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October 23rd, 2012:

I-45 public forum tomorrow

From the inbox:

I-45 Public Forum ~ October 24th!

Many people who attended the TxDOT public meeting last week (October 9th or 11th ) left with more questions than answers!

Why?

It appears that TxDOT is listening & trying to come up with several alternatives to help the traffic on I-45 … in fact, they came up with 33 alternatives! Alternatives from tunnels to an elevated roadway on Houston Ave to converting the Pierce Elevated to ALL one-way and more!  If you did not have a chance to attend or if you still have questions, you have a great opportunity to get all your answers on

Wednesday, October 24.  The I-45 Coalition is working with TxDOT and hosting a Public Forum at Jeff Davis High School at 6:15 pm.

This Public Forum will be in a completely different format! – TxDOT will go over each of the alternatives and answer any questions that you may have.  Hopefully you will get enough information at this meeting to help determine the best choices … the deadline to get your comments into TxDOT regarding the project is Friday, October 26th.   This meeting is perfect for getting all the answers you are looking for. 

This meeting is important because your comments will impact the future of I-45 from IAH airport to the Pierce Elevated.You need to be invloved!  Please come to:

I-45 Public Forum        Wednesday, October 24        6:15 – 8:15

Jeff Davis High School      1101 Quitman Street       77009

You can see all the TxDOT information on their web site: www.ih45northandmore.com  and go to ‘2nd Scoping Meeting Documents’.

Please plan on attending – tell your neighbors! 

You must tell TxDOT what you want or don’t want or they will do what TxDOT wants to do!!

As Marty Hajovsky notes, that email came from Jim Weston of the I-45 Coalition. Marty summarizes the highlights:

The suggestions and information from the meetings earlier this month are all on the website atwww.ih45northandmore.com at ‘2nd Scoping Meeting Documents’. But among the interesting tidbits for residents of Grota Homestead/Germantown, those interested in Woodland Park and the easternmost parts of theWoodlands Heights is that all the alternatives for Segment 2, meaning the stretch of I-45 between 610 and Quitman, would stay within the existing right-of-way. We’ll see if that stays true.

After the meetings, TxDOT placed a public comment period extending to Oct. 26, but after the intervention of Texas State Representative Jessica Farrar, a Lindale Park resident, the agency extended to public comment deadline to Nov. 9. Public comments can be made at the www.ih45northandmore.com site.

Be there if you can, and whether you can or you can’t, please submit your feedback to www.ih45northandmore.com. Thanks.

Ticket splitters

For better or worse, we live in a polarized world. Often, knowing a candidate’s political party tells you most of what you need to know in a general election. But definitely not always, and this year in particular there are plenty of examples of candidates who aren’t worthy of the support of their partisan brethren (and sistren, as Molly Ivins used to say) as well as a few who for a variety of reasons are able to transcend political barriers. I feel like this year I’ve seen more mixed-company yard signs than I have in years past. Here are a few examples:

My guess is that this homeowner is a Democrat who is also supporting incumbent District Civil Court Judge Tad Halbach, who has a reputation for being one of the better inhabitants of the judiciary.

My initial suspicion was that this was a Republican who prefers Vince Ryan and Adrian Garcia for Harris County. I drove by this location yesterday and there was another sign touting a GOP judicial candidate whose name I have forgotten, so that makes me a little more certain in that assumption.

This one’s a little hard to see – it was late afternoon, I was facing west, and any closer would have put me directly in the sunlight. Anyway, the red sign is for Vince Ryan, and the other one is for GOP judicial candidate Elizabeth Ray.

Greg sent me that one. Probably a Republican crossing over for Gene Wu if I had to guess, but Greg could say for sure.

Another one that could go either way, but as that house in the background is actually a law office, I suspect the sign-placer just likes incumbent judges.

I feel quite confident saying that the person who put out these signs is a Republican, crossing over to vote for Ann Johnson and the HISD bonds. (As well he or she should.) The Halloween decoration nearby is a nice touch.

So there you have it. I don’t have any broad point to make, I just noticed these signs around and thought it would be fun putting something together on them. I have a Flickr set for these pics, so if you find any more examples, send them to me via email or post them on the Off The Kuff Facebook page and I’ll add them in.

