Monday, May 30, 2005

Just Another...

Round of endorsements.

In the spirit of tomorrow being early voting I am officially announcing who we support here at Just Another Blog.

This should be no surprise to any of you, but Just Another Blog is throwing its support behind Julian Castro. Julian Castro is the only one who has worked on a budget like this, and he has done it 4 times now. The major job for a member of city council and the mayor is developing a budget and implementing it. I would like to have someone in office that has actually done this before.

It's not just the 1.5 billion dollar budget though. Julian Castro is also a candidate that pushes the envelope and does not just settle for the status quo. Julian Castro will take meetings with various groups such as environmentalist, unions, and local grassroots organizations. These same groups can honestly believe that Castro has not been purchased by developers and lobbyist groups, and that is political capital that is invaluable.

The most important reason I am voting for Castro is simple. Castro supporters tend to talk about the positives of Castro and Hardberger supporters tend to talk about why Castro is so bad. I am not saying that Hardberger or his supporters are bad, but this is an example of the way the Hardberger campaign has decided to message people. I believe that city government and local activist should be rallied around hope and encouragement, not fear and alienation. Castro is the man for the job and has the experience to prove it.

District 6: Express-News Article
Here comes a surprise. I am officially endorsing Delicia Herrera. Does this make me a flip-flopper? Who knows, and who cares. This is a tight endorsement to make. It comes under the same circumstances as the mayoral race.

Delicia has increased the voting base in District 6. She is campaigning on the philosophy of an, "open door policy with an open mind philosophy", and she means it too. If you need proof, then look no further than the fact that all of her challengers on June 7th have endorsed her except Dominic Dina (who has not endorsed anyone).

She has nothing but donations from the grassroots and has captured endorsements from unions and environmental groups as well as grassroots partisan groups. She is young. She has fresh ideas. She has been able to mobilize voters in a district not known for a high voter turn out.
Delicia Herrera will push the envelope and will do everything in her power to make district 6 better for everyone.

District 7:
This is the easy race to call. Elena Guajardo is the woman for the job. She has put together a fabulous ground game and David Fisher needs to be proud of what he done there. Her resume is a who's who of organization and reasons to vote for her. As the Jeffersonian and Elena are quick to say she has worked with the League of Women Voters, Catholic Family and Children's Services, Respite Care of San Antonio, NOW, The San Antonio Affirmative Action Advisory Committee, and the HRC. Her presence on city council will be invaluable, and I am excited to just have the chance to endorse a wonderful Latina candidate like her.

In the end you all need to vote. This week our mayor could be selected my a meger 45,000 people city wide. Our next city council members could be picked by a mere 3,000 voters. Whether you agree with me or my counter-parts go vote and make a lasting difference in our community.

Early Voting Tomorrow

San Antonio early voting is from Tuesday, May 31 to Friday, June 3.

The early voting locations are the same early voting as the ones used in the May 7th election. For early voting location, you can either use go here or the city link here.

No matter what, GO VOTE!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Celebrating the 1st Month

What a great first month at has been here at Just Another Blog. After a mere 31 days we have already received more than 750 hits! To those that check here daily, thank you. To those that have put me on your blogroll, thank you. For those that come by once in a while, thank you.

I am constantly working on my voice, style, and content. As always, feel free to let me know what I can do to make this site better, and thank you all for checking out my blog.

Political Mistake of the Week

So when you are being investigated for ethics complaints and a court requires you to pay a fine to 5 former US Congress Members for redistricting them out of their seat, what do you want to do most? That's right, you want to stay out of the media!

What does Tom Delay do? He gets in the news because of a quote on Law and Order.

Tom DeLay immediately lashed out yesterday because of a one second line on Law and Order. The line was as simple as "Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt." This set DeLay off.
"This manipulation of my name and trivialization of the sensitive issue of judicial security represents a reckless disregard for the suffering initiated by recent tragedies and a great disservice to public discourse," he said.
NBC gave in to pressure from the DeLay statement and simply tried to play it off.
The script line involved an exasperated detective bedeviled by a lack of clues, making a sarcastic comment about the futility of looking for a suspect when no specific description existed," NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said in a statement.
However Dick Wolf did not go away so easily, and this is where the problem starts. If you are in the middle of a political dog fight you should lay low, be on the attack with those attacking you, or be out doing charity (a lot of charity). Dick Wolf's response to DeLay is the exact reason for this.
"Every week, approximately 100 million people see an episode of the branded Law & Order series. Up until today, it was my impression that all of our viewers understood that these shows are works of fiction as is stated in each episode," he said. "But I do congratulate Congressman DeLay for switching the spotlight from his own problems to an episode of a TV show."

