Archive for June 8th, 2017

It Worked

Commentary said this last Friday:

The City of H-Town joining the SB 4 lawsuit is next. It is going to happen. I don’t have a doubt. H-Town has the largest Latino immigrant community in Texas. We have to be in the game. We are not going to be on the sidelines.  It would not make sense.

Never underestimate the savvy DREAMers. Commentary doesn’t. Heck they took the lead in turning out Latino voters last November. They deserve the credit. Now they put the pressure on H-Town City Hall to get them to join the SB 4 lawsuit.  Here is what the Chron’s Rebecca Elliott put out this morning:

Mayor Sylvester Turner plans to ask City Council to vote this month on joining lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Texas’ new “sanctuary cities” law, ending months of equivocation on the controversial immigration enforcement measure.

If City Council votes to sue, Houston would join San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and several other local governments already challenging the state or planning to do so.

“I will ask this month City Council to consider and vote to join the lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of SB4,” Turner tweeted Thursday morning, after the Houston Chronicle ran a front page story about his decision to remain on the sidelines of debate over the statute.

Turner has for months avoided using the term “sanctuary city” and as recently as Wednesday told residents concerned about the law known as Senate Bill 4 to take their concerns to Austin.

City Council is in recess next week, meaning a vote could come June 21 at the earliest.

Here is from Rebecca’s front-page story today:

Despite mounting pressure from residents and immigrant rights groups, Mayor Sylvester Turner appears content to remain on the sidelines of the debate over Texas’ new “sanctuary cities” law, even as Dallas announced plans Wednesday to join San Antonio, Austin and others in suing the state over the controversial statute.

Turner has asked the city attorney’s office to review the law known as Senate Bill 4, which allows police to ask people their immigration status if detained even for a routine traffic stop, but otherwise continues to deflect questions about whether he plans to challenge it.

That has meant carefully sidestepping the term “sanctuary city,” while touting Houston as a diverse, “welcoming city” and assuring residents that Houston police will not violate their constitutional rights.

On Wednesday, the mayor attempted to redirect attention to Austin by urging Houstonians to take up their concerns at the Capitol, even though the law has been signed and the Legislature is not slated to revisit the issue during its July special session.

Here is Rebecca’s entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Turner-remains-on-sideline-as-cities-rush-to-sue-11203853.php?cmpid=btfpm.

The Mayor’s PR folks probably let him know about the following that came out yesterday:

From United We Dream:

To our immigrant community, women, people of color, and to people of conscience across the Houston area,

Houston’s Mayor and city council have failed in their duty to protect our immigrant community. We have marched, rallied, and spoke out at city council and at town halls. But still our leaders fail to act.

We spoke out against recent hate-filled attacks to our community fueled by executive orders, bans, and one of the most discriminatory and morally bankrupt Texas Legislative sessions in recent history. Yet our leaders failed to act. Women, people of color, students, our LGBTQ+ community, and children and families have been attacked.

But our leaders in Houston still fail to act.

Please sign this petition to demand that the Mayor of Houston and the city council take action now to protect our community and provide equal safety and opportunity to all Houston residents.

In community and power,

Adonias Arevalo

Organizer, United We Dream Houston & Statewide Organizer, United We Dream, UndocuTexas campaign

Sponsored by

United We Dream

To: Houston Mayor Turner From: [Your Name]

United We Dream Houston and partners have urged you to implement local policies to shield our immigrant and undocumented community from the aggressive attacks against us, and to hamper the mass deportation agenda of the current administration. The mayor asked for recommendations, and United We Dream Houston, along with contributors from across advocacy, criminal justice, and legal communities in Houston, provided those recommendations on January 20, 2017.

Yet you have still refused to act, even after you were provided over 100 pages of detailed plans for improving Houston for immigrants and refugees.

You must back up your words with actions to protect our communities. Houston can be a welcoming city to immigrants. Houston can be a place where we have protection from the abuses of federal and state agencies.

We demand that you act to protect our communities immediately through the following:

  1. Improve conditions in Houston for immigrants by IMPLEMENTING the recommendations provided by the Mayor’s Task Force on January 20, 2017
  2. Keep families together by CEASING all collaboration with ICE.
  3. Work to prevent the impacts of SB 4 on the Houston immigrant community by ENTERING a lawsuit against the State in response to SB 4.

We are a city of immigrants, a city of refugees, a city that endures, and a city that shines bright against that which would seek to hold us or our neighbors back. We are one Houston, moving forward. If you are not with us, then you are against us.

Then this:

Houston is not a “Welcoming City”

By Raúl Alcaraz-Ochoa

When you have a Black man, Alva Braziel and a Latino man, John Hernández executed in cold-blood by city and county law enforcement and you allow police impunity to govern, Houston is not a “Welcoming City”.

When you have a Mayor that refuses to sue the state of Texas for legalizing racial profiling through SB 4 which expands deportations and family separations, Houston is not a “Welcoming City”.

When you have 75% of the total county jail population be Black and Brown, Houston is not a “Welcoming City”.

When you have local law enforcement still collaborate with ICE, regardless of whether there is a 287(g) contract or not, Houston is not a “Welcoming City”.

When you have statistics indicating that if you are Latino or Black you are 4 times more likely than Whites to be living in poverty, Houston is not a “Welcoming City”.

When you have undocumented transgender women facing severe barriers to housing, education, health services and employment opportunities, Houston is not a “Welcoming City”.

When you have people either unemployed due to discrimination based on previous penal convictions or are employed in low-paying, hazardous, deplorable conditions, Houston is not a “Welcoming City”.

When you allow poor and immigrant communities of color to be displaced by gentrification, Houston is not a “Welcoming City”.

When you allow Valero and other oil refineries to pollute the earth and the air in the Manchester area and other majority communities of color, Houston is not a “Welcoming City”.

So Mayor Turner and the Houston City Council, your designation of Houston as a “Welcoming City” to immigrants and refugees means absolutely nothing if you won’t make that nice piece of paper and turn those pretty sounding words into meaningful action. A rhetorical designation of Houston as “welcoming” has not changed or impacted the lives of your constituents.

Racial and socio-economic disparities continue at embarrassing levels. Pride in diversity is meaningless if those populations are oppressed and subjugated.

The policies you make or not, the positions you take or not, the lawsuits you launch or not, the programs you implement or not speak louder than any rhetorical designation. Welcome us by way of action, not just meaningless pretty sounding words.

It worked.  Nice job DREAMers. You certainly know how to apply the heat. Now everyone is on the same page.

And on another front, give the Mayor credit for walking the tightrope. He is considering issuing the pension obligation bonds before voter approval and that is not sitting well with one of pension bill’s sponsors. Here is from an article today in the Chron by Mike Morris:

Mayor Sylvester Turner did not rule out Wednesday issuing the $1 billion in bonds that are central to his pension reform deal without a public referendum, a move that would sidestep a hotly debated requirement the Legislature added to ensure passage of the city-negotiated plan.

Turner said he and his staff are proceeding as though there will be a referendum, but the mayor said he may seek to issue the bonds without a vote if he can gain consensus among City Council members, state lawmakers and others that moving more quickly would benefit the city.

Specifically, he referenced the benefit of preempting an anticipated jump in interest rates. Waiting six to nine months to issue the bonds, the city finance department estimates, could cost taxpayers $135 million to $273 million more over the life of the debt.

“I find it highly unlikely that anything is going to take place other than the vote in November, and that’s how we’re proceeding,” Turner said. “If we can all agree on a certain course and it may be able to expedite things, then we’ll do that.

“I’m talking about agreement with everybody. We’ve come this far with everybody, both on the local levels as well as on the state level and my approach is to always move in collaboration with everyone. But if not, then we’ll proceed with the vote.”

That the mayor would even allow the idea of skipping a vote to be discussed drew quick and fierce pushback from lawmakers.

Sen. Joan Huffman, the Houston Republican who carried the bill in the upper chamber, called the notion “outrageous” and said the city would be inviting a lawsuit to issue the debt without a vote.

“Whether they are just kind of putting it out there to see what the response will be I don’t know, but I would not have gotten that bill out of the Legislature without the voter approval on the pension obligation bonds,” Huffman said. “The city now even thinking about that will cause ill will with the Legislature, because this is not what we intended at all.”

Sen. Paul Bettencourt, the Houston Republican who was behind the initial push for a referendum on the bonds, was even more blunt.

“Even by political standards, this is astonishingly stupid,” he said. “They don’t understand the fallout from this if they try it. This is an outrage. We will do everything we can to stop it.”

Here is all of the Morris article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Turner-city-could-issue-pension-bonds-without-11203797.php?cmpid=btfpm.

Wow!   A deal is a deal or a deal is not a deal. Stay tuned on this one.

For those of you who don’t get the Roundtable notice, here is a good one from yesterday. Hope they don’t mind. Here:

Governor Abbott Announces Special Session

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today announced a legislative special session that will begin at La Griglia at 7:00 pm on July 7th, 2017.  In his announcement, Governor Abbott identified 20 items that will be included on the special session call.   

“LMFAO, Dan Patrick!” said Governor Abbott. “I’ll show you, you washed up sports fanboy! I’ll load so much crap on the agenda not even your gunsel Allen Blakemore could run somebody to the right of me. As Governor, if I’m going to call a special session, I’m going to micro-manage every last City Hall in Texas.” 

Special session agenda items will include:

1.    Sunset legislation

2.    Elimination of all taxation by local governments

3.    Caps on spending by everybody but the governor

4.    State licensing of ice cream trucks

5.    Gubernatorial control of starting line-ups for Houston Astros and Texas Rangers

6.    Uniform typeface fonts on municipal traffic citations

7.    Legislation clarifying whether Sylvester Turner shall wear boxers or briefs

8.    Gubernatorial approval of all future deals cut by Andy Icken

9.    Legislation mandating Jack Christie receive immunization against childhood diseases

10.  Limit number of times a day city secretaries can say “your time has expired”

11.  Legislation requiring Houston police chief to act like a flaming jerk for a change

12.  Statewide time limit on pop-off remarks by city councilmembers

13.  Appointment of President Joseph Charles as University of Texas chancellor

14.  Voter ID requirement to crack down on rampant ballot fraud by carrier pigeon

15.  Requiring abortion providers to offer day care for fetal remains

16.  State control of The Orange Show and Beer Can House

17.  University of Texas System purchase of Renu Khator’s back yard

18.  Appointment of Paul Bettencourt as Free Press Summer Fest laugh track performer

19.  State control of Art Car Parade

20.  The kitchen sink

That’s funny.

I am going to have to wear some ‘Stros gear today. Maybe that will help us get a win.

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