Monday, June 10, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance wasn't prepared for hundred-degree temperatures -- or 70-mph winds that toppled construction cranes onto apartment buildings -- just yet.

In the Dallas and San Antonio mayor's elections ...

l. Niremberg; r. Johnson

Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) defeated council member Scott Griggs, 56%-44%, to become the city’s next mayor. Griggs fared best in the Oak Lawn area, West Dallas, and the White Rock Lake area. Johnson dominated South Dallas, particularly East Oak Cliff, and North Dallas.

A special election will be needed to fill Johnson’s unexpired term (in the Texas House). It will likely coincide with the November constitutional amendment election.


San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg narrowly defeated council member Greg Brockhouse, 51%-49%. Nirenberg led Brockhouse by 2,775 votes after early voting, which meant Brockhouse needed about 55% of the Election Day vote to overtake the incumbent. For a couple of hours, Brockhouse was at 52%-53% of the vote on Election Day, but late-counted boxes favored Nirenberg, preserving his re-election bid. Turnout citywide was 15.4%.

Iris Dimmick at the Rivard Report writes that Niremberg will have to patch things up with his city's firefighters (a familiar refrain to H-Town voters).  Sanford Nowlin and Jade Esteban Estrada at the San Antonio Current have the full and revealing backstory on Niremberg's close call.  And Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer laments the passing of the progressive era at Big D's city hall.

With the Houston municipal elections now in the spotlight, there were several developments.

Council Member Dwight Boykins officially declared his challenge to incumbent Sylvester Turner, joining Tony Buzbee, Bill King, and four other candidates for mayor.

The kickoff capped what amounted to a week-long tease of Boykins’ candidacy. First, a campaign website surfaced last weekend, then swiftly disappeared. Boykins then filed a report with the city secretary designating a campaign treasurer, on which he indicated that he would seek the office of Houston mayor.

Finally, the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association on Thursday endorsed Boykins. The union backed Turner during the 2015 campaign, but their relations with the mayor have soured during his first term.

Marty Lancton, president of the fire union, told the crowd Saturday that Boykins “is not afraid to call out any injustice, especially when it comes to public safety. He said too many politicians “claim to love firefighters, then stab us in the back at City Hall.”

Also backing Boykins at his kickoff was state Rep. Mary Ann Perez, a Houston Democrat who served with Turner in the Legislature. She said she would “stand by (Boykins’) side until this is done.”

“I know when he becomes mayor, he's going to stand up and fight for each and every one of us,” said Perez, whose son is a Houston firefighter. “I know there is a difference between a politician and a public servant. And Dwight Boykins is a public servant."

The Chron's op-ed board declared that Boykins will need more than the firefighters to win.

America’s fourth-largest city is at a turning point. It’s a city with deep debts to immigrants at a time when immigrants are under fire. It’s a city known as the energy capital of the world at a time when climate concerns threaten old business models. We’re a city still recovering from Harvey, and eyeing this hurricane season warily.

In short, anyone running for mayor of Houston in 2019 ought to have a soaring vision and a tight grip on the tools needed to achieve it.

All (of the) candidates have the same task: To state clearly and with all the imagination and smarts available where they’d take this city over the next four years.

John Coby is amused that the firefighter's union has kicked Buzbee to the curb.  As Kuff has somewhat churlishly noted, Boykins was a 'no' on the HERO vote a few years ago.  With the HGLBTQ Caucus already firmly in Turner's corner, the strength of their mobilization effort versus whatever the anti-Sly vote may be among Houston's black communities will be the storyline to track.  The Texas Signal adds a little drama, including the name-dropping of former At-Large CM Sue Lovell, who is mulling a jump into the fray for mayor.

Relative to Boykins dropping out of a re-election bid for his District D city council seat, rapper Scarface aka Brad Jordan has declared his intentions to run for it.

Though the Lege is adjourned until 2021, the cabrito entrails are still in need of interpretation.

The Texas Tribune is touring the state with a series of post-session events recapping the major policy debates of the 86th Texas Legislature, and what they mean for Texas’ largest cities and surrounding communities.

