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June 3rd, 2017:

Saturday video break: Safety Dance

Hey, I just realized that I’ve never seen the video of the Men Without Hats classic “Safety Dance”. Let’s watch, shall we?

Well, that was…um, yeah, I got nothing. Let’s just go to the Literal Video version, because there just had to be a literal video version of that:

Now it all makes sense. With that, here’s Big Daddy:

No matter how weird things get, you can always count on Big Daddy.

San Antonio files “sanctuary cities” lawsuit

Here they go.

The cities of San Antonio and Austin announced on Thursday they have joined the fight to stop the state’s new immigration enforcement law, Senate Bill 4, in federal court.

[…]

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed the suit Thursday on behalf of San Antonio City Councilman Rey Saldaña and a trio of nonprofit groups: La Unión Del Pueblo Entero, the Worker’s Defense Project and the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education.

The city of Austin’s city attorney will file a motion to intervene and join the plaintiffs Friday but will use its own attorneys and introduce certain Austin-specific claims, a spokesperson for Austin City Councilman Greg Casar said.

Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton are the named defendants in the litigation.

During a press call late Thursday afternoon, Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF’s president and general counsel, said the lawsuit contains “arguments against each and every provision in SB4.” Specifically, the lawsuit alleges the bill, if enacted, would violate the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

“All of those multiple constitutional claims basically relate to the illegality of empowering each and every police officer, sheriff’s deputy, booking agent and other law enforcement figures in the state of Texas to decide on their own, without any guidance or restriction from their duly elected superiors and appointed police chiefs … whether and how to enforce federal immigration law.”

CM Saldaña had been pushing for this since SB4 was signed, and it was reported earlier in the week that the suit would be filed on Thursday/ Here’s more on Austin’s role in this.

Austin plans to file a motion to intervene, bringing “Austin-specific issues to the table,” City Council Member Greg Casar said on a conference call.

“Soon after Gov. Abbott signed this disgraceful law, community groups announced a summer of resistance against SB 4, calling on elected officials to file challenges against the law in court,” Casar said, refering to Senate Bill 4. “City leaders have responded swiftly. Upon filing suit against the State of Texas tomorrow morning, El Paso, El Cenizo, San Antonio and Austin all will have responded to the community’s call.”

The lawsuit alleges SB 4 violates the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. It names the State of Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton as defendants.

As the story notes, Austin City Council had previously voted to pursue litigation, so this is the culmination of that vote. This lawsuit joins with the other lawsuits already in progress. MALDEF attorney Saenz is quoted in the Trib story saying that the Austin/San Antonio suits will likely be combined with the El Cenizo/Maverick County one at some point, but until then and before the September 1 implementation date there’s plenty of time for motions and discovery.

San Antonio’s decision to file suit was a bit contentious as Mayor Ivy Taylor did not want to get involved, at least at this time. That stance has become an issue in the Mayoral runoff.

Taylor’s move gives her an 11th-hour wedge issue in her mayoral runoff campaign. Her challenger, Councilman Ron Nirenberg, supports the lawsuit and Taylor is banking on the idea that North Side conservatives will remember that when they go to the polls.

Nirenberg said in a Thursday statement that he hopes the lawsuit “will bring a fast and final resolution on the constitutionality of the law so our local law enforcement can move forward with the job of protecting the people of San Antonio.”

Taylor was joined in her anti-lawsuit stance by North Side council members Joe Krier and Mike Gallagher. Like Taylor, Gallagher suggested that the city should work in coordination with the state’s other major cities before committing to litigation. Krier said the council should have voted in an open session, with full transparency and the chance for public discussion.

I agree with that point. That’s how Austin handled it, with a May 18 council vote to file suit over SB 4. By definition, City Council makes policy and deciding to participate in this lawsuit is a major policy move. In the words of former New York Jets head coach Herm Edwards, “Put your name on it.”

Saldaña agrees with the calls for transparency, but said San Antonio was running out of time because Austin and other cities are looking to S.A. to decide how they should proceed against SB 4, which goes into effect on September 1.

“The question that I posed to the mayor and the manager (Sheryl Sculley) and our city attorney was, ‘What is the best way to move quickly?’ And they said, ‘Let’s first discuss this in executive session and see what folks have an appetite for.’ But it kept getting stalled and several weeks passed from the time I originally proposed this,” Saldaña said.

“The people who are most in favor of getting it up for a (public) vote are just trying to delay the action that we’re taking. And Councilman Krier was one of them.”

Saldaña pointed out that Krier had no objections in 2014 when the council made an executive-session decision to file lawsuits against the police and fire unions over the city’s collective-bargaining agreements.

