To Protect Abortion Access in Texas, Flip District 134

If you believe people should have access to legal abortion care, and you live in Texas House District 134, you must vote for the Democratic nominee for that seat in November. It is imperative that we defeat Republican Sarah Davis, as she cannot be counted upon to protect abortion rights should a law banning abortion come before the Texas House in the 2021 session.

Texas Democrats need to flip only nine seats to gain a majority in the Texas House of Representatives. Winning that majority is already critical, since the House is body charged with developing the decennial Congressional redistricting map.

But now, we are closer than ever to Roe v. Wade being overturned.

A Louisiana case, June Medical Services v. Gee, will come before the Supreme Court in March. The brief history of and issue presented in June Medical:

  • Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, decided in 2016, established that requiring physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals and requiring abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers place an undue burden on the right to abortion and therefore are unconstitutional.
  • Justice Kennedy was the fifth vote in this case. He has since retired from the court and Trump appointed his replacement, Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
  • Louisiana passed a law requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital. The US 5th Circuit found that the facts in the case challenging the Louisiana law were “remarkably different” from those in the Whole Woman’s case, and so they should not be bound by precedent in June Medical.
  • The Supreme Court agreed to hear the Louisiana case.

Today, 209 members of Congress, including both Texas Senators Cruz and Cornyn, as well as 17 members* of the Texas House delegation, all Republicans, signed an amicus brief saying that the court should use June Medical as an opportunity to reconsider and overturn Roe v. Wade. Not an opportunity to require admitting privileges, mind you, but an opportunity to completely reverse the decision in the case which made abortion legal.

Currently, six states have what are known as “trigger laws” on their books, which are laws that say in the event that Roe is overturned, abortion immediately become illegal in that state.

Texas does not have a trigger law.

Yet.**

Such a law was proposed in the 2019 legislative session, but it did not pass out of committee. Texas H.B. 896 was authored by Republican Reps. Tinderholt, Lang, and Swanson, and co-authored by Republican Reps. Stickland (who has since retired), Biedermann, and Cain.

Those are the only six co-authors and co-sponsors the bill attracted. And yes, it is true, none of them are Sarah Davis. But that’s on purpose.

From a strategic perspective, it was easy enough for Sarah Davis (and a bunch of other Republicans) to refrain from signing on while the bill was in committee. That allowed her to maintain the fiction that she is pro-choice, a fiction Republicans are only too happy to help her perpetuate in order to keep her in the House as part of their majority.

Had the bill come out of committee, it would likely have (a) attracted the entire Republican caucus as co-sponsors, and (b) passed out of the House and gone to the Texas Senate.

The only reason it did not is that after the 2018 elections that flipped some solid Republican seats red to blue, Texas Republicans realized how fragile their hold was on certain districts. They did not want to energize Democratic voters ahead of the 2020 presidential race, knowing that Democrats would already be highly motivated to defeat Trump.

But they are playing a long game. They know if they hold onto the state house in 2020, they can draw the congressional district lines that would, for example, make it much harder for Democrat Lizzie Fletcher to win in 2022. They know how to wait for the right moment.

If ever you doubted that Republicans in Congress want to do all they can to overturn Roe v. Wade, this is your wake-up call. They have literally asked the Supreme Court to do the work for them.

And if you were still wondering about the level of urgency for flipping the Texas House to protect us from bad laws at the state level, wonder no more.

It is true that Sarah Davis sometimes supports bills that are positive for women’s health generally, like cervical cancer screening. But any bill she would support would also be supported by a Democrat, and with a majority of Democrats in the House, might actually pass. And there is absolutely no guarantee that she would oppose a trigger law, and some evidence she would support one.

The time for playing defense is over. It is time to play offense, and that means flipping the Texas House from Republican to Democratic control.

Volunteers and campaigns are already hard at work to give the district a great Democratic candidate (I’m supporting Ann Johnson).