Join their video conversation later this morning about health care, public education, taxes, immigration, spending and other consequential matters with Rio Grande Valley-area legislators, including state Sen. Chuy Hinojosa and state Reps. Bobby Guerra and Oscar Longoria. The conversation will be moderated by Evan Smith, co-founder and CEO of the Tribune.

Asher Price at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal explains why Greg Abbott vetoed a domestic violence bill that was passed unanimously bu both the Texas Senate and House.  Abbott, as several state and national media outlets reported, was behind the voter purge that resulted in his cabana boy SOS, David Whitley, being rejected winding up back on his staff with a raise.

Jen Rice at HPM talks to Houston's flood czar, Steve Costello, who says that ending residential development in the 100-year flood plain is "not going to happen".

(Texas A&M professor Sam) Brody said other flood-prone areas around the world like the Netherlands are planning for 10,000-year storms. In Houston, officials are still allowing new construction in the path of a 100-year storm.

“I’m often the butt of jokes in meetings all over the country,” Brody (the lead technical expert on Gov. Abbott's Commission to Rebuild Texas) said.

Kuff has his usual "it's too early" about that Quinnipiac poll showing Creepy Joe Biden ahead of -- and Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Beto O'Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, and Julian Castro all statistically tied with -- Donald Trump in Texas.

SocraticGadfly looks at the latest bad jurisprudence from Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, part of court liberals who often hate the First or Fourth Amendments.

Dr. Carlos Tirado at TribTalk bemoans a lost opportunity to prevent overdose deaths.

Kate McLean, for the Houston Press, ponders the questions Pearland ISD continues to face about dress codes and race relations in its schools.

The Lunch Tray looks forward on its ninth birthday.

Latin Restaurant Weeks in H-Town enters its final week (treat your papi!)

Participating restaurants will offer fixed menus at an affordable price. Casual diners will offer 3-course meals starting at $15 and upper scale places will have meals start at $35. They’ll offer a range of cuisine from Peru, Argentina, Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries.

Last, Harry Hamid, still recovering from aggressive chemotherapy, visits the girl in the red pants.

Friday, June 07, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

Debate breaking news first:

... (W)ith less than a week for candidates to hit the threshold to make the debate stage, the Democratic National Committee announced a rule change which leaves Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on the outside looking in. Bullock had qualified for the first debates (in Miami at the end of June) based on polling, but the DNC said on Thursday that two ABC News/Washington Post polls -- one of which had put Bullock over the top -- would no longer be counted. As of Thursday afternoon, that left 20 candidates who had met thresholds via polling and/or fundraising.

Joe Biden's lousy week next:

Former Vice President Joe Biden's position on the Hyde Amendment -- a longstanding flash point involving the prohibition on federal funds being used for certain types of abortions -- now rests in an odd state of nuance.

"He has not at this point changed his position," his campaign put forward in a statement, leaving open the possibility, if not the probability, that Biden would at a later point support the provision's repeal.

And as sure as the flip-flops are ready to hit the beach ...

That was just one of his three gaffes.

This happened when Biden tried not to move left this week. When he did nod in the progressive direction, with a climate change policy that pays homage to the Green New Deal, a sloppy campaign copy-and-paste revived memories of plagiarism that earned another Twitter blast from President Donald Trump.

Also this week, when Biden had a brief close chat with a New Hampshire voter, he made sure he told the press directly that "she pulled me close."

Uncle Joe is going to have a really bad debate night.  I smell the end near for him.

-- Joe Biden Worked to Undermine the Affordable Care Act’s Coverage of Contraception

-- Guess who else voted against federal funding for abortion?

Let's see what the twenty who are currently debating in a few weeks, plus a few others, were up to since the last time we checked.

Michael Bennet

Bennet met the polling criteria to participate in the first Democratic debate scheduled to take place later this month in Miami. He garnered 1 percent in a national CNN poll on Tuesday, which is the third qualifying poll (in which) he has reached 1 percent ...

In the aftermath of the deadly mass shooting in Virginia Beach, Bennet told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on This Week that “I think the president can make a difference. The House of Representatives has passed background checks to close the internet loophole. This person bought the guns lawfully as we know. Every single fact pattern will be different. We should pass those background checks -- 90 percent of Americans support it.”

The Colorado senator spent the weekend campaigning in South Carolina , while many of his fellow 2020 rivals were at the California Democratic Convention.

Bennett remains a third-or fourth-tier neoliberal also-ran.

Cory Booker

The New Jersey senator unveiled a plan to make housing more affordable by offering a tax credit to people who spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. According to researchers at Columbia University, the refundable renters’ credit would benefit more than 57 million people -- including 17 million children -- and lift 9.4 million Americans out of poverty.

Booker’s housing plan also includes measures to expand access to legal counsel for tenants facing eviction, reform restrictive zoning laws, build more affordable housing units and combat homelessness through funding grants.

At the California Democratic Convention over the weekend, Booker also addressed the issue of gun violence.

“We are seeing the normalization of mass murder in our country,” Booker said. “It is time that we come together and stand together and take the fight to the NRA and the corporate gun lobby like we have never seen before. We can lead that fight and we can win.”

The reveal of his celebrity girlfriend a few months ago did not get him enough attention, so he tried using his campaign staff's missing pup this week.

Booker, second- or perhaps third-tier, needs a good debate to demonstrate viability.

Pete Buttigieg 

During a MSNBC town hall on Monday, Buttigieg said he “would not have applied that pressure” for Sen. Al Franken to have resigned in 2017 over sexual harassment allegations without first learning more about the claims.

“I think it was his decision to make,” the South Bend Indiana mayor said. “But I think the way that we basically held him to a higher standard than the GOP does their people has been used against us.”

At the California Democratic Convention, Buttigieg leaned into his position as a Washington outsider and said the country needs “something completely different.”

“Why not a middle-class millennial mayor with a track record in the industrial Midwest? Why not a mayor at a time when we need Washington to look more like our best run cities and towns, not the other way around? And why not someone who represents a new generation of leadership?” the 37-year-old said.

Mayor Pete has a way of stating his case eloquently, as his fans know.  I do not think he will ever get enough African American support to rise much higher than he already has in this cycle, but he maintains first-tier, top five status, and as this piece from a couple of weeks ago suggests, there could another surge if he performs well at the first debate.  And I would expect him to do so.

Julián Castro 

The former Housing and Urban Development secretary unveiled a sweeping police reform plan Monday, aiming to prevent officer-involved shootings, increase transparency and end “police militarization.”

“Even though we have some great police officers out there, and I know that because I served as mayor of San Antonio, this is not a case of just a few bad apples,” Castro said on CNN. “The system is broken.”

Included in the proposal are restrictions on the use of deadly force, the increased adoption of technology such as body cameras, an end to stop-and-frisk tactics and expanded bias training.

I remain of the opinion that Castro's support is under-surveyed.  I believe he might be the long shot in the race that could best 'pop at a price', as they say at the track.  He has no competition for the Latinx vote in California or Texas, and this recent statistic could be determinative.

And while there are intense efforts at the federal and state level under way to suppress that vote, my feeling is, by and large, the wave cannot be stopped.

(Skipping DeBlasio and Delaney, despite the latter being booed at the CaDC and fruitlessly challenging AOC to a debate on Medicare for All.  A plea for attention that I, like the good New York Congresswoman, choose not to acknowledge.)

Tulsi Gabbard 

The Hawaii congresswoman reacted to the House passing the “DREAM and Promise Act” which would protect young undocumented immigrants and immigrants with temporary status who were once covered by the Obama-era DACA program. She said on Fox News, “The hyper-partisanship around this issue has gotten in the way of delivering a real solution. This legislation and finding a solution for these Dreamers is something that has had bipartisan support.”

Kirsten Gillibrand 

Gillibrand released a plan to legalize marijuana, which called for expunging all non-violent marijuana convictions. Gillibrand said that under her plan, tax revenue from recreational marijuana would be put “towards programs that help repair the damage done by the War on Drugs.”

