Showing posts sorted by relevance for query texan of year. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query texan of year. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Brainy Texans of the Year

I chose to carry on the tradition this year due to declining interest from the TPA.  Before I bestow the inglorious award, however, let's run up a few of the 'honorable mentions'.

-- Progress Texas released their Worst list earlier in the week, and Ted Cruz won the gold medal.  The Cuban Canuck Schmuck certainly made my top five, but really, how do you miss with any of Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, Ken Paxton, and Sid Miller?  And that's just the statewide electeds.

-- The Texas House could have been its own list, with state Rep. Cecil Bell atop Texas Monthly's Worst from the last Lege, followed closely by Sen. Donna Campbell, Rep. Harold Dutton, Sen. Joan Huffman, and Sen. Jane NelsonFormer fetus Jonathan Stickland has surged in the standings like the price of an Uber ride home on New Year's Eve, and not just because he wears an AR-15 as a lapel pin, but that he's been recently exposed as a stoner and an advocate for marital rape.

-- The Texas Congressional delegation and its chief idiot Louie Gohmert could have won this award based on lifetime achievement, but Lamar Smith, the House's leading climate denier, wouldn't be far behind, and those two made former All Star Assholes like Joe Barton, Blake Farenthold, and Pete Sessions, along with retiring Randy NoogieBoogie and Rookie of the Year Brian Babin look like amateurs.

-- Then there are the Texas Democrats, and they're no slouches when it comes to competition for the worst.  Just look again at the state House of Representatives, and the Dirty Thirty Democrats who voted to let Denton's fracking ban be overturned.  Or Senfronia Thompson, who was miffed that the Texas Automobile Dealers Association didn't get a meeting with Mr. Tesla, or my own state rep, Borris Miles, who earned a dishonorable mention from TM for drunk and disorderly conduct.

-- Or look back at Congress, with Blue Dogshits Henry Cuellar, Marc Veazey, up-and-comer Filemon Vela, and the petro-whore Gene Green, being challenged by Adrian Garcia, whose inability to clean up the Harris County jail during his time as sheriff is now a national disgrace and not just a local one.  Even Sheila Jackson-Lee kept doing what she does.  From TM's Bum Steers ...

(SJL) called Republican threats to sue the president over Obamacare a “veiled attempt at impeachment,” moralizing that the Democrats who controlled the House of Representatives during George W. Bush’s presidency had never stooped so low. Soon after, an online news source cited a 2008 resolution that Jackson had co-sponsored calling for Bush’s impeachment.

-- There was Chris Bell going rogue, lining up behind Bill King for H-Town mayor, and there was Nile Copeland turning red in hopes for a state district judgeship after running for the Court of Appeals as a Democrat four years ago and getting 46%.  This was the wrong year to change parties, fellows.

-- I could have easily selected Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith, whose defiant attitude in the wake of the death of Sandra Bland in his jail has added to the many fatal failures of law enforcement and criminal justice in 2015.  Smith also sat in a restaurant having lunch for two hours, oblivious to the stealing of an arsenal of weapons in broad daylight from his county vehicle.  That puts him easily in the top three for Texan of the Year.

-- Abel Reyna, the McLennan County district attorney overseeing the prosecutions of whatever crimes the various biker club members who assembled in Waco may have committed that resulted in their summary execution by law enforcement, may win next year's TOY.

-- But there were also a few bright lights that I shouldn't overlook: Sylvester Turner holding on to the mayor's office for Team Blue, Cecile Richards keeping up the fight against the hordes of anti-choice extremists in Texas.  Texan of the Year in years past hasn't been about who was the biggest jerk, after all.

-- And the winner has not always been relegated to an elected official: Wallace Hall, the odious UT regent who is still dug in like an Alabama tick (thanks for that, Jesse) and who was immortalized in cartoons by the Chron's Nick Anderson two years ago, gets points for longevity.  The loons who made sure the Operation Jade Helm 15 conspiracy made a laughing stock of the state have to be in my top five.  Kory Watkins of Open Carry Tarrant County, an even more radical offshoot of Open Carry Texas, issued death threats to legislators if the law allowing Texans to pretend it is 1885 all over again did not pass.  (It did, unsurprisingly.)

-- The ongoing saga of Rick Perry's felony indictments -- which now include the judge in the case's assassination attempt -- are worthy of some special recognition.

-- In the category of Extreme Irony, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson joined a NIMBY lawsuit to stop the construction of a water tower meant to fill trucks for fracking well sites.  His company was also found to have hidden the truth they knew about the dangers of climate change for almost forty years.

-- But I've buried the lede deep enough.  The come-from-behind winner of this year's Texan(s) of the Year are Ethan Couch and his mother Tonya, who made the holidays merry and bright for the victims of his affluenza.

Just imagine how privileged you have to feel to think that disguising yourself as Mexican in order to avoid arrest is a good idea.

Carrot Top Mom's going to jail, Sonny Boy is going to avoid it for some while longer.

Authorities in Texas said an arrest warrant was being issued for Tonya Couch on charges of hindering an apprehension, a third-degree felony that carries a sentence of two to 10 years in prison.


The ruling (to delay extradition) earlier Wednesday by the Mexican court gives a judge three days to decide whether the younger Couch has grounds to challenge his deportation based on arguments that kicking him out of the country would violate his rights.

Hunter said the legal maneuver basically takes the decision out of an immigration agent's hands and asks a higher authority to make the deportation decision. He said such cases can often take anywhere from two weeks to several months, depending on the priorities of the local courts.

"It also depends on the fact the Couches have legal counsel. And it seems to me, if they wanted to, they could pay them as much money as they want to drag this thing out," Hunter said. "We're hopeful that's not the case."

Couch and his attorneys apparently believe he's better off in a Mexican jail than an American one.  I sure hope they're wrong about that, too.

"Couch continues to make a mockery of the system," said Fort Worth attorney Bill Berenson, who represented Sergio Molina, who was paralyzed and suffered severe brain damage in the crash.

A very Unhappy New Year to Ethan and Tonya Couch.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

"It Gets Better": Texan of the Year

Our pick beats the living daylights out of the Dallas Morning News' choice, that's for sure.

The Texas Progressive Alliance on Wednesday named Fort Worth city councilman Joel Burns as its 2010 Texan of the Year.

Burns, who represents Fort Worth’s District 9, received international attention and acclaim in October of this year after delivering a speech at a Forth Worth city council meeting concerning suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered youth as part of Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign.

