Monday, August 31, 2020

Dallas actually does something that's worth imitating

"If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed."
1 Timothy 4:6

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson sent a memo to the city manager and City Council asking for $6.5 million of city executive salaries to be moved toward public safety initiatives in the next year's proposed budget.

Johnson sent the letter Friday, detailing the salary cuts and how the savings should be applied to public safety spending or two other options in the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 budget.

Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a legislative proposal where any city that defunds police departments will have its property tax revenue frozen at its current rate.

Johnson responded that Dallas has seen an "unacceptable" increase in violent crime and called for investment in a "highly trained and well-led police department that emphasizes community policing."

The mayor said he believes city leaders "should be willing to cut executive compensation — a sacrifice that many private sector companies and nonprofits have already made."

That savings in the City's general fund should "work to improve the lives of our constituents."
Yeah, good deal.

We've long believed that Eric Johnson is one of the smarter Democrats in this state. His fellow blue team partisans would be wise to follow his lead. They probably won't. But they should.

Cutting bureaucracy to fund public services is a good thing.

Bottom Line: Under most circumstances, this website opposes the Dallasing of Austin...but we'll make an exception for cutting bureaucratic salaries to fund public safety.

Friday, August 28, 2020

#TXLEGE, #atxcouncil: Presler's Oversimplification

"If a ruler pays attention to lies,
All his servants become wicked."
Proverbs 29:12

National activist Scott Presler was in town yesterday and made an observation that was...not incorrect:

For the record: We are currently typing this blog post about half a mile from where this video was filmed. We can attest to its observational accuracy. Unfortunately, experience has taught us that Preseler's proposed solution isn't good enough.

Presler's point might be valid in places like Seattle where the D's control both the local and the state gov. That's not the case here. Austin, whatever else you want to say about it, is still part of TEXAS. TEXAS as in the GOP controls everything.

Nevertheless, scenes like the one Scott Presler detailed yesterday persist.

The truth, of course, is that the Texas GOP could address this issue in six hours if they had the political will. They don't. See here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here. Why address this issue when it's such a good fundraiser?!?

Bottom Line:  While Scott Presler's observation about our municipal government is correct, he's unfortunately overlooking that our state government is likewise failing to use the jurisdiction it already possesses.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

#TXLEGE: The Leticia van de Putte Precedent on Special Election timing/vacancies

"Put them in fear, O Lord,
That the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah"
Psalm 9:20

A couple days ago, we raised the question about the legality of Governor Abbott's special election order in SD-30.

Last night, it was brought to our attention that this isn't the first time in recent memory this situation has occurred.

To wit:
To ensure Democrats don't have one fewer Senate member when the legislative session begins on Jan. 13, [Former Senator Leticia] Van de Putte intends to only vacate her seat [for an ultimately unsuccessful run for San Antonio mayor] once the special election's winner is sworn in.
Whatever you want to say about the propriety or wisdom of holding a special election before the seat is technically "vacant," it's happened before.

Of course, none of that negates anything we've previously said about the nakedly political nature of Abbbot's announcement. But just because something's nakedly political doesn't make it illegal. Ballot box, not courts.

Bottom Line: This topic might very well be one at which the lege should take a look. The status quo might or might not be good. At a minimum, however, Abbott's sunday announcemnt is consistent with how the underlying statues have been understaood in recent years.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

TPPF: Homeless, not Hopeless

"Let all things be done decently and in order."
1 Corinthians 14:40

Really good presentation from TPPF a couple days ago:

  • "Housing first" is a farce.
  • 75%(ish) of the homeless population has serious substance and/or mental health issues.
  • Austin's policies making problem worse.
  • Dozens of people sleeping outside within a few blocks of TPPF.
    • Personal Note: Can confirm.
  • Businesses have basically abandoned downtown Seattle.
  • There have been multiple murders committed at UT-Austin by homeless individuals.
  • When Chip Roy discussed the topic with Adler, all Adler wanted was more money from the feds.
  • "You need to balance compassion with enforcement."
  • If local governments won't maintain public order, anything else you try is a waste of time.
  • Homelessness is down over 50% in Houston in the past decade.
    • Note: This is worth further study, cuz' Houston ain't exactly conservative.
  • Travis county is abdicating it's responsibility and letting the city take heat.
  • Take a serious look at bringing back insane asylums.
    • (VERY IMPORTANT) NOTE: The speaker said that.  NOT this author.  While we admit this is an interesting idea in the context of homelessnees, to put it mildly we don't trust the state of Texas on the subject of "mental health."

