This is the show that should have aired on the 13th. For technical reasons, it was delayed a week.
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Welcome to Thinkwing Radio with Mike Honig where we discuss local, state, national, and international stories. My co-host and show editor is Andrew Ferguson.
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- An educated electorate is a prerequisite for a democracy.
- You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.
POSSIBLE TOPICS: VOTETEXAS.GOV—Voter Information; Early Voting: October 18 – 29! Do make sure you’re registered to vote! Now is a great time! Texas has a constitutional amendments election this year. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 4; ExxonMobil’s $1.1M tax abatement with The Woodlands Township terminated; Concerns voiced over Grogan’s Mill Village Center vacancies; Pearland City Council establishes short-term rental advisory committee; Cy-Fair ISD to suspend No Place for Hate program, create internal character education curriculum; “It puts a big burden on employers”: Businesses face tough choices after Gov. Greg Abbott bans vaccine mandates; State agency removed online resources for LGBTQ youth after complaints from a Republican challenging Gov. Greg Abbott, emails show; Facebook’s Apps Went Down. The World Saw How Much It Runs on Them; Why Facebook and Instagram went down for hours on Monday; Trump won Hood County in a landslide. His supporters still hounded the elections administrator until she resigned; More.
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- Early Voting: October 18 – 29! Make sure you’ve received your mail-in ballot (if eligible.) Make sure you are registered to vote! VoteTexas.GOV – Texas Voter InformationTEXAS SoS VOTE-BY-MAIL BALLOT APPLICATION (ALL TEXAS COUNTIES) HarrisVotes.com – Countywide Voting Centers, (Election Information Line (713) 755-6965), Harris County Clerk
- Harris County “Vote-By-Mail’ Application for 2021
- Fort bend County Elections/Voter Registration Machine takes you to the proper link
- GalvestonVotes.org (Galveston County, TX)
- Liberty County Elections (Liberty County, TX)
- Montgomery County (TX) Elections
- Brazoria County (TX) Clerk Election Information
- Waller County (TX) Elections
- Chambers County (TX) Elections
- For personalized, nonpartisan voter guides and information, Consider visiting Vote.ORG. Ballotpedia.com and Texas League of Women Voters are also good places to get election info.
- If you are denied your right to vote any place at any time at any polling place for any reason, ask for (or demand) a provisional ballot rather than lose your vote.
- HarrisVotes.com – Countywide Voting CentersHARRIS COUNTY – IDENTIFICATION REQUIRED FOR VOTING: Do not possess and cannot reasonably obtain one of these IDs?
- Fill out a declaration at the polls describing a reasonable impediment to obtaining it, and show a copy or original of one of the following supporting forms of ID:
- A government document that shows your name and an address, including your voter registration certificate
- Current utility bill
- Bank statement
- Government check
- A certified domestic (from a U.S. state or territory) birth certificate or (b) a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law which establishes your identity (which may include a foreign birth document)
- You may vote early by-mail if:You are registered to vote and meet one of the following criteria:
- Away from the county of residence on Election Day and during the early voting period;
- Sick or disabled;
- 65 years of age or older on Election Day; or
- Confined in jail, but eligible to vote.
- Make sure you are registered:
- Ann Harris Bennett, Tax Assessor-Collector & Voter Registrar
- CHECK REGISTRATION STATUS HERE
- CLICK How to register to vote in Texas
- Outside Texas, try Vote.org.
- Early Voting: October 18 – 29! Make sure you’ve received your mail-in ballot (if eligible.) Do make sure you’re registered to vote! Now is a great time!
