Farewell, Texpatriate!


After keeping this publication on life-support for the past half-year, I have come to one of the most difficult decisions in my life: to end Texpatriate.

I started this blog about three years ago, as an exercise-in-futility to keep up with local politics while I was away at college in Boston. As time went on, I started writing better and more-often; and for some reason, people started reading. When I returned to Houston for a lengthy summer after my freshman year, three of my friends and former co-workers from City Hall joined me. All of a sudden, Texpatriate turned into a force to be reckoned with, not only in Houston, but around the state.

I think I first realized everything had changed when representatives of mayoral campaigns began contacting me, asking for our endorsement. Our questionnaires were completed by all the campaigns and, when our endorsements were published, they were spread far and wide by those who received them.

Eventually, I left Boston behind and continued college at UT-Austin. It was at this point that my path began to stray from this publication. I joined the staff of The Daily Texan, and quickly rose up the ranks, first to the editorial board and now as Senior Associate Editor, the second name on the masthead. I concurrently started working in public relations and government affairs in Houston for the Clifford Group, which obviously brought me into a whole new side of municipal politics that sometimes added conflicts of interest into local issues. Some of my colleagues lost interest in local politics, and I really can’t blame them for that.

Three years is a remarkably long time in politics. When I started this publication, no one had heard of Wendy Davis or Ted Cruz. But, more pressing for me, it feels like this blog has been a part of my life for time immemorial.

I wrote the posts of Texpate in my dorm room, in my parents’ house, in bars, in cafeterias, in lecture halls, in friends’ apartments, in hotel rooms, in cafes, in airplanes, in the state capitol and in city hall. I posted content on my phone, at the beach, in the backseat of cars, while hiking, at the pool and — embarrassingly — at parties. I offered Texpatriate’s submissions to the Texas Progressive Alliance roundup on a whole array of Sunday mornings.

This was an integral part of my life, and it is weird to think how I will live without it, even already after six months of minimal updates. Looking toward the future, I likely have two more semesters of undergraduate education, and then will continue onto law school. All this is to say I still have some years before I officially enter the workforce. I might return to blogging, but I don’t want to make a promise about that. What I can promise is that I will be still be quite active in Houston and Texas politics; it just might take on different forms.

So thank you to my family, who got me interested in politics, taught me how to write and even came up with one of the greatest blog names I have ever seen.

Thank you to Andrew, George and Olivia for providing the backbone of this publication for so many years.

Thank you to Sophia and Simone for proving I’m not the youngest person in Houston interested in politics; I definitely learned as much from y’all as y’all did from me.

Thank you to Charles, Neil, Perry, Stace and Wayne for welcoming me into the Houston blogging community. Thank you to Greg for proving friends in blogging can still exist on the other side of the aisle. Thank you to Harold, Karl-Thomas, Ted, Trey and Vince, for welcoming me into the statewide blogging community, particularly at last year’s convention.

Most of all, thank you to you, the reader, for sticking with me through thick and thin for so long. It’s been one of the most preeminent privileges of my life to write this publication precisely because of you. I will always appreciate your support.

A little bit of housekeeping

As you may have noticed, posts on this publication have become less and less frequent in recent months. This reflects a changing reality for me, and a transition when it comes to some of my priorities. Don’t worry, this isn’t the “End of Texpatriate” obituary; rather, it is a admittance that this blog no longer can function the way it did in 2013, when we had 3 active contributors and at least 3 articles per day, if not more.

While the Texpatriate Editorial Board is still extant, its membership has been truncated and its activity has been rather dormant. I can’t really imagine that changing, in all honesty.

For at least the remainder of this academic semester, I will not be opining about national or state politics on this blog. I might break that rule is something really big happens, but probably not. When it comes to local politics, I will do my best to interject a fresh opinion every now and then, but I just do not have the time to report on breaking news in a timely fashion. When I first started Texpatriate, I often made a point of urging readers not to use the publication for first-hand news. That principle is as true now as ever. The Houston Chronicle, despite my myriad critiques, truly does yeoman’s work in reporting local political stories. Their newest addition to that beat, Teddy Schleifer, is particularly talented.