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

#TXLEGE: Is Abbott's Special Election Gambit Even Legal?!? (not that he cares)

"Because of the transgression of a land, many are its princes;
But by a man of understanding and knowledge
Right will be prolonged."
Proverbs 28:2

We said our piece about the SD-30 special election yesterday.  We'll have more to say in the coming days.  It's the most interesting thing that has happened in ages.

Before we get too far on this journey, however, Michael Quinn Sullivan raises a really good point:

We don't know what the letter of the Texas election code says. That's a lawyer question. At a minimum, however, calling a special election for a seat that's not yet vacant seems to violate the spirit of the law.

Not that Greg Abbott cares about that.

Bottom Line: This is simply the latest in the long line of abuses and usurpations, but it's nevertheless a good question.

Monday, August 24, 2020

#TXLEGE: Shelley Luther is Abbott's worst nightmare

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

That was quick:

To understand the significance of Dave Carney's Abbott's order, you need to interpret it in the context of Shelley Luther's announcement this past weekend:
There is a LOT to unpack here. We'll have to go through it quickly. But the TL,DR version is that Greg Abbott just exposed the weakness of his hand.

[Note: Drew Springer is also running (as we predicted).  Plenty on him at the appropriate time.  For now, however, just know that Springer's who Dave Carney Abbott wants in this seat.]


The Game Abbott thinks he's playing:

On paper, and under 'normal' circumstances, a quick election favors the professional politician.   They have a campaign team.   They don't have to build name id.   Lobbyists will give them money.

In this case, Drew Springer is the professional politician who Dave Carney's Greg Abbott's trying to help.

Like it or not, under 'normal' circumstances, there's a certain logic to that thinking.

Unfortunately for Dave Carney Greg Abbott and Drew Springer, we're not in normal circumstances.


Abbott's blunder:

Dave Carney's Abbott's logic has two major flaws:
  • Abbott's not particularly popular at the moment.
  • Shelley Luther probably has just as much, if not more, name ID than Drew Springer.
Thus, for as much as Dave Carney Abbott thinks he's helping Springer, the quick turnaround probably benefits Shelley Luther.

If you're Dave Carney Greg Abbott, and you're being smart, you want COVID (and the ensuing restrictions) as far in the rear view mirrior as possible by the time this election is held. If we're coming out of the season, it's entirely conceivable that you could frame this election as being about the future rather than the past. By holding the election next month, however, we remain in the current season and what could have been the past remains the present.


Shelley Luther:

We've seen a number of knowledgeable people bring up the fact that she's new. Thus, we don't know much about her. That's a valid point.

However, we do know a few things:
  • She's personable.
  • She's well spoken.
  • She's NORMAL.
  • All of which is to say, that it looks like she'd be a really good candidate.
  • Greg Abbott hates her guts.
  • In terms of her performance in the event she's elected, who knows?!?  But those who've worked with her up to this point seem to think highly of her.  Considering that her only declared opponent is known to be bad, we'll take the unknown.

If there's someone with a longer, and more verifiable, conservative record...they have a week to step up.

Unless that happens, however, a one-on-one between Shelley Luther and Drew Springer is a VERY easy call.


Drew Springer:

Moron that guy at the appropriate time, but you can teach yourself about his record here.

Also, item 5 here tells you what you need to know about Springer's vindictive streak (see also here).

Finally, this one was recent and obnoxious.


Then there's this:


Jim Murphy, for those who are new, is this guy.


Bottom Line: This could be a lot of fun.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Harris County definitely doesn't need an "extension" on mail-in ballots

"How long, O you sons of men,
Will you turn my glory to shame?
How long will you love worthlessness
And seek falsehood? Selah"
Psalm 4:2

Press Release from RPT:
“The Harris County Clerk, Chris Hollins, has sent a letter to Governor Abbott requesting an extension for the receipt of ballots for this November’s election. First of all, we should recognize the insidious conflict of interest for Mr. Hollins as he is also the treasurer of the Texas Democrat Party.

