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February 11th, 2017:

Saturday video break: One Day

Here’s one of my favorite underrated bands from the 80s, Fishbone:

I guess I’d describe Fishbone as being a ska band, but I feel like they have more blues and funk in them than a typical ska band. Be that as it may, here’s a different One Day by Susanna Hoffs, who is performing solo here but came from another underrated 80s band, The Bangles.

Hoffs has carved out a pretty good solo career, but you should also check out the work she has done with Matthew Sweet, covering bucketloads of popular and deep-cut songs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Lots of good stuff in there. I don’t know if they have plans to take on the 90s, but I hope they will.

Recapture re-vote will happen

Mark your calendars for May 6.

On Thursday, the board voted 5-3, with one abstention, to put another referendum on recapture on the May 6 ballot. Placing a second referendum on the May ballot will cost the district $800,000, according to an HISD spokesman

Trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones, who campaigned in favor of not paying recapture with the first referendum, said HISD called the state’s bluff, and, in turn, the state called HISD’s bluff, but the state has the upper hand.

“The TEA offered this; the TEA is the same agency that has the power to take this district over. If they take over, do you think they’ll send people who care about equity or our kids? Their whole agenda is not about our kids,” said Skillern-Jones, who voted in favor of the second referendum.

But Trustee Jolanda Jones, who spearheaded the effort to reject paying recapture, said the whole reason for the first referendum was to get the Texas Legislature to move on overhauling school finance.

She said if the district pays recapture this year, the recapture fees will keep going up each year, essentially robbing the district of more and more money.

“The only reason they’re paying attention is not because we have a great lobbying team, it’s because we voted no,” Jones said.

About 10 speakers at Thursday’s meeting lambasted the idea of the board reversing its stance on paying the recapture money. Ken Davis, principal of Yates High School, said the TEA’s lessening HISD’s recapture bill is not a favor.

“That’s not a gift -they’re still taking money from our schools,” Davis said. “Push back on that. You are all standing at a time where you set a standard for what the rest of the state does. Stand up and take a step forward.”

See here and here for the background. According to the HISD News Blog, Wanda Adams, Rhonda Skillern-Jones, Anna Eastman, Mike Lunceford, and Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca voted for the approval of election, while Diana Dávila, Jolanda Jones, and Manuel Rodriguez voted No, with Anne Sung abstaining. I know Eastman was a Yes vote on recapture back in November; she is the only Trustee that I’m certain favored it at that time. I appreciate what Jolanda Jones is saying here, but I lean more towards what Rhonda Skillern-Jones is saying. I think this reduced bill for recapture, which came about after the TEA reinterpreted existing law to give HISD and other districts a break for allowing a larger homestead exemption, is the best we’re going to get without the Legislature getting involved, and I would not bet on that happening. This isn’t the outcome we really wanted, but it’s a lot better than where we began. I think we should declare victory, take the half-a-loaf being offered to us, and make an extra push for a genuine legislative fix in 2019. KUHF and Swamplot have more.

How SB6 will hurt people

Nell Gaither counts the ways.

SB 6 identifies a target without naming it and erases policy intended to offer at least some protection for vulnerable populations, building a legal excuse for harming those people and for coercing them not to fight back. Once the law is in place, the “responsible adults” will turn their backs and let others carry out the actual violence.

For several years now, our schools have been expanding policy that protects trans children. This is much-needed, because about 77 percent of trans and gender-nonconforming students experience harassment or other violence due to their gender. About one-third of that violence comes from teachers and staff; 36 percent report being disciplined for fighting back against their assailant. Because violence against trans and gender-diverse kids is so pervasive, schools have increasingly allowed students to use gender-affirming restrooms and changing areas because not doing so identifies them as trans and makes them a target for violence. SB 6 would eradicate these protections for the estimated 13,800 transgender youth ages 13 to 17 in Texas.

