Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts from ‘July, 2013’

July finance reports for non-candidates

Not everyone who files a finance report with the city is running for something this November. Term-limited incumbents, and former candidates who still have money in their campaign treasuries are required to file reports as well. Here’s a look a those who did this July: Dist Candidate Raised Spent On Hand Loan ——————————————————- AL3 Noriega […]

Special Session 3: Beyond Thunderdome

Beyond ridiculous, if you ask me, not that they did. Standing before mostly empty chairs in the 150-member Texas House on Tuesday, House Speaker Joe Straus adjourned the second special session and announced that Gov. Rick Perry would be calling them all back for a third special session later in the day. After gaveling in […]

SJL for DHS?

That sound you heard Monday was a bunch of heads exploding. Conservative bloggers went wild Monday when they got wind of the Congressional Black Caucus’ suggestion that President Obama pick Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston for the post of Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Rich Cooper, avid blogger for Security Debrief, responded […]

DUI and blood testing

Not sure what I think about this. A decision by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to demand blood tests for every drunken-driving suspect who refuses breath tests has drawn an unusual opponent: Houston police officers. “We’re just very concerned it’s going to take officers off the street for an extended amount of time,” said […]

A closer look at Mayoral campaign finances

I said I’d get to a closer look at the Mayoral campaign finance reports later, after I had a chance to read all the way through them. That time is now, so let’s have our look. Mayor Parker’s finance report. The Mayor’s report clocks in at 701 pages, with more than 500 of those pages […]

Transportation deal dies

Technically, it’s not dead till sine die, but it sure is on life support. A compromise plan to spend $848 million on Texas highways just landed in a ditch. House members voted down a plan to split oil and gas production money between the state’s economic stabilization fund and highway spending. It needed 100 votes […]

From the “She told you so” department

No one could have seen this coming. Well, no, pretty much anyone could have. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she’s not surprised that Southern states have pushed ahead with tough voter identification laws and other measures since the Supreme Court freed them from strict federal oversight of their elections. Ginsburg said in an interview with […]

The DOMA ruling and the workplace

The SCOTUS ruling on DOMA will have an effect in Texas, if not now then eventually, we just don’t know exactly what that effect will be yet. Companies may assume that the recent Supreme Court case rejecting a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act doesn’t affect them because Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages. […]

BGTX and Anglo women voters

The San Antonio Current has a great story on what Battleground Texas is up to, and why more than just increasing turnout is needed to turn Texas blue. The Democrats can take Texas in 2016 if they can tap into one a key segment: white Texans, and in particular white women, the new kingmakers–or queenmakers–of […]

Texas loses another lawsuit against the EPA

Getting to be a habit. A federal appeals court on Friday rejected a legal challenge by Texas and Wyoming to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in a 2-1 vote, said the states and various […]

Farmers Branch loses again

Same story, next chapter. The Farmers Branch ordinance barring people in the U.S. illegally from renting in the city is unconstitutional, an appeals court ruled for the second time Monday. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said the ordinance encroached on the federal government’s authority. Monday’s decision ended the city’s second […]

Ashby everywhere: The San Felipe highrise

Hard to keep track of them all. THESE UNDERSTATED “Stop the San Felipe Skyscraper” signs started going up about knee-high this weekend in River Oaks and Vermont Commons to protest that shiny 17-story office tower that Hines is proposing to build nearby. Though these signs — spotted at the corner of Spann and Welch and San Felipe and Spann, […]

Weekend link dump for July 28

Sharknado was educational. Just think how much the sequel could teach you. Granting corporations a right of “religious freedom” is bad enough. Granting them that based on phony science is even worse. Christie Hefner tells what she learned working for her dad’s magazine. The Do Not Call list used to be a good idea. Voter […]

Transportation funding deal completed

All over but for the voting. House and Senate leaders reached final agreement Saturday afternoon on how to protect the state’s rainy day fund as they propose to shift half of future rainy day dollars into roads, according to an official close to the negotiations. There would be no “floor” — or minimum balance for […]

No pressure, Wendy

You can run for any office you want, as long as it’s Governor. [State Sen. Wendy] Davis is under intense pressure from national Democratic leaders to seek statewide office in 2014. At two fundraising events Thursday, Davis didn’t speculate about her future. But she was accompanied by a VIP fan club. At a morning $500 […]

More leftover campaign cash

The Chron writes about a subject I’ve covered before. Former Rep. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs of Houston used leftover campaign funds to buy a life membership in the National Rifle Association. Former Rep. Martin Frost of Dallas paid a $6,000 Federal Election Commission fine. Former Rep. Tom DeLay of Sugar Land hired a media consultant. And former […]

Parking Panda

Interesting Parking Panda, an online parking reservation system, launches Tuesday in Houston and Dallas. The site’s already up and running, taking reservations for lots around many area venues, including Minute Maid Park, Reliant Stadium and the Toyota Center. The concept is pretty simple: Go online, find the parking lot you want, based on price and […]