Since I started college (which, not coincidentally, is when I started this blog), I have been involved with the  newspaper on campus. At Brandeis that was The Justice and here at UT-Austin that is The Daily Texan. I am currently the Senior Associate Editor at the Texan, which essentially means that I am an overseer of the editorial section as well as have a few side projects of my own.

If you’re still interested in what I have to say on state politics, I actually do edit and contribute to another blog at the Texan, named “A Matter of Opinion.” I write 2-3 posts a week there, all about state politics, and my colleagues also contribute stellar analyses. Further, I pen most all of the editorials pertaining to legislative and political topics, which run most every day. Finally, I also host a radio show (in Austin) on KVRX every Monday at 4:00 PM, predominantly about state politics, which is recorded and uploaded online as a podcast. For copyright reasons, I cannot post the actual content on this publication.

If you are so inclined, please consider checking it out. The Texan is the only college newspaper in the state that actually produces serious political content — news and editorial — that becomes part of the conversation with some frequency. I have been honored to get the opportunities I have there, but running this blog may have been one of the greatest honors of all. Thank you all for reading, and please come back!

A note on the NDO

Because of ongoing conflicts of interest at City Hall over the next few weeks, I’ve determined that it would be best to recuse myself from ongoing coverage of the non-discrimination ordinance pending before the Houston City Council.

The Houston Chronicle has been leading the way on reporting the commentary-free news on this matter, and I would highly suggest following their coverage anyways. Otherwise, my usual crop of fellow blogs are sure to pick up the slack in infusing their always unique opinions on the matter. Perry Dorrell’s “Brains & Eggs,” Charles Kuffner’s “Off the Kuff” and Wayne Ashley’s “Texas Leftist” have provided invaluable left-of-center analysis where as David Jennings’ “Big Jolly Politics” and Greg Aydt’s “Rhymes with Right” have done the same on the other side of the aisle.

Summer plans

Some of us will be working in Houston, some going abroad, but however this group will disperse, we will continue striving to bring Houston & Texas political news and commentary. At this time, however, we would like to discuss two specific political opportunities undertaken by members of this board.

First, George Bailey, the Bostonian of the Editorial Board (& a native Houstonian) has accepted a summer position in the office of Senator Ted Cruz, in Washington D.C. Accordingly, at this time George will refrain from writing anything on Sen. Cruz, and will abstain from any pertinent editorials on those subjects.

Second, Noah M. Horwitz, who is spending an extended summer in Houston this year, has accepted an offer to work on public relations and marketing issues with the Clifford Group. Some of these issues may be hot-button political topics that otherwise would receive coverage on Texpatriate. Accordingly, Noah will not write on any topics he is consulting on and will abstain from editorials on those topics as well.

“Reduced status”

Academically speaking, Brandeis was truly a remarkable place. Almost everything I did in my classes revolved around essays and centered upon being a good writer. I suppose that is possible in a smaller school, but not at UT. In probably the most spectacularly stupid thing the Texas Legislature has ever mandated, and that is not hyperbole, I am required to take FIVE (5!) science classes in order to get a degree in Political Science. Unfortunately, mastery of geology has little to do with writing or rhetoric. Instead, it is simple, tedious memorization.

Long story short, I turned in an eight page paper today, have another eight page paper I need to get to any day now and have six finals next week. That’s right, six tests in five days. One test on Monday, two tests on Wednesday, two tests on Thursday and one test on Friday. To say this will be living hell might be an understatement, and I will truly need to devote all of my time to preparation in the hope I do decently in these classes. Accordingly, I will be signing off from Texpatriate for the next eight days.

