City News Roundup

COVID-19 is starting to creep back and more Dallas news of the week

COVID-19 is starting to creep back and more Dallas news of the week

surgical masks
They're baaack, maybe. Courtesy photo

This roundup of Dallas news hits big topics including Texas' voting bill, Texas' attorney general, a corrupt ex Dallas City Council member, and the tentative beginnings of a possible COVID-19 comeback.

Here's what happened around Dallas and Texas this week:

AG race
A prominent Dallas lawyer is running for Texas Attorney General: Dallas civil rights attorney Lee Merritt will run against Republican incumbent Ken Paxton, who has been charged with securities fraud and is being investigated by the FBI for bribery and abuse of office. Merritt, who represented the family of Botham Jean, will run as a Democrat. Others already running include former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski, a Democrat; and two Republicans: Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.

Voting bill
On July 12, more than 50 Democratic Representatives of the Texas House went to Washington, DC to try and foil a special session in Austin called by Gov. Greg Abbott, who's been trying to enact restrictions on voting in Texas including a ban on drive-through voting, limits on 24-hour voting, and preventing absentee voting applications from being sent out to voters who can't vote my mail.

The Texas Senate went ahead and passed  Senate Bill 1 on July 13, but the bill will languish unless the Democrats return to Texas before the end of the 30-day special session.

Abbott has threatened to have the Democrats arrested, and House Republicans authorized state troopers to chase the missing legislators down. However, they wouldn't have authority outside of Texas.

The Democrats hoped their presence in DC would pressure President Joe Biden and members of Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation. That included meeting with Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, who unfortunately is opposed to eliminating the filibuster that would allow Democrats to pass the legislation with a simple majority.

With the Texas Democrats stuck in DC, former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke has used his Powered by People organization to raise more than $500,000 for their expenses. Donations can be made here, or to Democrats' individual campaigns; Texas Tribune has a list of all the Democrats who walked out. Meanwhile, faith leaders and activists from Texas are congregating at the Capitol for a prayer service/protest against what Abbott is doing.

Dwaine again
In exchange for testifying against a Dallas developer, former Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway got five months off his 56-month prison sentence. In June, Caraway testified against Ruel Hamilton, a developer, and helped get him convicted of bribery.

Caraway has been in prison since 2019 after pleading guilty to taking $450,000 in bribes from promoters of a school bus stop-arm camera system.

Prosecutors wanted to give Caraway 10 months off his sentence but Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn questioned Caraway's credibility. According to WFAA, Caraway repeatedly lied while testifying about knowing what the bribes he took were for, downplayed his involvement, and refused to directly answer questions. Judge Lynn had to intervene to keep him on track.

COVID-19 rise
COVID-19 cases continue to rise in North Texas and in most states across the country, and in response, a nurses' union has sent a letter to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, asking her to recommend everyone wear masks again, whether they are vaccinated or not.

UT Southwestern Medical Center said that COVID-19 hospitalizations in Dallas County have increased by 40 percent over the past two weeks, and hospitalizations have doubled since June 1. They're pointing to the Delta variant, which is more contagious. More than a third of the COVID-19 hospitalizations are in Tarrant County, and nearly all patients are unvaccinated.