Quorum Report News Clips

August 22, 2017: All Newsclips | Mid Morning Clips

Early Morning - August 22, 2017

Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News - August 21, 2017

Dallas court voids six-figure payment to Ken Paxton prosecutors

The prosecutors pursuing charges against Attorney General Ken Paxton haven't been paid in more than a year and a half — and they will continue to wait on a payday. On Monday, the 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas voided a $205,000 invoice dating back to January 2016, saying state laws and local rules did not allow the three special prosecutors to be paid the $300-an-hour rate they were promised. It is unclear whether the prosecutors will appeal the ruling, and their attorney, David Feldman, did not return questions about whether they would step down from the case due to nonpayment.

Houston Chronicle - August 17, 2017

City right-of-way fees in past decade: $5.2 billion

In the past decade, Texas' 10 largest cities collected nearly $5.2 billion in fees for utilities and other services lines to use public right-of-way, a new study shows. That's billion with a "b." After a special legislative session where city regulations had a target on their back and questions swirled over whether local rules and taxes were too high, the conservative Austin-based Texas Public Policy Foundation tallied the revenues from municipal right-of-way fees statewide in the largest Lone Star urban areas. In 2017 alone, cities collected more than $543 million. That's up from $503 million in 2008, according to the study.

San Antonio Express News - August 21, 2017

Accusations continue to fly in wake of special session

The state’s top three officials huddled behind closed doors for well over an hour a week ago, just two days before a special legislative session was to end, trying to overcome a key difference and salvage property tax reform legislation. Would the percentage at which voters would get a say on proposed tax hikes be 4 percent, as Patrick and the Senate wanted? Or would it be 6 percent, as the House demanded? No deal was struck in Gov. Greg Abbott’s office, in a meeting that one attendee said seemed like negotiations “between two people who didn’t want a consensus” — political arch rivals Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus — but top House officials the following afternoon tried again in a meeting in the lieutenant governor’s office. Patrick offered 5 percent. The House said no.

Fox News - August 21, 2017

Judge orders IRS to reveal who took part in Tea Party targeting

A federal judge has ordered the Internal Revenue Service to release the names of specific employees involved in targeting Tea Party groups, after years of litigation over what conservatives have long called “chilling” behavior by one of the government’s “most feared” agencies. Judge Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia also said the IRS must provide information about which groups were targeted and why, along with a strategy to make sure such targeting doesn't happen again. The IRS is involved in multiple lawsuits with conservative groups related to the Tea Party targeting scandal; this particular case involves True the Vote.

Midland Reporter Telegram - August 18, 2017

Tom Craddick: Let the caucus pick a candidate for speaker

Count state Rep. Tom Craddick among those Republican House members who want to see the caucus pick a nominee for speaker and be united behind that person when the next Texas speaker is selected. Craddick was among the Republicans who met earlier this week to discuss procedures for electing a speaker in 2019, when the next legislative session will take place. There have been conservative members this session disgruntled by the performance of current Speaker Joe Straus. Straus and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick haven’t seen eye to eye on certain legislative matters, including the so-called bathroom bill, school finance and a property tax bill. “There is more turmoil and animosity in the two bodies today than ever,” Craddick said.

State Stories

Texas Tribune - August 21, 2017

Texas leaders offer mixed responses to UT-Austin's late-night removal of Confederate statues

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick criticized the University of Texas at Austin's decision to remove Confederate statues from its campus late Sunday night as sending a “poor message," while U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said the decision was one for individual universities to make. UT-Austin announced around 11 p.m. Sunday night that multiple Confederate statues were in the process of being removed. The surprise decision came about a week after a white nationalist rally protesting the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent and left one person dead.