Wolf was getting in a dig at DeLay's burgeoning ethics problems stemming from his Texas-based political action committee and dealings with questionable lobbying practices.
The day after the announcement from the court, DeLay stays in the news and gets his unethical actions back in the media. The lesson from all this is simple. When you do something wrong and are constantly being attacked, stay out of the media and don't make a big deal over little things. Silly Tom DeLay didn't know that, and that is why he committed the "Political Mistake of the Week".

Friday, May 27, 2005

CPAT's Legislative Update

The session ends in 3 days and CPAT has an update on some key bills that are either dead or barely hanging on. Check it out here.

It'll be nice when this session is over...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

San Antonio Mayor Race Heating Up

I have been holding off on this post to see what Schubert was going to do with his endorsement. I was predicting an election week endorsement for Hardberger so that his name would be in the paper just a little more during GOTV.

I was wrong. The Express-News has the full article here and I encourage you to read the FULL text.

The endorsement comes at a bad time. Nobody is surprised by Schubert throwing his northside support toward Hardberger. Hardberger is going to take Districts 8, 9, and 10, and if anyone tells you otherwise they are kidding themselves.

Castro will take 1-7. The problem is that Castro's base is far less likely to vote, and one of the few things he has going for him is the runoffs in 6 and 7.

Those are things we all know and agree on. Here is the real speculation. Castro is going to win on June 7th though and here are the reasons why:

1) Castro is now on the attack. The fun part about being the "under dog" is that you can go offensive. Castro's message is becoming more clear and more pointed:
"This won't change the dynamics of the race," Castro said. "There's a small insider group of lobbyists and developers who want to control City Hall. Carroll Schubert was their first choice and Phil Hardberger is their back-up plan. I'm going to be an independent voice for all of San Antonio."
2) Castro is in the margin, but far enough behind to scare his base to vote. The Survey USA poll
is going to mobilize for Castro's people because they will feel like they have to vote in order to get there guys in. The timing of the endorsement, only days after the poll, seems to validate Castro's attack on those supporters of Hardberger.

3) It has been said once and it will be said again... the runoff will only help Castro. Those voting for Delicia Herrera and Elena Guajardo will vote for Julian Castro. Those the turn out for Ray Lopez will break about 65% for Castro and those that vote for Noel Suniga about 50:50. This neutralizes some of the northside threat for Julian.

My predication stand that on June 7th we will be celebrating victories for Castro, Lopez, and Guajardo. Castro and Lopez will squeak by and Guajardo will win in a landslide.

Zombie Legislation

Yesterday afternoon Wentworth resurrected the taxing district by tacking the legislation onto a bill in the Senate. This bill, CSHB 2120 (which has 13 other amendments) relates to the "efficient administration of county government" and its House sponsor is Rep. Ray Allen (Republican-Grand Prairie). The bill now goes back to the House for concurrence with the Senate amendments or refusal to concur and a request for a conference committee, probably today at some point.

The problem with the special taxing district is that it may not be what people want. Environmentalists and aquifer protection groups are simply wanting an amendment to the legislation requesting a vote to honor the 100,000 people that signed petitions the last time this fight was going on.

This debate has found itself in the mayoral race. In the Express-News two days ago both candidates spoke out:

Risking the perception that he is carrying water for the many developers who support his campaign, Hardberger said he strongly opposed proposed legislation and the efforts of environmentalists to require a countywide vote to create such a district for the project.

Although he is opposed to a taxing district, he said a vote would make the city look ambivalent on this and future economic development projects.

Castro, meanwhile, said he favored a public vote on the proposed taxing district, even though the language was included in the PGA Tour deal that he voted to support as a city councilman.

"I think that if (the developers) want an extra 29 years with a special taxing district, there needs to be a public vote," said Castro, who opposed the first two versions of a PGA golf course on the recharge zone.

Richard Alles, activist of the year in San Antonio, refuted Hardbergers claim stating,
In reality, there is no "deal" or contract giving Lumbermen's a taxing district. Under the City's contract with the developer, Lumbermen's has only the right to seek a special taxing district from Bexar County. There is no requirement that Bexar County must agree to establish the district. Consequently, Bexar County voters entitled to vote on the taxing district, and such a vote would in no way violate the contract with the City.
I agree with Alles and those asking for a vote. If there is a vote and the PGA wins, then they build the course and nobody can blame the city. No vote? Then there is just going to be lawsuits, more legislation challenges, appeals to city council, etc, etc. Let's prevent all the hassle and have a vote here in San Antonio.