Democratic voters in TX-134 outnumber Republicans. Even Lupe Valdez beat Greg Abbott in that district. The votes are there. It comes down to the voters doing the right thing.

  • I’m calling on Planned Parenthood Texas Votes to decline to endorse Sarah Davis this cycle.

  • I’m calling on the Human Rights Campaign to rescind their endorsement of Davis or issue a dual endorsement of the Democratic candidate.

  • I’m calling on pro-choice Republicans in TX-134 to withhold their financial support of Davis, and to pledge their votes for the Democrat in this race.

The time has come to pick a side. Republicans are working at every level of government to restrict access to abortion, and are not even hiding the fact that their ultimate goal is to overturn Roe. 

Abortion won’t go away if it becomes impossible or illegal to obtain. It will just become more dangerous, and people will die seeking to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

Are you ready to have a hand in their deaths? Is having a token Republican that important to you?

Which side are you on?


*As noted above, both members of the US Senate from Texas, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, signed the amicus brief. The seventeen Republican members of the House of Representatives from Texas who signed the brief are:

  • Jodey C. Arrington (TX-19)
  • Brian Babin, D.D.S. (TX-36)
  • Kevin Brady (TX-08)
  • Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (TX-26)
  • Michael Cloud (TX-27)
  • Michael Conaway (TX-11)
  • Dan Crenshaw (TX-02)
  • Bill Flores (TX-17)
  • Louie Gohmert (TX-01)
  • Lance Gooden (TX-05)
  • Kay Granger (TX-12)
  • Pete Olson (TX-22)
  • John Ratcliffe (TX-04)
  • Chip Roy (TX-21)
  • Van Taylor (TX-03)
  • Randy Weber (TX-14)
  • Roger Williams (TX-25)
  • Ron Wright (TX-06)

** Should a ruling come out in June Medical that overturns Roe, we should anticipate the very real possibility of Greg Abbott calling a special session to try to pass a law banning abortion in Texas. He might not, for the reason mentioned above, not wanting to energize anti-Trump voters, but the level of hubris in Texas Republicans is pretty strong. We can’t rule out the possibility.

Posted in politics, pro-choice activism | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why Is the GOP Backing Shelley Kennedy?

The Houston City Council District C runoff is between two Democratic women.

Why are Republicans picking sides and urging GOP voters to elect Shelley Kennedy?

Two like Mary Jane Smith and Greg Meyers, who both posted endorsements on November 27th.

 

Mary Jane Smith calls herself a “conservative libertarian Republican,” also endorsed Shelley Kennedy, claiming it was about getting the trash picked up:

But she didn’t leave it at that. She also called Kennedy a “2nd Amendment advocate.”

Someone asked Smith to clarify what she meant by that, so Smith said it means “she [Kennedy] supports my right to own a gun. Abbie Kamin is part of the leftist movement that wants to take guns away from citizens.”

Kamin’s website lists five things the City of Houston could do right now to mitigate the impact of gun violence. Kennedy’s website does not have specifics on where she stands on the issue of guns, but her campaign Facebook page does have several posts featuring Moms Demand Action, a group which often lists the same things Kamin lists as reasonable gun safety measures that could be adopted without violating the second amendment. So maybe Mary Jane has access to information the rest of us do not.

Another Republican who could very easily have stayed out of the race jumped in anyway. Gary Polland, the former Harris County GOP Party Chair who actively and vociferously opposed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. He and his Texas Conservative Review just sent out endorsements in the mail:

This photo of a set of signs in the Heights made me laugh the other day because I thought hahaha, hanging signs for candidates is clearly a volume business, so you might as well get them all up while you’ve got the ladder out:

When I first saw it, I thought it was a pretty easy game of ‘one of these things is not like the other …’ since four of the five candidates whose signs are hanging out together are srtaight white Republican men.

But all five of them, it turns out, have the endorsement of Gary Polland’s Texas Conservative Review.

Kennedy’s name shows up over and over again in lists of endorsements that are largely or exclusively Republican.

Early in the race, I pointed out that Shelley Kennedy had made a contribution in February 2019 to Bill King’s election campaign.

The first response I got to raising that was that she had not known it was a campaign event when she went to it.

Later, when I asked about it at the Caucus screening, one of the screeners said they had asked about it and Kennedy explained that a client asked her to donate and she had’t felt comfortable saying no.

I didn’t push at the time, but neither of those are great excuses.

She didn’t know? The contribution shows up in King’s finance report in the midst of a series of campaign kickoff events, which weren’t joint events and which were branded with his campaign material. Anyone who has made a donation to a political campaign knows that it isn’t as simple as handing over $100 – you have to make the check out to the campaign or use the campaign’s online giving site that requires you to provide your employer and occupation information.

So it is hard to say you didn’t know.

I’m sympathetic to having a client ask you do to do something, but then again, I’ve also turned down business before, even when I could have used a paycheck, because a potential client’s views did not align with my own politics. She gave to a Tea Party-endorsed candidate because someone asked? What else might her client ask her to do that she’d feel obligated to agree with or do?

The explanations didn’t sit right with me, so I’ve been watching. And now, as District C goes to pick who will represent them for four years, I’m sharing what I’ve observed.

I’ve been involved peripherally in local politics for a over a couple of decades now, and have seen a couple of odd coalitions form across the aisles (hello, Bipartisan Blanket Caucus), but it doesn’t happen often, even in allegedly nonpartisan races.

So, take it for what it is worth, which may or may not be much, but one candidate in this race is attracting much more Republican support than the other, and given the general tenor of politics these days, that gives me pause.

Posted in Houston, politics | Leave a comment

Cagle & Radack Hide from Trans Activists in Court

Two Harris County Commissioners made a strong case last week for the need to add gender identity and expression to local nondiscrimination ordinances and the state hate crimes statute.

That was almost certainly not their intent when Cactus Jack Cagle and Steve Radack coordinated a deliberate snub of their colleagues on the court and a group of transgender activists, hiding from them rather than appear in a photo together and refusing to sign a proclamation about the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Their behavior, however, proved that Republicans in Texas are not done discriminating against transgender Texans.

During the November 12, 2019 Harris County Commissioners Court meeting, Commissioner Adrian Garcia requested that his colleagues approve a resolution commemorating November 20, 2019 as the 20th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. The day honors the memory of transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence, and creates an opportunity for people to be educated about how violence affects the transgender community.

Commissioner Garcia invited several leaders to speak about the Day of Remembrance and the continuing legal discrimination and cultural erasure transgender people face, including transgender rights activists Lou Weaver and Maria Gonzalez, and Andrea Molina, Executive Director of Organización Latina de Trans en Texas.

Garcia spoke of the symbolic weight and importance of bringing resolutions about issues that in past years would have been impossible to bring forth due to stigma and discrimination. He thanked Weaver and Gonzalez for advocacy and guidance they provided him when he served as Harris County Sheriff.

“We worked on policies that made national news,” he reminded them, referring to the nondiscrimination policy he implemented in 2013 for the Harris County Jail that not only guaranteed equal treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender inmates, but allowed transgender inmates to be housed based on their gender identity rather than sex assigned at birth.

Weaver addressed the court on plans to mark the Day of Remembrance in Texas: “We have lost four people [in the state] to anti-transgender violence this year alone, and we are going to read the names of over 200 people that we’ve lost this year [across the country], most of whom…are transgender women of color.”

County Judge Lina Hidalgo, thanking Weaver for attending court, shared how transgender activists have educated her about the lag in civil rights protections transgender Texans face.

“I’ve learned that in Texas, we don’t include transgender rights under the hate crimes legislation,” she said.

Commissioner Rodney Ellis noted that when he sponsored Texas’ James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act, which passed in the state’s 77th legislative session in 2001, it named only the classes outlined in federal law at the time—race, ethnicity, religion, and gender.

Weaver underscored the detrimental impact not having gender identity explicitly included in the law has on law enforcement’s ability to investigate and solve hate crimes. Only enumerated classes are tracked in crime statistics, so it can be difficult to understand the true number of incidents.

What isn’t being tracked often isn’t being taken into account during investigations, and misgendering a crime victim can have a seriously adverse effect on law enforcement’s ability to solve a case.

Weaver shared the story of a transgender woman, murdered in 2016 in Austin, who was initially described by the male name assigned to her at birth because police did not find current identification with her body. The press, for four days immediately following the crime, also shared the male name. Friends and potential witnesses who might have had relevant information did not realize whose death was being investigated.

Molina, speaking through a translator, noted that as someone who has survived despite violence and discrimination directed at her because of her transgender identity, she was grateful to Commissioners Court for the resolution.

“Today, with this resolution—it gives a new opening to create a new trust with the people of Houston, the opportunity to protect the transgender community.”

As is customary, Judge Hidalgo called for a break so community members present to receive resolutions could pose with her and the commissioners for photographs.

First up were members of law enforcement being recognized for retirement. Holding their resolution, they posed with all four commissioners and the judge.

As Weaver, Gonzalez, and Molina stepped up for the next photograph, however, Commissioners Radack and Cagle quickly stepped through a door behind the dais into the hallway.

As Judge Hidalgo and Commissioners Garcia and Ellis posed with the activists, Commissioner Radack could be seen peeking through the door to check on progress.

As soon as the next community group came forward, holding the county’s resolution marking World AIDS Day, Radack and Cagle strode back in to be included in the photograph.

“Having two elected officials act so disrespectful to residents of the county they represent is heartbreaking,” Weaver stated the day following the meeting. “I hurt for the trans and nonbinary community living here in the largest county in Texas.”

He posted a photograph of the resolution on Facebook.

Not only had Radack and Cagle left the room to avoid being photographed, they had also refused to sign the resolution.

Weaver noted how grateful he was to Commissioner Garcia for proposing the resolution, and to Judge Hidalgo and Commissioner Ellis for welcoming him and his colleagues so warmly and with respect.

“It is a shame the other two ran and hid,” he concluded with disappointment.

 

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why You Should Hire a Speech Writer

Tony Buzbee is what happens if you combine Kenny Powers, Matthew McConaughey, and quite possibly, some alcohol.

And it’s not pretty.

This is my quick transcript take from ABC-KTRK’s video of Tony Buzbee’s speech from his election night watch party. If it seems disjointed, it is. If you think I missed a word, there’s a small chance I did, but a bigger chance I nailed that part of the transcription and Tony’s the one who whiffed it.

Without further ado, Tony Buzbee, in his own words.

“We’re going to do something different. Can I put my glasses on, is that ok? Ok, alright.

Because back on October 31st, I started this race with the idea to get Houston back on track.

I knew that I would not be the most popular person. I knew that people would accuse me of being a politician, but I’m not politician. I deeply care about the city of Houston. I deeply care about the city of Houston. Let me tell you why I care. Let me tell you why I care.

I’m gonna take you back. I’m gonna take you back to 1980. Now how many of you were even alive in 1980? I’m gonna take you back. Can I? Can I take you back to 1980? Alright. I’m gonna take you back …

In 1980, oh, goodness gracious. Goodness gracious. In 1980. You know what I was worried about in 1980? I was worried about a lot more … all I was worried about in 1980 was and I gotta say it and my momma’s here, my momma’s here, my momma’s right there [points].

Momma, in 1980, all I was worried about was could I avoid you gonna understand what I’m saying, right? In 1980? You don’t remember? I know you remember? Yeah, you can’t hear me. She can’t hear me!

Listen, guys, we’re going to change the city. We’re going to change the city.

