Thursday, February 16, 2017

Legislator: Don't use the Chilean flag emoji to mean Texas!

Quiz: Which one is Texas?

We ran across this gem today while reading bills filed in the 85th Legislative session. See below, and take note, social media savvy Texceptionalists!

Don't know what an emoji is? Don't worry: It's about as new a word as is the resolution's author, Rep. Tom Oliverson (R-Houston).

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Dickey: Sanctuary City policies 'need to stop immediately'

Dickey with Sheriff candidate Joe Martinez, who told you so.
Travis County GOP Chairman James Dickey said via Travis GOP social media that it's time to light up the phone lines in opposition to Sheriff "Sanctuary Sally" Hernandez' new policies.

He quotes an article from Fox 7:
"... [I]n the first two days of the Hernandez policy nearly 50 undocumented offenders were allowed back on the streets. The charges include; drunk driving, assault, sex crimes, strangulation, as well as endangering and injury to a child. To get out, most of the inmates only had to sign a document promising to come back for court hearings." 
This needs to stop immediately. The Travis county sheriff must put the legal residents of the county first. Contact her office at (512) 854-9770 and let your voice be heard. 
For some background on this horrendous turn of events see here and here.

The Travis Tracker recommends Sheriff Hernandez host a series of town halls and study groups to craft a more sensible illegal immigrant detention policy, and consider reverting back to the policy of her predecessor Greg Hamilton.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Dawnna Dukes watchers take to Twitter

Those wondering if Rep. Dawnna Dukes' (D-Austin) notorious reputation for playing hooky in the Legislature would hold up after her indictment now have a way of checking on that.

The Twitter account @WDawnna tracks her whereabouts on the House floor and in key committee meetings.

(Wait, what was that? Yes, surprisingly Rep. Dukes kept her seat in the powerful House Appropriations Committee.)

According to the Twitter handle's description, it is not an official account of Dukes (obviously) but "an attempt to hold Dawnna Dukes accountable."

"To be clear, this account was created only to address DD's presence during the legislative session," the anonymous tweeter(s) commented. "It is not politics to want your representative to show up for work."

Monday, February 13, 2017

Celia Israel, Kirk Watson: You don't get to vote on rail projects (UPDATED)

Voters more than a decade ago opted to build the Capital Metropolitan Transit Authority's MetroRail "red line" -- 32 miles of track from downtown Austin to Leander utilizing much of an abandoned Katy rail line.

But if an Austin Democrat in the Texas Legislature gets her way, future rail plans under 31 miles of track-length will not require a vote at all.

Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin) filed House Bill 1762 on Friday which seeks to amend the Texas Transportation Code's section related to the Cap Metro. Under existing law, Cap Metro must seek voter approval if the proposed expansion involves the addition of 12 miles of track or more to the system. Under Israel's bill, that threshold jumps to more than 30 miles. To put that in perspective, CapMetro could build a railway the distance from Sunset Valley to Cedar Park, or Lakeway to Pflugerville, without putting a single word on the ballot.

If you take a look at the map attached to this article, you'll see that any of the proposed stops are well-within the distance of the red line. So no voter approval would be necessary to fulfill the wishes of local transit czars.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Austin City Council exempts themselves from ethics rules?

There may be more to it than what Spectrum News picked up on here:
The draft ordinance gave the City Auditor the ability to investigate the City Council and their staff members for allegations of a violation related to interfering with personnel matters. It was intended to prevent elected officials from pressuring city staff to go against their best professional judgment.
"The city auditor shall hire an external party to investigate the allegation if the city auditor finds that an allegation merits an investigation," the draft ordinance read. 
[...] That means a City Council member, their direct staff and the City Manager are not subject to due process.

Does this amount to a power-grab by city staff or a play for immunity by the City Council (or both)? It's all a tangled mess, but we'll keep an eye on this.

Read more:

(Hat-tip: Matt Mackowiak for posting this to Facebook.)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Trump supporter beaten in Austin: Not fake news, in our own backyard

Disbelief filled the minds of many conservative Austinites who read blog posts this week of a 20-something being beaten and knocked unconscious because of a lighthearted Donald Trump cigarette lighter.

We wish this was another example of fake news and "alternative facts." The Tracker verified the details in the report that was originally published in Gateway Pundit.

According to Austin Police Department incident records obtained by the Tracker, the beating took place around 2 a.m. Monday at 1515 Wickersham Lane, steps away from the Riverside Golf Course and near several apartments.

The Tracker contacted the victim, Scott Sauter, a law clerk and newcomer to Austin. Sauter confirmed Gateway Pundit's report. On his walk home from the New Movement Theater comedy club downtown a man noticed the whimsical Trump decoration on his lighter as he lit up a cigarette.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Judge for yourselves: Is this proper behavior?

Ok, Judge Sarah Eckhardt is by no means a judicial figure. She was voted in by a Democrat county electorate to a position traditionally called "County Judge" but is more accurately a county administrator on a Texas constitutional Commissioners Court. She doesn't sit on a "bench" and isn't subject to judicial ethics, contrary to social media pleas to "disbar" her.

This would explain a lot ... if true

This is making the rounds on the Central Texas conservative social media scene this week, but the Tracker cannot verify whether this was an actual offer made via Craigslist. If you ended up with $40 cash money leave a comment! We want in on some of that Soros cash!

The post has since been taken down by Craigslist.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Trailer Park Gang digs into education freedom during School Choice Week

Monday marked the beginning of National School Choice Week, and the Trailer Park Show didn't miss a beat -- even while longtime host James "Slow Pokey" Ritter is still in recovery.

Peggy Venable, a face you may remember from Americans for Prosperity-Texas but who is now an education policy expert with Texas Public Policy Foundation, discussed several important topics to maximizing taxpayer dollars by giving parents (e.g. taxpayers) the freedom to choose where their children receive their public education. She is joined by hosts Marilyn Jackson and Mike Lee.

Learn more about school choice in Texas by clicking the video link above.

We would be remiss to not make mention of a HUGE school choice rally that took place at the Texas Capitol today. Around 4,000 people gathered at the South Steps of the capitol and wore the movement's trademark yellow scarves to support a variety of options to reform public ed. It was organized by Travis County's own Randan Steinhauser and supported by countless other Austin-area activists and educators. Our apologies for not listing everyone! Click here for highlights.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in support of School Choice activists.
(Photo courtesy of Red Sonja of the Conservatives in Action blog)

Conservatives well-represented at KLRU inauguration roundtable

Nubia Devine defending American values
Austin's PBS affiliate, KLRU-TV, hosted a roundtable discussion following the presidential inauguration on Friday. And though the commentary on a PBS station may often track to the left, Friday's community discussion was pleasantly balanced.

Travis County GOP Chairman James Dickey notes that the following persons were among the conservative voices on the panel: winery entrepreneur Ryan Laffen, public relations specialist Nubia Devine, longtime Republican grassroots leader Earl Wellborn, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation's general counsel Robert Henneke.

Watch the entire exchange here, moderated by Austin broadcasting veteran Judy Maggio:

What do you think? Was it a fair hearing for Republicans? Weigh-in on the comments section below.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Zimmerman launches new radio show

Former City Councilman Don Zimmerman just wrapped up the first episode of his new radio show, "The Taxpayers Voice of Reason."

The two-hour show, to air Saturdays at 3 p.m. on "The Bridge," KTXW-AM, 1120, today featured in-studio guests former Republican candidate for HD 46 Gabriel Nila and this writer as today's co-host. Bob Phillips, host of the station's evening drive program, called in to congratulate Zimmerman on his radio venture.

Callers included local attorney David Rogers addressing immigration and Travis County GOP Chairman James Dickey summarizing his view on local reactions to the presidential inauguration.

A description from the show's website:

Trump's inaugural address: a Rorsach test

Travis County Republican Party James Dickey had a unique take on Donald Trump's first speech as President of the United States.
People’s reactions to it are much less about what was actually said than they are about us, our ideological positions, and the subtext we read into the words because of what we’ve seen and heard from Trump and others in the past.
Read more (and the speech itself) here:

Friday, January 20, 2017

Austin inaugurates the new president in its own mellow way (Nothing to see here)

Not-so-mass protest (Courtesy Mark Loeffler)
As a contrast to broken windows and blocked traffic reported in some protests in parts of these United States, Austin retained its trademark casual vibe as inauguration protesters took to the streets.

OK, so a pinata of Donald Trump was lit on fire. That's about as bad as it got, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Texas Public Policy Foundation reportedly had Black Lives Matter-esque protesters at their watch party/discussion event, but the Austin Police Department was quick to escort them out.

Travis GOP Chairman James Dickey filmed via Facebook Live a "parade" cutting off his commute home from the Travis County GOP's happy hour at Ten Oak. He reports 20-30 in attendance at the happy hour, but warnings to avoid downtown may have cut down on the numbers a bit:

Mark Loeffler took the above shot from his perch in the Stephen F. Austin State Office Building of protesters in not-so-mass numbers along North Congress Avenue -- mostly likely spillover from protests at the University of Texas.

The best view, however, was caught by Austin's own Rob Hale in his visit to the inauguration in Washington D.C. He shares via Twitter (@RobHale15) Executive One leaving with the Obamas on board.

Happy Inauguration Day, Austin!

If you have any inauguration protest or celebration anecdotes you'd like to share, please leave a comment.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dukes Chronicles: Democrats do right by the public (but more must be done)

"A source" told the Austin American-Statesman that Rep. Dawnna Dukes will be indicted on 15 counts and could face up to a 28-year sentence.

Read more:

"Now will the Travis County Democrats take a stand, or will this be another one of those situations in which the Dems in the DA's office stall and maneuver their way to dismissal or a mere slap on the wrist?" "a source" told the Travis Tracker.

Dukes' 2016 Republican challenger, Gabriel Nila, released a statement today:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Texas Ethics Commission director fond of anti-Trump diaper pin

All polemics and apologetics aside, we understand the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) can often be used as a battering ram against one's political enemies.

Whether or not you agree with that assertion, it is a growing suspicion that the TEC is being used to silence conservative opposition to the powers that be in the Texas Legislature.

So is it a good PR move for an embattled agency to appoint a new Executive Director who brandishes a symbol for opposition to President-elect Donald Trump? See Facebook screenshot below -- and apologies if we have the wrong Seana Beckerman Willing or if that's a special type of collectible safety pin we're not aware of.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Hey Cedar Park: stand by your flag

Was it really worth bringing a well-meaning citizen to tears over? Now come on, Cedar Park!

Given, the winning design of the new Cedar Park official flag is reminiscent of Amsterdam's (see Cedar Park's original flag design contest flyer below -- they were asking for it!) the color scheme is spot-on and matches the landscape of the Texas Hill Country. The design stands out from among the banality of most city flags with nothing more than a city seal or tourism department logo on a plain background.

And then there are historic examples of controversial flag designs that, when proven unpopular, simply faded into obscurity without the need to assail anyone's creativity or revoke their claim to fame. You made a decision, Cedar Park. Now stand by it ... at least for awhile.

Dems silent as Rep. Dukes breaks promise to take 85th Lege oath

Taking an 'oath' of office

Mas triste is the way a Republican challenger described an East Austin state rep's decision not to step down as promised; his plans to celebrate the beginning of a special election for the Texas House District 46 seat postponed indefinitely.

At the same time, Gabriel Nila is not one to mope about eastern Travis following this and another setback on election night in November. Rather, he has his chin up and is looking at Rep. Dawnna Dukes' recalcitrance as an opportunity to build the community.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

'Cedar Fever' survival guide: the next best thing to eradication

One possible solution.
Mold allergies have been bad enough to us during this unusual El NiƱo year.

But Cedar gets the prize for 2016. Cedar pollen (actually, and to be fair to true Cedar trees, Ashe Juniper pollen -- that's Juniperus ashei) hit the second-highest level on record today -- 21,952 grains per cubic meter.

Because Austin exists in a geographic "bowl," the pollen tends to linger around longer than it does elsewhere. And the humidity makes it stick. That bestows upon us a badge of honor as one of the Allergy Capitals of the United States.

The cedar pollen intensity this time of year affects even those who normally do not suffer from allergies. Workplaces report higher numbers of call-outs for cold-like symptoms.

False alarms are raised when "smoke" is seen coming from areas dense with cedar trees -- only for the firefighters to discover it's only the brownish dust from pollen entering the air on a dry, windy day otherwise prone to brush fires.

The trees, as beautiful and beloved as they are around Christmastime, are more than just a health hazard according to some. Even Rep. Paul Workman (R-Austin) authored a bill to loosen tree ordinances on certain species that present themselves as fire hazards, such as the Ashe Juniper. Here's how to get rid of them yourself if you're so inclined.

To fight our annual bout of "Cedar Fever" this writer would like to offer his advice as a lifelong allergy sufferer. See if you benefit from these tips, and if you have your own remedies please feel free to add them to the comments below.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Texas Electoral College puts Trump/Pence over the top

This is why we have an Electoral College.
Though Ron Paul, John Kasich, and Carly Fiorina all reportedly made appearances on the 36 Electoral College ballots cast today in the Texas House of Representatives chamber, it was not enough to stop Texas from putting Donald Trump over the top for President.

As a matter of fact (and without counting liberal bastions California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the District of Columbia), Trump expands his electoral lead over Hillary Clinton by two. This is particularly ironic, because one Texas elector announced he would switch his vote to Clinton/Kaine and another simply quit.

Our friend and local broadcaster Leland Freeman led a small band of conservatives in support of electors keeping their pledges. A modest crowd of liberals clamored for last-minute denial of pledges.

Image credit: Alex Egoshin

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Austinite scores national political podcast, column with Washington Times

Matt on Fox 7 doing his thing.
In addition to his popular Must Read Texas service regarding Lone Star State politics, Travis GOP Executive Vice Chairman Matt Mackowiak is venturing out into the national media scene.

See below about the inaugural edition of "Mack on Politics" featuring some guests you may recognize. 
In the inaugural episode of “Mack on Politics,” host Matt Mackowiak interviews longtime GOP consultant, NBC News political analyst, and former Jeb Bush Super PAC mastermind Mike Murphy. They discussed how Trump improbably punched through the so-called “Blue wall” of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, how Hillary wasted her national convention, if he had any regrets about strategic decisions made for Jeb’s Super PAC and whether he has any hope for Trump. 
Then Mackowiak talked to Erick Erickson, former editor-in-chief of, radio host for WSB in Atlanta, Fox News contributor, author, and founder of about how Trump won, whether the GOP primary was winnable for anyone else, and what Erickson thinks is the state of the conservative movement in the Age of Trump. They also discussed religious liberty and his own foray into conservative talk radio and migration away from Red State to create his own successful conservative site. 
Listen here --