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Archive for September 8th, 2017

They warned us

That’s the headline of today’s lead Chron E-Board take.   For years we have been warned about a Harvey like event and our leadership has done absolutely nothing.

What is it going to take?

Here is how the E-Board take starts today:

Who could have predicted the disaster wrought by Hurricane Harvey?

Who could have foreseen that the Addicks Dam would overflow its spillway? Or that dangerous materials from EPA Superfund sites could be washed into floodwaters? Or that chemical companies could keep the public in the dark about toxic risks while their plants burned?

The answer, of course, is that plenty of people saw this coming.

Hydrologists and activists had long warned about how unplanned development would risk routine flooding.

Environmentalists and investigative reporters warned about the toxic threats that loomed in the east end of our city.

Climate scientists warned that a warming planet could bring stronger storms and monsoon-like rains that we experienced less than two weeks back.

And it ends like this:

Harvey was a catastrophe. The Tax Day flood in 2016 was a catastrophe. The Memorial Day flood in 2015 was a catastrophe, and so were the litany of other major flooding events that have struck our city. One-hundred-year floods have become one-year floods. Yet far too many developers, lobbyists and politicians want to turn their backs to the potential death and destruction. Think of it as a man who survived a series of heart attacks but argues that, since it didn’t kill him, there’s no reason to stop eating cheeseburgers and fries twice a day.

We need to stop yielding political power to those who insist there’s little we can or should do to keep us safe. Because nothing can be further from the truth. Plenty of Houstonians warned us. They’ve spent years futilely trying to turn their ideas into action, only to see their efforts quashed by a political structure that insists there’s no improving upon unregulated concrete, and no avoiding a flood.

This political structure was exemplified by former Harris County Flood Control District Executive Director Mike Talbott, who refused to study global warming and its impact on our region, who dismissed warnings about runoff from a developed Katy Prairie, and denigrated concerns from scientists and conservationists as “anti-development.”

Talbott may have left office, but that philosophy of development at any cost remains the status quo around Commissioners Court, City Hall and the state Legislature.

Hydrologists, environmentalists, scientists and activists offered a prescient vision of destruction that went ignored. If Houston wants to rebuild a resilient city, then we must lift those with true foresight out of the political wilderness and put them in proximity to the levers of power.

Here is the entire must read take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/They-warned-us-but-few-listened-12181607.php.

What a darn shame. Commentary is embarrassed. We have been let down for sure and don’t let anyone argue this with you. It is good to see the E-Board calling out the leadership past and present. It is well deserved.

Who is ready to challenge the “political structure” on this pressing issue? Commentary will stand with you for sure.   This is what the folks want and are looking for and need.

The H-Town Mayor, Hunker Down, the H-Town Police Chief, and the Harris County Sheriff have all been getting props for their work the past couple of weeks. Meanwhile, the HISD Superintendent is trying to get schools ready for 218,000 students.

Here is Bill King on DACA:

The Dilemma of DACA

In Charles Dickens’ classic, Oliver Twist, when Mr. Bumble is told that the law presumes he controls his wife’s actions, he declares that “the law is an ass.”  Similarly, the current law which provides that children who are brought to this country illegally by their parents should be deported back to the country where they were born is an ass.  So are the 15% of Americans who think these young people should be deported.  

And there is no question that it is shameful that Congress has not already acted to fix this law.  But fixing the law through executive action, as President Obama did, pits two of our fundamental principles against each other.

The first, of course, is fundamental fairness.  We do not hold children guilty for the sins of their parents.  Our law, in fact, does not even hold children guilty for crimes they commit.  Make no mistake: deporting a person to a country they have never seen and where they do speak the language; ripping them from friends, family, their school or job, their community; is an unthinkably harsh punishment for a crime they did not commit.  That is why 85% of Americans oppose their deportation.

The second principle is incorporated into Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution which provides that the president “take care of that the laws be faithfully executed.”  Most public officials are required to take an oath solemnizing the commonsense notion that executive officers are supposed to enforce the laws passed by the legislative bodies and not make up their own or decide which laws should be enforced.  To do otherwise violates our principle of the separation of powers.  

Of course, the concept of prosecutorial discretion is firmly established in our law.  In fact, the principle is mandated by the ethical rules for prosecutors to “seek justice, not merely to convict.”  The simplest example of prosecutorial discretion is when a police officer decides to issue a warning instead of a speeding citation.  I doubt many of us would accuse the officer of violating his oath of office or the separation of powers for issuing the warning; especially if we are the speeder!  But, I suspect most would feel differently if our local police chief announced he had decided that speeding laws were unnecessary and that the police force would no longer enforce them.  

I do not fault President Obama for issuing DACA in the face of Congress’ failure to act.  No, any fault for this situation must be laid directly at the feet of our worthless, cowardly Congress who will not stand up to partisan extremists to solve this problem.  

I think President Trump is genuinely conflicted on DACA, both as a matter of conviction and politics.  But if he really “loved” these young people he should have offered and pressed for legislation to address the issue and not just pass the hot potato to Congress.  But irrespective of his motives, he is right that Congress should act.

Even President Obama conceded DACA was a stopgap measure.  While DACA was a welcome life ring for these young people, it was never true security.  Congress needs to fix this and fix it now; and provide permanent security for those stuck in this legal limbo through no fault of their own.  

In a strange irony, President Trump is putting some of his most ardent Congressional supporters between a rock and a hard spot.  Trust me, while Republicans in Congress loved to rail against President Obama’s “usurpation” of their power, they were also enormously relieved they did not have to vote on an issue strongly favored by the districts but largely opposed by their primary voters.  And they know all too well that the first of these DACA young people that is actually deported with every news outlet in the world covering it live every step of the way, will be the end of the Republican majorities in both houses of Congress.  

Here’s the bottom line.  85% of Americans agree that those brought here as children illegally should not be deported.  If Congress cannot act and continues to allow 15% of the country to impose its will on the other 85% of us, we need to fire the whole bunch and start over.

It is back to local campaigning tomorrow for some organizations.

I am skipping the MLB question today.

Cleveland has now won 15 in a row and are now 2 ½ behind us for the best record in the AL.

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