I am so excited about the City of Houston. Are you excited about the City of Houston? I am so excited. I’m not going to go back into our past and y momma knows our past and it was hard. It was rough and tumble.

People say like oh, he had a hard upbringing. Well, I had a hard upbringing. My dad used to say I’ll fight at the drop of the hat and I’ll drop the hat.

And I love my father and I’ve come to peace with my daddy, but it was bad. We had a hard time. We had a hard time.

And I’ll say this about my mom. She made sure that, she made sure, my mother. I want y’all to all celebrate my mother right here. My momma my mother made sure that when Sunday school Sunday service Sunday night Sunday…uhh…Tuesday bible service, Wednesday night, Vacation bible school, uhhh, my momma made sure I went to church.

Thank. You.

Thank you, momma.

Mom, if nothing else, I want to tell you something right now. And I got all these people and if nobody else if I never done it before, I love you. Thank you.

My mother let me tell you about my momma. She drove my school bus, my mother drove by school bus and everybody in my whole community, 1300 people, everybody in my community loved my mother.

Mom,  you know it’s true. We love you. We love you.

We lived 9 miles outside of a 1300 city. We lived in a 1300-person city and my mother is probably the most famous person from the city. After me. Maybe after me.

Mom, I love you so much. Now my dad, not so much. Naw, I’m just saying …

My dad was pretty mean and he would like, you know, but whatever.

But let me say, I got my sister right here. My sister my sister my biggest fan. I love you girl. I love you. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what’s going to happen in this election. But I know that my mother, and my sister ,and my girlfriend, Frances Moody, no matter what happens, we’re gonna be good. We’re gonna be good.

Now let me say this. Now I’m gonna say it. I’ve got my glasses and I’m getting ready to preach! Are y’all ready? Alright let me preach.

On December 14th, I started this race for Houston, to put Houston back on track.

I announced that we can do better. That we were at a crossroads. Are we gonna be the city that we could be, the city we know we should be, the city that we all expect we could be, or are we gonna be the city that we’re a little bit scared we might become?

And that’s what we’ve been working for.

That’s what we’ve been working for. And I love the city of Houston. Do you love the city of Houston?

When we talk about … lemme talk about something.

There’s a woman that lives on the east side of Houston. Every morning, she walks 2 blocks to her bus stop, and it’s not safe, and it’s not covered. And she drives she gets on the bus she goes all the way across Houston. And she sees the inequity between the East Side, and Tanglewood and River Oaks and Uptown. My question to you is who at City Hall represents her?

I will represent her. I will represent her. Now, listen, listen, hear me very carefully. Hear me carefully.

There are people that are homeless. That live in tents in our city. They live in tents in our city. They live in tents.

And they have a job. But the city doesn’t care if they have a job. So they go to their job, and when they’re gone, the city comes and takes everything they own. Who represents them?

I represent them. I represent them.

We will do better.

Now, the press says Oh goodness gracious alive. That’s what we say in east Texas. Goodness gracious alive. Turner’s gonna win without a runoff.

I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think that’s true.

There are homeless people across this city that have no representation. There are people that care about animals that are all across this city. There are people in this city that have no representation and guess what? Tony Buzbee will represent them.

And here’s the thing. Here’s the thing. I’m wearing my United States…I can still wear…isn’t that funny? I can still wear my Marine Corps greens.

And I’ll tell you something right now. I grew up and my father was a butcher. He cut meat for 43 years. 43 years. Stood on his feet and he was mad at the world. My momma drove our school bus and worked in the high school cafeteria. Actually, she worked in the snack bar. I’ll be honest. I mean my mom’s like Tony, I worked in the snack bar.

I didn’t have a lot of options. I told my mom I said mom I want to go to college and she says I think we don’t have I mean a $1,300 check, I don’t remember what it was.

I didn’t have a lot of options. Now, here I am. In the City of Houston. Running for mayor. If you don’t think the American Dream exists, it exists right now. It is here.

