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August 17th, 2012:

Friday random ten: Non-stupid Texas songs

I came across this this Dallas Observer list of the 100 Best Texas Songs, and as I can’t resist a good list I figured I ought to be able to get a random ten out of it.

1. She’s No Lady, She’s My Wife – Lyle Lovett, #95
2. Pride And Joy – Stevie Ray Vaughan, #92
3. Me and Bobby McGee – Janis Joplin (#77, orig. Kris Krittofferson)
4. Paradise By The Dashboard Light – Meat Loaf, #72
5. London Homesick Blues – Flying Fish Sailors (#62, orig. Gary P. Nunn)
6. La Grange – ZZ Top, #41
7. That’ll Be The Day – Buddy Holly, #15
8. In Dreams – Roy Orbison, #11
9. Crazy – Patsy Cline (#5, orig. Willie Nelson)
10. Tighten Up – Archie Bell and The Drells, #1

Not a bad list overall, with a fair amount of punk and hip-hop on it, as you’d expect from a list put together by the staff of an alt-weekly. I believe they missed out on what I consider to be an iconic Texas tune, the Austin Lounge Lizards’ “Stupid Texas Song”, which captures the essence of our beloved home in a way no other ditty ever has. Still, a good sampling, with a few songs I’m going to need to check out. There’s always room to argue about the songs that should have been included, but I’ll leave that to the comments. What do you think?

On hedging one’s bets

Writing in the Trib, Mustafa Tameez tells Republicans that there such a thing as too much of a good thing for them.

Sen. Wendy Davis

If Republicans win in SD-10, there will only be 11 Democrats in the Texas Senate. That means that in order for the majority to pass anything it wants, all they need to do is peel off one member of the opposition (or just wait for a day when one of them is running late, or steps out to use the bathroom) and they can pass anything they like. Think about that for a moment: All that’s standing between Texas and an absolute one-party rule is a traffic jam or a sick day. I don’t care what your politics are — that’s not good.

Suppose you are a large homebuilder with strong ties to the Republican Party establishment. Suppose you embrace many of the same principles as the new Tea Party members of the Legislature. But what happens when say, a sanctuary cities bill gets introduced? Will your opposition even be heard? Or will you simply be denounced as a conservative apostate or worse yet, a RINO, and dismissed from the conversation?

Let’s say you’re a member of a well-moneyed group of business people who firmly believe that dismantling the trial bar in Texas is the only way to secure economic growth. What will you do if the female, minority, or gay members of your group are threatened from separate corners of the political spheres in, for instance, the realm of marriage, voting rights, or reproductive medicine? It wouldn’t take too many dust-ups like these before the vaunted “Three-Legged-Stool” is over turned completely. This is not a hypothetical struggle. This is truly about how big a tent the Republican Party is able to hold up while it is being driven further and further to the right.

Essentially, with the Senate held by a virtual supermajority, the same folks who so ardently supported Ted Cruz would be running the show in Austin this coming January. Like I said: terror or delight.

The Wendy Davis race in SD-10 should be a rallying point for Democrats and for Republicans. It should be a moment to reflect on the larger picture, and not on any one individual issue. After all, this is a fight for their survival and, strangely enough, it depends on a Democrat winning.

If you think Tameez is overstating the case about the two thirds rule being circumvented by circumstance, remember that it’s happened before. I see no reason to believe that David Dewhurst wouldn’t try it again if the opportunity presented itself. Philosophical issues about the two thirds rule aside, a lot of people involved in the process like it as it is. If it’s going to be changed, we should be honest about it and not subvert it with sneak attacks.

The point is this. Dan Patrick has made perfectly clear what his priorities are for this legislative session, and “sanctuary cities” is one of the things on his wish list. Establishment Republican types like Bob Perry and Bill Hammond have been all talk and no action when it has come to pushing back on anti-immigration hysteria in the Republican Party. The SD10 race is a perfect opportunity for these business types to do something about an issue they claim is important to them. If they can’t bring themselves to actually support Sen. Davis – and by the way, a Republican win here would likely make it that much easier to do away with the two thirds rule entirely, this making it that much easier for Dan Patrick to impose his will – then they can at least not actively oppose her. The more Dan Patrick gets what he wants, the less he’s going to feel he owes to anyone who isn’t with him on each and every one of his issues. Like “sanctuary cities”, for starters. What kind of Senate do you want, establishment Republican businesspeople? You have the power to help decide.

