Monday, March 16, 2020

The Weekly Wrangle, Widespread Panic Edition (updates)

The Texas Progressive Alliance isn't praying for divine intervention from the coronapocalypse, and isn't interrupting its practice of social distancing to bring you this week's roundup of the best of the Lone Star left from last week.

Governor Greg Abbott's statewide emergency declaration rollout went less well than expected.

Update from TXElects:

Abbott ordered a July 14 special election to fill the unexpired term of Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin), who is resigning effective April 30. Abbott declined to set the election to coincide with the May 2 uniform election, citing the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Candidates for the special election must file with the Secretary of State between April 29 and May 13. Early voting will begin June 29.

The election date enables any state candidate on the November ballot to run without risking losing their seat. Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) and former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt (D) have announced for the race. Austin council member Greg Casar has formed a campaign committee for the race. Pflugerville council member Rudy Metayer, Austin attorney Adam Loewy and Austin attorney Chito Vela are considering the race.

Matt Goodman at D Mag says, "I don't think we should see other people."

Andy Langer interviewed Austin mayor Steve Adler for Texas Monthly, who explained why he canceled SxSW, a decision that seems a lot easier to understand today.

Some members of our state media -- not all of them corporate and oil-stained -- seem more concerned about the effects of the pandemic on the state's fossil fuel industry than its citizens' public health.  The moment presents an opportunity to change the course of mankind's pending demise from climate change ... presuming enough of us survive the plague, that is.

But there are always pettier political battles to wage.

After Mike Bloomberg's campaign abandoned Texas, some of the (unnamed) staff who got paid big bucks for a much shorter period than they were promised whined to the media about it.

“The entire Houston team was told by a top Bloomberg adviser that Texas is a battleground state,” said one Houston-area field organizer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We were told Texas is important and that the team would try to transition into helping down-ballot candidates if Bloomberg wasn’t the nominee.”


Six staffers on the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing nondisclosure agreements they had signed with the campaign, said they were told upon their hiring that they’d have jobs through November -- mitigating the risk that typically comes with high-pressure campaign organizing. Now, they said, they were told to expect their final paycheck at the end of the month and that they only had health, vision and dental coverage until March 31. As a consolation prize, all were allowed to keep Bloomberg-provided iPhones and MacBook Air laptops, so long as they agreed to pay taxes on both electronics.

“There are a lot of folks who came down here from New York or Iowa who are now out of jobs,” said one Dallas-area field organizer, who was paid $6,000 per month since his hiring Feb. 17.

“People made decisions based on thinking they had a job until November,” said another former regional director for the campaign. “Someone dropped their insurance to pick up Bloomberg’s insurance, for instance.”

Boo hoo hoo.  Spread some of the Joe Biden Good Guy salve into your wounds.

Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer picks his worst candidates to emerge from the primaries.

In a remarkable stroke of even deeper inanity than most thought possible, Kuff got an early start on sucking up to the powers that be, no matter who, in welcoming Harris County's new lady judge overlords (overladies?).

With his latest installment of completely self-absorbed yet blissfully unself-conscious bragging, SocraticGadfly read the story about the Hobby Lobby-alleged Dead Sea Scrolls proven to be fakes and realized he has a personal academic-world connection to the story.

Dwight Silverman at the Chronic says to clean your damn filthy phone already.  Thanks, Captain Obvious Techburger.  Now go wash your hands, and keep them away from your face.

Despite all these fails, there was some intelligent reporting and blogging last week.  From Maria Mendez and Paul Cobler at the Dallas News:

A Texas civil rights group called the secretary of state, Texas’ top election official, to work with local officials to resolve the voting issues Texans faced on Super Tuesday before the November general election.

Attorneys from the Texas Civil Rights Project sent a letter to Texas Secretary of State Ruth R. Hughs on Thursday demanding the state to work to eliminate long lines caused by shortages of elections workers and problems with machines. Issues were reported in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, Hays, Tarrant and Travis counties.

“We demand that you and other relevant stakeholders take immediate action to invest in voting infrastructure and prevent a similar disaster from unfolding in November,” Mimi Marziani, president of the Texas Civil Rights Project, wrote.

And the reporters got a real doozy of a quote from John Cornyn, who has clearly been drinking too much Corona during his self-isolation.

But Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn warned against federal intervention, saying some “raise a lot of money claiming that minorities’ votes are suppressed.”

He said the Voting Rights Advancement Act, a measure passed by U.S. House of Representatives three months ago to establish a process of federal supervision of voting changes in jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination, is unnecessary. The bill still has to go through the U.S. Senate.

“We don’t need the federal government to tell us how to run our elections in Texas. We’ve run free and fair elections and there’s no reason to punish Texas or other states that have corrected their problems with regards to access to voting,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Cornyn said he hoped local election officials “learned a few lessons” and advised voters to take advantage of early voting.

In the last decade, federal courts smacked down Texas multiple times for intentionally discriminatory policies that disproportionately affected black and brown voters, like its voter ID law and the way the Legislature drew its congressional and statehouse maps to limit the voting power of minorities.

David Collins updated on the status of the Texas Green Party's 2020 slate, the Harris Greens' conventions, and the surging presidential candidacy of Dario Hunter.  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs blogged that it won't be any easier being Green this year than it was four years ago, thanks to the Jackass Party re-running 2016 all over again.

Some Texans worry about their 401K or the price of oil; many others worry about their jobs, their health, their next meal, whether they will be homeless next month ...

It's all a matter of perspective.

Cherise Rohr-Allegrini at the Rivard Report encourages social distancing, but reminds to check on our neighbors, especially the seniors.

With some environmental news ...

And a long overdue plaudit to one of the hardest-working climate activists I know.

Reform Austin writes about cite-and-release, wondering if it will become the standard for low-level cannabis misdemeanor cases.

Plan a drive through wildflower country soon.

Stop and visit Washington-on-the-Brazos along the way.

And PDiddie thanks Anju Agrawal at Feedspot for inclusion in their "Top 50 Texas Blogs".

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