Monday, February 11, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Seemingly-Progressive (But-on-Closer-Inspection-is-Just-Plain-Vanilla-Democrat) Alliance wants to be in El Paso today, but too much 'executive time' last week means we're on the sidelines, aka online (virtual reality) and not offline (reality).

Trump's rally this evening in Las Ciudades de Paso del Norte, or the conurbation of communities where the Franklin Mountains meet the Rio Grande, will occupy (sorry) a large part of the corporate media's attention.  The history of humans in the region is long, much of it economic, only a small part conflict-centered; read an overview here.  What a small-minded US president would wish in order to divide people that have lived for centuries in relative harmony is, quite simply, unlikely to happen.

A variety of groups are organizing to more clearly communicate that to him today.  Potential presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke will speak at the competing counter-protest, creating the kind of "us versus them" narrative the media thrives on.

In Lege developments, the confirmation of Texas Secretary of State nominee David Whitley hit rocky shoals as senators grilled him over a voter roll released to county election administrators described as identifying non-citizens.  The list of 95,000 voters has shown to have been poorly vetted, and state officials who initially gave it their approval, including Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton, have been accused of employing a time-honored GOP tactic of voter suppression and intimidation.  Latinx civil rights organizations have already filed suit.

Several reports on the state Senate's property tax plan found it lacking; the TSTA Blog was notably unimpressed.  Justin Miller at the Texas Observer.

Critics of the GOP’s property tax cap have blasted it as a cynical, unserious attempt at reform — and one that likely won’t even provide much in the way of relief, especially if the Legislature doesn’t inject millions of new dollars in public school funding, which is mostly paid for through local property taxes. As the Dallas Morning News reported, more than half of the state’s 254 counties and the vast majority of its cities will be exempt from the GOP’s current 2.5 percent property tax cap proposal. This is a clear ploy to ensure rural Republican support in the House and Senate, Democrats say.

“That’s the only way they know they can get this to the floor. That is just not good governing,” Senator John Whitmire, D-Houston, said at a press conference.

Ross Ramsey at the TexTrib, via Progrexas, can be summarized thusly:

The state government wouldn’t survive its own proposal.

Raise Your Hand Texas advocates for separating school funding from high-stakes testing, and Gizmodo reports on legislation that would prevent the telecoms from throttling wireless access during a natural disaster.

A version of the bill, which has been brought before the Texas House of Representatives, amends Texas law to state: “A mobile Internet service provider may not impair or degrade lawful mobile Internet service access in an area subject to a declared state of disaster.”  [...]  Per KUT News, it’s one of more than 100 state bills aimed at protecting internet access introduced since the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission and its telecom-friendly chief Ajit Pai gutted Barack Obama-era net neutrality rules in a 2017 vote.

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs had the weekly 2020 Democratic presidential candidate update, with both Liz Warren and Amy Klobuchar making their White House bids official.  (Trump kept up the 'Pocahontas' smear.)  Some Texas Democrats want Beto to run for the US Senate again instead of the White House.  And Howard Schultz's CNN townhall is broadcasting from Houston tomorrow night.

Off the Kuff considers John Cornyn's campaign strategy and what it says about how Texas Republicans are looking at 2020.

Somervell County Salon blogged about the Houston Chronicle's investigation into the sexual abuse cases of the Southern Baptist Convention's pastors and preachers.

The Green New Deal, and Speaker Pelosi's objections to it, was duly noted by David Collins.

SocraticGadfly read Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht's lament about some of the judges unseated in November and had a two-pronged response.  Hecht squeezed a bunch of political sour grapes, but Texas could adopt specific ideas from other states on better judicial selection.

In his weekly statewide roundup of criminal justice news, Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast joined others in dismissing the request by Kim Ogg of hiring more criminal prosecutors in order to "advance the docket".

The Harris County DA's request for 102 new prosecutors is meeting with spirited opposition from local reform groups. Grits opposes such an expansion unless 1) the county approves commensurate, new resources for indigent defense, and 2) the funding pays for caseload reduction, not filing new cases. (The HouChron's) Keri Blakinger elaborated on the story in her Twitter feed.

Better Texas Blog warns about undercounting Latinx children in the Census.

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer thinks the end may finally be near for Dallas' downtown Confederate memorial.

Max Concrete at Houston Strategies collects ridership figures from the Dallas light rail system and analyzes it as a cautionary tale for Houston's MetroNext plans.

The Lunch Tray updates on 'lean finely textured ground beef', otherwise known as pink slime.

Millard Fillmore's Bathtub posts this month's dates to fly your flag.

And Harry Hamid is Trigger's broom.

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