If anyone believes that Hollins’ appointment to this position, in the largest county in Texas, is not nefarious in nature, you are delusional. It was Mr. Hollins who pushed for an extension of early voting, which, sadly, was granted by Governor Abbott. We cannot allow this partisan hack, who fills a taxpayer-funded position, to continue to advance the left’s agenda which will result in election fraud by way of ballot harvesting.

Harris County, under the inept guidance of County Judge Lina Hidalgo, has already committed some $12M to mail-in ballots, quite different from absentee ballots. If the citizens of Harris County can stand in line at Walmart, Home Depot, and other places, surely they can do so on election day.

The Republican Party of Texas asks that Governor Abbott deny this absurd request by Harris County Clerk, Chris Hollins, and preclude the progressive socialist left from implementing their designs to undermine our democracy and election integrity.”
Now, first things first, RPT could probably stand to...tone down some of those adjectives. Statements like these are a great way to preach to the choir, but don't help reach beyond it. You're coming on a little too strong.

In terms of substance, however, RPT's 100% right.

We're still over two months out from the election. There's plenty of time if you're diligent. The request from Harris county is a pre-emptive excuse for failure.

So, two and a half cheers from RPT.

Even if, GOL-LY, that's a lot of adjectives.

Bottom Line: There's no reason to pre-emptively excuse failure when there's plenty of opportunity for basic competence.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

California Gives New Life to Texas GOP's Oldest, Lamest, Argument


"But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head."
Psalm 3:3

OAKLAND, Calif. — Uber and Lyft say that unless a state appeals court decides to intervene Thursday, they will shut down their passenger services across California for at least several months if not more than a year.
Apparently, in the time between when we first saw this story and when we sat down to write this blog post, Uber/Lyft got a reprieve from the courts in California.  So they stay.  For now.

But that doesn't change the point we had orignally intended to make.  Cuz uber and ridesharing was the one time the Texas Legislature actually did something useful.  And, apparently it mattered.

It's not a secret that this website used to bash California a lot.   We've gotten out of the habit the longer we've observed Texas government up close.  But it's not like the argument didn't have merit.

Crazy times.

Bottom Line: Whatever else you want to say about Texas under the GOP, they did address the Uber issue.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

#TXLEGE: Wendy Davis...and quasi-legal Bribery of Texas Legislators


"A present is a precious stone in the eyes of its possessor;
Wherever he turns, he prospers."
Proverbs 17:8

Understand something: These charges are 100% accurate. The original source material is here and here. Wendy Davis ABSOLUTELY lived large off of her campaign contributors.

[Note to the Club for Growth: Since you brought it up, don't forget Wendy Davis' career as a conflict-of-interest infested toll road lawyer.]

That being said, this story isn't about Wendy Davis personally.  At least, not really (beyond the fact that Wendy Davis is personally running for another office this cycle).  This is about bidness-as-usual in Texas state government.

Cuz' Wendy Davis ain't the only one doing this.

[Note to opposition researchers: When running against a current or former Texas legislator, ALWAYS check the "expenditure" sections of their old campaign finance reports. Especially in cycles where they don't have credible opposition. Never know what you'll find.]

Also, you'd think that after Rick Perry and Royce West, those who've spent a career working in Texas State government would think twice about running for federal office.

Oh well.

Bottom Line:  Wendy Davis certainly didn't invent the game.  But she's been a player.  Whatever the impact in this particular congressional race, this is a teachable moment for the whole operation.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

#TXLEGE: Abbott basically revives one of our old proposals (with a tweak)

"So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,
And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands."
Psalm 78:72

We're not necessarily for or against this proposal.  It has a lot of moving parts.  Charles Blain has good questions about practicality.  This is definitely one of those times where you're going to have to read the bill.

However, there's plenty of time for that.

In the meantime, we can't help thinking that someone once made a substantively similar proposal on a slightly different topic.

Who, pray tell, could that have been?!?
[T]here's another, much simpler, way to hold local governments' feet to the fire.

