In re Cruz’s endorsements

The Associated Press reports that Senator Ted Cruz, the quintessential Tea Party darling, has pointedly refused to explicitly endorse John Cornyn for re-election, or any other Senator for that matter. Cornyn, of course, faces strong tea party blowback for allegedly being insufficiently conservative.  His half-dozen or so challengers in the Republican primary look as though they may force him into a runoff election, something Cornyn himself has even admitted has a reasonable chance of occurring.

The common denominator among many, if not most, of these candidates is that Cornyn has been disloyal to Cruz. They point to differing ideologues governing both the government shutdown and the debt ceiling showdown. Cornyn, as the number two Republican in the Senate, had to eventually be one of the grown-ups in the room on both occasions, and voted to both reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. Neither or which were done with any preconditions, placing him squarely opposed to Cruz and in the cross-hairs of the Tea Party.

Oddly enough, Cruz’s comments consciously did not share any love for Congressman Steve Stockman –Cornyn’s biggest challenger– either. In fact, most respected Tea Party groups have publicly been distancing themselves from Stockman in recent days, many going as far as to “publicly disavow” him. Accordingly, it look like many individuals who otherwise have beefs with Cornyn would vote for him nonetheless in a hypothetical runoff mathcup against Stockman. This, even though many may have very well supported a third or fourth candidate –Dwayne Stovall, for example– in the preliminary primary.

Click here to read more about Cruz!

CCA expands cell phone rights

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the Court of Criminal Appeals, the State’s highest criminal court, has decided that warrantless searches of cell phones following arrests are in violation of both the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution and Article I, Section 9 of the Texas Constitution. The court held 8-1 that the State (prosecution) has no justifiable reason to easily look through the phones, which the court held was closer aligned with the “papers” mentioned in the Fourth Amendment than the other property typically rummaged through following arrests.

In this particular case, a young man was arrested following causing a ruckus on a school bus, a fairly low level misdemeanor. After receiving a tip, a police officer (a different one from the arresting officer) learned that the defendant had allegedly taken an improper photograph of a classmate, which is a felony. Police searched his cell phone without his consent and without a warrant and found the photographs. This particularly crime comes with a maximum penalty of two years in prison, but the other implications of a felony conviction are far worse.

Click here to read the court’s reasoning!

What have I missed at City Hall?

I wrote at length about the brouhaha over Firefighter pensions yesterday, and it was certainly an important issue, but was definitely not the only thing that went on at City Hall. As many will probably already know, a local committee held a contentious hearing on the entrance of ridesharing software/transportation companies Lyft and Uber into the marketplace. Additionally, a protest was held immediately outside the building in opposition to the planned “One bin for All” recycling program. Finally, late last night, the Houston Chronicle put out a damning report on the state of the City’s finances, specifically regarding the long-term pension obligations the city faces.

First things first, the Uber issue. Dug Begley, one of the more talented writers at the Houston Chronicle, has the full story on this hearing, including many of the reactions and initial implications. At its core, the issue revolves around whether or not to change the many regulations facing the transportation industry. Countless taxi drivers flooded the public session of the pertinent committee hearing to voice their opposition. I wrote a fairly lengthy piece a few weeks ago on this subject, basically opposed to changing the rules for Uber. My position has only calcified in recent days as Uber has openly thumbed its nose at the City and ignored the rules set in place. Begley’s piece even notes that Uber has already been busted charging fees to customers, something they unequivocally promised not to do until the regulatory controversy was worked out.

Click here to read what else I have missed!

Texas gay marriage ban struck down

The Texas Tribune reports that Federal Judge in San Antonio has struck down Texas’ constitutional ban on gay marriage. The decision, written by Judge Orlando Garcia (an appointee of President Clinton), found the provision inconsistent with the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which mandates equal protection and due process under law. Judge Garcia has served on the Federal Judiciary since 1994, and previously served both as a Justice on the State Court of Appeals (1991 to 1994) and as a member of the Texas House of Representatives (1983 to 1991). Both were elected offices he held as a Democrat.