No stay for voter registration injunction


Still the only voter ID anyone should need

A federal judge in Galveston today denied the state’s request for a stay that would have allowed Texas to enforce several of its voter registration laws.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office asked for the stay on Aug. 4 — the same day it appealed an order by U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa that granted a temporary injunction sought by two Galveston residents and two national, nonpartisan groups that organize efforts to register people in areas with low registration levels.

The provisions at issue include those that prohibit completed voter applications from being mailed to county offices; prohibit deputy voter registrars from registering voters in counties where they don’t live; prohibit the photocopying of voter registration cards; require voter registrars to be Texas residents; and prohibit registration drives from firing deputy registrars based on their performance. Some of the blocked provisions specifically address “volunteer deputy registrars,” the canvassers who, by law, must be appointed to take applications from prospective voters.

Costa’s injunction, which remains in place, bars enforcement of the provisions until a trial can be held to determine if they violate the 1993 National Voter Registration Act or the U.S. Constitution. No trial has been set.

See here and here for the background. I’d link to Judge Costa’s order, but the Southern District of Texas webpage doesn’t make it easy to find such documents, if they exist online. The case is Voting for America, Inc., v Andrade, southern district, G-12-44 according to Ballot Access News, if that helps anyone who knows these things better than I. On to trial from here, where hopefully these petty little laws will get a proper burial. BOR and Juanita have more.

UPDATE: Here’s a copy of the judge’s order denying the request for a stay. Thanks to Jeff and to Tony for using their superpowers as attorneys to find that for me. The state has now asked the Fifth Circuit Court for a stay, so this isn’t over yet.

Opposing the privatized psych hospital

Some pushback on a bad idea.

A coalition of influential Texas organizations is pushing back against the proposed privatization of a state psychiatric hospital by Geo Care, a subsidiary of a prison operations group that has a troubled history in Texas.

The Department of State Health Services is preparing to privatize one of the state hospitals it oversees, a move estimated to save taxpayers millions of dollars a year.

Members of the coalition, concerned by the fact that Geo Care was the only bidder to operate the hospital, are urging the state health department, the Legislative Budget Board and Gov. Rick Perry to reject the company’s proposed management of the hospital.

“The Geo Group has a long and troubled history in Texas,” said Bob Libal, whose organization, Grassroots Leadership, signed the letter along with groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Disability Rights Texas, Texas NAACP, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and the United Methodist Church.

The letter in question is here, the associated press release is here, and some background on this is here. I’d not heard of Grassroots Leadership before, but their mission statement says they’re all about abolishing for-profit prisons, jails, and detention centers, so this is certainly in their wheelhouse. Here’s a letter they sent in March to all 50 governors opposing plans by Corrections Corporation of America to spend up to $250 million buying prisons from state, local, and federal government entities, and then managing the facilities. The only problem I see with the letter they sent to Rick Perry is that all the signers are lefty groups, meaning that Perry will send it straight to the round file. That doesn’t make them any less right, it just means they’ll have the dubious pleasure of saying “we told you so!” someday in the future when this has gone horribly wrong. The Trib has more.

Regent Square gets off the ground

This has been a long time coming.

More than five years after announcing plans for the 24-acre Regent Square project off Allen Parkway, GID Development Group has begun construction on the first building, a 21-story apartment tower called The Sovereign.


GID said it remains committed to Regent Square, which is to go up in multiple phases on land abutting Allen Parkway near Dunlavy and Dallas, on the site of the old Allen House Apartments. The development could take 10 years to complete.

Plans include about 400,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space; more than 1,500 residential units; and 250,000 square feet of office space in what the developer refers to as an “urban district” where residents can walk to everything. The walkable nature of the project extends beyond its borders, [GID President James] Linsley said, with a pedestrian trail around Buffalo Bayou and high-end shops and a new Whole Foods a short distance away.

Additional construction could begin in about a year as the company is “moments away” from signing up a major retail tenant, Linsley said.

We heard about movement on this front in May. Like many other projects, it was the collapse of the economy that brought it to a halt. I’m glad to see it finally get going, that’s far too valuable a property to sit vacant like that. Prime Property has more.