Category Archives: Texas Lege

Wendy Davis Hits the Road to Rally Voters

From the Inbox:

FORT WORTH Tomorrow in Houston, Wendy Davis will kick off the fall campaign season with a five city tour across the state to highlight her commitment to fighting for all Texans while Greg Abbott is siding with insiders at the expense of hardworking Texans.

Confirmed locations for this week’s rallies are listed below. Several locations to include campus entertainment. Further logistics such as preset times, satellite truck parking, etc., are forthcoming.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

WHO:             Wendy Davis

WHAT:           University of Houston Campus Visit (Event Info)

WHEN:           5:00 PM CDT

WHERE:        Conrad Hilton Ballroom, 4800 Calhoun Road,                             Houston, TX 77004

WHO:             Wendy Davis

WHAT:           Prairie View A&M University Campus Visit

WHEN:           8:00 PM CDT

WHERE:         MSC Ballroom 204 A and B, Willie Tempton Building,                      Prairie View, Texas

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WHO:             Wendy Davis

WHAT:           Texas A&M University

WHEN:           5:00 PM CDT

WHERE:        College Station, Texas

Thursday, September 4, 2014

WHO:             Wendy Davis

WHAT:           University of Texas – San Antonio

WHEN:           12:00 PM CDT

WHERE:         UTSA Ballroom 1, 1 USTA Circle, San Antonio, Texas

Friday, September 5, 2014

WHO:             Wendy Davis

WHAT:           University of North Texas Campus Visit

WHEN:           12:00 PM CDT

WHERE:         Plaza and Promenade by the Shraer Pavilion, 1501 W. Chestnut Street, Denton, Texas

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National Guard Goes Hungry on the Border?

At least that’s what was first reported at Harlingen’s, Action News 4 last night, and has now made national news.

“We were contacted that 50 troops that are in the Valley don’t have any money for food and gas and they need our assistance,” said Food Bank RGV Executive Director Terri Drefke.

They’ve turned to the Food Bank RGV for help since they won’t get paid until September 5th and have been in the Valley since August 11th.

Drefke told Action 4 News they are more than ready and willing to assist the military personnel.

“We have fresh, boxed, and frozen food available” Drefke said.

Let’s face it, Rick Perry and the Republicans put on a show for their right-wing followers with this call-up of the Guard, ratcheting up fear and hate on account of Central American children escaping violence in their home countries. Perry, though, finally did respond.

First, the suggestion that Guardsmen aren’t getting paid is false. They are getting paid on a regular schedule with their first pay day on Sept. 5, then every two weeks after that.

And here I thought a military exercise came with government-provided rations. Hell, at least some Texas IOU’s with Rick Perry’s mugshot, right?

And frankly,  one has to wonder what exactly the millions of dollars that Rick Perry and the Republicans are willing to waste is actually being spent on. That Perry’s attempted boondoggle didn’t include GOP-leaning taco joints to feed the men has left me thinking that he just can’t execute a military plan. That doesn’t look good for a Presidential candidate.

Leticia Van de Putte, the Democrat running for Lt. Gov., had the best response.

The Perry – Patrick deployment of the Guard has been nothing but a political ploy: there is no request from local leaders for this mission, no exit strategy, or even a plan to pay for it. Today, we learn that our men and women of the Guard have been forced to contact food banks to feed themselves because they haven’t been paid in weeks. This is unacceptable.

This whole debacle reminds me of when my family would go on full-day shopping excursions to Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley. Mom and Dad would pack sandwiches, boiled eggs, tacos, sodas, thermoses of coffee–it was definitely a money-saver. One would think since Rick Perry and the Republicans say we should run government like parents run their family budgets that he would have packed some food for the troops.

UPDATE:  The National Guard Responds

According to spokeswoman Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor, a “proactive” family assistance coordinator “contacted the Rio Grande Valley food bank to see what resources were potentially available.”

The Guard said it had identified 50 service members who, because of their early August start date, weren’t going to be paid until Sept. 5.

None of those 50 troops have notified leaders that they had used the food bank, officials said.

According to the Guard, troops receive one meal while on duty, plus a $32 per diem food reimbursement that is included in their paychecks.

According to Omar Ramirez, Food Bank RGV’s manager of communications and advocacy, the food bank made extra preparations after being contacted by someone from the Texas National Guard Support Foundation, but that he wasn’t aware of any troops being served.

“Maybe they come in and they just don’t tell us they’re National Guard,” he said.

So, someone not affiliated with Rick Perry or the Guard was thinking ahead?

Whatever, the Guard shouldn’t be there in the first place!

 

Greg Abbott Loses Again, School Finance System Unconstitutional

After continually under-funding public education, and then cutting $5 billion from K-12 in 2011, the Republican-led Texas Government was sued by a lot of school districts. Today, the Republicans were handed a huge loss by a district judge in Austin. The judge ruled that the way the state of Texas finances education is unconstitutional. The Republicans will likely appeal, since they support cutting K-12 funding.

Specifically, as reported by the Trib:

In an almost 400-page opinion released Thursday, District Court Judge John Dietz of Austin said that the state’s school finance system is unconstitutional not only because of inadequate funding and flaws in the way it distributes money to districts, but also because it imposes a de facto state property tax. Certain to be appealed by the state, the lawsuit that arose after lawmakers cut roughly $5.4 billion from state public education funding in 2011 will now continue to the Texas Supreme Court.

Judge Dietz went on to explain the best reasons to support public education.

“We realize that others provided for us when we were children. We realize that children are without means to secure their education. Just as others provided for us when we were in school, now is the time when we provide for others,” he said, going on to describe the societal benefits of a well-educated population: lower crime rates, fewer people who need public assistance and a greater state income.”

The education commissioner Michael Williams, a Republican, spoke against the ruling, stating that judges shouldn’t be deciding school finance. Well, judges wouldn’t be needed if Republicans weren’t hell-bent on violating a child’s right to an education as specified in the Texas Constitution by cutting funding. So, whether it is Rick Perry appointees or other right-wing elected Republicans mouthing off against the ruling, the bottom line is that they voted to cut public education funding and have been starving K-12 (and higher education for that matter) for decades.

After Dan Patrick, a Houston state senator who is running for Lt. Governor, tried to cover up his vote against restoring some of the K-12 funding in the last legislative session by saying he chaired the committee that voted to restore the funding, Democrat Leticia Van de Putte called Patrick out in a “hypocrisy alert.”

In 2013, Senate Finance Chair Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, said, “Patrick was directly responsible for these same education programs not being funded…Such revisionism cannot go unchallenged.” [Texas Tribune, 06/21/13]

Senator Leticia Van de Putte, Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor, released the following statement:

“I echo Senator Williams’ sentiments. Dan Patrick was directly responsible for these education cuts, and his revisionism will not go unchallenged. Dan Patrick has shown time and time again that he does not value our neighborhood schools — he showed that when he voted twice against Texas students.

“It is time to accept responsibility and lead. We do not need another court to tell us how to do our jobs. Texans expect a quality education for their children — no excuses, no delays. It is time to put Texas first. As Lieutenant Governor, I will do exactly that.”

And there’s no doubt in my mind that Leticia Van de Putte will take the lead to protect public education and make it a top priority of the Texas legislature.

Elections matter, just like our public schools matter. If you don’t want public schools closing, or if you don’t want your kid in an overcrowded classroom, then you better make it your business to be registered to vote and show up on November 4.

Other Reaction:

Wendy Davis, Democrat for Governor:  “Today is a victory for our schools, for the future of our state and for the promise of opportunity that’s at the core of who we are as Texans. The reality is clear and indefensible: insiders like Greg Abbott haven’t been working for our schools; they’ve been actively working against them. Abbott has been in court for years, defending overcrowded classrooms, teacher layoffs and public-school closings, and today, Judge John Dietz ruled against him. This ruling underscores the crucial need to invest in education and reminds us of just how much our schools, teachers and students have had to sacrifice over the past three years just to get by.”

State Senator Jose Rodriguez (D) El Paso:  Our state has not lived up to its constitutional obligation to offer equitable and adequate educational opportunities to all Texans. Today’s court ruling is yet another opportunity to do better, especially with the 84thLegislature right around the corner. The state’s attorneys should end their battle against the Texas constitution — and our students, parents, and teachers — and allow us to move forward on a legislative solution to this issue, which is of such vital importance for the future of Texas.