HB 2833 Dies

Direct from GEAA to you:

Shortly before 1:30 a.m. Sen. Staples attempted to suspend the regular order of business on the Senate floor (the usual motion to bring up a bill for consideration) to take up and consider HB 2833 - the infamous regulatory "takings" bill that would have torpedoed local government attempts to protect water quality (and do a lot of other things). He said that he had hoped to do more with this bill but that he was going to move to amend the bill to strike everything below the enacting clause and substitute a study of the issue rather than pursuing the provisions of the bill.

Sen. Barrientos of Austin stated that he had proposed a study in lieu of the bill earlier in May but Sen. Staples rejected it in committee. He also stated that the Lt. Governor could initiate an interim study; a bill wasn't necessary to do that. He then raised a point of order against further consideration of the bill.

After considerable discussion with the Lt. Governor and the Senate parliamentarian, Sen. Barrientos withdrew his point of order, and Sen. Staples withdrew his bill. It will not come up for consideration again. This is the last night (broadly speaking now, near 2 a.m.) that House bills may be heard on the Senate floor on second reading. The Lt. Governor just announced that the bill they are discussing now, HB 1434, will be the last bill of the evening; and indeed that bill was just killed on a point of order since it was after midnight.

HB 2833 is dead, unless its language reappears in some other legislation, and the options for that with time running out at this point are gone unless the language has already been sneaked into a bill somewhere else that we haven't caught.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Who is Running this Country Anyway?

Should I say it? I mean, it is only 6 months into the second term, and yet it seems to be so real already. Is George W. Bush a lame duck?

I don't think he is, but I think he is getting very close. While there are no declared candidates for the 08 run for the White House, it is very clear that Congress is running the show right now. Just yesterday the House went against the wishes of President Bush and voted to lift certain restrictions on stem cell research. McCain, went against White House objections, introduced a steroid-testing bill. This on top of the filibuster compromise Bush did not want.

Now I know what some are thinking right now. Bush will flex his presidential muscles when the session ends. Wait... What's that you say? The DNC chair Howard Dean is getting in the fight too? Dean is setting the party up to pick up were Harry Reid will leave off at the end of the session.

Howard Dean is going around chipping away at Bush, Delay, and the Republican machine. Chairman Dean is finally admitting that outreach to African American's has been half hearted at best and is sticking by his words and saying that DeLay should go to jail if he violated a crime. He is systematically chipping away at the South and Texas while working hard to sure up the minority base that elected Bill Clinton.

This has got to sound warning bells for the RNCC and RNC.

The question still remains, is George W. Bush a lame duck? No, but he is going to become one very quickly. If he cannot control the House and Senate and their Republican majority the Democrats will force him to work on nothing but foreign policy.

I say this only because the Democrats are on the attack right now. Dean is moving in troops in Nevada, Mississippi, Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota, West Virginia, North Carolina and Missouri. And while this sounds like his infamous "I have a scream speech" in Iowa, it has to concern Republican's who don't think Bush has any coat tails anymore.

If Bush doesn't see a bounce in the polls anytime soon, he will be the earliest lame duck I have ever seen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

HB 2833 will cost San Antonio Jobs

HB 2833 is up today after being delayed yesterday because of the long fight yesterday on a pilot program on school vouchers. If we are lucky they will be not have time to vote again today, but I doubt that will happen.

The arguments against HB 2833 keep mounting as Ed Garza has released a statement stating outlining the negative affects that passing this legislation will have. He brings up how the impervious cover regulations will negatively effect "Texas treasures such as the Riverwalk and the historic downtown area of San Antonio" and how the retroactive applications will harm growth and taxpayers the moment it passes.

Mayor Garza's most scathing attack comes when he points directly to the Toyota plant being built in the south side.
In negotiations leading to Toyota's decision to build a new automobile manufacturing plant on the south side of San Antonio, Toyota expressed great concern that future development near the plant should be compatible with their factory. Toyota has committed to being a good neighbor, and the city has adopted reasonable land use regulations to ensure development near the Toyota plant results in good neighbors for Toyota. Under HB 2833, a landowner who alleges that San Antonio acts to establish or enforce compatible development on land near the plant, and that the action has reduced their land's market value of 25% or more, may invoke the provisions of HB 2833. If a court agrees, HB 2833 may operate to effectively prevent San Antonio from honoring its agreement to protect Toyota's investment.
There you go. For everyone out there who thinks this is only about the aquifer and the environment you can see the economic impacts of this bill. If HB 2833 passes it will cause a lawsuit by the city and Toyota. If it stands up in court, then it will cost San Antonio the ability to reasonably bargain with corporations. This will harm the cities ability to lure new jobs, high wage jobs, and stronger infrastructure for the city.

I have said it once and I will say it again, call your Senator and tell them to vote NO on HB 2833.

To find out who your Senator and Representative are, use this free web link:

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Status Quo is Preserved

Here is the Deal posted from Daily Kos.

Let me be honest, I wanted a showdown. I wanted to see Reid fight the floor fight and continue to make the Republicans look bad falling on their sword.

"Do you think the country would be better off if the Republicans controlled Congress, or if the Democrats controlled Congress?"
Republicans 36% (41%)
Democrats 47% (45%)

The Republican's were losing traction and what does the Democratic block do? They give in. 7 Democrats broke rank and made a backdoor deal to force their party to give in. I want to point out that the D's that broke party unity are all in competitive seats. Lieberman is going to be challenged on the left, Byrd has been placed on three different target lists, Nelson is a Democrat from a red state, Landrieu barely won her seat, and Salazaar was part of the Democratic revolution in CO.

The total list of 14 includes:

Robert Byrd (West Virginia)
Daniel Inouye (Hawaii)
Mary Landrieu (Louisiana)
Joseph Lieberman (Connecticut)
Ben Nelson (Nebraska)
Mark Pryor (Arkansas)
Ken Salazar (Colorado)

Lincoln Chafee (Rhode Island)
Susan Collins (Maine)
Mike DeWine (Ohio)
Lindsey Graham (South Carolina)
John McCain (Arizona)
John Warner (Virginia)
Olympia Snowe (Maine)

Is this a surprise? Absolutely not. If you look at the post I made this past weekend you see that Democrats main problem is a lack of party unity and party identification unity. This merely proves my point.

The real winners of this deal are McCain who is placing himself to run for president in 08, all the moderates of both parties (since they brokered the deal), and the Bush White House because they are getting what they want... an up or down vote.

The losers are Reid, Frist, and the far sides of the aisle for both parties. Frist lost the most because he wasn't able to champion such a sweet Republican deal, nor was he able to keep his party together on this.

With all that being said the three nominees that will be considered are Janice Rogers Brown, Pricilla Owens, and William Pryor.

Move On had this to say about them:

Janice Rogers Brown, a Justice on the California Supreme Court, would threaten the most basic protections for workers and the environment that have kept our country strong since the Great Depression. She follows a radical judicial philosophy, (often called "Constitution in Exile") that says courts have a duty to block Congress from interfering with a corporation's "right" to profitably pollute, or an employer's "right" to demand unlimited hours at any wage from their employees. On the state Supreme Court she has attacked California's anti-discrimination statute, affordable housing laws, fees levied against major urban polluters, and laws that protect whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers and consumers from corporate fraud.

Pricilla Owen
, a Justice on the Texas Supreme Court, has been repeatedly admonished by her own conservative colleagues for what Attorney General Alberto Gonzales described as her "unconscionable judicial activism." As a candidate for the Supreme Court job Owen defied ethics standards by accepting substantial campaign contributions from giant corporations including Enron and Halliburton and then later issuing rulings in their favor. In case after case where individual rights came into conflict with corporate profit, Owens has sided with the latter – including cases where a liquor vendors' negligence left a nine-year-old with permanent brain damage and where major companies have argued their right to unfettered profit should exempt them from all local environmental laws.

William Pryor Jr.
served as Attorney General of Alabama, where he took money from Phillip Morris, fought against the anti-tobacco lawsuit until it was almost over, and cost the people of Alabama billions in settlement money for their healthcare system as a result. He called Roe v. Wade "the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history," and has consistently argued against the federal protections for the civil rights of minorities, lesbian and gay couples, women, and the disabled.

Neither party can claim an overwhelming victory, but the Republican Party is getting the better end of this deal and we all have to live with that until 2006.

UPDATE 5/23/05-11:31
Burnt Orange Report has Sen Reid's statement. I am starting to see how this is going to play out. The tactics look to be to weaken Frist to slow down the agenda and prevent his Presidential run, get the moderates in play to preserve those seats in 06 and 08, and then develop a diverse but united Democratic coalition. Looking at Reids statement it was a big gamble that could pay in dividends. The next 24 hours will determine who wins or loses.

URGENT- Tell your Rep to Vote NO on SB 1858

This was sent to me by another Matt that works at GEAA. SB 1858 will be voted on tomorrow. I will have more on this bill tonight.
Dear GEAA members and Protectors of the Edwards Aquifer, Right now is your last chance to tell your Representative TO PROTECT OUR AQUIFER AND CREEKS! VOTE IS TOMORROW-TUESDAY, MAY 24th!

On Tuesday SB 1858 will be up for vote in the House. This bill will render invalid water quality ordinances that protect drinking water and swimming holes. Current ordinances will be unenforceable until approved by the special interest controlled Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. This process could take years or forever. Most cities, including Austin, San Antonio and Dripping Springs have ordinances that are more strict than TCEQ standards and thus might never be approved. This bill is a serious threat to water quality and storm water/flooding control.

