Don’t forget to vote tomorrow!

There’s a constitutional election tomorrow, November 5th, and you should vote! Why, you ask? Because it’s important! (Seriously.) Here’s what’s on the ballot:

The big ones:

  • Propositions 1 & 4 provide extra support for military families and disabled veterans in Texas. Wendy Davis, Leticia Van De Putte, and others have endorsed these propositions.
  • Proposition 5 would allow seniors to use reverse mortgages to help purchase homes. Texas is currently the only state that doesn’t currently allow seniors to use reverse mortgages. Prop 5 is endorsed by the AARP and other groups, and you can read more about it in the Texas Tribune here.
  • Proposition 6 provides for the creation of a State Water Fund. You can read a great opinion piece on Prop 6 over at the Burnt Orange Report, and it’s also endorsed by the Sierra Club.

The other ones: 

  • Proposition 2 gets rid of two obsolete structures, the State Medical Education Board and State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is operational. I endorse this one!
  • Proposition 3 has to do with extra tax exemptions for aircraft parts in Texas. It’s Republican Linda Harper-Brown’s pet project, but I personally don’t have a problem with it. You can read more about it from the Texas Association of Manufacturers here and from the Burnt Orange Report here. My dad’s a pilot and I’m partial to the airline industry in general, so I’m voting for this one.
  • Proposition 7 (this one is really in the weeds) authorizes home-rule municipalities to hold a vote to decide if they want to fill municipal vacancies by appointment. Basically, if someone drops out, they don’t have to go through an election just to fill the spot. I don’t have a problem with Prop 7, but BOR raises a few concerns.
  • Proposition 8 would repeal the Texas Constitution’s maximum tax rate for a Hidalgo County hospital district so that they could equal the tax rate laws in every other Texas county. This would increase funding for hospitals in Hidalgo County, and I support it. You can read more about Prop 8 on BallotPedia
  • Proposition 9 would expand the types of sanctions that may be assessed against a judge or justice. I support this one, too. Checks and balances, y’all.

I’m voting in favor of all of the proposed amendments tomorrow, but you should follow your heart and vote however you want. For official info about what’s on the ballot, check out this statement on the Texas Secretary of State website.

If you live in Austin, you should also know that there’s a housing bond election (Austin Affordable Housing Bonds) that will help increase access to affordable housing in Austin. I’m for this. Further, Mark Strama is not running for HD 50, and there are 3 Democratic candidates vying to take his place. I’m voting for Celia Isreal.

Again, follow your heart when you cast your ballot, just don’t forget to cast your ballot! You can find your polling place here Don’t forget your photo ID

Women shouldn’t…

I decided to try a little experiment after reading this article about a new UN Women campaign. The powerful images from the UN’s worldwide campaign certainly shine light on gender inequality across the globe, but I thought suggested searches from within the United States would be less disturbing than those from, say, Pakistan. I was wrong:

women shouldn't

**Edit**

I shared the above image on Facebook, knowing that all (okay, most) of my friends would be as outraged about it as I was. An Australian campaigner commented with a screen capture of his own:

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I cried. This is not okay. This was never okay, and it will never be okay. This needs to change, and we are the ones who need to change it.

Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of that.

Jessica and Texas Representative Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) at the Texas Tribune Festival

Highlights of the Texas Tribune Festival

I spent this weekend at the Texas Tribune Festival, which is basically a music festival with politicians instead of bands. Tribune Fest was chock full of major players in Texas politics and, let me tell ya, I was in heaven! Here’s my list of the 15 best (and worst) moments from the weekend, in mostly chronological order:

  • When Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott  tried to convince everyone that the Affordable Care Act is the product of voter fraud, and the crowd laughed at him. 
  • When Lt. Governor David Dewhurst said “Texas is going to turn blue over my dead, cold, bloated butt.”
  • When David Dewhurst busted out his 8th grade Spanish (“Yo sabo…el gobern…seguridad por el futuro”) and everyone was confused.
  • When David Dewhurst said “We already have universal healthcare, it’s called the Emergency Room.” and the crowd laughed at him.
  • When David Dewhurst decided that 5 months is plenty of time for a woman to decide what to do with her pregnancy, but has never been pregnant himself. When Texas Rep. Sarah Davis rolled her eyes every time Rep. Donna Campbell answered a question with “I am a physician…”
  • When a lady in the audience recommended humanely sucking fetuses out of women and growing them in artificial uterueses as a middle ground in the abortion debate.
  • When a Republican turned out to be the voice of reason on the Women’s Health Panel (Sarah Davis, you are amazing! Preach!)
  • When Donna Campbell said there is nothing in the legislation that would shut down women’s health facilities and I was part of the unruly mob for the few seconds before the next question. Jess with Texas Representative Jessica Farrar, her personal hero! (She's smiling!)
  • When Texas Senator Eddie Lucio (he’s a Democrat, btw) tripped over a chair trying to get away from questions about his opposition to all forms of birth control.
  • When Rep. Jessica Farrar said that political wars can’t be fought on the backs of women.
  • When I got to hang out with Jessica Farrar.
  • When Evan Smith said “Welcome to Politics Church.” at the beginning of Sunday morning’s session.
  • When the room was so packed with people waiting to see Wendy that we had to use bathroom passes to get in and out
  • When the Longhorn Band came in and there was a pep-rally for Wendy Davis at the end of the day.

Those are my favorite moments, but I wasn’t at every session. Did I leave something out? Leave a comment to share your favorite moments from Tribune Fest, too!

I’m back!

Howdy y’all, I’m back in Texas! After a long, tough fight we ended up losing the federal election, but we held onto plenty of good members of parliament that would have been lost without such a strong campaign. Considering the impossible odds we were up against, I’d say our efforts were a success!

I had a great time and met some wonderful people in Australia (some of whom now follow this blog!), but it is very, very good to be home. I’ve spent the last little while getting my life in Austin back on track and reconnecting with my beautiful beagle Daisy. To wrap up the campaign, I’m also helping put together a legacy report that will analyze everything we did, explain what worked well, and identify areas to improve on next time. 

I haven’t had much time yet for anything else yet, but I’m overjoyed to be home and am excited to get back to the business of fighting for a fairer, better Texas! 

Understanding Facebook EdgeRank

Creating a Facebook page for your organization can be a great way to communicate with supporters and promote your cause, but often even people who Like your page won’t see your posts. This is because Facebook uses an algorithm called EdgeRank to hide boring stories and highlight interesting ones. Understanding Facebook EdgeRank will help you create more engaging content and organize more effectively online.

EdgeRank =  Weight x Affinity x Time Decay 

Weight

Different types of posts have different weights, and posts that weigh more are more likely to show up on newsfeeds. Photos weigh more than links, and links weigh more than plain text. Comments and likes also add weight to a post, so a plain text post that generates a lot of comments and likes would weigh more than a photo that doesn’t get any comments or likes.

Affinity

Affinity predicts how much a particular user cares about something–in this case, your posts. Affinity scores are based on how much the user interacts with your content, so users who comment and like your content frequently have higher affinity scores and are more likely to see your posts in their newsfeeds. Affinity scores only work one-way, so if you frequently like things President Obama posts he’ll show up in your news feed but you wont show up in his (sorry).

Time Decay

The older a post is, the less likely it is to show up in newsfeeds. Simple!

 

Now that you know what EdgeRank is, stay tuned for some Facebook best practices to maximize your EdgeRank potential and take your online organizing to new heights! If you have any questions about EdgeRank or Facebook more generally feel free to post them in the comments section below.

