Monday, May 10, 2021

"I Can Almost See Sine Die" Wrangle


A tumultuous week last.


"The most conservative 48 hours in Texas history", Bud Kennedy at the Startlegram wrote.  And it still wasn't good enough for them.


At least Texas Democrats can muster a protest on the south steps of the Capitol, amirite?


Saturday was local and consent calendar day, and the mood was ...


Find the rare Texas Republican that gets the Pink Floyd reference.

Since these beans were hashed, smothered, fried and refried last week, I'll move on to some topics neglected; namely election and politics news developments.

The biggest enchilada left on the buffet for the Donks is the mayor's seat in Fort Worth.


In this Wrangle last week I posted that Austin had approved ranked choice voting for their city elections.  D Magazine says it's time for Dallas to do the same.  (Hey, Houston? San Antonio? Bueller?)

Serving notice to Joe Biden on his failures in South Texas are John-Michael Torres of La Uni贸n, Norma Herrera of the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network, and Roberto Lopez of the Texas Civil Rights Project, writing in the Rio Grande Guardian.  Nathan Newman in The Week points to a lifeline that the president could throw to El Paso and other blue cities in red states.

El Paso is being squeezed.

In 2019, the Texas state legislature passed SB2, which limits property tax increases to 3.5 percent per year. Meanwhile most of the city's budget is based on largely unfunded state mandates. And where the state in 2008 funded 45 percent of local education costs, that's been reduced to just 39 percent today.

So even before the COVID-19 crisis hit, "the wiggle room we have to spend on projects we think are important becomes smaller and smaller," observes El Paso County Commissioner David Stout.

A city similar in size to Boston and Washington, D.C., El Paso is politically a blue triangle at the far end of a sea of red in West Texas -- and Stout thinks politics plays a big role in the increasing limits on local spending: "The state legislature wants to stop local progressive policies from being put in place."

[...]

Luckily for the residents of these localities, there's new hope for an escape. President Biden's American Rescue Plan and the revival of Congressional earmarks are giving local cities, particularly in red states, the first chance in a generation to creatively plan new local projects to demonstrate the possibilities of progressive government.

El Paso's Stout says since Texas "has preempted us so much and taken over our budget, the only way we can fund anything else is through money coming from the federal government."

Read on.  And the H-Town firefighters whipped Sylvester Turner again.  Long past time to throw in the towel and pay the men and women, Mr. Mayor.


Criminal and social justice and injustice news:


Which member of the Supreme Court said that racism is over in America?  I forget his name -- I think it rhymes with Juan Boberts -- but I hear he's supposed to be the swing moderate vote now.  He's probably not on Twitter anyway.


*heavy sigh*

How about some environmental updates?

Rachel Meidl at the Center for Energy Studies at Rice’s Baker Institute, writing in the HouChron, thinks that the Bayou City can become a leader in the circular plastics economySpace City Weather explains Houston's new climate normals.


Elon Musk is taking over both South Texas and Austin.


The RGV is putting up some resistance.



And the Austin Chronicle lampooned Musk last month.


Proclaiming "an end to a century's worth of frustration and a great day for the schoolchildren of Texas," Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law today (Thursday, April 1) Senate Bill 3236, authorizing the purchase of the entire city of Austin, excepting the Capitol Complex and University of Texas campus, by area Technoking Elon Musk, henceforth to also hold the title of "Iron Mayor."

That's a good one to transition to the remaining soother.  I'll have more as the Lege works their, uh, magic this week.

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