Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts from ‘February, 2013’

Why do we think more charters would help?

Patricia Kilday Hart discusses the political battle over charter schools, but in doing so reminds me that there’s a fundamental question that seems to be going largely unasked. Now, a sweeping bill filed by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, could lead to an explosion in Texas charter operations. Patrick, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, would […]

Is Section 5 doomed?

While there’s been a lot of reporting and analysis suggesting a grim future for the Voting Rights Act, SCOTUSBlog’s Lyle Denniston suggests that maybe, just maybe, Section 5 ain’t dead yet. Sometimes, in Supreme Court argument, a single phrase can speak volumes. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the one member of the Court who bore the […]

Vouchers continue to be a tough sell

I won’t be happy till they’re dead and buried, but it’s something. Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, doesn’t think the Senate has a taste for vouchers. Noting that a two-thirds vote of the 31-member chamber is needed to bring up a bill for discussion, she said, “I believe there are 11 votes to block.” House Public […]

Texas blog roundup for the week of February 25

The Texas Progressive Alliance remains unsequestered as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Guest post: A response to Sen. Patrick on school choice

Note: The following is a guest post, by Aboubacar Ndiaye. It was sent to me unsolicited. I liked it and agreed to print it, so here it is. In an editorial published last Wednesday in the Houston Chronicle, State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) again argued for what he sees as education reform. In the article, […]

Battlegound Texas officially launches

You have probably heard by now that Battleground Texas has officially launched. Spearheaded by organizers of Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012 — when Republican nominee Mitt Romney handily carried the Lone Star State — a new push, called “Battleground Texas,” officially launched Tuesday with the goal of seizing shifting demographics to make the state eventually […]

Harris Health System plans to serve more patients via Medicaid waiver

The story about what they’re going to do leaves a few details out, however. Harris Health System leaders plan to serve 100,000 new patients in the next three years. That is a 37 percent increase from today, and is particularly ambitious when you consider how many patients the system added in the last year: about […]

Early voting ends in SD06

Early voting ended in the SD06 runoff yesterday. As of when I went to bed, the final daily totals had not been sent out – the daily totals as of Monday, which are here, hit my inbox at 9:30 AM Tuesday, so I don’t really expect them till some time today. I’ll update this post […]

On Latinos not winning Latino Congressional districts

I have a problem with this analysis by Nathan Gonzales, at least as it pertains to the three Texas districts included. Even though a record number of Latinos are serving in the 113th Congress, Hispanic candidates are significantly underperforming in heavily Hispanic districts, particularly compared to other minority groups. Nationwide, just 41 percent of congressional […]

Yes, Ed Emmett supports Medicaid expansion

As I’m sure you’re aware, I’ve been banging the drum pretty much nonstop for Medicaid expansion. I see it not only as a state issue but a county issue as well, which is why I’ve made a big deal about what Harris County is or isn’t doing about it. I haven’t seen the subject come […]

Some people still want to move backwards on equality

I’ve noted several bills that aim to move Texas forward, however incrementally, towards greater equality. These are all good and fine things, but don’t mistake their existence for evidence that the Legislature is through trying to move us backwards. The first Texas school district to offer health insurance benefits to domestic partners is under fire […]

Knife rights

With all the talk about guns this year, it should be noted that they are not the only weapons under consideration in the Legislature. HB936 by Rep. Harold Dutton would decriminalize the possession, manufacture, transfer, repair, or sale of switchblade knives in Texas by amending Sections 46.05 (a)(d)(e) of the Penal Code. At the same […]

Precinct analysis: Comparing 2012 and 2008, Senate and SBOE edition

To follow up on my previous examination of how the 2012 election returns looked in State House districts compared to the 2008 returns, I now have the data to look at other types of districts as well. You can find it as well on the Texas Legislative Council’s webpage – here are the reports for […]

Report recommends against privatizing the Harris County jail

Very good news. Privatizing the Harris County jail would be risky and may not result in savings, according to an internal county memo recommending that Commissioners Court keep the state’s largest lockup in Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s hands. The confidential Feb. 11 memo, obtained by the Houston Chronicle, comes after more than a year of study […]

City proposes bike parking alternatives

Nice. Bicycle advocates are cheering a city proposal that would give businesses an incentive to offer bike parking and would require some properties to provide it for the first time, saying the ideas mark a cultural shift in Houston. “This is a first for Houston and a sign of how our city is evolving,” Mayor […]

We could do something to make voting easier if we wanted to

With all the negative news about voting rights in the news these days – voter ID, electoral college gerrymandering, challenges to the Voting Rights Act – it’s good to remember that positive change is still possible. On two major occasions—during his election-night speech and second inaugural address—President Obama has highlighted the need for election reform. […]

Weekend link dump for February 24

“I asked Jack White if Jack White had met Jack Black. They had. It has been on my mind for a long time. Now I know.” I’m not embarrassed to punctuate with exclamation points where I feel they properly convey my intentions, but I’d totally use an ElRey mark if one were available on my […]