- Texas has a constitutional amendments election this year. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 4. A statewide election on Nov. 2 will feature eight constitutional amendments that address topics ranging from religious freedom to taxes to judicial eligibility. Here’s what you need to know to vote. by Elvia Limón | TEXASTRIBUNE.ORG | Sept. 27, 202117 hours ago
- ExxonMobil’s $1.1M tax abatement with The Woodlands Township terminated; By Vanessa Holt | COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM | 2:58 PM Oct 12, 2021 CDT | Updated 2:58 PM Oct 12, 2021 CDT
- The Woodlands Township terminated $1.1 million in tax abatement agreements with ExxonMobil on Oct. 11 after the company said it would not be able to maintain the required number of staff at buildings it … Community Impact Newspaper previously reported that the corporation had failed to meet a requirement to have 470 employees at one building and 960 at another building in Hughes Landing as of the January reporting period. …
- ExxonMobil will pay back taxes of $796,439 for Building A and $305,462 for Building B, according to information at the meeting. …
- [The Woodlands Township] Board Chair Gordy Bunch said additional information on tax abatements at the site will be presented at the next board meeting, which is scheduled for Oct. 21. …
- [Bunch said,] “We did discover a portion of Building B was improperly abated, and we were able to discover seven years of unpaid taxes from the HL Champion portion of the building, and we have since recovered a portion of that.”
- MIKE: The danger of tax abatements to attract business is, a) those abated taxes have to be paid by other residents and businesses because nothing is free, and b) you can’t trust businesses to keep up their end of the bargain, whether it’s jobs, dollar investment, or whatever. Violations of abatement agreements always have to be discovered by the government or taxing entity, often at the cost of legal expenses. Note that the Board had to “…discover seven years of unpaid taxes from the HL Champion portion of the building.” Businesses cannot be inherently trusted to self-report, and the bigger they are, the more immune they feel.
- ANDREW: It sounds like there’s already been some construction on that big HQ site. I wonder if that land is going to be able to be sold off quickly enough to make that construction usable or if it’ll just be left there to rot.
- Concerns voiced over Grogan’s Mill Village Center vacancies; By Andrew Christman | COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM | 2:28 PM Oct 11, 2021 CDT | Updated 2:28 PM Oct 11, 2021 CDT
- Empty storefronts at Grogan’s Mill Village Center over the past year and a half have raised concerns about the center’s survival among area business owners and residents.
- Bruce Cunningham, president of the Grogan’s Mill Village Association, said the main issue has been the lack of an anchor at the center since the Randalls grocery store closed at the location in February 2020. …
- MIKE: Another example of the economic damage done by the Covid epidemic, and the changes in work and shopping patterns it has created. Society will be adapting to these changes in many ways, both in the short term and in the long term.
- ANDREW: I’m sure the recent increase in people quitting their jobs and waiting for the right opportunity is also not helping– something that’s persisted despite state pandemic assistance checks having stopped, by the way. But if it’s between seeing businesses stay open or seeing workers have more discretion in choosing better jobs, I’ll side with the workers every time.7
- Pearland City Council establishes short-term rental advisory committee; By Andy Yanez | COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM | 11:01 PM Oct 11, 2021 CDT | Updated 11:26 PM Oct 11, 2021 CDT
- … Pearland City Council members debated and eventually passed an amended ordinance to create a committee that will evaluate short-term rentals within the city on Oct. 11. …
- Pearland views a short-term rental as residential dwellings units or bedrooms in residential dwelling units that are temporarily rented out for compensation for less than 30 consecutive days, according to agenda documents. …
- The committee will look at what action it can take to regulate short-term rentals within the city without violating local, state or federal law.
- During the meeting, Pearland city attorney Darrin Coker presented three different court cases on short-term rentals within the state, including Draper v. City of Arlington that set the precedent that cities were allowed to regulate short-term rental owners if the city could prove those regulations were of governmental interest and supported by studies, according to slides shown during the council meeting. …
- MIKE: 30 days is a short-term rental. Under thirty days should have its own definition as a VERY short-term rental. These Very Short-term Rentals (VSTRs) are more than just potential nuisances in what are otherwise residential communities (as other parts of the article make clear). The owners of these properties are taking what would otherwise be residential apartments and turning them into ‘one-off’ hotel units. This shrinks the number of available living units, driving up rents, and potentially contributing to local homelessness. From a capitalist standpoint, it’s not just a “disruptive business model” – a term that sounds so bloodless and beneficial – it takes business and revenue from where it belongs: hospitality business that are established for this specific purpose.