In his speech, Burns spoke eloquently and emotionally about his own experiences as a teen facing bullying in Crowley because of his sexual orientation. Burns’ speech, which became an internet sensation, resulted in interviews on CNN, NPR’s All Things Considered, an in-studio interview with the Today Show’s Matt Lauer, and an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

“Joel Burns’ speech did more to raise awareness of the difficulties LGBT youth in Texas face on a daily basis perhaps more than anything else this year,” said Vince Leibowitz, Chair of the Texas Progressive Alliance. “His courageous action in delivering this speech was worthy of recognition, and progressives everywhere should salute him,” Leibowitz continued.

TPA Vice Chair Charles Kuffner of Houston echoed these sentiments. “As progressives, we stand for equality for all people. It is rare that public officials have the courage to do what Joel Burns did,” he noted.

Burns, the first openly gay municipal elected official in Tarrant County, was first elected in 2007.

Burns joins past TPA Texans of the year including Houston Mayor Annise Parker (2009); the Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign (2008); the House Democratic Leadership Team of State Rep. Jim Dunnam, State Rep. Garnet Coleman, and State Rep. Pete Gallego (2007); and Carolyn Boyle and Texas Parent PAC (2006).

In addition to giving Burns its top honors, the Alliance also named Dr. Al Armendariz, Administrator for Region 6 of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Texas DREAMers as Honorable Mentions.

Armendariz was recognized for cracking down on polluters in Texas in spite of immense political pressure from state leaders and corporations. Armendariz issued the first Emergency Imminent and Substantial Endangerment Order against a natural gas operator in Parker County which caused high levels of methane in private water wells.

The Texas DREAMers -- students and activists involved in supporting the DREAM Act through peaceful protest and other means -- were recognized for their work in Texas which has included everything from organizing phone banks to call and persuade U.S. Senators, to staging sit-ins and demonstrations at the offices of U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. The group has even staged hunger strikes in support of its efforts.

The Texas Progressive Alliance is a coalition of more than 50 of Texas’ most prominent netroots activists, blogs, and bloggers united to help further the progressive movement in Texas. Founded in 2006, the TPA is the largest state-based coalition of netroots activists in the United States and was instrumental in bringing Netroots Nation to Texas in 2008.

Additional nominees for our annual award included Ana Yañez-Correa, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, and Texans Together/Houston Votes.

In a difficult year for Texas progressives, these individuals and organizations stood out for standing up to the onslaught of extreme conservatism the state of Texas and the nation weathered. They will no doubt continue to be under fire for expressing their views and championing their causes in the year ahead, and the TPA both salutes and stands with them.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The TPA's 2008 Texan of the Year

Congratulations to Gerry Birnberg and Bill Kelly and all of the candidates, campaigns, volunteers who made the victories possible:

Harris County Coordinated Campaign Takes Top Honors; TexBlog PAC, Texans For Obama, Late Jim Mattox Named "Gold Stars" For 2008

AUSTIN, TEXAS—The Texas Progressive Alliance Tuesday announced that the Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign had been named its "Texan of the Year" for 2008.

Also earning recognition from the Alliance were Texans for Obama, TexBlog PAC, and the late Jim Mattox, who were each named "Gold Star Texans" for 2008.

Winning 27 of 34 countywide races in Texas' most populous county didn't happen overnight, and the Harris County Democratic Party's Coordinated Campaign managed not only to win seats with quality candidates, but to increase Democratic voter turnout and revive the Democratic Party in Harris County.

"The Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign is a shining example of what is possible with the help and support of thousands of grassroots Democrats and a well-run party infrastructure," said Texas Progressive Alliance Chair Vince Leibowitz. "Every person who knocked on doors, made phone calls, and volunteered in Harris County should be very proud of what they accomplished in 2008," he continued.

The Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign is the Alliance's fourth recipient of its "Texan of the Year Award." The campaign joins former State Rep. Carter Casteel of New Braunfels, who won the award in 2005; Carolyn Boyle of Texas Parent PAC, who was feted in 2006; and the trio of state reps. Garnet Coleman, Jim Dunnam, and Pete Gallego who shared the honor in 2007.

The Texan of the Year Award is voted on annually by the members of the Texas Progressive Alliance, the largest state-level organization of bloggers, blogs, and netroots activists in the United States.

Here's a bit about the runners-up:

GOLD STAR TEXAN: Texans For Obama

Texans for Obama highlights what a group of activists and politicos can do when they work together. Texans for Obama never was formally part of the Obama campaign, but its size and influence made it a force in Texas politics. In 2007, before Senator Barack Obama had even announced he was running for office, Texans for Obama organized the largest rally in Texas political history with over 20,000 in attendance. Its leadership and numbers grew from Auditorium Shores. Once Senator Obama announced his candidacy, Texans for Obama became the Texas campaign. In a bizarre twist, they become the most interesting campaign in the nation after Super Tuesday and leading into the March 5 Democratic primary. With little early help from a national infrastructure, Texans for Obama talked to hundreds of thousands of Democrats in Texas and beyond. It educated Texas primary voters about the "Texas Two Step" or primacaucus system and even sparked a debate on the future of how the Democratic primary system will proceed. Novice political activists turned into seasoned political consultants overnight and a new generation of Democrats were born. This grassroots campaign's impact is still its infancy, but its potential is limited only by the imagination of everyday Texans.


TexBlog PAC is a group of seven members of the Texas Progressive Alliance that worked to help Democrats win back the Texas House in 2008. TexBlog PAC raised over $65,000 this year for Texas Democrats. Four of five endorsed PAC candidates went on to win their election, with each candidate receiving support in the online community as well as at least $6,000 each in contributions. The PAC also worked on a GOTV program in Travis County. Run entirely through volunteer efforts, TexBlog PAC made a simple yet strong contribution to Texas politics in 2008, and will only grow as the power of the netroots is realized across the state of Texas.

: Jim Mattox

Jim Mattox rose from a working class neighborhood in Dallas to the top of Texas politics, leaving an indelible mark on an entire era in state government and creating a legacy that continues to touch the lives of ordinary Texans every day. A luminary and a fighter, Jim Mattox was hailed in death as a man who, as "The People's Lawyer," helped shape Texas Government in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The son of a union sheet metal worker and a waitress, Mattox rose through the electoral ranks from the state legislature to Congress to the Attorney General's office, a post from which Mattox doggedly fought for the little guy. From taking on the airlines to the insurance industry on behalf of Texas consumers, his heart, always, was with the people. After unsuccessful runs for Texas Governor in 1990 and an attempt to regain the AG's post in the late 1990s, Mattox retired to a more private life, but continued to work for his party. Most recently, Mattox fought to change the complex and time consuming "primacaucus" system that plagued the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary in Texas, calling the system an embarrassment to the party. He spoke out on the issue about a week before his death in what would be his last public appearance. From taking on insurance companies to bringing a truckload of furniture to the Travis County Democratic Party Headquarters this summer after hearing the office was in need, Mattox was always helping the underdog.