We have a couple of Editorials on deck and ready to go that will be published here in the next few days, and I have one last op-ed in The Daily Texan coming out on Monday that I will obviously link to this site. Otherwise, this will be my farewell until my four month long summer starts at 10:50 AM on Friday May 2nd. I will be in Houston working on some exciting stuff, which I may be expanding upon as well here in the next couple days. Otherwise, I thoroughly suggest you get daily updates from Charles Kuffner at www.offthekuff.com and Perry Dorrell at brainsandeggs.blogpost.com. Additionally, Stace Medellin at doscentavos.net and Wayne Ashley at texasleftist.blogspot.com provide awesome intermittent updates. But please start checking back next week!!!

Thank you for your patience, and I am looking forward to another awesome summer in Houston!

Let’s talk about 2016

The transition from Boston to Austin has brought about a few interesting quandaries, most notably related to my columns in each school  newspaper, be that The Justice at Brandeis or The Daily Texan here at UT. When I was in Boston, the higher-ups at the paper frowned upon me using hyper local political action coming out of the Lone Star State as column topics, for obvious reasons. Accordingly, my Tuesday morning column focused nearly exclusively upon national political issues. Sometimes they were related to ongoing issues, be that Supreme Court cases on Affirmative Action (serendipitously, a case revolving around UT itself) to comments following the Boston Marathon bombing. However, sometimes I made a stink about an issue exclusively for the hell of it, with little to show in newsworthy connections. Those took the form of an infamous rant on why I hate euphemisms to ripping into the infallible cult that has been created by Obama fans. Either way, just about anyone in the country with an eye to politics could read my thoughts and know what is going on, not to mention care for it.

For better or for worse, the same cannot be said of most of my Daily Texan columns this year. The general policy is to connect the subject-matters back to UT, which typically means that it is a local policy issue I write on. Don’t get me wrong, I lovelocal politics, that is the entire reason I founded this blog over 18 months ago (WOW! Time flies). That being said, I do miss infusing my opinions on national matters, as much as I readily admit that I likely do little more than add to the noise when my opinions are heard among countless others.

Click here to read what I have decided to do!

How do we get students voting?

I circle the start of early voting every year on my calendar, put yard signs in my yard or windows and compile meticulously detailed voter guides for myself and others. When I was living in Boston, I would check my mailbox three times a day waiting for my absentee ballot. Now that I live in Austin, I make a special trip home just to make an appearance at the West Gray Multiservice Center in order to cast my ballot. Of course, I am an anomaly among other young people, to say the least. Most young people do not give anywhere near that much thought or devotion to politics in any way. In fact, most do not even bother to vote.

I have opined in the past that this is due to laziness, but voting for students in particular is actually somewhat complicated. Ambiguity over actual places of residence leads to a lot of confusion over where one should vote. Absentee ballots are notoriously unreliable. Thus, I have devised a new proposal for how voting should be conducted among young expatriates in school throughout the State. I hope this proposal may be spread far and wide, and specifically wish for it to find its way across the desks of State Legislators so that they may introduce the requisite changes in law next session. I would reckon a pilot program should be put in place specifically at UT-Austin (throughout Travis County) in preparation for the 2016 elections, with expansion to other big colleges (A&M, University of Houston and Texas Tech) in the following years.

Click here to read this proposal!

Texpatriate: About our jargon

Words matter, they have consequences. Indeed, many observers have begun to note a widening gap in lexicons between the left and the right. For example, as immigration becomes a major issue in this year’s Statewide elections, one would be remiss not to notice the big differences in the framing of the issue between candidates. Things as simple as the word to denote those immigrants who have violated law by not entering this country legally have been lost in translation. The Republican base refers to these individuals as “illegal alines,” whereas many in the Democratic Party use the term “unauthorized workers.” Study after study shows us that public opinion on a complicated issue may be easily manipulated by framing the issue in a particular way.

For example, one could imagine the ease in which a voter may be convinced to not reward “illegal aliens” with “amnesty.” The same could be said for allowing those aforementioned “unauthorized workers” to continue working within the country with a pathway to citizenship.