- MIKE: In places like Hawaii, Timeshares and VSTRs make a material contribution to “houselessness” by stealing from potential dwelling stock and making rents and home prices unaffordable to many. When I was on Kawaii a few years ago, it was impossible to miss the large number of people living on beaches, in vans, and in parking lots, and going to hotel lobbies to charge their phones and computers. It was horrible and so sad. I actually did an interview about it with the head of Hawaii’s head of Homeland Security (2013-APR-15), discussing the problem at length.
- ANDREW: One of the houses in my neighborhood is rented out on AirBnB fairly regularly, and the people who rent it often play loud music and bother other people. It’s not the most pressing issue by any means, but in addition to preventing people from having access to reasonably-priced housing, this is something else these VSTRs do: disrupt community cohesion. All of these issues definitely warrant local government attention, and maybe even restriction or outright banning of these kinds of VSTRs.
- Cy-Fair ISD to suspend No Place for Hate program, create internal character education curriculum; By Danica Lloyd | 8:58 PM Oct 11, 2021 CDT | Updated 8:58 PM Oct 11, 2021 CDT
- Cy-Fair ISD Board President Bob Covey announced Oct. 11 the district administration is reviewing the use of the No Place for Hate program in CFISD schools and working to create an in-house character education program.
- No Place for Hate is a program from the Anti-Defamation League designed to create and maintain school environments where all students can thrive through anti-bias and bullying-prevention activities.
- “Because of the changes in some of the materials offered by the Anti-Defamation League—the developers of the No Place for Hate program—we have made a decision to direct the administration to put a hold on this program across the district,” Covey said during the Oct. 11 board meeting. “Our intent is for the district to develop an internal, age-appropriate series of programs specific to Cy-Fair ISD to be implemented at our campuses.”
- Covey said a number of CFISD campuses have participated in this program for more than 20 years. At least 1,600 schools nationwide have also adopted No Place for Hate teachings, which are intended to “build a learning community of inclusivity, respect and equity,” according to the ADL. …
- Now, Covey said district officials are meeting with parents, students, church leaders and community members to understand potential concerns with the No Place for Hate program and seek input to “create a program that best meets the needs of our students.”
- Covey explained the state government requires public schools to address bullying and support a positive school environment. The passage of House Bill 1026 in the 86th Texas Legislature, which was authored by former Cy-Fair-area state Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston, required school districts to incorporate character education into their curriculum starting in the 2021-22 school year.
- MIKE: Note, “…meeting with parents, students, church leaders and community members,” as opposed to ‘religious leaders’. Definitely shows a mindset.
- MIKE: House Bill 1026 states in part (after the ‘work product’ is deleted):
(a) The State Board of Education shall integrate positive character traits into the essential knowledge and skills adopted for kindergarten through grade 12, as appropriate.
The State Board of Education must include the following: positive character traits [, such as]:
[(B)] trustworthiness, including honesty, reliability, punctuality, and loyalty;
[(D)] respect and courtesy;
[(E)] responsibility, including accountability, diligence, perseverance, and self-control;
[(F)] fairness, including justice and freedom from prejudice;
A[(G)]AAcaring, including kindness, empathy, compassion, consideration, patience, generosity, and charity;
[(H)] good citizenship, including patriotism, concern for the common good and the community, and respect for authority and the law; [and]
A[(I)] school pride; and gratitude
Each school district and open-enrollment charter school must adopt a character education program that includes the positive character traits listed in Subsection (b). In developing or selecting a character education program under this section, a school district shall consult with a committee selected by the district that consists of:
(1) parents of district students;
(2) educators; and
(3) other members of the community, including community leaders.
