Showing posts sorted by relevance for query sharon keller. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query sharon keller. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Killer Keller skates

Because "public humiliation" is punishment enough for her.

A special master has concluded that Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller doesn't deserve to be removed from office or even given “further reprimand beyond the public humiliation she has surely suffered” for her conduct in a death row inmate's failed effort to file a last-minute appeal before his execution. San Antonio-based District Judge David Berchelmann Jr., serving as special master in the case of alleged judicial misconduct, wrote that the Texas Defender Service in representing Michael Richard “bears the bulk of fault for what occurred on September 25, 2007.”

Unbe-fucking-lievable. Here's her attorney:

"Judge Keller takes to heart the advice that she should strive to be more collegial and that the Court's internal communications should improve," (attorney Chip) Babcock's statement said.

'More collegial'.


Interesting to note that "public humiliation" is a substitute for an official reprimand when a judge engages in behavior that's "not exemplary of a public servant" and considered "highly questionable." ... Judge Berchelmann's recommendation will now go to the full Commission on Judicial Conduct who will decide whether to dismiss charges, reprimand Keller, or recommend her removal from office.

And Elise Hu:

The timing of (death row defendant Michael) Richard's last-minute appeal was especially key in this case. He was set to be executed the same day the U.S. Supreme Court stayed all executions in the country after it decided to hear Baze v. Rees, which questioned whether lethal injection constituted cruel and unusual punishment. The SCJC review says Richard's execution would have likely been stayed too, but his lawyers had to exhaust the lethal injection argument in state courts first. The claim was never presented to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which Keller leads, after a series of miscommunications between her court and lawyers from the defender service. A key miscommunication had to do with the message about the early closing time.

I gotta say I'm speechless. A compilation from the StandDown Texas Project for the history of this case is here and my previous postings are here.

Updates:  More astounded reactions. Othniel ...

Equality under the Law?
Due Process for all?
Not in Texas. More process than is due to and superior standing under the law is accorded to Chief Judge Keller than to litigants before her.  Apparently those who dare approach her Court seeking Justice enjoy neither equality nor due process.  She cannot be bothered to keep open the Court House door after 5:00 p.m., even though a defendant's life hang in the balance.

WSJ Law Blog (the most conservative source I would ever post):

Well, we weren’t entirely sure that Sharon Keller, the presiding judge the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, was going to get in big trouble over the events of Sept. 25, 2007.

But we hardly expected that the special master presiding over the judicial misconduct charges against Keller would blame another party for the unfortunate series of events. Or that the master, San Antonio-based judge David Berchelmann Jr., would express sympathy for Keller.

Texas Cloverleaf:

Ethics in Texas is never really ethical, and this case is no different. Judge Sharon Keller closed her office promptly at 5pm and allowed a man to be executed, rather than accepting the appeal. ...

Republican judges saving Republican judges. Ahhhh the ethics of Texas. Way to go, impartial judiciary.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Brainy endorsements: Keith Hampton

Keith Hampton is the Democrat running for Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. His opponent is the most reprehensible Republican serving in the entire judicial system in Texas, Sharon "Killer" Keller. There is no Libertarian or Green on the November ballot. In Hampton's own words, here is one sentence about the incumbent.

(Keller) is the judge who shut the courthouse doors promptly at 5PM to a death-sentenced inmate, and agreed that poor people aren’t entitled to lawyers who remain awake during trial

Keller tried to get Hampton removed from the ballot by challenging his petition signatures, but that effort failed. Hampton has outraised Keller over 60 to 1 in the most recent fundraising period. When Hampton ran for the CCA in 2010, he received broad bipartisan support, and that is once again the case in 2012. We have previously seen what happens when Republicans publicly reject Republican judges who betray the public trust.

Here's Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast, outlining the pitch-perfect strategy Hampton must pursue if he is to win.

Judge Keller, the self-styled, "pro-prosecution" judge, has so much baggage coming in it'd be hard to know where to attack first. The findings of facts against her by the Commission on Judicial Conduct were damning and provide ample fodder for campaign attacks. (Her punishment was overturned as illegal but the findings of fact on the merits remained untouched in a circus-like tragi-comedy that embarrassed the court and the state.) Keller was also fined by the Ethics Commission $100,000 for failing to disclose a vast web of financial entanglements. (See the ruling [pdf].)

Even more than those dark moments, though, many of her opinions and dissents contain jaw-dropping pro-government assumptions that could be mined for anti-populist material that would make any good Tea-Party type cringe. Just as Governor Perry's greatest political achievement has been to maximize power over state agencies through appointments of political allies, creating a (relatively) strong executive where Texas historically had a weak one, Judge Keller's principal achievement as the CCA's Presiding Judge has been to oversee (and arguably principally author) an expansionist accumulation of government power by law enforcement and prosecutors over nearly two decades. A comprehensive vetting of her opinions by a campaign researcher would yield lots of attack fodder. But (Hampton) must undertake that work, then use the information to construct and deliver political attacks: That's the piece that I'm not sure is going to happen, though there's still time.

Most recently, the state of Texas executed a man whose IQ of 61 defined him as retarded. Though the United States Supreme Court has ruled that mentally incapacitated people are not to be executed, Sharon Keller -- and Antonin Scalia -- made sure he was put to death anyway.

Keith Hampton is the only sane option for Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, and Republicans. Period, end of story.

Hampton has a Facebook page, and here's his Twitter feed. Do what you can: volunteer, donate, advocate. We can't begin to change much in Texas until we rid our government of fiends like Sharon Keller.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sharon Killer's Justice

"Judge Keller's actions denied Michael Richard two constitutional rights, access to the courts and due process, which led to his execution," the complaint states. "Her actions also brought the integrity of the Texas judiciary and of her court into disrepute ... "

Judge Sharon Killer's interpretation of 'justice for all' closes at 5 p.m.

"Justice should be both fair and competent. Here it was not. The result is a man was killed on a day he should have lived," said Chuck Herring, an Austin lawyer who joined in the complaint and who has written on professional ethics and responsibility.

Judge Sharon Killer, who was narrowly re-elected in 2006 over an opponent who barely fielded a challenge, has a longstanding reputation for sending Texans to their death under questionable circumstances.

Judge Sharon Keller, landlord to a Dallas titty bar which has had more than its share of police calls and neighborhood complaints, disagreed with most of her colleagues that a woman whose children burned to death in a accidental fire wasn't criminally responsible.

Keller's killing has failed to draw any response from Texas attorney general Greg Abbott, and two previous attorneys general -- Mark White and Jim Mattox -- have criticized him for his silence.

Sharon "Killer" Keller is way beyond the cartoon conceptions of hanging-tree, Judge Roy Bean, cinematic Texas justice. She is an abomination and a disgrace to the bench, and should resign or be removed from it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hampton gets DMN endorsement

Newspaper endorsements aren't this blog's usual beat, but this appellate court race will get few opportunities to make news between now and November. This recommendation is also significant for the fact that the Dallas News continues to endorse a 100% Republican state Supreme Court.