Friday, December 07, 2007

2007 Texan of the Year: Silver Stars

Since 2005, the Texas Progressive Alliance has named a "Texan of the Year" to give recognition to a worthy Texan who has made a significant contribution to the world of politics or the progressive cause.

For our third annual TOY Award, the TPA elected to not only fete one Texan -- the one who contributed the most to the progressive movement in 2007 -- but also recognize others whose contributions were important to the progressive cause and worthy of recognition.

The Texan of the Year will be announced on December 14. Between now and then, the Alliance will release its list of Texans who made contributions we believe also worthwhile. This begins today with the announcement of the TPA's Silver Stars (and next Monday, four additional "Gold Stars" will be named, followed by the TOY on Friday).

Without further ado, here are the 2007 Texas Progressive Alliance Silver Stars (in alphabetical order):

Texas Ranger Brian Burzynski. It has been said that persistence is as much a virtue as is patience. Inasmuch as that is so, it is also true that persistence pays off. In the case of Texas Ranger Brian Burzynski, persistence also saved thousands of Texas children from a certain hell at the Texas Youth Commission. Beginning in 2005, Burzynski investigated allegations of sexual misconduct in Texas' juvenile prison system. He was rebuffed by state authorities, local prosecutors, and even the United States Department of Justice. In spite of these roadblocks, Burzynski continued to press his case -- investigating, making noise, not letting go, and never taking 'no' for an answer. The end result? He broke open one of the largest criminal justice scandals in Texas history and brought forward a flood of legislative reforms. For this and more, the Texas Progressive Alliance is pleased to confer upon Ranger Brian Burzynski a 2007 Texas Progressive Alliance Silver Star.

Hank Gilbert. Though Gilbert's race for agriculture commissioner ended last November, he also persisted. During his 2006 campaign Gilbert promised Texans that -- win or lose -- he would continue to fight against toll roads, mandatory animal ID legislation, and international corporations that threatened the citizens of Texas. Gilbert organized a Texas Independence Day march on Austin. Working with farmers, ranchers, Democratic activists, and disillusioned landowners, he brought nearly 1,000 people to testify against the Trans-Texas Corridor at a session of the Texas Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security the day before the march. Thousands more Texans showed up the next day to join the public protest. Gilbert has been instrumental in forming a statewide umbrella organization of anti-toll road groups to continue the battle against toll-enabling legislation. As a director for Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, he continues to travel the state and nation speaking out against the takeover of taxpayer-funded infrastructure by private interests. For this and more, the Texas Progressive Alliance proudly names Hank Gilbert recipient of a 2007 Texas Progressive Alliance Silver Star.

Congressman Ciro Rodriguez. In 2006, Rodriguez was the "comeback kid" of Texas politics, winning a seat in Congress after a runoff about the time the Texan of the Year for 2006 was announced. This year, Rodriguez took office as part of the first Democratic Congress in nearly a generation and has served his San Antonio-based district honorably. His race is considered one of national Republicans' top targets, although Rodriguez's constituent services and his support from Democratic leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi will no doubt help him retain the district.

Texas Bloggers who made a difference. For the first time Texas bloggers determined that some of their own were worthy of special recognition for their work during 2007: John Cobarruvias (Bay Area Houston Blog); Vince Leibowitz (Capitol Annex); Edmundo "Xicano Power" Rocha (XicanoPwr); and Sharon Wilson (TxSharon of BlueDaze). A note on each blogger:
John Cobarruvias almost single-handedly changed the way Texas legislators use and report their campaign/officeholder expenses. Because he held their feet to the fire with his "Spending Campaign Cash" series, organizing a group of volunteers to file complaints against offending legislators and urging media to report on spending abuses, legislators have cleaned up their acts. The Texas Ethics Commission has issued written reminders to legislators about the very problems with reporting expenses that Cobarruvias uncovered.

Vince Leibowitz. As the 80th Session of the Texas Legislature ended in turmoil -- with parliamentarians resigning, legislators walking out, and two stooges of Tom Craddick on the dais as officers of the Texas House, Leibowitz decided that the full story of those final days wasn't being told and started digging. Through public information requests, he uncovered a sheaf of documents from Craddick's office that helped piece together exactly what happened in those final hours. No mainstream media outlet did better reporting, and Leibowitz's work broke new ground and proved that Craddick's actions were the premeditated acts of a Speaker on the brink.

Edmundo Rocha. Blending heavy-handed social critiques, local and national politics, and a heaping dose of common sense in his blog, Rocha tackles heavy topics like immigration, teenage pregnancy, racial and gender politics and backs it up with a unique style and spirit. With a loyal and unwavering audience (his Texan of the Year nomination, in fact, was suggested in the comments of a blog by one of Edmundo's readers), Rocha has rapidly become one of the state's most prominent Latino bloggers. No issue is too tough and none taboo for this blogger.

Sharon Wilson. Most Texans don't know what the Texas Railroad Commission is or does. In 2007, one Texas blogger changed that. Wilson's reporting on the injection well drilling in the Barnett Shale region and its impact on the water quality and the environment in Wise County and surrounding areas has been invaluable in bringing wider attention to the dangers this practice poses across the state. Wilson has nearly single-handedly stood up to large oil companies and made the companies and state agencies -- including the Texas Railroad Commission -- take notice. Relentless in her drive to educate the public and elected officials to the damage being done to the Texas environment, Wilson's investigative reporting and blogging is worthy of greater recognition.

Texas Legislative Study Group. The policy clearinghouse for progressives, the Texas Legislative Study Group is full of unsung heroes. Helping legislators keep up with the more than 50 bills that come up each day in the Texas House, the TLSG and its policy analysts could be considered the most important behind-the-scenes players in the legislative process when it comes to safeguarding progressive principles. Legislators carry their reports around on the House floor like bibles. Their arguments against the appropriations bill, some versions of Jessica's Law, and the Castle Doctrine were masterful. Also worthy of recognition is that the brilliant minds behind the work of the TLSG aren't aged policy veterans, but rather among the best minds of more recent generations, "Generation X" in particular. The men and women who toil at the TLSG are indeed those who will shape Texas public policy for generations to come.

