Friday, April 28, 2006

The Norquist "Drown it in a Bathtub" Bill

A message from Glenn Smith:

Speaker Tom Craddick's office has tried to downplay the consequences of HB 2, backgrounding the press and others that the bill only makes it clear that the new business tax is intended to offset the cut in property taxes.

In fact, HB 2 would dedicate future growth in business tax revenue to further property tax reduction. It says: You can't use this money for our school children, our teachers, or any other urgent need faced by the state of Texas.

Grover Norquist, the ghost in the current legislative machine, says he wants to shrink spending -- on education, on health care, on everything -- to a size that can be drowned in a bathtub.

Let's remember a simple safety tip for parents: We should never abandon our children when they're in the bathtub.

Craddick and others argue that it's just a statute that could easily be repealed. Really? How many recent legislatures would have been able to overcome the business lobby, the Norquist abolish-all-taxes zealots, the right-wing leadership, and the pro-gambling lobby and vote TWICE to raise taxes: first to eliminate the dedication to property tax reduction, and then to broaden the base or raise the rate of the business tax?

But if Craddick and his team really mean it when they say it's just a statute that could be easily repealed, why do they want it so badly?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sad News from my Hometown

Via Pink Dome. Who says racism and discrimination don't happen anymore.

Education and Citizen Groups Address Education Problems in HB 2

Thirteen groups have just started circulating the following letter to the state Senators and capitol press. It is virtually unprecedented for such a diverse and large coalition to come together this quickly and unanimously agree on a complex topic like taxation and education.

Here is the letter:

The Honorable David Dewhurst
Texas Senate
P.O. Box 12068 - Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711

April 27, 2006

Dear Lt. Governor Dewhurst,

We the undersigned education and citizen advocacy groups urge the Texas Senate on a bipartisan basis to address the education crisis in our state – a crisis made worse by the package of tax measures forwarded to the Senate by the Texas House of Representatives.

Together, we represent the interests of millions of Texans, hard-working families. On their behalf, we urge you to:
  • Eliminate the provisions contained in HB 2, an anti-education measure which prohibits future revenue growth in business taxes from being spent on education, or anything else but property tax reduction. This effectively slams the door on future education funding.
  • Maintain full equity by flowing any new funds for education improvement through current equity-based funding formulas. Equity funding protects the great majority of our middle class students, especially those in rural areas, as well as those living in property-poor districts.
  • Raise annual teacher pay at least $3,000 and reverse the deep cut in the teacher health-care stipend.
  • Keep the promise to invest $1.8 billion in education that is contained in the current budget. That money disappears under the provisions of HB 1. Now that the state has an unprecedented budget surplus, that promise must not be forgotten. Restore the $1.8 billion.

Do not misunderstand us. Much more needs to be done for education than these few items. They are the minimum necessary. Many of us have more detailed priorities, and those priorities are just as important to the school children of Texas. But we have taken the step of communicating to you jointly because the bills before you take education in Texas backward, not forward.

Thank you for your consideration.


Citizens Commission On Education Excellence
Fair Funding For School Kids Coalition
People For the American Way
Texas Association for Bilingual Education
Texas Impact
Texas Freedom Network
Texas Federation of Teachers
Texas Progress Council
Texas State Teachers Association
William C. Velasquez Institute

CC: Members of the Texas House of Representatives

Kuff: Villarreal on HB 3

Kuff has a piece on why our very own state rep Mike Villarreal broke ranks and voted for HB 3. Rep Villarreal's main argument is long term good and a lack of opposition. Interesting position to take since after 5 hours of arm twisting by leadership, 16 Republicans and 53 Democrats disagree.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Senate Bribe in Full Effect

The senate is going to do something the House refused to do... talk about education. The Senate is going to add a teacher pay raise and other education measures, but the problem is the House dedicated ALL future revenue to buying down property taxes.

No matter what the Senate does, its a one time thing. Starting in January, Texas will be running a multi-billion dollar deficit with no way to fix the problem (unless they raise taxes on the middle class and poor again).

What the Senate is doing is a bribe. It is a one time thing. It can't last past January nor can it be maintained. And most importantly, it makes it were legislators either vote for the largest tax increase in history or against teachers. It's lose, lose.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Frightening Impact of the House Tax Bills

The tax bills passed by the House of Representatives on Monday are the Texas version of California’s notorious Proposition 13: the door is slammed forever on additional state funding for education.
  1. HB 1 lowered property taxes for big business and wealthy homeowners.
  2. HB 2 dedicates ALL future revenue growth from “new” business taxes to property taxes.
  3. HB 3 is the new business income tax. None of that money will ever be spent on educating our school children, as directed by HB 2.
It is likely the state Senate will give public education some crumbs from the current budget surplus. However that will be a one-time, small appropriation. It’s not even a band-aid. It’s a bribe; it’s empty, election-year rhetoric. What these bill guarantee:
  1. No future money for education;
  2. The likelihood that vouchers will be heralded as the answer to a public school crisis CAUSED by the people backing school vouchers;
  3. Continued deterioration of public schools;
  4. Happy Big Business (taxes for companies like Exxon are cut dramatically);
  5. Shock among small business owners, who had no idea Gov. Rick Perry and the legislature were cutting Exxon’s taxes while punishing the corner store and the neighborhood plumber.

Tuesday News Roundup

Seems like a few Texans have been paying close attention to what has been going on in Austin, so, it felt like a good time for a national news round up.

It seems like the odd couple has gotten together as Bush and Senate Democrats are pushing for an immigration bill that gives workers the ability to eventually become citizens. Good thing because a mass deportation will not work and most support a long term legalization policy. is reporting that former White House speech writer and Fox News anchor Tony Snow will take over as Press Secretary. Maybe Snow can help with Bush’s horrid approval rating?

Snow is getting some good ammo to start as Bush has announced he will be diverting oil from the strategic petroleum reserve to consumers. Bush is also listening to Democrats and ordering a gas price probe to see about likely price gauging by big oil companies.

Most importantly, the Spurs are up 1-0 over the Kings and game two is tonight. Ron Artest of the Kings will not be playing tonight because of a one game suspension for hitting Manu Ginnobli in game 1.

Capitol Update

It took a full day of legislating but house bills 1 through 4 are now ready for the Senate. It appears the legislature is going to just change the tax code and let the education system stay the way it is.

According to Quorum Report the final piece in the Republican plan hit a snag:
The final piece of the Perry-Sharp plan, the cigarette tax increase, hit a temporary roadblock late Monday when Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) said that the bonding authority created in committee was not germane to the original bill.

Speaker Tom Craddick sustained the point of order and sent the bill back to committee. Shortly after midnight, House Ways & Means met and unanimously passed it out of committee again. The bill will be considered again by the House on Thursday.
QR also points out that the vote on HB 3 was close. Originally the vote was suppose to happen early Monday morning, but after a few head counts, Craddick pushed the vote back until 1 p.m., and after 33 amendments HB 3 eventually passed.
In post-recess comments, Craddick confirmed that support for HB 3, the revamped business tax, had slipped to 60 votes by Monday morning. It took a concerted effort by the leadership to get the total back up to 80 votes, he said.
The procedure now is for the Senate to consider the bills, vote to accept, and if there are changes the bills will have to go through a committee to resolve those changes. After that happens, everyone goes home and tries to win re-election without fixing schools.

On a side note, Rep and blogger Aaron Pena did a great job and huge service keeping people in the loop with what was going on. If only we had a few open government laws to help out too!

Monday, April 24, 2006

HB 3 and 4 Pass

It only took 5 hours or so but the legislature officially decided to tax businesses. HB 3 passed 80-69.

HB 4 passed (77-65) much more quickly. To start the debate on HB 5 (the increase tax on tabacco products) Rep Hamric has been surrounded by the women of the house with cigars. It's good to see they are still cracking themselves up at 11 p.m., because I am not amused. Well, not that amused. Ok, it is a little amusing, but only cause I am smoking my last pack of smokes before the new tax.

Charlie and Eileen are live-blogging and if it weren't for these two, tonights proceedings would be tragic and not funny.

If you are having a hard time sleeping or just a huge wonk like me, here is the video.

2 Down, 3 to Go

Craddick has kept his promise and there has not been a recess yet for lunch or dinner, which makes this the first promise kept for the special session!

It has been a busy day at the capitol so far. HB 1 passed overwhelmingly (139-5), but because of the rule vote on Friday, of the $2.4 billion spent today not a cent will go to education.

HB 2 was a little closer (81-65) and again out of all the money raised from a tax on businesses and on cigarettes… not a cent will go to education.

HB 3 is on the floor right now and it is up in the air as Democrats and Republicans are debating on whether to raise taxes on business. That leaves HB 4 (the liar’s affidavit) and HB 5 (a $1 tax increase on cigarettes).

So far the highlights of the day have been a vicious debate on HB 3 by Rep Sylvester Turner and general bird-dogging by my favorites Rep Garnett Coleman, and Rep Senfronia Thompson.

The way it stands as of right now is there is a bill has passed that take billions away from our state education fund and a bill has passed that directs future revenues toward buying down property taxes. So far no bill has passed that funds the property tax in the long term and that means in January our legislators will have to come back, increase funding for schools (finally), and figure out how to make up the $8 billion that we have lost.

Rep Chisum says that we are funding schools by creating a non-voting standard for school districts up to three cents. The school districts can raise a tax up to five cents but a vote is required for that district.

So instead of funding education, they are creating a windfall for wealthy (chapter 41) school districts and will make up the difference when the courts get involved… again.

Big Day at the Lege

Eye On Williamson County has a “primer” for today’s vote, Bay Area Houston Blog found a fantastic round up yesterday, and Common Sense breaks the story on a Republican rally opposing HB 3-5.

The House is meeting today to talk about 4 new ways to tax the state and one way to give increased funding for the wealthiest three school districts while ignoring the thousands of others. Not quite sure this is what the Texas Supreme Court had in mind when they sent the legislature back to work.

Aaron Pena puts it bluntly for a legislator:
Broadly speaking here are the bills and what they do: House Bill 1 would use $2.4 billion of the $8 billion [unused education funds] for a 12 percent property tax cut. House Bill 2 would dedicate all revenue from a new business tax and higher tobacco taxes to further property tax cuts. House Bill 3 would enact a new broad-based business tax. House Bill 4 tightens and clarifies motor vehicle sales rules, where some dollars were slipping through the cracks because consistent language was missing from sales documentation. House Bill 5 might mean an extra $623 million to school funding accounts, as it sets aside an increase to $1 on tobacco taxes.

Limits On Debate
These bills will be debated Monday and can be watched starting at 10:00 a.m. Unlike most debates on bills, Republicans on Friday passed rules that would limit amendments that would seek to spend the money raised by the tax-swap plan on anything other than property tax cuts. That would stop Democrats who would want to spend as much on school improvements as property tax relief.
If you notice, not a single one of the bills being voted on today will address public schools. Interesting?

The Democratic Caucus was proposing a 50:50 split last week. The split would have created a standard that said for every two cents raised one would go to paying down property taxes and one would go toward helping public schools. The Republican caucus led by Tom Craddick, Rick Perry, and David Dewherst lobbied against the proposal and have effectively taken the school out of school funding.

Now we are stuck with five proposed bills that are set up like a stack of cards. If one of these bills fails, then we won’t have enough money coming into our state to offset the loss of revenue. I could try to explain it with charts and math, but I am going to leave that to the pros.

It is good to see that the plan during this third special session is to pay off the debt with a credit card . At least they are only gambling with 99.9% of Texas students.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Impressive Update on Auto-Craddick, Alamo Heights Windfall Bill

Bay Area Houston Blog has a great update on the tax bills being voted on tomorrow.

Craddick said on Thursday that legislators should bring a bag breakfast, lunch, and dinner because nobody is going home until they have voted on the 124 amendments offered and the 5 house bills. I guess after two years and four tries plan is to legislate until they drop. It's like watching a college student procrastinate on a final thesis and wonder why nothing makes sense.

Needless to say, tomorrow they will vote... the senate will receive the bills... and they will go home with out increasing teacher pay, funding textbooks or new school facilities, etc.

Tomorrow is a must pay attention to day at the lege and I will keep you updated. In the mean time, read Bay Area Houston!

MySpace Banned at Del Mar College

Del Mar College has banned the popular website The reason given was that 40% of the campus's daily bandwidth was used to go to the site and the community college prefers to have the ability to teach classes online.

Why not just hire more teachers and have more real classes? When I was in school, no teacher usually meant no me or me there but looking at MySpace instead of watching some 1970's film on duck and cover.

Sunday News Round Up

There has been a lot going on, so here are some of the highlights.

Charlie and Eileen throw one heck of a party to kick off the session.

Boyd Richie was selected to run the Texas Democratic Party until at least June. Reports from Burnt Orange say that Urbina-Jones was nominated but withdrew his name for the full consideration of the convention in June— exactly like Glen Maxey. I am definitely looking forward to actually having a vote and debate in June.

Quorum Report, reports that 124 amendments have been filed for the five house bills and will be considered Monday.
Capitol Annex has a great break down on how the calendar rule vote that occurred Friday. The short story is the rule passed, the long story is here. In response to the Auto-Craddick reign in the House, Democrats have offered their own tax plan.

The San Antonio Current announced the “Best of 2006”, and while they forgot to name JAB as best local website they did hand over that award to The Jeffersonian. Hey Cincinnatus, write more, we miss you!

On a final note, I went to Oyster Bake last night and saw either Julian or Joaquin Castro. Ever since Twin Gate, I am not sure who is who so we will just say that they were “both” there.

Friday, April 21, 2006

TDP Responds to Auto-Craddick Rule

Yesterday some realized that a rule vote this morning was more than that, it was a vote for education or a vote against it. Today, Speaker Craddick was able to push a vote that hurts teachers, students, and thousands of school districts.

Here is the TDP's response:
Today, House Speaker Tom Craddick and House Republicans passed sham “procedural” rules designed to prevent House Members from using any of the state’s surplus or new Perry tax revenue to improve our children’s schools. The rule essentially denies lawmakers the opportunity to offer amendments, or proposals of any type, that would use these funds for Texas schools.

“Tom Craddick and his Republican foot soldiers are working against Texas children,” said Texas Democratic Party Communications Director Amber Moon. “By voting for the rule that slams the school doors shut and denies even the discussion of much-needed school funding, Republicans have shown they care more about election year politics than providing our children textbooks.”

“The people of Texas have demanded that the legislature invest in our schools in addition to addressing property taxes, but Republicans are holding our kids hostage for a tax bill that doesn’t put one dime into their future,” said Moon. “Students are reading from out-of-date textbooks in over-crowded classrooms. Yet Republicans are refusing to even discuss the pressing needs of our neighborhood schools.”

Democrats in the House have developed the “Hochberg Plan,” which will improve public education and deliver much-needed funding to Texas schools in addition to providing meaningful property tax relief for homeowners. The Democratic plan would reduce class sizes, fund new facilities and technology, raise teacher pay and restore health insurance benefits for all educational employees. However, Speaker Craddick has refused to even allow a vote on the common-sense Democratic plan even though the House passed a similar plan with bipartisan plan last August.

“Democrats in the House are working hard to respond to the demands of all Texans and fix our schools. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership has turned a deaf ear to the message sent by voters in this year’s primary elections--that they are ready for a change from the failed Republican leaders who have turned their backs on the kids, teachers and parents in our state,” Moon concluded.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Highland Park Windfall Proposal Will End School Funding

(cross posted at Drive Democracy)

A procedural rule will be introduced tomorrow in the House as the first frontal assault on teachers, schools, and school districts. The rule will dictate the procedure of the house and will regulate amendments, costs, and most importantly the required focus of the legislation.

The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled that the current property tax is an unconstitutional statewide property tax. Now, Austin is in a frenzy trying to fix the problem and “get out of dodge.”

If legislators vote for the proposed rule tomorrow, they will be voting for restricting House Bill 1 (The Highland Park Windfall Proposal) to only taxation issues and will not address school funding.

This will mandate that no amendment can be offered to increase teacher pay, no new textbooks, no funding for school facilities, no teacher health insurance, and no extra funding for transportation during these time of extraordinary gas prices.

It is time to hold the legislature accountable to teachers and students. It is time for our elected officials to focus their attention on school funding and not just creating huge windfalls for Highland Park, Alamo Heights, or Bellaire while forgetting Edgewood, Houston, Dallas, or the thousands of other school districts.

By voting for a rule tomorrow, they are saying no to education for potentially the next decade!

Immigration: First Shots Fired by Gov't

The war on immigrant workers and their families claimed its first casualties yesterday. The Express-News has the full story, but the details are clear. In at least nine states authorities arrested seven current and former IFCO Systems managers and hundreds of workers.

Some of the raids were coordinated in San Antonio and Houston were more than a few dozen workers were arrested and facilities were shut down.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested seven current and former IFCO Systems managers on charges they conspired to transport, harbor and encourage undocumented workers to reside in the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain, said Glenn Suddaby, the chief federal prosecutor in Albany, N.Y., where some arrests were made.

In San Antonio, ICE agents showed up in bulletproof vests at the IFCO Systems complex on the Northeast Side, near Interstate 35 and Rittiman Road.
Sadly, the arrests that tore families apart and shut down businesses appear to be almost entirely political and not for actual homeland security.
The arrests appear to be timed to an announcement expected today from ICE and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, laying out an immigration enforcement strategy that targets employers' disregard for immigration law.
The new policy will not be to enforce current border law or to support right to work laws, but instead ICE will begin enforcing a zero tolerance law.
"ICE has no tolerance for corporate officers who harbor illegal aliens for their work force. Today's nationwide enforcement actions show how we will use all our investigative tools to bring these individuals to justice, no matter how large or small their company," said ICE chief Julie Myers.

Last week, operators of three restaurants in Baltimore pleaded guilty to similar immigration charges, while nine people affiliated with two temporary employment agencies that do business in New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania were charged in a $5.3 million scheme involving the employment and harboring of illegal aliens.
These sorts of enforcement policies will have huge impacts on the economic improvement of the country because there is no infrastructure to thoroughly check the documents provided by workers against a detailed national system. This lack of infrastructure doesn’t provide for a viable defense for employers because the “law is the law”. And, with HR 4437, it will be a felony to employ, transport, feed, shelter, etc any migrant worker—regardless if you are a business or a church.

There are more than business impacts to these raids and new ICE policy. Families are now being torn apart and will have to figure out new solutions to new government imposed problems.
Relatives of workers rounded up in the raid said they were shocked and blasted the U.S. government for treating hard-working people like violent criminals, lamenting that now dozens of families will be suddenly torn apart.

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do now," said one 29-year-old undocumented Mexican worker who escaped the local raid.

"But I know I have to find some kind of work, my kids have to eat," said the man, who declined to be named.

Lucia Andino said her husband had his papers ready when officials arrived, but a boy who has been living with them and worked for the company for 11/2 years didn't.
"This is an injustice, what they are doing," she said. "Why don't they look for real criminals? An American would never repair a pallet for 25 cents. They would rather be unemployed."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

CREW Files DOJ Complaint against Pete Sessions

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) today filed a Department of Justice (DOJ) complaint against Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) for official actions he may have taken on behalf of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, as well as possible bribes he may have accepted from a San Francisco defense technology company. The complaint asks for the DOJ to immediately begin an investigation into Rep. Sessions.

Abramoff Ties
CREW’s complaint alleges that Rep. Sessions co-signed two letters, one to former Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2001 and another to former Interior Secretary Gale Norton in 2002, which benefitted Mr. Abramoff’s client, the Louisiana Coushatta. One month after his 2002 letter was sent, Rep. Sessions’ political action committee, PETE PAC, received $3,500 from the Louisiana Coushatta and another $3,500 from other tribes with casinos. Within 18 months, PETE PAC received $20,500 from tribes associated with Abramoff.

Rep. Sessions also traveled to Malaysia on an Abramoff-arranged trip with indicted public relations executive Michael Scanlon, two lobbyists from Abramoff’s firm Greenberg Traurig, one of which, Tony Rudy has been indicted, and two other Members of Congress, Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Gregory Meeks (D-NY). Prior to the trip, Rep. Sessions had shown no public interest in Malaysia, but four months after the trip, Rep. Sessions became an advocate for Malaysia by forming the Malaysia Trade, Security and Economic Cooperation in the House with trip-mate Rep. Meeks.

Promia Ties
Additionally, Rep. Sessions promoted the interests of Promia, a firm based in San Francisco that hired Session’s former communications director, Adrian Plesha, as vice president and director of its Washington office. Mr. Plesha pleaded guilty to felony charges related to FEC offences shortly after he began working for Promia.

Promia was able to garner a nearly $800,000 Navy research and development contract in May, 2000 and Rep. Sessions, along with Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), publicly worked to get an additional $8 million for Promia through a Department of Defense grant.

In October 2000, the same month that Promia received $2 million from Trautman Wasserman & Co., a New York venture capital firm, Rep. Sessions received the maximum allowed — $1,000 each, from eight Promia executives for his re-election campaign. In 2002, Promia gave $30,000 to PETE PAC. In total Promia and its executives have contributed nearly $55,000 to Rep. Sessions since 2000 – by far the largest contribution Promia has made to any Member of Congress.

“Why would Rep. Sessions, who represents a northern Texas district, work so hard for and receive so much cash from a San Francisco firm?” Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW asked today. “The Department of Justice should open a criminal investigation to determine whether the campaign contributions Rep. Sessions received from Abramoff, the tribes and from Promia executives were a quid pro quo for official actions.”

The DOJ complaint and the attached exhibits are available here.

We Don't Want Them, You Take Them

Some had speculated that Press Secretary Scott McClellan would be the next to go, and I thought they were crazy. Well, they were crazy... like a fox.

Scott McClellan "resigned" today and is probably coming back to Texas. Those same people that thought McClellan was going to resign have thought he would come back to help on mom's campaign (One tough four named grandma), and I have to admit that is a major possibility.

The article also announces that Karl Rove will be working with diminished capacity.
In another move in an ongoing shakeup of the White House staff, longtime confidant and adviser Karl Rove is giving up oversight of policy development to focus more on politics with the approach of the fall midterm elections, a senior administration official said Wednesday.
Is this a sign? Can we expect the resignation of Rove soon? Will he simply work to "ensure that the House remains in Republican control"?

While Rove is out saving the Republican party from itself, the new acting deputy chief of staff is Joel Kaplan. Kaplan is the White House's deputy budget director and will be filling both roles for now.

Senator Russ Feingold/ Future Congressman John Courage

Yesterday I was bouncing between the capitol, the Feingold/Courage events, and starting a new job. The Feingold/Courage events were amazing and my respect for Senator Feingold increased each time I heard him speak.

Rather than trying to re-invent the wheel, Burnt Orange Report has two impressive write ups on the days events-- the UT Town Hall and the Jovita's Event.

Take a look at the pictures and stories, listen to the audio, and sign up for your own Courage updates today!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Day Two: On the Third Strike

Want to know what has happened in the two days since getting back to Austin? Nothing. Not a thing. My thoughts are, three strike and let's get rid of the current leadership.

The legislature has 28 days left until the 3rd call is over (a.k.a the fourth attempt), and they have wasted two days on honoring people’s anniversaries, engagements, and congratulating schools on championships even though they might not be opening next term.

Ok, maybe they are doing what all the lobbyist, advocates, and non-profits are doing… waiting until after the Pink Dome/In the Pink Party is over to actually do something.

It’s true that the House convened 13 committee meetings today and submitted 14 bills for the consideration of the floor and committees, but they also submitted 14 more resolutions honoring people in some way and the Senate is just sitting in a holding pattern until the House does something.

The only highlight is Lon Brunam is once again leading the charge on doing what is right and has submitted a plan for long term solvency to fix the education system in Texas.

Capitol Annex has a laundry list of bills coming in and the text (I am actually kind of scared to see how Vince is keeping up with this). I am keeping my eye on the House and Senate journals but so far they aren’t on the floor past noon. At this point expect most of these bills and all of the constitutional amendments that are proposed to die in committee.

For the first days journal visit here and day two here.

Tuesday Morning New Round Up

In Austin it’s the same story, different chapter. Legislators from across the state are getting together to talk a lot and do very little. Well, except for Frank Madla who is calling it quits early.

Burnt Orange Report
writes about Rep Lon Bernam’s attempt to legislate real solutions for our schools, business, and individuals.

Having been hit by two “rolling” blackouts yesterday I am going to start calling them what they are—further proof that it is already hot and we need to figure out a renewable source of power NOW. There will be more targeted, rolling blackouts today.

Chip Haas has a blog now. It has long been rumored that Councilman Haas is looking for something new to do when he is term limited out next year, this is just more proof.

May 15th will be the big day for baseball fans in San Antonio because the city has decided to impose a deadline for a Marlin’s commitment.
County Judge Nelson Wolff, the local point man in discussions about the possible relocation of Major League Baseball's Florida Marlins to San Antonio, notified Marlins officials in writing Monday he has imposed a May 15 deadline for the team to commit to a plan to move here.

Wolff's letter concluded with a tongue-in-cheek comment to drive home his point, saying "we need to fish or cut bait by May 15."

County Commissioner Lyle Larson went a step further by criticizing how compulsively the city baits the hook. Larson called for an end to what he termed "groveling" by local officials eager to secure a second major-league team for the city.
And today is a Day with Courage. John Courage and Senator Russ Feingold will be doing multiple events. You should come and if you can’t you should sign up to find out what other events are going on in your area.

Assuming the power stays on, I will have more for you on todays shenanigans.

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Day of Courage

Free Public Listening Session
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Quadrangle Room, University of Texas Student Union
featuring Senator Feingold and John Courage

Sponsored by: University Democrats, Students With Courage
Contact Ali Puente

Limited capacity; first come, first served; no lineups before 10 a.m.

This event will follow the guidelines of the free public listening sessions that Senator Feingold has done all over the country. The room provides for a cozy setting for a discussion of politics and progress. Questions will be submitted by the audience. Please note, it is first come, first served; get there early.

"An Intimate Evening"
5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
at the historic Travis Heights home of Susan Frost
806 Rosedale Terrace
featuring Senator Feingold and John Courage

Sponsored by: Democracy for Texas

A limited number of $50 tickets; sponsorships available at $250, $500, $1,000, $1,500, and $2,100;for tickets and sponsorship info contact Fran Vincent at

Enjoy an intimate early evening with Senator Feingold and John Courage at the beautiful historic Travis Heights home of Susan Frost. Weather permitting, Senator Feingold and John Courage will address the party from the rooftop overlooking the Austin skyline. A fantastic setting, you don't want to miss it!

7:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
an affordable and fun celebration of music and politics
Jovita's Restaurant
1619 South First Street
featuring Senator Feingold and John Courage

With special guests: Jim Hightower, South Austin Jug Band, Grassy Knoll Boys, Jelly Jar, Texas Youth Word Collective and more!

$25 tickets; Front Gate Tickets or in person at Encore Video & CD, Stubbs BBQ, or Waterloo Records; sponsorships available at $250, $500, $1,000, $1,500, and $2,100;for sponsorship info contact Fran Vincent at

Come and relax with some great tunes and some even better company. This will definitely be an evening you do not want to miss. The capacity is only 400, so be sure to get your tickets early!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Coalition Called Healthcare for Austin Says Yes on Prop. 6

Austin City Council Members Brewster McCracken, Betty Dunkerley and Lee Leffingwell will introduce a coalition of supporters, Healthcare for Austin, for Proposition 6 Tuesday, April 18 at City Hall Plaza. The announcement will include leaders from the community, business, non-profit, labor and health care arenas discussing the importance of passing Prop. 6.

Proposition 6 would remove the City Charter restriction on city employee benefits and allow the city to offer inclusive and comprehensive health insurance benefits that work best for all employees and their families. Passing Proposition 6 is right thing to do for health care, good business practice, fairness and economic development.

McCracken, Dunkerley and Leffingwell sponsored the council action to put Proposition 6 to the voters on May 13. Prop. 6 asks: Shall the City Charter be amended to restore a city employee's ability to purchase additional benefit coverage, by repealing Article IX, Section 4 (Employee Benefits) of the City Charter?

What: Press conference announcing a coalition of supporters, Healthcare for Austin, for Proposition 6 on the May 13 city ballot. Discuss reasons and need to pass Prop. 6.

Where: City Hall Plaza, 301 West 2nd Street, Austin, TX 78701

When: Tuesday, April 18 at 10 a.m.

Who: City Council Members; employee and public safety labor leaders; community, business, non-profit and health care leaders.

Healthcare for Austin is a coalition of Austinites working to lift the City Charter restrictions on city employees' options to purchase health insurance for their family members.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Put Your Hands In the Air...

A Varig airlines cargo plane from Brazil sits parked at the Mexico City airport with its nose up in the air after the cargo was unevenly distributed. Needless to say, the airline is struggling.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Broken Contract with America

It appears the Republican Party has broken some promises. First on the list is the “aging prom queen” Kay Bailey Hutchison. Apparently she only wanted to serve two terms, and was so adamant about it that she tried to write term limits with then Senator John Ashcroft.

Kay? Did you change your mind because you want to be the first female Vice President or don’t you value the promises you make to voters? Maybe you value your promises as much as you value a Veterans Hospital south of San Antonio.

Here is some of the highlights on promises the Republican Party made:
  1. We would be landing a man on Mars by 2010
  2. Social Security Reform
  3. Increased Education Spending (namely, increased funding to Pell Grants)
  4. Capture Osama Bin Laden
  5. Smaller Government (why did the government get involved in the Teri Schiavo case?)
  6. Increase Port Security
  7. Self Imposed Term Limits (it is both in the Contract with America and now in personal statements)
  8. Coordinated Emergency Response (Sadly, not much changed in the time between 9/11 and Katrina)
  9. Ethics Reform
I vote with my values and I value my promises, apparently our elected officials don’t think the same way.

Annatopia, Capital Annex, My DD, and Kos have more on breaking the broken promises by the Republican Party and KBH.

Democratic Farm Team Looks Strong

Vince Leibowitz wrote something that made me start thinking. If Rick Perry were to vacate his seat to become a Vice Presidential nominee or lose reelection, how many strong Republican campaigners are left and how many have the want and ambition to do it. In comparison, how deep is the Democratic bench?

I am not going to deny there is an obvious bias because I know one party better than the other. So please feel free to discuss the fine points of my analysis, but simply looking out current State House members and candidates the Democratic bench seems deeper and stronger than the Republicans. It seems like the Republican Party has become complacent with their statewide successes.

Keep in mind it is hard to maintain a super majority for any length of time and currently that is what the Republicans have. Like with anything, to win 60% of the House and Senate and maintain it, means you have to stretch resources farther and work to defend seats instead of working to take seats. It addition to this, the Republican party has to work about the State Supreme Court, local judicial races, and the State Board of Education—focusing on all of these fronts is no small task.

