Monday, April 27, 2015

April Currently Reading....

For me:
  
  • The Moral Underground:  How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy by Lisa Dodson
  • The Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez


To My Kid:

  •  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

What are you reading this month?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Prioritizing Citizenship

I am having a very busy weekend.  I had Girl Scouts on Friday night, a work thing on Saturday morning, more Girl Scouts on Saturday afternoon and I have way too many term papers that still need grading. I still need to do the grocery shopping, I wish I was out playing with the tadpoles with my daughter, and the house is just going to have to stay dirty.

That said, I took an hour (it is kind of a laborious process) to email every member of the Calendars Committee of the Texas House to explain why they needed to keep HB 1865 from getting set for a vote on the Floor.

If it's important enough, Mamas, we have to find the time.  Please find it.

Action Alert: Kill HB 1865 in Calendars

More action is needed on HB 1865, Texas Mamas. This bill would make it almost impossible for regular citizens to contest illegal permits when corporate polluters want to push them through and hurt our children through their greed and negligence.  The bill has passed out of the so-called Environmental Regulation Committee and is currently in the House Calendars Committee chaired by State Representative Todd Hunter from Corpus Christi.  Please call or email every member of the Calendars Committee and ask them to make sure that HB 1865 never sees a vote on the House Floor.

Hurry, Mamas!


Chair:Rep. Todd Hunter
Vice Chair:Rep. Eddie Lucio III
Members:Rep. Roberto R. Alonzo

Rep. Byron Cook

Rep. Sarah Davis

Rep. Charlie Geren

Rep. Helen Giddings

Rep. Patricia Harless

Rep. Dan Huberty

Rep. Eric Johnson

Rep. Ken King

Rep. Lyle Larson

Rep. Four Price

Rep. Debbie Riddle

Rep. Eddie Rodriguez

Working On My West Nile

Things have gotten awfully tropical around here lately. Even though we are still under drought conditions because apparently the lake where are water comes from is the one place where it barely rains at all, everywhere else is flooding regularly.  I have been very lucky about the commute to and from work, but I am often concerned about it.  The agricultural fields along the highways are like bays full of little waves.  It hasn't dried out enough to mow (with an electric mower) in ages and our yard is getting jungle-y.  The mosquitoes are a scourge.  Even I am happy when I hear the mosquito trucks are coming, although I am generally much opposed to such things.  All the changes in weather patterns all over the place are so disturbing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club: Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, today's installment of the Subversive Children's Book Club deals with books that have environmental, nature and vegetarian themes.  Save the earth, y'all, and enjoy!

Primary & Lower Elementary:

  • I Love Animals by Flora McDonnell
  • Madeline and The Bad Hat by Ludwig Bemelmans
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • How Droofus The Dragon Lost His Head by Bill Peet
  • Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey
  • A Prayer For The Earth: The Story of Naamah, Noah’s Wife by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
  • The Big Big Sea by Martin Waddell
  • Three Days on A River In A Red Canoe by Vera B. Williams
  • Pond Year by Kathryn Lasky
  • Wangari's Trees of Peace:  A True Story of Africa by Jeannette Winter
  • Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed The World by Laurie Lawlor
  • City Green by Dyanne DiSalvo-Ryan
  • The Earth Book by Todd Parr

 Upper Elementary and Teens:

  • Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
  • Exodus, Zenith and Aurora by Julie Bertagna
  • Flush by Carl Hiaasen
  • Girlwood by Claire Dean
  • Scat by Carl Hiaasen
  • Crash by Jerry Spinelli
  • Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
  • The Wheel on The School by Meindert DeJong
  • Owl In The Shower by Jean Craighead George
  • Skink - No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen
  • The Carbon Diaries 2015 & The Carbon Diaries 2017 by Saci Lloyd
  •  Standing Up For Mr. O by Claudia Mills
  • The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
  • Orleans by Sherri L. Smith
  •  The Highest Frontier by Joan Slonczewski

Monday, April 20, 2015

Action Alert: Stop HB 1865 So Texans Can Have A Voice - Not Just Polluters

It was about seven or eight years ago when I first started to hear about Las Brisas from an oceanographer I know.  I am a busy working mom and had not been keeping up with the local news as much as I should have been.  I went to a meeting of concerned citizens and discovered that a big corporation was planning to build a petroleum coke plant right by our port, about two miles from my house, in the center of our highly populated city (the 8th largest in Texas).

No petroleum coke plant has ever been permitted in a population center.

For a reason. 

The pollution produced by burning petroleum coke is a public health disaster of amazing scale, respiratory to gestational to cardiac to cancer complications - all there in plenty.

There is technology called gasification that would reduce the pollution to levels in a petroleum coke plant that, while still not exactly great considering that we already have a whole bunch of refineries in our community, would at least be more in line with the kind of pollution one finds near refineries across the nation.  Las Brisas did not want to use gasification, though.  They said it was unreasonably expensive.

I thought endangering the life of my asthmatic child and all the other people with respiratory conditions in our community would be unreasonable, but that was a price Las Brisas was just fine with having us pay so they would not have to pay for gasification.

All the biologists in our community raised the hue and cry.  The doctors did, too, issuing statements from their local medical societies and mobilizing to fight the plant.  We joined the fight.  My daughter's doctor, the leading immunologist in Texas, told us we would need to move if we lost.

We did not lose.

In Texas, when a polluter seeks a permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (whose commissioners do not include scientists or  physicians - just the governor's appointees), citizens are allowed to contest the permit before an administrative law judge and make the polluter prove that they are following the law with their permit.  Las Brisas was not following the law.  They did not get their permit.  It took time, though.  They did not get their permit mainly because their investors got tired of waiting for them to prove they were following the law - which they weren't - and pulled out. The TCEQ Commissioners had made it pretty clear already that they wanted to grant  Las Brisas' permit, even though the state's doctors and scientists - including their own staff - were strongly against it. The commissioners were much more interested in protecting the oil and gas lobby donations made to Republican campaigns than in protecting public health.  They rolled their eyes when the mothers talked, rolled their eyes when the physicians and scientists talked.

But they had to let us talk.  They had to let the system work.

 On Thursday, the Texas Senate passed SB 709 which basically says that the mothers and physicians and scientists do not get a voice anymore.  It says that rather than the big corporations having to prove that they are following the law, mothers like me, who do not have rich corporate investors or teams of high-powered lawyers to help us, have to prove they that are not following the law, and we have to do it in six months or the polluters get their permits whether they are breaking the law and sickening our children or not.

If this had been law during Las Brisas, they would have been permitted and we would have lost our home and our careers and our friends and support systems, uprooting our family and fleeing to save our daughter's life.  We are just teachers - not rich people - teachers who bought our home back when homes were cheaper and would never be able to afford another.  We love our home and are deeply rooted in our community - it would have destroyed us.  

And we are so much more fortunate than so many others who would never have been able to flee at all - who would have lost their children to this plant's illegal pollution.

The companion bill in the Texas House is HB 1865.  It will probably come to a vote this week.

Please, please look around you at all the people you know who are pregnant or babies or toddlers or elderly, who have asthma or BPD or other respiratory conditions or cardiac conditions.  Please do not sacrifice them to this bill.  Call your state representative today and insist that they vote no on HB 1865.

Please hurry, Mamas.
 


Sunday, April 19, 2015

First Day School: Integrity

Today, the Lone Star Baby and I went to Meeting and had First Day School.  Since we have finished up our "unit" on the Peace Testimony, we continued today with a lesson on the Integrity Testimony, using Dr. Suess stories (And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, The Big Brag, Gertrude McFuzz, Too Many Daves) and some Faith 'n' Play materials (George Fox's Big Discovery). We talked about Integrity in terms of being truthful and Integrity in terms of being who you are, always.  We talked about oaths and peer pressure.  This was probably the first of our lessons in which I could tell the Lone Star Baby realized she might occasionally want to resist this lesson.  It was interesting.

Gold Award Recognition

Saturday was the Annual meeting for our Girl Scout Council so I had gone down to pick up the Lone Star Girl before and bring her home for the ceremony, as they recognize the girls who received their Gold Awards since the last Annual Meeting at an awards banquet on the day of the Annual Meeting. The girls who got their Gold Awards, who attended, said a few words about what they learned from the experience and then stayed on the stage to congratulate the younger girls who had received their Silver Awards and Bronze Awards in the same year and to congratulate the top cookie sellers as well.  I think the Council tries to encourage the younger girls to look up to the older ones so they will stay involved.  It was very nice.









Courage, confidence and character!  We are, as ever, so proud of our Girl.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Action Alert: Stop Texas From Forcing Fracking Down Our Throats

Back in November, the city of Denton, Texas decided to pass a ban on fracking within the city.  The citizens were unhappy with the environmental effects of fracking in their community and decided, by majority vote, that they did not want to allow it in their city limits.  

Enter the oil and gas lobbies.

Republicans have traditionally spouted a litany of the importance of local control when trying to evade federal and state regulations of which they do not approve, but all of a sudden, the shoe is on the other foot.  The Republicans' cronies in the oil and gas lobbies are not so into local control on this one, so the Republicans aren't either because, you know, they need to get paid.

The Texas House has passed HB 40 which would prohibit cities from being able to pass/force fracking bills like the one Denton passed.  If the Senate version also passes, the State can just tell cities that it is too bad if they don't like it; companies are going to frack next to their school playgrounds and backyards anyway.

Please call your state senator first thing Monday morning, Mamas, and tell them to vote NO on S.B. 1165 and let cities decide for themselves whether they want to allow fracking in their communities.

Chuy, I'm going to be calling you....

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club: Libraries

Libraries, Mamas, are truly the last bastion of democracy.  They are a wonder of and for the people in a world otherwise so callously ruled by the one percent.  Librarians bravely guard our right to learning and knowledge, they fight for the heart of democracy daily there amongst the stacks.  In honor of National Library Week, this installment of Wednesdays with The Subversive Children's Book Club features books about libraries and librarians.  Enjoy!

  • Tomas and The Library Lady by Pat Mora
  • The Librarian of Basra:  A True Story from Iraq by Jeannette Winter
  • That Book Woman by Heather Henson
  • Hot City by Barbara Joosse.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Frozen Gold

It was a rainy Tuesday morning with power outages all over our region.  It reminded me of the panic that power outages used to instill in me when I had infants for whom I pumped breastmilk while I was at work.  The horror, the horror of the thought that I might lose the milk in the freezer.  I hope everyone's stash of liquid gold got through today still nicely frozen.  Keep up the good work, Mamas!

Equal Pay Day

Today, April 14th, is the day that women had to work until before they caught up with what men earned in 2014.  That is just not okay, Mamas!  End the gender wage gap! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Celebrate National Library Week!

Libraries are the last bastion of democracy, people!  They totally rock!  Go visit one this week!  Get your kid a library card!  Go to story-time!  Do it!!!!!