Now some of you say oh, Tony Buzbee’s not gonna make the runoff. Well guess what?

We’re gonna make the runoff. And when we make that runoff, we are going to win.

We are gonna win!

We’re gonna win.

And I want to say something to you.

The other day, the other day, when I went and voted, early voted, there was this this song like the red…have y’all ever heard that song, the red dirt road? Oh my god. What a song, right?

I was listening to that and I was with my momma. And obviously, I love my momma. Mom, you’re going to be famous! I love you so much. Thank you for being so good to me.

When there was this song that talks about uh a person that grew up on a red dirt road. Because I grew up 9 miles outside of a 1300-person town. That’s where I grew up. I didn’t know anything. All I knew is I wanted to get the hell out of that town. That’s all I knew.

And I wanna tell you something right now. The fact that I’m standing here with all of you people, all of you people, gonna be your next mayor, gonna be your next mayor, I wanna say this to you, I wanna say this to you.

There’s something to be said for honesty. There’s something to be said for being true. To your principles. There’s something to be said to that. Career politicians have put us in the position that we are in, and we’re gonna change it. We’re gonnna change it.

And let me say, let me say this, and I don’t know what’s gonna happen tonight. The good news is this. I’m still gonna love my mom, and I’m gonna love my sister ,and I’m gonna love Frances no matter what happens.

God is good. All the time, All the time , God is good. All the time

And let’s say guys, guys, are we, are we ready for this? We’re gonna do it, we’re gonna do it.

And I wanna tell you a little story. So there was this guy, ok so I’m just gonna tell you this story. So there was this guy and he was sitting on his beach house, some fancy guy and I don’t know what the hell he was doing but he was sitting on his beach house and he was he was sitting on his beach house and he saw somebody like way in the distance and he’s like saw somebody and look at that.  Sylvester Turner hates that I don’t know.

I was a United States Marine alright, alright, ok, but they in the distance they saw this old man he was walking down the beach have y’all heard this story before? OK I’m gonna tell you and so they saw this old man and he was down the beach and he’s like throwing like starfish into the ocean have you heard that right? OK? And so the guy was like watching this and he was like ok, I’m going to go talk to this old man and he was like old man, what are you doing?

And the old man is throwing starfish into the ocean have you heard this? OK, so the guy gets off of the deck of his beach house and goes over and talks to the old man and he goes old man, old man, what are you doing?

And he goes I’m throwing these starfish into the ocean. And he said old man, what difference could that make. And he picked up a starfish, and he threw it into the ocean and he says for this starfish, it makes a world of difference. Right, you hear me? You understand what I’m saying?

This mayor this mayor thinks that everybody is just gonna look the other way, he’s gonna look the other way and he’s gonna let this city go the wrong way.

And guess what. Everybody here assembled, no different. Am I right, am I right? I’m gonna say this and I’m gonna be done because I think I’ve worn out my welcome.

[Chants of Tony, Tony…]

I could I could never live up to everything that y’all are saying. I will promise you I will try. I will promise you I will try. But I will do a damn better than our current mayor. I promise you that. I promise you that. Whether we talk about the homelessness issue in this city, whether we talk about stray animal ahh-uhh-shish…whether we talk about the animal cruelty that exists in our city, whether we talk about like doing something about about flooding. We’ve done nothing. We can do better. We can do better.

When I was a, when I was uh and I know we got some I can see one Marine right there. When we talk about the United States Marine Corps, one thing we know about somebody said to me the other day Tony, how are you putting up with this baloney, all these people that are attacking you and messing with you and listen.

Let’s be clear about this. All the stuff that have been attacking me. Let’s be clear. I stood, and I lay in one place for 8 days in a row ok? Yeah man. 8 days in a row. Listen. Lemme say this. Lemme say can I say this? Lemme just finish with this. I appreciate you. I appreciate you. I am excited I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight but I bet we’re going to a runoff. Are we ready? Are we ready? Are we ready?

