Monday, June 01, 2020

The Weekly TexProgBlog Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is Zooming the TDP convention.

In creating an event for nearly 12,000 delegates that heads into full public swing from Monday to Saturday of next week, Texas Democrats believe they have created a template for a national party that might have to make some or all of its August nominating convention, now scheduled for Milwaukee, virtual. 
“We really believe that we are designing something that is going to make our party stronger, make our party more accessible, allowing more people to participate in the convention and learn about who Texas Democrats are, what we’re fighting for and using the technology that we have to pave that way for the future,” said Brittany Switzer, the party’s senior brand director who led the effort with Hannah Roe Beck, the party’s convention director.

This link should let you jump the Statesman's paywall.  Lone Star Republicans will be convening in Houston in person next month.

“We have been developing plans to safely move forward with a spaced-out convention,” Texas Republican Party Chairman James Dickey told the American-Statesman on Tuesday, referring to a gathering of about 7,500 now planned for July 13-18 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. 
He said the event will observe appropriate social distancing and respect for face masks even though they won’t be mandated, something anathema to party activists. 
“We are confident we will continue to lead the way in showing how we can safely reopen Texas,” said Dickey, also expressing confidence that Gov. Greg Abbott will give the OK for a convention that may serve as trial run for the GOP National Convention Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte, N.C.

More from the TexTrib via Progrexas.

The timing of the convention also comes as the country continues to be gripped by protests over the death of George Floyd, the black Minnesota man who died after he was pinned to the ground by a white police officer using his knee. The party made a number of last-minute changes to its convention as a result, scheduling a moment of silence for Floyd during the Monday kickoff, giving more prominent speaking time to those who can speak to racial justice and adding a panel discussion Monday that features several black leaders. Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, is set to participate in a separate panel two days later.

With just a bit more on the NeoAmerican Revolution manifesting here in Deep-In-The-Hearta ...

Milton "Big Pokey" Powell, a friend of George Floyd's, called for police to be held truly accountable when they commit violence against civilians.  DosCentavos implored local leaders to change law enforcement culture after the murder of Floyd, and others killed in recent weeksGrits for Breakfast despaired at the lack of progress in police reform.  And blogging in the abstract, Socratic Gadfly explained how issues of the duopoly and lesser evilism extend to the Supreme Court, when one looks outside the lens of reproductive choice and sexual choice rights, and especially when one looks through the lens of criminal justice issues and minorities.

Kuff unpacked the convoluted Supreme Court ruling in the state's vote-by-mail lawsuit.  Michael Li at the Brennan Center offered a similar analysis in a 9-count Tweet thread.

Chris Chu de Leon writes for the Texas Signal about how Bernie Sanders changed Texas.

Dan Solomon at Texas Monthly illustrated how the Electoral College diminishes the Lone Star State's political power.  (There's actually an easy fix.)

And for some election-related developments ...

Living Blue in Texas blogged about the most important November elections that nobody is talking about: the four Texas Supreme Court races.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities, Austin's liberal think tank, has repurposed.

The Southeast Texas Record provides us two legal updates.

After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) Food Management Partners -- based in San Antonio, Texas – has paid $1.3 million to 3,000 employees for violations of the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). WHD found the restaurant management company -- which does business as Hometown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Ryan’s, and other brands in the U.S. -- missed payroll in March 2020, and by doing so, failed to pay required minimum wage and overtime wages to 3,000 employees at more than 75 locations.

Last week, the Harris County Commissioners Court appointed attorney Christopher Hollins as interim county clerk -- a move that seemingly created a conflict of interest for both the county and its new employee.
In July, the commissioners court voted to hire the Hollins Law Group, as well as three other firms, on a contingent-fee basis to represent the county in a lawsuit alleging it overpaid for insulin due to a price-fixing scheme. 
And while municipalities hiring outside counsel is nothing new, the Texas Local Government Code, however, does prohibit counties from paying salaried officers fees for work performed outside of their regular duties. 
Houston attorney Mark McCaig unearthed the contract Hollins signed with Harris County, posting the details on a blog at Big Jolly Times.

