Kitchen Fire Closes Texas Roadhouse In Danvers

DANVERS, MA — A kitchen fire forced the Texas Roadhouse on Newbury Street to close for a second day on Tuesday.

The fire occurred Monday morning while the restaurant was closed. The Texas Roadhouse remained closed as of early Tuesday afternoon.

Danvers Fire Captain Jim Brooks told Patch that while the department is still investigating the cause of the fire it appears to have started in one of the fryolators.

“There was a substantial amount of damage to the fryolater and the hood system,” Brooks said. “They are trying their best to get it back up and running.”

Brooks said Danvers fire responded to the fire about 4 a.m.

“Thank you for all your concern!” the restaurant posted on its Facebook page. “The small fire was not extensive. We are so thankful no one was injured or present. We are working hard to make sure we are up and running safely as soon as possible.

“We will keep you posted!”

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Meyer says he’s centrist, Cattanach says he’s out of touch in Texas House rematch for key Dallas seat

One in a series about elections for the Texas House of Representatives.

State Rep. Morgan Meyer says the district he represents is centrist.

Because of that, the Republican lawmaker said he’s focused his five years in Austin on middle-of-the-road issues where he can work across the aisle with Democrats.

“We are not far to the left, we are not far to the right,” he said. “We are right in the middle.”

But his Democratic opponent Joanna Cattanach says that old line won’t work. House District 108 — which spans the Park Cities, Uptown, parts of downtown and Old East Dallas — has moved politically to the left and Meyer is “out of touch” with its needs on issues like access to abortion and preventing gun violence.

After coming within 220 votes of ousting Meyer two years ago, Cattanach said she’s back to finish the job in November.

“The issues that I fought for in 2018, did not change,” she said. “The district has become, frankly, even more socially liberal on many of these issues and they do want change.”

The political rematch is one of the most closely watched races in the November elections, partially because the district is one of the Democrats’ top targets this year.

The outcome could also have deeper implications for the battle for the Texas House, as Democrats try to take the chamber for the first time since 2001. Such a victory could dramatically alter the political landscape in Texas.

What’s the right fit for the district?

Meyer, a 46-year-old attorney, said the district’s politics remain the same as when he was elected. If voters need proof, just look at the last election.

In 2018, the district voted against Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Pete Sessions by more than 10 percentage points in their Senate and congressional races. Don Huffines, the Republican state senator that covered his district, was swept out of office.

But the district stuck with Meyer. Meyer said that’s because he’s worked well with other lawmakers to pass bipartisan legislation like protecting special needs students in schools and criminalizing the unsolicited electronic sending of lewd pictures.

“I have the experience to do it and have shown over my entire career, the ability to work across the aisle with Democrats and Republicans to tackle the most serious issues of this state,” he said.

As a member of the public education committee last session, he said, he played a key role in the state’s marquee school finance bill, which increased school funding by $4.5 billion and put an additional $2 billion towards teacher pay raises.

“Those are the results my constituents want to see,” he said.

But Cattanach, a 39-year-old journalism professor and former reporter for The Dallas Morning News, said the voters she talks to are concerned about Meyer’s record on guns, access to abortion and other social issues.

In 2015, Meyer supported the “campus carry” bill which would allow people with a handgun license to conceal carry a weapon in most

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Editorial: We recommend Valoree Swanson for Texas House District 150

It still boggles the mind that Rep. Valoree Swanson won her seat in Texas House District 150 in 2016 by running to the right of its long-time occupant, fellow Republican Debbie Riddle, who had burnished her conservative credentials by warning about “terror babies” on national TV and argued free education was straight from the “pit of hell.”

Swanson, a longtime political activist and darling of the unscrupulous right-wing lobby group Empower Texas, didn’t pass a single bill her first session despite a long list filed, including efforts to outlaw abortion, which has been legal since 1973, shorten the early voting period, require fetal death certificates after abortions, make English the official language of Texas and our personal favorite: tax people who buy newspapers.

