Monday, July 01, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a happy Trump-free Independence Day as it brings you this week's roundup of the best blog posts and lefty news about and around the state!

The continuing horror of Trump's concentration camps at the southern border was magnified by the drownings of a 20-year-old Salvadoran father, Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez, and his 2-year-old daughter, Angie Valeria.  A memorial vigil was held last evening in McAllen and also Brownsville's Hope Park, about a mile from where their bodies were discovered on the banks of the Rio Grande.

The Texas Tribune has a dedicated page for agencies who are assisting migrant families.

After Bank of America chose to get out of the private prison/detention center business, John Cornyn thought it would be a good idea to threaten to switch his accounts.

Yes, Texas can and will do better than Cornyn.

Several reports in the this week's Wrangle examine how last week's SCOTUS decisions on gerrymandering and the census citizenship question might affect the Great State.

The Supreme Court has ruled that federal courts have no role to play in blocking partisan gerrymandering. Texas Republican lawmakers could see this as an opportunity to redraw district lines in their favor, according to experts.

Drawing political boundaries to favor one race over another is against the law. But in Texas, the distinction between racial and partisan gerrymandering is often blurry.

“Sometimes the defense of the Texas Legislature has been that we did the redistricting not based on race, which is clearly unconstitutional, but we did it for partisanship reasons,” Charles 'Rocky' Rhodes of South Texas College of Law-Houston told Houston Matters. “We didn’t discriminate against Latinos because they’re Latinos. We discriminated against them because they vote Democratic rather than Republican.”

In the past, majority lawmakers of either party have been furtive about trying to draw district lines in their own favor. GOP lawmakers could prove much louder and more open about doing so in the next round of redistricting, according to Joseph Fishkin, who teaches law at the University of Texas at Austin.

"And the reason they’re going to do that," Fishkin said, "is that they are hoping that by proclaiming loudly that they engaged in partisan gerrymandering, they’re hoping that will insulate them from charges of racial gerrymandering, which the Supreme Court is still going to police."

More on the Lege's redistricting committees from TXElects.

Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) will serve as chair, and Sen. Chuy Hinojosa (D-McAllen) will be vice chair. The Republican members are Sens. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway), Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton), Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville), Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) and Charles Perry (R-Lubbock). Democrats on the panel are Sens. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston), Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Brownsville), Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio), Kirk Watson (D-Austin), Royce West (D-Dallas) and John Whitmire (D-Houston).

Meanwhile, the House Redistricting Committee released a tentative schedule for 28 interim hearings around the state over a one-year period:

  • Austin, September 10
  • San Antonio, September 12
  • Fort Worth, October 9
  • Dallas, October 10

And ...

The court put a proposed citizenship question for the 2020 Census on hold, ordering the U.S. Department of Commerce to provide a clearer explanation of why the question is necessary.

Research has shown the question drives down the response rate from minority groups and immigrants, which could cost Texas federal funding.

Luis Figueroa, the policy director for the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, said the economic loss of federal funds could be as much as 8%. “That would be absolutely devastating to the Texas economy, to our representation, to businesses investing in Texas. So this is why I say the stakes couldn’t be higher,” Figueroa said.

An undercount in Texas could also lead to the loss of a congressional seat.

Eric Benson at Texas Monthly writes that the Supreme Court's decision on the citizenship question helps the Lone Star State, but that the real work lies ahead.  And Kuff has two updates on the census question lawsuit.

In the briefest of Lege news, former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus announced the formation of yet another political action committee aimed, presumably, at electing thoughtful, moderate conservatives (sic) like himself to state office.  And Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer says "See ya!" to Cockroach Jonathan Stickland.

SocraticGadfly, having read the story about Jerry Falwell Jr., wonders if Trump/Cohen have nekkid pix of Robert Jeffress.

A federal judge ruled against Formosa Plastics and their Lavaca Bay-area plant, saying that it was in "enormous" violation of both its state-issued permits and the federal Clean Water Act, and that the TCEQ had either been unwilling or unable to bring them into compliance.

Houston's municipal elections gained two new high-profile candidates, as former At Large CM Sue Lovell declared she would enter the race for mayor, and a second member of the Geto Boys joined the rapper formerly known as Scarface in a bid for a seat on city council.  And the Texas Signal reported on Dwight Boykins' faux pas regarding his unsolicited advice to teenage girls.

Jeff Balke at the Houston Press accepts the reality of the I-45 reroute and expansion in Houston, while Tory Gattis at Houston Strategies collected a few more opinion/analysis pieces on the project and offered his own thoughts.

Lone Star Q reports on Harris County adding non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies for its LGBTQ employees.

NASA builds for the future by breaking ground on a spaceport and celebrates its past with the recreation of the Apollo Mission Control room, marking the 50th anniversary later this month of the moon landing.  More photos from Ars Technica.

Bellaire HS alumna and Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson became an Internet meme sensation as well as fodder for the late night TV comedians (scroll to the end).  Beto O'Rourke and Julián Castro carried on their squabble over immigration, begun in last Wednesday's debate, to dueling rallies in Austin and separate appearances at border detention facilities.  There seems to be a rivalry developing between them as to who is 'the' Texan, and who is 'the other' Texan.

From Steve Rossignol and The Socialist, the official publication of the Socialist Party USA, comes more about the history of socialism in Texas: 'Operative 100', the snitch who maimed the movement.

Joe Nick Patoski at Texas Monthly eulogizes state historian Lonn Taylor.

And Harry Hamid aggregates his posts so far in his battle against cancer.

No comments: