12.22.14

TPA Blog Round Up (December 22, 2015)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 8:18 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes that all your days are merry and bright as they bring you this week’s holiday roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at the pro-discrimination bills that Republicans will be pushing in the Legislature next year.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and Daily Kos insists that Texas will continue to have foxes guarding the public hen houses as long as the Republican culture of kleptocracy and crony capitalism persists. Texas Investigates Medicaid Fraud Detection Firm for Corruption.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is proud of Corpus Christi Police Chief, Floyd Simpson, for disciplining officers for use of excessive force. When officers act inappropriately, all too often there are no consequences.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. As oil prices plummet we’re reminded of Texas oil busts past, and the reality of the so-called “Texas Miracle”, It Looks Like Things Are About To Change.

Houston’s city council gave a $17 million sloppy kiss to Valero as a Christmas present, and city attorney David Feldman left a flaming bag of poo on Mayor Annise Parker’s doorstep. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has suddenly realized that 2015’s municipal elections can’t come soon enough.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote about peace with Cuba. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Texas Leftist takes a look at the rapid growth of the Houston Area Pastor Council. If Houstonians think think the fight over the Equal Rights Ordinance is over, they better think again. One of the country’s most powerful hate groups is now in our back yard.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Texas Watch introduces its Safe Texas agenda.

Dwight Silverman suggests that kids today will do just fine without “tech timeouts”.

Andrea Grimes criticizes that Texas Monthly “Bum Steer Award” cover illustration of Wendy Davis.

The Texas Living Waters Project forecasts the 2015 oyster season in Galveston Bay.

Keep Austin Wonky summarizes the homestead exemption debate.

The Lunch Tray celebrates the exclusion of Chinese-processed chicken in school food and other child nutrition programs.

The Bloggess is running her annual Christmas gift and charity drive.

12.18.14

It Looks Like Things Are About To Change

Posted in Around The State, Taxes, The Budget, The Economy at 3:22 pm by wcnews

oilirg

From EOW’s post election analysis:

The one issue that often gets overlooked, that made Davis and the Democrats job extremely hard, is the [extremely good] economic conditions in Texas.

There’s nothing so sweet as being the Texas Governor during an oil boom, and exiting right before the bust. Via Kevin Drum at MoJo, Rick Perry Is One Lucky Dude.

Man, Rick Perry is one lucky guy, isn’t he? It’s true that the “Texas Miracle” may not be quite the miracle Perry would like us to believe. As the chart below shows in a nutshell, the Texas unemployment rate has fared only slightly better than the average of all its surrounding states.

Still, Texas has certainly had strong absolute job growth. However, this is mostly due to (a) population growth; (b) the shale oil boom; and (c) surprisingly strict mortgage loan regulations combined with loose land use rules, which allowed Texas to escape the worst of the housing bubble. Perry had nothing to do with any of this. And now that oil is collapsing and might bring the miracle to a sudden end, Perry is leaving office and can avoid all blame for what happens next.

One lucky guy indeed.

This is culled from a blog post where the specter of oil busts past (1986) are being discussed.

As we weigh the evidence, we think Texas will, at the least, have a rough 2015 ahead, and is at risk of slipping into a regional recession. Such an outcome could bring with it the usual collateral damage that occurs in a slowdown. Housing markets have been hot in Texas. Although affordability in Texas looks good compared to the national average, it always does; compared to its own history, housing in some major Texas metro areas looks quite dear, suggesting a risk of a pull-back in the real estate market.

The effects of an oil bust will likely not be felt until the next legislative session.  But if it starts to show during this session, the GOP will likely use it as an excuse to cut, or not fund, items that help middle class prosperity –  public education, higher education, health care, transportation, etc.  The things that have been neglected since the GOP took control of Texas.

While no one wants the Texas economy to turn sour, nothing can change the fate of a political party faster then a sinking economy and an inability to deal with it.  Miracles cannot be explained.  The so-called “Texas Miracle” never was one, and what happened in Texas was always explainable, The Texas Unmiracle.

So keep that in mind as the Texas GOP seeks to give businesses more tax breaks this session.  As citizens we must  be sure to ask how will they make up that money when the bill comes due in future sessions.

12.16.14

TPA Blog Round Up (week of December 15, 2014)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Uncategorized at 9:52 am by wcnews

[EOW has been a too busy with other things lately.  Regular blogging should return soon.]

The Texas Progressive Alliance is dusting off its recipes for wassail and figgy pudding as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff says that the actual election results do not support exit polls that claim Greg Abbott received 44% of the Latino vote.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and Daily Kos is not the least bit surprised to learn that two Texas Regulators Get Fired for Doing Their Jobs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is calling for Nora Longoria to resign. How can she be a judge when she got very special treatment?

The Bible verses that contain the words “the poor will be with you always” do not mean what Rick Perry thinks they mean, says PDiddie at Brains and Eggs. And not what many other Christians think they mean, either.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Texans Together considers the way forward on campaign finance reform.

Candice Bernd feels railroaded by the Railroad Commission in Denton.

The TSTA Blog reminds us that education is only a priority if it is funded like one.

Natalie San Luis offers a lesson in how not to do PR.

SciGuy laments the budget cuts that will make it that much harder to get to Mars.

The Lunch Tray explains what the “cromnibus” spending bill means for school lunches.

Concerned Citizens bemoans the process that San Antonio’s City Council followed in passing restrictive regulations on transit network companies.

Honorary Texan The Slacktivist chides Rick Perry for his deep ignorance of what the Bible actually says.

12.10.14

TPA Blog Round Up ([week of] December 8, 2014)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 1:03 pm by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance stands with the Garner and Brown families in the quest for equal justice for all as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Guest blogger Kris Banks at Off the Kuff provided a visual guide to turnout comparisons in Harris County.

Libby Shaw writing at Texas Kaos and Daily Kos believes Greg Abbott’s recent lawsuit against the President’s action on immigration is not only lame, it is yet one more example of conservative racist disrespect for the duly elected President. Ease up on the hate, please, TX Gov. Elect.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme calls out Republicans for cutting public works while spending money on racist, empty gestures.

Texas atheists are blessed to be able to run for public office in Texas, reports PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Neil at All People Have Value said that he is very white, male and European. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Grits for Breakfast celebrates an ruling from the Court of Criminal Appeals that allows for a wider use of Texas’s so-called “junk science writ”.

The Texas Election Law Blog pushes back on the argument that voter ID laws had little effect in 2014.

The Lunch Tray offers thoughts on a national food policy.

Offcite analyzes the case for a swimming hole in Houston.

Texans Together will take a “Texas way” forward on Medicaid expansion if one is there to be taken.

Alan Bean asks what Jesus would do with the current immigration debate.

Raise Your Hand Texas released a report showing how Texas falls short of best practices with its pre-k program.

Texas Clean Air Matters explains the new ozone standard.

Gray Matters

12.01.14

TPA Blog Round Up (December 1, 2014)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 11:00 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance is back from its tryptophan vacation as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff is cheering for the Texas same-sex marriage plaintiffs as they move for the stay of the ruling that threw out the ban on same-sex nuptials to be lifted.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and Daily Kos is taking a few days off to spend quality time with family. I hope all of our readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Some helpful tips to avoid looking like a jackass with respect to the events in Ferguson, Missouri this past week were offered by PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme disagrees with the GOP view that only rich, white, old men should vote.

Neil at All People Have Value attended the Michael Brown protest march in Houston this past week. The work of freedom is always up to each of us. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

The controversial decision in Ferguson, Missouri sent shockwaves across the country, with many communities immediately engaging in protests. But as Texas Leftist discovered, the Houston protests may yield some substantive progress in the quest to outfit officers with body cameras. Plus, a new video highlight’s HPD’s work to tackle homelessness.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The Rivard Report, with a clear view of what “bipartisanship” means these days, reminds us that it only takes a few generations to go from immigrant to hypocrite.

Lone Star Ma has had it with the textbook adoption process.

Grits for Breakfast questions Republican funny math on border security funding.

Texans Together discusses hardship exemptions for the Affordable Care Act.

LGBTQ Insider explains another acronym for the spectrum.

11.24.14

TPA Blog Round Up (November 24, 2014)

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:53 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance knows that even in a bad political year it has plenty to be thankful for as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff highlights Texas for Marriage, a new grassroots group whose goal is to bring marriage equality to our state.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos as well as for Daily Kos is not surprised to know Greg Abbott has jumped on the Obama bashing bandwagon on immigration. Funny how the actual lawless ones try to pin their sins on the POTUS. Greg Abbott’s Reaction to Immigration? The usual. TX Dems are not giving up.

Even as the United States Senate in the 114th Congress looks to be one of the most freakishly conservative in almost a hundred years, PDiddie at Brains and Eggsreminds everyone that — two years from now — nearly half of that Republican majority has to be defended, and many of those seats are in blue states. So maybe Democrats can work on building turnout then…?

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is furious over Abbott’s plan to take money away from projects that promote the general welfare. What does Abbott want to do with our money? Harass Mexicans and hurt the image of the Rio Grande Valley.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. The Texas GOP’s transportation funding shenanigans will continue, Schwertner’s Gas Tax Diversion Bait and Switch.

Easter Lemming Liberal News noted a Pants on Fire ruling from PolitiFact, not their rating over an Obama statement on the XL pipeline but Easter Lemming‘s rating of PolitiFact’s lie.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The Texas Election Law Blog gently criticizes three less-than-stellar arguments from the week’s news.

The Rivard Report highlights Texas’ achievements in renewable energy.

The TSTA Blog reminds us that vouchers are a bad answer for education.

Newsdesk reviews Ted Cruz’s “politics as prop comedy” act on net neutrality and other Internet issues.

Grits for Breakfast is busy analyzing pre-filed criminal justice bills.

Texas Clean Air Matters calls out ERCOT for missing the big picture on clean energy.

Better Texas Blog reminds us that immigrants drive Texas’ economic success.

Concerned Citizens surveys the now much more interesting San Antonio Mayoral landscape.

11.20.14

Williamson County Elections Administrator Resigns (AGAIN)

Posted in Elections, Williamson County at 5:23 pm by wcnews

This is getting redundant to say the least, Williamson County election administrator Jason Barnett resigns. Kay Estes has been appointed as his interim replacement as Williamson County Elections Administrator.

The Williamson County Election Commission has named Kay Eastes as the interim elections administrator. Jason Barnett resigned from his position on November 13, 2014. Ms. Eastes will serve until a new elections administrator is selected. The elections administrator is appointed by the Elections Commission which is comprised of the County Judge, County Clerk, County Tax Assessor/Collector and the county chairs of the Republican and Democratic political parties. Anyone interested in applying for the position can go to http://www.wilco.org/default.aspx?tabid=2059 for more information.

There were some issues reporting results to Travis County during the last election.  Williamson County just can’t seem to hang on to an elections administrator for very long.

Schwertner’s Gas Tax Diversion Bait and Switch

Posted in 84th Legislature, Taxes, Transportation at 12:37 pm by wcnews

The problem with ending tax diversions has always been that the GOP will never say how they will replace the funding for the items the diversions are funding.  That still holds true with the state Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) and his proposed legislation to end gas tax diversions.

He has pre-filed legislation to stop diverting $620 million dollars a year for other things.

Schwertner calls it “truth in taxation”, that he believes “when we have a dedicated tax, it should go to that dedicated purpose.”

Schwertner notes keeping all state fuel tax money for highways is only one piece of the funding puzzle, adding the state needs $4 to $5 billion dollars a year.

Schwertner says the fuel tax has been used, among other things, for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, the Department of Public Safety, and the Attorney General’s office.

He says once this legislation is passed, then the discussion will start on prioritizing the state’s budget. [Emphasis added]

In other words Schwertner won’t tell us how he’ll replace the money, if at all, until his bill and amendment are passed.  This legislation cannot be fairly evaluated without knowing how or if the diverted money will be replaced.

At the link above there’s an audio conversation available, give it a listen.  For someone who likes to talk about so-called “truth in taxation” he’s certainly unwilling to admit how he would replace that $620 million.

11.17.14

TPA Blog Round Up (November 17, 2014)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 8:51 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance continues to look forward as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at some pro- and anti-equality bills that were pre-filed for the 2015 Legislature.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and for Daily Kos notes that although the Republican voter suppression efforts had its intended effect of keeping so many of us away from the polls, Texas Democrats share some of the blame for voter apathy. Voter Suppression did the Trick in Texas.

Evidence from around the country emerged in the wake of the 2014 election drubbing that change is going to have to come to the Democratic Party from both within and without. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs understood early on that if they cannot regain relevance in midterm elections, then we are all destined to ride the partisan see-saw every two years… and let gridlock reign.

Social Media has been great at blowing up narratives generated from republican think tanks and published in mainstream newspapers, magazines and TV Shows. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to help: No, the new set of Republicans in Congress aren’t less crazy and more pragmatic than Todd Akin or Sharron Angle.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. One more time on some post-election commentary, Williamson Democrats, Battleground Texas, And The Way Forward.

Neil at All People Have Value said that there is not very much to say. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Texas Leftist offers an insider’s view of Battleground Texas… What went right, what went wrong and how the organization moves forward from here. Square one?? Get to know Texas, and don’t mess with what already works.

Easter Lemming, in one of his rare and even popular posts outside of Facebook, covers a Republican blogger who shows how the Republican victories of 2014 set them up for defeat in 2016. There is a Democratic state firewall that would be almost impossible for Republicans to breach to get the presidency and the only question is how many seats will the GOP lose in the Senate and House. Easter Lemming now mainly posts on his Easter Lemming News Facebook page.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Concerned Citizens scouts out the San Antonio Mayoral race.

Lone Star Q has a surprising report about Westboro Baptist’s involvement in the recent Houston anti-gay protests.

Nonsequiteuse examines the cult of Mommy and the cult of the fetus.

Unfair Park wants to know why Ted Cruz wants to slow down their Netxflix streaming.

Texas Watch is hiring.

Juanita relates the worst Veterans’ Day story ever.

Scott Braddock documents a teabagger slap fight in North Texas.

Fred Lewis sums up the evidence that wasn’t presented at the San Jacinto waste pits trial.

