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Houston Lawyers Say #MeToo Public Policy Shift Should Void Arbitration Pact

By John Council

In what appears to be a novel move in Texas employment litigation, two Houston lawyers are seeking to keep a sexual harassment case out of arbitration by arguing that resolving the legal dispute in private violates public policy in the #MeToo era.

Rick Prieto and Todd Slobin represent Stefani Bambace, who sued Berry Y&V Fabricators earlier this year after alleging she was sexually harassed by the wife of the president of the company, while working as an in-home tutor for their children.

Bambace alleges that the company retaliated against her by terminating her position a month after she reported to Berry Y&V Fabricators Human Resources Department that she was working in a sexually charged and hostile work environment, in violation of the Texas Labor Code.

The company, in its court filings, maintains that its decision to terminate Bambace’s employment was based on legitimate, nondiscriminatory business reasons, and that no protected activity by Bambace was the motivating cause of the termination.



After capping access to special education services, federal officials say TEA must make up for it over the next three years.

The Texas Legislature will have to work some budget magic in the years to come, considering that education is normally the first thing to be cut to balance the budget. But after a 2016 audit of state special education funding found students have been shortchanged, the Texas Education Agency must increase spending by $3.2 billion to cover past deficiencies.

In 2016, an investigative report by the Houston Chronicle exposed what is effectively an illegal cap to the percentage of students who can receive special education services. The TEA implemented an 8.5 percent cap on students from 2004 to May 2018, saysAlejandra Matos, politics and government reporter for the Houston Chronicle’s Austin bureau, .


How Anti-Abortion Activists are Training Their ‘Next Generation of Pro-Life Leaders’

How Anti-Abortion Activists are Training Their ‘Next Generation of Pro-Life Leaders’

College students descended on Houston to learn how to “convert” their peers to oppose abortion and how to “dismantle” Roe v. Wade.

This summer, nearly 30 college students gathered in Houston for a weeklong summit on how they could be the generation to end abortion in America. One day, after a morning prayer, the students attended a training session held by the Abortion Dialogue Academy, an organization disseminating “persuasive pro-life arguments.” The students learned how to convince their peers that abortion is as “unthinkable of an act as infanticide,” and then went to the University of Houston campus to practice their new skills by trying to “convert” people. The day wrapped up at their hotel with a lecture by John Seago, the legislative director for Texas Right to Life, titled “History of Abortion Law and How to Dismantle Roe.”

The students traveled to Houston from across the state to kick off their second year of the Dr. Joseph Graham Fellowship, named for the late founder and president of Texas Right to Life, the more extreme of Texas’ two largest anti-abortion groups. The organization’s decade-old fellowship seeks to “prepare the next generation to advance the Culture of Life” by training students throughout their college career.


Seliger: Republicans have to fix school finance

‘We have the money if we are willing to prioritize,’ senator says

What has been the impact of school finance in Midland?

About half a billion dollars.

State Sen. Kel Seliger offered this eye-popping total during his town hall Monday at the Midland County Public Library Centennial branch.
Midland ISD is a chapter 41 — or property-rich district – because of oil and gas development. That means money above the state average is kept in Austin and helps fund property-poor — or chapter 42 — districts. Highland Park ISD, right in the heart of Dallas County, knows Midland’s pain. Seliger said over the years HPISD has paid more than $1 billion in school finance payments.

Midland ISD officials said after the town hall that they are forecasting Midland taxpayers will be on the hook for more than $140 million in school finance payments over the next two school years.

“That would pay for a new high school,” one official quipped.

The Amarillo Republican who represents Midland County said after the town hall that Republicans have to have the stomach to do what’s right and fix school finance this upcoming session.


City Hall Insiders are Sweating the Fire Union’s Proposed Charter Changes – With Good Reason

City Hall is panicking over the possibility of voters falling in love with the fire union’s three damaging amendments to the city charter this fall.

The behind-the-scenes consensus is that the measures – one would cap future city managers’ compensation and force him or her to quit after eight years, and another would make it easier to force public votes on a broad range of spending decisions – are likely to prevail at the ballot box on November 6.

That is, if the proposed amendments survive the legal challenge unleashed last week by the Secure San Antonio’s Future political action committee, which is bankrolled by corporations, business and community leaders, and special interests.

Campaign consultant Christian Archer and trial lawyer Mikal Watts, longtime fishing buddies and political partners, are behind the lawsuit. It picks up on reporting by the San Antonio Express-News showing the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association flouted campaign-finance reporting rules, effectively masking the source of funding for the wildly successful signature-gathering operation for the three measures.

