Why I’m voting for Sarah Eckhardt, too. (Original post by Jessica W. Luther)

Today I read an excellent post by Jessica Luther about the race for Travis County Judge and the upcoming March 4 primary. The Democratic candidates for Travis County Judge, Andy Brown and Sarah Eckhardt, are both fairly well-known political figures in Austin. I have met them both at numerous events around town, and they are both respected members of the progressive community.

Deciding who to support, especially publicly, has been difficult. How do you pick a favorite between two people you like? And what do you do when you reach a decision that will likely be unpopular with even more people you like? It’s not easy to criticize people you respect, but in this case I think it’s more important to come out in support of the best person for the job than to avoid some anxiety-inducing social situations. This is a democratic election for an influential position in local government, and it shouldn’t be a popularity contest.

Ultimately, Andy Brown is  is better funded and has key endorsements from plenty of Austin-area progressive groups. He seems to be the popular choice among Travis County politicos. I think Andy is a talented campaigner and skillful activist,  but Sarah is an experienced and proven public servant, and I’m voting for her because she is just better qualified for the position. I was planning to write an entire post about the Travis County Judge race, but Jessica W. Luther’s detailed, thorough post perfectly sums up my thoughts on the matter. You can read her original post on her website, and I’ve also posted it below in it’s entirety.


New rules for Texas health care navigators

Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott released a statement today regarding Secretary Sebelius’ Friday visit to Texas. In his statement, Abbott declares

“The future of ObamaCare in Texas depends in part on who will govern this state. Sen. Wendy Davis not only supports ObamaCare – and the navigators who could compromise Texans’ private information – she has sought to expand its reaches in Texas. I have fought against ObamaCare and the navigators, and will continue to do so as Governor.”

Abbott’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act is no secret, but Texas lawmakers have proven their creativity in their recent attempt to cripple health care expansion by imposing strict rules for the nonpartisan health care navigators who help Texans understand coverage options.

The new rules require navigators to submit to fingerprinting and background checks and complete 40 hours of training and education — that’s 20 hours of Texas-specific training in addition to the 20-30 hours of training required by the federal government. Texas navigators are also prohibited from offering advice as to which qualified health plan through a health benefit exchange is preferable. If the Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner (Lt. Gov. Dewhurst’s former deputy Chief of Staff) determines any provision has been violated, the navigator may face sanctions, penalties, and/or termination.

Texas has the highest uninsured rate and most uninsured children in the nation, and millions of uninsured Texans could use some help navigating the new marketplace. The health of our residents and our economy is suffering because of a severe lack of coverage, but our lawmakers insist on restricting access even further and penalizing anyone who gets in their way. Gregg Abbott clearly values an anti-Obama political agenda over the health of the people he’s supposed to represent but, much to his chagrin, Wendy Davis realizes that, for Texas, health care reform is just what the doctor ordered.

Who is Wendy Davis?

A recent article by Wayne Slater raised questions about Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ account of her personal struggles. The article alleges that Senator Davis exaggerated her early hardships, financially exploited her then-husband Jeff Davis, and ultimately forsake her caretaker role in order to advance her career:

The basic elements of the narrative are true, but the full story of Davis’ life is more complicated, as often happens when public figures aim to define themselves. In the shorthand version that has developed, some facts have been blurred.

Davis was 21, not 19, when she was divorced. She lived only a few months in the family mobile home while separated from her husband before moving into an apartment with her daughter.

A single mother working two jobs, she met Jeff Davis, a lawyer 13 years older than her, married him and had a second daughter. He paid for her last two years at Texas Christian University and her time at Harvard Law School, and kept their two daughters while she was in Boston. When they divorced in 2005, he was granted parental custody, and the girls stayed with him. Wendy Davis was directed to pay child support.

The Republican response Mr. Slater’s allegations has been ugly, forcing Senator Davis to defend the legitimacy of her background to supporters and wholesome conservative meme-makers alike.


In response to the Dallas Morning News article and, perhaps, tweets like the one above, Wendy Davis released a statement to set the record straight and said in an email to supporters:

Mine is a story about a teenage single mother who struggled to keep her young family afloat. It’s a story about a young woman who was given a precious opportunity to work her way up in the world. It’s a story about resiliency, and sacrifice, and perseverance.

And you’re damn right it’s a true story.

Regardless of how old she was when she became a single parent, how long she lived in a mobile home, or how she financed her Harvard Law degree, Wendy Davis was a young mother who graduated first in her class at TCU, continued her education at an Ivey League institution, and went on to become a State Senator. She continually advocates for her daughters, her constituents, and her fellow Texans, literally standing up for them in the face of extreme adversity. She is, by any measure, a remarkable woman.

Sexism and fabricated scandals will not be enough to overshadow Wendy Davis’s courage and credentials. She has proven herself a tireless champion for education and women’s rights, and her critics are running scared because they know as well as I do that she is well-qualified to run this State.


On January 28th both of Davis’s daughters wrote open letters defending their mother and their upbringing.

Catching illegal immigrants on UT campus (story of the week)

The UT chapter of the Texas Young Conservatives is attracting national attention (and scrutiny) since Monday’s announcement of their “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” event. The event, scheduled for today, invited all UT students to seek and capture “illegal immigrants” hiding around campus in exchange for $25 gift cards. In light of the subsequent media firestorm, the event has been cancelled.

Lorenzo Garcia, the event’s organizer and Chairman of the UT Young Conservatives, issued this public statement about the event’s cancellation. It cites fear of University backlash and concerns for volunteer safety as factors in the decision to scrap the event. Garcia, a former Abbott staffer and current UT student, faces excessive vilification, and harassment from friends and opponents alike.

The event was vulgar, demeaning, and indelicate. I found it offensive, and many other people did too. But is that a good enough reason to call it off? Probably not. Is it a good enough reason to send obscenity-laced death threats to a student’s personal social media accounts? Again, probably not. This was a misguided student organization’s botched publicity stunt, not a discriminatory piece of legislation our an outrageous court ruling. I value my right to speak freely, and it would be hypocritical not to value the Texas Young Conservative’s and Garcia’s right to do the same. If they were making policy, that would be a different story.

And with that, I direct your attention to the real story of the week. (via the Texas Tribune)

The Obamacare ‘scandal’ you haven’t heard about

Texas is home to the highest number of people without health insurance of any state in the nation. We are also home to the largest churches and congregations in the United States. Why aren’t Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Max Lucado, Ed Young Sr., Ed Young Jr., and other prominent Texas pastors speaking out to answer the cries of the poor?

CNN Belief Blog

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) — The Rev. Timothy McDonald gripped the pulpit with both hands, locked eyes with the shouting worshippers, and decided to speak the unspeakable.

The bespectacled Baptist minister was not confessing to a scandalous love affair or the theft of church funds. He brought up another taboo: the millions of poor Americans who won’t get health insurance beginning in January because their states refused to accept Obamacare.

McDonald cited a New Testament passage in which Jesus gathered the 5,000 and fed them with five loaves and two fishes. Members of his congregation bolted to their feet and yelled, “C’mon preacher” and “Yessir” as his voice rose in righteous anger.

“What I like about our God is that he doesn’t throw people away,” McDonald told First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta during a recent Sunday service. “There will be health care for every American. Don’t you worry when…

View original post 2,570 more words

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

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!