Monday, December 07, 2020

The Weekly Far Left Texas Wrangle

(Mrs. Diddie is taking some vacation this week and we're going to bump around out of doors in the exurbs, doing Xmas-type things, so my long-awaited post on the Latin@ vote waits longer.  Hope it's relevant by the time I finish it.  While you wait, Angela Valenzuela has excerpted a TIME piece that hits a lot of the points I'll be making.)

If you live in Houston and need help this week, the good souls at Baker Ripley are here for you.

It looks like TXGOP chairman Allen West -- or at the very least, someone he approves of -- will be challenging Governor Abbott from his right in 2022.  The SD30 special election may hold a few clues as to how that will play out.

Matthew McConaughey continues his non-political political tour of podcasting, excoriating the "illiberal left that absolutely condescend, patronize and are arrogant towards the other 50 percent".  Since he's so 'aggressively centrist', Chairman West need fear not should his higher aspirations tend toward the Governor's Mansion.  Alright (alright, alright).

Texas Republicans -- and Democrats, to be clear -- may have done better in choosing Beaumont Rep. Dade Phelan as House Speaker-to-be, if all of these glowing profiles of him are any indication of his talents for the job aheadSanford Nowlin at the San Antonio Current previews the legislative budget battle.  And Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report suggests, from his Lege reporter POV, that his job will be more difficult next year because of COVID.

That's my segue to the latest on the coronavirus.

Social justice (or injustice, as the case may be) showed up a lot in the news over the weekend.

A school in a small town in Texas has ignited hope across the community by opening a student-led grocery store to support families in need.

Linda Tutt High School in Sanger launched the grocery store in November so students could purchase necessities including toilet paper, meat and basic food items. They pay for their purchases by earning points from good deeds.

"In our school district, there's roughly 2,750 students enrolled and throughout the district 43% of these students are considered economically disadvantaged," Anthony Love, the principal at Linda Tutt, told CNN. "About 3.6% of our students are considered homeless. We thought it was important to support them and their families and make sure they had food on the table."

Following up on two items from Friday's Round-up:

And business leaders are hoping that Hewlett Packard's HQ move from San Jose to north Houston spurs a technology renaissance for the region.

Closing today with some football and Santa Claus.

Britton Banowsky, executive director, College Football Playoff Foundation, former SWC assistant commissioner: "I think everyone assumed it would be [Texas] Tech and Houston. Because it was the publics [Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Houston] and the privates [Baylor, Rice, SMU, TCU]. That was kind of a clean way to do it. Public schools get public funding and it just seemed like the legislature would want to make sure it happened. Then out of the blue, Houston was out and Baylor was in."

Texas' governor at the time, Ann Richards, was a Baylor graduate. Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock graduated from both Texas Tech and Baylor. The Texas House Speaker [Pete Laney], House Appropriations Committee Chairman [Rob Junell] and Texas Senate Finance Committee Chairman [John Montford] were all Texas Tech graduates.

According to the book "Bob Bullock: God Bless Texas," by Dave McNeely and Jim Henderson, Bullock summoned Texas and Texas A&M's presidents to his office in early 1994 as the merger neared. "You're taking Tech and Baylor, or you're not taking anything," Bullock told them. "I'll cut your money off, and you can join privately if you want, but you won't get another nickel of state money."

And on behalf of those ATT and DirecTV subscribers who were blacked out by Tegna from watching Texans football this past weekend ... thank you.

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Sundy "Devil Went Down to Georgia" Toons

Mike Peterson at the Daily Cartoonist has updated this list of cartoons, cartoonists and their Patreon and other support pages. You don’t have to support them all, of course, but if you enjoy my weekly aggregation, please choose your favorite artists and back them up!

Friday, December 04, 2020

Week-ending Lone Star Left Round-up

As I complete my own blog post on this topic, here's the aggregation of what I mentioned on Monday that was discussed yesterday online.

Will Texas Latin@s eventually turn the state from Republican red to Democratic blue? The answer to that question is complicated, says Cecilia Ballí, a writer-at-large at Texas Monthly, covering the borderlands of Texas, security and immigration.

Over the past year, Ballí, along with two colleagues -- anthropologist Michael Powell and sociologist Betsabeth Monica Lugo -- had one-on-one conversations with 100 Latin@s in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley. Their research, commissioned and funded by the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund, sought to better understand Latin@ voters and nonvoters in Texas.

Ballí -- who wrote about the study for Texas Monthly -- talked to The Texas Tribune on Instagram Live about their key findings. The conversation’s highlights are here. You can watch the full conversation here.

Heartfelt eulogies poured in for Latina activist Maria Jimenez from Judge Lina Hidalgo, Stace at Dos Centavos, and Angela Valenzeula at EEP & P in TX blog.

Voting and election related-developments since Monday include the following:

COVID updates are next.

Here's a couple of COVID-related "Texas Leaders Behaving Badly" items.

It sure seems as if Austin could do a lot more progressive than the guy who rushed to be first in the line to endorse Pete Buttigeig for president.

I have criminal and social justice posts, environmental news, and a non-socialist-leaning business news update next.

El Paso Matters reports that the incoming district attorney has fired several lawyers and staff as she prepares to take office in January, including the prosecutors on the Walmart shooting case.  Leif Reichstad at Texas Monthly explains how Austin was able to reduce spending on its police department by a third.  The family of Atatiana Jefferson, the Fort Worth woman shot and killed by a police officer in her mother's home while she baby-sat her 8-year-old nephew -- has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the ex-cop.  And the state's First Court of Appeals has reversed a legal victory for the city of Houston, ordering it to continue litigating the case of an HPD officer who rear-ended another vehicle while looking for a cellphone charger.  A few more social justice pieces ...

And on to climate justice.

KVUE has a story about Central Texas residents threatening to sue neighboring cities as a last-ditch effort to keep treated wastewater out of their Hill Country waterways.

The San Gabriel River winds its way from Burnet into Williamson and Milam counties, 50 miles through some of the most scenic parts of Central Texas -- and now hotspots for growth. But with the development are cries for help to keep this once-pristine waterway, and others like it, from being polluted. [...] (Upstream),the Liberty Hill wastewater treatment plant has permission from the state to dump 1.2 million gallons of treated wastewater discharge into the San Gabriel River every day.

Yet according to EPA records, it has exceeded permitted discharge limits 98 times since 2015, 15 times this year.

And despite more than 50 permit violations cited by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the state now allows Liberty Hill to expand operations to dump 4 million gallons per day.

Much more at the link.

What the savviest of conservative populist politicians see here is an opportunity.  The same wedge issue is forming between supporters of high speed rail (cities, big business) and opponents (country folk concerned about their property rights).  Greg Abbott is the most opportunistic of politicians in the state; he sees it, understands it, and is unlikely to let someone like Dan Patrick get to the right of him on it.  The Texas Central Railway, thus, may go the way of the Trans-Texas Corridor.

That leads me to my business wrangle.

The old Sears building in Midtown Houston is undergoing a transformation, and slated to be a tech/innovation hub called The ION upon completion.

Meanwhile, JC Penney quietly left their Plano headquarters behind after exiting bankruptcy.  Their future remains uncertain.

Wrapping a long Round-up with some lighter items.

Monday, November 30, 2020

The Weekly Wrangle from Far Left Texas

The election is over ...

... winter has arrived ...

... and my Latinx voter post is still incomplete.  In the interim, the TexTrib has a seminar I'll be watching in order to germinate any last thoughts.

To note the last day of Native American Heritage Month, I introduce the topic of land acknowledgement, via Ali Velshi.

Former independent presidential candidate Mark Charles has also spoken about this.

The land that I have lived on previously belonged to (among several others; the following most prominently) the Tāp Pīlam Coahuiltecan, Karankawa, Atakapa-Ishak, and Hasinai peoples.  The most significant of these to me are the Hasinai, for which my Order of the Arrow lodge (BSA) is named.  They essentially named Texas -- or Tejas, their word for 'friend'.

As with Columbus Day, the Anglo celebration of Thanksgiving just past is a particularly difficult time for Indigenous Americans.  And as with Black Americans, the history of the United States is not well- or fully told in our schools or our texts; much of this learning comes from sources outside the mainstream.  And a lot of it -- such as the Holocaust, to use one example -- is denied by those who have the capacity to know better, or rejected on account of '(white) American exceptionalism' or related nonsense.  I consider the awareness of this knowledge, and its denial and rejection, to be a small part of there being no possibility of returning to 'normal'.  Those who don't like -- or resist -- change are going to be very unhappy for the rest of their existence.  And their resistance will make an already unpleasant set of new realities even more so for the rest of us.

Probably nothing will bother me more, however, than those who see and understand the new realities, but their investments in the status quo -- not just financial but emotional and political and intellectual -- dictate to them and to us that change can only occur incrementally and slowly.

We're already long past that point. (steps off soapbox)

On to the Wrangle, beginning with a few election post-mortems:

TXElects challenged the conventional wisdom that Tarrant County turned blue this year.  Kuff examined recent presidential results in the counties surrounding Travis and BexarThe Texas Lawbook reviewed appellate court races for the Houston area.  Reform Austin looked ahead to 2022 for Texas Democrats, and Patrick Svitek at the TexTrib did the same for the TXGOP.

Suffering is not something Texans can overlook.

Many are doing their part to help.

Some are not.

Here's the latest developments regarding COVID-19.

Catching up on criminal justice tweets and blog posts:

Perhaps because of Gamaldi's influence, the HPD oversight board scores as the "least robust" of all of Texas' major cities.  Grits for Breakfast wrote that Texas prison understaffing has reached dangerous levels, and calls for the Lege to close and consolidate some units.  Dylan McGinnis at the HouChron investigated the rebidding of a contract for the City of Houston to avoid using unpaid prison (aka slave) labor.  And a (legislative) gun fight is likely to break out next year in Austin.

I'll have some environmental news in the next Wrangle at the end of this week.  Here's a few items from the lighter side.

Socratic Gadfly had two snarky Thanksgiving-related posts; first, he came up with some suggestions for new names for the Washington Football Team. Second, he gave a smackdown to the cult of Whataburger.

D Magazine posted the detailed story about the helicopter crash that took the life of guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn, on the 30th anniversary of the tragic event (back in August).