And lemme tell you this. Our city deserves better than what we have now!  Better than what we have now! And we’re gonna do better!”


In contrast, Mayor Turner released this statement:

“To those who voted for me, thank you. To those who did not, I will work hard to earn your votes.

“The good news about this runoff is that Houstonians have a very simple and very clear choice for mayor: An experienced leader who has been delivering for Houston for more than 30 years? Or a Donald Trump imitator who has no experience, no ideas and will say anything, do anything or spend anything to get elected?

“I trust Houstonians to make the right decision for our city.”

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What Did Cisneros Really Say About I-45 Expansion?

The Houston Chronicle said on its editorial page on October 15, 2019:

If she is re-elected, she hopes to be a strong voice against the Interstate 45 project as it’s currently proposed. No other district is as affected by the highway expansion, so its representative must be an active force in working to minimize any adverse effects as the project moves forward.

Hopes to be a strong voice?

Hope, as the saying famously goes, is not a method. Not in birth control, not in war, and not in politics.

Here is what she said about the I-45 expansion project on October 3, 2019 District H Forum co-hosted by Baker Ripley Leonel Castillo Community Center, Avenue and GO Neighborhoods Northside Houston, and Houston Super Neighborhood 51.

Osvaldo Corral, Noticias 45 Univision – Moderator: Knowing that the current I-45 expansion project will have a significant impact on District H, what is your position on the project, and what are you willing to do to ensure the best outcome for the community?

Karla Cisneros: This is going to have a huge impact on our community, in whatever happens, we will be stuck with it for the next 50 years, so it’s important to get it right.

There’ve been a number of different groups that have come together, you know, the I-45 Commission, the Make It Better, and the Stop I-45.

I’m still in the Make it Better area. I’m hopeful that when we see the results of the alternative plans that will be presented sometime soon, I hope … they’ll be … I expect to see that the input from this community that can be given back to TxDOT saying “this is what we would rather see.”

So, we haven’t seen that yet, but that’s what I’m really hoping that we will see. Because right now, the impact for this part of town, you know, is almost all negative. Further south, there’re some good things, but not up here. So, it’s not OK, it is not OK.

So, um, I, you know, I think we still … I’m waiting to see what that’s, what they say. But we will need to make very serious decisions about it.

Doing nothing is also not a good idea because it’s trapping water and flooding neighborhoods just, as you know, right now. Independence Heights is a detention pond, you know, out there, you know, and it’s water trapped because of the highways.

So, that’s just to say that we don’t want to nothing at all, that’s not right either. We need to fix the roads, we need to get it right. And we need to have a vision that really looks to the future, you know, and the way people travel in the future, not just now. Thank you.

This is not a forceful condemnation of the plan as-is. This does not sound like someone prepared to extend the fight.

This is hand-wringing and golly gee’ing I sure hope they listen to us.

THIS IS NOT THE LEADERSHIP DISTRICT H NEEDS.

The first Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was announced in 2011. The schedule calls for the final EIS to be released later this year, 2019, circulated for comment, and then, a decision recorded.

There’s not much time left for input. TxDOT has not yet scheduled any meetings between now and year’s end.

Cisneros has been in office since 2015, and all she can say is that she is hopeful about what she might see and thinks we’ll have to make some serious decision.

I’ll point out once again the donation she accepted from the I-45 project company’s PAC on July 24, 1019, which perhaps explains her tepid and hesitant sort-of opposition:

I personally have already made one serious decision about Cisneros based on her lack of leadership. I‘m voting for Isabel Longoria for District H. We need Longoria’s commitment to proactive community engagement. Even if it is too late for anything but minor changes to I-45, there will be a host of other highway, major thoroughfare, and bayou drainage projects on the horizon. We can’t afford hope as a method on those.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Karla Cisneros Takes Money from I-45 Expansion Firm

I’ve gone to a number of Houston City Council District H candidate forums.