Later this session, the legislature will discuss restructuring the property tax system. The biggest policy change will likely be alterations in the "rollback" rate. "Rollback" rate refers to the point past which cities and counties have to seek voter approval to raise property taxes.

Imagine the following amendment on the property tax bill: "Any political subdivision that denies ICE detainers shall have their rollback rate set to zero."

In other words, all of their spending would be on the table...and it wouldn't require a drawn out court fight.

Swap in "defunding the police" for "ICE detainers," and Abbott is basically making our proposal from 2017.

Again, there are some rather significant practical challenges. So don't take this as an endorsement until we see specific legislative language. However, the instinct to hit intrangisent local governments on the property tax front is a commendable one.

And not just on this particular issue.

Bottom Line: Sincerest form of flattery, etc.

Monday, August 17, 2020

#TXLEGE: OTOH, the Brazenness is Kinda Funny

"He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy."
Proverbs 28:13

Via. Texas Scorecard:
Since March, the Texas Capitol has been closed to the public, as part of the state’s response to the Chinese coronavirus. As the upcoming legislative session draws closer on the calendar, questions have arisen over whether the Capitol will remain closed once session begins.

An anonymous survey of Texas House members reveals most lawmakers favor restricting access to the Texas Capitol building.


Though many House members are in favor of restrictions on citizens, the tables begin to turn when talking about themselves. Eighty-six percent favor designating certain entrances of the Texas Capitol building for members and staff only. And 76 percent favor keeping the members’ lounge open for business, serving food and drinks, with one anonymous respondent calling it “absolutely necessary.”

“The members’ lounge is a critical component to member relationships. Often, it is the only time for members to get to know each other and have good discussions,” said one respondent. “Members who are really concerned do not have to go in there, but it should be open.”
To fully understand the context, consider that:
  • The members lounge is where they keep the booze.
  • Charlie Geren is the chair of the house admin. committee.
Does this one really need further explanation?!?

Bottom Line:  Apparently, lobbyists funded alcohol kills COVID

Friday, August 14, 2020

#TXLEGE: News and notes from Bryan Slaton

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"
Hebrews 12:1

There been a decent amount of keyboard strokes spilled over Bryan Slaton's recent interview over his discussion of Greg Abbott's negative coattails. That's fine. It's certainly an important topic. And we largely agree with the conclusions.

That being said, there's a lot more there that's worthy of consideration.

  • Running the third time is VERY rare.
  • Incumbents tend to have accumulated loyalty.
  • Decided to run for the third time after the Bonnen/Chris McNutt incident.
    • The Bonnen/Sullivan recording confirmed it.
  • Dan Flynn was apparently, quite literally, spitting mad in defense of Bonnen.
  • Over the course of multiple campaigns, Slaton got know his community MUCH better.
  • By the third run, he'd built relationships in the community that hadn't exists five years earlier.
  • "The things that helped me most were out of my control."
    • Third candidate.
    • Delayed runoff due to COVID.
    • Abbott's self-immolation.
  • Appraisals should come out before the primary.
  • Re: next session -- Need a speaker who's "a leader" and "fair."
    • "Let the vote happen."
    • "Don't try to manipulate everything."

Thursday, August 13, 2020

#TXLEGE: Honestly, just ABOLISH the damn #atxcouncil

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?"

Widely expected, but still:
The Austin City Council unanimously approved a $4.1B budget on Thursday that includes up to $150 million in cuts to police budgets over the coming year, although only $20 million will be cut immediately, city officials said.
What else is there to even say?!?

This will, obviously, be a complete debacle. As someone who grew up in New York City, the phrase "Dinkinsesque" comes to mind. Consequences are completely predictable.

But there real question is what's next?!?

There are those who will say we need to vote out the current council. Sure. We absolutely should. Rah, rah, Mackenzie Kelly and all that.

But we've done that before, and while it certainly helped, we're still here.

There are those who will say we need the legislature to step in. We're not opposed. But there past few years have shown that that's an inconsistent solution.

If we're going to take this to the legislature, we need to stop playing defensive whack-a-mole.

The Texas legislature has the authority to revoke the City of Austin's charter. They should use it. It's (long past) time.

