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Women-Led Ticket Highlights Suburban Voter Efforts

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte’s announcement on Saturday that she is running for lieutenant governor, adding a second woman to a ticket led by state Sen. Wendy Davis, is enhancing Texas Democrats’ hopes that they could see their first statewide victory since 1994.

The Democrats are pinning their strategy, in part, on women, particularly those in the suburbs, who early polling numbers suggest might not have their minds made up, and could be persuaded by the summer’s divisive debate over abortion legislation.

“What we know from the outcome of this summer is that women were paying attention and women were watching,” Van de Putte said. “It wasn’t just about that bill. It wasn’t just about health care. It was about not being valued.”

But Republicans say they are holding fast to this demographic, which has trended conservative in past elections.

“I think in Texas the majority of people are happy with how the state is doing,” said Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. “That’s one of the reasons why we’re winning by such a large margin.”

That margin looked smaller in a fall University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, which showed Attorney General Greg Abbott, the leading Republican candidate for governor, with a single-digit lead over Davis, whose 11-hour filibuster of an omnibus abortion bill in June drew national attention. But in that poll, 25 percent of registered voters were undecided, including 34 percent of suburban women.

“When you’re looking at women’s votes, I just kind of discounted the undecided,” Munisteri said, because only “political junkies or the media” are paying attention to the candidates this early in the election. He said that average voters would not tune in to the 2014 races until next year and that most would vote Republican.

Munisteri said the Republican Party is well established among women, with more than 160 Texas Federation of Republican Women groups meeting regularly across the state. Texas Democratic Women lists 43 chapters statewide.

He added that the idea that female voters might be persuaded to vote differently based on women’s issues, like reproductive health, is a “false assumption.” Women are just as interested in economic issues, and that plays well for Republicans, he said.

The party’s outreach efforts cross all segments of the population and are not necessarily gender specific, Munisteri said. But he added that Republicans would rely on active female party members “to be ambassadors to other women.” The party will also more than double the number of so-called victory centers — volunteer hubs across the state — from four to nine by January to help get out the vote. Munisteri said staffers were working on their “movers list,” following up with nearly 100,000 past Republican voters who are new to their counties and not yet registered to vote. Other workers were identifying swing voters, Munisteri said.

“As part of our block-walking and door-to-door survey, we’re going to find out what issues are of prime concern to both genders of swing voters,” he said.

The state Democratic Party’s outreach efforts include more targeted appeals to women.

The party has been building on the list of women who protested the abortion legislation during the summer at the Capitol, said Tanene Allison, a party spokeswoman. While Davis’ filibuster helped defeat the bill during one special session, it was passed in a subsequent session.

This month, the Democrats began an online mobilization effort to reach out to female voters and get them to promote the party’s platform to other women.

“It will be a woman-to-woman project to reach out and explain why it’s important to vote in this next election cycle and what issues are at stake,” Allison said, adding that the Democratic party had a “strong connection to women’s priorities” on issues like equal pay, education and health care.

Sharon Hirsch, president of Women Organizing Women Democrats, a group in North Texas, said having Davis and Van de Putte at the top of the 2014 ticket “has been very empowering for women.”

She added that she was seeing more women working to register voters, filling out weekly phone banks and block-walking, particularly in the suburbs.

“I really believe Wendy Davis has kind of lit the fire, and adding Leticia Van de Putte to the ticket will only make that desire stronger to get these women elected,” Hirsch said.

But Catherine Gibb, an officer for Plano Republican Women, said female voters should look at the whole candidate when deciding whom to support, regardless of sex. She said the Democratic candidates left a lot to be desired.

“I would be willing to stake my life that there’s not a woman in my club that they would vote for her even if she’s running for dogcatcher,” Gibb said of Davis.

James Henson, a Tribune pollster and director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, said he did not see a clear changing of the tide among female voters. (The university is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune.)

“It’s not as if suburban women are heading for the exits from the Republicans,” he said. But he added that the potential risk for Republicans “emanates from the necessities of competing in a GOP primary in a state where 39 percent of women identify as moderates — 11 points more than Texas men.”

The four Republicans running for lieutenant governor are already working to prove they are the most conservative in the race, which could present a challenge for the nominee in the general election.

Van de Putte knows her campaign must have broad appeal to win the votes of small business owners, veterans and conservatives.

“I don’t think Leticia and Wendy are going to be holding hands at every event we’re at,” Van de Putte said. “If we campaign thinking just because we’re women other women are going to vote for us, it’s a fallacy. It’s very condescending to women.”

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at

Google’s Role In Woodland Child Pornography Arrest Raises Privacy Concerns

WOODLAND (CBS13) — A child pornography arrest helped by Google is raising privacy concerns.

Federal investigators arrested a Woodland man on child pornography charges after Google found images on his computer.

Google’s cyber criminal investigators are faceless servers, looking across the Internet for child pornography. Each image that’s uploaded to the Web has its own unique digital fingerprint.

And according to a criminal complaint obtained by CBS13, they found it in Woodland.

Stunned neighbors on Carlsbad Place recently woke up to the sight of police cars and FBI raid jackets.

“It was pretty scary for everybody,” said Lindsey Griffiths.

They witnessed Raul Gonzales, 40, being arrested. He’s accused of having more than 3,000 pornographic pictures of children on his cellphone.

The FBI says the investigation began in March when Google’s hashing technology found two child porn pictures in his Picasa library…Continued here:

Abortion in Texas


As a physician-led medical education and advocacy group, we work to ensure access to all reproductive health care, including abortion. The women of Texas are suffering under a medically unnecessary law that has closed all but a handful of clinics in their state.

The Supreme Court had the chance to support women’s access to a safe and legal procedure and it failed to offer relief (“Texas Women and Abortion Rights,” editorial, Nov. 21).

Our doctor members are seeing a ripple effect already. Those who remain able to provide services in Texas have had to expand their hours to accommodate more patients. Others, in nearby states, are seeing an influx of women who are forced to travel hours to get the care they need, at great expense and burden to them and their families.

The Supreme Court’s decision will have a lasting and deleterious effect on access to … Continued here:

TribCast: Van de Putte and the Young Conservatives

Reeve, Evan, Ross and Emily talk about the anticipated entry of state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, into the lieutenant governor’s race and the recent uproar over a planned and quickly canceled…Continued here:

The Brief: Texas Political News for Nov. 21, 2013

The Big Conversation

Houston Mayor Annise Parker will move to extend health and life insurance benefits to same-sex legal spouses of city employees, despite a 2001 city charter amendment that was put to the voters specifically to prohibit the practice.

A legal fight is all but assured, with Parker’s action possibly putting Texas’ constitutional prohibition on gay marriage on a collision course with the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal over the summer of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Parker relied on an opinion from City Attorney David Feldman in deciding to move forward, reported the Houston Chronicle’s Mike Morris and Jayme Fraser. “We believe that the only constitutional, just, right and fair thing to do is to extend benefits to all of our married employees, whether they are heterosexual or same-sex couples,” Parker said.

Parker’s action, though, appears to be in conflict with a city charter amendment passed by voters in 2001, which denies city benefits “to persons other than employees, their legal spouses and dependent children.” Parker said she believed that her action was not in conflict with the charter. “I can only assume that it was contemplated that there would never be a time when same-sex couples were in legally sanctioned relationships,” she said.

Her critics, though, were not buying the argument, Morris and Fraser reported.

“My understanding of the Texas state law is that you cannot be legally married unless you’re the opposite sex in the state of Texas, and that will be the overriding thing,” said Doug Wilson, the leader of the effort to pass the charter amendment. “They’re just trying to monkey with the words. I will absolutely take this all the way to the Supreme Court.”

The Associated Press’ Juan A. Lozano reported that Parker’s action also puts her in conflict with Attorney General Greg Abbott, who issued an opinion in April saying policies by local jurisdictions that extend benefits to same-sex partners violate the state constitution. Abbott acted after some Texas cities, like Austin and El Paso, offered benefits to same-sex domestic partners.

The difference here is that Houston is offering benefits to legal spouses, now including same-sex spouses who presumably have been married outside of Texas. Lozano talked to University of Houston law professor Thomas Oldham, who said that “unlike domestic partner policies in other Texas cities, Houston’s policy is more vulnerable to legal challenge because of the state’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. What Houston has done ‘would be more squarely in violation of the constitutional provision.'”