Saturday video break: Sweet Jane

Song #9 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “Sweet Jane”, originally by The Velvet Underground and covered by The Cowboy Junkies. Here’s the original: Don’t think I’d heard that before. Of course, I’m not well versed on the Underground’s catalog – besides the obvious “Walk On The Wild Side”, I have “Rock And […]

Lege may have found a way on transportation funding

As of Thursday, Special Session 3: Beyond Thunderdome was looming. Both chambers of the Legislature were filled with activity Thursday afternoon but they ended up essentially where they had started: waiting on House and Senate negotiators to come up with a transportation funding plan most lawmakers could agree on. There was little sign Thursday that […]

Google energy

Fascinating. Google may not seem like an energy company, but it sure is acting like one. Through more than $1 billion in investments and through large contracts for renewable power, Google has become the most significant player in the energy business outside of actual energy companies and financial institutions. The Internet search giant’s efforts to […]

No more RFID for Northside ISD

Nortside ISD in San Antonio has quit using RFID trackers in student IDs to keep tabs on them, and has embraced an alternate technological solution to the problem of ensuring an accurate headcount instead. Northside Independent School District spokesman Pascual Gonzalez told me that the microchip-ID program turned out not to be worth the trouble. […]

Friday random ten: A royal welcome

In honor of little Prince Hashtag (*), here are ten songs about male royalty – you know, the kind that Tina Brown approves of. 1. Prince Charles – Christine Lavin 2. Prince Nez – Squirrel Nut Zippers 3. Prince of Darkness – Indigo Girls 4. Some Day My Prince Will Come – Sinead O’Connor 5. […]

Justice Department to push for Section 3 in Texas

Bring it. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced on Thursday that the Justice Department would ask a court to require Texas to get permission from the federal government before making voting changes in that state for the next decade. The move opens a new chapter in the political struggle over election rules after the […]

Credit cards at the Tax Assessor’s office

If you’ve paid your vehicle registration fees in person at the Harris County Tax Assessor’s office, you’ve had to bring cash or check to do so, because they don’t accept credit cards for that. Thankfully, that’s about to change. More than a decade after the office began accepting credit and debit cards for property tax […]

Testing waiver sought

It’s a follow up for a bill passed during the regular legislative session. In a letter sent [last] week to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Education Commissioner Michael Williams is seeking clarification on whether the federal agency has the authority to grant a waiver on the No Child Left Behind Act, formally called the Elementary and […]

Just a reminder that women’s health isn’t the only thing they don’t care about

In case you needed one. Texas officials have declined to establish a state-based health insurance marketplace, a major provision of the federal Affordable Care Act. So private organizations are working to educate Texans about coverage options through the federal health insurance exchange, which opens on Oct. 1. Of the more than 6.3 million uninsured Texans […]

How I would campaign against Greg Abbott

If you’ve been following Greg Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign kickoff, you’ve probably noticed that in addition to being light on substance, the Attorney General has been hitting his personal story hard, in an attempt to portray him as some kind of empathetic figure. Over nearly two decades of public appearances as a political figure, Greg Abbott […]

Council to consider wage theft ordinance

Good. The Houston City Council may step up its efforts to combat wage theft, sanctioning companies that deny workers pay to which they are entitled and monitoring firms accused of doing so, regardless of whether they do business with the city. City Attorney David Feldman laid out a proposed ordinance to a City Council committee […]

CSCOPE still in scope

Every once in awhile, whether they intend to or not, the SBOE does something worthwhile. The State Board of Education concluded its July meeting without providing further guidance as to whether Texas school districts continued to use lessons from CSCOPE, the controversial state-developed curriculum system. “It’s not up to the state board,” chairwoman Barbara Cargill, […]

Texas blog roundup for the week of July 22

The Texas Progressive Alliance supports the call for justice for Trayvon as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Uber writes to the city about its taxi demand study

You can see the letter here. They make two basic points: One, the $70 minimum fare for private car trips “serves neither the driver community nor the riding public, and should be eliminated as a matter of public interest regardless of any study”. I agree that this is an excessive level and that it doesn’t […]

Once again with Wendy and the odds

Ross Ramsey in The Trib has his turn with the “what office should Sen. Wendy Davis run for?” question. Abbott, the Republican attorney general, is his party’s favored candidate at the moment, in spite of the presence of Tom Pauken, a former state party chairman, in the race. Abbott has scads of money in his […]

We’ll always have Kinky

Like cicadas on a four-year cycle, he keeps coming back. Kinky Friedman doesn’t know if he’s ready to jump back into Texas politics. But the cigar-chewing humorist and musician — known for the black attire and cowboy hats he normally dons — said he may soon create an exploratory committee to help him decide whether […]

LIBOR lawsuit

This ought to be interesting. The City of Houston filed suit today for financial damages suffered from the manipulation of the interest rates on its investments against the banks that set the benchmark interest rate known as the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in the Southern District […]