Category Archives: Texas Lege

Abbott Calls Criticism of His Border Waste “Politics”

Credit: Gay/AP

All those photo ops at the border, photos with Trump whining about the border, photos with National Guard members, photos in DPS choppers doing fly-overs of the border. Then there’s the billions of dollars wasted on this boondoggle with no transparency in sight, and the soldier suicides during this border folly. The criticism has piled up on Greg Abbott and it comes from Democrats and Republicans.

Abbott’s response, “It’s just politics.”

No, politics is blaming people escaping poverty and violence for the problems caused by Abbott’s own budget giveaways to the wealthy, thus making the Rio Grande Valley the most uninsured region in the state and still vulnerable to another freeze. Politics is looking away when local law enforcement is stealing money from undocumented people trying to find safety. Greg Abbott is all about politics and using his power to blame others for the purpose gaining the support of the bigots in society. But, we’ve known this. It’s just that it’s taken people too damn long to admit it for fear of losing “moderates,” instead of strengthening our base.

Thankfully, Democrat Beto O’Rourke has been speaking out a bit on Abbott’s border folly, especially demanding answers regarding Abbott’s mistreatment of the National Guard.

If Abbott truly cared about law enforcement (beyond using them for photo ops), he wouldn’t have sent 10,000 National Guard troops to the border while failing to pay them and slashing the benefits he promised them. He owes them answers.

Hopefully, he’ll call Abbott out on his border policies beyond the National Guard. Really, O’Rourke’s border pronouncements should be about ensuring human rights and access to services. The rest of the problem, such as asylum process and immigration reform is President Biden’s job, and O’Rourke can demand more from the White House.

Legislators from both sides of the aisle have also been calling out Abbott, but, they’re also the ones who fully funded the $3 billion Abbott demanded for this debacle without much questioning. They need to be paying attention before this crap happens, but they’re too preoccupied with passing something for their own districts. Welcome to the show, anyway, I guess.

Democrats have waited too long–years–to demand answers for Abbott’s border boondoggle. Abbott and his fellow bigots have done a good job of convincing border folks that all of the problems they face are the fault of people escaping poverty and violence. And Democrats have done little to combat this, even going along to get along with Abbott.

I hope that as O’Rourke calls out Abbott on these policies that those legislators calling him out back Beto up. Otherwise, all the complaints are just media-ops for themselves.

Greg Abbott’s Inhumanity Continues

Let’s not be shocked that Greg Abbott’s inaction on COVID-19 continues. Instead of a strong push on vaccinations, he’s just sitting back and doing nothing. Instead of a push to encourage mask-wearing, he’s safe in the mansion enjoying the holidays. He fears his right-wing base so much that he won’t even tell us if he got the booster or not. And as Trump found out, ignorance is bliss with that crowd. All this as Omicron is upon us and the last check on COVID-19 positivity tracking toward 15%. With all the testing going on of travelers and people wanting to visit their families, it’s sure to jump a bit more.

Meanwhile, Abbott’s use of the Texas-Mexico border for political purposes continues. He’s trumping up a wall–less than 1,000 feet so far. He’s thrown tax dollars at it–a billion dollars which will build a few miles for photo op purposes. No details and no transparency, but that’s how Republicans work as they dole out money to corporations for this debacle. All while blaming migrants escaping violence and poverty caused by bad US policy. If Texans buy this as a solution, well, the stupid is strong in those believers.

Then, there’s the “catch and jail” program in which Abbott charges migrants with trespassing when captured on private border land, places them in a state prison (which are badly run), and give them to border counties (Kinney) to prosecute. This whole program is a farce and badly run, just like the state of Texas, as the judge in charge has appointed his own set of judges to ensure Abbott keeps his prison filled with pre-trial detainees.

Then, there’s Abbott rescinding a posthumous pardon of George Floyd because of a clerical error? Thousands of employees and lots of lawyers and they can’t get it right? C’mon!

So, as Kuff reminds us today, Abbott is the same as he ever was. Evil.

Visit BetoForTexas.com for the alternative.

Thoughts On The 2022 Dem Primary

I’m going over the candidate list that Erik Manning is completing for the 2022 Dem Primary and I’m already seeing some races of interest. Here are a few:

From the looks of it, it looks like we will be keeping Lizzie Fletcher as a member of Congress, CD7, who came out unopposed in the primary. Of course, the redraw had me losing Congressman Al Green, and now my sis up in Cypress has lost Fletcher. In fact, Fletcher is going to be repping a more Democratic and diverse district with a lot more area that she has not represented. If her office is as responsive as she has been with folks she represented, we’ll be fine and she’ll be around for awhile.

Beto O’Rourke will likely be our gubernatorial candidate despite having a few opponents. Let’s face it, he’s been everywhere in the state and has a good infrastructure. He’s in the best position to rep us and beat Abbott.

There are three in the run for Lt. Governor. Mike Collier is the one who has been in the running the longest, but two female opponents (Michelle Beckley and TSU Prof/TDP Vice Chair Carla Brailey) will make the race interesting. I’m leaning Mike because he’s been everywhere in Texas and not just aiming for regional acceptance to get the nomination.

The AG race will be a tough one for me. I’ve known Joe Jaworski since his days as Galveston mayor and I like that he’s been everywhere in Texas. Lee Merritt says all the right things. And Rochelle Garza is the South Texan in the race who has worked in civil rights through ACLU. I’m just going to sit in the cheap seats and watch for a while.

Comptroller of Public Accounts has a Fort Bend area guy by the name of Angel Luis Vega. He had contemplated running for CD-22 but looks like he landed on this one. Don’t recognize the other names but Vega did send me a FB friend request. Sometimes, it’s all about trying, right?

General Land Commissioner race has Jinny Suh, whom I’ve mentioned before. There has been talk of Jay Kleberg of the King Ranch people. Not a fan of King Ranch’s history with Mexicanos, but we’ll get into that later.

The race for State Rep 147 to replace Garnet Coleman will be an interesting one. A couple of faves are Reagan Flowers and Aurelia Wagner. But I’ll be watching from the cheap seats.

The area Court of Appeals races and a couple of statewide judicial races have my attention. I see sitting District Judges running for a promotion and that’s great. They’re good people. But if/when they were to win, whomever is governor gets to name their replacement. I guess we need to work extra hard for Beto, then.

The race for the 14th Court Place 2 has long time District Judge Kyle Carter versus Cheri Thomas. Cheri ran in 2020 for an appellate position and is well-liked. It’s easy to coalesce behind a popular sitting judge, but the thought of Abbott possibly getting to replace a couple of them makes me uneasy. It gives me more respect for Judge Ravi Sandill who was also running for an appellate seat but withdrew to stay in his current seat.

The race for County Commissioner Pct 4 ended up with six candidates: Leslie Briones, Gina Calanni, Benjamin Chou, Clarence Miller, Jeffery Stauber, and Ann Williams. I’ve mentioned three here who announced with much excitement, and the others I have not heard from in the form of some communication. But it’s still early…sorta. The possibility of a run-off is strong in this one, so, we may see each of the candidates playing to their immediate fan base to get enough for the run-off. Of course, if there were to be some sort of coalescing behind one who has institutional support, then, it would not surprise me. Let’s hope they make it exciting.

County Commish Adrian Garcia is being challenged by long-time JP George Risner and one other unknown. What’s up with that? Either you support what the Democratic majority on the court has done or you want to play to the right and cause division among Democrats.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo ended up with a few challengers who should be negligible. There may be one who has enough support to cause annoyance but it all depends on how that candidate challenges her. Hidalgo has led the county effectively through this pandemic, and, thankfully, a Democratic majority on Commissioner’s Court has helped pass various funding and reform packages despite right-wing opposition. Never has county government been this accessible. Now, if a Democratic challenger is going to whine about it and somehow call this “division” because the Republicans are acting like whiny idiots whose only answer to good policy is “NO!”, well, go for it and see if trying to divide our Party over pandemic decisions works. I’m with Lina.

This is just a quick overview of what’s catching my eye. Once the campaigning begins beyond the Christmas party selfies, I hope we learn more about the candidates.

Former State Rep Gina Calanni Enters Race for Pct 4 Commish

The newly redrawn Precinct 4 is quite busy, as folks will notice.

Former State Rep of District 132 Gina Calanni has entered the race for the Dem nod for County Commish Pct 4.

Calanni states her proven success at the Texas Capitol as a “bold advocate that understands what it means to work hard and struggle for their loved ones, and for what they believe in” makes her the one to be the candidate. Calanni is running on issues, such as climate change policy and infrastructure to minimize the impact of severe weather events, as well as ensuring health care and mental health services that are accessible. Issues that affect the western reaches of Harris County and all of Harris County.

More on Gina Calanni:

Former State Representative Gina Calanni is Vice President of Finance for CalyxPure, an American manufacturer of air purification devices and LEDs, an author, cancer survivor, and mom of three boys.

Gina is running for Harris County Commissioner Precinct 4 to continue serving the public as an unyielding voice for Texas families. Gina firmly believes in giving all Texans the opportunity to pursue success and happiness, no matter their race, ethnicity, zip code, gender, or sexual orientation. She is ready to continue the fight for critical issues like increasing access to affordable healthcare, tackling rising property taxes, defeating the plague of human trafficking locally, and making sure Harris County is equipped to handle future catastrophic weather events.

The big news in her press release is that she has earned the endorsement of her former colleague, State Rep Gene Wu (District 137). Wu cites the hardships Calanni has overcome which have made her a fierce advocate for Texas families. “It’s about time Texans had someone fighting for them and not just wealthy donors.”

I guess we’ll need to wait until January to see who’s getting the big money.

So, the race for the new Precinct 4 Commish seat gets more interesting despite republican whining about redistricting.

Voters have their homework to do in learning more about the candidates–a lot more than waiting for direct mail pieces with photos of endorsers. While the issues will have their similarities, it may come down to one question: Who is willing to fight for the issues by not running away from them after the Primary?

Beto O’Rourke Files for TXGov As 2022 Dem Primary Filing Period Begins

Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke announced his candidacy for Governor of Texas on Monday morning which caused sighs of relief everywhere.

“I’m running to serve the people of Texas, and I want to make sure that we have a governor that serves everyone, helps to bring this state together to do the really big things before us and get past the small, divisive politics and policies of Greg Abbott,” O’Rourke said in an interview with The Texas Tribune. “It is time for change.”

Texas Tribune

Yes, I am among those who are relieved, too. We knew it was coming, but I’m glad he did it early in the filing period. Also, while he’s running to win, it is my hope that his candidacy will drive up participation and excitement, particularly in Democratic strongholds and areas affected by Republican redistricting in which many are losing representation.

Greg Abbott’s response was to parade around his newest minion, Ryan Guillen, a state rep who represents South Texas’s HD31 and who switched to the GOP after being squeezed by right-wingers during redistricting. The Trib calls it a blow to Democrats, but I see it as finally getting rid of an ineffective member who has always been part of the republican’s bigoted culture war. New representation has been needed for a long time. Dems in the Lege stated that Guillen chose to buckle after his district was made tougher for a Dem to win. Pobrecito el chaquetero. Good riddance. And that should be the Dems’ attitude while recruiting a good candidate.

Meanwhile, the Harris County Democratic Party began taking candidate filing applications this last Saturday. The filing deadline is December 13. Hopefully, the party will have a running list of filings on their website soon. They do have some admin work to do while folks file. Of course, there’s also the Erik Manning list of folks with campaign treasurer appointments.

Prospective judicial candidates have been hard at work for months collecting signatures that will allow them to forgo the filing application and become part of the coordinated campaign which pools resources for countywide GOTV. Thus far, I haven’t signed any petitions, but that is because I’m keeping myself safe from unmasked events. Anyway…

Some are expecting surprise announcements as the deadline nears. We shall see what happens.

Here’s the video of Beto O’Rourke’s announcement, while Kuff expands on the story.

Early Voting Has Begun – Oct 18 – 29, 2021

Early Voting around Harris County has begun and will run through October 29, 2021. You can vote early at any location in Harris County. You can find your sample ballot by clicking here.

On the ballot are eight (8) state propositions and you may also have local school and college board trustee races on your ballot, so, your sample ballot is the best way to find out what’s up.

My ballot will look like this:

State Propositions (Ballotpedia Explains The Propositions)

Prop 1 – Adds pro rodeo foundations to list authorized to hold raffles. (FOR)

Prop 2 – Allows counties to issue bonds to finance redevelopment of towns and cities. (FOR)

Prop 3 – Forbids local government from prohibiting or limiting religious services (when something like COVID-19 or some sort of disaster occurs and the decision is made for the protection of residents). (AGAINST) (Explanation)

Prop 4 – Changes the eligibility requirements for judges to run for office. (FOR)

Prop 5 – Extends State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s power over judicial candidates. (FOR)

Prop 6 – Allows group home residents to name an essential caregiver with visiting rights. (FOR)

Prop 7 – Allows surviving spouses, 55 or older, of disabled persons a limit on school district property taxes. (FOR)

Prop 8 – Allows surviving spouse of military member killed in action to a property tax exemption. (FOR)

ALIEF ISD

Position 4 – Debby Pepper (Endorsed by TSTA)

Position 5 – Randal Stewart

Position 6 – Ronald Franklin (Endorsed by TSTA)

Position 7 – Damon Barone (Endorsed by TSTA)

Bond Prop A – FOR (Bond Descriptions)

Bond Prop B – FOR

Bond Prop C – FOR

Bond Prop D – FOR


While I do not reside in Houston ISD, I do have some favorites.

District I – Elizabeth Santos

District V – Sue Deigaard

District VI – Holly Flynn Vilaseca

District VII – Anne Sung

And, while I await the outcome of whatever is going on with my own HCC trustee, my favorites for whom I am not able to vote are:

HCC District 3 – Adriana Tamez

HCC District 8 – Eva Loredo

Get your voting done early. Otherwise, you can vote on November 2.

Greg Abbott Is Evil…The Next Chapter

It’s all a show, really. Greg Abbott’s death mandates to ban vaccination mandates are all for show. At this point, even with slowed vaccination rates, all Greg Abbott is doing is speaking to what’s left of his base that is yet to get vaccinated. I’m pretty sure most of his actual campaign check-writers are vax’d, since they all enjoy taking advantage of the stupid and right-wing.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued another executive order cracking down on COVID-19 vaccine mandates — this time banning any entity in Texas, including private businesses, from requiring vaccinations for employees or customers.

Abbott also called on the Legislature to pass a law with the same effect, promising to rescind the executive order once that happenedThe Legislature is in this year’s third special legislative session, which ends Oct. 19.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, & our best defense against the virus, but should always remain voluntary & never forced.”

Gee, Greg, you’re talking out of both ends of your body.

I agree with Kuff that it seems like a childish tantrum to whine and moan about President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination order affecting companies with 100+ employees. The reality is that there is no whining when it comes to all the other vaccines children are required to obtain.

While GOP officials are pushing back against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, the state has allowed other kinds of vaccine mandates in public schools and universities for years.

Texas public schools require K-12 students to get vaccinated for tetanus; polio; measles, mumps and rubella; hepatitis B; chickenpox; meningitis and hepatitis A. College students are required to receive a meningitis vaccination, too. Health care and veterinary students are required to get additional vaccines for rabies, tetanus-diphtheria and hepatitis B.

For Abbott, this is all a response to Biden winning the election, proving again that he is a failure as a governor. Meanwhile, the State of Texas is only 52% vaccinated against COVID-19, over 68,000 have died under Greg Abbott’s failed leadership, and people are still getting sick and suffering.

This is a reminder that, in Texas, since Day 1, we have been on our own. I’d also add that there’s an election in 2022, but we need an announced viable candidate to get excited about that.

Greg Abbott Tries To Match Biden With Idiocy

While Biden’s Border thugs go merrily along with their long-time practices, Greg Abbott went for the stupid and idiotic with his “steel wall” idea to stop Haitians and other migrants from crossing into the US.

Yes, he is wasting tax dollars on lining up miles of DPS vehicles on the border. No, really.

Since they are cop cars, one has to wonder if the vehicles have the motor running at all times and who is getting the gasoline contract to keep them filled. Because where there is government waste, there is some donor getting a contract. One will recall that Abbott just approved $2 billion for him to spend on “the border” in anyway way pleases.

A reminder that the money certainly isn’t going to fix the electrical grid.

Abbott’s Border Boondoggle Continues

While Texas is on fire because of COVID-19 and Greg Abbott’s policies surrounding COVID-19, Abbott continues his border boondoggle, throwing money and resources at an issue which requires nuance and creativity to mitigate–mostly, at the federal level. Abbott has never been nuanced nor creative, he’s just wasteful and a monster.

The Texas Trib’s Uriel Garcia wrote a lengthy report about the various sides and various demands advocates and blamers are seeking from Greg Abbott.

The DPS officials told Pimentel that once Abbott’s order went into effect, troopers would constantly watch Catholic Charities’ shelter in McAllen, the largest in the area for migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., according to a brief the shelter filed in court as part of a federal lawsuit against the governor.

If troopers saw shelter employees and volunteers transporting migrants, they would pull over and impound the vehicle, the director told Avilés and Pimentel, the shelter’s executive director.

In the court documents, Pimentel said if the shelter couldn’t transport migrants to the nearby airport or a hotel, the shelter would become overcrowded — and increase the risk of COVID-19 if staff could not transport infected migrants to a hotel to be isolated.

“We would have to turn away mothers and babies who are seeking temporary shelter, food, and medical assistance,” she said. “If we cannot provide humanitarian aid, it is my understanding that these families would likely be left to their own devices on the street, without access to food, shelter and medical care.”

Yes, the DPS is Abbott’s gestapo, going door-to-door harrassing human rights groups who are simply helping migrants seeking asylum and escaping violence and poverty. Unfortunately, the Texas Lege has consistently funded his anti-immigrant campaigns of waste with little opposition from Lege Democrats, nor from progressive groups not related to migrant rights groups.

I guess it’s just one of those issues that liberals feel will inevitably pass, so why fight it?

Anyway, Abbott is still collecting for a gofundme wall, while local governments are waking up to the reality of Abbott’s priorities: It’s all about politics.

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, who has criticized both the Biden administration and Abbott for how they’ve handled immigration, said the governor’s approach gives a “false portrayal” that the problem is illegal immigration, when in reality, the problem is not having resources to help asylum-seeking migrants who are following a legal immigration process.

Cortez said a wall or more state troopers on the border wouldn’t stop migrants from seeking asylum. The Valley needs resources to help asylum-seekers be processed in a more humane and practical way, he said, rather than packing them into overcrowded shelters and the processing center at the Anzalduas Bridge.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much lobbying for this at the Texas Capitol from county and local leaders. Again, instead of being proactive, they have fallen prey to Abbott’s reactionary politics, and have even joined the game of blaming migrants.

The reality is that half (probably more) of those crossing into the US are seeking asylum as families. The Trib has a good video showing some of this reality.

Meanwhile, the word is that Greg Abbott is wanting to open a second Texas state prison (TDCJ) that he is emptying out by transferring inmates to other prisons in South Texas for the purpose of jailing migrants who have allegedly trespassed on private land while trekking through South Texas. But the first jail is hardly filled.

Reminder: The inmates are arrested by Abbott’s gestapo, tried, and convicted of a misdemeanor with minimal due process, then jailed at a former state prison. By the time all of this is done, they have either done time served or completed their sentences. Once completed, they are kept in the prison until ICE picks them up, if they even decide to pick them up. Those that aren’t are released by Abbott. And then things like this happen.

Last month, Antonio fled Venezuela with his father to seek asylum in the United States, saying he feared violent political persecution. He ended up in a Texas prison for weeks, accused of trespassing on private property after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in Del Rio.

The 18-year-old was one of the first arrested under Gov. Greg Abbott’s new “catch-and-jail” policy to lock up migrants on state criminal charges instead of referring them to federal authorities. He was also one of the first released, after prosecutors realized state police had, against orders, separated him from his father to make the arrest.

Once Antonio was out of the prison, it quickly became clear that local, state and federal officials had no idea what to do with him. Stuck in a bureaucratic limbo, he ended up at the home of his court-appointed defense attorney for days.

It gets worse.

“It really points to the fundamental problem with state law enforcement attempting to engage with immigration enforcement,” said Kate Huddleston, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. “What we see here is the state interfering in that process … that now makes it difficult for someone seeking asylum to go through the process as intended and move quickly out of the border region.”

Antonio was released from prison last week after Val Verde County’s misdemeanor-level prosecutor dropped the trespassing charge at his first court hearing because state troopers aren’t supposed to separate families under Abbott’s arrest orders.

But days later, Antonio was still trapped in Del Rio without a path to begin the asylum process or reunite with his father, who was awaiting his own asylum hearing in Florida.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which often takes immigrants from the state system to begin deportation proceedings, wasn’t interested in Antonio because he had no criminal conviction on his record, according to the county sheriff. And U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which processes asylum-seekers after they are apprehended at the border, declined to take on someone who’d already been in the state system. Neither federal agency responded to questions this week about Antonio.

Seriously, Abbott, DPS, local Barnie Fifes, nor the National Guard have no business doing immigration work–any of it. I hope Democrats who have returned to the Special Session will push back on Abbott when his Special Session demand for more border money is discussed.

Republicans Blame Brown People for COVID-19

Thus far, the governors of two failing states, Texas and Iowa, have blamed brown folks for the rise in the COVID-19 rate. They don’t blame the fact that half of their states have yet to be vaccinated or that they are run by anti-mask republicans, though.

In Texas, Greg Abbott has given orders to his state police to commit racial profiling to stop any car with suspected migrants from leaving South Texas in the name of COVID-19. Meanwhile, we don’t know the vaccination rate of his state police, county police who are happily assisting him, or his national guard members. We also know that more than half the state is unvaccinated because of him.

In Iowa, its governor blames brown folk, but the Iowa State Fair goes merrily on with no mask mandate while the medical experts worry about the kind of COVID-19 outbreak that will occur.

You can use a term like “culture war” all you want, but this is downright racist public policy. And those running for office need to call it what it is because the republicans sure as hell aren’t playing nice. Why should we?

The Attorney General of the United States spoke up and threatened to sue Abbott for his policy which violates civil rights of noncitizens in federal custody. Unfortunately, the Biden’s administration position has more to do with defending its right to transport captured migrants, rather than changing immigration and detention policy altogether.

Anyway, we are seeing what the republican platform will be in 2022.