Monday, March 25, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

Some members of the Texas Progressive Alliance switched from Mueller High Life to Stolichnaya (in order to more quickly drown their sorrows) at the 5 p.m. unhappy hour yesterday.  The gloating also lurched to the right, but is still happening much too early.  When you play two-party politics like it was a football game, that's what it feels like to those of us who aren't fans of either team.

After reading Socratic Gadfly's wrap-up and round-up on the Mueller report and reactions, you're ready to move on to the non-collusion/obstruction-related blog posts and news from across Texas from last week!

The biggest statewide news was the explosion and fire at the ITC storage facility along the Houston Ship Channel, which resulted in a environmental catastrophe that is still ongoing today.  It began burning on Sunday afternoon March 17 ...

By Monday morning, March 18, a shelter-in-place for the nearby city of Deer Park had been issued as the fire burned throughout the night.

And all day Tuesday.

The first air toxicants were reported.

By Wednesday, March 20, the fire was finally out ... for awhile.

As community leaders meet the media, tensions rise.

The first time benzene levels in the air around the facility were reported.

And spill runoffs into the Ship Channel were first noted.

And as we know since last Thursday, it really hasn't.

Beyond Bones tells you some things you should know about the Deer Park fire and public safety.


Under the pink dome in Austin, Stephen Young of the Dallas Observer broke down the fight between Texas Senate Republicans and Facebook over abortion.  Earlier today, Progrexas reports that a Texas House committee failed to advance an anti-choice bill because the Democrats denied a quorum call.

Revisiting news from a few years ago, TXElects says that a deceased Harris County commissioner's multi-million dollar political bank account awaits resolution.

Former Harris Commissioner El Franco Lee, who passed away in January 2016, still has more than $3.6M in his campaign account, reported the Houston Chronicle’s Zach Despart. His widow, Ethel Kaye Lee, is its treasurer and has sole discretion on how the funds may be spent. Under state law, the account’s funds must be dispersed by 2022.

They may be contributed to the Democratic Party, one or more candidates and committees, the state, a charitable organization or a university. Individual donations may also be returned. Among Democrats, Lee’s war chest is the third largest, trailing only Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston), who had nearly $8M on hand as of December 31, and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), who reported having $4.3M on hand.

The account could become a significant source of campaign contributions for Democrats in the 2020 cycle.

The Texas Tribune's Emma Platoff followed presidential candidate Kamala Harris around Houston this past Saturday.

“This is Harris County!” declared a bevy of colorful signs in the hands of supporters in a crowded auditorium at Texas Southern University. And when Harris began to speak during the biggest event of her first major swing through Texas, the native Californian was implicitly communicating much the same message: There may be two Texas Democrats vying for support in this state nearly a year ahead of Super Tuesday, but she isn’t ceding any ground to the state’s native sons.

“I love being in Harris County!” she declared by way of greeting, enjoying raucous applause and, apparently, the alignment between her surname and the name of Texas’ largest county and one of its most diverse. In unveiling a major pitch for raising teachers’ salaries -- a proposal her campaign has described as “the largest federal investment in teacher pay in history” -- Harris made sure to nod to the last Texas Democrat to occupy the office she seeks.

“[Lyndon B. Johnson] was the last president that made a meaningful investment in public education.” One of his reasons, she said, was “to bridge the gap between helplessness and hope.”

Saturday was Harris’ second public campaign event in Texas after a visit Friday night to the Tarrant County Democrats.

In Houston, on the campus of one of the nation’s largest historically black colleges, she attracted a crowd of some 2,400, including influential area Democrats like U.S. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Sylvia Garcia, as well as state Sen. Carol Alvarado and state Rep. Ron Reynolds.

Rodney Ellis, a Harris County commissioner and major crusader for criminal justice reform, praised Harris as a “career prosecutor, but… a thoughtful prosecutor,” defending Harris against criticisms of her record. When he introduced her, he declared, “I’m endorsing her right now!”

In immigration developments, Robert Moore at Texas Monthly reports that inland checkpoints have been closed so that Border Patrol agents can process an influx of families seeking asylum.  NPR also has news that USBP is releasing recently-apprehended migrants without detaining them because, officials say, facilities are filled to capacity.

LareDOS has an account from longtime Zapata County residents who say that the border wall's eminent domain prospects reminds them of the 1950s-era Falcon Dam/Reservoir project.

Sophie Novack at the Texas Observer writes about the diabetes crisis in the Rio Grande Valley spawning an amputation crisis.

The Lunch Tray debunks the arguments for Trump's school nutrition rollbacks.

In Port Aransas, plans for a major oil export terminal proposed by the Port of Corpus Christi are colliding with locals who want to preserve the community's small-town tourism draws of fishing, birding, and downscale beach experience.  The Rivard Report has the story.

Grits for Breakfast explains why police should be required to get a warrant to use cell site simulators, also known as "stingrays".

Joel Mathis at The Week blogged about how socialism won at SXSW.

And The Bloggess would like to tell you a ghost story.

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