Her second session was better, though. She authored some bills seemingly outside Empower founder Michael Quinn Sullivan’s bucket list. They included legislation on disaster preparation, school safety and one that seems far-fetched but has become law in well over a dozen other states: declaring pornography a public health hazard, which even drew Democratic support. More than a dozen bills she sponsored and co-sponsored became law.

Swanson, 63, also worked across the aisle to help fend off right-wing opposition to a bill that helped the City of Houston expand affordable housing in multifamily units within city limits.

Swanson didn’t meet with the editorial board. We’re hopeful about signs that she may be maturing and branching out as a lawmaker. Still, her extreme views fueled by her activist focus hamper her effectiveness in the House as a whole. And in June she made headlines for pushing back on Gov. Greg Abbott’s COVID-19 contact tracing program, arguing in part “the threat was wildly exaggerated.”

So, we were eager to hear from her challenger.

Michael Robert Walsh is earnest, informed and his priorities would resonate with many Texans, such as abolishing Confederate Heroes Day, adequately funding schools, legalizing marijuana and boosting the minimum wage to $10 an hour.

Unfortunately, Walsh has no experience in public office, he is 22, a student at Sam Houston State University and has raised $724, according to an Oct. 5 campaign finance report, while Swanson reported $8,960. The fact that Swanson bested a more experienced Democrat in 2018 with 58 percent of the vote tells us Swanson’s views are likely more in step with the Spring-area district than Walsh’s.

A Libertarian candidate Jesse Herrera didn’t meet with us. His website does not articulate a clear vision for the office.

We hope to hear more from Walsh in the future, but for now we recommend voters stick with Swanson.

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House Democrats file legal brief opposing Texas’ limits on absentee ballots

The Democratic chairs of two key House committees on Monday filed a legal brief opposing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order limiting counties to only one drop-off location for absentee ballots.

Reps. Jerrold Nadler of New York, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, and Zoe Lofgren of California, who chairs the Committee on House Administration, said the Republican governor’s plan restricts Texas residents’ ability to vote in the upcoming election.

“Governor Abbott’s unreasonable order to limit ballot drop off locations to one per-county will disproportionally suppress voting options and access to the ballot for millions of Texans,” Ms. Lofgren said in a statement. “This last-minute mandate in the midst of a deadly pandemic is not only ill-considered, but it poses a danger to the health and well-being of Americans seeking to safely exercise their right to vote.”

Earlier this month, Mr. Abbott issued an executive order limiting mail ballot drop-off locations to one per county. Several civil rights and voting rights groups hit back with a lawsuit opposing the plan.

A federal judge had ruled against Mr. Abbott’s plan, but a temporary order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit halted that decision.

In its order, the federal appeals court said the lower court’s injunction usurped the state’s power to govern itself. That ruling is currently being appealed.

The federal appeals court’s ruling sets up a last-minute legal battle over absentee voting in Texas as early voting is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

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Editorial: We recommend Penny Morales Shaw for Texas House District 148

Texans often struggle to name their representatives, but House District 148 voters have an excuse. Counting primaries and runoffs, this is their fifth election in a year to replace longtime state Rep. Jessica Farrar.

Penny Morales Shaw finally emerged from a crowded field of Democrats after Farrar endorsed her over Anna Eastman, who was elected briefly in January in a special election runoff to finish out Farrar’s term.

Republican Luis LaRotta ran unopposed in the primary.

One thing voters can be clear about is whoever wins has worked long and hard to represent them.

We believe Morales Shaw’s work as a private practice attorney, life experience, deep ties to the area and history of advocacy make her the best fit for this diverse north and northwest Houston district that could sure use a champion in Austin.

The kind of multi-tasking involved in legislative service, from responding to constituent needs to shepherding legislation through the process, is something Shaw came by honestly, and tragically.

She went to law school intending to go into international human rights law and public policy. But her husband died the year she took the bar exam in 2000, leaving her a single mom raising four kids. She built a bread-and-butter practice that allowed her to balance career and family.

She says she still made time for advocacy, volunteering in the NAACP’s free legal clinics and working with the international not-for-profit organization CARE to improve maternal health, access to microloans and necessities such as clean water in countries across South America and Africa. She also advocated for the International Violence Against Women Act.

“People can say anything about what they will do and what they care about,” says Morales Shaw, “but I think it’s important to see what someone’s life story is, what they’ve endured, what their fortitude is and what their work has been.”

Refreshingly, both candidates seem less bound by partisan identities and willing to work across the aisle.

“We’re so far cornered in our tribe,” says LaRotta, a 40-year-old Navy veteran and real estate investor. “We’re afraid to evaluate our positions and challenge our biases.”

But LaRotta isn’t. He says he began opposing the death penalty after looking at evidence showing a likelihood that Texas has executed innocent people. He favors police accountability, decriminalizing cannabis but also repealing the franchise tax.

We admire his independence, but some stances, such as opposing Medicaid expansion, are at odds with the needs of the district. Voters should send Morales Shaw to Austin.

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Editorial: We recommend Hubert Vo in Texas House District 149

Ever since a politically unknown Vietnamese American businessman snatched Texas House District 149 from a powerful Republican budget chief in 2004, the GOP has been trying to win it back.

The soft-spoken Hubert Vo, 64, has managed to hold on to his diverse district in southwest Houston that includes Alief and Katy by focusing on local issues affecting education and small business rather than headline-grabbing social battles.

“I’m not a guy at the front mic all the time,” he told the editorial board. “I want to do some research and carry bills that make sense for the constituents and for the district.”

Yet, this time, Vo’s stance on a particularly contentious social issue is one thing that drew his Republican opposition.

Lily Truong, an education consultant in her second term on the school board, said she’s disappointed with Vo’s support of Black Lives Matter, which she associates with Marxism.

“Every single life matters to me,” Truong told the editorial board, noting discrimination she has faced as an Asian American.

Truong and Vo have similar stories of fleeing Vietnam in 1975 and struggling through poverty in the U.S. Truong has a doctorate of philosophy in natural medicine. Vo’s business acumen made him a millionaire by age 40.

Yet Vo says his own experience with discrimination helps him identify with the BLM movement.

“I think it’s important for me to support other communities who face the same thing,” he said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with Marxism … this is purely an anti-discrimination movement.”

Truong’s issues beyond education seem limited to ending abortion and warding off socialism — the latter not exactly a pressing threat in Texas. Her drive is commendable, including her get-up-and-go mentality after she was bitten by a dog while block walking.

Vo could use some of that energy. He is vice chair of Pensions, Investments & Financial Services but he lacks a standout accomplishment.

Still, the Democrat is a loyal vote for strong public schools and Medicaid expansion. He touts local wins, such as the creation of the International Management District, which Vo says beautified the area and reduced crime.

Vo has toiled behind the scenes to ensure quality health insurance plans, warn potential buyers about flooded vehicles and advance a bill last session, which stands a good chance in the coming session, to allow legal permanent residents to serve as police officers.

We recommend voters stick with Vo for another term.

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Editorial: We recommend Shawn Thierry in Texas House District 146

Two years ago, we recommended voters give state Rep. Shawn Thierry a second term representing House District 146 based on a strong freshman performance. They did so, overwhelmingly, and she delivered.

This year, having won her Democratic primary with 67 percent of the vote and again with no Republican opponent in the race, it’s an easy call to recommend voters retain her for a third term.

Thierry, 51, has been an engaged and effective voice for her constituents, roughly three-fourths of whom are Black or Hispanic.

A good example came in April, when she became alarmed at the way Black Texans and other people of color were dying at rates hugely disproportionate to their population numbers. She announced in a press conference she was writing a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott urging him to appoint a task force charged with explaining the disparate impacts of the deadly virus. By the time she sent the letter, 49 lawmakers had signed on.

A lawyer for more than 20 years before winning her first term in 2016, Thierry also was the primary author of HB 1771 during the last session, which would have prohibited the prosecution of minors for the crime of prostitution, treating them as the victims they are rather than suspected criminals. The bill passed both chambers only to be vetoed by Abbott. It was good legislation and we commend Thierry for the bill and for the leadership she showed in shepherding it through both Republican-controlled chambers.

No lawmaker should be handed another term in the Legislature unopposed, and for that reason we lament that the Republicans fielded no candidate in this race. We’re grateful that Libertarian J. J. Campbell is on the ballot. We strongly recommended voters, however, choose Thierry for another term.

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Texas Dems highlight health care in fight to flip state House

Texas Democrats are making health care the heart of their final pitch as they look to flip the state House, which Republicans have held since 2002.

In a “contract with Texas” that Democrats are rolling out Thursday and which was shared first with The Hill, the party is touting policies it would try to enact should it flip the net nine seats it needs to gain control of the chamber. The central pillar of the plan is expanding Medicaid in Texas, which has the highest number and rate of uninsured people in the nation, as well as boosting coverage for children and making care for women more equal. 

The party is betting that voters in the state who normally rank health care as a top issue will be even more receptive to messages around expanding coverage in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit the Lone Star State particularly hard. And after Democrats across the country won in a “blue wave” in 2018 fueled by promises to improve coverage, Texas Democrats are confident their strategy will work. 

“I think we have seen for a while now, before the pandemic, before any of us heard of coronavirus, that health care was a top-ranked issue, really across the country. Certainly in the 2018 elections, health care was a key issue that year,” said state Rep. Chris Turner, chair of the Texas House Democratic caucus. “But this year, with this pandemic, with the health care crisis that is affecting everyone, it’s just through the roof right now. People expect policymakers to address health care access.” 

The heart of the Democrats’ “Affordable Health Care for Every Texan” plan is providing coverage for 2.2 million more residents by expanding Medicaid, which the party says would also lower premiums and prescription drug prices for all Texans. Estimates from the party gauge that Texas would receive $110 billion in federal money over a decade if Medicaid is expanded. 

The plan also calls for expanding coverage for children by extending children’s Medicaid “through 12 months of continuous eligibility to align with [the Children’s Health Insurance Program].”

Lastly, Democrats look to bolster women’s health care by ensuring access to abortion — including by ensuring clinics that offer the procedure receive proper funding — and reducing maternal mortality rates, including bringing down the disproportionate rate at which Black mothers die during childbirth.

The party is also eyeing other health care-related legislation, including bills to strengthen protections for people with preexisting conditions if ObamaCare is repealed and ending surprise medical billing.

Texas Democrats have long lamented Republicans’ policies on health care in the state, including their refusal to expand Medicaid and work to curb abortion access, but indicate those efforts would face reenergized resistance if they win back the state House.

“Without the gavel, we haven’t been able to dictate the tone and tenor of what happens on the floor, so this time around we will be able to keep divisive and hurtful legislation off the floor and we’ll

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Mushroom-shaped house lists for $2.2 million in Texas

Depending on who you ask, the house looks like a giant mushroom or a landed UFO.

The owners prefer “the sand dollar house,” noting the resemblance from above. They’ve listed the distinctive home overlooking the Colorado River just upstream from Lake Travis outside Austin, Texas, for $2.2 million.

This distinctive house outside Austin, Texas is on the market asking $2.2 million. (JP Morales of JPM Real Estate Photography)

This distinctive house outside Austin, Texas is on the market asking $2.2 million. (JP Morales of JPM Real Estate Photography)

The iconic Lakeway, Texas, property dates to 1979 and was designed for the artist Eugenia Hunt by John Covert Watson, who studied architecture under Frank Lloyd Wright during the construction of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

The seller, Liz Bradford, told Austin 360 this summer that she first saw the property from a boat on the lake.

