Monday, August 20, 2018

The Weekly Wrangle

The summer heat is on and it's rising in the midterm statewide races.  The Texas Progressive Alliance got the kids off to school and then got back to blogging about the coming elections.

Beto O'Rourke enjoyed a swelling enthusiasm for his effort to unseat Ted Cruz and go to Washington as Texas' new junior US Senator.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs collected favorable polling and mentions of television and Facebook advertising to revise his prediction to a much closer contest, while Kuff seemed to be feeling a little pessimistic about Beto's chances and speculated on some consolation prizes for Texas Democrats.

The TexTrib's Ross Ramsey has an analysis -- reprinted at Progrexas --  of Greg Abbott's attempt to expand gubernatorial power that would make even Pa and Ma Ferguson, among the most corrupt Texas governors in the state's history, blush.  (With envy, not shame.)  Retiring state legislator Byron Cook warned that the governor's move represented a constitutional overreach, aka power grab.

SocraticGadfly has some fun introducing Lupe Valdez to Aerosmith.

The Dallas Morning News had the best coverage of the Democratic statewides rallying around Texas last week, with the noteworthy development being the "upper-downballot" slate of candidates drafting off of Beto O'Rourke's blue wave machine.

The TSTA Blog sees through Dan Patrick's phony concern about teachers' health insurance premiums.

HuffPo noticed that former Congressman Blake Farenthold is continuing to disgrace himself.

There were many questions raised by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's visit to Houston last week, and the two best were asked in the headlines of articles written by Jeremy Wallace at the Houston Chronicle and Elizabeth Trovall at Houston Public Media.

Grits for Breakfast returned from summer hiatus with a comprehensive criminal justice news aggregation  that included links to stories about worsening wait times at DPS TDL offices, probation tailored for youthful defendants, bail reform, red light cameras, "convict leasing", and a lot more.

With the death by suicide of another Harris County inmate -- and a story by The Appeal about DA Kim Ogg's apparent change of heart on her 'reformer' branding -- The Intercept broadens the question to Democrats generally: why aren't they doing more to help candidates who will practice criminal justice reform instead of just preach it?

Harris County officials were "in over their heads" when they struck deals for contingency fees with lawyers who would be litigating on their behalf against opioid manufacturers, says a Yale professor emeritus of law quoted at Forbes.

The Texas Observer's nine-part series on border water and climate change, "Shallow Waters", has part four posted, about the 15 aquifers shared by the US and Mexico at the Rio Grande border and how little both countries understand about them.

Better Texas Blog can't understand the arguments against paid sick leave.  Austin became the first city in all of the southern US to pass a mandated paid sick leave policy, but Texas Standard quoted a Houston-based law professor predicting that the Lege will get involved after both the capital city and San Antonio approved ordinances enabling the employee benefit, exerting its eminence over "local control" again (as it has done with local anti-fracking laws, plastic bag bans, and so forth).

The ongoing Harris County flood bond election is noted by Save Buffalo Bayou with information about the new projects recently added.

Early voting on the bonds started Aug. 8 and continues through Tuesday, Aug. 21. The election is Saturday, Aug. 25. The $2.5 billion target is widely considered a small down payment on a $20-30 billion county-wide flood resiliency program that should emphasize buyouts, land acquisition and preservation, floodplain restoration and other non-structural approaches.

The list of 237 projects includes 38 projects that were added as a result of community meetings held across Harris County in June, July and August, according to the district website. Note that the list of potential projects is not fixed or obligatory, and citizens should still have opportunities to influence future plans and priorities.

Six additional projects were added through community input to the projects on Buffalo Bayou below Addicks and Barker dams.  (More details at the links.)

The Houston Justice Coalition has a full slate of events and media appearances this week.

The Houston Press reports on a local elementary school that believed starting the year off with a big sign that shamed girls was a good idea, and the Lunch Tray takes issue with a partnership between Houston ISD and Domino's Pizza.

BeyondBones warns of the Bananapocalypse.

And the Rag Blog's Ivan Koop Kuper bid farewell to Bayou City troubadour and the "mayor of Montrose", Don Sanders.

Arlo Guthrie and Don Sanders perform on national television as Houston’s KPFT-FM returns to the air 
after the KKK blew up the Pacifica station’s transmitter. Courtesy Kuper Group Archives.

Sanders was at the forefront of the founding of Houston’s progressive, noncommercial radio station and Pacifica affiliate, KPFT-FM, in 1970 and was an on-air personality in the station’s early days.

This was the very same public station that was bombed off the air, not once but twice. Historically KPFT-FM is the only radio station in the United States that has ever been under attack by right-wing extremists. The transmitter bombing was the handiwork of four members of the Pasadena, Texas Klavern of the United Klans of America, Inc. aka the Ku Klux Klan. However only one Klan suspect, Grand Wizard Jimmy Dale Hutto, age 24, was formally indicted and served time for the offenses.

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