The Brief: May 5, 2015
Early voting in the San Antonio mayoral election wraps up today ahead of Election Day on Saturday. And the gloves have come off in the increasingly rough-and-tumble election.
The Big Conversation
Early voting in the San Antonio mayoral election wraps up today ahead of Election Day on Saturday. And with the current mayor, Ivy Taylor, fighting three other former officeholders — former lawmakers Leticia Van de Putte, Mike Villarreal and former County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson — for two spots in a runoff election, the gloves have come off in a rough-and-tumble election.
Here are the latest developments, as reported by the San Antonio Express-News:
Mayor fails to disclose bail bonds income — "Mayor Ivy Taylor derives income from her husband’s bail bonds company. ... Taylor said she should have included Marshall Bail Bonds on annual Personal Financial Statement filings that she has been required to submit annually under both state and city law since 2009, when she first joined the City Council. ... 'It’s just an oversight. It should have been listed, but we had a misunderstanding of what needed to be listed,' she said. ... Opposing campaign officials criticized Taylor, citing a lack of transparency."
Van de Putte accuses Villarreal of illegal collusion — "Days before the election, a powerhouse Austin tax attorney has dropped more than $35,000 and counting into Mike Villarreal’s campaign for mayor. ... Attorney Jim Popp is treasurer of the Tax Equity Council, a political action committee that days ago bought television ads to attack Van de Putte and tout Villarreal in the mayor’s race. ... On the ad orders, the buyer for the PAC is listed as Debbie Richmond of Viva Media: the same media buyer and company used by Villarreal. By law, candidates are not permitted to coordinate with third-party contributors. ... Asked why Popp’s PAC used the same media buyer, Villarreal said, 'You would have to ask that of the third-party organization.' Popp is a longtime supporter of Villarreal."
Rural Critics Organize to Stop Bullet Train, by Aman Batheja — Dallas and Houston leaders may want a super-fast train connecting their cities, but folks in between aren't as sold on the idea. Some have formed Texans Against High-Speed Rail, and they're hiring lobbyists and courting allies in a bid to kill the plan.
Analysis: A Fierce War That Isn't Meant to Turn Violent, by Ross Ramsey — The sharper the speech — the harder it pokes at something dear to someone else — the greater the chance of a strong reaction.
Double Dipping Ban Passes House, Sort Of, by Jay Root — The Texas House voted overwhelmingly Monday to end the controversial practice of double dipping by longtime politicians who draw state pensions and paychecks at the same time. But a last-minute change clouded exactly to whom the bill would apply.
Abbott: Shooting Strikes at Heart of First Amendment, by Patrick Svitek — Texas' top elected officials on Monday offered an absolute defense of free speech in the wake of a Garland shooting that left two gunmen dead outside a contest featuring cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
UT Regents Ask AG to Ignore Hall's Request for Information, by Matthew Watkins — In a letter, the UT System says Regent Wallace Hall shouldn't have "unfettered access" to confidential student information. The letter also argues that Hall didn't have the right to seek the attorney general's help in the request.
"Denton Fracking Bill" Headed to Abbott's Desk, by Jim Malewitz — The so-called Denton fracking bill is headed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. The Senate on Monday approved a bill to pre-empt local efforts to regulate a wide variety of oil and gas activities.
Gay Rights Advocates Offer Change to Same-Sex Marriage Bill, by Bobby Blanchard — For some gay rights advocates, a bill in the Texas Legislature that would allow clergy to refuse to marry same-sex couples would be acceptable if it just included four more words.
Stickland Responds to Claims He Broke Rules, by Morgan Smith — Responding to claims that he improperly registered witnesses at a committee hearing, state Rep. Jonathan Stickland released a statement Monday standing by his actions.
Abbott Defends Jade Helm 15 Decision, by Patrick Svitek — Gov. Greg Abbott defended his decision to have the Texas State Guard monitor a military training exercise known as Jade Helm 15. He said his office is simply looking to serve as a "communication facilitator" between the military and concerned citizens.
The Day Ahead
• The Senate convenes at 8:30 a.m.; the House convenes at 10 a.m.
• Early voting ends in the San Antonio municipal elections.
FBI had tracked terrorism plans of one of the gunmen in Garland attack as early as 2006, The Dallas Morning News
DPS contribution to border operation drug seizures was modest, Austin American-Statesman
Texas committee votes to decriminalize marijuana possession, Houston Chronicle
Key lawmaker encourages members to keep fetal abnormality exception to 20-week abortion ban, The Dallas Morning News
Dispute brews over control of Texas earthquake research, Austin American-Statesman
Stickland: “Nothing ... is going to slow me down”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Court skeptical on Barack Obama immigration challenge, Politico
Texas, Kansas, Join Florida Medicaid Expansion Suit, Orlando Sentinel
Pamela Geller, Organizer of Muhammad Cartoon Contest, Hails Results, The New York Times
Quote to Note
“The printing press, the automobile, the splitting of the atom have provided incalculable benefits to humanity but also incredible responsibility. The Texas-led shale revolution, arguably one of the most significant innovations of the modern era, is no different.”
— SMU associate professor Matthew Hornbach, who led the study of earthquakes near Reno and Azle, to a House committee on Monday on the need to manage the new risks created by new breakthroughs in gas extraction technology
Today in TribTalk
Don't turn back the clock on tobacco prevention, by David Lakey and Eduardo Sanchez — Tobacco prevention is good health policy and good fiscal policy. So it's troubling that the Texas Senate’s budget proposal would reduce tobacco prevention funding by over 30 percent.
5 conflicts to watch as session's end draws near, by Jim Henson and Joshua Blank — Legislative sessions always include a big fight or two, but the mix of conflicts this year could make for an especially tense finale. Here's what to watch.
Trib Events for the Calendar
• A Conversation With John Sharp on May 7 at The Austin Club
• A Conversation With Rep. Dennis Bonnen on May 13 at The Austin Club
• How'd the House Do? A Conversation About the 84th Legislative Session on May 21 at The Austin Club
• How'd the Senate Do? A Conversation About the 84th Legislative Session on May 28 at The Austin Club
• A Conversation About Texas Monthly's Best and Worst Legislators 2015 on June 18 at The Austin Club
Information about the authors
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