Paxton sues Waller County over licensed carry ban

Posted on 30 Aug 2016 at 5:09pm

Texas AG Ken Paxton

As if he weren’t busy enough suing the federal government, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton managed to make time to sue one of his own state’s 254 counties, defending people’s right to carry guns in government offices.

Paxton sent out a press release today bragging that he has sued Waller County “to bring it into compliance with the state’s licensed carry laws.”

According to the press release, Paxton “gave Waller County final notice to comply with the law” on Aug. 10. When county officials refused to give in Litigious Ken (I’m borrowing from the Donald Trump playbook and giving him a catchy nickname) decided to sue. (Last week, in announcing that he had filed suit against the federal government over HHS regulations banning discrimination against transgender people in health care, Paxton noted it was his 13th lawsuit, in less than 2 years, against the federal government.)


Paxton’s press release notes that the lawsuit “requires [Waller] county to allow citizens to lawfully carry firearms in areas of the Waller County Courthouse that contain non-judicial county administrative offices, such as the county clerk, county treasurer and county elections offices, as the law requires.”

The press release goes on to quote Litigious Ken as saying, “A local government cannot be allowed to flout Texas’s (sic) licensed carry laws, or any state law, simply because it disagrees with the law or doesn’t feel like honoring it. I will vigilantly protect and preserve the Second Amendment rights of Texans.”

Let me take a moment to remind you all that the man who is so diligently demanding that Waller County follow the law has already been fined by the Texas State Securities Board, in 2014, for failing to disclose that he had been paid to solicit investment clients on behalf of a firm that was paying him a commission, and now faces additional state and federal securities fraud charges. You can read about it here in this Texas Monthly article. Apparently he’s the only person allowed to flout the law because he doesn’t feel like honoring it.

I will give him this, though: Paxton isn’t demanding that Waller County do anything he isn’t willing to do (except, you know, obey the law). I called and checked, and his office in Austin allows those with licenses to carry to bring their guns into his offices.


New ‘Queer Ghost Hunters’ web series launching

Posted on 30 Aug 2016 at 2:30pm

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 2.15.46 PM

I know that a lot of people think the ghost hunting/ghost stories shows that have become so popular on TV over the last few years are pretty hokey. And yeah, ok, most of them are. But I still watch them. Except that one with Zak WhatsHisName. He gets on my nerves.

But this week I got an announcement about what may well turn out to be my all-time favorite of the genre: Queer Ghost Hunters.

Queer Ghost Hunters is a new web series set to debut on YouTube in October. In addition to being the month of Halloween, October is also LGBT History Month, which fits right in with part of the theme of the show: “The docu-series follows real people discovering stories of the queer past in places as diverse as the Ohio State Reformatory, where the film Shawshank Redemption was just — just one of many reportedly haunted places where LGBTQ people were often imprisoned, lived or worked in greater numbers that the general population,” according to the QGH press release. Queer Ghost Hunters looks at very real history, no matter what you believe, while parodying other ‘ghost hunting’ shows.”

As ghost hunter Lori Gum says in the trailer for the series, “The places most ghosts are found, we [LGBT people] were the people in those places.”

The series focuses on the work of Stonewall Columbus Queer Ghosthunters, “the first known group of its kind,” who “investigate haunted sites, asking for the first time if there are queer ghosts that wish to come out to them,” and — so the press release says — actually documenting on film some of those contacts with queer ghosts.

The series is produced by the same folks who brought you Gen Silent and Reel in the ClosetStu Maddux Films. Maddux himself notes that while the SCQG members “really believe in what they are doing,” they are also well aware “how bizarre it all looks. So their ability to have fun at their own expense has been just as fun to document.”

Maddux’s husband and co-producer, Joe Applebaum, adds, “It is the perfect combination of real findings and funny moments wrapped into a campy version of ghost hunting shows.”

I have already subscribed to their YouTube channel and “liked” their Facebook page, and I will be watching when Season 1 debuts on Oct. 1. Take a look at the trailer, below, and see if you want to be watching then, too.


Texas schools on Campus Pride’s ‘Shame List’

Posted on 29 Aug 2016 at 3:57pm

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 3.49.42 PMCampus Pride — a national organization for LGBTQ and ally college students and campus groups that each year releases its “Best of the Best” list of college campuses with the most inclusive LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs and practices — has this year, for the first time, issued a list of the most anti-LGBTQ campuses across the country.

The “Shame List” enumerates 102 campuses that openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth in policies, programs and campuses, and it includes several schools in Texas: Arlington Baptist College in Arlington, Criswell College in Dallas, East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, University of Dallas in Irving, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton and Wayland Baptist University in Plainview.

Shane Windmeyer, Campus Pride’s executive director, said, “Most people are shocked when they learn that there are college campuses still today that openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth, It is an unspoken secret in higher education how they use religion as a tool for cowardice and discrimination.”

The Shame List, Windmeyer said, “uncovers the religion-based bigotry that is harmful and perpetuated against LGBTQ youth on these campuses.”

The Shame List was first published on Dec. 1 last year, highlighting 57 campuses that received or requested Title IX exemptions that would allow them to freely and openly discriminate against LGBTQ people. The schools applied privately for those waivers and often even faculty, staff and students didn’t know administrators were requesting permission to discriminate.

The U.S. Department of Education has since published the letters regarding Title IX exemptions online, and Campus Pride spent the last six months researching public records and compiling a database related to anti-LGBTQ policies, programs and practices. To included on the Shame List, schools had to have applied for a Title IX waiver and/or demonstrated a past history and track record of anti-LGBTQ behavior.

Windmeyer said his organization created and published the list for students and their families have a right to know what to expect from these schools, “and so do the corporations who do business with these campuses — from those who hire and recruit, to vendors who contract food service, sell books and make donations and in any other way provide goods or services to a college or university.”

The Shame List published this week includes the findings of those six months of work, and it will be updated annually.


The Rev. Todd Scoggins leaves CoH

Posted on 29 Aug 2016 at 3:31pm

The Rev. Todd Scoggins, right, with the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas on the pulpit at Cathedral of Hope.

The Rev. Todd Scoggins has announced he is leaving Cathedral of Hope after serving as associate pastor of the congregation since 2009.

Scoggins was instrumental in holding the congregation together after the church’s former senior pastor, the Rev. Jo Hudson, resigned suddenly in 2013. While going through a period of healing and a nationwide search for a new head pastor, Scoggins remained at Cathedral of Hope providing stability for the congregation while the Rev. Jim Mitulski served as interim senior pastor. After Mitulski left and before the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas arrived, Scoggins again offered the leadership the church needed.

A statement from the church read:

“On August 28, 2016, the Cathedral of Hope Church of Christ received the resignation of Reverend Todd Scoggins as Associate Pastor.  Todd has faithfully served our church for the past 7 years and we are extremely grateful for his service.

“In his resignation to the church Reverend Todd said this:

“‘Throughout scripture, the number 7 has great significance and it is often followed by a time of rest and restoration. I began to notice a feeling of imbalance in my life at the beginning of this year, but I allowed myself to be ‘too busy’ to give it much attention.’ He continued, ‘I want you to know my departure has nothing to do with Neil, the staff or the Board of Stewards…they have gone above and beyond in supporting me as I have wrestled with this reality that God is doing a new thing in me.’

“There will be a farewell reception to honor Todd scheduled for Friday, September 9, 2016 from 5:00 -8:00 pm at the Interfaith Peace Chapel located on the campus of Cathedral of Hope.”


Young Professionals raise $10,000 for Youth First

Posted on 26 Aug 2016 at 1:13pm

The Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC) held their annual Back-To-School Fundraiser to benefit Resource Center’s Youth First program Thursday, Aug. 25, at Conduit Gallery.

The $10,000 raised surpassing last year’s total of $7,000.

YPAC is a giving circle for young professionals 45 and under who are passionate about supporting the emotional needs, life skills and educational advancement of Dallas area LGBTQ youth. All funds raised by YPAC benefit Youth First programming at the Center.  Contact Dean Wilson for membership and additional information.



Rob Morrow out as Travis County GOP chair

Posted on 25 Aug 2016 at 5:49pm

Rob MorrowRob Morrow unseated the incumbent Travis County Republican chair in the election held during the primary in March. Today, the state party ousted him from his seat.

Morrow has been controversial throughout his tenure, but the party wasn’t able to get rid of him because he was elected legally.

This week, Morrow filed to be a write-in candidate for president of the United States. A party chair can’t be a candidate for another office.

Morrow has also been outspoken in his criticism of Donald Trump and protested outside the Trump rally in Austin this week with a sign that read, “Trump is a child rapist.” On his Twitter account, he links to a lawsuit from a woman who claims Trump raped her.

Aside from hating his own party’s nominee, the party has been critical of his constant posting of scantily clad women on his social media pages.

Here’s the hypocritical statement from the Republican Party:

In accordance with state law, upon filing as a write-in candidate for President of the United States on August 19th, 2016, Robert Morrow became ineligible to hold the office of Travis County Republican Chair. There is absolutely no place for rhetoric as distasteful as Mr. Morrow’s in the Republican Party of Texas. We are excited to move forward with the Travis County GOP and the new incoming Chair as soon as an election is held to fill the position.

Interesting they criticize Morrow’s rhetoric as distasteful, when Trump has been spewing racist, mysogynistic and anti-Muslim crap.


South Dallas Fair Park Trust Fund Board honors local nonprofits

Posted on 25 Aug 2016 at 12:20pm

Abounding Prosperity CEO Kirk Myers

The South Dallas Fair Park Trust Fund has announced its 2015-16 grant recipients totaling $378,275.15 in awarded funds to support 19 local nonprofits programs working to improve the South Dallas/Fair Park area. The Trust Fund will host its annual award dinner to honor the recipients for its most recent grant cycle from 6-8 p.m. today (Aug. 25) at the Texas Discovery Gardens, 3601 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.

Among the recipients is Abounding Prosperity, the only HIV/AIDS organization based in South Dallas.

In addition to Abounding Prosperity, others receiving awards are:

• ACT for Justice
• African American Museum
• Alley’s House
• Business Assistance Center
• Circle of Support
• Dallas Black Dance Theatre
• Edge Education Group
• Educational First Step
• Jubilee Park
• National Kidney Foundation
• North Texas Capacity Builder
• On the Road Lending
• Skill Quest
• St. Phillips
• Transformance, Inc.
• Victory Baptist Church
• Zan Holmes Community Outreach
• Zip Code Connection


BREAKING: Police recovering body that washed down Turtle Creek in July

Posted on 24 Aug 2016 at 4:42pm

PoliceDallas police are recovering the body of an SMU police officer that was swept away during a flash flood on Turtle Creek on July 5.

SMU officer Mark McCullers disappeared after he called for help. He had been working as a guard at a property being renovated on the corner of Wycliff Avenue and Turtle Creek Boulevard.

This afternoon, an SMU officer called for assistance when he said he saw a body in uniform along the bank of the Trinity. Dallas police are on the levee at Oak Lawn Avenue at Levee Street near where the body was found.


Al McAffrey wins Democratic slot in OKC

Posted on 24 Aug 2016 at 4:41pm

McAffrey.AlFormer Oklahoma state Sen. Al McAffrey won his runoff for the Democratic nomination for U.S. representative for Oklahoma District 5.

Out of 16,010 votes cast, McAffrey won in a 40 vote landslide, or one-quarter percent of the vote. He actually received fewer votes on election day, but won with about 100 more votes from absentee ballots.

McAffrey was the first openly gay member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and later of the Oklahoma Senate. The district includes the southern part of Oklahoma City and parts of Pottawatomie and Seminole counties.

In November, he’ll face one-term incumbent Republican Steve Russell.


Straight people blog: Don’t have sex on your roof

Posted on 24 Aug 2016 at 11:42am

Ricky Brimer (mug shot courtesy Angelina County)

Rickie Brimer was arrested in Lufkin when a police officer saw a naked man standing in the street in his rearview mirror. The man had fallen off his roof while having sex with a woman.

Brimer admitted drugs were involved.

The lesson here is acting like straight people can be dangerous.