11.13.14

Things To Occupy Your Time

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Commentary at 12:46 pm by wcnews

Krugman On Income Stagnation.

111214krugman2-blog480

So if Republicans are gaining from public frustration here, it is ironic. After all, the GOP is systematically opposed to anything that would increase workers’ bargaining power, and bitterly opposed to any suggestion that inequality is an issue — what we need, they say, is growth, which will raise all incomes (even though it hasn’t).

What the 2014 election was not about, Eight Hotly Debated Issues … From the Election That Never Was.

Call it the Election That Never Was.

We’ve heard a lot of talk about this week’s election, but the election we needed is the one we didn’t see. The important issues, the issues that affected people’s daily lives, were never debated. Voters never heard a genuine exchange of views and never had a chance to vote on competing visions of the future.

It has been suggested that the Democratic Party can run and win on social issues in 2016, but that seems less likely after this year’s results. If voters can reject a personhood amendment and elect a far-right Republican on the same ballot, social issues aren’t likely to be the cure-all some Democrats are seeking.

It’s clearer than ever: If Democrats don’t offer bold solutions to some fundamental economic issues (we’ll offer eight of them, but there are more) then the implications for their party – and for the country – are profound, and dire.

Mike Lux on how to recover from the wave, (he’s done it before), Unleashing the Democratic Tsunami in 2016.

Since I have been involved in politics as a full-time job, there have been five times where I had a really bad election night, where the Republicans kicked our ass and won most of the important races: 1980, 1994, 2004, 2010, and of course this year. Every single time was awful. Every single time the country suffered a great deal as a result. But every single time, Democrats came storming back the very next election and had a great year. It’s not too surprising, really: Republicans are an arrogant bunch with really bad and unpopular policy ideas that don’t work out well when they are enacted. And of course, we know that the voting pool in a presidential year tends to look more like the actual population of the country — younger, more people of color, more unmarried voters — and that is a very good thing for Democrats. So while I take absolutely nothing for granted, and know that we will have to work our collective Democratic asses off, I go into 2016 with some confidence.

And two from Texas.

The budget limit for the next two years will be set next month, Let Texas lawmakers invest in our future.

In early December, a small group of leaders, the Legislative Budget Board (LBB), will make an important decision that will affect whether our state can make smart decisions about education, transportation, health care and more — priorities for all of us. As required by the state constitution, the LBB will set a spending limit that cannot exceed our rate of economic growth. It will be crucial for the LBB to use a realistic rate of economic growth when making this decision.

[...]

Our state’s founders believed the government had an important role in educating Texans. That’s why the state constitution guarantees the right to education. Those pushing for an artificially low spending limit are anti-government extremists whose proposals would threaten our public school system.

Prudent families make spending decisions based on their available assets, their expected income and the needs of their family members. Similarly, Texas investments should take into account our available revenue and the real needs of our state — now and in the future. Setting an artificially low spending limit is akin to prohibiting a family from sending their child to college regardless of how much money they have in the bank.

And Kuff points to one last cudgel the Feds may have to force Texas to expand Medicaid, Expand Medicaid or else.

It’s always a safe bet to assume that the Legislature will fail to do the right thing when given the chance. I for one will be rooting for the feds to apply the screws as hard as they can in pursuit of a Medicaid expansion deal that would do untold amounts of good for more than a million people, not to mention be a nice bit of stimulus for the Texas economy. Making Ted Cruz’s head explode would be the cherry on top. Against that, when the Republicans from Greg Abbott on down (with the honorable exceptions of Zerwas et al) dig their heels in, perhaps this will finally be the impetus to get the Texas Medical Association to quit trying to placate the bullies and start working to actually further their own and their patients’ best interests.

And last but not least read this if you want to know what went so wrong with Wendy Davis’ campaign, Internal Memos Detail Davis Campaign Dysfunction.

They wrote that the campaign was failing to portray Davis “like a Texan” and had turned her into a generic Democrat who would only have a chance in a state with a recent history of electing Democrats. The party hasn’t won a statewide election in Texas since 1994.

“Running Wendy Davis as a generic national Democrat is not only the quickest path to 38 percent, it’s also a huge disservice to Wendy, her record and the brand she has built,” they wrote. Davis got 38.9 percent of the vote, compared with the 59.3 percent of voters who cast ballots for Abbott.

Given the national wave that swamped Democrats around the country, including in governor races that Republicans won in traditionally blue states like Maryland and Massachusetts, it’s highly unlikely that any political strategy would have ushered Davis into the Texas Governor’s Mansion.

But Dougherty said it didn’t have to be such a rout.

“It’s possible to lose and still look good,” she said in the phone interview. “Our worry in January was it was setting Wendy up for embarrassment throughout the course of the campaign. I think the way the campaign played out was far, far worse than it should have been.”

Oh well.

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