(g) The State Board of Education may adopt rules as necessary to implement this section.
SECTIONA3. This Act applies beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.
- MIKE: My question is, what here might preclude the ADL’s “No Place For Hate” program. Was it changes to the program, or changes in Texas legislation?
- ANDREW: First thing that comes to mind is maybe the ADL program has some reference to Israel? But conservatives generally support Israel and Texas is a conservative-controlled state, so that seems unlikely. I’m also concerned about item H in that excerpt of the bill. Patriotism and deference to authority (or as they call it, “respect”) are personal choices at best and gateways to fascism at worst, in my opinion. I don’t think there’s many programs that would simultaneously make a serious effort to teach tolerance AND try to instill patriotism and deference to authority in kids.
- “It puts a big burden on employers”: Businesses face tough choices after Gov. Greg Abbott bans vaccine mandates; American Airlines and Southwest Airlines say they will continue requiring employee vaccinations despite Abbott’s new order, which has left federal government contractors, nursing homes and other companies caught between conflicting rules from the Biden administration and the state. by Mitchell Ferman | TEXASTRIBUNE.ORG | Oct. 12, 2021 Updated: 4 hours ago
- Companies doing business in Texas now face new and complicated challenges after Gov. Greg Abbott this week banned COVID-19 vaccine mandates for all entities in the state — including private businesses — for employees or customers.
- The ramifications for businesses could begin as soon as Friday, when companies that enter into contract work with the federal government will be required to have all employees vaccinated under orders from the White House.
- This conflicts with Abbott’s ban on vaccine mandates, putting the many Texas businesses that receive federal contracts in a tough position: Comply with federal law and violate Abbott’s ban, or comply with Abbott and turn down business from the federal government. …
- MIKE: First, can we stop using the term “jabbed” in place of the technically correct term, “vaccinated”? I know it saves 4 whole characters of type space, but I don’t think it’s helpful in getting people vaccinated, especially those with a morbid fear of needles. Second, Abbott’s declaration is another that falls under the ongoing heading of “Republicans are trying to kill us”. Abbott’s mandate against the Federal mandate is bad public health policy, bad science policy, and a new flirtation with the idea of “State nullification”
- MIKE: A very brief history of Nullification and the 10th Amendment:
- Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
- The Tenth Amendment (Amendment X) to the United States Constitution, a part of the Bill of Rights, was ratified on December 15, 1791. It expresses the principle of federalism, also known as states’ rights, by stating that the federal government has only those powers delegated to it by the Constitution, and that all other powers not forbidden to the states by the Constitution are reserved to each state. … States and local governments have occasionally attempted to assert exemption from various federal regulations …
- Nullification (U.S. Constitution) (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) in United States constitutional history, is a legal theory that a state has the right to nullify, or invalidate, any federal laws which that state has deemed unconstitutional with respect to the United States Constitution (as opposed to the state’s own constitution). The theory of nullification has never been legally upheld by federal courts. … Courts at the state and federal level, including the S. Supreme Court, repeatedly have rejected the theory of nullification. The courts have decided that under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, federal law is superior to state law, and that under Article III of the Constitution, the federal judiciary has the final power to interpret the Constitution. Therefore, the power to make final decisions about the constitutionality of federal laws lies with the federal courts, not the states, and the states do not have the power to nullify federal laws.
- Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
- MIKE: So, if gubernatorial push came to federal shove, this could represent a new showdown in the periodic battle of States’ Rights vs. Federal Supremacy.
- ANDREW: Definitely political theater from Abbott, especially since his competition in the Republican primary has criticized him for being too weak-willed on COVID response. I don’t think he’s only fighting vaccine mandates to look better for election time, but I’m sure it’s a significant motivating factor.