Call, fax or email your Representative TODAY and ask them to OPPOSE SB 1858.
To find out who your Senator and Representative are, use this free web link:

Saturday, May 21, 2005

HJR 6 Passes

Burnt Orange Report has the whole thing from beginning to end. To say I am ashamed would be an understatement. To say that I am surprised with Armbrister or Madla, would be a lie.

Pew Reports: Republican’s strength in Unity

The latest Pew Report on political typology has been released and its findings are useful and impressive.

The good news is that the research says that Republicans have not actually made significant inroads to minority groups nor have they turned conservative southern Democrats to identify themselves as Republicans. These groups did however identify specifically to Bush during 2004 over Kerry.

Pew’s summation of the Democrats is not surprising.

The Democratic party faces its own formidable challenges, despite the fact that the public sides with them on many key values and policy questions. Their constituencies are more diverse and, while united in opposition to President Bush, the Democrats are fractured by differences over social and personal values.

Foreign affairs assertiveness now almost completely distinguishes Republican-oriented voters from Democratic-oriented voters; this was a relatively minor factor in past typologies. In contrast, attitudes relating to religion and social issues are not nearly as important in determining party affiliation. Still, these issues do underscore differences within parties, especially among the Democrats. While Republican-inclined voters range from the religious to the very religious, the Democratic Party is much more divided in terms of religious and cultural values. Its core constituents include both seculars and the highly religious.

Basically, Democrats are unified against Republicans and their agenda, but the party does not have a unified voice nor answer to oppose it. The Republican’s on the other hand are unified, but the public doesn’t view them as open minded or having the right answer. This seems problematic. Pew also comes up with 15 other major findings, and all of them seem to basically clarify what many activists and political operatives are already seeing.

What is the solution for the Democrats? First, let’s get our head out of the sand. We are now having other independent research groups tell us what we have known to be a problem for a couple cycles. This should finally tip off the DNC, DCCC, and state parties to clarify the party’s municipal, local, county, state, and national platform. If the points of contention are the value and social issues like choice and the environment, then let’s actually use conventions and national meetings to have a unified stance on it. At the very least let’s come up with some good talking points.

The next step has got to be developing think tanks and messaging tools that will filter down to the grassroots level. Pew makes it clear that one of our greatest assets is our diverse active base. Let’s teach them to go to their churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples and talk about issues. Let’s have them expand the environmentalist base, the business base, and the southerners with “gun racks on the back of their truck”. If we have a diverse base, then let’s use it.

Pew tells us the problems. The good thing is we have the solutions. Read the report and post your thoughts, solutions, and concerns. The larger the dialogue the better.

SB 1879 and the PGA

Senate Bill 1879, creating a special taxing district for the Lumbermen's/PGA Tour development, will be voted on this Sunday by the House of Representatives.

Call your state representative today and ask them to:

Vote for the amendment to SB 1879 requiring a county-wide election to approve the creation of the taxing district -or- vote against the bill. Over 100,000 Bexar County voters signed a petition to vote on a deal with Lumbermen's that included a special taxing district. Please honor democracy by finally giving us our chance to vote.

  • Representative Robert Puente is the House sponsor. Please give him encouragement and support to honor the petitions by Bexar County voters asking to vote on the Lumbermen's/PGA agreement. We believe he will do the right thing and restore democracy to San Antonio.
  • The bill creates a district with the power to collect sales taxes, property taxes, and hotel room taxes. It can then give that tax revenue to Lumbermen's and PGA Tour to "promote economic development" and "induce the construction of a tourist attraction."
  • Over 100,000 voters signed petitions asking to vote on an agreement between the City of San Antonio and Lumbermen's that included creation of a special taxing district. The City circumvented the referendum by creating a "switcheroo", a different agreement that did not include a special taxing district. It claimed the petitions did not apply to the "switcheroo" because it was a different deal. But now, the latest Lumbermen's agreement once again includes a special taxing district.
  • Emails obtained by opponents of the Lumbermen's/PGA deal show that attorneys for the developer worked behind the scenes to get the special taxing district put back into the "switcheroo" deal after City Council had already approved the agreement.
To find out who your Senator and Representative are, use this free web link:

Star Wars Episode III

I admit it. I saw it last night. I stood in line, and I made it a point to see the midnight showing at Alamo Drafthouse. I made it point to sit right in the center of the theatre and I made it point to see the movie with all of my friends that are obsessive about Star Wars.

We all went and tried to temper our expectations, but to no avail. When the lights went down and the 25 minutes of previews ended we all applauded and felt like giddy 12 year olds. The movie flew by. Out of all 6 movies this is my favorite. Is it the best movie I have ever seen? Absolutely not. The acting is flat, the special effects while good are not the best I have ever seen. The music isn't original. But, the lore is amazing.

