AUSTIN, TX - Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has never shied away from criticizing city and local governments, but on Friday during an appearance on the Fox Business Network he took his criticism to an entirely new level by blaming them for all of America's problems.
"Our cities are still controlled by Democrats and where do we have all our problems in America? Not at the state level run by Republicans, but in our cities that are mostly controlled by Democrat mayors and Democrat city council men and women," said Patrick. "That's where you see liberal policies. That's where you see high taxes. That's where you see street crime."
In response to Patrick's comments on Friday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler tweeted, "If it's wrong to have lower jobless and crime rates than Texas as a whole, I don't want to be right. Certainly not that far right."
If it's wrong to have lower jobless and crime rates than Texas as a whole, I don't want to be right.
Certainly not that far right. https://t.co/ozEet2bdm4
— Mayor Adler (@MayorAdler) August 4, 2017
Patrick's comments come as the Texas Legislature holds a special session to debate, among other things, a number of bills aimed at taking power away from local governments on a number of issues like land use regulations, county budgets, and the approval of construction projects. Even some drafts of the controversial bill to require transgender Texans to use the bathroom that matches their birth sex have included provisions to prevent cities from enacting non-discrimination ordinances.
Texas mayors have already spoken out against the priorities for the special session put forth by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. 17 of them, including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Galveston Mayor James Yarbrough, and Sugar Land Mayor Joe Zimmerman sent the Governor a letter to request a meeting with him to discuss how the Governor's priorities would, "directly impede the ability of Texas cities to provide vital services that reflect the priorities of local residents."
Governor Abbot did meet with several mayors after receiving the letter, but he has yet to meet with the governors of Texas' five largest cities, including Houston. Following a city council meeting last week, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner expanded on the issue. "I think the governor has extended invitations to roughly 10 of the 18 mayors.," said Turner. "Interestingly, the mayors who represent the largest five cities in the state have not received an invite. I'm sure that's just because of a lack of space."
Mayor Turner also touched on the work being done to undercut local governments by legislators under the Capitol dome in Austin. "We find that the state government is really reaching down and telling local governments what they can and cannot do, and pretty much trying to treat all cities as if we are the same," said Turner.
You cannot legislate from Austin as if all cities are the same. Local control is very important. #txlege
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) August 2, 2017
The irony of this whole thing is that Patrick and other Republicans are against big government when it comes to laws handed down to them by the Federal government, but when it comes to the autonomy of cities in Texas, it appears that they're all for it.