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April 7th, 2017:

Friday random ten: Ladies’ night, part 40

I’m so happy, ’cause today I found my friends…

1. Icicle – Tori Amos
2. Heart And Soul – T’Pau (Carol Decker)
3. Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
4. Crimes Of A Misspent Youth – Trish & Darin (Trish Murphy)
5. New Kid In Town – Trisha Yearwood
6. Lithium – The Vaselines (Frances McKee)
7. Turn The Beat Around – Vicki Sue Robinson
8. Harbor – Vienna Teng
9. Metro – The Vincent Black Shadow (Cassandra Ford)
10. When Planets Collide – Viva Voce (Anita Robinson)

“New Kid In Town” is from a CD of country Eagles covers, and “Lithium” is from a SPIN magazine free download of Nirvana covers. Trish & Darin are the local connection this week, though Trish Murphy has lived in Austin since the 90s. “Metro” came out in 2006 and got a fair amount of airplay on 89.7 KACC, which was my main radio station at the time. It came on several times while I had Olivia (then two or three years old) in the car, and each time she would pipe up to say “I like this song”. So of course I bought it.

Steeleworkers unite

So there I was perusing the Campaign Events section of the weekly HCDP email blast, when I spotted this Facebook event and damn near fell out of my chair.

Dayna Steele

Have coffee with the candidates for US House District 36!

On Sunday, April 9, 2017, Dayna Steele and Jon Powell, two candidates who are exploring a run for US House District 36, will be in Cleveland to meet the city, share their visions for Cleveland, Liberty County, and District 36, as well as answer your questions and address your concerns.

Dayna is a third generation Texan and a longtime resident of the 36th Congressional District. She is married to a former NASA pilot, has three sons, and is a small business owner. She was the creator of The Space Store. Dayna is a Texas Aggie and a Hall of Fame rock radio personality. She was heard for years on 101-KLOL in Houston and is still seen frequently on Fox 26 Houston. She believes strongly in good public education along with healthcare for all, which translates into new businesses and jobs and results in a stronger community economically. Dayna believes that the 36th Congressional District deserves much better representation and is exploring a run for the seat.

Jon will celebrate his 30th year as a Texan in 2018. He and his wife, Cindy Evans, live in Taylor Lake Village in the Clear Lake area between Houston and Galveston. Jon was an elected official in Taylor Lake Village for a decade, first as City Councilman, then as Mayor. Cindy recently served as a member of the Lakeview Police Department as commissioner. Jon also participates in the local community advisory panel that serves as forum for residents and local industry representatives, and both Jon and Cindy have volunteered for numerous school and community committees and working groups.

Jon is a scientist, trained in geology and chemistry, and has spent his career advising industry on environmental and safety management issues. Jon wants to give District 36 the choices they deserve in their candidates and improve the lives and concerns of the people of southeast Texas. Jon can support, advocate, and take action for all of us.

Come meet Dayna and Jon, and show your support for Cleveland and District 36!

Yes, Dayna Steele, midmorning DJ on rock station KLOL back when Houston had a good rock station. Possibly, maybe, running for Congress, as a proud, true blue Democrat. My inner twenty-something is having a moment. She hasn’t declared anything yet, but her Facebook page makes it clear she’s ready to engage. That’s one candidate interview I’ll be looking forward to doing this fall.

That’s if she runs, and if she wins a primary. As noted in that event, Jon Powell is also thinking about running. I don’t know anything more about Mr. Powell than what is written above, but Jon, I promise that I’ll reach out to you for an interview if you’re the nominee. We’re all in this together.

As long as I’m noticing Congressional candidates, let me mention that Adrienne Bell has announced her candidacy for CD14; you can see a video of that here. The number of announced, or at least exploring, candidates for office next year is just amazingly high for this point in the cycle.

That’s the good news. The level of engagement by Democrats is off the charts, and if it continues it could finally solve the turnout problem for off-year elections, with all kinds of potential positive results. It could burn out, or Dear Leader Trump could get it together and turn his fortunes around, but I doubt it and I really doubt it. The bad news is that there’s no realistic level of engagement that will put a district like CD36 in play. I mean, if CD36 is competitive, Dems will be on track to win 300+ seats in Congress next year. CD14 you can kind of squint and see a possibility if 2018 is a tsunami year. I hate to be a buzzkill, but the numbers are what they are.

Pension reform bill passes House committee

Two for two.

Mayor Sylvester Turner

Houston’s pension reform bill will now move to the floor of each legislative chamber after a Texas House committee joined its Senate counterparts in passing the measure 6-1 Wednesday.

With Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, opposed, the pensions committee adopted House Bill 43, which will now head to a scheduling committee to be set for its next hearing.

“I am thankful to the committee members and Chairman Dan Flynn,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a prepared statement, referencing the Dallas-area Republican who oversees pension discussions. “Our solution continues to make historic progress in Austin. I am happy to see that our state lawmakers understand how important this is to Houston’s future. We are going to keep up the pressure until our plan becomes law.”

Houston Republican Sen. Joan Huffman’s committee passed the bill last month by a similar margin of 7-1. The main difference between the bills is that Huffman’s version seeks a referendum on pension bonds such as the $1 billion in bonds that are a key part of the reform package; the House version does not include that language.

See here and here for the background. The easy passage in the House committee, coupled with the passage of the Huffman bill in the full Senate, bodes well for the reform effort despite the opposition from the firefighters. Assuming HB43 does pass the full House, either it will need to go through the Senate or Sen. Huffman’s SB2190 will have to pass the House. The matter of whether or not to require a vote on the pension obligation bonds will be worked out one way or the other, and then we’ll go from there.

Pasadena Council not happy with redistricting appeal

Or maybe they’re just not happy with soon-to-be-former Mayor Isbell. Either way, they showed it.

Pasadena City Council

In a sign of waning confidence in its legal position, the Pasadena City Council voted Tuesday to withhold payment from the law firm that’s trying to prove that the city’s redistricting plan doesn’t discriminate against Hispanics.

The 7-1 vote, with Mayor Johnny Isbell absent, exposed the degree to which the mayor has unilaterally pressed for an appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that the plan was discriminatory.

Council members complained they don’t fully understand the status of the lawsuit or of the work being done by Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP of Austin.

Councilman Sammy Casados said he and other members have asked the mayor to put an update on the agenda, but he has declined.

[…]

Even council members who previously have aligned themselves with Isbell and his redistricting plan expressed concern.

Morrison noted the absence of city staff who could address questions about the lawsuit.

“Where do we stand on this thing and what is the next step?” Morrison asked. “For that reason, I won’t support this (payment).”

Only Councilwoman Pat Van Houte voted to make the $50,000 payment, but she did so reluctantly, saying it was compensation for work already completed and pledging not to vote for future payments.

See here and here for some background. The May election is proceeding under the pre-redistricting Council map, as an appeal to the Fifth Circuit to halt the judge’s order for this election was denied. The appeal of the ruling on the merits is still in process, though several candidates for Mayor including CM Van Houte have said they will drop the appeal if elected. I’m sure the city of Pasadena will eventually pay the law firm for the work it has already done, but this vote is a mighty clear indication that they’re had enough.

Marijuana decriminalization bill passes House committee

Progress.

Rep. Joe Moody

The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee advanced a marijuana decriminalization bill on Monday with the help of two Republicans.

With a 4–2 vote, the committee approved House Bill 81, authored by Chair Joe Moody, D-El Paso, at Monday’s hearing. Under HB 81, police would ticket someone caught with an ounce or less of marijuana rather than charging them with a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of up to six months in jail.

The measure passed with bipartisan support, but both no votes came from Republican freshmen — Cole Hefner, of Mt. Pleasant, and Mike Lang, of Granbury. Republicans Todd Hunter, of Corpus Christi, and Terry Wilson, of Marble Falls, joined the committee’s Democrats in advancing the bill beyond its first legislative hurdle.

“It is a fairly new concept in Texas not to criminalize conduct,” Moody told the Observer. “Part of the problem has been just getting people comfortable with the idea of treating this differently than we have in the past.”

[…]

Last session, Moody carried a nearly identical measure. Several Republicans, including David Simpson and Bryan Hughes — both of whom are no longer in the House — signed on to Moody’s bill as co-authors in 2013, but no GOP member supported the measure as a joint author, which is a greater show of support.

Moody will need all the help he can get from Republicans, including House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Vice Chair Hunter, who voted in support of the bill on Monday. The proposal now advances to the Calendars Committee, which determines the flow of legislation into the full House. Hunter chairs the powerful committee, which comprises 10 Republicans and five Democrats.

Hunter will play a major role in determining whether HB 81 makes it to the House floor — further than any bill lessening penalties for marijuana offenses has made it in the legislative process.

I feel like this bill will have a decent chance to pass the House – it should at least get a vote, unless it becomes clear the numbers aren’t there for it. The prospects seem longer in the Senate, but at least now-Senator Bryan Hughes ought to support it. Even if it doesn’t go the distance, each step farther improves the odds that something like it can get passed in a future session. Public support is ahead of the Lege on this issue, and it will likely take a few more cycles to catch up.