After growing up on the original trilogy, my expectations were so high for the first of the prequels, and it stunk. The second one was okay, and the final prequel was stellar.

I admit I am a bit of a dork. I am admit that the expectations might have been set so low, that it had no chance but to blow me out of the water. Who cares? I would go again, and after being exhausted all day, just thinking about how complete the Revenge of the Sith made the whole lot of movies makes me content.

I encourage you to bask in the lore and go enjoy that final Star Wars creation.

Friday, May 20, 2005

True bipartisan

From Daily Kos and People for the American Way. Rarely is there a situation so black and white you can just put down a bunch of quotes, and rarely do I agree with so many Republicans at one time.

The nuclear option is a bad idea, and if you don't believe me just read what these 17 Senators have to say.

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania
"I'm going to use every ounce of my energy, Wolf, to avoid confronting the nuclear option, because I think it would be disastrous for America. The Senate has a long, rich tradition for protecting minority rights."
CNN's "Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer," 02-27-05

"I'm going to exercise every last ounce of my energy to solve this problem without the nuclear option," he said. "If we have a nuclear option, the Senate will be in turmoil and the Judiciary Committee will be hell."
Washington Post, 02-24-05

Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska
"It's important that we protect the institution of the Senate and the tools of minority rights because if those are eroded, you will then put the institution on a slippery slope to keep--by straight majority vote. By saying this rule's going to change. This rule's going to change. ... I do not like this approach. It's a dangerous approach. It's an irresponsible approach. And it further erodes the constitutional minority rights element of the Senate." CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," 04-17-05

"We have to sit down ourselves, look each other in the eye and talk not just about short-term consequences but, more importantly, long-term consequences for the institution of the Senate. The Senate was primarily built around protection of minority rights."
CBS's "Face the Nation," 05-01-05

"I don't think it would be wise, in the interests of our country or the United States Senate to let this come to this kind of an explosion in the United States Senate.", 05-09-05

Senator Susan Collins of Maine
"[T]o change the rules of the Senate and to invoke what they are calling the nuclear option ... would so poison the well that I fear that it would be very difficult for us to tackle those major issues that are coming down the road."
National Journal, 01-22-05

"I wish this would pass us by," she said, "because I am concerned about the impact on the Senate of trying to put through a change that does not represent a consensus."
New York Times, 04-20-05

Senator John Warner of Virginia
"I tend to be a traditionalist, and the right of unlimited debate has been a hallmark of the Senate since its inception."
Press statement, 04-29-05

"I just look at this institution as really the last bastion of protecting the rights of the minority."
New York Times, 04-20-05

"We can't do damage to the Senate rules, which would come back to work against the interests of the Republican Party when we're in the minority. ... This is the last bastion, an institution that protects the rights of the minority."
Virginia Pilot, 04-29-05

Senator John McCain of Arizona
"If we don't protect the rights of the minority ... if you had a liberal president and a Democrat-controlled Senate, I think that it could do great damage."
CBS's "Face the Nation," 04-10-05

"`I don't know why in the last 200 years we have not had this kind of crisis before, but we've always been able to work things out,' says Arizona Sen. John McCain, who is now `strongly inclined' to vote against the rule change. `We will not be in the majority forever. History has shown us that.'"
Wall Street Journal, 04-12-05

Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine
"I don't believe that at this point we should resort to changing the rules in order to adapt it to this scenario. We ought to try and make it work."
Portland Press-Herald, 12-26-04

Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island
"`Just the word that's being used--the nuclear option--says it all,' Chafee said of the parliamentary maneuver. ... `The acrimony's so thick down here that a step into complete radioactivity isn't good for the American people.'"
The Providence Journal, 05-17-05

Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas
"What goes around comes around ... [it is] not in the best interests of either party or the Senate to take this step."
Kansas City Star, 05-15-05

Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon
"I don't want the Senate to become the House."
The Hill, 03-02-05

Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
"I am one of the Republicans who believe such a rules change is not a good idea--not good for the Senate, not for the country, not for Republicans, and not for Democrats. The Senate needs a body that by its procedures gives unusual protection to minority rights." Senate floor statement, 04-12-05

Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio
"[T]he best thing to do is to have an understanding between the parties. ... [Changing the rules is] probably not going to be the way to do it."
Congressional Quarterly, 05-07-03

"I think it's in the best interest of the country that we work out something. ... This is a confrontation we should not have."
Chicago Tribune, 05-18-05