State Senator Sylvia Garcia (D) Houston:  “Today is a victory for the school children of Texas. Judge Dietz simply confirmed what we’ve all known for years; that the state refuses time and time again to do what’s right for our children and the future of our state.”

“Today’s ruling reaffirms that Republican leadership has created an unconstitutional system which values some children more than others, yet short-changes them all.”

 

Wendy Davis Outlines Higher Education Plan

Wendy Davis, Democratic candidate for Governor, outlined her proposal to make college affordable.

As Governor, Wendy Davis will work hard for every Texan to have the same higher education opportunities that made such a difference in her own life. She will ensure that Texans are prepared for jobs today and careers tomorrow. Specifically, Wendy will:
  • Create Educational Opportunities for all Texans
    • Create a Career-Technical Coordinating Board to facilitate coordination among local industries, community and technical colleges, and public high schools and streamline the entry of Texas students into 21st century technical jobs.
    • Improve Adult Education and Literacy programs to make it easier for Texans to transition from adult education to the workforce.
  • Make College Affordable
    • Commit to achieving full funding for the TEXAS Grant program to improve education accessibility and affordability for Texas families.
    • Work with the Texas Prepaid Higher Education Tuition Board to ensure the Texas Tuition Promise fund remains a reliable saving tool for Texas families by improving program outreach and public awareness efforts.
    • Improve accessibility to the B-On-Time low interest loan program, including opening the program to part-time students.
    • Establish a sales tax exemption program for college students’ textbooks to lessen the cost of higher education for hardworking students and families.
  • Improve Graduation and Retention Rates
    • Encourage Texas schools to experiment with programs aimed at assisting first and second year students to navigate the personal and academic challenges they will face as they transition into higher education.
  • Expand the Number of Texas Universities Ranked at Tier One Status
    • Continue to support and encourage Tier One initiatives to ensure Texas creates more world-class research universities.

I must say this is the strongest higher education proposal I’ve seen in a long time. No doubt Texas needs movement on college retention and graduation rates, and the proposed sales tax break to college textbooks and supplies is something student activists have been proposing for quite a while.

“For too long, the insider network in Austin has left our schools underfunded, understaffed and our children undervalued,” said Senator Davis. “Greg Abbott has been in court, defending over $5 billion in cuts to more than 600 Texas school districts and the children who go to those schools. That means overcrowded classrooms, thousands of teachers being laid off, schools being closed down, and our sons and daughters missing out on opportunities that will prepare them for the 21st century.”

I don’t expect the Republicans to offer much of anything on higher education. The Texas economy needs a well-prepared workforce at all levels, so, I’m glad that Davis is elevating these topics. If the Republican response is, “How do we pay for it?,” then obviously, they aren’t all that interested in doing anything bold to improve access to higher education.

HD-132 Candidate Luis Lopez Visits the RGV

Candidate for Texas House District 132 (Katy-Houston area), Luis Lopez, is visiting the Rio Grande Valley today seeking facts and information from local law enforcement about the so-called “border crisis.”

On his way to the RGV last night, Lopez Facebook’d the following:

Unaccompanied minor. That was me. I arrived here with a coyote in order to reunite with my family. Today I reflect on it more than ever.

Tomorrow I will visit unaccompanied minors whose parents had the same dreams as mine – to give their children an opportunity for a better life.

Every challenge is an opportunity for leadership to make decisions that will save, shape and stand up for the future of these children.

You are not unaccompanied.

Today, Lopez visited Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Garza and he quotes the Sheriff:

Informative meeting with the sheriff of Hidalgo county. “The crime rate in our community has not increased, we are one of the safest counties in Texas. The National Guard will not benefit our cause. What we, sheriffs of border counties, need is better funding so that we can expand our effective efforts.”

The positive energy to support the unaccompanied minors in the county is amazing.

Obviously, this issue hits close to Lopez’s heart, having experienced what some of these child refugees have experienced. While his Tea Party opponent has been sounding the “secure the border” alarm, Luis Lopez has been seeking out the truth about the border, the child refugees, and solutions to move Texas forward regarding public safety, education, and health care for all Texans.

