Tribcast Live - 08.07.12 @ Cactus Cafe

Photos by Ariel Min

This week’s #Tribcast live began with a special celebrity guest Rick Perry making the introduction for the cast members, Ross Ramsey, Evan Smith, Ben Philpott, and Reeve Hamilton, which sent a wave of laughter amongst the crowd at Cactus Cafe Tuesday evening.  

Then Emily Ramshaw and Thanh Tan talked about women’s health in Texas with Ben Philpott.

Paid Summer Internship at The Texas Tribune in Austin - Nov. 15, 2014 deadline

Paid Summer Internship at The Texas Tribune - Apply by Nov. 15, 2014

Know a little bit about HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and/or Python/Django, and would like to continue to hone your skills? Are you passionate about politics, policy and open government? Apply for an internship at The Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune)! Journalism students and aspiring reporters in another major will be considered.

Students will work directly with news apps developers, reporters and editors in the newsroom. If you’re interested, send your resume and links to previous projects and/or your GitHub account to rmurphy@texastribune.org.

For more information, visit: http://www.nahjcareercenter.com/jobs/summer-2015-paid-internship-program-3

Analysis: A Movement, or Just a Moment?

by Ross Ramsey, The Texas Tribune

A year has passed since the filibuster that pushed a Fort Worth lawmaker into a governor’s race that so many Texas Democrats had decided to avoid in 2014. 

The lawmaker, state Sen. Wendy Davis, turned that special session filibuster on abortion legislation into political theater and reality TV. 

As political moments go, it was a stupendous start. A party that had been shaking the trees for competitive candidates for governor suddenly found a star who had been sitting there all along. 

But in the year since, the Davis campaign has been raising money and organizing, trying to expand beyond the issue that brought her to the public’s attention into other areas where they hope Democrats might have an edge over Republicans. She is on her second campaign manager, has seen a seemingly endless stream of progressives, liberals and Democrats wanting to give her advice, and — this is the important part — has struggled to catch on with Texas voters. 

Now, with four and a half months left until the general election, Davis and her followers are trying to use the anniversary of the filibuster to rekindle the excitement they generated a year ago, to attract new, like-minded voters to the polls and to convert voters who have a two-decade habit of putting Republicans into the state’s top offices. 

That Republican advantage is evident in recent polling. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll this month found Republicans in statewide races running seven to 15 percentage points ahead of their Democratic rivals; in the race for governor, Attorney General Greg Abbott held a 12-point lead over Davis. 

Democrats in Texas also face strong antipathy to President Obama, whose unpopularity they will have to overcome to succeed in November. The routine Republican play at the moment is to glue the president to any Democrat running for office. 

“Barack Obama and his operatives have set their sights on Texas,” Abbott said in his speech at this month’s Republican Party of Texas convention. “Liberal elites from the East Coast to the West Coast have fawned over and financed my opponent to try to remake Texas in their image.” 

He went on, but you get the general idea. 

The primary season served as Abbott’s opener. Davis opens in two steps, with the reminiscing over the anniversary that has already begun and with the Texas Democratic Party’s convention at the end of the month. 

The anniversary is only partly about the legislation that Davis was trying to stop a year ago. That bill tightened restrictions against abortion and raised regulatory standards for women’s health clinics to a level many did not reach. It failed to pass before the midnight deadline, in large part because of the filibuster, but Gov. Rick Perry immediately called a special session where lawmakers passed the legislation. 

By that measure, the Democrats won the battle and lost the war last summer — hardly a reason to celebrate. 

What got the attention of the political people — the professionals and the people who put on orange or blue T-shirts to support or oppose the legislation — was the energy. It wasn’t that the Democrats lost a fight everyone expected them to lose, but that they turned out for the fight the way they did, in both the real and virtual worlds. 

Crowds packed the Texas Capitol and made both consequential and hilarious news, all watched live by a much larger audience on the Internet and picked up in a wave of news that followed. 

The crowd disrupted a Senate debate that quickly went out of control, unnerving politicians who sometimes like the idea of the public’s engagement more than they like the actual public itself. 

And rumors about what protesters were doing prompted state police to confiscate tampons from people entering the Capitol, for fear that senators would be ridiculed in a hailstorm of women’s hygiene products. All the worries about the crowd also generated still-unsubstantiated reports from state police that some protesters had tried to enter the building with jars full of feces and urine to throw at the Senate. 

HBO is working on a series about the Texas Legislature. Clearly, someone thinks there is an audience for this. The Davis campaign is trying to see that some of those viewers are Democratic voters. 

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/06/23/analysis-movement-or-just-moment/.

Watch on thanh-tan.tumblr.com

I want, I want, I want! Jamie xx from the xx remixed an opening beat for BBC’s ‘Newsnight.’ Think he’d ever come up with a snazzy theme for @TexasTribune’s multimedia projects?

Hey, a girl can dream.  

