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November 4th, 2016:

Friday random ten: Ladies’ night, part 20

This is the part of me that’s glad the election is almost over.

1. Part Of Me – Katy Perry
2. Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson
3. Peter Pan – Kelsei Ballerini
4. Dancing In The Dark – Kim Wilde
5. Can’t Stop Killing You – Kirsty MacColl
6. Heartbeat – Kopecky (Kelsey Kopecky)
7. Black Horse And The Cherry Tree – KT Tunstall
8. Waited – Kylie Rae Harris
9. The Fame Monster – Lady Gaga
10. Horoscope – Lager Rhythms (Elizabeth Benedetto, Sarah Nelson Crawford, Leisa McCord)

The Lager Rhythms are a Houston a capella group, founded by former Rice students, whose roster over the years has included several friends of mine. I’m always happy to include one of their songs in one of these lists. Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, Kylie Rae Harris, and Lady Gaga are all in my collection because of my daughters. On balance, my collection is the better for it.

KTVT/Dixie Strategies: Trump 52, Clinton 39

There’s one in every crowd.

Real Estate Mogul and Republican Presidential nominee Donald J Trump has surged to a twelve point lead in Texas over Former Secretary of State and Democrat nominee, Hillary R. Clinton in the latest KTVT CBS 11 Dixie Strategies Poll.

If the presidential election were held today, about 52 percent of likely general election voters said they would vote for Trump while just over 39 percent said they would vote for Clinton. This marks the first time Trump has polled over 50 percent in Texas and casts doubt on any Democratic victory on November 8.

Earlier polls had Trump at 46 percent in August and 45 percent in October. Clinton polled at 35 percent in August and 38 percent in October.

With Clinton still polling in the upper 30’s as she has in previous polls much of Trump’s rise in the polls has come from independents and undecided voters.

Speaking to CBS 11’s Jack Fink on Facebook Live Tuesday afternoon, pollster Brian Graham of Dixie Strategies said, “People have now decided… and it appears that Donald Trump has captured most of those undecided voters as we have gotten closer [to the election].”

[…]

Graham says Trump is doing better with Hispanics and African Americans despite some of his controversial comments. “Perhaps it’s his bold statements; perhaps it’s that he is ‘not the establishment;’ perhaps it’s that he’s something different, ” said Graham. “Some Republicans have won a majority of Hispanic votes in Texas…. now he’s not there, but he’s doing decent in the state of Texas with Hispanics compared to how his numbers look nationwide,” Graham continued.

See here for the August version of this poll, and here for the early October version of it. This poll was conducted between October 27 and 29, which is to say while early voting was going on, but apparently they didn’t ask if the respondent had already voted and if so for whom. Their numbers for non-white voters are ridiculous – 24% of black voters in their sample say they are voting for Trump, as do 39% of Latinos. To put it mildly, I don’t buy any of that. The only other poll I’ve sampled that had Trump up by as much as 10 was the August KTVT/Dixie Strategies poll; FiveThirtyEight includes two others, a Google Consumer Survey poll and a weird Ipsos tracker that has consistently had Trump up by 13-15 points. The data that I have seen from early voting does not jibe with this kind of result, but hey, who knows? These guys are either outliers or geniuses. We’ll know soon enough. Link via PDiddie.

TEA says no more special ed limits

We’ll see about that.

The Texas Education Agency has agreed to stop auditing school districts that give specialized education to more than 8.5 percent of students, officials announced Wednesday, cheering experts, advocates and lawmakers outraged by the policy.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Education, which had ordered the state to eliminate the arbitrary decade-old enrollment benchmark, officials promised to suspend it and work to eventually end it altogether.

“TEA will send a letter to all school districts in the state reminding them of the requirements of IDEA (the federal law on special education),” wrote Penny Schwinn, the agency’s Deputy Commissioner of Academics. “In addition, TEA will … not use (the policy) for the purposes of interventions staging moving forward.”

But the agency also vigorously defended the policy, saying it was not a “cap” on enrollment, was not meant to save money and did not seriously punish districts for failing to comply. Officials also said they had no evidence that the policy had kept any disabled students out of special education, and they did not offer any plan for identifying and helping children who may have been shut out.

[…]

Advocates criticized the state’s letter, saying that “stakeholder input” is not the same as public input, that the policy still saved money by preventing spending increases as more students have entered the state, and that the state’s explanation for the enrollment drop did not make sense because federal laws have affected all states, while only Texas has had a large drop.

“Disability Rights Texas is disappointed by the Texas Education Agency’s defensive response filed with the U.S. Department of Education today,” the group said in a statement. “Students’ futures are held in the balance while TEA refuses to claim any responsibility for the dramatic decline in services to children with disabilities.”

Earlier in the day, 22 national disability advocacy groups wrote to the TEA to say they were “deeply troubled” by the Chronicle’s findings.

After the TEA released its letter to the federal government, Straus said in a statement that the agency’s decision to suspend the target was “good news for Texas families.”

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Education said the department would review the TEA letter.

“Texas addressed multiple questions and issues and included a number of attachments,” said the spokesman, Jessica Allen. “The Education Department will carefully review the state’s response and, after the review is concluded, determine appropriate next steps.”

See here, here, and here for some background, and here for a copy of the TEA’s letter to the US Department of Education. Let’s just say that I’m not prepared to take the TEA’s word for it, and any “solution” that doesn’t involve ensuring that all school districts have sufficient funding to adequately provide for all of their special-needs kids is no solution at all. Until we have assurances on that score, this is all talk and no action. The Trib has more.

Anheuser-BuschInBev to buy Karbach

If you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em.

Fast-growing Karbach Brewing Co. of Houston is the latest U.S. craft brewery to be acquired by a global beer giant, announcing Thursday morning that Anheuser-BuschInBev is buying it for an undisclosed amount.

The 5-year-old Karbach will be part of the company’s U.S.-specific High End business unit, joining the likes of Stella Artois and Shock Top; Goose Island, Breckenridge, Elysian and five other craft breweries; a cider company; and a hard seltzer company.

Ken Goodman and longtime business partner Chuck Robertson, who founded the brewery in a building they formerly used in their beer distributorship on Karbach Street, said existing management and brewers will remain in place and the company will retain much of its independence while also gaining access to the resources that will help it continue to grow.

“The financial piece wasn’t that important at the end of the day,” Goodman said. “It was the resources.”

High End president Felipe Szpigel cited Karbach’s Love Street Kölsch as an example of a lower-alcohol, or “session,” beer that will fill a niche in the AB-InBev portfolio.

He said he first visited the Karbach brewery during a site visit to Houston about a year and a half ago and as he talked with the owners and brewers, “I really fell in love with what they are doing.”

Brewmaster Eric Warner said the move will allow his team to collaborate with those other craft breweries.

“The High End wants to see us innovate,” he said.

Szpigel and the Karbach team said they will continue to focus on developing the Texas market for the next couple of years.

I’m sure that quote about “resources” is a reference to the ABinBev distribution network, which is more a comment on Texas’ byzantine and archaic beer laws than anything else. I’m sure the Karbach founders (and I hope their employees) will nonetheless make a nice chunk of change off of this, and more power to them if they do, but a peek at their announcement of the deal on Facebook shows that the reaction from their customers is overwhelmingly negative. This is no surprise – ABinBev has openly mocked craft beers and the people who drink them in their advertising, and well, anyone who drinks Karbach almost certainly thinks ABinBev products are exactly what’s wrong with beer and the reason why breweries like Karbach needed to exist and have done so well. From a brand perspective, it’s at best a shotgun wedding and at worst a complete hash. I’m sure that Karbach will sell a lot more beer as a result of this deal. I just suspect that very little of that beer will be consumed by people who had ever drunk it before today. Swamplot and Houstonia have more.

Early voting, Day Eleven: Last chance

From the inbox:

EarlyVoting

Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart announced within minutes after the polls opened this morning, that Harris County crossed the 700,982 voter benchmark setting a new record for early voters by personal appearance.

With essentially two full days of Early Voting left for the November 8, 2016 Election, the record established during the 2012 November Election is expected to be shattered as an additional 170,000 to 190,000 voters are anticipated to vote by the end of Friday.

Of the 123,954 mail ballots that were mailed, 89,271 have been returned as of Wednesday. Stanart, the chief election official of the County, anticipates that over 100,000 mail ballots will ultimately be received by the 7 p.m. deadline on election day.

“Incredible turnout for a historic election, said Stanart. “I expect the total number of early voters for this election, including mail ballots received, will get close to the one million mark by the end of the early voting period.”

The early voting period ends Friday, November 4. Until then, the 46 Harris County Early Voting locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. All voters in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to cast their ballot.

“There is still time to vote early,” concluded Stanart. “Do your homework. Then, go vote.”

To obtain the early voting schedule, a list of acceptable credentials to vote at the polling location, their personal sample ballot and other election information, voters may visit the Harris County Clerk’s website at www.HarrisVotes.com or call 713.755.6965.

That was sent yesterday morning, so we’re down to just one day to vote early, today. Stanart’s projection for the last two days, including another 10K or so mail ballots, would put us close to a million early votes. That’s just a lot, I don’t know how else to say it. As far as Election Day itself goes, we had 427K on Election Day in 2008, and 442K on E-Day in 2012, so take your guesses as to what this means for this year. I’d put the range at 400K to 500K, but I won’t be surprised if we’re outside of that, one way or the other.

No daily EV report before I went to bed last night, so I can’t say if we’re on track for Stanart’s projection or not. As always, I will update when I have the file.

UPDATE: Here’s your Day 11 EV report and your tracker spreadsheet, which will be updated later. There were 76,878 in-person votes and 2,546 mail ballots, bring the overall total up to 869,392. A million early votes is probably out of reach, but we should get to 950,000, maybe a bit more.