TexBlog PAC
. Started by just a handful of Texas progressive bloggers, TexBlog PAC has harnessed the energy of the online community. In a state with one of the largest netroots communities in America -- and the most vibrant progressive blogosphere, TexBlog PAC is poised to build on victories bloggers helped happen in 2004 and 2006. Having already raised over $10,000 in its initial months, the PAC will play a key role for Democrats as they take back the House in 2008.

David Van Os. Following his defeat in the 2006 Attorney General's race, Van Os made good on his promise to "keep fighting 'em on the ice." From aiding groups like TURF in their battle against the private takeover of government infrastructure, to helping workers who were intimidated when nooses started showing up in their workplace (securing the removal of both the noose and the supervisor), Van Os never stopped fighting for working Texans. In addition, from musicians to probation officers to non-profit employees, Van Os has continued his life's work on behalf of the union laborers of Texas.

State representative Mike Villarreal
. In 2003, many were ready to write Villarreal's political obituary. Fast forward to 2007, and Villarreal has become one of the progressive leaders in the Texas House. Authoring legislation that would have created contribution limits for political candidates and an independent redistricting commission, Villarreal took a lead with these progressive issues. In addition, Villarreal led on GLBT rights by authoring HB 900, which would have provided protections from discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression for the GLBT community. These efforts, coupled with the compromise he sought to proffer when Republicans tried to take over the House and suspend the constitutional provision concerning the consideration of legislation early in the session, make Villarreal worthy of recognition.

Join us in expressing your thanks and congratulations to the Silver Stars of the Texas Progressive Alliance.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wendy Davis is TPA's 'Texan of the Year'

Big surprise, eh?

The Texas Progressive Alliance, the nation's largest state-based association of online and netroots activists, today named State Senator Wendy Davis recipient of its Texan of the Year Award for 2013.

"Senator Davis' actions this year made her a clear choice. Our vote was unanimous," said Vince Leibowitz, Chair of the Alliance. Leibowitz said Senator Davis' June filibuster of Senate Bill 5 on behalf of Texas women and the preservation of reproductive rights was a courageous action that served to galvanize and energize Texas Democrats. "Senator Davis' courage to stand up and block this outrageous legislation helped raise awareness in Texas of the assault on a woman's right to choose that our legislature has waged for the last decade, as well as the extraordinary measures right-wing Republicans in Texas will take both to trample the rights of women and their own colleagues in government," Leibowitz continued.

Not only did Davis' actions draw national attention to Texas, but her filibuster and subsequent campaign for Texas Governor have galvanized Texas Democrats. "We have not seen this kind of excitement for a non-presidential election in Texas in many years. We see Democrats are energized, organized, and ready to take back our state for the people. To a great extend, we have Senator Davis and her courageous actions to thank for this; she served as a unifying figure for our party to rally around, and her actions will both strenghthen the party in the long run and serve to expand our base," said Charles Kuffner, Vice Chair of the Alliance.

Previous Texan of the Year recipients are: Carolyn Boyle of Texas Parent PAC (2006); Texas House Democratic Leaders State Reps. Jim Dunnam, Garnet F. Coleman, and Pete Gallego (2007); the Harris County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign (2008); Houston Mayor Annise Parker (2009); Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns (2010); and the protesters of the Tar Sands Blockade (2012). There was no award given in 2011.

We also had to briefly consider a non-Texan named Cruz, who got somewhat more than 15 minutes' worth of fame out of reading Green Eggs and Ham during a filibuster of his own... but humbly chose to give all the glory to God President Obama instead.

So Ted's the biggest loser.  Again.

Honorable mentions for Texan of the Year have to include Leticia Van de Putte for her own significant role in Davis' filibuster; Sarah Slamen, aka @VictorianPrude, who burst on the national scene just prior to LVDP and Davis doing so; Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood; Annise Parker (as previously mentioned, the TOY winner in 2009); and Beyonce' (yes, Beyonce').

There's a clear trend with these selections, just in case you're not seeing it -- in which case, and to paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, you might be a Republican.  I saw a great button the other day, and it said: "Women brought every single politician into this world... and they can take them out."

Here comes the future.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Git along, little bloggies

Time for this week's edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance weekly blog round-up, wrangled as always by Vince from Capitol Annex.

As a special note, the TPA is preparing to announce the 2007 Texan of the Year. This year's process will be a little different than in years past: we have a full slate of Texas Silver Stars (Honorable Mentions), four runners-up (Texas Gold Stars) and of course a Texan of the Year. We'll begin by announcing the Texas Silver Stars on Friday, December 7. Then each day from December 10 through December 13 we'll announce a Gold Star, followed by the Texan of the Year on Friday, December 14. So be sure to check your favorite TPA blog starting this Friday to see the picks for Texans of the Year!

What happens when it rains and containers holding lethal chemicals overflow into creek beds? See How Are Injection Well and Gas Coupling Inspections Alike? for another example of RRC negligence that puts Texans at risk, brought to you by TXsharon at Bluedaze.

Refinish69 from Doing My Part For The Left shares his memories of a loved one lost to AIDS in his World AIDS Day diary and podcast.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News observes the devolving of Texas Education.

Jaye at Winding Road asks "What if abortion is outlawed in a Republican administration?"

Xanthippas at Three Wise Men informs you that when it's the National Football League versus Big Cable, the only loser is you.

Vince at Capitol Annex takes a look at the interim charges for committees of the Texas House in the 80th Legislature in three posts, as well as Tom Craddick's views on the charges.

The Texas GOP is gearing up a sophisticated voter suppression effort for the 2008 elections. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs forwards the Lone Star Project's comprehensive report.

The Texas Cloverleaf tells us that TxDOT can no longer plead poverty! It just received a Christmas gift of $3.197 Billion from NTTA for the rights to build the SH-121 toll road.

Hal at Half Empty reports that the Republican Party of Fort Bend County has taken a radical shift to the right as neoconservative evangelicals have taken over their leadership.

Lightseeker at Texas Kaos looks at the mess Texas Education Agency has become with TEA: We must remain neutral on junk science theory. This should be enough to make parents either vote or move to get their kids out of the Texas school system.

Matt Glazer at Burnt Orange Report talks about the Texas Internet Revolution and the good publicity TexBlog PAC has been getting recently.

Stunned about the tuition increases at UT Law? So was Closet Purist at McBlogger who takes a detailed look at how UT law compares to Harvard and Yale and asks, what do you get for the money?

You may have heard the right-wing echo chamber saying that the surge is working in Iraq, or that things are going better now. Texas Toad at North Texas Liberal gives us the real deal in "Some Perspective on the Surge."

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes that federal rules allow ferry
security guards to sleep on the job
. Republicans say they care about security, but prove they don't.