The New York senator also participated in a town hall on Fox News, where she attacked the network for its coverage of abortion. Gillibrand was asked about her position on 'late-term abortion' and she began her response by reiterating her stand that “when it comes to women’s reproductive freedom, it should be a woman’s decision.” She then criticized Fox News for creating “a false narrative” on the issue.

Gillibrand was cut off by moderator Chris Wallace, who said, “Senator, I just want to say we’ve brought you here for an hour.”

Wallace continued, “We have treated you very fairly. I understand that, maybe, to make your credentials with the Democrats who are not appearing on Fox News, you want to attack us. I’m not sure it’s frankly very polite when we’ve invited you to be here.”

Gillibrand said that she would “do it in a polite way,” but she was interrupted by Wallace again who said “instead of talking about Fox News, why don’t you answer Susan’s question?” referring to the question asked by the member of the audience.

Still, Gillibrand attacked the network for their use of the word “infanticide”, calling it “illegal” and “not a fact.” She added, “I believe all of us have a responsibility to talk about the facts.”

It was a nice moment for a campaign and a candidate who has not had very many.

Kamala Harris 

Harris was rushed off the stage Saturday while speaking at the MoveOn #BigIdeas forum in San Francisco after an activist (climbed on stage) and grabbed the microphone out of her hand. Harris returned to the stage about a minute later to chants of “Ka-ma-la” from the audience.

An animal activist group claimed responsibility for the man rushing the stage. He was identified by the group as Aidan Cook. The group’s spokesperson, Matt Johnson, told ABC News that Cook was not detained or arrested; he was simply kicked out.

This was a tense moment, as there are for many of the Democrats working rope lines and meeting large crowds inside and outside.  There's not enough Secret Service at this juncture to go around and many campaigns can't afford private security.  Everyone is just hoping there won't be any incidents.

Beyond that, Senator Harris got a splash of cold water from the state capital newspaper's op-ed author.  Short excerpt:

Harris doesn’t have strong policy views like Elizabeth Warren. She doesn’t represent a more progressive generation of voters like South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. She doesn’t have the national standing of Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders.

So who is Kamala Harris besides a sparkling resume and stump speech? It’s not too early to expect an answer.

(Hickenlooper also got booed in California.  Enough said.)

Jay Inslee 

The Washington governor has been pushing hard for the DNC to dedicate one of its presidential primary debates to the topic of climate change. DNC spokeswoman, Xochitl Hinojosa, responded in a statement saying, “the DNC will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area because we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on dozens of issues of importance to American voters.”

Inslee called the DNC’s decision to not host a climate debate “deeply disappointing.”

“The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field, who want to debate the existential crisis of our time. Democratic voters say that climate change is their top issue; the Democratic National Committee must listen to the grassroots of the party,” Inslee’s campaign said in a press release.

The DNC also said that if any candidates participated in a separate debate on climate change, they would be barred from future DNC debates.

This could get interesting once Inslee eventually leaves the race, and the focus begins to turn to the most aggressive climate action plans, especially that of the original Green New Dealer, Howie Hawkins.  It would be wonderful for this blogger to see the kind of Green surge in this country that European nations recently saw in their elections.

(Amy Klobuchar and Seth Moulton were all but invisible last week.)

Beto O’Rourke 

O’Rourke released a voting rights plan which called for term limits for members of Congress and for Supreme Court justices. O’Rourke is calling for members of the House and Senate to serve for no more than 12 years, and for justices to be capped at one 18-year term. O’Rourke said that after a justice completes their term, they would be permitted to serve on the federal courts of appeals.

The former Texas congressman’s plan also includes measures to increase voter participation, including by making Election Day a federal holiday and by allowing automatic and same-day voter registration.

O'Rourke got good news and not-so-good news from a Quinnipiac poll of Texas voters made public earlier this week.

Trump is locked in too-close-to-call races with any one of seven top Democratic challengers in the 2020 presidential race in Texas ...

"The data shows home-state hopeful, former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, is doing OK in the presidential matchup, but Democratic voters would prefer he leave the presidential campaign and run for the U.S. Senate." [...]