Employment protections have followed the same trajectory. About 80 percent of trans Americans face discrimination or violence, or take steps to avoid violence, at work. Denying access to appropriately gendered spaces is a sure way to place a target on them for violence. Wouldn’t we rather support positive engagement with employees than set up barriers? Encouraging violence could drive trans Texans out of the workforce and into underground economies and emergency access to social services.

General social ostracization also increases negative social and health outcomes. One measure of this is the lifetime attempted suicide rate: 40 percent for trans people compared to 4.6 percent for the general population.

And finally, SB 6 will negatively impact trans people in how it criminalizes assault. Marginalized groups tend to be disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system, and the trans community is no exception. As one trans survivor of a sexual assault described their experience: “The legal system would blame us for our own rapes and say we had it coming.”

Lifelong problems increase as a result of discrimination and violence in schools, where trans people often underperform or drop out, and in workplaces, which deny us jobs or set up barriers that impede not just success, but often simple continued employment.

We’ve already established that SB6 singles out transgender people and that its passage will harm them. Gaither is just detailing the ways in which that harm will take place. What else is there to say about this?

How all that activism is being received

Texas Monthly looks at the recent spate of rallies and visits to Texas elected officials’ events and offices to see what’s up.

John Simpson and Mark Leech had never participated in a protest before last month. In fact, the couple—who got married in Temple last June—wasn’t particularly political before the 2016 election. They became concerned, though, that there would be new challenges to their marriage as Donald Trump began issuing executive orders (there have been reports that the administration is drafting an order on religious freedom, which concerns Simpson and Leech). Simpson was also concerned about Trump’s appointed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the border wall, and the suggestion of new tariffs on Mexican imports. And so, together, they started making phone calls. A friend told Simpson to call his senators, but when he tried, he kept getting a busy signal. Then, when the couple learned that Texas U.S. Senator John Cornyn would be speaking at the Temple Chamber of Commerce on Friday, January 27—as the keynote speaker at the annual Salute to Business banquet—they decided to show up in person to voice their concerns.

They weren’t alone, either. They were joined by their neighbors in the community—the Bell County Democratic Party, an older man in a suit and tie with a sign that read “This Is What A Liberal Looks Like,” a retired National Guard member—and by dozens of people from Austin and Waco. All told, there were about seventy people waiting outside the Temple Convention Center that evening, starting around 4:30 in the evening and sticking around until seven, waiting for their Senator to arrive and chanting slogans like “What do we want? A town hall! When do we want it? Now!” and “Pick up your phone!”

The demonstration wasn’t made up of seasoned activists and full-time ax-grinders; there were college students in the crowd, but also retirees. “We’re the moderates,” the retired National Guard member explained. Simpson, who voted for Cornyn in 2014, said, “I didn’t know what to expect. This is my first protest.”

Cornyn. Ted Cruz, and Mike McCaul get most of the attention in the story, which is worth your time to read. I’ve been kind of amazed by the number of people I know who have been energetically calling and rallying people to call over this bill or that confirmation hearing – Betsy DeVos was a particular point of interest – these past few weeks. Many of them were not visibly active in politics before this. More than a few are people whose political orientation had been unknown to me before now. It may well be that all of this burns itself out at some point – November of 2018 is a long way off, and there are going to be far more losses than wins in the interim, given the current nature of Congress and the Capitol – but it’s equally plausible that the energy we’re seeing now builds on itself, with real infrastructure emerging to sustain it. I have believed all along that the political climate in 2018 will be different than what it was in 2010 and 2014. This has been mostly predicated on the sense that Republican voters won’t have the unifying villain of Barack Obama in the White House and will have to deal with their own inevitable disappointment in their elected heroes and their feet of clay. It’s clear there’s another side to that coin, where Democrats have the bulk of the enthusiasm. If this continues – and let’s be clear, it may not; see above about how far off the next election is – then we could be in for quite the year next year. In the meantime, keep calling and showing up. It’s working.