Off the Kuff exercises his privilege as a blogger to nitpick an article about the rise of the netroots in Texas.

Eye On Williamson takes a look at the retirement of his statehouse representative in Why We Won't Have Mike Krusee To Kick Around Anymore.

Friday, December 14, 2007

2007 Texan(s) of the Year


The Texas Progressive Alliance is proud to announce the Texas House leadership team of state representatives Jim Dunnam, Garnet Coleman, and Pete Gallego as our 2007 recipients of the Texan of the Year award.

There may not be three individuals who have done more for Democrats in the state of Texas over the past four years than Dunnam, Coleman, and Gallego. Together in 2007, they led the way for the resurgence of the Texas Democratic Party. They were on the front lines battling Speaker Craddick in the final days of the session, and are now poised to add to the Democratic gains in the House as they continue their roles as co-chairs of the House Democratic Campaign Committee.

Their work together is imperative to the continued progress of Democrats in Texas, but it's their individual efforts that really demonstrate how this leadership team brings out the best in one another for the good of all Texans. Here's a brief highlight of what each of these leaders did over the past year:

Jim Dunnam

Where Democrats had a mere 62 members in the House in 2003, today there are 70, including Kirk England, who announced his intention to switch parties and run as a Democrat in the next cycle. And with the extra troops there was mustered a full frontal assault on Craddick's corrupt leadership, launched by a single question from the Waco Democrat: "Mr. Speaker, what is the process of removing the Speaker of the Texas House?" His mastery of the House rules was incredible to watch.

During the 80th legislative session, Dunnam led efforts to clean up the mess Rick Perry and the Republican leadership made at the Texas Youth Commission. He worked with Coleman and Gallego to lead the fight against expanding tax cuts for the richest 10% of Texans at the expense of health care and education. He passed numerous bills for his district but will forever be remembered for the efforts he made on the House floor, challenging the absolute power of Speaker Craddick.

Garnet Coleman

Coleman is one of the most progressive members of the Texas House. He filed over sixty pieces of legislation, including ending tuition deregulation, overturning the ban on gay marriage, and preventing the construction of new toll roads anywhere in the state of Texas. But beyond those strong policy positions, he successfully passed legislation to expand health care opportunities for former foster children and double the funding for cancer research. He continued his fight to fully restore CHIP -- an effort he's worked for ever since Craddick and his allies kicked hundreds of thousands of kids off their state-sponsored health care beginning in 2003.

Beyond his legislative work, Coleman is the top fundraiser for Texas Democrats and is well-known for his non-stop efforts in supporting House Democrats across the state. He chairs the Legislative Study Group, which received a Silver Star award from the TPA for its policy work.

Pete Gallego

Gallego is the chair of of the largest bipartisan legislative caucus in the Texas House, the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus. He also sits on the national board of NALEO. He was a top lieutenant for Speaker Pete Laney, and his work from that better time allows him to remain one of the most trusted members of the Texas House.

His policy issues are far-reaching and range from helping protect our state's natural resources to preventing those horrid voter ID bills behind the scenes. Gallego also tempered some of the more controversial issues of the session, including immigration and security. He often makes waves quietly inside the Capitol, but his efforts help thousands of Texans from all walks of life.

Together, Representatives Gallego, Dunnam, and Coleman are extremely deserving of our 2007 Texan of the Year award.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Best-of-2007 Wrangle

Last year was a seminal one for the blogosphere, nationally as well as locally.

In recognition of the excellent work done by the Texas Progressive Alliance and its many member blogs and bloggers, here's a special New Year's edition of the TPA round-up.

Eye on Williamson has been one of the state's leading blogs when it comes to covering toll road issues and state representative Mike Krusee's career. EOW's top posts of 2007 included The "New Way Forward" On Tolls, the coming demise of Krusee in Krusee's Influence And Credibility Are Gone, Time For HD-52 To Start Over and a post on the ongoing battle between the citizens and the county government over a new landfill contract, The Landill, TCEQ Hearing & More Gattis Shenanigans .

The most popular posts from The Texas Blue included coverage of the 2008 Senate race. We kicked everything off with one of our inaugural pieces analyzing Cornyn's potential vulnerability in '08, in a piece picked up by the Washington Post. We then broke the code on Kos' "mystery candidate," revealing that it was Rep. Rick Noriega that Kos had in mind with his draft movement, and interviewed the representative shortly before he declared his official candidacy. And we published some of the first information examining Mikal Watts' candidacy in what became the most read story on the Blue this year; in what was also one of our most-read pieces, we analyzed the role of money in statewide Texas campaigns, looking at the efforts taken by the statewide campaign of David Van Os to illustrate the need for money in politics, the proper role of a nascent state party organization, and the limits on the effectiveness of a political message that come from the inability to spread that message due to the lack of funds. That article led to a dialog with David Van Os, and to an interview with him shortly afterward where he voices his side of the issue. And finally our "Who's Blue" audio interview series also included a number of other fascinating figures in Democratic politics, both statewide and across the nation. Some of the more notable interviews have been with four-star general and 2004 presidential candidate Wesley Clark, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, and current presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

    John Coby of Bay Area Houston documented what a team of anonymous citizens have researched to expose the Texas Ethics Commission as incompetent in the series Spending Campaign Cash. Their work uncovered $3 million in undisclosed expenditures by Texas legislators. KHOU-TV featured their work in late December with their report Activist: State's campaign finance oversight out-of-focus.

    Easter Lemming Liberal News's topics covered this past year include Pasadena politics, the Joe Horn shooting and our national So-Called-Liberal-Media.

    News items covered by TXsharon on Bluedaze: An attempt to shame a Texas Granny who received the Peacemaker of the year award. The depletion of and pollution of our water due to the irresponsible and shocking use by the oil and gas industry including an explanation of Groundwater Conservation Districts and how they can help that was published in two Texas newspapers, and the attempt by oil and gas to sabotage the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. The failure of the Texas Railroad Commission to protect Texans. The protection money breakdown paid to Texas Railroad Commissioners by the oil and gas industry.

    WhosPlayin's favorite posts of 2007 were all about ideas: Universal Health Care - You're Soaking In It which explains that we're already paying for universal health care. Why Democrats Oppose "Voter ID" Bills was an explanation for our conservative friends. Lastly, Fiscal Conservatism with a Broader View.

    Hal at Half Empty hemmed and hawed. How to decide which three of this year's postings merited special recognition? Then it dawned on him to mention the posts about three singular events that he attended and took photos. Priceless! In reverse chronological order: The Fort Bend Democrats Have a Booth at the Fair. Then a summer fundraiser featuring TDP Chairman Boyd Richie. And last February the Fort Bend Democrats held a love fest for Rick and Melissa Noriega.

    Off the Kuff submits his top posts of 2007: David Dewhurst and Voter ID. Property Tax Cuts Uber Alles, the mantra of the 80th Lege, and Drafting Rick Noriega for Senate.

    BlueBloggin', another new blog to the TPA in 2007, submitted these: nytexan wrote on The Christian March Against America; BossKitty has a poignant OpEd: All Answers Are Selfish And Shallow; and nytexan discusses how Mexico Get Texas Land Through Border Fence.

    Doing My Part For The Left took a look back and is still disgusted with Hypocrites, Toe Tapping Senators, and Knee Pad Presidents. And who can forget Ann Coulter proving what a witch (usually spelled with a capital B) she is. Refinish69 also looked at Gay Pride and World AIDS Day again to explain some history about himself and the continuing need for Gay Voters to speak out.

    One of Grand Moff Texan's too-rare diaries is always a special delight for us at Texas Kaos. But a standout piece inspired by the ignorance of the beltway punditry really broke down Why We Blog, Or Broderism in my Rear-View Mirror. Read it, and be inspired as we kick off the 2008 election cycle. As the wilder-than-usual Texas Legislative session came to a close, Boadicea highlighted a few items of interest in Personal Courage, Political Vendettas, and an Unexpected Outbreak of Spine. With his usual sharp eye and incisive writing, Krazypuppy noted the REAL importance of the Larry Craig scandal in Why Another GOP Sex Scandal Matters--It's Not the Queers, Either.

    It was a wild year at McBlogger. We've heard about 39%'s trip to meet the Bilderburgers. We've also had exclusive one-on-one interviews with the Democratic candidates. We also took time to call out some of our friends to be quiet. Because they're being a pain in the ass. This year McBlogger turned two and like all two-year-olds you can expect tantrums mixed with an even larger dose of mischief. Like all children, you'll want to kill us but won't be able to because killing kids is wrong (so very, very wrong). You'll also find us precocious and irresistibly cute.

    We at The North Texas Liberal had some trouble deciding on which posts were our absolute favorites, but we decided on a few that seemed worthy of mention a second time. First, a series on Shaquanda Cotton, a fifteen-year-old African-American girl from Paris, Texas. She was sentenced to up to seven years at the TYC for pushing a hall monitor at her school (the same judge gave a white girl probation for burning down the family home). Our coverage of Shaquanda got the attention of someone at the Lamar County DA's office, who used some recycled talking points to trash Cotton and her mother. Despite that, after the mainstream media broke Cotton's story, she became a candidate for early release. By March it was official that she would be released from the TYC, and in April we showed a video of her reunion with her mother. (Cotton has returned to school and wants to study to become a lawyer so she can fight future injustices.) We continued our global warming coverage with our Planet Purgatory series, parts One and Two. In May, we heard that the global warming tipping point could be in only ten years' time. NASA scientist James Hansen, a tireless environment advocate who testified about global warming before the Congress back in the 1980s, explains the tipping point theory as the point of no return. But he also believes in prevention rather than adaptation. Lastly, we gave Sen. John Cornyn the credit he deserved when he finally stood on the right side of an issue. Despite a year of flops and fabrications, he said he would support seasonal workers through the H2-B visa program. But despite the efforts of Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the fix wasn't finalized before Congress adjourned for the winter holidays, leaving thousands of small business owners out of luck this holiday season. When we spoke face-to-face with a legislative expert at Cornyn's DC office, we were told that the Texas senator would like to see comprehensive immigration reform and wouldn't lobby for the H2-B visas, though he supported seasonal workers, because he didn't want a piecemeal fix for the problem. So even though he stood with his constituents on the right side of the issue, in the end he let us down again.

    Edmundo Rocha of Para Justicia y Libertad wrote about two protests against the prison industrial complex used here in Texas to detain undocumented immigrants -- the Houston
    Processing Center
    and the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor. Prior to those postings, he reported on the suicide of David Ritcheson of Spring, the Latino teen who was brutally beaten, tortured, and sodomized with a plastic pole by two white racist teenagers, David Henry Tuck and Keith Robert Turner.

    Marc G. of Marc's Miscellany analyzed Tom Craddick's preposterous claim that the speaker of the house can only be removed by impeachment. Marc also discussed Gov. Perry's controversial decision to veto the health insurance appropriation for community college employees.

    Israel Behar-Ojalvo, PDiddie's father-in-law, passed away in March and Brains and Eggs had a post with photos in tribute. The Texas Youth Commission remains the worst scandal in Texas history, and that was apparent in April of last year. And in the matter of a few hours just before Labor Day, Alberto Gonzales, Phil Garner, and Tim Purpura all lost their jobs. Good riddance to a big bunch of losers. More like this in 2008, please.

    2007 was a heck of a year for Capitol Annex. Vince Leibowitz at Capitol Annex is most proud of his ground-breaking coverage of the saga surrounding the insurgency in the Texas House and Speaker Craddick's power grab, including Terry Keel's Troubling Memo (a smoking gun, for sure), and the saga surrounding the resignation of parliamentarian Denise Davis, which earned him a mention in (among other publications), Texas Lawyer. Coverage of the 80th Legislature was also a major event for Capitol Annex, including a mind-numbing Liveblogging of debate on the General Appropriations Act, and a special video: Jodie Laubenberg Is Screaming.

    It has been another exciting year at DosCentavos. I wrote about my expectations for the 2007 Lege Session. Beyond La Politica, we also know DosCentavos enjoys writing reviews on the latest releases in the Tejano and Mexican American music genre. This year, he received the honor of being asked by Los Lobos to rate their most recent release, The Town and The City. Finally, during the last Lege session, some Senators attempted to take up the debate on legalizing gambling to pay for education. DC tells us a few realities about higher education funding in the process.

    Musings started the year concerned about science education in Texas (see: Warren Chisum, R-Dark Ages) and ended the year with some commentary about her friend, Chris Comer, who was fired as Director of Science at the Texas Education Agency over her stand on evolution. In between it was all about Melissa and Rick Noriega.

    CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes a church in El Paso falls victim to manipulation by a right wing cadre bent on world domination. CouldBeTrue then wonders what would have happened in a perfect Republican world when the Minnesota bridge collapsed. South Texas Chisme covers the wedge'em and hate'em campaign, also known as the Republican immigration strategy. Hispanics have taken note.

    The series The Texas Cloverleaf is most proud of since forming in the summer of 2007 was the continued exposure of the outright lies and misleading statements coming from the pro-toll road crowd in Dallas during the Trinity Vote effort. Even though the referendum failed, we feel we did our part to help Dallas voters make an informed decision. Read the series here, here, here, here and here.

    Best wishes for a happy 2008 from all the blogs and bloggers of the Texas Progressive Alliance.

    Monday, December 29, 2008

    End-of-2008 Wrangle

    Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind ... and if you remember the rest of the song, you're doing one better than we are. At any rate, it is the last Monday of the year and that means it is time for the Texas Progressive Alliance's End-Of-Year Round-Up for 2008.

    This was a hell of a year for Texas progressives. The presidential primary came to Texas (for real); we caucused, conventioned, challenged, credentialed, voted, elected, counted and re-counted; we brought Netroots Nation to Texas, watched Tom Craddick fight for his life, said farewell to legends, got a head start on the race to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison and more. A lot more.

    It is in that spirit that we bring you the final round-up of 2008, with most contributors offering their five best posts of the year by participating blogs. Enjoy.

    (Coming shortly: the 2008 Texan of the Year.)

    jobsanger has posted on a variety of subjects, including the popularity of George Bush in 11% Of Americans Are IDIOTS, the Ku Klux Klan in The Klan Is Still Stupid, a plan to steal water from the Panhandle in The Coming Rape Of The Ogallala Aquifer, the fall of a county sheriff in Potter County Sheriff Indicted On Felony Charges and Potter County Sheriff Convicted, and the 2010 governor's race in Who's The Dem In 2010 Governor Race?

    John Coby at Bay Area Houston blogged issues concerning Bob Perry's home building industry, the Texas Ethics Commission, insurance deregulation, electricity deregulation, as well as some humorous posts. One of his favorite series is Spending Campaign Cash, which has resulted in a number of stories in the corporate media and contributed to a bill to be filed by state representative Senfronia Thompson.

    South Texas Chisme covered entertaining South Texas stories, from the original DA Hissy Fit to his poor imitation, various ethics problems including a few felonies to helping Republicans recover and Democrats to prosper. And we never forget about that Republican monument to racism and fear otherwise known as that d*mn fence!

    As he approaches his seventh anniversary as a blogger, Off the Kuff decided to look forward rather than back on the year. My thanks to my TPA colleagues for all they do, and my best wishes to all for a great 2009.

    The Texas Cloverleaf looks back on 2008 as its first full year on the blog scene comes to a close. The DNC got things started by picking the Jewish-named donkey over the black one for its mascot, in what would become the ultimate irony of the political season. Adding to the ironies, cash-strapped TxDOT gave away $20 million for a Dallas park. We were introduced to GOP family values: 16 US Senators, including our own from Texas, voted against funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, leading to more deaths, and the Palin clan popped out more replacements as part of God's will. Don't forget to carve the backwards B on your face for posterity. 2008 was a whirlwind and couldn't have been more dramatic. Here's to a 2009 with the same kind of flair!

    Neil at Texas Liberal wishes everyone good luck in the New Year. Here is his post on controversy regarding what may or may not be the world's largest potato.

    Compelling circumstances have limited Refinish69's access to his own blog, Doing My Part For the Left. He's nonetheless written a compelling series hosted on various national and local blogs that shares what it is to be homeless in Austin. Homeless in Austin-An Insider's View is a four-part series so far and Refinish69 wants to thank all those who've helped him get this story more attention. Part 1 at Momocrats. Parts 2, 3, and 4 at Texas Kaos.

    Texas Kaos front-pagers have covered a wide variety of issues both national and Texan. Krazypuppy wrote a cautionary tale of how far Republican hubris can go in All Southerner's Should Know Don Siegelman's False Imprisonment Story". Refinish69 shared one man's story of unexpected impact of the historic Democratic extended primary in A Trip to the Gas Station: No it's not a Curious George book. Lightseeker reported on the convention for SD-15 and the contrast between previous years. He also gave great pointers on political discourse with the neighbors. SCCS did a series on the congressional races all over Texas, and was our correspondent in the Big Tent at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Txsharon's contributions keeping us abreast of what Big Dirty Oil and Gas are up to are so valuable it's hard to pick only a few, but proving that a picture is worth a thousand words, Barnett Shale Sludge Pond Pictures is a must see (and read).

    BossKitty at TruthHugger sees no other options ... Retirement or Exile, Show Bush The Exit.

    At Eye On Williamson the election took up much of our time on the blog. From candidate filings, to the massive turnout for the Williamson County Democratic Party primary and convention, all the way through to electing the first Democratic state representative in Williamson County since 1992 -- Diana Maldonado. There were still the same local issues popping up like road projects that are bad deals for the taxpayers, the county landfill, and the T. Don Hutto family prison in Taylor.

    It's been a year of excitement at McBlogger. We've looked deeply at medical tourism and James Dobson's fear of homos. We've also occasionally talked about the meltdown in the financial sector. And Mr. The Plumber.

    WhosPlayin shared his experience working the Democratic Primary and then the Denton County Democratic Convention back in March. In May, the Earth opened up and swallowed part of Daisetta, TX. In September he suggested how a financial industry bailout could work and be transparent. Over the Christmas holiday, he rolled out a new Congressional Campaign Finance research website.

    Over at Capitol Annex, Vince Leibowitz had a difficult time trying to select his favorites out of 2,470 posts published (so far) during 2008, but finally settled on a few. After a long prima-caucus season and hair-raising state convention, he posted some Random Thoughts on the 2008 TDP Convention. As the election cycle went on, he pondered why anyone would want to re-elect state rep. John Davis (R-Clear Lake), and told the world about a racist mailer that had been sent out against state rep. Allen Vaught. After the election season, he memorialized "The People's Lawyer," Jim Mattox, and noted that Tom DeLay's wife was trying to quash a subpoena in a civil lawsuit related to the now-defunct Americans for a Republican Majority.

    Mean Rachel started off 2008 with An Open Letter to Who She Was in 2007, and proceeded to write open letters to just about everyone, including Mark Strama and Elliot Elliott Naishtat. She met Barack Obama, got Obama license plates, and subsequently had her tires slashed because of them. She also wrote for the Texas Observer in Denver and daydreamed about Republican pornography. Finally, in June Mean Rachel asked for serenity now, and wondered if Americans would ever have the wisdom to change. By November, she had her answer.

    Thursday, December 31, 2009

    Annise Parker is TPA's "Texan of the Year"

    With the election of Annise Parker as mayor of Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States signaled that they pay more attention to qualifications than to sexual orientation.  This news reverberated around the globe and brought positive attention to the city of Houston and the state of Texas. National Democratic groups took note of a more progressive Houston than they assumed, and the talk and speculation turned to the possibilities of Texas turning blue sooner rather than later.

    The Parker win was no accident. She put together a talented campaign team that ran on the strength of the grassroots rather than City Hall insiders. Key Houston-area progressive bloggers aligned themselves with Parker and were embraced by the campaign. Blogs became an effective messaging strategy, emphasizing Parker’s qualifications and her opponent’s weaknesses.

    In the runoff, several third parties -- including one longtime right-wing operative who endorsed Parker's opponent -- launched a series of homophobic attacks against her, but they failed to do her any serious damage because voters recognized her distinguished service as a member of Council and City Controller and valued her experience and financial acumen.

    Voters knew who she was and what she was about because she had always been open and honest about it, and that was more important than anything some agitator could say.

    For her historic victory, for making the rest of the world re-evaluate its opinion of Texas, and for running a truly modern grassroots campaign, the Texas Progressive Alliance is proud to name Houston's Mayor-Elect Annise Parker its Texan of the Year for 2009.

    “Gold Star Texans” for 2009

    Ramey Ko: Ko is an attorney and activist in Austin. He should be best known for his work in Asian Americans for Obama, but Republican stupidity assured us he will be best known as "the guy who held his cool while on the receiving end of a massive dose of both ignorance and racism from Betty Brown." With extreme professionalism, he tried to help Brown understand why it would behoove her that voting rights for Asian Texans (and all Texans) not fall prey to bureaucratic errors creating name mismatches. Brown's ignorance/racism and Ko's cool reasonableness drew worldwide media attention. Watch the video of their exchange:

    Calvin Tillman: Tillman is mayor of a tiny town at the epicenter of the Barnett Shale. Several industry giants seized DISH land and installed a several huge compressor stations and processing plants right next to neighborhoods. They built a crisscross of pipelines all through the town and on private property. He has taken a hard line with industry, crafting a strategy to get the most bang for his press releases.

    Tillman and the DISH City Council spent 10% of their yearly budget for a private ambient air study. This is the first such study where the results were made public so that all citizens in the Barnett Shale area might benefit. The levels of toxins were amazingly high, and many DISH residents are seriously ill, but they are poor and do not have health insurance. Tillman worked with TDSHS and finally got them to agree to test DISH residents. This is the first time a state agency has tested residents for drilling toxins. Tillman travels to other areas and speaks about these issues. He has offered to speak and assist others and refuses any compensation for travel or time.

    Tillman is largely responsible for TCEQ's revised policy in response to Barnett Shale air emissions. He is also a blogger.

    State Rep. Elliott Naishtat and his Capitol staff: While he may not be a native Texan, the work that Naishtat has done for the state of Texas earns him a spot on the Texans of the Year List for 2009. Even with voter ID legislation putting a choke-hold on progress, Naishtat and his Capitol staff worked diligently to pass more legislation than any other member of the House during the 81st session.  The Representative from Queens, who just completed his 10th session, has consistently proven himself to be an advocate for the sick and elderly, passing legislation that will create the Legislative Committee on Aging and ensuring Texas receives $15.2 million in Violence Against Women Act grants.  We would be remiss in acknowledging Elliott Naishtat -- as he is always quick to remind people -- without also recognizing his longtime staffers (Dorothy Browne, Nancy Walker and Judy Dale) who work tirelessly behind the scenes to help make Texas a better, safer place to live.

    Texas Watchdog: Texas Watchdog ( had a role in breaking stories in the just-completed Houston city elections. Though their work can at times be controversial, we welcome another online news organization to the Texas media landscape with our nomination of the group.

    Hank Gilbert: For his continuing work to defeat infrastructure privatization schemes and working with Democrats and more than a few Republicans, Gilbert helped put a stop to CDA's this past session and handed Governor Perry and Commissioner Todd Staples a rare defeat.

    Monday, January 02, 2017

    A 2017 Wrangle of 2016 progressive Texan news

    Democrats are going to need a better plan than this toon represents.  The week's blog post roundup gathers the best from last week to start your 2017 off on the right (left) foot.

    Off the Kuff pointed to Brazoria County as a potential and necessary opportunity for Greater Houston Democrats going forward.

    Socratic Gadfly takes a look at Cozy Bear, Fancy Bear, et al, and while rejecting Trump's flippancy, expresses skepticism toward the mainstream narrative.

    Texas Republicans expose themselves by making the lives of women, children, and prisoners as miserable as possible. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme sees Donald Trump is not the only white nationalist.

    The Brainiacs of 2016, formerly the TPA's Texan of the Year and awarded solely by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, are The Democrats.

    The Apache oil company's "generosity" and speaking with forked tongue caught up with them in regard to their fracking plans in Balmorhea, as detailed by Txsharon at Bluedaze.

    In a welcome relief from charting polls and stockpiling objections to Trump, jobsanger posts a survey of the most dangerous drivers in the United States, and finds Texas is tied for first -- or worst -- with Louisiana.

    Neil at All People Have Value took a picture of train tracks at a Houston light rail station.  APHV is part of

    Dos Centavos listed his top-trafficked posts for the year.

    And in Lewisville, vandals shot through a homeowner's windows and knocked the head off of his front-yard Santa Claus, reports the Texan-Journal.


    More of the best of the left of Texas from the end of last year!

    Leah Binkovitz at the Urban Edge has a rundown of the bills that have been filed to date for the coming legislative session (opening on January 10).  And Ross Ramsey at the Texas Tribune perceives that Austin and Washington out of sync in the early transitioning.

    The Houston Press follows up on the Blue Bell ice cream company's continuing troubles with listeria, speaking with a food safety litigator who suggests the company is foolishly requesting of federal authorities that they be allowed to abandon the stringent -- and expensive -- poisonous bacteria testing imposed after previous tragedies.

    Grits for Breakfast says the top criminal justice story in Texas -- and possibly the United States -- from last year is easy to spot, but the rest are more obscure.

    The Hearne city attorney abruptly resigned last week, and Lawflog says 'good riddance'.

    Members of Austin Jewish Voice for Peace held an ecumenical Chanukah vigil at the Capitol, and the The Rag Blog has the photos and story.

    The Bloggess eulogized Carrie Fisher as an inspiration to people who struggle with mental illness.

    Lone Star Ma urged people to email the Chemical Safety Board.

    The Great God Pan Is Dead highlighted the art that moved him in the past year.

    Swamplot presented its annual awards for real estate in Houston.

    And 2016 was the year that Pages of Victory decided had weaned him off the Democrats.