This Wrangle, indeed this blog, relies heavily on Tweets, as regular readers know.  So while there are plenty of complaints being lodged against social media these days, the junior senator from our Great State does not have a valid one.

But Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer does.

One environmental news update.

And one notable passing.

Lost in the avalanche of police brutality against police brutality protests, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic meltdown is the occasional bright spot: bipartisan cooperation to celebrate the beginning of PRIDE Month.

Let's wrap this Wrangle with another happy thing you and your family can do: Have a fun day of picking fruits, vegetables and flowers at this Houston-area farm

'Comes The Revolution' Wrangle

Don't you know
They're talkin' about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
While they're standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in the unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

Don't you know
They're talkin' 'bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
Poor people gonna rise up
And get their share
Poor people gonna rise up
And take what's theirs

But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be
All right, all right, all right

2 am, bars were closing
Heard the news on channel 4
and The TV anchor tried to say
What she thought really happened today

But words are dangerous like the gun
Takes away a mother's son
A lot of people have had enough
Just waiting for this time to come

Ohhh, gonna be a riot
Ohhh, gonna be a riot in the streets tonight
Gonna be a riot in the streets tonight
Gonna be a riot in the streets tonight
Gonna be a riot tonight

More Wrangling on the way.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Race for the White House Update: The revolution gets televised

-- And the teevee reporters get arrested.

-- And quickly released after a phone call from CNN's Jeff Zucker to MN Gov. Tim Walz.

-- Meanwhile, Trump is losing what little remains of his sanity over Twitter tagging his lies and celebrating threats of violence.  Someone surely told him that his executive order does not trump (pun intended) the First Amendment, but when did he ever care about the Constitution?

Jeez, it's too bad the Democrats can't impeach him.

-- That brings us to Joe (and Bernie, briefly).

Yes, this a difficult moment for the nation, in a variety of the most understated ways.

Did you miss the farting episode?

I should probably put my resources into more important stories.

-- Enough of those pesky questions for now.  What's happening in the veepstakes?

Uh oh. That's not good.

Probably means about as much as a 75-1 longshot dropping out before Derby Day.

Tough week for everybody.  It may get a little better next week, as Texas Democrats host Biden and nearly all of his former contending rivals at their virtual convention.  I'll have a post on that shortly.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is wearing a mask while watching the coronavirus dashboard for signs of an increase (or decrease) in infections as a result of the state's continuing re-opening.

In a 14-count thread, the TexTrib boils down the differences between those who are wearing facemasks and those who are refusing to.

Andrew Schneider at HPM writes that there is also a political chasm -- and a racial one -- over the expansion of voting by mail in Harris County.  Little Guv Dan Patrick illustrates the distinction.

“There is no reason -- capital N, capital O -- no reason that anyone under 65 should be able to say I am afraid to go vote,” Patrick, a Republican, said in an interview with Fox News. “Have they been to a grocery store? Have they been to Walmart? Have they been to Lowe’s? Have they been to Home Depot? Have they been anywhere? Have they been afraid to go out of their house? This is a scam by the Democrats to steal the election.”

Dan Quinn at the Texas Freedom Network also saw race and politics in the state's Republican leaders’ sorry response to COVID-19.

Here's a smattering of additional pandemic-related developments.

-- Texas leads the nation in the spread of the coronavirus

Sanford Nowlin at the San Antonio Current also found Greg Abbott fibbing about how Texas handles COVID testing data.  And the governor released a PSA urging Texans to wear a mask -- without showing him wearing one.

-- Houston's mayor Sylvester Turner is concerned about three potential hotspots in the nation's fourth-largest city: homeless shelters, jails, and nursing homes.