I’m glad Luis Lopez is in our corner. Visit his Facebook page and stay tuned for more reports from Luis Lopez.

 

Democratic Responses to the Militarization of South Texas

Well, you all know how I feel about the militarization and politicization of South Texas 100+ days away from election day. Well, the press releases have finally made their way to my inbox and I’ve found these to be the strongest, thus far, especially Senator Rodriguez’s which points to past problems with the use of the National Guard the military at the border:

Leticia Van de Putte for Governor:  But to strictly militarize the border won’t help us meet this unique humanitarian challenge.  The people of the Rio Grande Valley have made that clear.

State Senator Sylvia Garcia:  Putting military troops on the ground is the exact opposite of what we should be doing.  We should be asking the President and Congress to put politics aside to help our border patrol agents deal with this unprecedented refugee situation and to put resources on the ground for the people who are actually tasked with securing the border and those who are sheltering the unaccompanied minors.

By militarizing the situation, we are going to encourage these children and families to avoid the authorities and cause more deaths and confusion.”

Emmanuel Garcia, Texas Democratic Party:  Governor Perry is continuing his routine of photo-op politics to further his Presidential aspirations….Perry’s use of our guard to score political points is wrong. This is a time for humanitarian support.

State Senator Jose Rodriguez:  Let us not forget less than 20 years ago, in 1997, National Guard troops were sent to the border and that action resulted in the tragic death of 18 year-old Ezekiel Hernandez, Jr. National Guard troops have no knowledge or training about the people who live in this region and will serve no real purpose in a border area where migrant children are willingly turning themselves into Border Patrol.

Militarizing the border isn’t going to solve the problems highlighted by the Governor. Neither will blindly spending millions of dollars without discernible accountability or metrics for success.

State Rep. Ana E. Hernandez:  Activating the Texas National Guard and militarizing the Rio Grande border does not address the problem given that these immigrants are voluntarily turning themselves in and according to local law enforcement there has been no increase in crime.

State Rep. Armando Walle:  Sending troops in to scare children is only the latest chapter in Gov. Perry’s pandering to resurrect his failed presidential run. Gov. Perry’s inappropriate, simpleton, and heavy-handed rhetoric and decision-making in this crisis showcase an ability and willingness to to appeal to fringe elements of his party while also serving as an alarming showcase of bad policymaking.

Wendy Davis, candidate for governor, reiterated her call for a special session to fund more deputies. I would respond, but people need to read it from people who don’t look like me, and PDiddie is on it.

Texpatriate has a take, too.

And Kuff has more, too.

 

 

Heroes and Photo Ops

Real Texas Heroes.

I’ve been against Rick Perry’s DPS Surge because the minute I heard about it, I knew he’d use it for propaganda and photo ops. Obviously, in the pic below, Rick Perry is more interested in scaring children with paramilitary uniforms and high-powered weapons. It doesn’t give me the image of “heroes.” I still believe Democrats should stay away from the surge other than to say how much of a waste of tax dollars this is.

 

Look Who’s Running for the Border, Again

Well, it was bound to happen. Domestic terrorists say they are headed for the border to fight brown people.

The mainstream media will call them “anti-government citizen militia groups,” but let’s face it, we know what they really are:  Domestic terrorists. Given their rhetoric, vigilante isn’t even a proper term for them.

These are the same kind of groups as the guy who blew up the Murrah Building in OKC, and the same kind as the Minutemen who are also planning a return to the border. They are the same kind of people I wrote about in 2007 who were into eugenics and promotion of hate, too. And now, it seems, that Rick Perry is willing to act just like them with his deranged conspiracies.

“We’re tired of those SOB’s in Washington D.C. bringing all these illegals into our country and just spreading ‘em out with all their diseases all over the place,” said YouTube user 1HellonHeels, explaining why she is joining “Operation Secure Our Border”, which uses the hashtag #OpSOB on Facebook.

Davis said the “influx of illegal immigrants is bringing bad elements” to the country such as “sickness.”