Texas Democrats and Democratic leaners say 60 - 27 percent that O'Rourke should challenge Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the 2020 U.S. Senate race, rather than continue his campaign for president. Support for an O'Rourke Senate race is strong among very liberal, somewhat liberal and moderate/conservative Democrats.

Tim Ryan 

Ryan flipped his position on impeachment, this week, saying he believes Congress has to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump. The Ohio congressman made his announcement during a CNN town hall, saying that Mueller’s statement last week made him support impeachment.

Bernie Sanders 

Sanders spoke at Walmart’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday, directly criticizing the company for paying its employees low wages and lobbying for a resolution that would give hourly workers representation on the company’s board of directors.

As many Democratic candidates spoke out on abortion rights this week, comments by Sanders in 1972 -- prior to the Roe v. Wade decision -- resurfaced via Newsweek. He told a Vermont newspaper at the time that it struck him as “incredible” that the male-dominated state legislature, and politicians in general, “think that they have the right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body.”

This weekend, Sanders visits Iowa to speak at the Capital City Pride Candidate Forum in Des Moines, he will march with McDonald’s workers who are seeking higher wages and attend the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Celebration in Cedar Rapids, among several other events.

Bernie just keeps hitting one home run after the other.  Check out his TIME cover and story.

And in that moment Sanders became a little clearer to me: He isn’t the person you want sitting beside you on a long boat ride, passing time. He’s the person who will notice when you fall overboard and begin to drown.

-- Sanders Demands McConnell Allow Senate Vote to Raise 'Absurdly Low' Federal Minimum Wage to $15

Eric Swalwell

Swalwell talked about his assault weapon ban and buyback plan on ABC’s The View. He said that he’s the only candidate calling to “ban and buy back every single assault weapon in America.”

The California congressman also left the door open to drop out of the presidential race and run for re-election for his House seat. Swalwell said he is open to running for a fifth term in Congress, but said he wouldn’t make that decision until December.

Elizabeth Warren

Warren announced on Thursday that her campaign staff has unionized.

“My campaign has submitted their support to join IBEW 2320,” Warren tweeted. Her campaign joins a growing number of others that are showing support for unions and unionizing themselves. The Sanders and Castro campaigns have also unionized and the Swalwell campaign had previously said they were unionizing.

But Warren choked on the heritage question again.

It's still her Achilles' heel.  I would have thought she'd have come up with a better answer by now.  I don't think I can bear to hear Trump chanting "Pocahontas" for a year, but that would be the least of several reasons I would have difficulty voting for Liz (with the presumption of a Green option on my 2020 ballot).

-- Elizabeth Warren Has Yet to Apologize for Her Pro-Charter School History

Andrew Yang

During Pride Month, Yang tied his signature universal basic income proposal to the LGBTQ community, noting in a BuzzFeed interview that he’s heard from many people who say they’ve been kicked out of housing and fired from jobs over their sexual orientation. He said it is his plan to give all American adults $1,000 per month, which could help them “adjust if they’re economically singled out.”

Yang will be among the speakers at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Celebration in Cedar Rapids on Sunday.

I continue to operate under the impression that Yang is of the Demo-Libertarian wing of the Democratic Party.  Speaking of the Libs ...

Lincoln Chafee, the former senator and governor of Rhode Island (and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate), has joined the Libertarian Party.

First reported by the Boston Globe, Chafee has reportedly made a move from Rhode Island to Wyoming and registered Libertarian in the process. When asked about whether he would run for some office in the future under the Libertarian Party label, Chafee was non-committal.

Chafee was first elected to office as the mayor of Warwick in 1992, a town of about 85,000 people in Rhode Island. He would go on to serve as a Republican senator, independent governor, and ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. One notable vote Chafee made as a Senator was against the bill authorizing the use of force in Iraq.

The timing of Chafee’s switch has not gone unnoticed by major media outlets, as some are speculating whether he is planning a run for president as a Libertarian. Such a move by a former major party elected official is not unprecedented. Bob Barr, a former representative, did so in 2008 and Gary Johnson, a former governor, did so in 2012 and 2016. Mike Gravel, a former Democratic senator like Chaffee attempted to do so in 2008 but Barr ultimately won the nomination that year.