Judge Garcia also stayed his own ruling, pending appeal. Attorney General Greg Abbott, one of the key defendants in this case, released a somewhat brief statement on the subject, wherein he declared his intention to appeal the case to the Federal Appeals Court. Of note is just how lightly Attorney General Abbott tread on the subject. Among his quotes were that there were “good, well meaning people” on either side of the issue. In my opinion, that was the most telling tidbit on the subject, to see hard-right Republicans such as Abbott realize and accept the inevitable, that this issue is not going away.

Click here to read the full story!

Texpatriate endorses in CD7 Primary

We are not fans of Congressman John Culberson (R-Houston). In addition to being mean-spirited and ignorant of many of the most sensitive issues facing our country (and his district), he is just a lousy congressman. From being nowhere to be found throughout his district to introducing just a handful of bills throughout his long tenure in office, he is definitely one of the most unaccountable officeholders in the Houston areas. Irrespective of one’s political views, we believe one would be hard pressed to not acknowledge that countless men and women would do the job better than Rep. Culberson.

Unfortunately, Rep. Culberson did not draw an opponent in the Republican primary and the district is so heavily gerrymandered that Democratic victory in the general election is close to impossible. That being said, we believe there is only one candidate with the needed experience and skillset to run a competent campaign against the incumbent. This board strongly believes that candidate is James Cargas.

A lawyer with the City Attorney’s office, Mr Cargas has strong expertise within the government, and provides a working knowledge of exactly what a Congressperson would do. We believe, if elected, he would require no “on-the-job” training, so to speak. In comparison, Mr Cargas’ opponent, Lissa Squiers, has concerned us with some rookie mistakes she has made on the campaign trail.

Click here to read the full endorsement!

HFD union sues City

UPDATE: Further hearing on the matter is set for March 7th.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the Houston Fire Department’s union (Local 341) has sued the City over the recent brownouts in coverage going around the City. Last Thursday, a Council Committee voted to compel the Fire Department into managing a large budget deficit (predominantly caused by excessive overtime pay through a generous union contract) through their own means. Accordingly, after Mayor Parker gave the nod to this course of action, the Fire Department announced they would begin rolling blackouts of service throughout the city, grounding ambulances for example, such as what happened this weekend.

Today at noon, the Firefighter’s Union sought a temporary restraining order from Judge Elaine Palmer (215th Civil District Court), which was then summarily denied. City Attorney David Feldman, Houston’s key counsel on legal issues, laughed off the suit as frivolous, proclaiming “This is not what the courthouse is for.”

Rather than Chief Terry Garrison, who must retain some semblance of a working relationship with Mayor Parker, this push has largely been driven by Bryan Sky-Eagle, the Firefighter’s Union President. In comments first reported by KPRC, Sky-Eagle noted he believed this would be an ongoing effort, albeit he made his comments before Judge Palmer denied his request for a temporary restraining order.

Click here to read more, including a statement by Mayor Parker!

Lies against Kirkland continue

Texpatriate has learned that the horrendously misleading attacks and outright lies about Judge Steven Kirkland have reared their ugly head once again in his current campaign. Kirkland, who served as a Civil District Judge from 2009 to 2013, was infamously defeated for re-election in the 2012 Democratic primary after his opponent, financed by a disgruntled lawyer, promulgated both the aforementioned libels as well as homophobic tactics. Admittedly, this new round of attacks have not crossed the threshold of bigotry against the openly gay Kirkland. This year, Kirkland is once again running for a Civil District Bench, against yet another candidate bankrolled by the same disgruntled attorney.

Just a few days ago, a robocall made its rounds throughout the City. Today, a new mailer was delivered to homes around Houston as well. On the front side of this mailer, a broad image is simply presented of a man’s wrists shackled with handcuffs. “When it comes to drunk driving, you be the judge,” the mailer reads. “And say no to Steve Kirkland in the Democratic primary.”

The back side opens up with an ominous phrase designed to mislead meek readers down a rabbit hole. “Judicial candidate Steve Kirkland has been jailed and arrested twice for drunk driving,” the headline reads. While this is not per se untrue, it is highly misleading, as it occurred over thirty years ago. After the DWIs, Kirkland received treatment for alcoholism, turned his life around and has not had a drink in over 30 years.

Click here to read more!