This distinctive house outside Austin, Texas is on the market asking $2.2 million. (JP Morales of JPM Real Estate Photography)

This distinctive house outside Austin, Texas is on the market asking $2.2 million. (JP Morales of JPM Real Estate Photography)


“I saw this amazing house on the lake and thought, ‘What in the world was that?” she told the news outlet.

The 2,240-square-foot home includes three bedrooms, two bathrooms and one half-bath, according to the listing.

This distinctive house outside Austin, Texas, is on the market asking $2.2 million. (JP Morales of JPM Real Estate Photography)

This distinctive house outside Austin, Texas, is on the market asking $2.2 million. (JP Morales of JPM Real Estate Photography)


The interior is just as distinctive as the exterior. The home features sleek white curved walls made of steel and gunite, a material typically used for swimming pools. There are tear-shaped skylights, helping to give the home its sand dollar-like appearance.

The living room has a floating wood bench off a curved wall and a kiva-like fireplace. The round kitchen is suspended over a deck.

This distinctive house outside Austin, Texas is on the market asking $2.2 million. (JP Morales of JPM Real Estate Photography)

This distinctive house outside Austin, Texas is on the market asking $2.2 million. (JP Morales of JPM Real Estate Photography)


All the rooms offer views of the lake. Sliding glass doors open to balconies, patios and stairs down to the water. The bedrooms sit on the lower level and also open to porches.

Michelle Jones of Compass holds the listing.

This distinctive house outside Austin, Texas, is on the market asking $2.2 million. (Compass)

This distinctive house outside Austin, Texas, is on the market asking $2.2 million. (Compass)


Bradford, the seller, told Austin 360 that she found the house was even more impressive than she expected when she first saw it from the lake.

“Every day, I walk up the spiral staircase … It still takes my breath away,” she told the website. “When visitors come to the front door, they have this same look.”

This distinctive house outside Austin, Texas is on the market asking $2.2 million. (Compass)

This distinctive house outside Austin, Texas is on the market asking $2.2 million. (Compass)

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Open House seat pits ‘new’ Texas against ‘old’

House Democrats think their Texas turnaround begins in places such as the 22nd Congressional District, which takes in a series of leafy Houston suburbs.

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Republican Rep. Pete Olson is retiring from the House after 12 years. The race to succeed him reflects changing demographics and voter attitudes in Texas that give Democrats hopes of breaking the longtime GOP political hammerlock on the Lone Star State.


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The Democratic nominee, Sri Preston Kulkarni, represents the sort of professional-class resident increasingly common in the 22nd Congressional District, which was once a bastion of oil wealth. Kulkarni earned a master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and was a foreign service officer in the State Department for 14 years. Assignments took Kulkarni, 41, to Israel, Jamaica, Iraq, Russia, and Taiwan.

His Republican rival, Troy Nehls, has a more traditional background for a Texas politician. The Liberty University graduate, 52, is sheriff of Fort Bend County. Nehls enlisted in the Army Reserve at age 20, seeing tours of duty in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Iraq — and earning two Bronze Stars along the way. Back home, Nehls joined the police department in Richmond, Texas, and earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Houston-Downtown.

The district is ancestrally Republican, previously represented by libertarian icon Ron Paul, as well as Tom DeLay, who led House Republicans with an iron fist in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 2012, voters there backed Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama 62%-37%. But in 2016, President Trump beat Hillary Clinton by a narrower margin, 52%-44%.

This is Kulkarni’s second try for the seat. He ran against Olson in 2018 and lost with 46.5% of the vote in the district’s closest race since Olson was first elected.

Tags: News, Campaign 2020, Texas, Campaigns, Congress, Democratic Party

Original Author: David Mark

Original Location: Open House seat pits ‘new’ Texas against ‘old’

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