Texas Matters: General Land Office discriminates and Sidney Powell faces discipline

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in August 2017. The Category 4 tropical cyclone claimed more than 100 lives and caused property damage estimated at $125 billion.

Texas has received billions from the federal government for storm mitigation. Houston and Harris County officials requested more than $1.3 billion of that money, but the Texas General Land Office responded by saying they would receive nothing.

Instead, about $1 billion of US housing and urban development funds managed by GLO were directed to other local governments in 46 southeast Texas counties. Areas that tend to vote Republican and are predominantly white.

After receiving a lawsuit filed last year by two Houston-area advocacy groups, the Biden administration investigated the GLO’s distribution of Harvey funds and found that the land commissioner-led agency George P. Bush “discriminated on the basis of race and national origin through the use of grading criteria that significantly disadvantaged black and Hispanic residents.

In a 13-page conclusion, HUD said the process that resulted in the exclusion of Houston and Harris County “resulted in a disproportionate decrease in funds available to minority residents compared to white residents.”

One of the complaints was filed by Texas Housers, a low-income housing information service in Texas. David Wheaton is the Director of Advocacy at Texas Housers.

Sidney Powell Update

Since the 2020 presidential election that Donald Trump lost, Texas lawyer Sidney Powell has become a frequent guest of the right-wing media. She led the charge by spreading the lie that the election was rigged.

Everything Powell said was a lie and his lawsuits resulted in nothing more than spreading false information and being used as a pretext to pass voter suppression laws in the name of election security.

Now, the Texas Commission for Law Discipline has just sued Powell in Dallas County District Court in Texas, seeking discovery following complaints from multiple attorneys and Michigan’s governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. . They claim Powell should be penalized for “professional misconduct” for filing frivolous lawsuits that violated the federal rule of civil procedure.

This week, a judge dismissed a lawsuit by Smartmatic against Powell on jurisdictional grounds. Smartmatic responded by saying they would continue to pursue legal action against Powell.

But there’s more to Sidney Powell than his activism to overturn the 2020 election with outlandish conspiracy theories.
A nonprofit founded by Powell has raised more than $15 million and is using the funds to pay full legal fees for some defendants in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Ken Bensinger covers the story for BuzzFeed News.

Ukraine to Cliburn

The Cliburn International Piano Competition prides itself on focusing on high quality musical performances. But the war in Ukraine invaded the concert hall this week. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports that for some musicians, this adds a layer of tension that’s hard to imagine.

Gregory M. Roy