- State agency removed online resources for LGBTQ youth after complaints from a Republican challenging Gov. Greg Abbott, emails show; Democratic state senators want the webpage reinstated. The resources were removed after Don Huffines, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, criticized their inclusion on a state website. by Allyson Waller | TEXASTRIBUNE.ORG | Oct. 12, 2021, 9 hours ago
- Texas’ child welfare agency removed a webpage that offered resources to LGBTQ youth following complaints by one of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s GOP primary challengers, according to internal agency communications.
- The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services webpage, which provides information to children in the foster care system, included information about a suicide prevention hotline, LGBTQ legal services, and questions about defining gender and sexual identity.
- On Aug. 31, Republican former state Sen. Don Huffines released a video on Twitter claiming that DFPS is “promoting transgender sexual policies to Texas youth” through a webpage titled “Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation.”
- [Huffines said,] “These are not Texas values, these are not Republican party values, but these are obviously Greg Abbott’s values, that’s why we need a change, that’s what my campaign’s about.”
- The Houston Chronicle first reported on the internal agency correspondence. According to communications obtained by The Texas Tribune, in the hours after Huffines’ video went up, DFPS employees discussed the possibility of removing the webpage or changing its content.
- Huffines, a staunch conservative, is challenging Abbott from the right in next year’s GOP primary. Abbott’s office has not responded to a request for comment on the matter. …
- In an email to DFPS spokesperson Patrick Crimmins on Aug. 31, DFPS media specialist Marissa Gonzales wrote that Huffines’ video was “starting to blow up on Twitter,” …
- Crimmins then emailed Darrell Azar, the agency’s web and creative services director. …
- In response, Azar said the Texas Youth Connection had content for LGBTQ youth “for as long as I can remember” and that content was provided by staff from the agency’s Preparation of Adult Living Program. Azar alerted another colleague that something may need to be done on “short notice.”
- The next day, Sept. 1, agency staffers discussed language for the webpage saying its content was being reviewed. The page is currently disabled and includes a message that says it is undergoing “a comprehensive review of its content.” Last week, Crimmins said the review of the website was “still ongoing.” He did not answer questions as to what prompted the website to be taken down and how long the review will last. …
- Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, an organization that promotes equality for LGBTQ Texans, condemned the decision to take down the information.
- “State agencies know that LGBTQ+ kids are overrepresented in foster care and they know they face truly staggering discrimination and abuse,” Martinez said in a statement. “The state is responsible for these kids’ lives, yet it actively took away a resource for them when they are in crisis. What’s worse, this was done at the start of Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.” …
- According to a 2021 survey from the Trevor Project, a national organization that focuses on LGBTQ youth suicide prevention and crisis intervention, about 42% of LGBTQ youth “seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year.”
- On Tuesday, all 13 of Texas’ Democratic state senators sent a letter to Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan and DFPS Commissioner Jamie Masters, urging them to reinstate the Texas Youth Connection web page “to make certain all youth, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community” have access to important resources. …
- In each of the four legislative sessions this year, legislation targeting transgender youth has been a top priority for Republican lawmakers. During the third special session, legislation prohibiting transgender youth from playing on sports teams that correspond with their gender identity has passed in the Senate and has passed out of committee in the House. Lawmakers have also introduced legislation this special session that would restrict physicians from administering gender-affirming care to children.
- MIKE: What we have here is a “Profile in Cowardice”. Rather than abiding by their presumed mandate to govern in the best interests of all Texans, it only took a political shot from Abbott’s right flank to betray a whole segment of Texas’s most vulnerable citizens: Children.
- MIKE: If Texas Republicans truly believe in the sanctity of life, they should surely support children in foster care, and children in danger of committing suicide. But apparently Rightwing political agendas and self-serving government policies come first.
- ANDREW: This is yet another attack by conservatives on transgender people in general and trans kids specifically. Conservatives (and some liberals– if that’s you, here’s your wake-up call) refuse to accept the legitimacy of trans people’s identities, and refuse to allow them to be seen as on par with their cisgender (living as the gender they were assigned at birth) counterparts, whether gender is relevant in the situation or not. Like so many other conservative goals, it’s about control: they don’t like the uncertainty they feel when other people are able to change their gender to be more comfortable and accurate to who they are, so conservatives try to keep these resources suppressed and ostracize trans people to force them into the margins of society and reinforce rigidity of gender.
