This is a weekly feature produced by my friend Ginger. Let us know what you think.
This week, in news from Dallas-Fort Worth, the big news is, of course, the Ken Paxton acquittal and the domino effect it’s having on North Texas politics. There’s also news about local districts joining a lawsuit against the TEA; city budget news in Dallas and Fort Worth; immigration news; assorted problems with environmental racism in the Metroplex; a wild story from Wise County that needs the Skip Hollandsworth treatment; blessing the drag queens; the best of Dallas; and more.
This week’s post was brought to you by Polyphia, a new-to-me Dallas band I found through the Dallas Observer’s best-of issue, mentioned below. They’re an instrumental progressive rock band, which isn’t what most of my friends think of as my style, but I really like them. They’re guitar-intense and I’d recommend you give them a try if you’re into Rodrigo y Gabriela or similar music.
Before we dive into the news, in case you haven’t heard, the government will mail you more COVID tests because COVID isn’t over, no matter what anybody says. Starting on 25 September, ask for your tests at https://www.covid.gov/tests. Stay safe out there, friends!
If you’re reading this blog, you’ve already read as much about the Paxton acquittal you can stand, and possibly more, so I’ll spare you most of the local stories. Here’s a sampling of the reaction pieces with information you might not have heard: the chair of the Collin County Republicans called the acquittal a ‘triumph’; the Tarrant County Judge (also Republican) blames the ‘corrupt media’ for the impeachment.
Meanwhile our supposedly-sensible business Republicans in the Metroplex are Not Pleased. A sampling of headlines: Why did Ken Paxton beat impeachment? Not enough evidence, too much partisan politics (Star-Telegram); A sad day for Texas: Acquitting Ken Paxton condones corruption, abuse of power (Star-Telegram editorial board); Ken Paxton verdict is an injury for Texas and conservatism (DMN editorial board); and With Ken Paxton verdict, mini-MAGA Texas Republicans mock conservative values (Star-Telegram again). Also here’s a NY Times article that you can send to your out-of-state friends that explains all these headlines: Behind Paxton’s Impeachment, a Republican Battle for Control of Texas.
You may have read a story about this already but Trump allies all but put the fix in on the trial. The Axios piece makes some additional sense of what my State Senator had to say which is that the Republicans were willing to be vote 21 but not vote 20. Close followers of the trial may remember that Defend Texas Liberty gave Lite Guv Dan Patrick $3 million back in June; as mentioned in the linked article, that’s what Jonathan Stickland is doing with his time now that he’s out of the Lege, with his work funded by Tim Dunn and the Wilks family. Defend Texas Liberty has been threatening all along to primary any Republican who voted for impeachment in the House or Senate, which both the DMN, the Dallas Observer and the Star-Telegram are concerned about. As mentioned in the Star-Telegram piece, the two Republicans in the Senate who voted to convict won’t face voters again until 2026. The Texas Standard has an interview with a Republican consultant on what may happen next spring as we go through the GOP primaries. A lot of the House members have pretty solid conservative credentials, so we’ll see how that plays out when the MAGA types start calling them RINOs. If the potential outcomes weren’t so bad I’d be getting the popcorn ready.
The DMN thinks that the five House Republicans from Collin County (all of them) will get primaried by Defending Texas Liberty. Meanwhile, they think that, short of the securities fraud case from back in 2015, eight years ago now, coming back to bite Paxton in the butt, Collin County’s favorite boy’s future is very bright. And as mentioned in the DMN piece, Paxton’s next RINO target may be John Cornyn, which will be another toss-up between brutal embarrassment and getting the popcorn out.
As a palate cleanser from all that, please enjoy this story about a thirteen-year-old journalist from Katy who covered the trial for his neighborhood paper. For him, like all of us, it was a learning experience.
While nothing can possibly top Ken Paxton’s acquittal for news, let’s look at what else is happening in the Metroplex this week:
- As Charles mentioned, Rhetta Bowers now says she’s running for CD32. Like our host, I think there’s going to be some decisions made between now and the December filing deadline.
- Texas GOPers in the House are admitting that the Biden impeachment inquiry is a fishing expedition if they’re not smart enough to keep their mouths shut.
- The TEA scoring lawsuit keeps getting local districts to hop on board. Dallas, Fort Worth, and Richardson (where I’m zoned) all joined the suit this week.
- Meanwhile the Superintendent of Dallas ISD is warning that vouchers are taking our tax money for private schools. It’s a timely reminder given the subject of our upcoming special session.
- Somewhat related, here’s a Washington Post piece on red states leaving the American Library Association. Texas quit this summer. More from Judd Legum of Popular Info.
- A couple of immigration items have drawn my attention this week. First, here in Texas, an Afghan intelligence officer was granted asylum and will be living with his brother in Houston. Given some of the things I’ve heard about Afghan asylum cases that have gone badly, I’m really pleased to hear about one that went well. Also the Biden administration extending Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans for another 18 months that includes giving them work permits. The Washington Post notes there’s almost half a million of those folks. I wish them safety, good health, and prosperity in the US.
- The City of Dallas has approved a budget for FY 2024 with some division in the council because the mayor and some of the council members think the property tax rate wasn’t cut far enough to counter the ongoing increase in property values on top of the usual arguments about distributing the goods. KERA has more. The City of Fort Worth has effectively the same problem with their 2024 budget.
- With the next year’s budget down, now the council will turn to the 2024 bond proposal. This week we saw housing advocates rallying for their share, which they think is about $200 million of the $1.1 billion the city can ask for.
- Also on the topic of the City Council meetings, apparently Mayor Johnson likes to skive off and leave early or just plain not attend them. Apparently you have to send an absence memo if you miss more than half a meeting, but Johnson likes to skip just under half.
- Some Dallas-area police news: the county jail is running out of capacity; The sheriff is running for re-election, and as mentioned previously she’ll be facing former sheriff and gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez in the Democratic primary. And the police oversight monitor is quitting after 3 years, with no explanation. The DMN article notes that her previous job in New Orleans, where she headed a similar office, had a budget about a third again as big as her Dallas office for a police force that’s a third the size of Dallas’.
- The Tarrant County jail also continues to have problems. Yet another inmate died in custody at the hospital, and the story notes that’s the second death this week. And this week, the city of Fort Worth has offered to settle with the family of Javonte Myers for $1 million after he died in custody in 2020.
- Dallas’ air quality sucks and the city had an Air Sensor Summit to talk about getting more sensors in and how to use them to help. Part of the problem is that the only EPA-approved air quality sensor is in Uptown, which is not where the pollution is. It would be like putting an air quality sensor near the Galleria to monitor all of Houston’s air, including the Ship Channel.
- Speaking of environmental racism, West Dallas is complaining about industrial zoning in a primarily Hispanic/Latinx part of town.
- And staying in West Dallas, another neighborhood is concerned about the Dallas-Fort Worth high-speed train, which is going to cut through their community. They expect to lose their homes to eminent domain.
- Speaking of eminent domain, Freestone County had a meeting about Fairfield State Park that included Texas Parks & Wildlife officials as well as the Todds of Todd Interests, who now own the land. Sounds like it was a testy meeting.
- This is such a wild story that I’m just going to send you through the ungated link and tell you to read it. I promise you will not be sorry even if the headline doesn’t grab you: Gay dads face hate in a small Texas town, but then help uncover major embezzlement scheme. This all takes place in Aurora, northwest of Fort Worth, and in addition to the embezzlement, it includes fake identities, a fake Ph.D., false CPS reports, and burning down the city hall. The gay dads won their civil suit and the mastermind behind all the criming, who used to be the city administrator in Aurora, is going to be tried in January.
- In news sure to enrage every bigot from here to the Sabine, the Cathedral of Hope, a queer-friendly church here in Dallas, blessed drag queens in its service last Sunday to celebrate Dallas Pride. Unsurprisingly there were protestors, mostly complaining about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence being invited for the blessing. Also, please note the correction to this article: “A previous version of this article neglected to capitalize God.”
- Reported without comment: TABC busted a moonshiner in Johnson County south of Fort Worth.
- The animal report for this week has no cute babies, so it’s not our last entry. Sadly buildings in downtown Fort Worth are deadly to flying creatures. As a bird and bat fan, I hope the researchers reporting on this can help. Meanwhile here in Dallas, Animal Services found a 200-lb. tortoise on the loose and are looking for his humans. If they can’t figure out whose fence he dug his way out from under, they have found a new home for him.
- In what will probably be my last story about the State Fair, the Observer has a guide to how to do the fair for first-timers like me and a bunch of related stories about the best food to get while you’re there, whether it’s the new, the old, the honored, or the usual. And if you’re not ready to go, you can check out Eater’s tips on where to eat fair and fair-inspired food elsewhere in the city.
- Last, but not least, the Dallas Observer, our local alt-newspaper, has its Best Of issue this week. Some places they recommend that I like: Billy Can Can for chili, a dish I have not tried from their menu, but I’ve loved everything I’ve eaten there; Royal China for dumplings, which is also delicious; the Texas Theater, the best cinephile experience in Dallas; and the Perot and the Modern (in Fort Worth) for museums. Honorable mention to two Austin transplants I like: Uchi for Japanese food and Terry Black’s BBQ. If you come up this way, check some of the Observer’s selections out.