Wendy Davis–Why I stood up for Texas women

A few days ago Texas State Senator Wendy Davis wrote this piece for the Washington Post explaining her recent filibuster in the Texas Senate, and I couldn’t agree with her more. It’s the perfect blend of frustration with current Texas government, hard-hitting facts, and hope for the future of a lady-friendly Lonestar State, all wrapped up in the powerful language of a very powerful woman. I’ve posted it in it’s entirety here:

Washington Post 

Why I stood up for Texas women
By Wendy R. Davis, Published: July 15

Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis represents District 10 of the Texas Senate.

Texas state leaders have again taken up a partisan effort to impose severe restrictions on the ability of women in our state to receive reproductive and other crucial health-care services. Just a few weeks ago, I spent nearly 13 hours filibustering this bill. I stood up to filibuster the bill because Texas Republican leaders would rather pursue a partisan agenda than help Texas women. I stood to oppose the bill because it rolled back constitutional rights and would reduce the number of women’s health clinics from 42 to 5, thereby threatening the health and safety of thousands of Texas women.

I know how important this is because as a young woman, the only health care I received — preventative care, cancer screenings, checkups, etc. — came from a women’s health clinic close to where I live in Fort Worth. Indeed, more than 90 percent of the care provided by these centers has nothing at all to do with abortion. Quite the opposite, their services are absolutely critical to preventing unplanned pregnancies and to providing much-needed health-care screening.

So while the “people’s filibuster” will go down in history for putting a stop (if only temporarily) to a misguided bill, the filibuster was more than organized opposition or even endurance — it was an expression of mainstream Texans standing up against partisan power-mongers who no longer act in Texas’ best interest or even tell Texans the truth. These partisans have depicted their bill as an effort to improve the quality of care available to women in local clinics. However, the filibuster exposed their real intent — to close clinics all over the state of Texas and deny health-care services to thousands of Texas women. And now Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst have rammed these new restrictions through the state legislature in a special session, without concern for health care or constitutionality.

This partisan effort builds on a concerted action by state leaders to roll back access to women’s and family health care. In 2011, their budget cuts threw approximately 150,000 women out of a health safety net that, as in my experience, served as their only source of regular, reliable care. Since then, state leaders have bypassed a nine-to-one federal match in funding for the women’s health-care program and saddled state taxpayers with approximately $30 million per year in unnecessary expense, as well as millions of additional dollars spent through Medicaid on unplanned births. Worse, a vendetta against Planned Parenthood by Gov. Perry and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst has gutted nearly half of the state’s women’s health-care delivery system. As a consequence, tens of thousands of Texas women may very well have no providers of care despite additional state funding.

There has been a great deal of attention given to the portion of the bill that would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, which was added by partisans primarily as a means for whipping up their political base. But this cynical and dishonest political tactic puts women’s lives at risk. Less than 1 percent of all abortions in Texas occur at the 20th week or later. In nearly all of these cases, a family in tragic circumstances has had to make the difficult and private decision to let go of a much-wanted pregnancy because of a major medical concern. What’s more, state leaders don’t mention that they opposed and defeated an amendment to allow an exception to the 20-week ban when a woman has been raped or is the victim of incest. This exception is no small matter. Each year, about 25,000 American women — 30 percent of them minors — become pregnant through rape or incest.

In the end, the filibuster was a means to continue the fight and stand up to Republican leaders. That fight is not a new one for me. As a senator from the only true swing district in the Texas Senate, I’ve been targeted by the GOP for my outspoken criticism of their extremist attacks on public education and voting rights, to name just two examples. My nearly 13-hour stand against the effort to deny women access to basic health care evolved into a people’s filibuster opposing a selfish and out-of-touch leadership that refuses to listen to real families with real hopes.

Texas really is the greatest state in the greatest nation. Texans — and women all over the country — deserve leaders that care, that listen and that work to protect their interests. The people’s filibuster demonstrated that Texans — and women everywhere — are ready and willing to fight back.

I stand with Wendy Davis and Texas Women. If you do too, consider supporting her campaign online here.