Education Chairmen Join Algebra II Fray at SBOE (The Texas Tribune): “Two top lawmakers made an unexpected Wednesday evening visit to urge the State Board of Education to preserve legislative intent as they implement new high school graduation requirements the Legislature passed in May. ‘When in doubt about what the right course of action is, lean toward local control,’ said House Public Education Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, at the meeting, where he was joined by Senate Education Chairman Dan Patrick, R-Houston.”

Darby arrested after carrying gun into airport (San Angelo Standard-Times): “Austin police arrested State Rep. Drew Darby after he forgot to remove his gun from a carry-on bag before going through security for a morning flight at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.”

Celia Israel likely won’t face primary challenger (Austin American-Statesman): “Celia Israel’s trouncing of her fellow Democrats in a special election for a Texas House seat this month not only won her a spot in the runoff, but it appears to have given her a clear shot at the party’s nomination for the seat next year. The Democrats who lost in the Nov. 5 special election — Rico Reyes and Jade Chang Sheppard — said this week that they won’t run in the regular primary in March against Israel, who garnered more votes than both of them combined. Instead, Sheppard and Reyes are considering running for other offices.”

Hundreds rally on UT campus for immigration reform (Austin American-Statesman): “Hundreds rallied on the University of Texas campus Wednesday afternoon for immigration reform and relaxed deportations of undocumented residents — and against a group of conservative students.”

Perry: ‘Immigration reform is going to be very passé’ (CNN): “Calls to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws will fade away as soon as Mexico jump-starts its economy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry predicted Wednesday. Perry, speaking to reporters at the Republican Governors Association’s annual conference in Arizona, ridiculed Democratic efforts to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill without first enhancing security along the Texas-Mexico border.”

Quote to Note: “It is clear that Mayor Parker has interpreted her re-election as a mandate to not only ignore the Texas State Constitution but now even the Houston City Charter, with the cover of the City Attorney issuing a flawed legal opinion.” — Dave Welch of the Houston Area Pastor Council, accusing Houston Mayor Annise Parker of overstepping her authority by extending health and life insurance benefits to legally married same-sex spouses of city employees.


Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at

The Polling Center: Women Through the Looking Glass

With state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, now all but officially running for lieutenant governor, the top of the two parties’ respective tickets look a lot like a middle school dance — the boys at one end of the gym and the girls at the other. The context of gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Wendy Davis’ rise amid the politics of abortion and the girl-boy sorting of the two tickets means that both sides will be keeping an even closer eye than usual on the female electorate.

Results from the October 2013 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll suggest specific challenges for both campaigns in their hopes of attracting female voters. Women’s lukewarm views of extreme conservatism reveal some risk in Abbott’s early embrace of the Tea Party, but also the potential rewards of his recent attempts to brand himself as “a new kind of Republican candidate” (aside, of course, from setting up the inevitable attack on Davis on allegations of ethical shortcomings).

The potential risk emanates from the necessities of competing in a GOP primary in a state where 39 percent of women identify as moderates — 11 points more than Texas men. When combined with those identifying as liberals, 60 percent of the female electorate consider themselves non-conservatives.

In addition to the sense that the Tea Party has been playing a pivotal role in the Texas GOP, a Democratic slate headed by Davis and Van de Putte can be expected to attempt to drive Abbott and others to publicly affirm their Tea Party ties even as Abbott eyes more centrist ground for a general election campaign. It makes sense for Democrats to soak Abbott in tea if they hope to attract crossover votes from women: Only 13 percent of women identify with the Tea Party compared with 25 percent of men; and while 33 percent of men think the Tea Party has too little influence, only 21 percent of women hold the same view.

Traces of women’s relative aversion to the Tea Party also show up in attitudes toward U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, the de facto figurehead of the Tea Party forces in Texas (and beyond). While Cruz’s net favorability (those having a favorable attitude of him minus those with an unfavorable one) among men is +6, among women it’s -4 (and as low as -17 among Hispanic women).

So at the broadest levels, the electoral trends brewing in GOP primaries across the state could turn off women because many of them don’t see themselves as either part of the Tea Party movement or as conservatives. Thus, Abbott’s early appeal to the Tea Party electorate as the king- and queen-makers of Texas politics — one Cruz has only solidified — may prove beneficial to the Democrats.

Yet these gaps between male and female attitudes toward the Tea Party do not a liberal female electorate make. For the most part, on a number of issues, the attitudes of the female electorate look a lot like the male electorate – that is, they look conservative.

To take the most prominent example, on the Affordable Care Act, the GOP’s cause du jour, women are actually slightly more conservative than men. Views on Obamacare don’t appear to differ much by gender, with slight majorities of men and women opposing the health care law. But looking to the individual mandate, Texas women express more opposition than Texas men, 68 percent to 62 percent.

As has been widely and repeatedly noted, the nature of Davis’ rise (and to a lesser extent Van de Putte’s) means that abortion will be an issue in the 2014 race — even if neither candidate brings it up themselves. Despite armchair assumptions, there isn’t a clear gender gap when it comes to abortion attitudes in Texas, but there are some interesting differences among women. While 40 percent of white women and 41 percent of black women support unfettered access to abortion as a matter of personal choice, that support drops to 32 percent among Hispanic women. Still, as a group, Hispanic women appear, at best, ambivalent toward the practice (reflecting in part the overall position of Hispanics somewhere between Democrats and Republicans on abortion).

In presidential elections, women tend to be a Democratic group. Barack Obama won them by 11 points in 2012 and by 13 points in 2008. George W. Bush narrowed the gap to 3 points in 2004 after losing women to Al Gore by 10 points in 2000. But this is Texas, and women are not, by and large, a fixed constituency of either party. Take, for example, the oft-discussed suburban woman. While we had previously noted the trend of suburban women turning away from the Republican Party, the most recent poll showed a resurgence in Republican identification among this group, jumping from 38 percent to 45 percent. (Democratic identification remained steady at 46 percent.) Looking at the rest of the October data, it appears that this resurgence is probably due more to national considerations (Obamacare, NSA spying, etc.) than to anything particular that has gone on at the state level.

But the fluctuation in attitudes among suburban women illustrates the fluidity of attitudes among women writ large. As a group, women have neither followed the March Hare to the Tea Party nor signed up for Davis’ trip to Wonderland — leaving the campaigns to ponder their place on the electoral chessboard as the campaign takes shape.

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at

HCSO: 3 dead, 2 critically injured in execution-style shooting in NW Harris County

by staff

HARRIS COUNTY – Three people were dead and two others were clinging to life after they were shot execution-style at a northwest Harris County apartment Wednesday afternoon,  according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

All five victims were shot in the head inside a unit at the Pepper Mill Place Apartments in the 8200 block of Sunbury.

A neighbor called 911 after hearing back-to-back gunshots. There was no disturbance heard prior to the gunfire.

Two women and a man died at the scene, while another woman and a man were rushed to Memorial Hermann Hospital by Life Flight helicopters.

Sheriff Adrian Garcia said the victims all appear to be young adults ranging in ages from 18 years old to the early 20s.

”It’s a waste of human life,” Garcia said. “Young people who will not get to fulfill the promise that they were born with.”

Investigators found multiple weapons and narcotics inside the apartment where the shots rang out. The suspected shooter was seen leaving the apartment and closing the door behind him.

Many neighbors packed up and stayed elsewhere for the night.

”I don’t feel safe here anymore,” said neighbor Reanna Auclair.

“Yes, I’m concerned because I got two kids. I got a daughter and a son; a newborn two weeks old,” said Edward, another neighbor.

Others were not very familiar with the victims.

“Half the time when I go out, I don’t see nobody; when I come in, I don’t see nobody. I might see them on the weekend, you…Continued here:–232741011.html

Gun Owner’s Property Stolen By Police Returned After Federal Lawsuit Settled

In a case rife with police corruption and officers acting with vindictive immorality, the city of Cleveland faced losing BIG in a 5th Amendment case brought by Derrick Washington who had his property stolen by police.