The return of the day pass

Remember the day pass? One fare, and you could ride the bus and/or light rail all day? Metro is thinking about bringing it back. After a five-year hiatus, the daypass may soon return as an option for Metro bus and train riders. The Metropolitan Transit Authority is studying what it would take to reinstitute single-day […]

The mouth that roared

I have two things to say about Ted Cruz. Cruz’s fans, and there are many, compare him to Ronald Reagan, who happens to be the 42-year-old senator’s boyhood hero. Cruz’s detractors, and there are many, compare him to Joe McCarthy, the controversial Wisconsin senator known for smearing his foes by innuendo and questioning their patriotism. […]

I knew all this beer harmony couldn’t last forever

We have some legislative beer controversy on our hands. Texas brewers would lose a potential source of capital and some flexibility in negotiating sales under a bill before the state Senate. The Texas Craft Brewers Guild immediately opposed the legislation, as did one of the state’s two major groups representing wholesale distributors – which called […]

HISD cold on Patrick’s charter proposal

HISD has a bone to pick with Sen. Dan Patrick’s school choice bill. The Houston Independent School District was charter friendly long before other school districts were, mainly due to the influence of then-Superintendent Rod Paige. The nationally known Knowledge is Power Program, for instance, probably would not exist on the scale and scope it […]

Saturday video break: (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Song #30 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, originally by the Rolling Stones, and covered by Devo. Here’s the original: I trust we’re all familiar with this one. I love seeing 60’s-era videos of the Stones. For all the freaking out certain cultural types did over Elvis and […]

Vote for Houston in the Mayor’s Challenge final

From the HuffPo: Vote below for your favorite idea among the 20 Mayors Challenge finalists! Voting is open from February 20 through March 6. The Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge is a competition designed to inspire America’s mayors to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life. The Huffington Post and Bloomberg Philanthropies […]

Keeping the push for immigration reform

From the Texas House: Democratic Texas House members [have] filed an immigration resolution that could serve as a litmus test for Republican support for reforms being suggested at the national level. House Concurrent Resolution 44, which urges the U.S. Congress to “swiftly enact and fund comprehensive immigration reform that creates a road map to citizenship,” […]

The driverless car visits Austin

Anyone there get to see it? Google, which has been developing and touting the future of self-piloting cars, has parked a driverless car in front of the Hilton Hotel downtown, site of the three-day Texas Transportation Forum. The modified Lexus hybrid is equipped with all manner of sensors that allow it to be aware of […]

LBJ Wildflower Center helping to restore pine trees to Texas

Very cool. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center of The University of Texas at Austin has been selected by the Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS) to serve as the local grower of loblolly pines to restore wildfire-damaged Bastrop County. The 2011 Bastrop County Complex fire destroyed 1,691 homes while burning 33,000 acres that gave the […]

Friday random thirteen: Cracked covers

You know how much I love lists and cover songs, so you should not be surprised to learn that this 20 worst pop music covers list in Cracked, which I discovered while looking for their story about dirty old-time songs for my previous entry, would be catnip to me. I have thirteen of the listed […]

As if you needed another reason to support Medicaid expansion

Even more data on why Medicaid expansion makes sense from Texas Impact. The study, by former Texas deputy comptroller Billy Hamilton, says Texas shouldn’t pass up the chance to insure up to 2 million of its more than 6 million uninsured people. Hamilton cited other benefits. Expansion of the Medicaid rolls would “provide relief to […]

Fixing our front door

This sounds very cool. The century-old Sunset Coffee Building, looming in disrepair over Allen’s Landing at the north end of downtown, will become Houston’s “front door” with an $8 million public-private renovation set to begin in April. The three-story brick structure is boarded up, marked with graffiti, and has shrubs growing out of some second-floor […]

Houston loses air pollution permit lawsuit

Bummer. The Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that Houston may not effectively void a state air pollution permit. The justices agreed with Southern Crushed Concrete that Houston’s 2007 law restricting the location of concrete-crushing facilities violates state statute by nullifying a permit issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. In reversing an appeals court […]

Aiming to attract magnets

HISD has applied for a $12 million federal grant to create as many as eight new magnet schools. HISD’s application, which is due to the U.S. Department of Education on March 1, would create science, technology, engineering and math programs at Ryan Middle, M.C. Williams Middle, Kashmere High, Furr High and the South Early College […]

The birth control poll

The Texas Freedom Network would like you to know that Texans support having access to birth control. A new statewide poll from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund shows Texans believe that access to family planning and birth control is important and should not be limited by a woman’s income level, employer or medical provider. […]

Meet SWIFT

SWIFT is the State Water Infrastructure Fund for Texas, which would be created by the big water bills of the session, HB4 and SB4. Basically, this is a plan to create a water infrastructure bank, to finance various water projects that the state needs at low interest, with some seed money from the Rainy Day […]

Bike trail on utility rights-of-way bills filed

This is a big show of support for making bike trails on CenterPoint’s rights of way happen. Houston voters last fall approved a $166 million bond measure to expand the city’s trail system, to be matched by $105 million in private donations via the Houston Parks Board. About 78 miles of trails would get built, […]