-- And Living Blue in Texas discovered that the state is outsourcing contact tracing to a company that also developed an election canvassing app.

Kuff has the latest in the various vote-by-mail lawsuits. 

A couple of Lone Star Republicans got big promotions from Trump last week.

The Senate on (May 19) confirmed a conservative Texas lawyer nominated by President Trump to the Federal Election Commission, restoring a voting quorum on the agency for the first time since August amid a mounting backlog of complaints and requests for guidance in an election year.

James E. “Trey” Trainor III, an Austin-based election law attorney, has pushed for less regulation of money in politics and opposed efforts to require politically active nonprofit organizations to disclose their donors. He previously advised the Republican National Committee and Trump during the 2016 election.

The party-line confirmation of Trainor ends the longest period in the agency’s history without a quorum, giving the panel the four votes necessary to regulate and enforce federal campaign finance laws.

With Trainor, the commission is again equally divided ideologically, which could resume the FEC’s practice of often deadlocking on alleged elections violations. Two vacancies remain on the panel, and it is unclear when the Senate will take action to fill them.

More on the Ratcliffe confirmation and the vacancy in Congress it leaves behind from TXElects.

(Ratcliffe's) eventual resignation will leave the CD4 seat vacant until at least January because Gov. Greg Abbott is not expected to order a special election. Ratcliffe is the Republican Party’s nominee for the general election ballot. An August 8 meeting of the CD4 Congressional District Executive Committee has been scheduled to select a replacement Republican nominee for the general election ballot, if they can.

Jason Ross, Ratcliffe’s former district director, and Rockwall council member Trace Johannesen are actively seeking the seat. Former congressional candidates Floyd McLendon, who lost the CD32 primary to Genevieve Collins, and T.C. Manning, who unsuccessfully sought the party’s nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston), are believed to be considering the “race.” Any replacement nominee is highly likely to serve in the next Congress. CD4 was 22 points redder than the state as a whole in 2018 and is trending redder.

Unless there is no replacement nominee, in which case Ratcliffe’s name must either remain on the ballot or, if he withdraws, no Republican would be on the ballot except as a write-in candidate, as happened in CD22 in 2006. If Ratcliffe won the general election, a special election would be needed to fill his vacant seat.

Section 145.036, Election Code provides that a political party may make a replacement nomination “only if” any of three circumstances apply.

Here's more Texas Congressional runoff news:

And the race for the White House warmed up as Joe Biden put his foot in his mouth again.  Several Texas bloggers are making their picks: The Rag Blog's David P. Hamilton will go Green while two of his counterparts, Alice Embree and Jay D. Jurie, are Ridin' with Biden.  DosCentavos noted that Joe had Latino problems last week, too, but thinks they're fixable.  And Jeremy Wallace at the SAEN believes the Trump-Biden contest in Deep-In-The-Hearta will be the closest in decades.

SocraticGadfly offered his take on the documentary-based last chapter in the life of 'Jane Roe', aka Norma Jean McCorvey.

As Texas Democrats get ready for their online state convention this week, the TXGOP plans to meet the old-fashioned way next month.

And a couple of Democrats also got new jobs this past week.

Here's a pair of environmental news stories.

And Downwinders at Risk asks for help from Dallas activists at tomorrow's city council meeting.

We have more activism to report!

And Edinburg Politics posted a lovely remembrance of Lloyd Criss, who passed away earlier this month.

Rep. Lloyd Criss, D-Galveston, a longtime and former state lawmaker who helped champion the labor movement including helping secure rights for farmworkers, addresses a joint session of the Texas Legislature in this image taken in the mid-1980s on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives. Also in this photograph, seated from left, are Texas Speaker of the House Gib Lewis, D-Ft. Worth; U.S. Speaker of the House Jim Wright, D-Ft. Worth; Gov. Bill Clements and his wife Rita.

Let's wrap a long Wrangle with some of the lighter fare.