Among his other many outstanding qualifications, Keith Hampton is -- according to Scott Cobb -- the attorney who persuaded Rick Perry to commute the capital punishment of Kenneth Foster.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has developed a reputation as a court that turns its back on verdicts that need a second or third look.

It's easy to see why. Seven of the nine judges have backgrounds as prosecutors, and the presiding judge once campaigned as "pro-prosecutor." Court-watchers recite a list of marquee cases of failed justice. The court's tilt is a concern, considering that Texas leads the nation in executions and has far more DNA-proven miscarriages of justice than any other state.

The Nov. 2 election for Place 6 on the court is an opportunity for a rebalancing. Austin defense attorney Keith Hampton, running against veteran Judge Michael Keasler, has the legal credentials and a perspective now missing on the court: If elected, he would be the only member to have involvement in a capital murder case from indictment all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hampton, 49, a Democrat, has pushed for important legal reforms in Austin as legislative director for the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. One effort led to a law giving juries the option of life without parole for murderers. An unsuccessful effort last year would have improved police photo lineups – an overdue reform in light of widespread cases of documented witness misidentification.

I posted this in June...

Without any Democrats on the CCA for the past twelve years, the ideological spectrum of the Court has shifted dramatically to the right. One Republican judge on the Court, Lawrence Meyers, recently toured newspaper editorial boards promoting the state’s fairness, prompting Dallas Morning News Editor Michael Landauer to write, “Try not to laugh.” (Source: Dallas Morning News, June 2009). Scott Henson, an award-winning blogger who writes for the non-partisan criminal justice site Grits for Breakfast, wrote the following about the political nature of the CCA:

There is no liberal wing on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. There’s a conservative wing, to which Judge Johnson belongs, and a more or less totalitarian wing, in which Keasler and Meyers reside along with Presiding Judge Sharon Keller. (Source: Grits for Breakfast, June 2009)

The “totalitarian wing” of the Court has a well-documented and thoroughly perplexing history of unprofessional actions. From the “sleeping lawyer” case in October 2000, to investigations into the judicial conduct of Sharon Keller in 2007, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is in desperate need of professional, accountable judges on its bench.

Here's Hampton in his own words:

Let's get Hampton on the bench.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What happens when only Republicans turn out to vote

You get the highest criminal court in Texas ruling that it's legally okay for pervos to take upskirts.

Confused and frustrated people tore out enough hair to fill a ten-gallon hat when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that a statute banning “improper photography,” such as taking sketchy shots of children in bathing suits who have no idea they are being photographed, was unconstitutional this week. The WTF reactions went beyond the Lone Star State with national news sites wondering how it was possible that such a blatant personal violation — and one that is a potential harbinger of child pornography — could have no legal ramifications?

Yet, with almost complete unanimity (only one of the nine judges dissented), the highest criminal court in Texas struck down the section of the improper photography law that forbids taking photographs in non-bathroom and non-dressing room spaces (essentially public spaces) under the following conditions:

— without the other person’s consent; and
— with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person

Didn't I just reference something about the egregious, horrid, painfully obnoxious, conservative-extremist-Republican Court of Criminal Appeals less than a week ago?  I wonder if any straight-ticket-voting Republicans will try to blame this on those ACLU socialists at the CCA.

The case they decided involved a nice fellow -- none of his neighbors would have ever guessed he was a weirdo -- who took photos and video of women, and young children, in their swimming attire.  Please note that bastion of Puritans in Massachusetts has specifically banned upskirt photos.  Oh, and the Texas Lege went a little farther.  But they apparently stretched too far -- surprise! -- and the court struck the law down.

It is evident in the ruling that fears of potentially sweeping First Amendment violations drove the ruling, which is painfully ironic considering presiding Judge Sharon Keller’s disregard for other individual rights. Keller earned the nickname “Sharon Killer” for effectively blocking the stay of an execution in 2007 by refusing to let her court remain open past 5 p.m. Apparently, Keller’s rigidly lethal punctuality is tempered by her generous view of freedom of expression.

There remain plenty of defenders of the right to... something.

Creepy? Yeah. Illegal? Not so, the Court of Appeals ruled.

The photos themselves and the act of using a camera are covered by the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of speech, the court said. If the photos aren’t actually obscene, it’s not the government’s job to police how a person reacts to them.

People in public can’t expect total privacy, the court went on. They are, after all, publicly visible to anyone who might pass by. Even someone taking an upskirt photo.

“A person who walks down a public street cannot prevent others from looking at him or her with sexual thoughts in their heads,” the court said.

The original law does accomplish what it aimed to do, criminalize upskirt photos, the court added. But it goes much farther than that, which could lead to the law being misused — which is why they struck it down.

“This statute could easily be applied to an entertainment reporter who takes a photograph of an attractive celebrity on a public street,” the court said.

Bottom line? The invasion of privacy of an upskirt photo is “intolerable, and the legislature ought to ban it, the court said. This just isn’t the law to do it.

The last word.

Protecting someone who appears in public from being the object of sexual thoughts seems to be the sort of ‘paternalistic interest in regulating the defendant’s mind’ that the 1st Amendment was designed to guard against. We also keep in mind the Supreme Court’s admonition that the forms of speech that are exempt from 1st Amendment protection are limited, and we should not be quick to recognize new categories of unprotected expression.

Yup, you read that right — anti-creepshot laws are “paternalistic.” Indeed, Thompson’s attorney echoed this sentiment, in casting the laws as “Orwellian.”

This story should give pause to Texan women everywhere. The Court essentially ruled that women anywhere out in public have no reasonable expectation of privacy, even if an unwanted photographer’s intent is overtly sexual — in practice, it makes visiting a water park for a woman in Texas like signing a release waver to be ogled and snapshotted. This isn’t to say that freedom of expression, photography and videography rules in public places aren’t important — they undoubtedly are, and forcing courts and juries to make judgments about the intent behind random photographs can be a precarious position.

But as the law stands now, especially after this ruling, it’s hard not to feel as though Texas’ women are being failed in the most basic of ways. When the same anti-creepshot law was ruled against in 2013, the Bexar County district attorney’s office put out a press release with a cautionary title, according to The Guardian: “Cover up while we appeal.” For now, at least, that message still rings true — in Texas, it seems, wearing a swimsuit in a public place is giving license to lech.

I'd like to think that Texas women -- and yes, Texas liberals and progressives, the people who are the only ones concerned with the greater good --  could begin to gradually correct some of this legal nonsense by establishing a habit of voting every time there's an election.  And if the tide is turning; if it's happening as this is written, then all the better.  I'd just like to live long enough to see some progress made with regard to the Neanderthals in the Texas judicial system evolving into something that comes closer to being human.  You know, with a soul and/or a conscience.