On Sunday, Governor Rick Perry suggested that President Barack Obama could be leading a conspiracy to bring immigrants into the country.

From USA Today

I would say this would actually give the $1.3 million a week “DPS surge” some actual law enforcement duties, but since they answer to Rick Perry, who knows?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing…Leticia Van de Putte for Lt. Gov. [VIDEO]

Excellent intro video from the Texas Democratic Convention.

Update on Refugee Situation and Opportunities

LUPE, the Rio Grande Valley group who called for a Facebook bomb of Wendy Davis’ FB page, has pulled its call after a letter from Davis to President Barack Obama was released.

In the letter was a call by Davis for the Obama administration to provide more attorneys guardian ad litem to ensure fair legal representation of the refugee children while they go through the process.

“First, by [the administration] providing a sufficient number of immigration judges and attorneys guardian ad litem for unaccompanied minor children immediately. This will assure a sufficient number of judges and ad litems so that adults and children processed by the border patrol will receive an immediate and fair hearing on their immigration requests and, where appropriate, be repatriated to their native country.”

This is different than the letter she sent to Rick Perry, which called on him to ask Obama for more immigration judges to expedite proceedings, but not ad litems. According to LUPE, they believe legal representation will at least provide the children a fighting chance to win their asylum/refugee cases, rather than get swept up by a punitive mass deportation program. This seems to have been enough for LUPE to end its Facebook bomb request. Other activists are still on a holding pattern as to what is next. My opinion is that this is a long process in a challenging system in which there are few winners, and is clogged by delays that even doubling the amount of immigration judges will not relieve. Immediate needs must be addressed.

Davis also explains her request to Rick Perry to call a state of emergency and special session to discuss the humanitarian needs  of refugees provided by local first-responders and charities. Perry has already stated that allocating the money without a session to law enforcement is enough, which means he has no desire to respond to humanitarian needs of the refugees.

Finally, Davis calls on the Obama administration to reimburse state and local governments for all expenses incurred during this crisis. We all know this is easier requested than actually obtained, considering the Republicans Congress would rather lay blame on policies such as Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, than actually attempt to come up with and pay for a sensible solution that doesn’t require armed militias and border walls.

That said, this is an ongoing crisis that requires immediate assistance for relief of overcrowded facilities, health risks within these facilities, and developing alternatives to detention that will lessen the burden and cost of warehousing these refugees. Long-term solutions, though, will continue to be a challenge as long as President Obama and Congress continue their political games on immigration reform and deportations that do little to include challenges such as refugee crises. Considering we have known of these refugees since at least 2006, it can be said that ignoring the problem began with George W. Bush in office, if one wants to go on playing games.

In the political sense, Wendy Davis has an opportunity to go above the current conversation and help craft a strong Texas-Latin America policy campaign plank that could serve as a model for the nation that concentrates on improving conditions on both sides of the border–economically and socially–given our economic power and diversity as a state, without the need for punitive, enforcement-only notions. Obviously, the alternative in Abbott-Patrick is not only bad, but a threat to the future of Texas and relations with Latin America.

As has been stated previously, State Senator Wendy Davis has been a defender of the Texas DREAM Act, which allows for in-state tuition for children of immigrants who have been in the state for a certain amount of time. Signed into law by Rick Perry, this can hardly be blamed on President Obama. Davis has also supported a call for comprehensive immigration reform. Abbott-Patrick are obviously more interested in blame games and right-wing rhetoric. Refugee situations, though, have hardly ever been addressed by state governments.

Texas is in need of cooler heads that don’t cause panic; while panic is all the Republicans are interested in causing. Obviously, the refugee/asylum system is not part of a governor’s job description, but our state elected officials must be proactive in addressing these situations toward a positive end for all involved, rather than play politics. That’s the bigger challenge, and if we follow the words of Bishop Doyle, we should come out just fine.

History instead will note how Texas took care of the children that came to her. History may yet tell a tale about how we were made stronger by facing our crisis courageously instead of casting blame for political gain. History may tell how innovative Texans resolved to ensure the health and safety of all those who sought her aid while increasing the economic success of their society. It is my hope that history will tell future generations about how this generation remembered the Texas motto of friendship.