That Chron story on True The Vote

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

For a variety of reasons, I never got around to reading that Sunday Chron story about True The Vote, that self-styled “watchdog” group that claims to be interested in ferreting out all those instances of “vote fraud” that nobody else can find, mostly because they don’t exist. I just couldn’t bring myself to read it, because I find the existence of organizations like that to be equal parts mystifying and infuriating. I always thought it was understood by all that this country was founded on the principle that everyone gets to have a say in how we are governed. Sure, our definition of “everyone” was pretty narrow back in 1788, and we’ve generally done a piss-poor job of living up to that principle, but still that principle was and is a cornerstone of our democracy. As such, the idea of people working to make it harder for their fellow citizens to vote is anathema to me. The right to vote is precious and should be defended, not challenged by a bunch of vigilantes. It’s utterly shameful that in the last decade or so that voter suppression has become such a key strategy for the Republican Party, with the effort being spearheaded by misguided and often malevolent individuals like Catherine Engelbrecht, Hans Van Spakovsky, Kris Kobach, and many others.

Anyway. I didn’t read the story, but Juanita did, and you should go read what she has to say. If you need more than that, go read Abby Rapoport’s report on True The Vote. May this be the last election we ever hear from them.

More on the microbrewers’ legislative strategy

The Statesman returns to our favorite subject.

The small brewers, generally a young and passionate group, always have been better at creating hoppy and original brews than navigating the Legislature and the network of big-money lobbyists who are experts at quietly influencing politicians. The lack of political savvy among craft brewers has hampered their efforts to make Texas more friendly to craft beers, as Oregon, California and Colorado are.

“Part of our frustration in the past is we have seemingly been fighting against invisible enemies,” [Freetail Brewing CEO Scott] Metzger said. “We never really felt like we got our fair shot.”

They will try again during the next legislative session, which begins in January. But this time, they have a new tactic: befriend the two powerful wholesale beer distributor lobby groups that opposed their measures in the past: the Beer Alliance of Texas and the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas.

“We’re trying to build consensus with the stakeholders who have been in opposition in the past,” said Metzger, founder and CEO of Freetail Brewing Co. in San Antonio and an economics professor at the University of Texas-San Antonio.

The lobby groups have said recently that they appreciate craft brewers and support them. Still, they have been reluctant to back the small brewers for fear that fracturing the three-tier system could threaten their ability to make money.

Craft brewers selling at breweries might take a small piece of distributors’ business, but if larger beer makers somehow exploit exemptions to the three-tier system to self-distribute, then distributors could find themselves losing money.

Rick Donley, president of the Beer Alliance, said his organization is in the middle of “delicate negotiations” with the craft brewers and that his group might be on board next time. “We’re not closing the door,” he said. Still, he has concerns. He said he fears federal court challenges if the three-tier law is changed too much. He wasn’t specific, but he said a federal case could open floodgate for legal issues that could hurt his clients.

Keith Strama, a general counsel for the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, said his organization sees “craft brewers as a strong ally to promote the industry in the state” and gladly will work with them. But, he said, “we’re reluctant to support proposals that further deregulate the system.”

Yes, God forbid we should ever have a free market for beer in Texas. It’s a good thing for the distributors that they have clout in Austin, because if this were ever put to a vote of the people, they’d get creamed. See here for more.

Endorsement watch: Three out of four ain’t bad

The Star-Telegram becomes the third of the four major papers to endorse Paul Sadler for Senate.

Paul Sadler

Sadler can be aggressive, even abrasive, as he demonstrated in an early-October debate with Cruz. But Sadler has specific, practical notions about improving how the federal government functions for Texans. He also understands how policies translate into reality.

For instance, where Cruz would abolish the U.S. Education Department and disburse federal funds to states through block grants, Sadler said that fixed-sum grants shortchange growing states like Texas and that doling out federal money without sufficient controls would diminish state and local accountability.

Where Cruz has made repealing the entire Affordable Care Act a prominent part of his message, Sadler said wiping the slate clean would erase good parts of the law and remove lawmakers’ leverage in dealing with insurance companies.

Cruz says more competition in the marketplace will improve the healthcare system. Sadler understands that Texas’ Republican leaders’ stubborn resistance to the law’s Medicaid expansion could end up shifting more costs for indigent care onto local taxpayers and jeopardize rural hospitals.

Where Cruz has criticized President Barack Obama’s directive allowing certain young illegal immigrants to seek temporary work authorization instead of being deported, Sadler supports a reasonable temporary work-permit program and a “reasonable path to citizenship.”

Both men support improved border security, but Sadler’s approach shows a firmer grasp of Texas’ trade relations with Mexico and the human dimension of reforming the immigration system.

Had it not been for that pathetic Chron endorsement of Cruz, Sadler would have gotten the same sweep as Keith Hampton. (At this point, I’m assuming that the Statesman isn’t bothering to endorse this year.) Given how everyone expects Cruz to win easily, it strikes me as a pretty strong statement of just how outside the mainstream Cruz is. The choice we have here is to prevent an error from happening, or to have to wait till 2018 to fix it. That seems like it ought to be a pretty easy call to me.