But I doubt that will ever happen, so they need to be voted out of office.  Click here and scroll to the very bottom.  Up from there -- seven races -- are the candidates on your November ballot for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals... and the Texas Supreme Court as well.  Let's get started by not voting for any of the Republicans.

For the sake of your wives, daughters, and all Texas women.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Two noteworthy hearings in the Lege today

The first is "Killer" Keller's impeachment inquiry. From Trailblazers via Grits:

Sharon Keller, the chief justice of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, could soon face impeachment proceedings - there's a resolution under review by the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee to consider impeachment for "gross negligence of duty ... with willful disregard for human life." Keller's court hears appeals in capitol murder cases, and she refused to keep her office open past 5 p.m. to accept an appeals filing hours before an execution in 2007. The committee hearing begins upon final adjournment of the House.

The second is our blogger bill. Vince has the details:

On Monday, the Texas House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee will hold a public hearing on a bill which will give Texas bloggers and citizen journalists some much-needed protections under Texas law.

The committee will take public testimony on House Bill 4237 by State Rep. Aaron Pena (D-Edinburg).

This bill gives bloggers and citizen journalists the same protections that the mainstream media has when it comes to covering matters of "public concern," such as legislative proceedings, school board meetings, and the actions of state officials.

Under current law, commonly known as the "Privileged Matters Clause" of the Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code (Sec. 73.002), coverage by the mainstream media of matters of "public concern" such as those listed above cannot be used as grounds for a libel action.

Texas bloggers and citizen journalists, however, do not have similar protections. In theory, if a politician or officeholder wanted to cause a blog a great deal of problems, he or she could file a libel or slander lawsuit over writings discussing a matter of "public concern." It would then be up to the court system--after, no doubt, significant expense for the blogger or citizen journalist--to determine whether or not the "Privileged Matters Clause" applies to bloggers.

Texas bloggers have been fortunate in that no one has been forced to be a test case for this yet. Rep. Pena's bill ensures that no Texas blogger or citizen journalist ever will. It gives us the same protections as the mainstream media in this regard.

Texas bloggers and citizen journalists have pushed for "Privileged Matters" protection since 2006.

The fight for "Privileged Matters" protection was triggered after State Rep. Vicki Truitt (R-Keller) filed HB 129 in late 2006. Truitt's bill was a broadly-worded bill which would have essentially subjected every blog and citizen journalist in Texas to frivolous lawsuits.

Truitt said the bill was designed to allow people legal recourse if someone knowingly publishes information about them online that could lead to identity theft.

However, her bill was poorly drafted and opened bloggers and citizen journalists to frivolous lawsuits.

Truitt ultimately pulled the bill after Republican and Democratic bloggers (as well as party-neutral bloggers) raised outcry significant enough for the mainstream media to notice.

After Truitt announced she had screwed up on the bill, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorialized that bloggers and citizen journalists needed "Privileged Matters" protections, which I first wrote about a couple of days after Truitt's bill was filed:

The law specifically protects "a newspaper or other periodical" from being sued for libel when reporting on things that happen in a court of law, the proceedings of a government body or meetings dealing with public issues.

The protection also extends to "reasonable and fair comment on or criticism of an official act of a public official or other matter of public concern for general information."

One way to look at it is that the Star-Telegram is specifically protected by state law when it criticizes Truitt for her official acts, but Internet bloggers are not. That's not good.

We're both doing the same thing, and we both deserve the same protection for fair reporting and comment.

During the days before the 2007 session, with the controversy over the election for House Speaker and other concerns, it was difficult to find legislators willing to introduce legislation to give bloggers and citizen journalists "Privileged Matters" protections, and the issue was ultimately laid to rest after Truitt pulled her bill with the intent of trying again for the legislation this session.

This session, State Rep. Aaron Pena (D-Edinburg) was asked to carry the legislation and agreed to do so. Pena is himself a blogger and understands the technology and the legal issues at play for bloggers.

If you are in Austin today, make your voice heard.

: Muse has a Twitter feed posted.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Joe Horn, Sharon Keller, and Texas' frontier justice

Kudos to Lisa Falkenberg for her willingness to write the ugly fact:

Human life is worth more than property. It seems like a universal truth. But apparently not in Texas, or other states with similar laws.

Over the past week, I've researched the Texas Penal Code and discovered some provisions that were surprising even to this fifth-generation Texan. The law of our land seems to place more value on the property being stolen — even if it belongs to a neighbor — than on the life of the burglar stealing it.

A review of our state's protection-of-property statutes suggests that Horn's repeated declarations about not letting the burglars "get away with it" may be the words that ultimately set him free.

If Horn doesn't get indicted, don't blame the grand jury. And don't blame Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal. Blame the section of Chapter 9 of the Penal Code that deals with protection of property.

Under the section, which has been in place at least since 1973, a person is justified in using deadly force to protect a neighbor's property from burglary if the person "reasonably believes" deadly force is immediately necessary to stop the burglars from escaping with the stolen property. It's also justified if the shooter "reasonably believes" that "the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means."

Justifiable homicide. Castle doctrine. "He needed killin' ".

The vast majority of Texans -- conservative Republicans and Democrats alike -- love this idea of Judge Roy Bean, "shoot-first-ask-questions-later" dispensation of justice. The rest of us know it's crude, ignorant, and abhorrent, and the majority of nearly 500 comments (at the time of this posting) from Chronicle readers at the link to the op-ed above proves it.

The "hang 'em high" mindset screeches at full volume today on the Chron's website, from that page to the latest report about Judge Sharon "Killer" Keller's 5 p.m. justice. Commenters at both pages represent many more -- and likely a majority of Texans -- who would just as soon take matters into their own heavily armed hands and dispense their personal opinion of 'criminal justice' at the end of a gun, or a needle, or a noose.

If that's really what Jesus would do, then I'm glad I'm not a Christian.

Falkenberg finds someone who acknowledges the inherent political cowardice reality:

"My sense is that the reason, not just Texas, but other states have been enacting statutes more and more like this is because politicians are afraid to vote against them," said Steven Goode, a law professor at the University of Texas.

"They don't want the next attack ad to be one where they are criticized for voting against someone's ability to protect themselves in their home."

"In a calmer and less politicized environment we might have different laws," Goode said. "But campaign ads don't allow for particularly nuanced discussions of issue."

Let's bottom-line it.

Judge Keller needs to resign, or be impeached. Joe Horn needs to be arrested and charged with murder in the first, so that a jury of his "peers" can determine his guilt or innocence. I'm convinced he'll be just as safe following the verdict as he is today -- certainly so if he is tried in Harris County. That's how justice is supposed to work, after all.

Friday, February 20, 2009

That loathsome toon from the NY Post, and more postpourri

-- Sean Delonas, the cartoonist from the New York Post who drew the cartoon that sparked so much outrage, has a long pattern of over-the-top offensiveness more suitable to Hustler Magazine ... or maybe the Washington Moonie Times.

-- TIME has a 25 Best Blogs Index, along with some overrated ones. This blog didn't make either list, so I'm not pimping anything here.