One constant is that people are not at all happy about the I-45 North Houston Highway Improvement Project.

So, imagine my surprise when, looking at Council Member Karla Cisneros’ most recent campaign finance report, I saw a contribution of $1,500 made at the end of July, 2019 by HNTB Holdings LTD PAC of Kansas City. 

HNTB Holdings LTD, the company affiliated with the PAC, are the folks who designed the I-45 North Houston Highway Improvement Project.

The  Make I-45 Better Coalition is one of several groups formed to oppose the plan. They say that the plan will displace, largely in District H:

  • 168 single family homes,
  • 1,067 multi-family homes, which include:
    • 368 units of low-income housing, and
    • 60 homeless veterans’ units.

And yet, CM Cisneros was glad to take their money.

Who else is giving her money?

I looked at all of her contributions from 2018 and 2019 through the most recent filing. During those 21 months, she raised $138,101.

About that campaign cash:

  • She received $54,901, or 40%, from 34 political action committees (PACs).
  • $64,100 came from 122 individuals (46%).
  • The remaining 14% came from law firms and partnerships (not from corporations, which would be illegal).

When you dive into the details about the $64,100 from individual donors, you see that:

  • $55,575 (or 87%) came from individuals who listed a zip code which is outside the District H boundaries.
  • Roughly 50% of the individuals for whom a professional affiliation is either listed or easily found online are involved in a small number of fields with companies that work or have worked with the city: real estate development, engineering, construction, lobbying, or a job or position that places them in close proximity to city government, like serving on a city board or as a political appointee.

Who are the PACs and partnerships?

  • Ten are engineering, construction, & real estate developers/associations.
  • Nine are public employee unions.
  • Eight are law firms with lobbying and public finance practices.
  • The rest, with one in each category:
    • An airline headquartered in Chicago.
    • An airport concessions joint venture between some Houstonians and a company based in Milan, Italy.
    • A local motel & hotel owners association.
    • A nationwide telecom company.
    • A nationwide health insurance company.
    • A nationwide funeral service company based in Houston.
    • A Houston-based natural gas and electric utility.

I’ll let my District H neighbors decide how comfortable they are with PACs and people from outside the district being their council member’s largest supporters.

But it is one of the many reasons I’m voting for Isabel Longoria for Houston City Council District H.

You can go look at any candidate’s campaign finance reports on the city’s website.

 

Posted in Houston, politics | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Beto for Senate 2020

I started supporting Beto’s challenge to Ted Cruz very early—friends and I hosted an event for him in my home the weekend he launched his campaign.

His presidential campaign never grabbed me in the same way. From the kickoff rally at TSU to the debates, his affect seemed flat. Bottom line, I was not buying it.

How furious and sad am I that it took a horrific mass murder in El Paso to bring back Beto’s fire? I would gladly spend the next 200 years with Beto as an also-ran 2020 presidential contender if it meant we could have those precious lives back.

But that’s when the Beto we all remember from 2018 came back.

His seething rage and distraught demeanor are no act, and the love he has for El Paso and Texas cannot be ignored. His love for Texas is his superpower.

We are going to have an amazing Democratic ticket to tackle Trump, but Trump has never been our only problem. Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans who follow his lead are right now an even bigger impediment to sensible gun safety laws than the occupant of the White House.

If Beto switched to take on Cornyn, not only could he very likely win and have a direct impact on so much in the Senate, he would give a huge lift to every other Democrat running in Texas in the first year they’ll be running without the benefit of the straight ticket punch on the ballot. Not to mention he’d basically be the 3rd person on the presidential ticket by focusing on Texas.

Beto, let the rest of the candidates tackle the other 49 states. They’ve got those covered. Come help us take Texas back.


In case you think I’m copying what the Houston Chronicle editorial board wrote today, N.B. my post from November, 2018. #justsaying 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments