Lack of diversity on state finance board prompts outcry from leaders of color
- For the first time in some three decades, the Legislative Budget Board will have no person of color serving on the board.
- Latino and black advocates—including lawmakers, organizers, and community leaders—spoke out against the all-white make-up of the committee given the stakes of financing in a state as large and demographically diverse as Texas.
- A permanent committee of the Texas Legislature, the board sets financial priorities for the state, offering budget requests and recommendations for appropriations and evaluating the performance of state and local operations.
“Black, Latino groups calling for diversity in Texas Legislature” (KXAN | January 2017)
Legislative Budget Board (Texas Legislature)
Tribpedia: Legislative Budget Board (The Texas Tribune)
The 85th Texas Legislature
Now entering its first session, the 85th Texas Legislature is, like its predecessors, a portrait of skewed representation in an increasingly diverse state. Despite being majority-minority and—by a hair—majority-female, Texas lawmakers continue to be predominantly white and male, with only fractions of percentage points representing incremental change towards a more representative legislature. Women in particular continue to be vastly underrepresented in the Legislature, verging on crisis as the state works to dismantle reproductive rights and other women’s health issues.
50.4% (state) vs. 20.4% (Legislature)
Women in Legislature by Party Affiliation (2017)
34.8% (Democrats) vs. 12.2% (Republicans)
Female Legislators (2017 vs. 2015)
20.4% vs. 20.2%
People of Color (2017)
57.5% (state demographics) vs. 35.9% (Legislature demographics)
People of Color in Legislature by Party Affiliation (2017)
90.9% (Democrats) vs. 4.3% (Republicans)
Legislators of Color (2017 vs. 2015)
35.9% vs. 35.4%
(Image Credit: Todd Wiseman/The Texas Tribune)
Jefferson County’s Historic New Sheriff
Swept to victory amidst a dramatic election year, newly elected Sheriff Zena Stephens has taken the reins of a department of more than 400 people and a budget of $40 million in Southeast Texas, undeterred by a hate incident attacking her campaign office nearly a year ago. Texas Monthly sat down with the first black woman to hold the title of sheriff in the state (and one of only two currently elected in the country) to discuss her career, challenges in police-community relations, and her strategic vision for her new role.
“She’s the Sheriff” (Texas Monthly | January 2017)
(Image Credit: Todd Spoth/Texas Monthly)
New digital TV channel focused on black-centered programming set to launch in Houston
- HTX Digital Channel 43.3 will build a schedule focused on black culture and entertainment.
- Slated programming includes a show called “Soul of the South” and one featuring former Texas Tech basketball coach Chris Walker.
- The new station is set to launch on February 20 and will broadcast to more than 500,000 Houston-area households.
“New Houston TV channel to feature African-American entertainment” (The Houston Chronicle | January 2017)
(Image Credit: Charlie Riedel/Associated Press, via The Houston Chronicle)
Federal judge rules against Pasadena in Latino voting rights case
- Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal ruled that an electoral change from eight to six voting districts for the Pasadena City Council with the addition of two seats voted on city-wide constituted an unconstitutional weakening of Latino Pasadenans’ voting power.
- The dilution reflects the ethnic segregation of the city, where resources have historically been concentrated in the predominantly white south versus the predominantly Latino north.
- Expected to be appealed to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the case is seen as a test to the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding contemporary enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 widely viewed as weakening the voting rights of minorities nationwide.
MALDEF v. City of Pasadena
(Image Credit: The Houston Chronicle)
Newly released dashcam footage shows Ft. Worth police officer shooting man in back, contradicting earlier claims
- The incident took place in July as officers responded to a report of an armed robbery in an apartment complex.
- David Collie was shot in the back while walking away from the officers, who claimed he appeared to be armed and fit the description of one of the robbery suspects despite Collie being significantly shorter and thinner than the suspects.
- Collie is paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the encounter, and the officers returned to duty after a few days of internal investigation that found no wrongdoing on their part.
Source: TheWFirm YouTube
“Man Paralyzed After Being Shot in His Back by Fort Worth Police: Lawyer” (NBC 5 | December 2016)
“Video released in FW police shooting that left man paralyzed” (Fox 4 | December 2016)
“Dash Cam Video Appears To Show FW Officer Shoot Man In Back” (CBS 11 | December 2016)
“Attorney: Viral video not an isolated incident among Fort Worth cops” (The Fort Worth Star-Telegram | December 2016)
“New Video Casts Doubt on Police Account of Shooting of Black Man Left Paralyzed” (NBC News | December 2016)
“Police say a black man was shot after pulling a blade on officers. A new video raises doubts.” (The Washington Post | December 2016)
“KING: Chilling details emerge after Texas police shoot black man in the back, paralyzing him” (The New York Daily News | December 2016)