The Democrats had net victories for the first time since losing the majority last cycle and they are in a good place to net up to 5 or 6 seats. The conservative guess is a net of 3 seats plus the recent primary victory of Miles.

But how does this mean the Democrats are stronger for the long haul? Simple, county parties have been working to take back city councils and mayors office in urban areas like Houston, San Antonio, and DFW. Most of these seats are term limited seats and that causes a need to shuffle talent. The only places to put these people are school boards, judicial places, county positions, vacant state rep seats, or get them to challenge bad D’s or incumbent R’s.

Look at the recent list of legislators who are either positioning themselves for something else, in an area were they can move up to something else, or could run for a statewide office. The top of the list for the Democrats are: Rafael Anchia, Pete Gallego (although limited by Carlos Uresti’s rising star status in SD 19), Juan Garcia, Aaron Pena, Mark Strama, Mike Villarreal, Hubert Vo, and Kirk Watson. This doesn’t even factor in the impressive grouping of John Courage, Shane Sklar, David Harris, Harriet Miller, Julian Castro, Borris Miles, Valinda Bolton, and Donna Howard.

On the Republican side, the only people that are hinting at higher ambitions or show the long term qualifications to run statewide are Leo Berman, Diana Patrick, Mike Krusee, Dan Branch, Robert Talton (maybe as soon as this November in the TX-22), and Toby Goodman and Tony Goolsby (if they can win tough re-election races).

Usually leadership positions like Lt Gov and Attorney General become the breeding ground for Gov and US Senate, but Gregg Abbot, Tom Craddick, and the rest of the leadership is either to worn to run higher or would not garner the universal support to win a statewide race. Craddick is too far to the right, and would alienate moderate D’s and independents and Abbot doesn’t play well on TV for certain reasons.

Even in San Antonio we are seeing the same situation. On a local level there are perennial candidates Steve Salyer, Noel Suniga, and Cynthia Test and viable long term candidate Kevin Wolff. On the Democratic side, you have Chip Haas, Art Hall, Mynor Rodriguez, Melissa Kazen, and the Castro Brothers.

Why the sudden resurgence of the party? Simply put, when your back is against the wall and you have no long term support or infrastructure, you take matters into your own hands (much like what Glen Maxey did running races and developing a Travis County database. Ever heard of “Keep Austin Blue”?).

Now that the state party is developing a VAN database and putting organizers in the field, watch for the depth of candidates to grow and get tapped into for State Board of Education and State Court positions and not just the legislature.

The Democratic Party is seeing a resurgence in Texas and that is do in large part to people being tired of waiting for the pendulum to swing back. Will we be blue next year? No. Will we be blue in time for the 08 election? Probably not, but because of the development of our farm team, we may be purple by then.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Valerie Corte Swears She is Ready for Special

Valerie Ryder Corte will be sworn in as the Temporary Acting State Representative for House District 122 at the special legislative session set to begin on Monday, April 17 at 2:00 pm.

Friends, family and media are invited to attend a reception for Corte beginning at 11:30 am on Monday in Room 4N.6 of the State Capitol, as well as the swearing in ceremony in the House chambers.

"I am exited about this new endeavor because I care about our community, District 122 and my husband. I plan on representing them all to the fullest of my abilities over the next few months," commented Valerie about her new role.

Frank Corte has been deployed to Iraq and will not be able to serve during the special session. His wife will be serving for the next few months.

Larry Stallings is challenging Frank Corte in the November General Election.

Former Senator to Announce Presidential Run

Why wait until after the 2006 mid-terms when you can announce the monday after Easter?

To: Assignment Desk, Political Reporter, Daybook Editor

Contact: Elliott Jacobson, 202-558-6394 or 202-460-8340 (cell) for Gravel for President 2008

News Advisory:

Former United States Senator Mike Gravel (D-Alaska, 1969-1980) will announce his candidacy for the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States.

WHEN: Monday, April 17, 10 a.m. EDT

WHERE: The National Press Club, Zenger Room, 13th Floor, 529 14th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20045

Paid for by Mike Gravel for President 2008

I wish this was a joke, but while Senator Feingold and Gov Warner are out campaigning to win back the house on Monday, Senator Gravel will begin campaigning for himself.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Runoff Analysis

Well the runoff went off with more of a thud than a bang. The only close race was in Houston between incumbent Al Edwards and political newcomer and underdog, Borris Miles. Even in that race, Miles won by nearly 6 points after being behind in early vote.

The real shock of the evening isn’t who won, but how much of a landslide most of these races were.

US Senate nominee Barbara Radnofsky wasn’t on the ballot in Maverick County, and she won with nearly 60% of the total votes. She won 210 counties and tied 3. The weird thing isn’t that Radnofsky lost some counties, but the voter turnout in the areas she lost.
Voter Turnout by County:
Jasper County had 11%
LaSalle had 21%
Limestone had 11%
Matagorda had 16%
Pecos had 18%
Red River had 19%
Terrell had 44%
Upton 15%
Willacy 20%
She only lost in west and east Texas, and I suspect it was Republican voters voting in the Democratic primary to affect the top of the ticket. With only 2% voting statewide, it is odd to see the majority of districts that voted against Radnofsky be Republican leaning in the high teens and low 20’s in turnout.

The Lt Gov race’s breakdowns are not nearly as interesting. Maria Alvarado won in the Rio Grande Valley, El Paso, and San Antonio. I was wrong about Houston, it went Ben Grant, and so did Austin, Dallas Fort Worth and east Texas.