The case stemmed back to an incident in the morning of February 10th, 2013.  Washington called the police at 2:09 in the morning to report a shooting in the 2800 block of East 116th Street.  When officers arrived on scene Washington informed them that he had a valid concealed carry permit and that his firearm was in his car.

In lieu of doing any real police work that might involve looking for the actual shooter, the police officers involved at this point decided to arrest Washington.  The report they filed reported that he told them that he had been drinking.  Washington was arrested and charged with using weapons while intoxicated and illegally carrying a concealed weapon.

This is when that corruption and jackbooted immorality I spoke to comes into play.


First Thanksgiving was in Texas

Lauren Savage

Thanksgiving and gratitude have marked important milestones in the life of Texas for hundreds of years.

The first Americans who lived here saturated the land with a spirit of thanksgiving. In the words of Sister Joseph Hobday, “Years of prayer and thanksgiving have come down to Americans in the soil of Texas and breathing through the trees.”

History records that in 1541 the Spanish explorer Coronado paused for thanksgiving. On Ascension Thursday, surrounded by friendly Teya Indians, Coronado’s expedition celebrated a Eucharistic Thanksgiving at daybreak in spectacular Palo Duro Canyon in West Texas.


In 1842, Sam Houston, president of the Texas Republic, faced threats of war, financial problems and political turmoil. Nevertheless, he proclaimed his thanksgiving “to render evidence of national blessings … and a profound belief in an Almighty God.” Houston noted that “the Texan people have been the objects of the peculiar care … of a Divine Providence” so they could “occupy a place among the independent governments of the earth.” He established March 2 as Texas Independence Day and called for religious worship on that day. As a result, Texas may be the only state to have two thanksgivings—one in spring for its independence, and the customary national Thanksgiving in autumn.

In 1848, soon after Texas became a state, Governor Wood established the first Texas State Thanksgiving.


According to historical sources, the Pilgrims never held an autumnal Thanksgiving feast. The Pilgrims did have a feast in 1621 near Plymouth, Massachusetts, after their first harvest. This is the feast people often refer to as “The First Thanksgiving.” This feast was never repeated, so it can’t be called the start of a tradition, nor did the colonists or Pilgrims call it a Thanksgiving Feast. In fact, to these devoutly religious people, a day of thanksgiving was a day of prayer and fasting.


President George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving for November 26, 1789 to honor the formation of the United States government. His proclamation called for a day of prayer and giving thanks to God. It was to be celebrated by all religious denominations, but discord among the colonies prevented it from being practiced by all the states. Washington wrote in his November 26th diary entry: “Being the day appointed for a thanksgiving I went to St. Paul’s Chapel though it was most inclement and stormy–but few people at Church.” President Washington later provided money, food, and beer to debtors spending…Continued here:

Ex-Access CEO, spokesman sentenced to 8 years in federal prison

By Adriana M. Chavez

Two men — considered community leaders before falling from grace in El Paso’s extensive public corruption investigation — were sentenced Wednesday to eight years each in federal prison.

They also were ordered to pay more than $7 million in restitution.

U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo sentenced Francisco “Frank” Apodaca, the former CEO of Access Healthsource, and former Access spokesman Marc Schwartz during a hearing Wednesday morning. The judge gave them the maximum sentence stated in the plea agreements, even after Apodaca, Schwartz, defense attorneys and prosecutors asked Montalvo to consider lesser sentences.


Former Access Healthsource CEO & President Frank Apodaca, center, enters the Federal Courthouse with family members for his sentencing hearing Wednesday.

During the hour-long hearing Wednesday, Apodaca, reading from a written statement, apologized to the Ysleta, El Paso and Socorro school districts and the El Paso community. He tearfully described in detail his medical problems stemming from a brain injury in 2011.

“I do not want to be known as someone who hurt people,” Apodaca told Montalvo from the courtroom podium. “Somewhere along the line I boarded a train that was bound to end in a wreck.”

Apodaca, 50, also stated he participated in the scheme because he was in “an environment where corruption seemed to be the norm.”

Last year, Apodaca pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organization Act, known as RICO, in a scheme to bribe members of the El Paso County Commissioners Court and trustees of the El Paso, Ysleta and Socorro school districts in exchange for taxpayer business. Federal prosecutors had alleged Access did not deliver on its Continued here: