Texas Matters: Criminalizing Homelessness; Post Harvey Cry For Help; & A Digital Dragnet

Nov 17, 2017

This week on Texas Matters:

  • How a city's effort to criminalize homelessness can perpetuate the problem for people living on the streets (0:30).
  • The mayor of Port Aransas testifies about how Hurricane Harvey left his city is in ruins and how they need help (6:48).
  •  The Texas National Guard is scooping up cell phone calls and data without warrants or oversight (14:55).
  • Guest commentator Yvette Benavides talks about the problem of sexual harassment in plain sight (23:04).


 Are Texas Cities Criminalizing Harmlessness?

Cities in Texas and across the country have laws in place that penalize sleeping, loitering and begging in public. City officials say these laws are necessary for public health and safety while others say these laws actually keep the homeless on the streets. KERA'S Stephanie Kuo reports from Dallas.

After Hurricane Harvey The Texas Coastal Bend Remains In Dire Need 

Credit National Weather Service

It was about 85 days ago that Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast. The Category 4 storm ravaged the coastal bend, leaving homes, businesses and public facilities in ruin. Today, many people remain homeless, living in tents, cars and in hotel rooms.

Last week – on Nov. 8 – the Texas House appropriations subcommittee on disaster impact and recovery held a hearing in Corpus Christi. It heard from a number of local mayors and county officials about their needs, including the testimony of Port Aransas Mayor Charles Bujan. 

"We are a resilient people. We live by the sea. We understand the ramifications of the power of that sea. We have suffered many storms but nothing like Hurricane Harvey. This storm has dealt us a deadly blow" — Charles Bujan, Mayor of Port Aransas

The Texas National Guard's Digital Dragnet

Texas National Guard during training exercise
Credit Texas Public Radio

The Texas National Guard has purchased new technology that gives them the ability to listen to cell phone conversations and read all text messages being sent in a given area. An investigation by the Texas Observer found the Texas National Guard using the snooping gear in without warrants or oversight. Melissa Del Bosque, a reporter for the Texas Observer, has the report.

Commentary: Sexual Harassment in Plain Sight

Credit PUBLIC DOMAIN / PIXABAY

It seems like every day there is a new accusation about sexual harassment by someone in a position of power. But not everyone who commits these acts is a Hollywood mogul or household name. As Texas Public Radio contributor Yvette Benavides tells us in this commentary: it happens every day in plain sight.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org or on Twitter @DavidMartinDavi