Open Carry BS

Just heard that the ‘Open Carry’ bill got passed here in Texas. What the actual fuck is wrong with our government? Anyone with a concealed handgun will soon be able to flaunt that around in public wherever they want. I do NOT feel comfortable with random people walking around with guns. I don’t know them or their intentions for needing a gun. This bothers me so much.


Analysis: Pay for Mental Health Care or Pay the Jailer

by Ross Ramsey, The Texas Tribune
June 20, 2014

The sheriff of the state’s largest county is peeved with the Texas Department of State Health Services, the agency that runs the state’s mental health hospitals. 

The agency is not offering the care that it is required to provide, the Harris County sheriff, Adrian Garcia, said. Given proper treatment, the sheriff argues, some patients would not be committing the crimes of which they are accused. Instead, they end up in Harris County’s jails, where they are a health care and financial burden to the county. 

Sheriff Garcia has allies, and might even get some help. The state agency is being reviewed by the Legislature’s Sunset Advisory Commission, which will hold hearings later this month on a report from its staff that calls the system a mess. “Resolving the current crisis in the state mental health hospital system requires action, starting now,” the first recommendation states. 

The report is remarkably clear, as these things go, detailing changes in organization and programs that would reboot the agency. It has floundered since undergoing a reorganization ordered by lawmakers who were trying to create “a truly integrated health services organization” in 2003. 

“The state mental health hospital system is dealing with enormous pressure from increased commitments from the courts, and the review found that a lack of communication and collaboration between DSHS and the judiciary only exacerbates the problem,” the staff analysts wrote. They added that out-of-date facilities, “critical shortages” of clinical staff and the agency’s struggles with organization and new legislative initiatives have added to the troubles. The agency did not offer much resistance in its formal response, saying the report “captures the challenges we face” and that agency officials “understand and support the intent and direction of the recommendations.” 

In other words, the system is not working. The recommendations include increasing staff for the hospitals and expanding capacity by contracting with local providers whenever possible. 

That is not revolutionary thinking. “Several of the recommendations in this report simply reflect a need for the agency to simply do its job better,” the analysts wrote. 

Harris County has a list of about 900 people — frequent fliers, they call them — who were in and out of jail at least five times in 2011 and 2012. Some had 30 or more visits, the sheriff said. 

From that list, 538 had been diagnosed with mental health issues that required treatment, according to the sheriff. He points out a couple of issues. 

First, they are more expensive to jail. He contends that they get the care they need while locked up that is as good as or better than what they receive in state programs that are supposed to care for them. But it is expensive. The average jail inmate costs taxpayers less than $70 a day, Garcia said. The average inmate in need of mental health treatment costs $300 per day. 

Second, the jails are not the best place for this care. It is less costly to treat these patients — those who commit crimes and those who do not — in the state mental hospitals that, unlike jails, were built for the job. 

On any given day, Harris County has 9,000 people in its custody, Garcia said. “A third of them are receiving some degree of psychotropic medication,” he said. “Imagine the care they could be otherwise getting outside the jail. If they got that treatment, if they had access to that treatment, they would in all likelihood not come to me to begin with.” 

Last year, lawmakers approved a pilot program — proposed in legislation from state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, and a former state district judge — intended to get treatment for inmates as they check out of Harris County’s detention centers. The hope is that the treatment will effectively turn unintentional criminals — people whose crimes are tied to their mental illnesses — into non-criminals. 

“I firmly believe that the majority of people who are in my custody who are in this mental illness category are coming here largely because of their illness and not necessarily because of their actions,” Garcia said. 

“Here is an agency that has the money and can’t do it,” he added. “I cannot explain why, with all those calls for action, why they are unable to get it right.” 

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/06/20/analysis-pay-mental-health-care-or-pay-jailer/.

13-Year-Old Jacob Hale Working to Move Confederate Heroes Day Away from Martin Luther King Jr. Day

13-Year-Old Jacob Hale Working to Move Confederate Heroes Day Away from Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Jacob Hale @TexasTribune Twitter

On Tuesday at the Texas capitol, Jacob Hale defended his proposal to rename the state’s annual Confederate Heroes Day to the more benign Civil War Remembrance Day. Hale, 13, suggested the name and date change — from Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s birthday, Jan. 19, to the second Monday in May, so it didn’t sometimes land on Martin Luther King Jr. Day — last fall…

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Lawmakers Look to Gulf to Meet Water Needs, by Eva Hershaw

See on Scoop.it - Law.Lawyer.Advocate.Attorney at law

Texas zákonodárci v pondělí začal při pohledu na odsolování mořské vody zákona navrhla státní senátor Juan “Chuy”, Hinojosa, že zastánci říkají, nabídnou “sucho-důkaz” způsob, kterým se doplňuje vadnoucí zásoby státních vody.

Jan Vajda’s insight:

Přidejte svůj pohled …

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