We have historically punted on this issue of political jargon. Our current policy is to simply allow individual writers (or the specific unsigned author of any editorial) to use terms of her or his own choosing. In addition to the issues of politically-charged terms, a lack of a unified and consistent style policy opens us up to charges of inconsistency. Look at our articles, and you will find woeful discrepancies between how we refer to public officials. For example, sometimes we will refer to an individual in second-mention as “Judge Doe” or “Senator Doe,” but sometimes as just “Doe” and sometimes as “Mr Doe.”

Click here to read our solution!

Texpatriate is looking for new members!

Editorial note: We have copied and pasted our flyer –which is currently being distributed throughout the 40 acres– onto this blog post.

Texpatriate is looking for three new members of its team here in Austin! We are a TPA political blog that, over the last year-and-a-half, has been establishing ourselves in Houston politics. Since that time, we have become a serious voice in covering events at City Hall and the horserace of Municipal and Mayoral elections.

We are a group of college students, some of which live outside of the State. In fact, the word “Texpatriate” comes as a portmanteau of “Texas” and “expatriate.” We don’t pick our favorites in elections and ignore the candidates that aren’t media darlings. We don’t give anyone a pass if they do something deserving of a rebuke. We always conduct ourselves with professionalism and only cover professional stories. And, most important, we are never predictable.

Now we want to bring this same idea to the State Capital. Noah M. Horwitz, the founder of this blog, has even moved to Austin and transferred to UT in order to personally oversee this rebirth of the blog.

We are looking for an Editorial Assistant to begin attending social/political events on behalf of the organization, manage the blog’s Instagram account and create “Week in Review” videos every Sunday, which are short (3-5 minutes) videos that sum up all the pertinent political news of the week.

We are looking for an ‘Austin writer’ to focus on local political news coming out of both the Travis County Courthouse and Austin City Hall. Specifically, as the new district Council elections are approaching, we want to have someone in the field covering these developments.

We are looking for a ‘Republican writer,’ so to speak, to cover these upcoming Republican primaries. The current members of the Texpatriate team in Austin are partisan Democrats, and we are looking for someone with an amicable relationship towards statewide Republicans and their campaign staff.

If you are interested, please contact us. We are not so much interested in resumes and references as we are in simply meeting any individual who would be interested in working with us. We would love the opportunity to broaden our team.

If interested, contact Olivia Arena or Noah M. Horwitz at (617) 807-0830.
Alternatively, email us through “Arena@texpate.com” or “Horwitz@texpate.com

The Houston (new) Post

The thing about blogs is that it provides a poor snapshot of what truly goes on any particular day. I am typically very generous about linking news stories or other blogs that write about similar stories as myself or other members of the Texpatriate. Despite this, I have seen more and more people over the past few months who now appear to visit Texpatriate as a source for actual, hard news. I am not really a journalist, though I do see a future where there are some real journalists who write for Texpatriate.

Until that point, however, I see two distinct ways to move forward. First, I could work to write in a more neutral, objective point of view. While I have certainly tried to lessen any annoying habits pertaining to excessive partisan rants, I realize that it is just not in my blood to omit my personal opinions from conversation. Accordingly, the second option is to create a new program that gets the news across in a condensed, straightforward way, while preserving the commentary on the site. We have decided to call this program “The Houston New Post,” with an eye towards the old newspaper owned by the Hobby family. Such a throwback is a common feature in the local media; after all, the altweekly “Houston Press” is a reference to a Scripps-Howards paper of yesteryear that once employed Walter Cronkite.

The Post, otherwise known as “THNP,” will (for now) contain a straightforward headline and easy summation of the biggest news around the State in any one day, with a particular focus on Houston. We will always list the author of the article and the publication it originally appeared in, and will only reprint the first two paragraphs or so, just enough to catch the reader’s attention. One will then be directed to the link of the original article.

If this pilot program is successful, we will expand it to include a fairly unique editorial and opinion section, as well as more original reporting. Eventually, we would like to give access to the full article by offering subscriptions, a fraction of which would obviously go to all the publications. But that will be a conversation for a future day. For now, give us some feedback on the first issue of THNP.
~Noah M. Horwitz

Click the link below!

THNP 1-7-14