Also, GOP challengers to Trump are down to just one.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) is no longer considering running against President Trump in the 2020 presidential election, the Washington Post reports.

Only one Republican has formally announced a challenge to Trump: former Gov. Bill Weld (R-Mass.), and only one other Republican -- Nebraskan senator Ben Sasse -- is weighing a possible 2020 run.

The US Green Party will hold its national meeting in July.

When: Thursday, July 25, to Sunday, July 28, 2019
Where: Salem State University Central Campus, 352 Lafayette Street, Salem, MA 01970
Meeting Details: Website | Directions | Draft Schedule

Media events at the Green Party’s 2019 Annual National Meeting in Salem will include three press conferences with meeting organizers and candidates, and a forum for candidates seeking the 2020 Green Party presidential nomination.

Many of the meeting events are open to the media and general public. A credentialing page for reporters, bloggers, and other members of the media interested in covering the events, including press conferences, will be posted online.

The meeting will feature Green Party panels, workshops, meetings of the Green National Committee (not open to the media and public), and other events. Green candidates running in 2019 and 2020 and Green elected officials are expected to attend.

Schedule of Press Events

Thursday, July 25, 4:00 p.m. Press Conference about the Green Party’s 2019 Annual National Meeting with party officials and meeting organizers and introduction of Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts candidates.

Friday, July 26, 9:00 a.m. Press Conference with Green Party statewide candidates. (participants TBA)
Friday, July 26, 10:00 a.m. Press Conference with Green Party federal candidates. (participants TBA)
Friday, July 26, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Presidential Candidates Forum
Saturday, July 27, 7:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Fundraising Event emceed by standup comic Lee Camp – head writer and host of the national TV show Redacted Tonight, and web series “Moment of Clarity.” (George Carlin’s daughter Kelly said he’s one of the few comics keeping her father’s torch lit.)

-- How Do Greens Run For President In An “Anybody But Trump” Election Year?

See you next week!

Monday, June 03, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

With the dust settled from Sine Die, the Texas Progressive Alliance is looking forward to a nice long vacation, somewhere in cool air.  Before we head for the airport, here's Ross Ramsey.

The bustle in the Texas Capitol’s halls hasn’t completely subsided, but the business suits have been replaced by the shorts and T-shirts of summer tourists.

Legislative season is mostly over. The political season is about to start.

Gov. Greg Abbott has until Father’s Day -- June 16 -- to decide which bills to sign, which ones to veto and which ones will become law without his signature. He’ll go through the budget and scratch out the line items he doesn’t like.

The next day, the political fundraising gates will fly open. The veto deadline ends the fundraising blackout for the state’s elected officials. They can’t raise money while they’re legislating because that looks too much like open bribery. They have to wait.

And there’s a rush at this point every two years, because there’s a June 30 deadline for reporting how much money they’ve raised. A candidate who can haul in an impressive enough amount of money during those two weeks could persuade potential opponents to find something better to do in the 2020 elections.

Maybe that sounds early. But the candidate filing deadline in the 2020 elections comes before the end of the state’s Dec. 31 campaign finance deadline; the summer number is all candidates will have to judge the financial strength of their opponents before they sign up for the March primaries.

Like it or not, the political winds are blowing.

Ten pieces of legislation go to voters for approval in November, in the form of constitutional amendments, rather than to the governor. That package includes a range of items including a proposed constitutional ban on personal income taxes, tax exemptions for disaster victims and -- this is true -- what happens to police dogs when they retire and who gets to take care of them.

That might not be big to you, but it’s important to the dogs.

They wouldn't be our Texas Legislature without screwing something up, however, and everybody who needs to have plumbing work done and also lives in the state is going to have to beware.

Plumbers in Texas will no longer be subject to state regulations after lawmakers this week flushed the state plumbing code and the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, a state agency that employed dozens and generated $5.2 million in revenue in 2017.

