Actualité et politiques
The Texas Observer

The Texas Observer

March/April 2020

The Texas Observer is an Austin-based nonprofit news organization known for fearless investigative reporting, narrative storytelling and sophisticated cultural criticism about all things Texan.

United States
Texas Democracy Foundation
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2 min.

Beto’s Return Beto might not have been a lot of people’s preferred candidate, but do not underestimate his ability to inspire, organize, and rally (“He May Not Be a Candidate, but Beto O’Rourke is Rebuilding His Texas Organizing Machine for 2020,” January 24, texasobserver.org). Whoever wins the Democratic nomination would be wise to make him an ally. The guy has literally been down near Houston for weeks organizing and block walking and knocking on doors for a local special election. Early voting numbers are off the charts. He might not be a presidential candidate anymore, but he still has a lot of clout and influence. @RedfishSC2 VIA REDDIT Panhandle Dust-Up I EAT LESS AND LESS MEAT BECAUSE OF STORIES like this (“Something in the Air,” January|February issue). You can cut back quite a bit without…

13 min.
political intelligence

2020 CENSUS Counting Them Out THE 2020 CENSUS, WHICH OFFICIALLY KICKS OFF ON April 1, will almost certainly reshape the face of politics and power in Texas. State legislative districts, as well as their congressional counterparts, will be redrawn; federal dollars for everything from highways and wastewater services to Medicare and food stamps will be reallocated. This is why it’s imperative to obtain accurate population counts. To do that, the census follows a fairly basic principle: People are counted at their primary place of residence. For a city like Port Arthur, which sits along the hurricane- and flood-prone Gulf Coast, that could spell trouble. In the past three years, Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda flooded large swaths of Southeast Texas and displaced hundreds of residents. “[Certain neighborhoods] in Port Arthur look like ghost…

1 min.
trivia texas

In January, Greg Abbott told a room of San Antonians that Texas is nearly finished building highways. Which of the following Texas highway facts is true? a. Texas has more highway miles than all but one other state.b. Two highways in North Texas are paved with gold.c. Texas drivers sat in traffic delays for a cumulative 300 million hours last year.d. The state’s tallest highway overpass rises 160 feet in the air. ANSWER: B. Two highways in Montague County are partially paved with gold. A historical marker near Ringgold states that the sand used to pave stretches of U.S. 81 and U.S. 287 in 1936 contained small amounts of gold, unbeknownst to the Texas Department of Transportation or the owner of the local sand pit at the time. An estimated $31,000 of…

1 min.
texas tally

Median home values have skyrocketed over the past decade—both nationwide and in Texas. Below, see how much home values in your city rose from 2010 to 2020. Nationwide: $174,000 ▸ $244,00040 percent increase Texas: $136,000 ▸ $207,00052 percent increase Austin: $232,000 ▸ $391,00069 percent increase Dallas: $134,000 ▸ $217,00062 percent increase Fort Worth: $123,000 ▸ $209,00070 percent increase Houston: $127,000 ▸ $189,00049 percent increase Midland: $160,000 ▸ $265,00066 percent increase San Antonio: $126,000 ▸ $184,00046 percent increase Data compiled from Zillow’s medianvaluations.…

2 min.
pushed out

AS WE WERE CLOSING THIS SPECIAL issue on housing, the Texas Lyceum released a timely poll. In it, nearly half of Texas adults reported that they’re spending too much on housing and that it’s difficult to find affordable housing in the neighborhoods where they want to live. The findings shouldn’t have surprised anyone who has been paying rent or property taxes here over the past decade. Since 2010, the median home value in Texas has increased by more than 50 percent, rising from $136,000 to $207,000. In some neighborhoods, like East Austin, the median home value has doubled during the same decade. Housing has long been considered “affordable” if it consumed no more than 30 percent of a family’s income, but we might need to set a new benchmark. By this…

7 min.
fair fight

IN 1974, WHILE HE WAS AN UNDERGRADUATE AT THE University of Texas at Austin, John Henneberger started volunteering with a community group in Clarksville, a former Freedman’s Town near downtown Austin. The neighborhood, which was then still predominantly black, lacked basic infrastructure like sewers and sidewalks, and a proposed crosstown expressway threatened to wipe it out entirely. Until he saw the conditions in Clarksville, Henneberger says, he had always assumed the government treated its citizens equally. He was appalled by the blatantly racist response from local government when community members tried to organize. That sense of injustice has fueled his work ever since. In 1988, he and fellow organizer Karen Paup co-founded the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, known today as Texas Housers, to advocate for low-income Texans—and help communities…