-- Cornyn: No investigations of the Bush administration crimes can be undertaken at this time because of the economic crisis.

-- Now it makes sense: the GOP hates unions because they improve the economy.

-- Sharon "Killer" Keller: a Texas judge who had better start asking for mercy:

This is a woman who voted to deny freedom to a man imprisoned for rape even after DNA evidence showed the sperm belonged to someone else. Her argument: He might have worn a condom.

Later evidence provided proof of his innocence even she couldn’t explain away.

This is a woman who, with her colleagues, appointed grossly incompetent lawyers to handle appeals for indigent death row inmates and then said, “Sorry, your client had his chance,” when skilled lawyers later came in to try to clean up the messes.

This is a woman who, a week before Christmas in 2002, voted to deny freedom to a man who under pressure had accepted a plea bargain for a crime that new evidence showed — “unquestionably,” according to the trial judge who heard the evidence — he did not commit.

Sadly, those aren't even the worst of this woman's crimes against justice.

Chief Judge Keller went home early and was called shortly before 5 p.m. by Marty. Richard’s lawyers were having computer problems and wanted the clerk’s office to stay open until 5:20 or so to receive their filing. Rather than forward the message to Johnson as policy required, Keller instructed Marty to tell the lawyers no. The lawyers made attempts up until 6 p.m. to deliver the filing but were told nobody was there. Richard was executed at about 8:20 p.m.

Two days later, the Supreme Court stopped all executions by injection based on the same arguments Richard’s lawyers made. Richard was the only convict executed until six months later, when the Supreme Court OK’d lethal injection as constitutional.

Here’s the stunner: The morning after Richard’s execution, the nine judges had their weekly conference. At the end of it some of the judges expressed surprise that Richard’s lawyers hadn’t submitted a filing.

Cochran even raised the question — hypothetically, she thought — of what would happen if the lawyers showed up after the clerk’s office closed. She said the court should accept the filing anyway. According to witnesses, Keller said, “The clerk’s office closes at 5 p.m. It’s not a policy, it’s a fact.”

Keller lacked the decency or the courage to tell her colleagues about the call she had received.

This "judge" needs to be immediately removed from the bench.

-- Is it possible that Citi and Bank of America still won't make it? Sheesh.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Meet the Democratic Statewides: Uribe, Bailey, Hampton

As the state convention opens today in Corpus, this series on the Texas Democratic Party's slate of statewide candidates continues with the bios and introductory videos of the candidates for Commissioner of the General Land Office Hector Uribe, and the nominees for state Supreme Court Blake Bailey and Court of Criminal Appeals Keith Hampton.

Uribe's goal is to lead the GLO from 20th century hydrocarbon-based energy sources to 21st century renewable ones. Uribe will vigorously battle global warming by promoting renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, while preventing any negative impact to the revenue streams that flow into the Permanent School Fund.

Uribe has extensive experience in legislative and governmental advocacy, having served almost a decade in the Texas Senate and 3 years in the Texas House. Equal educational opportunity, economic development, and job creation were the hallmarks of Uribe’s tenure as a state senator.

He authored the bill to merge Pan American University into the UT System (it's now called UT-Kingsville), providing graduate programs to previously underserved college students in the Rio Grande Valley. He similarly authored the Texas Enterprise Zone Act, designed to create new businesses and jobs in economically depressed areas. His varied legislative committee assignments prepared him in a broad range of areas including the protection of our environment. He chaired the Senate’s standing subcommittee on Water and vice-chaired the joint subcommittee on Oil Spills and Water Pollution Abatement.

But again, the most significant differences come when you compare him to his opponent, incumbent Jerry Patterson. Look:

The Christmas Mountains, in the heart of the Big Bend region of Texas, were given to the state in 1991.  They should have been transferred to the National Park Service (NPS) and been made part of Big Bend National Park a long time ago.  However, Republican Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has prevented that from happening, insisting that he wants to sell the Mountains to a private entity.

The foundation that gave the land to Texas wanted the Christmas Mountains to remain public.  Patterson refused to transfer the Mountains to the NPS because he claimed to take issue with any entity that disallows firearms – but in reality, Patterson is just an ineffective steward of Texas’ public lands who is more interested in selling Texas off than preserving it. [Source: NPR, 10/22/07]

Congress lifted the ban on firearms in National Parks and President Obama signed the bill into law earlier this year.  Because Patterson claimed his refusal to transfer the Mountains stemmed from the NPS ban on firearms, the hope was that he would finally transfer the Mountains to the National Park Service.  However, instead of sticking to what he said, Patterson just moved the goal posts.  He now says his problem is that hunting would not be allowed in the Mountains under Park Service control. [Source: Washington Post, 2/19/10; San Antonio Express-News, 4/9/10]

If the ban on hunting in national parks were lifted, would Patterson finally drop the act and transfer the Mountains, or just come up with another excuse?

With Hector Uribe, there are no questions about integrity.  On Hector’s first day as Land Commissioner, he will transfer the Christmas Mountains to the National Park Service, so that they can be cared for responsibly and enjoyed by Texans for generations to come.

Uribe’s focus will be on protecting Texas’ rich and wild environment.  He will be a responsible steward of our vast public lands -- not an ideologue who keeps moving the goal posts however it suits him.

Bailey's pet peeve is the same as mine: the 100% Republican Texas Supreme Court is completely biased against little-guy plaintiffs and in favor of the biggest corporations.

In a recent, Blake Bailey pointed out that Wal-Mart is far more successful appealing lawsuits in Texas than anywhere else in the country. From 1998 to 2005, Wal-Mart has won 100% of the appeals brought against them in Texas; outside of Texas, Wal-Mart has only won 56% of their appeals.

That statistic is the most staggering of a long trend facing the Texas Supreme Court: they have a controversial history of supporting big business in their rulings. From 2005-2006, eighty-two percent of all rulings went in favor of defendants. The rulings themselves wouldn’t be as much of an issue, if it weren’t for the contributions that came along with them.

From 2000-2008, the more money donated to Texas’ Supreme Court justices, the higher the chance of success. A study conducted by the non-partisan consumer advocacy group, Texas Watch, showed that the success rate among donors who gave to the justices on the Supreme Court increased based on how much the donors gave. Here’s a breakdown of their findings:
  • 345 donors who had cases before the court gave less than $10,000. They had a success rate – a favorable court ruling – of 54%.
  • 44 donors who had cases before the court gave between $10,000 and $24,999. Those 44 donors had a 58% success rate on their cases.
  • 48 donors who had cases before the court gave more than $25,000. Those 48 donors had a whopping 64% success rate on their cases.
Justice should not be for sale, regardless of price or party. It is offensive to think that giving more money to the Texas Supreme Court justices will correlate with a higher success rate in the Court – but the findings detailed above demonstrate it to be true.

Bailey's opponent is recently-appointed Justice Eva Guzman... another of Rick Perry's ham-handed attempts at Hispanic outreach. Guzman has accepted large contributions from insurers and bragged on her website about how judicial "reform" has improved the business climate in Texas. Attorneys representing the state's largest insurance companies have even told Bailey point-blank that they were unconcerned about the verdict in a jury trial against his clients, because an appeal to the SCOTX virtually assured them of victory.

This "Supreme Court For Sale to Big Business" aspect is one of the most important things we can change in November.

Hampton is running for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6. He is challenging two-term incumbent Republican Michael Keasler. When first elected in 1998, Keasler replaced the last Democrat to hold a seat on the Court. Since then the CCA has been under complete Republican control. Sound familiar?

Without any Democrats on the CCA for the past twelve years, the ideological spectrum of the Court has shifted dramatically to the right. One Republican judge on the Court, Lawrence Meyers, recently toured newspaper editorial boards promoting the state’s fairness, prompting Dallas Morning News Editor Michael Landauer to write, “Try not to laugh.” (Source: Dallas Morning News, June 2009). Scott Henson, an award-winning blogger who writes for the non-partisan criminal justice site Grits for Breakfast, wrote the following about the political nature of the CCA:

There is no liberal wing on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. There’s a conservative wing, to which Judge Johnson belongs, and a more or less totalitarian wing, in which Keasler and Meyers reside along with Presiding Judge Sharon Keller. (Source: Grits for Breakfast, June 2009)

The “totalitarian wing” of the Court has a well-documented and thoroughly perplexing history of unprofessional actions. From the “sleeping lawyer” case in October 2000, to investigations into the judicial conduct of Sharon Keller in 2007, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is in desperate need of professional, accountable judges on its bench.

In order to restore a semblance of fairness and justice to the Court, Texas Democrats can help elect Keith Hampton to the Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6.

Later today: Bill White.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Democratic statewide judicial slate is a farce

Last week in this post I gave my old buddy Kuff a bad time about his unforced error linking to the wrong Betsy Johnson, the one who isn't running as the Democratic nominee for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5.  This week the Dallas Morning News editorial board -- perhaps in payback to the GOP for endorsing Hillary Clinton -- exposed nearly the entire D statewide judicial slate as a joke.  First, their kudos for the Republican in Place 5, Scott Walker (no, not that one).

To our readers who have a natural inclination to generally favor Democratic candidates, please give these next few sentences great heed. A vote for Betsy Johnson, of San Antonio, who may or may not be earning a livelihood as a lawyer these days, strikes us as reckless.

She doesn't return our phone calls nor respond to requests to fill out a candidate questionnaire or attend an interview. She was removed from the Bexar County appointed attorney list by the criminal district court judges in June 2011 after multiple cases of refusing to represent defendants who declined to plead guilty.

Not only can we find no shred of evidence that she's qualified for this job, reports from the Bexar courthouse indicate her conduct was boorish and unrestrained.

This person is on the ballot for a single reason: to try to deny the Green Party a 5% capture and knock the party and all of its candidates off the ballot beginning in 2018.  Vote for Judith Sanders Castro if for no other reason than the worst of the duopoly in Texas badly needs the competition.  (With very little in the way of online presence herself, you might be reminded that she long ago paid a political price for fighting for Latin@ voting rights and the environment.)

The DMN similarly trashed the CCA Place 2 incumbent, Lawrence Meyers, who as it turns out is more of a death penalty advocate than Chief Justice Sharon "Killer" Keller.

Meyers, 68, was elected as a Republican but switched parties in 2013 for a failed run at the Texas Supreme Court, the state's highest for non-criminal cases. He remains the only Democrat in statewide office.

He since has formed something of a faction with conservative Presiding Judge Sharon Keller. Interestingly, while the appeals court granted an unusual eight stays of execution in 2015, Meyers, the court's lone Democrat, dissented on half.

This year, he was the only dissent to a stay for Robert Roberson III, whose attorneys argued that his conviction was based on "junk science" and false testimony. Meyers also unsuccessfully opposed the recent stay for Jeff Wood, sentenced to death despite not being the gunman in a 1996 convenience store killing in Kerrville.

In 2012, Meyers refused to pay a speeding ticket until an Austin municipal judge issued an arrest warrant. Last month, Meyers and some neighbors in Fort Worth tried to bar TCU students from parking near their homes with fake "no parking" signs until the city took them down.

Another race where sensible Democrats -- even those who have been scared into voting for Hillary Clinton just recently -- should be splitting their tickets.  (If you like your judges flamboyant in the Texas style, then the Green, Adam "Bulletproof" King Blackwell Reposa, is your man.)

Finally, the Democratic challenger for TXCCA Place 6 earns plaudits for being a good judge but demerits for being a truthfully lame political candidate.

Count Democrat Robert Burns among the critics who contend that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is too reflexively tough on crime. The question then is whether Burns should replace Place 6 incumbent Republican Michael Keasler.

This newspaper says no. This is not an easy call, since Burns, 52, is a strong Dallas County trial judge, by reputation and by Dallas Bar Association ratings. He runs an efficient court, and his rulings are well-reasoned.

Our problem is that his run seems half-hearted. He isn't raising campaign money, he expects to spend less than $1,000 for a statewide office, and he tells us he expects to lose.

That hardly makes a case to oust a judge with a background and resume' like Keasler's. If he won re-election, Keasler, 73, would reach the mandatory retirement age of 75 during the next six-year term; by law, he could serve only four years. Gov. Greg Abbott would appoint his replacement for the final two years on Texas' top appeals court for criminal cases.

He clearly has moved toward a more reasonable position, indicative of a judge who weighs the law more than ideology in reaching decisions.

In May 2012, for instance, Keasler shot down arguments from Abbott's AG office and wrote that death row inmate Hank Skinner should be allowed to have DNA evidence from the crime scene tested. "You really ought to be absolutely sure before you strap a person down and kill him," Keasler said.

I don't believe that Greg Abbott is capable of picking a qualified, dispassionate, unbiased jurist as Keasler has been -- by the DMN's account -- four years from now, and there's no Green in this race, so I'll be voting for the "indifferent Democrat" on the off chance that he can get lucky, overcome his own negativity, and that Hillary Clinton can find and reattach her downballot coattails.  (But if you're inclined to go Libertarian, Mark Bennett is IMHO a good enough choice.  He writes a great blog.)

Better luck securing candidates in two years, Democrats.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Spooky early voting updates

-- From Grits, from Monday afternoon (should have made it into the Wrangle), under the subheadline "The least-discussed vulnerable Republican on the ballot".

Grits does not expect Beto O'Rourke to win. But if he were to pull off the upset, many other dominos could fall in succession as a result, with at least three Republican senators, Texas' Attorney General, and potentially even the Lt. Governor at risk. Another race likely to flip if Dem turnout goes that high is Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Incumbent Sharon Keller won her primary with only 52% of the vote, and CCA races have consistently been among the lowest vote-getters over the years among Republican statewide officials. There is no Libertarian in the race, so the Democrat, Maria Jackson, should get all the anti-incumbent vote. If, on election night, the US Senate race at the top of the ticket is competitive, or heaven forbid, Beto pulls an upset, check down the ballot for this race; it may flip, too.

Statewide judicial contests are vital to tilting Texas away from one-party rule.  If you cannot vote for a Republican or a Democrat, these races are the only ones where I would endorse -- half-heartedly -- your voting for a Libertarian where there is one running.

I am long on record as being in full-throated support of all of the Democrats running for judge, from the top of your ballot to the bottom, in whatever county you may reside.  And two ballots from my household were cast that way on Monday morning.  With one exception: Harris County Probate Court #4.  The Chronicle op-ed board agrees with me; don't vote for the Democrat (I undervoted because I don't vote GOP no matter what).

-- A straight-ticket vote in Harris County leaves some races undervoted.  If that's your intention, fine.  Just be sure you check it carefully before you hit the red 'cast ballot' button on your e-Slate.

Voters are reporting odd problems on both the Republican and Democratic side of straight-party voting in Texas.

Mickey Blake was one of the voters in those early voting lines in Houston earlier this week.

"I hit straight Democratic ticket," Blake said.

She says she expected all Democrats to come up on her screen, especially Rep. Beto O'Rourke, but when she got to the last screen to review her choices, she noticed a problem.

"It's all Democratic except for Ted Cruz was checked," Blake said. So she backed up and did it again. And again. "I tried it a third time and the same thing happened," she said.

The same thing happened to Cordell Hosea in Fort Bend County.

"When I got to the end, I just so happened that I glanced at the screen, I saw Ted Cruz was selected as my senator," Hosea said.

He too voted straight ticket Democrat.

But hey, it's a bipartisan issue.  Voters 'on both sides', according to our Greg Abbott-appointed state elections administrator -- his name is Rolando Pablos, for Ted Oberg's information -- are to 'blame'.

But it's not just a Democrat problem. Voters who select straight-party Republican unselect Sen. Cruz and wind up voting for no one. Either way, officials say it's a rare issue that happens, but not to everyone.

It's popped up across Texas often enough for the Secretary of State to put up a statewide advisory on Monday to every Texas election advisor.

The Secretary of State calls it 'operator error.'

Nope.  Not in Fort Bend County, anyway. (bold is mine)

"We've heard from voters over a number of elections about this," said Ft. Bend County Election Administrator John Oldham.

Oldham says it's a problem he's seen for years.

He even told the Secretary of State about it years ago and it's still happening.

"It's not a glitch, it's a user-induced problem that comes from the type of system that we have," Oldham said. "I think both sides could be equally hurt."

It's unclear how widespread it is.

"As long as you don't hit the red button to cast, then you can get some assistance from the poll watchers," Hosea said.

Oldham tells us he recalls the problems for at least six years and says he's talked to the Secretary of State more than once about the problem. It has not been fixed aside from signs provided by the Secretary of State to warn voters to check their selections.

Oldham also said he was able to replicate the issue in his offices after multiple attempts.

"I'm really disappointed with the State of Texas," Hosea told us.

Sam Taylor, at the Texas Secretary of State's office, tells 13 Investigates the problem is "user error" and not something their office could fix. Taylor suggests a vendor could or should handle any upgrades, but the state has not asked vendors to do so.

Oldham and another election expert tell 13 Investigates that in some states, pop up screens warn straight ticket voters if they purposely or accidentally select a candidate of the other party. Texas has no such electronic warning.

Oldham in Fort Bend County told us it is most likely caused by voters simultaneously twisting the selection dial and pushing the enter button. It may not even be purposeful, but done by voters in a rush who don't realize they are still interacting with both.

That's why the SoS is calling it user error.  Expect some "Democrats too dumb to vote" comments from the #FakeBombs Republicans.

Brad Friedman is on it.  Stan Stanart is not.  Vote for Diane Trautman.

-- The TexTrib's last poll before the election is not good news for Team Donkey.

... but in TX07, everybody appears to be in a dead heat, according to the Upshot.

I believe LPF can pull this one out if EV stays strong next week.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The 2016 P-Slate

-- For President of the United States:

-- For US Congress, Seventh District:  None.

Jim "Frack You" Cargas is en route to a third consecutive beatdown at the hands of John Culberson.  Frack both of these rotten fellows.  This race is left blank, again, on my ballot.

-- For Texas Railroad Commission: Martina Salinas, Green Party.

Picking between the two major party candidates for this office is actually worse than choosing between Trump and Clinton.  So for all you straight-party voting morons out there on both sides, wise up and split your ticket.  The Libertarian has been praised, but Texas needs an environmental steward and not another corporate stooge on the board that regulates the oil and gas industry.

-- For Justice, Texas Supreme Court, Place 3: Rodolfo Rivera Munoz, Green Party.

Munoz seeks to become the first indigenous American elected to the state Supreme Court.  He elucidates the reasons he has for running in videos on his Facebook page.

-- For Justice, Texas Supreme Court, Place 5: Charles E. Waterbury, Green Party.

The Democrats have a strong candidate, but I won't be voting for her.

-- For Justice, Texas Supreme Court, Place 9: Jim Chisholm, Green Party.

The Republican incumbent is heavily favored, and the Democrat is a placeholder (no updates to her FB page since January).

-- For Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2: Adam King Blackwell Reposa, Green Party.

The Democrat is a former Republican who favors the death penalty to a greater degree than even the notorious chief justice of this court, Sharon Keller.  Pass.

-- For Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5: Judith Sanders-Castro, Green Party.

The Democrat is an embarrassment to the Democratic Party.  A complete and total embarrassment.

(Betsy) Johnson filed in the last hour of the last day to put her name in contention, the Texas Democratic Party confirmed.

State District Judge Sid Harle of Bexar County - who lost a bid for the GOP nod for the Place 5 seat - said he met Johnson after she was dropped from the appointment list for indigent defendants facing felony charges in 2011.

He said other criminal court judges pressed for the action. Since he was the presiding judge, she came to his office to dispute it.

"I hear this clomping outside my door, and she comes storming into my office in, of course, combat boots," said Harle. He said he advised Johnson to work as second chair without pay in a couple of trials to prove to the judges she could try a case, but she refused with an expletive.

Johnson, who is described as partial to unconventional attire such as the combat boots noted by Harle, couldn't be reached for this story. She didn't respond to an email inquiry, and there was no answer at the telephone number she has listed with the State Bar of Texas.

I've covered this previously.  If you vote for this person -- and especially if you're voting for her as a result of a mindless straight-party ticket -- then you're just as bad as she is.

-- For Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6: Robert Burns, Democratic Party.

Finally a statewide Democrat I can support.  Let's hope Hillary Clinton's coattails in Texas are long enough to get some balance on the CCA.

-- First Court of Appeals Democrats Jim Peacock and Barbara Gardner should be elected, as should be Fourteenth Court of Appeals Democrats Candace White and Peter Kelly.

The only Harris Democratic state district judge you should not vote for is running in the 215th, Elaine Palmer.  I'll cite her Republican challenger (but won't be voting for him myself).

-- Harris County District Attorney: Kim Ogg.

-- Harris County Attorney: Vince Ryan.

-- Harris County Sheriff: Ed Gonzalez.

-- Harris County Tax assessor/Collector: Ann Harris Bennett.

-- Harris County Commissioner, Place 1, Rodney Ellis, and Place 3, Jenifer Rene Pool.

-- Here's a great resource that lists all the Harris County candidates, all races and parties.  Among them, and if I could do so, I'd be voting for Joshua Darr (G) in CD-02 (Ted Poe, incumbent), Hal Ridley (Green, no Democrat running) against the odious Brian Babin in CD-36, Joe McElligott in HD-127 (G, no D running against R incumbent Dan Huberty) and Brian Harrison (G) in HD-147 (Garnet Coleman, incumbent).

-- I'll be voting Against on HISD Prop 1, aka recapture.

Here's the League of Women Voters' Guide, here's the HGLBT Caucus card (very useful for Harris judicial contests) and Deb Russell -- the Green Party's Travis County Sheriff candidate -- also has a progressive's voting guide posted at Facebook for the state capital region.

Questions about other races elsewhere in Texas?  Leave 'em in the comments.

Update: Two hours and twenty minutes on queue at Bayland Park to vote this afternoon.  A 'longest ever' record for me.  I voted there because the lines looked longer at Fiesta on South Main, where the longest I ever waited to vote before today was 45 minutes in 2008.  I believe anybody who might be waiting until Saturday or next week to vote early might be in for a longer wait.  IJS.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

More Good, Bad, and Ugly


-- Harris County bond proposals all passed with flying colors. In the midst of the caterwauling about being broke, it's heartening to know that some conservative voters understand the need for progress.

-- Barack Obama appears to have carried Harris County by two votes. Out of almost 1.2 million cast. There are still provisionals and a few mailed stragglers to be counted, so the outcome of which party controls elections in two years is still to be determined. We're split right down the middle here, folks.

I suppose somebody might choose to blame their losing on one of the two third parties.

-- Texas House Dems gained seven seats in the Lege, with Craig Eiland holding on to retain his Galveston-area seat. Gene Wu is the brightest star in that freshman class of 2013.

-- County Attorney Vince Ryan turned back Crazy Bob Talton 51.5-48.5. Maybe that stripper donation business cost him. Sheriff Adrian Garcia's race was closer (53-45) than it should have been, and not because of Remington Alessi (2%). Dr. Diane Trautman beat the Republican incumbent to claim a win for Harris County School Trustee.

-- Harris County Democratic incumbent judges Al Bennett, Larry Weiman, Kyle Carter, RK Sandhill, Michael Gomez, Jaclanel McFarland, Mike Engelhart, Robert Schaeffer, Alexandra Smoots-Hogan, Ruben Guerrero, David Mendoza, and Maria Jackson were all returned to the bench. Elaine Palmer, who defeated Judge Steven Kirkland in the May primary, also was elected.

D incumbents Josefina Rendon, Shawna Reagin, Randy Roll, Herb Ritchie, Erica Graham, and Damon Crenshaw and challengers Tracy Good, Donna Roth, Vivian King, and Mack McInnis all fell short.

All of these contests were decided by 3 percentage points or less, mostly on the strength of straight ticket voting. But the undervotes also played a large part in the demise of the Dems who lost. Apparently 60-70,000 voters who did not vote straight party didn't make it down the ballot to their races.

-- The two unopposed (by any Democrat) Greens on the statewide ballot, Josh Wendel running for TRC and Charles Waterbury for SCOTX, earned 10% in Harris County and 8% across Texas. Other Greens in downballot races performed to this level in statehouse races: David Courtney (SD-17, no Dem running) got 9%, Chris Christal (SD-26, against Dem incumbent Leticia Van De Putte) got 6%. Matthew Britt, the only candidate running against the odious Phil King in HD-61, gathered 11%. Herb Gonzales ran against a Dem incumbent in HD-124 and picked up 15%. Closer to home, Art Browning got nearly 10% as the sole challenger to Allen Fletcher. And Henry Cooper ran hard against Jessica Farrar, getting 14%.

These are foundational numbers for the Texas Green Party, and can be built upon in the future.

-- That said, the Libertarian Party of Texas approximately doubled the numbers of the Greens across the state. They have a better idea about how to secure continuous ballot access, running someone everywhere. They pose a greater long-term threat to Texas Republicans than do Texas Democrats, in my humble O.

(This last barely qualifies as good, in case you were wondering.)


As mentioned last night, Texas Democrats have at least ten points of ground to make up with the electorate statewide. Keith Hampton's 55-41 defeat to Sharon Keller is particularly bitter. The appeals court wins were concentrated in the San Antonio-based 4th district, and the winners had Latino surnames. The two Harris County CCA, First and Fourteenth, saw Democratic challengers like Nile Copeland and Barbara Gardner lose by 5 to 7 points (53-46). Justice is still red as a baboon's behind in the Lone Star State.

-- Jill Stein got three-tenths of one percent of the Texas electorate. Disappointing to say the least. Gary Johnson got almost four times as much and that's underperforming for him compared to the rest of the country. I'll have more to say about this in the coming days.

-- Ann Harris Bennett lost her race for tax assessor/collector by 2,400 votes out of over 1.1 million total. There were almost 49,000 undervotes in that tilt.


There's some, but I'll hold it until later.

Charles Kuffner's wrap from last night covered a lot of this ground, and South Texas Chisme excerpts the Brownsville Herald's executive summary graf.

More added to this post as responses and analysis trickle out today.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Texas Shorts

I couldn't stand reading the phrase "bloggers in their Cheeto-stained underwear" any longer. So I went out and bought some Cheetos.

-- Color me amazed and astounded: the Dallas Morning News endorsed Barbara Radnofsky for Texas Attorney General. Just read this:

Abbott, 52, has joined a legal brief supporting Arizona's fatally flawed immigration law. He has sued the Environmental Protection Agency for daring to expect Texas to abide by the same, much-needed clean-air rules that apply to all 50 states. He is trying to block federal regulation of greenhouse gases. And when the Obama administration made the necessary decision to temporarily halt deepwater offshore drilling, Abbott filed yet another legal challenge – rather than focusing his efforts on how another disaster could be averted off our shores.

Meanwhile, there's plenty of work that needs to be done in the Texas office of the attorney general.


(A)fter eight years of Abbott, Texas can go no farther down this path.

Democratic challenger Barbara Ann Radnofsky offers a viable alternative. She's a smart, hard-nosed attorney who rightly suggests that the incumbent has done a poor job of picking battles. ...