We've actually been looking into this for awhile. At some point, we explain everything in more details. But some quick hits on pracitical considerations:
  •  All city ordinances would be null and void, we'd simply live under state law.
  •  State law already covers the crimes that actually matter (eg. murder, rape, assault, financial/property crimes).
  •  DPS could absorb APD (and their pension liabilities).
  • The county already covers the important courts/criminal functions.
  •  Besides public safety, the biggest item in the city's general fund is what's called "development services."  This basically means all of the land use/permitting/zoning restrictions that make it impossible to build anything in this town.  Adios.
  •  Defaulting on the City of Austin's municipal debt sends a good message to Wall St.
  •  Sell the soccer stadium/land parcel to the team at it's full assessed value at the time council approved their deal in 2018.
  •  The biggest challenge is how to privatize Austin Energy/Water in an open and transparent manner.  Obviously, they go private.  But it's got to be done properly.  Otherwise, you're looking at what happened with the oligarchs circa 1992 in the former Soviet Union.
Bottom Line:  We've tried everything else.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

#TXLEGE: Larson's ALWAYS been about Disempowering Citizens

"and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
2 Thessalonians 2:10

Over the weekend, Lyle Larson published an op-ed calling for an end to the two party system. There's already been a lot of keyboard strokes spilled over the topic.  PushJunction says it well:
LYLE LARSON, ostensibly a Republican, over the weekend suggested Texas should move away from a two-party system. The maneuver earned him some flack from members of his party, including Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock).

While major parties may begin to fracture organically, Larson seeding the ground is an intriguing development since, correctly viewed, he’s a Straus puppet.

Moderates/liberal members of the GOP have been systematically undermining the Republican party base for years. The establishment flourishes when there are fewer distinctions and more parity.
In terms of analysis, we don't have a lot to add.

However, some history:
  •  2013 -- Larson pushes term limits for the governor...but not the legislature.

    • This would have had the structural effect of empowering committee chairs (which, at the time, were appointed by Joe Straus).
  •  2017 -- Larson tries to unconstitutionally usurp Governor's appointment power.

    • Note: This proposal **might** have merit as a standalone measure.  Especially after Abbott's "reopening Texas committee" debacle.  But, as the rest of this blog post makes clear, Larson's measure wasn't a standalone measure.

    • Note II: Whatever the merits of the proposal, it would require a constitutional amendment.
Bottom Line: None of this is surprising considering who's speaking.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Clay Jenkins' Law Firm got COVID Bailout

"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

A law firm owned by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins received up to $2 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans this spring, according to a ProPublica report.

Car Wreck Masters PLLC received "$1-2 million" in PPP loans via lender Frost Bank in a deal approved April 9, according to the ProPublica article.


ProPublica's report said it received data regarding the $1-to-$2 million PPP loans for Car Wreck Masters from the Small Business Administration. That data includes lender-approved PPP loans of at least $150,000. Other loan programs, including the Economic Injury Disaster Loans, were not included in the Small Business Administration's database.

Jenkins, a Democrat, received his law degree from Baylor University in 1987 and has been a Dallas County Commissioners Court Judge since 2011. He was re-elected in November 2018 and his current term expires in 2022.

In addition to receiving the PPP funds, Jenkins attracted attention last spring for his hard line with business owners who remained open despite government-mandated shutdown orders intended to suppress spread of COVID-19. Those orders included Jenkins' own "safer-at-home" order, issued March 12 and amended April 23.
Bottom Line: We're sure there was no preferential treatment, none whatsoever.

Monday, August 10, 2020

#TXLEGE: Poncho's "post-Addiction" letter a DAMNING indictment of the Texas house

"[F]or he who greets him shares in his evil deeds."
2 John 1:11

Poncho Nevarez wrote a piece last week about his recovery from last year's cocaine-related unpleasantness.  It's an interesting read.  We wish him the best.  We don't harbor any personal animus (at least as long as he doesn't cash out from his lege service).

But what really stood out were the following sections:
Being an elected official, and, in particular, a member of the Texas House, requires some hubris. Whether you are obliging enough to admit, it requires an outsized sense of yourself and a lack of humility. Most of us come from being big-man-on-campus types. We mask that lack of humility in the sort of confidence people generally identify with success. The job, if you are doing it at a high level, almost demands it.


As I made my way through my first session, I became aware that a lot of what makes a high-functioning legislator is a talent for coloring outside the lines. I had that in spades. Guys like me tend to float through a lot of things because people perceive a potential in us, and they make allowances. Bodies like the legislature reward that, especially during the session.


You lose a lot of control over how things go in the legislative process. I cannot stress this enough. It becomes a tornado. Out of control. For a perfectionist thriving on control it can be maddening. My lack of patience hampered me. My ego pounded me. I became unable to manage defects in my character. My path towards full-blown alcoholism and addiction was pretty well set once I lost perspective....I just kept drinking more and then later using more and more cocaine to manage what became unbearable sadness at letting the process pile drive me and trying to shield myself from the real pain of living, and of living without people whom I had loved dearly. What else could it be, right? I mean who sets out to be an alcoholic and/or an addict? Nobody. Certainly not me.


As I marched through session after session, I became convinced the place was not good for me. Most of us would joke about it, but for me it was the truth. Yet the shot of adrenaline it gives you sometimes and the good on good, as I call it, are like the Sirens, calling you back.

Anyone that says the place won’t change them has not been there. It will. It becomes a question to what degree and how you deal with the change. By the time the 86th Legislature came I was roiling in depression and addictions.

That's not normal.

Obviously, when news of Poncho's arrest broke, we wrote a very unflattering analysis.  We stand by it.  We've also long suspected that there was more to this story that isn't public.

But regardless of the details of Poncho's arrest/addiction, consider what we know that's undisputed. Consider, furthermore, what Poncho himself said in the extended blockquote above. What does that say about the culture of the Texas house?!?

Nothing good.

As we wrote in Januray:
[I]f Poncho Nevarez really is the addict he now claims to be, the Texas house accommodated Poncho Nevarez's alleged addiction as long as Poncho Nevarez was useful.
Now, from Poncho Nevarez's own pen (ok, fine, keyboard), we now have confirmation that that's exactly what happened.

Keep in mind, furthermore, that all of the above is the best case scenario.  Worse are certainly plausible. But, even in a best case, the Texas house enabled an addict because he was politically useful.

To which we will add: We don't know Poncho Nevarez.  At least not well.  We've met him a couple times and have testified in front of his committee, but we don't have any personal relationship.

But Poncho Nevarez looked terrible throughout the 2017 session.  He was fat.  He was bloated. His hair was almost always a mess. He wasn't shaving regularly.  It was obvious from 100 yards away that something was wrong with that guy. And where, pray tell, were his colleagues?!?

They were enabling him.  Because he was politically useful.  No matter how many crocodile tears they may shed today.

But good deal to Poncho Nevarez; as long as he doesn't monetize his legislative service, we're cool.

We can't say the same for his enablers/crocodile tear shedders.

Bottom Line: The toxic culture of the Texas house may have ground Poncho Nevarez down in unique ways.  That certainly seems the case.  But, details notwithstanding, what happened to Poncho was one blatant manifestation of a widespread phenomenon.  It's hardly the only one.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

#TXLEGE: Fallon's Departure Virtually GUARANTEES Texas Senate Moves (significantly) Left

"A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself;
The simple pass on and are punished."
Proverbs 27:12

SULPHUR SPRINGS — State Sen. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, has won the Republican nomination to replace former U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Heath, on the November ballot — and will likely succeed him.

Fallon prevailed Saturday on the first ballot held by county and precinct chairs who had been tasked with replacing Ratcliffe on the November ballot. Fallon won a clear majority of the group, getting 82 votes. The runner-up was former Ratcliffe staffer Jason Ross, who received 34 votes.

The district is solidly red, so Fallon is expected to win in November even though a Democrat, Russell Foster, is also on the ballot.
Congratulations to Pat Fallon. We guess. Although we must confess we find the decision to voluntarily spend time in Washington D.C. to be strange.

But here's where things get really depressing: There is no obvious **good** person lined up to succeed Pat Fallon in the Texas Senate.

Consider the state reps whose districts overlap SD-30:

  •  James Frank -- Meh.
  •  Reggie Smith -- Who?!?
  •  Shelby Slawson (pending) -- Too green.
  •  Tan Parker -- LOL.
  •  Phil King -- Meh.
Of those turds, James Frank probably has the most polish.  King and Parker **MIGHT** cross a minimum threshold of acceptability.  But everyone on that list is significantly to the left of Pat Fallon.