Here’s a list of statements by the Mayor and Council members following the vote to file suit. The runoff concludes June 10, so we ought to have some feedback on the political effect shortly. In the meantime, all eyes remain on Houston and Mayor Turner. ThinkProgress and the Current have more.

Dayna Steele is in for CD36

Hooray!

Dayna Steele

Hilton at 10:30 a.m.

It was during the Women’s March on Washington, one day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, that Steele said she was inspired to take action. Following a few months of research, including conversations with her family and voters in the district, Steele opted to challenge two-term Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Brian Babin.

“I knew I had to do something,” Steele told OutSmart. “I just looked at what was happening to the country, and I knew I couldn’t ignore it. This is the most serious and important thing I’ve ever done.”

Steele said she was approached by Republicans about challenging Babin in the GOP primary, but opted to run as a Democrat instead.

“Two priorities I will not compromise on are pro-choice for women and LGBTQ rights,” she said, adding that her 21-year-old son Dack is experiencing discrimination for being gay for the first time in his life.

[…]

Steele graduated from Dulles High School and enrolled at Texas A&M University at age 16, working at the campus radio station. At 18, she left school for a career in professional radio and reigned for two decades as “the first lady of rock and roll” on Houston airways.

Even though she’s a Houston native and fifth-generation Texan, Steele said she didn’t become aware of the coastal area where she now lives until her early 30s.

“Once I found Clear Lake, I never left,” Steele said. “I fell in love with a NASA pilot and the area. I married that pilot, bought a house on the water, learned to water ski, and can now be found occasionally kayaking around Taylor Lake.”

Professionally, Steele went on to launch an online retail business specializing in space and NASA memorabilia. An early social media adaptor, she also became a successful author and national motivational speaker.

But it will take a lot more than social media savvy and superstar friends for a Democrat to win in the 36th District, which until now has voted solidly Republican. No Democratic candidate has captured more than 27 percent of the vote in the district, which was created after the 2010 Census.

Steele estimates it will cost $5 million, but believes it’s possible to flip the seat. She pointed to the district’s growing LGBTQ and Hispanic populations, as well as its large numbers of current and past federal employees, and water sports enthusiasts.

“I’m running as a Democrat, sort of a rebel one, but I’m really running as an American, putting country over party,” Steele said. “My heart is true and my passion is strong. We just have to get people to the polls next year.”

As you know, I’m delighted by this. The district is a huge challenge to say the least, but such challenges can’t be ignored. Here’s her campaign webpage. If you live in the district, get in touch and see what you can do to help out. Rock on, Dayna Steele!

Council passes the 2017-18 budget

With a bit of drama along the way.

Mayor Sylvester Turner

City Council voted to boost funding for a controversial program that helps district council members tackle neighborhood projects Wednesday, even as it approved an annual budget from which one police cadet class and up to 75 employees’ jobs already had been trimmed.

Mayor Sylvester Turner blasted the 10-7 vote to amend his budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 as “irresponsible.” He warned that increasing the 11 district council members’ project funds could imperil the city’s ability in the coming months to find the money to restore a fifth police cadet class, offer a sufficient raise to firefighters or address long-term challenges such as an aging vehicle fleet or accumulated building maintenance.

“They passed that amendment without specifying where the money is coming from, and that’s almost like pulling it out of thin air,” Turner said after the meeting. “Quite frankly that’s not the way I choose to budget.”

Though the day was tense at times, Turner praised the ultimately unanimous vote to pass his $5.2 billion budget, $2.4 billion of which comes from the general fund that is supported mainly by residents’ taxes and funds most basic services like police, fire, trash pickup, parks and libraries.

The general fund budget aims to spend about $35 million more than the current one, due partly to a $51 million rise in debt costs. For the first time in about 15 years, the budget fully funds the city’s pension costs, thanks to the reform bill Turner successfully pushed through Austin and that Gov. Greg Abbott signed Wednesday while the council was in session.

The budget also closed a $123 million deficit with departmental cuts (largely to police and fire overtime) one-time fixes (such as selling city land), deferred payments (such as to the Houston Zoo) and a dip into city reserves.

Though staffers for Turner and for some council members were abuzz late Wednesday with speculation that a long honeymoon period may finally have ended, the mayor seemed to head off such thinking after the meeting.

“Like any marriage, sometimes there’s disagreement,” he said, wearing a modest grin. “I’m going to get some roses and I’ll send it to all 16 of them. We’ve done a lot of great things together.”

See here for the background. Those Council district funds were first added into the budget under Mayor Parker, and it would seem they are here to stay. They don’t change the size of the budget, just how the money is allocated. I get why Mayor Turner is annoyed, but it’s not that big a deal. I seriously doubt this will change how he and Council deal with each other.