Monday, March 11, 2019

The Weekly #SXSW Wrangle

Some of the Texas Progressive Alliance spent the weekend at South by Southwest, where 2020 presidential candidates lined up for the cattle call.

The Texas Tribune had a full slate of one-on-one interviews, including Amy Klobuchar, John Kasich, Liz Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Bill Weld, Jay Inslee, Julián Castro,and John Hickenlooper.  CNN live-blogged their town halls with John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, and Buttigieg.

The documentary about Beto O'Rourke's 2018 run for the US Senate premiered, and the candidate surprised the theater audience with an appearance, but no presidential announcement was made.  Politico quotes one insider who is no longer impressed with the extended delay.

“It’s a bit much,” said one Democratic strategist who has spoken with O’Rourke about working on the 2020 campaign. “The question is: Does he have a secret sauce that no one knows about — that no reporter, no operative, no strategist understands? Or is this just ‘The Beto Show’? And if this is just ‘The Beto Show,’ there’s a breaking point between strategy and narcissism.”

PDiddie's weekly 2020 wrap at Brains and Eggs is already out of date; Kuff is skeptical of early polls but notes that Trump's as-yet-unknown opponent leads him in a recent UT/TexTrib survey; and
Socratic Gadfly has a twofer from the presidential campaign trail: women candidates who pander to gender stereotypes and Feel the Bern enthusiasts who engage in conspiracy thinking.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also made a splash.

Via Latino Rebels, RAICES Texas (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) has an art exhibit at SXSW called "AbolishICEbox".

Some other anticipated feature films and documentaries opened for SXSW fans.  Texas Standard:

Janet Pierson is the director of film at SXSW and provides a guide to what’s good this year. The selection process for SXSW Film is particularly competitive, she says.

”Every year, we approach the admissions process with the same intent. We’ve got 2500 feature submissions and 5500 short submissions and we’re… looking for 130 features that will really jump out to us and 110 shorts.”

This year, the process yielded many strong films -- more than usual. The opening night film, “Us,” was an easy choice, though.

SXSW is also showing “Longshot” featuring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen. Pierson says it  is a “really smart, satisfying rom-com – who knew?”

Anticipation for one of this year’s films began with a previous success.

“‘Spring Breakers’ was a huge title for us. We’ve had Harmony Korine at SXSW with a lot of different films. ‘Spring Breakers’ was one of the nights that people still talk about being the ultimate night,” Pierson says. “Beach Bum” is this wonderful revisiting to... the same place and same characters with some age on. The most incredible cast you could ever’s Matthew Mcconaughey and Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Jonah Hill, Jimmy Buffett...”

Though SXSW isn’t a regional festival, it does have a unique relationship to Texas films.

“The Texas relationship to films in the festival does seem stronger than usual,” Pierson says. “It’s always something we care about, but it’s always still a fraction of the whole. Of course, everyone is so excited about ‘Running with Beto’ ... ‘The River in the Wall’ is not to be missed. It’s this extraordinary cut -- just look at the landscape, the Texas landscape, through the whole southern border.”

In Texas Lege special elections, Christina Morales defeated Melissa Noriega for the right to represent the voters of House District 145 (Houston).

There is still one more vacant seat in the Legislature — that of former Rep. Justin Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, now a Bexar County commissioner. That vacancy will be filled by a March 12 special election runoff between Democrat Ray Lopez and Republican Fred Rangel.

TXElects believes runoff turnout favors one candidate.

Over the five (EV) days, a total of 5,228 people voted in person, exceeding the 12-day total for the February special election, including mail ballots. ... Just under half of all votes were cast at the Maury Maverick Library. In 2018, Republicans cast 47% of the straight-party votes in the precincts contiguous to and in the precinct where the library is located. Such a turnout pattern stands to benefit Republican Fred Rangel. No Republican has held the seat since it moved to Bexar County from Harris County in 1993. We’ll have live results beginning at 7 p.m. CDT on Tuesday at

Justin Miller at the Texas Observer thinks Dan Patrick has decided to blow up the Lege's comity for the sake of the usual conservative extremist agenda.  And Michael Barajas wrote about how the Tea Party fueled the most recent voter-fraud freakout.  Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer echoed that, pointing out that SoS David Whitley is entirely within the mainstream of the RPTX.

In this very critical year for public education funding, Texas teachers went to Austin to lobby lawmakers today.

Republican State Representative Dan Huberty authored House Bill 3, the school finance bill that has been introduced in the House and has been dubbed “The Texas Plan.” It proposes a $7 billion increase for public education, while the Senate’s proposal increases school funding by approximately $3.9 billion. The Senate version includes a $5,000 pay raise for full-time teachers and librarians. The House version does not includes pay raises, but does call for merit-based pay increases for teachers. 

Zeph Capo, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, said the Senate’s proposed $5,000 pay raise is a good start but isn’t enough because Texas teachers would need to get a $7,000 raise per year to reach the national average, according to data from the National Education Association.

For Capo, one of the downsides of the Senate bill is that it doesn’t include raises for paraprofessionals, those who assist teachers on their daily tasks, and other public school employees such as bus drivers. “The entire team is important and everybody needs to be included in some way,” he said.

Capo commended House Bill 3 because it proposes a higher increase in funding than the Senate bill, but said that too much of the increase is connected to merit–based pay systems.

He also said the state’s turnover of math and science teachers is particularly concerning, noting many are leaving education jobs because they can double their salaries in the private sector.

Grits for Breakfast collated the latest marijuana reform news, notes, and questions at the Lege.

Leif Reigstad at Texas Monthly criticizes the Court of Criminal Appeals' ruling against the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Texas Vox supports making Election Day a state holiday.

Quianta Moore and Sadie Funk write for the HouChron calling for greater investment in early childhood development.

In an announcement this morning, the DNC -- aka Chairman Tom Perez -- passed over Houston and selected Milwaukee, WI for its 2020 national convention.  Pages of Victory blogged about his beef with the Democrats.

A long-form piece at LareDOS, 'A River Ran Through It', details growing up with the water of the Rio Grande (and how it has changed).

Texas Standard reports on how the state's increasing reliance on wind and solar power makes the power grid less nimble at peak usage.

 “You can’t store that wind power or solar power for when you need it.”

A sad dad's Missouri City doughnut shop got a big boost after his son's Tweet went viral.

Beyond Bones has a list of the best places to go fossil hunting that are a daytrip from H-Town.

The TPA bids a fond farewell to Swamplot, the best thing that ever happened to Houston real estate.

And Harry Hamid's occurrence at Fargo Street may not have even happened.

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