Of course, the possiblity exists that someone from completely outside politics might enter the race. We hope that heppens. Because, as you can see, the pickings among current legislators is pretty slim.

Bottom Line: Whatever ultimately happens to Pat Fallon in D.C., you've just injected massive uncertainty into a Texas Senate that had previously been in relatively solid hands.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Austin Chronicle reporter launches sexist broadside against...local Mommy bloggers?!?

"Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come."
Proverbs 31:25

For those who've never heard of it, the Austin Moms blog is...exactly what it sounds like.  It's a generally apolitical group blog focused on lifestyle and parenting.  They're not particularly relevant to this author, but we are familiar with them.  FWIW, they have a strong testimony in the appropriate circles.

Austin Sanders, meanwhile, has been the city hall correspondent for the Austin chronicle for about a year.

Anyways, apparently the Moms are participating in an anti-sex trafficking initiative. Furthermore, apparently, as part of this initiative they're working with a PR company that also has clients in the law enforcement community. None of this sounds controversial.


Apparently not:


Lest you think this was some misunderstanding, the following exchange happened shortly thereafter:

None dare call it mansplaining.

It's almost enough to make you miss Michael King.


Bottom Line: None of this is surprising. At least, not really. The Austin Chronicle has been the worst of the worst in local media for a long time. Still, even by their standards, going after Mothers and sex trafficking surviors is...quite something.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

#atxcouncil: Lying Lawless Liars do what Lying Lawless Liars do

"If a ruler pays attention to lies,
All his servants become wicked."

Proverbs 29:12

Not even a little surprising:
A petition to reinstate Austin's ban on public camping—abolished a year ago in a widely-debated move by Austin City Council to address homelessness—does not have enough signatures to make it on the November ballot, Austin City Clerk Jannette Goodall ruled Wednesday.

On July 21, the local nonprofit group "Save Austin Now" said they had collected 24,598 signatures—well over the 20,000 required to put their initiative on the ballot in November.

In reviewing the petition, however, the city clerk said she discovered a number of issues.

Nearly a hundred signatures were removed because of requests from signers. The clerk's office also discovered that the petition contained two versions of the language being proposed in the ordinance, which led to 397 signatures being removed. Of the remaining 24,201 signatures, the clerk's office used a random sample to verify the petition.
When Austin City Clerk Jannette Goodall ruled yesterday that a petition to reinstate the city's ban on public camping did not have enough signatures to make the November ballot, it was the first time since 2002 that the city invalidated a petition because of lack of signatures, she told Austonia on Thursday.

Goodall used a random sampling method that the city adopted in 2002 in her review, according to a city spokesperson. State law allows cities to use any reasonable sampling method in determining whether citizen-led petitions contain the required number of signatures.

Matt Mackowiak, a cofounder of Save Austin Now, the group behind the petition, said Thursday that the group has not yet decided what legal action it may take. In an email sent to Austonia, he wrote that their deadline is "as soon as possible."

Mackowiak, who is also the chairman of the Travis County Republican Party, said in a statement issued Wednesday evening that it is exploring legal action in response to the clerk's ruling.

Local attorney and activist Fred Lewis - who has spearheaded other citizen-initiated petitions, including one last year that opposed an expansion of the Austin Convention Center - said he would expect the group to file very soon, likely with the state district court.

This is because the last day for the city to order a referendum in the November election is Aug. 17, according to the state election schedule.

"You're talking two or three weeks this has got to be decided - at most," Lewis said. "The court may not be able to decide it in that time."
There's not really a lot to say.

There are two realistic possibilities:
  • The city is lying (almost certainly correct).
  • The city is interpreting state law in the friendliest way possible.
Honestly, that's a distinction without a difference.

Either way, this development was completely predictable.

We hope Save Austin Now has planned for this contingency.

Bottom Line: People and institutions with a track record for dishonesty behaving dishonestly shouldn't surprise anyone.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

#atxcouncil: COVID, Homelessness, and the ongoing lunacy

"If a ruler pays attention to lies,
All his servants become wicked."
Proverbs 29:12

Austonia has a write up this morning about a homeless encampment in central Austin. The whole thing is worth a read. But let's focus on this one sentence:

Due to the pandemic, however, the city has implemented a moratorium on clean-up efforts.

Can we take a second and reflect on how insane that is?!?

We had planned to write a long post on this topic, but apparently we did that in March:
Is this a joke?!?

At a time when 90% of the city is shut down due to a mayoral edict...they're going to allow homeless encampments to remain in place?!?

No, this a joke?!?

We said our piece on this topic when they shut down #Sx, but it bears repeating: Under normal circumstances, we think the so-called 'public health' claims about homeless encampments are exaggerated. The real issue with the encampments is the petty crime and general unsightliness. In the current situation, however, homeless encampments ought to be the first place you look to shut down transmission of infectious diseases.

Instead, those are the one place that will be left completely alone.

Here we are, almost six months later. The only thing that's changed is that we're now only about 50% closed.  And that edicts are coming from the governor as well as the mayor.

But we're still allowing homeless encampments to fester during a global pandemic.


Bottom Line: It's astounding that, half a year into a global pandemic, we're still having this conversation...yet here we are.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Abbott/Dead Armadillos: An Ongoing Series (Part 5 - School Reopenings)

"So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."
Revelation 3:16

Greg Abbott's education commissioner, last Friday:
"[A] blanket order closing schools does not constitute a legally issued closure order for purposes of funding solely remote instruction for an indefinite period of time."
Greg Abbott today:
[S]chools “have until November” to open up for in-person education, Abbott said.
For all of the convoluted lawyer talk, in plain English Abbott did something between flip flopping and caving.

Honestly, at this point, it's not even about Abbott's policy (does he really have one?!?). It's about the fact that he doesn't stick with anything longer than three days. It's indecisive and weak.

We will confess to mixed feelings on this particular topic. Thus, we could potentially be convinced that either end of this spectrum is correct. But we can't endorse this lukewarm muddle.

As we wrote in April:
Abbott's already pissed off the stay-home-forever crowd. Now, he's pissing of a not-insignificant part of his base. He's creating a rather difficult needle to thread for himself.
Subsitute the current reopening schools discussion for April's discussion of lockdowns, and the same dynamic remains at play.

Bottom Line: Half measures mean that you get all of the political pain with none of the public policy benefit.  That's why you should generally avoid them.  Yet here we are.

Monday, August 3, 2020

For the First Time in AGES, State of Texas Does Something Right

"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
The rod of correction will drive it far from him."
Proverbs 22:15

Some good news:
Rumors and intel flew around for days leading up to Saturday, August 1. Dozens of activists were being bused into Austin, Texas, from Portland and Seattle to do to this city what they have done to both of those. Rumors suggested they wanted to destroy Austin police headquarters, the Texas state capitol, or both.


[I]nformation suggested the groups intended to attack Austin police headquarters. The headquarters building has been the site of protests and often violent riots over the past two months. The activists have attempted to storm the building in the past but failed.

Saturday’s protest activity was billed as the biggest yet, at least in part due to the shooting of Garrett Foster. Foster was the man who apparently pointed his AK-47 rifle at the car window of driver Daniel Perry while protesters surrounded and pounded on his car during an unpermitted protest and illegal taking of the public street just before 10 p.m. on July 25. Perry, an Army sergeant and licensed handgun carrier, fired his weapon after Foster had used his rifle to order Perry to roll his car window down. Pointing a gun at someone can, obviously, be read as hostile action. Texas’s castle law covers drivers in vehicles defending themselves, including the use of deadly force.

APD and the Texas Department of Public Safety were ready for Saturday’s action, making this post short.
There isn't a lot more to say.

Saturday had the potential to be bad. Really bad. But it wasn't.

For those who are interested, there's plenty of video footage on social media. You're welcome to check. But the main takeaway was that, by having DPS back up APD...not much happened. A situation with a lot of ugly potential was rendered a non-story.

Also, the GOP might have just made the case (despite the underformance 95%(+) of the time) for keeping themselves in charge of the state.

Bottom Line: Saturday night could have been a lot worse.