Texas Tribune - August 21, 2017

Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller criticizes Six Flags' removal of Confederate flag

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller — the cowboy-hat wearing Republican known for wading deep into partisan and cultural divides — is furious with the Six Flags amusement park chain, calling its decision to take down the Confederate flag and four others that had flown over the park part of a “militant, anarchist movement sweeping our country, destroying and attempting to sanitize our nation’s history.” Miller took aim at the iconic amusement park in a lengthy statement he circulated Monday that also criticized nationwide efforts to remove larger monuments to the Confederacy in the wake of a deadly Nazi and white supremacist rally around a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Texas Tribune - August 21, 2017

Court halts execution of convicted child killer who claims intellectual disability

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday halted the execution of a convicted child murderer who claims he’s intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for the state’s harshest punishment. Steven Long, 46, was set to die next Wednesday for the 2005 rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl in Dallas County. Courts had previously rejected his appeals claiming intellectual disability, but that was before the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Texas’ methods for determining intellectual disability for death-sentenced people in March.

Houston Chronicle - August 21, 2017

Texas universities launch name changes, removals of artifacts linked to white supremacists

The University of Houston announced on Monday it will rename its Calhoun Lofts dormitory, joining other Texas colleges and universities in a nationwide recoil against statues and other monuments to slavery and white supremacy. The dorm - named after the nearby street that bears the moniker of former U.S. Vice President John Calhoun, who advocated for slavery and was an avowed white supremacist - will be called University Lofts, a spokesman said on Monday. "While the residence hall was not named in recognition of John C. Calhoun, in the wake of recent events - and out of sensitivity to our diverse student community - the university has decided to change the name to University Lofts," the university said in a statement. "The change will be made as soon as practical."

San Antonio Express News - August 21, 2017

S.A. panel denies state’s bid to postpone redistricting ruling

A judicial panel has refused the state's request to stay its ruling that invalidated two of Texas' 36 Congressional districts. The federal panel found the state’s 2013 boundaries for congressional districts violated federal law because it intentionally discriminated against minorities by diluting their vote in District 35, held by Democrat Lloyd Doggett of Austin, and District 27, represented by Republican Blake Farenthold of Corpus Christi. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday appealed last week’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, declined the judges’ offer to fix the violations during a special Legislative session, and asked the panel to stay the ruling.

San Antonio Express News - August 21, 2017

Texas slashes underperforming anti-abortion group's contract

An anti-abortion group awarded nearly $7 million to boost women's health and family planning after the state cut off Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers is falling short and will receive far less money as a result, Texas officials said Monday. The decision comes a year after Texas hired the Heidi Group to help strengthen small clinics that specialize in women's health like Planned Parenthood but don't offer abortions. In March, The Associated Press found the Heidi Group had little to show for its work and had not performed promised outreach.

Dallas Morning News - August 21, 2017

Amid debate over Confederate monuments, Texas A&M will not remove Sul Ross statue

Texas A&M University will not remove a statue of Lawrence Sullivan "Sul" Ross, a former campus president, governor and Confederate general, school officials said Monday. "Anyone who knows the true history of Lawrence Sullivan Ross would never ask his statue to be removed," Chancellor John Sharp said in a statement. "It will not be removed." The announcement came just hours after University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves announced the removal of four statues there, saying Confederate monuments had "become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism."

Dallas Morning News - August 21, 2017

60 unauthorized immigrants rescued from frigid trailer carrying produce in South Texas

Authorities rescued a group of 60 unauthorized immigrants who were in a frigid trailer with produce Saturday in South Texas. Upon a second inspection of the tractor trailer, agents in Falfurrias found people laying on and within pallets of broccoli lined with a thin sheet of ice, a news release said. The internal temperature was 49 degrees.
(U.S. Customs and Border Protection) The Guatemalan driver was arrested and is facing federal charges.

Austin American-Statesman - August 21, 2017

Judge blocks Dawnna Dukes’ lawyers from exiting corruption case

Attorneys for state Rep. Dawnna Dukes must continue to represent her in her public corruption case after a judge denied their motion to withdraw on Monday afternoon. Dane Ball informed Judge Brad Urrutia that he and Shaun Clarke are unable to effectively communicate with Dukes, a Democratic state representative from Austin. He also indicated Dukes had not been paying them. Curiously, Dukes, who has already found a replacement lawyer, told the judge she opposed her attorneys leaving the case. A third attorney, Matthew Shrum, must also stay on.