- Facebook’s Apps Went Down. The World Saw How Much It Runs on Them; by Raymond Zhong | THE NEW YORK TIMES via NEWS.YAHOO.COM | October 5, 2021
- … The Facebook outage Monday was a planetary-scale demonstration of how essential the company’s services have become to daily life. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger have long been more than handy tools for chatting and sharing photos. They are critical platforms for doing business, arranging medical care, conducting virtual classes, carrying out political campaigns, responding to emergencies and much, much more. …
- … In Latin America, Facebook’s apps can be literal lifelines in rural places where cellphone service has yet to arrive but the internet is available, and in poor communities where people cannot afford mobile data but can find a free internet connection.
- Across Africa, Facebook’s apps are so popular that for many, they are the internet. The company has stuck [sic] deals with many carriers to make its services accessible on phones without data charges. …
- … WhatsApp, easily the continent’s most popular messaging app, has become an effective one-stop shop for people to communicate with friends, colleagues, businesses, fellow worshippers and neighbors. …
- … In Mexico, many small-town newspapers cannot afford print editions, so they publish on Facebook instead. That has left local governments without a physical outlet to issue important announcements, so they, too, have taken to Facebook, said Adrián Pascoe, a political consultant. …
- ANDREW: For as much cheering as there was at the misfortune of Facebook and Zuckerberg, the outage caused a lot of issues both annoying and potentially dangerous. Facebook is a de facto infrastructure company in many parts of the world, and for some people, a library of precious memories or a last connection to an estranged family member or friend. Calls to break it up will only increase from this, as the dangers of too many people relying on one company so heavily are laid bare.
- Why Facebook and Instagram went down for hours on Monday (Oct. 4th); by Jonathan Franklin | NPR.ORG | October 5, 2021
- … An update to Facebook’s routers that coordinate network traffic went wrong, sending a wave of disruptions rippling through its systems. As a result, all things Facebook were effectively shut down, worldwide.
- The problem was made worse — and its solution more elusive — because the outage also whacked Facebook’s own internal systems and tools that it relies on for daily operations. Employees also reportedly faced difficulty in physically reaching the space where the routers are housed. …
- … [Facebook’s] explanation suggests the problem arose between Facebook and the Border Gateway Protocol, a vital tool underlying the Internet. …
- … Similar to ideas like map coordinates or ZIP codes, the [Border Gateway Protocol] tells the rest of the world where to route traffic and information.
- When a company can’t use the gateway protocol, it’s as if their online domains simply don’t exist. …
- ANDREW: The update erased the gateway protocol information for Facebook’s servers, both public and internal ones, meaning nobody, not even employees, could access them without physically plugging into them. I heard that this included security door control systems, which is why employees had trouble getting to the servers. There were backup systems to allow access, but it took a while to let the people in charge of the backups know to activate them, because the company’s internal communications were down.
- Trump won Hood County in a landslide. His supporters still hounded the elections administrator until she resigned. Michele Carew, an elections administrator with 14 years of experience, has resigned after a monthslong campaign by Trump loyalists to oust her. “I’m leaving on my own accord,” she said. by Jeremy Schwartz, The TEXAS TRIBUNE and PROPUBLICA | Oct. 12, 2021, 20 hours ago
- MIKE: I’m not going to report much on this article, since Rachel Maddow did an entire segment (S2021 E202 | 10/12/21; a video clip may be available within 48 hours) on this on Tuesday’s show. I will just add that the most extreme wing of the Republican Party – and it’s a big wing – has become an anti-democratic, anti-republican, cultish and fascistic threat to American Constitutional democracy. This cannot be sustained. I suspect that things will come to a head one way or another within 5 years. What that might look like I cannot say.