Soon, anyone can call themselves a plumber without completing the agency-required education and tests, said Roger Wakefield, master plumber and owner of Texas Green Plumbing in Richardson. Wakefield, who has been a plumber for 40 years, said the industry is now "completely unregulated," and will lead to more unqualified workers entering the workforce.

"We're going to put the safety of the homeowners and the public of Texas in jeopardy," he said. "Plumbers install medical gas, they install the potable drinking water that we have every day. If they're not doing it right, people's safety is at risk."

Wakefield said he and other plumbers are calling Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and asking him to order lawmakers back to Austin for a special legislative session to remedy the situation. Abbott's press office did not respond to requests for comment, but the governor indicated on Twitter on Monday that he has no plans to reconvene legislators before the next regular session in 2021.

The state plumbing code will cease to exist on Sept. 1 while the state plumbing agency, which had 28 employees as of March, will have a “wind-down” period to wrap up operations by September 2020. Several requests for comment left with the state board were not returned.

No sooner did Greg Abbott get kicked in the teeth over SOS David Whitley's non-confirmation did he re-appoint the man to his staff, at a salary increase.  You've heard of the Peter Principle?  White men failing upward?  Some people just don't care what you think.

As early voting concludes tomorrow in San Antonio (Rivard Report's voting guide) and Dallas (Jim Schutze and Stephen Young both have stories on the mayor's contest there) and other Texas cities' municipal elections, Houston gets set to raise the curtain on its November races for mayor and city council.  The most noteworthy development was CM Dwight Boykins' link to a mayoral bid being discovered (he has not formally announced any plans yet, and the site imaged in the Tweet has now been disabled).

A reminder that in last Monday's Wrangle, the Houston elections were extensively profiled at the Urban Edge blog, and that Erik Manning has helpfully compiled -- and keeps promptly updated -- an online spreadsheet of all candidates in the races to sit at the Bagby horseshoe.

US Senate candidate Sema Hernandez formally kicks off her 2020 campaign this Saturday.

In the "will he or won't he" sweepstakes that the Texas Tribune seems to enjoy reporting the most, two rumored Democratic challengers to John Cornyn -- Chris Bell and state Sen. Royce West -- are moving closer to entering the fray.  This blogger heard over the past weekend that West will make a formal announcement in two weeks, which, if accurate, likely precludes Houston CM Amanda Edwards from running.

Off the Kuff was all over the reports of Republican Census rigging that emerged from the computer files of a deceased redistricting guru.  See here, not there, for the background and feel free to join or defend the Green-bashing in Putz Kuff's comments.  (I think the US Green Party should allocate some funds to buy Chuck a shelter kitty, name it 'Verde', and ask his daughters to leash it by the door every evening so that when he comes home from work, he can kick it.)

Texas Public Radio via Texas Standard spoke with a physician about the recent deaths of migrant children in detention centers.

“I’m a pediatrician, and I care for sick children all the time, and I would never suggest, in healing, a child return to a cold concrete floor, covered by a silver mylar blanket which is really more of a sheet, to heal from their illness, and certainly not in a setting where they’re exposed to constant stress.”

Mother Jones suggests Trump might be able to learn something from the only state legislator who actually lives along the Texas-Mexico border.

Space City Weather says Houston may get wet this week from the Gulf's first tropical disturbance, and Zach Despart at the Chron points out that the area is still not close to recovered from Harvey.

SocraticGadfly looked at a key period of early Anglo-Texas history to discuss how much of northern Mexico President Polk wanted, when and why, and connected this to the Compromise of 1850.

A thoughtful long-form piece at Texas Monthly by Christian Wallace details the human costs associated with the latest oil boom in the Permian Basin.  Along the same lines, the AP via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes about the state's growing pains as the thirst for water intensifies.

The Texas Observer has their monthly "Strangest State" collection, and it stretches as least as far as from Abilene to Texarkana.

And D Magazine does Rick Perry introducing Freedom Gas.

“OK, yes, you’re damn right, we’re calling it ‘freedom gas’ now. We should have been doing it all along. 
Guess what we are calling oil now?”