the Texas Democratic Party is also suing over the state law that dictates ballot order ...

On November 1, the Texas Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against the Texas law on order of candidates on the ballot. Miller v Hughs, w.d., 1:19cv-1071. It is assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel, a Bush Jr. appointee. Here is the Complaint.

The Texas law says that the top names on the general election ballot are the nominees of the party that won the last gubernatorial election. Thus Republicans have been listed first for over 24 years.

... and that a decision on an earlier suit regarding filing fees for minor parties might be imminent.

Although the lawsuit will be lengthy and covers many issues, there is likely to be a decision soon on whether to enjoin the new filing fees for convention parties. The 2019 legislature passed a bill that, for the first time, requires candidates of parties that nominate by convention to pay the same filing fees that primary candidates pay. That issue needs to be settled fast, because the fees or petitions in lieu of the fee are due very soon.

Jim Henson and Joshua Blank at the Texas Politics Project analyze the October UT/Trib poll that shows plurality support for the Trump impeachment inquiry.  That poll also revealed the leaders for winning the Texas Democratic presidential primary next March, and the popularity of Senate contenders compared to John Cornyn.

In his weekly update of the 2020 race for the White House, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs covered the latest in the Congressional impeachment inquiry, Joe Biden's cash flow problems, Elizabeth Warren's Medicare for All funding proposal, and Bernie Sanders' resurgence, among all of the other candidates' latest developments.  C.D. Hooks, writing for Texas Monthly, bade farewell to Beto O'Rourke's presidential campaign.

SocraticGadfly wished a Happy Reformation Day from his other blog to some gun nutz for Luther, officially known as Armed Lutheran Radio and headquartered right here in Texas.

The state's electricity market drew some attention this past week.

And there was the usual bad behavior by fossil fuel companies.

Some horrifying statistics associated with the state's ongoing neglect of our children.

Sanford Nowlin at the San Antonio Current reported on the continuing fight over the Alamo City's paid sick leave ordinance.

With that, we'll close this Wrangle with some lighter news.

Therese Odell at Foolish Watcher thanked Washington Nationals fans for their appropriate greeting of Trump at the World Series.  Prior to Game 5, an anonymous Astros fan thanked D.C. for their hospitality by buying an ad in the Washington Post, and the Nationals and some of their fans purchased ads in the Houston Chronicle thanking the Astros and their fans after they won the Series.

Following the Texans' win in London over the Jacksonville Jaguars, quarterback Deshaun Watson attributed the successful healing of his kicked eye the previous Sunday to "them Popeye's spicy chicken sandwiches that I ate this week".

Pete Freedman at Central Track asks the important question: Was the founder of the city of Dallas, John Neely Bryan, a cephalopod?

And the TPA congratulates the Texas Tribune on its tenth anniversary.