... Radnofsky earns our recommendation. She's well prepared for the job and would back off from battles the state can't win – and shouldn't be fighting. Voters should not give Abbott another four years to tilt at Washington's windmills.

-- More endorsements from all over for Jeff Weems: the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Amarillo Globe News, Texas Fred (that's right; he of the Rowlett Tea Party) and the Sierra Club. That's about as broad spectrum as endorsements get.

-- There will be a debate between Hector Uribe and Jerry Patterson, the Land Commissioner candidates, tomorrow in Austin.

-- What Kuffner said about Sharon Keller skating. I'm just too revolted to add any more vitriol to the last chapter in this sordid saga. Grits has a take as well.

-- Sci Guy Eric Berger and the Texas State Climatologist, on climate change:

You may have noticed a recent AP story (picked up by USA Today here) on my announcement that Texas temperatures were rising and that triple-digit temperatures would be the norm within a few decades, as the story put it. I'd like to provide a little context about the story itself and about future Texas climate.

First, here is some helpful context that I received by email from an anonymous email account, here quoted in full with a tiny bit of character substitution: "hey you pathetic lying scumbag everybody is laughing at you and the al gore scam. what a stupid poiece of scum you are. professer mt a**. try dumba** al gore a** kisser."

Maybe you'd like some different context? Good.

And it gets better and more 'sciencey' from there.

Berger writes the best blog at the Chron (no disrespect to Dwight or Kate or J.R., who are almost indispensable themselves). During the hurricane season just passed, I didn't look at teevee once for storm information. Just Eric's posts and Stormpulse.

-- Here is last week's Harris County Clerk candidates' debate, between Ann Harris Bennett, Stan Stanart, and Don Cook.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes everyone had a happy Election Day last week, and is already looking forward to the next one. Here are this week's highlights.

TXsharon continues to report from a backyard in the Barnett Shale. Despite all the local and national press on drilling related toxins, carcinogens and neurotoxins in our air, Aruba Petroleum Refuses a Simple Step to Improve Barnett Shale Air and thereby recklessly and willfully endangers public health and safety. Read it on Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.

refinish69 announces his endorsement for the Democratic nominee for Texas governor at Doing My Part For The Left. The progressive choice has to be Hank Gilbert with his policy issues and especially his strong stance on GLBT issues. Hank Gilbert for Texas Governor was the only choice refinish69 could make.

Justin at Asian American Action Fund Blog has a thorough take on the results of election day in Houston.

The Texas Cloverleaf provides an election night roundup of some of D-FW's races you never heard of, and some national ones you have.

If you dislike Rep. Dennis Kucinich as much as Mayor McSleaze, there's probably something right with you.

quizas of South Texas Chisme notes that Galveston medical facilities are among those not notifying about rules for the poor, while CouldBeTrue notes South Texas Democrats join Republicans in shafting poor women. Shame on them.

BossKitty at TruthHugger Let me "dis" the local Austin TV news media who gets around to breaking the health care reform bill news TWO and a half hours later. Hooray for the House, but Austin just lives in a bubble.

Over at BlueBloggin, nytexan takes a long look at another disgusting practice of our medical insurance industry: We Have One Twisted Health System, Living Organ Donors Beware. The organ donor's family is never charged for donating. The family is charged for the cost of all final efforts to save your life, and those costs are sometimes misinterpreted as costs related to organ donation. Surprise for organ donors: unexpected medical bills. An Austin man who gave a kidney to co-worker is one of many who have faced health complications and billing problems.

Bay Area Houston says Hispanics, the largest voting block in Texas, are not voting.

WhosPlayin learned of an illegal meeting of Lewisville ISD trustees this past Thursday and Friday, and has video of trustees mentioning this blogger when discussing whether to implement video recording of trustee meetings.

Vince at Capitol Annex takes a look at an interesting story about Judge Sharon Keller that was eclipsed by the tragedy at Fort Hood.

Off the Kuff has six questions for the runoffs in Houston.

Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman toes the ethical line with her active promotion of an assistant for her job, and the local media thinks that's just fine. Get the details in PDiddie's Brains and Eggs.

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw has news for John Cornyn and Pete Sessions about the Republican Resurgence. As she notes:
I wouldn't gloat too much, boys. Your job in Washington just got a lot harder. Meanwhile back here at home -- in case you boys forgot that Houston is the largest city in Texas -- three progressive Democrats and one Republican ran for mayor. The Republican dude and the old white guy with boatloads of bucks lost. The run-off race is between a gay woman and an African American male.

See the rest here: I have news for John Cornyn and Pete Sessions

WCNews at Eye On Williamson reports on the local toll authority's latest shenanigans: CTRMA to jack up tolls on 183-A, add automatic annual increases.

Neil at Texas Liberal bought Thanksgiving cards drawn by a young person with cancer who is being treated at Houston's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The design Neil bought is both bleak and hopeful.

There was much rejoicing this week at Texas Vox and among the environmental community at large when it was announced that Dr. Al Armendariz was named new Region 6 Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. A Texas EPA administrator that "embodies the "Principles for Environmental Leadership and Real Change"? You better believe it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Last Week's Wrangle

Coming a little later than usual here due to offline impositions previously mentioned. Here is this week's roundup of blog highlights.

From TXsharon at Bluedaze, EPA testing has now confirmed wells are contaminated with various substances connected with gas drilling--proof that hydraulic fracturing contaminates our drinking water. Even Motley Fool supports the FRAC Act and says industry is "crying wolf."

Should Texans care about NJ? The Texas Cloverleaf examines why the GOP thinks we should.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme says a 'Wise Latina' kicks Republican butt once again.

For a long time it has been universally agreed upon that people should engage in end-of-life planning, at least until right-wing pundits made such discussions a target of their battle against health care reform. Xanthippas at Three Wise Men takes aim at these critics, and the very real harm they do to people with their dishonest and partisan attacks.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson shows why everyone must call their House representatives and senators because It's time to treat America's health care emergency.

Off the Kuff spent the week following the Sharon Keller trial. He wasn't impressed by her defense.

Over at TexasKaos, jaxpagan gets us the scoop on Ted Poe's town hall meeting in a funeral parlor. Snark , with a wicked point!

At McBlogger, Harry Balczak takes a few moments to tell us what he thinks about Whole Foods and its 'health care for all' hating CEO.

Neil at Texas Liberal is back from a two-week vacation that took him to Chicago, Kenosha, Wisconsin, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Dayton, Ohio and northern Kentucky. This itinerary is consistent with a post he made earlier this summer encouraging folks to visit the industrial midwest. With vacation over, it's time now to think of school and swine flu. It sure would help if more working people had paid sick days to help manage getting sick themselves and having kids sick at home.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston has some questions to ask Congressman Pete Olson at his town hall mtg on Aug 29.

Some of the very worst of Texas was on full display last week, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs documented the atrocities.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is still appalled at the chaos and conflict demonstrated by a Bi-Polar America trying to decide Who is Worthy of a Healthy Life and Who is Not.