June 21, 2024 7:00am

The gov, the Donald and Elon

Power Poll participants weigh on a gubernatorial pardon, a Texas billionaire businessman and the Trump sentence

Photo of Ken Herman
Austin, TX Correspondent
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A majority, albeit a slim one, of Austin-area Power Poll respondents disagree with Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to pardon the man convicted of gunning down a Black Lives Matter participant who also wielded a firearm during a downtown protest.

The June poll of local business, political, governmental and civic leaders also showed that Elon Musk is not overly popular around town and that a majority of poll participants are predicting Donald Trump will be sentenced to probation in Juy for his 34 felony convictions in New York.

A majority also believe a convicted felon should not be allowed to serve as president.

Daniel Perry was convicted last year in the fatal shooting of Garrett Foster at a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Austin in July 2020. Perry was handed a 25-year prison sentence.

Abbott announced on the day of the verdict that he would pardon Perry. Perry and Foster both had guns at the protest and Perry claimed he acted in self-defense.

Fifty-one percent of Power Poll respondents said Abbott should not have issued the pardon. Another 30% agreed with the decision. And 19% said they felt they did not have sufficient information to have an informed opinion.

Abbott announced the pardon, which was recommended by the gubernatorial-appointed Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, on May 16 of this year.

“Texas has the strongest ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive district attorney,” Abbott said in granting the pardon and criticizing Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza, a Democrat who prosecuted Perry.

After the pardon was announced, Garza said at a news conference that he would challenge Abbott’s action. Garza claimed “The codified process to support a finding of innocencc was not followed by the governor.

“Not only did he circumvent the process for pardons, he exceeded his authority and violated the separation of powers doctrine," Garza said in announcing he would ask the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to review and overturn the pardon.

Abbott has defended his pardon decision, posting on X that Garza’s appeal will go nowhere.

“NOT GONNA HAPPEN,” Abbott posted. "The Texas Constitution provides: In all criminal cases, the governor shall have power, after conviction, on the written signed recommendation and advice of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, to grant pardons.”

Two Power Poll questions showed divided opinions about Musk, who, through his comments on various topics, has proven to be a controversial figure. Musk’s SpaceX company is based near Brownsville.

A 35% plurality of Power Poll participants said they have a negative view of Musk. Another 14% said they have a somewhat negative opinion of him. Twenty-five percent said their opinion of Musk is positive and 26% said it’s somewhat positive.

Recently, Tesla’s shareholders voted to move the company’s legal domicile from Delaware to Texas, a move hailed by Abbott. “Texas is the headquarters of headquarters,” the governor said in a statement welcoming the Tesla move. “Our great state has attracted nearly 300 corporate headquarters since 2015.”

Forty-eight percent of participants said their opinion of Musk now is better or somewhat better than it was when construction on the local Tesla plant began in July 2020. Forty-four percent said their opinion is worse or somewhat worse than it was back then.

Local author Sarah Bird said her misgivings about Musk involve his Starlink company that utilitizes a massive series of satellites ot provide internet connections around the world.

“It concerns me that Musk owns more than 50% of all satellites actively orbiting the planet,” Bird said. “Too much of our communications systems are in the hands of a deeply erratic individual.’
A 53% majority of Power Poll respondents predicted Trump will be sentenced to probation. Only 8% foresee prison time in Trump’s future on the New York convictions. Eleven percent believe it will be a home confinement sentence. Nine percent predicted a community service sentence.

A New York jury convicted Trump in May on 34 felony counts of falisfying business records in conjunction with a hush money payment to adult film performer Stormy Daniels. In New York,those charges are classified as Class E felonies punishable by fines, probation or up to four years in prison per count.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 11, four days prior to the start of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. Trump, who has undergone a presentecing interview by New York authorities, has appealed the convictions.

A solid 57% of participants said a convicted felon should not be allowed to serve as president. Only 14% said a felon should be allowed to serve in the Oval Office. Twenty-eight percent said it depends on the type of felony.

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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