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
"`The fact of the matter is that there has been an ability to filibuster judges from the day the Senate was formed,' Murkowski said earlier this year. `And out of protocol, or courtesy, or just a recognition of the Senate's constitutional obligation to give advice and consent on the president's judicial nominees, filibusters weren't even considered up until the 108th Congress. That's where I get frustrated,' she said. `I don't want to have to change the rules because now some people have decided that they can now use it to their advantage to permanently block a president's nominee. It may be that you have four years or eight years of judges that one side doesn't like. But then you've got eight years of judges that the other side likes, so there's an evening of the process,' she said. `I don't like the nuclear option, let's put it that way, and I hope we don't get to the point where we have to institute it.'"
Miner-News, 04-12-05

Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana
"`On the fundamental issue, I believe we are skating over very thin ice here with regard to the continuity of life in the Senate as we've known it,' Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) said on CNN's `Late Edition.' `I'm opposed to trying to eliminate filibusters simply because I think they protect minority rights, whether they're Republicans, Democrats or other people.'"
Los Angeles Times, 05-16-05

Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi
"It's very important that one faction or one party not be able to ride roughshod over the minority and impose its will. The Senate is not the House."
Wall Street Journal, 06-05-03

Senator Robert Bennett of Utah
"Once we [Republicans] try to change the rules with 51 votes, the precedent is on the table. ... If Hillary Clinton becomes president with a Democratic Senate and wants to appoint Lani Guinier to the Supreme Court, Harry Reid could make that happen with 51 votes."
Farmington Daily Times, 05-18-05

Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico
"I will listen to that debate carefully, but it will be very difficult to get me to vote to change the filibuster rule. ... I always thought that the filibuster rule protected the minority in a rather exceptional way, better than almost any other rule we've got."
National Journal, 12-11-04

Senator John Sununu of New Hampshire
"I'm just thinking through the history and the precedents of changing the rules. Like any rules change, I want to ask the question: If the rule is changed, is it something I'm comfortable with whether I'm in the majority or the minority, whether we have a Republican president or a Democratic president?"
Wall Street Journal, 04-12-05

More on "Takings" Bill- HB 2833

The buzz around the dome is that HB 2833 will be up for a vote as early as Monday. B and B has a stellar piece showing the new moves by Rep Robby Cook to make some movement on his bill.

This is a debate that is heating up and much to my surprise. In dueling op-eds Cook argues on behalf of the Texas Landowners Conservancy (TLC) and Gene Lowenthal argues on behalf of the environment.

HB 2833 is a bad bill regardless of what Rep Cook says. His argument that environmental regulations are not wanted by anyone but "extremists" is just silly. In fact in San Antonio, citizens have vote 3 times now to raise taxes to protect the environment and their aquifer. Protecting developers and those who wish to start a catfish farm is not a top priority for this city or is it good legislation.

Gene Lowenthal makes better arguments than I could ever make. I would try and put down the best arguments, but they are all well thought out and well made. The best thing I can say is read B and B and Lowethal's commentary in the Express-News, and then call your state Senator and tell them to protect the aquifer and vote NO on 2833.

The most shocking part to me is that I assumed with the big victories in Helotes, Boerne, and San Antonio to protect the aquifer that they would let this bill die. I figured that with the session having less than 10 days left they would focus on education since there will not be a special session at this point. Oh how this session has made me look so wrong so often.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

HB 2833, Hurts Everyone

The Statesman has this to say about HB 2833. If you don't want to read the article, it just says it's a bad bill for tax payers. In other words, it is a bad bill for everyone.

Save SB3

BY 5 PM WEDNESDAY phone, fax or e-mail the members of the House Natural Resources Committee as well as your local state representative and ask them to make sure that Sections 2.01, 2.02 and 2.04 AS AMENDED remain in SB 3 as the bill moves forward.

During the initial hearing, Representatives raised valid concerns about the voluntary nature of the land stewardship component. These concerns are addressed in an amendment that will be introduced by members of the House Natural Resources Committee in a hearing that can take place at any time! By supporting this amendment, the Representatives will help ensure that voluntary land stewardship remains a key component in the omnibus water bill.

SB 3 is the omnibus water legislation, which for the first time codifies and encourages land stewardship as a water management tool. The inclusion of voluntary land stewardship in this bill provides the foundation for future incentive programs and other conservation initiatives that could reward responsible, voluntary land stewardship.

This bill also addresses environmental flows and water conservation. It is important that this language remain in any future versions of the bill as well.

To find out who your Senator and Representative are, use this free web link:

Gearing Up for the Nuclear Option

All the reports are saying that Frist will start the nuclear option TODAY. I hardly read CNN
anymore, but President Bush is starting to pressure the Senate and Senator Frist to cast an up or down vote.

President Bush is talking about his mandate again and is using this as a reason for the vote.
"In the last two elections, the American people made clear they want judges who will faithfully interpret the law, not legislate from the bench," Bush told a Republican Party event Tuesday evening.
Frist is making it clear that he is done trying to broker a deal because of the great divide in our country and is going to bring the nominations of Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen to the Senate floor this week.

If Democrats try to block them by refusing to end debate, Frist has said he will move to change Senate rules by a simple majority to prevent filibusters of judicial nominees -- a step dubbed the "nuclear option."

"I've made it clear what the principle is, a fair up-or-down vote," Frist told reporters Tuesday. "And we will have whatever debate is required to really exhaust the discussion on these candidates."


But Frist insists that all of Bush's nominees must receive up-or-down votes.

As written, the draft memorandum effectively would kill the nominations of three of Bush's most controversial picks -- Owen, William Myers and Henry Saad.

I find it ironic that the main argument for the nuclear option is that Bush has a right to get what he wants. The founders never thought the President had a right to anything but veto a bill and achieve foreign policy goals. The filibuster is a constitutional right however.

It's funny that their argument is based in protecting the constitution, but the only way they can do it is to re-write it.

UPDATE 5/18/05- 10:38 AM
A site through BlogPAC is hearing the same rumblings and will be blogging about it later. Check out Something Requisitely Witte and Urbane when you can.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Rodney Ellis Does the Right Thing

HJR 6 has been held up once again. According to the San Antonio Express News and the reports from Austin say this may kill HJR 6.

Since there are only two weeks left in the session "any more hiccups in the bill, it certainly could be a death blow," according to Rep. Warren Chisum. Let's hope he is right. Keep up the calls.

On a side note, Pink Dome has a great dialogue on this right now. I encourage you all to check it out.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Gov Race Cooling Off

BOR Has this about Kay Bailey:

Another week... another rumor. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports:

It may not have much basis in fact, but the latest rumor about U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has Austin buzzing again.

It has Hutchison, a Dallas Republican reportedly considering a bid for Texas governor, getting tapped by President Bush as U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James's, the plum United Kingdom position now vacant.

That would clear a major hurdle to Gov. Rick Perry's re-election and open up the coveted Senate nomination for U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio, or Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

Hutchison spokesman Chris Paulitz dismissed the rumors.

"She's never been offered an ambassadorship," he said.

The U.S. ambassador's London residence is one of the most luxurious in the U.S. Foreign Service. Winfield House, a gift to the United States by heiress Barbara Hutton, is an antique-filled mansion on 12 1/2 acres in Regent's Park.

Hutchison might want to consider it.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Nuclear Strategy

Straight off the AP Wire, Jesse Holland writes of the Seven Republican senators that will determine the outcome of the showdown on the filibuster.

The seven GOP senators that have not committed publicly to supporting either Senate leader are:
Susan Collins of Maine, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, John Warner of Virginia, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Sununu of New Hampshire.

The current breakdown of votes as Holland has counted is echoed by the Hotline:

All 44 Senate Democrats, joined by independent Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont and three Republicans, have said they oppose curtailing a Senate minority's ability to block the president's judicial nominees with just 41 votes in the 100-member Senate.

Frist, R-Tenn., has 45 of the Senate's 55 Republicans on his side.

For Democrats to prevail, they need the support of three of the seven undecided Republicans. Frist needs five votes from five of those Republicans so Vice President

The interesting thing to me is the netroots and grassroots being utilized by large PACs to urge the GOP to break party lines. Even more exciting is the fact that the conservative groups aren't doing it well, and are actually antagonizing some.

Conservative groups such as Progress for America and Focus on the Family have spent millions of dollars on ads since mid-April in Alaska and elsewhere trying to persuade undecided Republican senators to support Frist.

Murkowski said those efforts have backfired with her.

"I was very offended at the tone," Murkowski said. "But they've continued, and it's been kind of interesting. I've probably gotten more positive feedback for my position, which Alaskans consider to be very thoughtful, very deliberate, about what is happening here in the Senate."

The liberal group People for the American Way says Murkowski is "the last defense against an attack on our Constitutional checks and balances."

"Alaska counts on Senator Murkowski to do the right thing. Now, the whole country is counting on her," according to an ad that the group plans to run this week. The $1 million television campaign also will mention Snowe and Collins in Maine and Specter in Pennsylvania.


In the end, Murkowski said, the question has to be about the Senate, not politics, the president or the party.

"We have to remember that our decision has to be in the best interest of the institution as a whole," Murkowski said. "Not in the best interest of the Republicans, not in the best interest of the Democrats, but in the best interest of we as senators and the institution itself. I think that's what we should keep in mind."

You can say whatever you want about Sen Reid, I had my doubts, but this is the right leader during this political climate. He is doing his job and the strategy being used right now is amazing. Now, all we need, are couple of GOPers to see the light and defend the constitution.