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June 18th, 2014:

More talk about bathrooms

The HOUEquality webpage returns to a familiar topic.

RedEquality

1.) Over 180 cities and municipalities across the country have implemented nondiscrimination ordinances, some have been in place for decades. There are no reports of incidents of sexual assault or rape causally related or attributed to the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. In fact, there are substantiated reports of transgender people being threatened and assaulted when forced to use the restroom that is inconsistent with their gender identity.

2.) Sexual predators are going to behave as you would expect sexual predators to behave – without regard for the law. No ordinance or enacted legislation is going to spur on someone who is already committed to breaking the law. Assault of any kind was illegal in Houston before the passage of HERO, and it remains illegal today.

3.) The sad reality is that study after study shows that sexual assault of children is rarely committed by a stranger. It is overwhelmingly a crime committed by someone with an already existing relationship with the victim (a parent, a family member, a coach, a neighbor, etc). While cases of stranger rape and sexual violence occur, sexual violence is most often perpetrated by someone known to the victim and not a stranger in the bush or the bathroom.

4.) The Houston Independent School district, the largest school district in Texas and the 7th-largest in the country, implemented a comprehensive nondiscrimination policy which extends to both students and facility in 2011. Since that time, there have been no reports of assaults as a result of their policy.

Be sure to follow this link at the bottom of their page for a lot more debunkings of this pernicious lie. That’s the right word to use here, “lie”. The people making these claims know they’re untrue. They know they have no evidence whatsoever to suggest otherwise. Yet they do it anyway, and don’t seem to care at all about it. You have to wonder how people that call themselves devout Christians can put themselves in such a grave state of sin with so little concern. I suppose that’s between them and their God. All I know is that I’m going to call it as I see it. Everyone who makes these “bathroom predators” claim is lying, and they should be held accountable for it.

The Mayoral succession process starts in San Antonio

With the confirmation as Housing Secretary seemingly in the bag for San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the process of naming an interim Mayor has begun. Not too surprisingly, there’s some conflict about this, though the issue at the root of the conflict may not be what you expected.

CM Ivy Taylor

City Council is set to approve Thursday a procedure to select a replacement for Mayor Julián Castro as pressure is building against the appointment of Councilwoman Ivy Taylor, the perceived front-runner for the interim seat.

A Taylor administration would be historic. If appointed, the councilwoman would be the first black person to hold the city’s highest office.

But she’s the lone member of the existing council to have voted against last year’s controversial expansion of the nondiscrimination ordinance, which added protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The prospect of a Taylor appointment is provoking concern in San Antonio’s LGBT community.

“I don’t think she’s representative of this entire city. She doesn’t support equality for LGBT people, and it’s very bothersome,” activist Daniel Graney said. “I don’t think she should spend one day in the mayor’s office because of it.”

Taylor joined then-council members Carlton Soules and Elisa Chan — who had infamously called gays “disgusting” during a secretly recorded private staff meeting — in dissenting votes.

At the time, Taylor said the vitriolic discourse from nondiscrimination ordinance opponents made her “cringe” but was also unhappy that supporters painted “anyone with religious objections as bigots hiding behind religion.”

Graney said the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community would likely reach out to council members and ask them to consider appointing Councilman Ray Lopez, who voted in favor of the ordinance in September.

Taylor said in an interview Friday that if she were appointed mayor, she would uphold the bolstered nondiscrimination ordinance and wouldn’t work to undo it.

“That ordinance passed, and it is the law of the land, and I don’t have an issue with upholding the law of the land,” she said. “We have other pressing issues. By no means would I be interested in reassessing that.”

It’s fine by me that Dan Graney and the LGBT community are pushing back on the possible elevation of CM Taylor, who had the chance to do the right thing last year but chose instead to stand in the way. Advocates of San Antonio’s non-discrimination ordinance worked with religious leaders to address their concerns. If CM Taylor was more unhappy with the rhetoric of some NDO supporters than she was with the vitriol of its opponents, that says something unflattering about her. It’s nice of her to pledge to uphold the law if she’s elevated to the Mayor’s office, but boy howdy is that a low bar to clear. I hope San Antonio City Council members give a lot of consideration to other alternatives. Lone Star Q has more.

Today’s the day for Tom DeLay at the CCA

Apologies for the excessive alliteration. I got on a roll and couldn’t stop.

Who are YOU to judge me?

Who are YOU to judge me?

DeLay’s appellate lawyer, Brian Wice of Houston, and Travis County prosecutor Holly Taylor will argue Wednesday before the state’s highest criminal court in Austin over whether the jury’s verdict should be reinstated or if DeLay will be exonerated.

A victory by DeLay ends the marathon case, but if prosecutors prevail with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Wice says he has another point to appeal — that the $190,000 transaction for which he was convicted could not have been money laundering because a check, not cash, was used. The 3rd Court panel did not address that point in its opinion last fall.

[…]

In her appeal, Taylor argued for the state that the two Republican judges used “selected” evidence to second-guess the jury improperly. Wice, meanwhile, countered that “the state’s unprecedented gambit (to create a criminal offense) was correctly unmasked by the court of appeals.”

Over the years, both sides have taken turns complaining about the partisanship surrounding the case, often getting judges removed on allegations of political bias. DeLay also objected to being tried in Travis County, citing its Democratic leanings.

Given that backdrop, DeLay’s lawyers would now seem to have the advantage of arguing before a court with eight Republican judges and one Democrat, who was elected as a Republican before switching parties.

But the state’s highest criminal court also ordered DeLay’s trail, criticizing a 3rd Court panel for trying to short-circuit the legal process several years ago by ruling prematurely on DeLay’s cash vs. check defense during pre-trial arguments.

In their briefs for Wednesday’s oral arguments, Taylor recounted evidence she thought the 3rd Court ignored and Wice criticized prosecutors’ handling of the case, including a last-minute indictment rushed through a grand jury in one day after three years of investigation.

See here and here for the most recent entries in this long-running saga. I’ve said before that to whatever extent there’s a pro-Republican lean on the CCA, I think their pro-prosecution urge outweighs it. Be that as it may, if the CCA rules against DeLay I don’t think he’s going to get much joy re-litigating the “checks aren’t cash” argument. The CCA addressed that before, though apparently not in a “that’s all there is, there ain’t no more” fashion. One way or the other, we are approaching closure on this.

There’s an app for alternate mobility in Houston

This makes a lot of sense.

Technology companies might soon upend Houston’s paid ride market, but they’re already adding new options for getting around the region.

Local groups and software developers are tapping into Houston’s sophisticated traffic management system to offer solutions beyond heading onto the freeway. The hope is that better information will help people decide when their best option is to walk, grab a bus, ride a bicycle or share a ride. And when they drive, real-time information can help them choose the best route – and to find a parking spot.

“Not only is there individual benefit but collective benefit,” said Nick Cohn, global congestion expert for the mapping company TomTom.

Austin-based RideScout [launched last] Monday in 69 cities, including Houston. The free smartphone app connects people with other services nearby, such as Metro buses and trains, taxis, ZipCar car rental locations and B-Cycle kiosks.

Laying out the options could help some people avoid solo car travel by picking transit or a carpool.

“When people in Houston realize they can commute in and are going to be (a passenger) in a car and not behind the wheel and when they get downtown realize they can ride transit or take a cab … it frees them up,” said Joseph Kopser, co-founder and CEO of RideScout.

[…]

Metro and Houston B-Cycle have their own smartphone apps that help link interested riders to their services. The problem is these apps focus on one product rather than laying out all the options, Kopser said.

“This was no different than the airlines 15 years ago,” Kopser said. “They all had websites, and when you were searching for flights you had to go to all the different websites.”

Since then, sites have emerged that gather fares from all carriers and then show users options. Kopser said RideScout is aiming to provide the same service for travel around cities. The app displays all of the services, as well as ridesharing and traffic data, on one map.

Houston can be – how can I put this delicately? – a challenging city to navigate, especially if you’re new or just visiting here. One of the unsung values of public transportation is that it’s a lot friendlier to visitors than driving in an unfamiliar city is. Connecting the dots on our transportation network will make getting around easier and less stressful for a lot of people. The app is available here, and according to their blog they have information on Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and El Paso as well.