The PAC’s aim is to convince a judge to keep the three proposed amendments, for which more than 100,000 people signed petitions, off the ballot and out of the reach of voters.

In the meantime, the City Council is expected to vote Thursday to place the union’s “San Antonio First” (zero points for originality) measures on the ballot. That same day, council members will decide whether to hand off another petition-driven initiative – this one requiring all San Antonio employers to provide their workers with paid sick time – to voters in November.


Ex-FourWinds co-owner receives probation

By Patrick Danner

Shannon Smith, a former co-owner of FourWinds Logistics, the San Antonio oil field services company that defrauded investors and cratered Carlos Uresti’s political and legal career, was sentenced to five years of probation Tuesday.

Smith, 42, of Beaumont, pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in 2016 and testified for federal prosecutors in the criminal trial of Uresti and FourWinds consultant Gary Cain. Smith could have received a sentence of 46 to 57 months.

Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra cited Smith’s “minor” role at FourWinds and his cooperation in laying out the whole scheme for investigators for earning the sentence.

“It wasn’t a gift,” Ezra said. “It was a reward for doing the right thing.”


Uresti can’t collect state pension, judge rules

By Patrick Danner

Former state Sen. Carlos Uresti can’t start collecting his Texas pension just yet, a federal judge ruled Tuesday, offering this advice to solve the convicted felon’s financial woes: He could start his prison sentence now.

Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra declined to issue an order authorizing the Texas Employee Retirement System to start issuing monthly pension checks to Uresti, who has valued the benefit at more than $80,000 a year.

Uresti, 54, has said he needs the pension because he’s broke and has no money to survive. John “Bud” Ritenour Jr., Uresti’s court-appointed lawyer, said the longtime San Antonio Democrat has been relying on relatives to get by.

Ezra responded by saying there was an alternative for Uresti.

Uresti has been free on an unsecured bond.

Ezra indicated he wants to ensure that victims of a Ponzi scheme Uresti was involved in receive the restitution they’re entitled to.


Texas set to send first Latinas to US Congress

Democrats hope to mobilize Texas’s growing Latino population to vote in November’s midterm elections. The state is poised to send two Hispanic women to the national legislature for the first time ever.

Texas may bleed red, but US President Donald Trump garners little sympathy in the predominantly Hispanic district of Houston where Sylvia Garcia serves as a state senator.

“He and the Republican Party just have a problem with Latinos,” Garcia told DW. “If you listened to them and didn’t watch anything else you would think that everyone from Mexico was a bunch of murderous rapists.”

Garcia is running for a seat in the US House of Representatives to push back against the administration’s anti-immigrant policies. She and Veronica Escobar, a former county judge from El Paso, are widely predicted to win their races in this November’s midterm elections to become the first two Latinas ever to represent Texas in Congress.



The morning after President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., the stars of the MSNBC morning show, Morning Joe, took turns assailing his mental health.  They further inferred that the supporters of Mr. Trump are thus suffering from mental illness.

Morning Joe regular, Donny Deutsch, an advertising and branding executive by trade, went directly to the intellectual quality of Trump supporters after referring to a CBS News poll that showed they believe the President over big corporate media. “Those people in that audience, that I’d describe as strong Trump supporters, if the friend or family member told them something they’re less likely to believe it than that goofball up there. Crazy Uncle Donny.”

“He’s not well. That’s the bottom line”, said co-host Mika Brzezinski. “There’s no way that anyone who knows Donald Trump, that has not bought in, in some way, could watch him last night and not come away with the feeling that the President of the United States is completely unhinged.”

These were some of the nicer comments made by the opening panel.

RER’s Apostle Claver Kamau-Imani presented the video clip on his 12pm weekday program.

Copyright©2018 Raging Elephants Radio LLC

Senate panel want to boost school safety with mental-health measures

A special Texas Senate committee devoted to fighting school violence has recommended improving mental-health resources for students and increasing funding for a program that arms some members of school staff, but shied away from any measures aiming to limit access to guns.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, formed the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security following the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School south of Houston. Committee members heard testimony during four meetings in June and July on ways to improve school safety infrastructure, address mental health issues among students and consider controversial “red flag” policies that would take guns away from those deemed a risk to others.

Several of the committee’s recommendations focused on “hardening” schools, adding funding for metal detectors and other security apparatuses on campuses. The committee also recommended that the state explore increasing financing for school marshal programs, which allow certified staffers to have access to firearms in schools. During its public hearings, committee members heard testimony that marshal programs can strain school budgets, since they require training and lockboxes for guns. The committee hopes to alleviate that strain with state funds, though it didn’t give specific dollar amounts for any of its recommendations.