Austin American-Statesman - August 21, 2017

Democratic race to challenge Will Hurd gets crowded

The majority-Hispanic 23rd Congressional District remains the ripest in the state for a Democratic pickup in 2018, and Democrat Pete Gallego appears likely to make another go at reclaiming it from Will Hurd, the Republican who defeated Gallego by narrow margins in 2014 and 2016. But first, Gallego, who won the seat in 2012, will have to get past at least three other Democratic candidates emboldened by Gallego’s inability to close the deal in the last two outings. “Sequels are bad, trilogies are worse, and this guy is no Rocky IV,” said Rick TreviƱo, a San Antonio high school teacher who was a Bernie Sanders delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and an unsuccessful candidate for City Council.

Weather Channel - August 21, 2017

Harvey Likely to Come Back to Life in Bay of Campeche Later This Week; Potential Threat to Mexico, South Texas

What was once Tropical Storm Harvey is now expected to have a second wind later this week in the Bay of Campeche and southwest Gulf of Mexico, bringing a threat of heavy rain and gusty winds to eastern Mexico and parts of south Texas. Hostile winds aloft shredded Harvey's circulation Saturday over the Caribbean Sea, and the National Hurricane Center issued its final advisory. ... By Wednesday, Harvey's remnants will move into the Bay of Campeche (southwest Gulf of Mexico) where conditions are likely to be more favorable for the system to regain its circulation and become a tropical depression or tropical storm again. The majority of forecast guidance at this time suggests a reborn Harvey could then track northwestward toward the coast of eastern Mexico or Deep South Texas by Friday.

Corpus Christi Caller Times - August 17, 2017

El Paso Times: Paxton cherrypicks his constitutional battles for politics, not justice

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton lacks credibility in his explanation of why he is asking the Trump administration to end an Obama-era program that protects many young undocumented immigrants from deportation. At issue is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which offers protection for people who came to the country illegally as children, are pursuing an education or served in the military, and have a clean criminal record. President Obama issued the executive order in 2012 after Congress blocked any attempts at immigration reform. About 800,000 productive and promising young people have received protection from deportation under DACA.

Wall St. Journal - August 21, 2017

WSJ: Texas Political Prosecution

Texas has a history of politicized prosecutions that attempt to destroy careers only to be thrown out of court. Think Tom DeLay and Rick Perry. The latest target is Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and on inspection the evidence and legal process against him so far look equally dubious. Mr. Paxton was elected in 2014 on a wave of tea-party support after spending several years in the state legislature. As a lawmaker, Mr. Paxton ruffled the Republican establishment and challenged House Speaker Joe Straus. Mr. Paxton has also roiled Texas politics as AG, challenging the federal government on environmental and labor regulations and the state government on issues involving political speech. (We recently criticized his grandstanding threat to sue the Trump Administration to deport adult immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors.)

Waco Tribune-Herald - August 21, 2017

New Title IX lawsuit against Baylor alleges failures after implementation of new policies

The first day of classes in the 2017-2018 academic school year at Baylor University on Monday came with another Title IX lawsuit filed against the school. In the eighth such lawsuit filed against Baylor and the fifth active case, “Jane Doe 11” alleges she was assaulted by a fellow student in April 2017 and says she faced questions from university officials that tilted blame away from the perpetrator. Lawyers representing the plaintiff, Chad Dunn and Jim Dunnam, note their client’s allegations come after Baylor’s “media tour patting itself on the back for ‘complete’ and ‘full’ implementation” of 105 recommendations meant to improve the university’s response to sexual violence in the wake of a scandal that cost the president, head football coach, athletics director their jobs.

County Stories

Valley Morning Star - August 21, 2017

Cameron Co. issues storm alert for South Padre Island

ARLINGEN — Cameron County’s emergency manager late Monday afternoon issued a storm alert for South Padre Island residents, telling them to prepare for impact by the remnants of Tropical Storm Harvey. Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Hushen advised residents on the Island to prepare for possible storm impacts ranging from heavy rain to rain and strong winds. Demoted but not vanquished, the remnants of Tropical Storm Harvey continue to push toward the Yucatan Peninsula and a possible resurrection in the Bay of Campeche. Now referred to as Invest 09L, the trough of low pressure is producing thunderstorms and showers in the Caribbean and forecasters are watching closely to see how it interacts with the Yucatan Peninsula as it crosses land.

City Stories

Denton Record Chronicle - August 18, 2017

Denton Record Chronicle: Monuments’ fate up to communities

The public debate about Confederate statues and symbols is heated but healthy. Do we leave them alone? Do we adorn them with explanatory plaques to bring more historical context to the viewer? Do we move them to private museums or put them in storage like a family might put an old heirloom in the attic? Essentially, these are political questions. Politics is an art form. It's not a math problem with a right or wrong answer. The answer is in the eye of the beholder. What to do with these monuments -- the Denton County Confederate Soldier Memorial on the Square in Denton, for example -- will ultimately be decided in each American community as city councils, county governments and civic groups weigh the options.

Waco Tribune-Herald - August 21, 2017

West explosion trial postponed as settlement talks continue

Another civil trial resulting from claims following the devastating April 2013 West Fertilizer Co. explosion has been canceled, as parties continue to work to resolve lawsuits that remain pending. The trial that was set to start Monday is at least the fourth trial date canceled in Waco’s 170th State District Court because confidential settlements were reached before trial. Judge Jim Meyer has set another trial date for Jan. 16, which will include as plaintiffs the city of West and West Rest Haven, a nursing home destroyed in the blast that left 15 dead, scores injured and a large portion of the city devastated.

Dallas Morning News - August 21, 2017

Dallas council members agree Confederate monuments should come down, but clash over process

The Dallas City Council seems to agree that it's high time to take down Confederate statues near City Hall and at Robert E. Lee Park. But the council is a house divided over how to go about removing the longstanding monuments. The battle over timing and process is illustrative of an ongoing power struggle on the council. The competing council members have held dueling news conferences and released conflicting plans over the best way to get to the same goal, possibly around the same time.

Texas Tribune - August 21, 2017

El Paso City Council votes down city ID program

The El Paso City Council narrowly voted against creating a municipal identification card program amid concerns that the measure would lead to the border city being perceived as the kind of "sanctuary" jurisdiction that has been the target of President Donald Trump and Texas' Republican leaders. In a 5-4 vote, the council voted down funding the program, which immigrant rights groups and advocates for the poor have called for since 2014 as a way for those unable to obtain a driver's license or other state-issued identification sign up for bank accounts and access city services such as libraries. Applicants would have had to prove they reside in the city to obtain the card.

Houston Chronicle - August 21, 2017

Houston man charged with trying to plant bomb at Confederate statue in Hermann Park

The park ranger spotted him kneeling in the bushes by the 112-year-old Confederate statue, explosives in hand. Was he trying to harm the statue? she asked. Yes, he said. He didn't like the guy. The late-night confrontation at the statue of Confederate Lt. Dick Dowling — detailed in court records by a federal agent — led to the arrest of 25-year-old Andrew Schneck, setting off a two-day operation by law enforcement that forced the evacuation of the tony Rice University neighborhood where Schneck lives with his parents. Bomb squad experts detonated a cache of high-powered explosives found on the property Monday afternoon as residents waited to return to their homes.

Dallas Morning News - August 21, 2017

Dallas police now have forensic tools to track online child exploitation

A child sex exploitation sting that led to the arrest of 15 men in Collin County in May may not have been possible without federal funding, Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner said Monday. The same funding helped the Dallas Police Department recently launch in-house forensic testing that helps detectives track down who is posting online ads selling children for sex. These efforts would be nearly impossible without the North Texas Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Skinner and Dallas Interim Police Chief David Pughes said at an event with U.S. Senator John Cornyn.

Dallas Morning News - August 21, 2017

State could seize control or close campuses if four Dallas ISD schools don't improve

Despite making big strides with its lowest-performing campuses, Dallas ISD still has a massive task for the upcoming school year: If four campuses don't do better, the state will either shut them down or take over the whole district. "The statute provides no discretion," wrote Texas education commissioner and former DISD trustee Mike Morath, in a letter sent last week to Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and school board President Dan Micciche. The four long-struggling schools must perform better on state assessments and shake off the “improvement required” label for the upcoming school year or the state will be required to act.

National Stories

Austin American-Statesman - August 21, 2017

Trump signs McCaul pediatric cancer research legislation into law

A new law, introduced by U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, and a group of bipartisan lawmakers, could make it easier for children with cancer to battle the disease with the help of adult cancer drugs. The Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity for Children Act – or RACE for Children Act – gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority to require that adult cancer drugs be studied for safety and effectiveness in children battling the disease. President Donald Trump signed the legislation Friday. The law is part of a larger effort to spur more cancer research and treatment, McCaul said.

Austin American-Statesman - August 20, 2017

Lloyd Doggett: censure Trump over Charlottesville remarks

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, on Friday joined House Democrats calling for the censure of President Donald Trump after his remarks about the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend. White supremacists descended on Charlottesville to protest the city’s decision to remove a statue depicting Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. During clashes with counterprotesters, a car plowed through a crowd, killing one counterprotester. Trump initially said both sides were to blame, then two days later denounced white supremacists and other groups. On Tuesday, he repeated his assessment that “there is blame on both sides” and that some of the monument protesters were “nice people” and doing so “innocently.”

Los Angeles Times - August 18, 2017

In January, President Trump vowed to hire 5,000 new Border Patrol agents. It never happened

Five days after President Trump took office, he signed an executive order that promised a swift, sharp crackdown on illegal immigration — immediate construction of a massive border wall, quick hiring of 5,000 new Border Patrol agents and stepped-up deportation of undocumented migrants. “Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders,” Trump declared at the Jan. 25 ceremony at the Department of Homeland Security, which controls federal immigration agencies. Seven months later, construction of the wall has yet to begin, the number of Border Patrol officers has actually dropped by 220, and immigration agents are on track to deport 10,000 fewer people this year than in President Obama’s last year in office, the latest figures show.

Washington Post - August 21, 2017

Poll shows clear disapproval of how Trump responded to Charlottesville violence

Twice as many Americans disapprove than approve of President Trump’s response to the deadly Charlottesville protests led by white supremacists that ignited widespread political backlash against the White House, although a majority of Republicans offer at least tepid support in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Trump’s handling of the racially charged clashes at the Unite the Right rally Aug. 12 erupted into a major flash point in his administration and earned him rebukes from members of Congress, military leaders and major business executives. The president equivocated in denouncing the hate groups and cast blame on “both sides” for the deadly violence, prompting criticism that he was fanning racial tensions. The Post-ABC survey finds overwhelming majorities across party lines saying it is unacceptable to hold white supremacist views, while 9?percent overall say such views are acceptable.

The Hill - August 21, 2017

Trump poised for a September fight over border wall

Funding for President Trump’s proposed border wall is poised to be a central issue in this fall’s showdown over government funding. Unless Congress approves a new funding bill, the government will shut down on Oct. 1. Trump is demanding funds for the wall that was the centerpiece of his successful presidential campaign, but Democrats have warned they will vote en masse against any legislation that includes money for the wall. “I don’t see Democrats going along with anything that funds the wall,” said one senior House Democratic aide.

Dallas Morning News - August 21, 2017

Hispanics lack confidence in nursing homes, poll says

Hispanics in the United States have a longer life expectancy, but a poll finds few older Latinos are confident that nursing homes and assisted living facilities can meet their needs. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey also showed that close to one-half of older Hispanics have faced language or cultural barriers interacting with health care providers. Fewer than 2 in 10 Hispanics age 40 and older say they are very or extremely confident that nursing homes and assisted living facilities can accommodate their cultural needs, according to the poll.

Dallas Morning News - August 21, 2017

Garza: NAFTA negotiations, however narrow in scope, still hold great risk

With the new North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations beginning in Washington, D.C., last week, the big question may not just be what a new NAFTA deal includes, but also whether it will ultimately clear the political hurdles. Since the U.S. published its negotiating objectives in July, the anxiety surrounding the upcoming talks appears to have dissipated and markets have responded favorably. But now isn't the time for complacency. Getting the content right for the NAFTA renegotiations will be critically important, and focusing only on the process misses the more fundamental and persistent political risks that still loom large. The most basic risk is that the NAFTA talks are not merely a technocratic exercise, but a political one. Similar to politicians who came before him, President Donald Trump tapped into the latent pool of American anger toward NAFTA and made the agreement part of his larger message that Americans are getting ripped off on trade.

Houston Chronicle - August 17, 2017

Democrats say McCaul's hearing on Charlottesville violence 'inadequate'

On the heels of the white supremacist melee in Charlottesville, Virginia, Texas Republican Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, announced Wednesday that he will hold a hearing on domestic terrorism next month. McCaul announced the September 12 hearing in response to the request of the committee's ranking Democrat, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi. Democrats, however, noted that the hearing was previously scheduled to worldwide terrorism threats. Thompson called McCaul's response "completely inadequate...It will not allow us to go into the depth necessary to address the far ranging and multifaceted aspects of the threat posed by domestic terrorist threats from white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups."

The Hill - August 21, 2017

Dershowitz: Russia investigation 'endangers democracy'

Attorney Alan Dershowitz says special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia "endangers Democracy." "The idea of trying to create crimes just because we disagree with [Trump] politically, and target him, really endangers democracy. [It] reminds me of what the head of the KGB said to Stalin: 'Show me the man, and I will find you the crime,'" Dershowitz told John Catsimatidis on New York's AM 970 in an interview that aired on Sunday. "[This is] where things happen in darkness and secrecy. The American public doesn't learn about it," he said, accusing the investigators of not sharing information with the public. "This exactly the wrong way to approach the problem of Russia’s attempt to influence American election. We do not know what is going on. We get leaks, but the leaks are selective leaks."

Politico - August 21, 2017

Trump announces change of heart on Afghanistan

America’s longest war is about to get longer. President Donald Trump on Monday pledged a new strategy in Afghanistan, while refusing to divulge troop numbers, as he said the office of the president had changed his instincts to pull out of the nearly 16-year-long war. In a sober yet vague address, Trump laid out his rationale for continuing the foreign entanglement, despite having pledged during the campaign to end America’s engagement in wars without clear exits. “My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts, but all of my life I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office,” Trump said in a prime-time address to the nation from the Fort Myer military base in Arlington, Virginia.

McClatchy Newspapers - August 21, 2017

US Navy collisions stoke cyber threat concerns

The Pentagon won’t yet say how the USS John S. McCain was rammed by an oil tanker near Singapore, but red flags are flying as the Navy’s decades-old reliance on electronic guidance systems increasing looks like another target of cyberattack. The incident – the fourth involving a Seventh Fleet warship this year – occurred near the Strait of Malacca, a crowded 1.7-mile-wide waterway that connects the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea and accounts for roughly 25 percent of global shipping. “When you are going through the Strait of Malacca, you can’t tell me that a Navy destroyer doesn’t have a full navigation team going with full lookouts on every wing and extra people on radar,” said Jeff Stutzman, chief intelligence officer at Wapack Labs, a New Boston, New Hampshire, cyber intelligence service.