Monday, August 26, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is wishing hard -- really hard -- for Harry Hamid's health.

Update, Tuesday, 8/27: Rest in peace.  I'll post a remembrance in the coming days.

This is the full edition of the best of the left from, of, and around Deep-In-The-Hearta from the past week; we'll open with some gubernatorial promotions.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced his intent to appoint former appellate justice Jane Bland to the Texas Supreme Court to succeed Justice Jeff Brown, who has been confirmed as a federal district judge by the U.S. Senate. Bland authored more than 1,200 signed opinions while serving on the First Court of Appeals from her appointment in 2003 until her narrow 2018 general election loss to Gordon Goodman (D).

Bland is Abbott’s third appointee to the state’s highest court, joining Justices Jimmy Blacklock and Brett Busby. Both Bland and Busby will face voters in 2020. Bland will run for the remaining four years of Brown’s term while Busby seeks a full six-year term.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Bland is one of several down-ballot Republicans appointed by the governor who lost elections to their Democratic opponents last November.

Abbott's bad behavior seemed to reach some sort of critical mass last week.

The TSTA Blog wonders if our state's elected leaders will ever criticize Donald Trump.

Off the Blockquote looked at the psychological shift -- i.e., "Democrats might actually win something big!" -- taking place in the pickled brains of Texas politicos.

A few interesting candidate filings for Texas Legislature contests next year:

SD19: San Antonio attorney Xochil Pena Rodriguez, the daughter of former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez, established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Sen. Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton) as a Democrat.

SD21: Seguin pastor Frank Pomeroy established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) as a Republican. Pomeroy is the pastor at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, the site of a 2017 mass shooting in which more than two dozen people -- including Pomeroy’s daughter Annabelle -- were killed.

HD28 special: Rosenberg real estate investor Gary Gates announced he would run in the November 5 special election to succeed Rep. John Zerwas, who is resigning effective September 30. It would be his third try for the seat. Gates has spent more than $6.3 million in several previous unsuccessful attempts at elective office:
  • $2.9M on a 2016 race for Railroad Commissioner, losing the 2016 Republican runoff to Wayne Christian, 51%-49%.
  • $2.4M on a 2014 special election for SD18, which he lost to then-Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), 56%-34%, wth three others combining for 10%.
  • $390K on a 2006 race for SD18, losing the Republican primary to then-Rep. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy), 55%-36%.
  • $277K on a 2004 race for HD28, losing the Republican primary to Hegar, 61%-39%; and
  • $327K on a 2002 race for an open HD28 seat, losing the Republican runoff to Hegar, 58%-42%.

Following up on a story mentioned in the Wrangle three weeks ago, SocraticGadfly examined the proposed Gannett-GateHouse merger and how it might affect the Texas newspaper world.

Almost two dozen Texas cities had their databases compromised in a series of coordinated ransomware hacks.

Updating the latest in the ongoing "Cops Behaving Badly" series ...

Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast commented on Harris County DA Kim Ogg's opposition to the proposed bail reform settlement.  KPRC interviewed Susan Criss, the former Galveston County judge who presided over the Robert Durst murder trial, who talked about a chance encounter with the defendant at the Galleria shopping mall in Houston one Christmas season.

And the state of Texas executed another likely innocent man this past week.

Another development in the wake of the El Paso massacre regards local control; while Governor Abbott hosts roundtable discussions, mayors in the state's largest cities want something done beyond 'thoughts and prayers' to make urban regions safer.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston called out Houston mayoral candidate Bill King's dishonest endorsement claims.  And Space City voters will be looking at an extremely crowded municipal ballot in November, writes Jasper Scherer at the Chronic.

Some ecology news ...

Natural gas flaring in the Permian Basin is distressing environmental activists; the TPA's own Sharon Wilson is pictured in this account from EarthworksTexas could be a leader in the nation's much-needed low-carbon future, writes Michael E. Webber of UT's Cockrell School of Engineering (for Texas Monthly), if only a few minds would open up to the possibilities.  Downwinders at Risk called attention to the TCEQ misusing a 17-year old rural air pollution model in order to permit a new asphalt plant in the city of Joppa.  And a few hundred University of Houston students and alumni signed a petition to disinvite two senior employees of Exxon Mobil from speaking at the college's fall graduation ceremonies.

“We need universities and other institutions of power to stand up to corporations and other entities that do massive harm to the world and to our environment,” (recent UH graduate Katherine Fischer) told News 88.7.

She pointed to an accusation that the oil and gas company has known for a long time about the effects of burning fossil fuels on climate change but continued to deny the science.

And now for some lighter fare ...

Therese Odell at Foolish Watcher tapdances into the Sean Spicer/Dancing with the Stars controversy.

A Houston Popeye's fried chicken restaurant trolled Chick-Fil-A after the latter trolled the former over the popularity of their new chicken sandwich.

And the Texas Standard recounts the tale of how the town of Redwater, Texas, was once named after the famed humanist Robert Green Ingersoll.

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