It didn’t matter though, because as Burnt Orange pointed out, most of the states voting occurred in the Valley Alvarado was able to win by way more than the 2 point margin I predicted.

Then there were the House races. Valinda Bolton took Jason Earle down handily and only proved the point that women do well in HD 47. Bolton won all but 4 of the precincts, tied in one, and one had 0 votes (sad but true).

I don’t think anyone predicted a 34 point win, but with decisive victories in both the early vote and Election Day, I am optimistic that Bolton will be able to beat Republican nominee Bill Welch because she has already won twice as the underdog. She put together an effective campaign with less money and a strong field program against Earle who has a popular father, strong name ID, and recent family victory with the resignation of Tom DeLay. Yesterday none of that mattered and I see Austin being completely blue after November.

In Houston, Borris Miles upset incumbent Al Edwards. This was a race that proves the point that people are tired of the do-nothing legislature. Edwards authored the fewest bills in the house and was non-responsive to his district. Like the Frank Madla race in SD 19, Edwards was complacent because he hadn’t been challenged in a while, and Miles was able to capitalize on the disdain for the legislature and provide a strong message of change. Congrats to Greg Wythe and HERA on the campaign.

Finally San Antonio and the Republican race for HD 118. With a little over 1,000 votes cast, George Antuna will face Joe Farias in November. This is a must hold seat for Bexar county and the Texas Democratic party. It will be targeted by both parties and should be fun to watch. I predict a win for Farias now, but we are still 7 months out and anything can happen.

Here are the links for complete result on the Republican and Democratic run off.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Time to Stick My Neck Out

There is something to be said about predicting winners, but the problem is there is something to be said when you are flat out wrong.

Let's start with the top of the ticket:

US Senate
Barbara Radnofsky is going to take it because she will over perform in the major, urban and that will be the ball game.

Lt Gov
Hard one to call, but I am going to say Maria Alvarado wins by two points. This is really a matter of turnout only. Ben Grant will do well in North and East Texas but Alvarado will do well in West Texas in the Valley. I predict San Antonio and El Paso along with Houston for Alvarado and Dallas, Austin the panhandle for Grant.

State House Districts:

HD 42
Richard Raymond will win easily. He was 32 votes away last time, and he campaigns well.

HD 47
Valinda Bolton will win by a dozen or so votes. She out performed in March and people need to remember to get out there again, but women do well in the district and with DeLay going on the offensive against the Earle family, Jason Earle's electability in November has to be called into question.

HD 146
Another close one. I am rooting for Boris Miles, but if he does it will be an upset. Even though Al Edwards has lost touch with his district and never legislates on anything except sexy cheerleading, he is still an incumbent. I think Miles will do it, and win by 2 points.

Runnoff Election Is Today- GO VOTE


On your way to work go vote for Barbara Radnofsky and Maria Alvarado. If you aren't sure where to vote, check out the Bexar County Elections website.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Senfronia Thompson Wants to be Speaker

Breaking News from Quorum Report:

This afternoon, Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) announced her candidacy for Speaker of the Texas House. She has filed her papers with the Texas Ethics Commission and expects to begin collecting pledge cards soon.

From her statement titled "A Woman Seeks More House Work":, "Representative Thompson stated that her decision to run for Speaker is based on her personal experience during the past three and half years. Bi-partisanship has disappeared and the result has been harmful not only to our schoolchildren and taxpayers, but to the House as a whole. Republicans and Democrats in the House have been punished for voting their districts and their consciences. Some Republican colleagues have been defeated by the Speaker and his supporters for voting against a voucher system that would do injury to their own school districts, Thompson pointed out."

"I can no longer stand by quietly and watch such damage be done to this Institution without complaining loudly and vigorously," Ms. Thompson reiterated. " I urge my fellow members, Democrat and Republican, to join me to restore dignity, fairness, balance and progress to the House of Representatives. The legislators who preceded us and those who will follow us deserve to know that in 2007, the House will declare a clear, loud "NO" to partisanship and Big Lobby power and said yes to the voters and children of Texas."

The Latest from Boyd Richie

Boyd Richie subtly announced today that he will join Glen Maxey in running a positive campaign for state party chair. The SDEC may vote on an in-term chair on April 22nd instead of waiting a few weeks and letting the state party delegates pick their chair-- needless to say this has caused a continuous debate among some.

Here is Richie’s e-mail:
The campaign for Texas Democratic Chairman is about to enter it's most intense phases and that reminds me of a story President Johnson once told about what happens to people's emotions in politics.

It seems when the President was a boy and his father was a State Representative he was with his father late the night a session ended. Too excited to sleep he and his Dad went over to their Senator's office where his Dad and the Senator decide to play a joke on the District Judge back in Fredericksburg.

First they called the Judge, which early in the last century was a major event. Then when they had awakened the Judge and had him on the phone the Senator announced, "Judge you know money is tight so we had to cut the budget and your court was the most recent created so it got abolished."

"Well you didn't abolish it without a hearing did you?" the Judge hollered.

"No we had a hearing" the Senator assured him.

"Well who testified my court should be abolished?" the judge demanded.

"The head of the local Bar Association..."

"Why he is a shyster lawyer and his daddy represented cattle thieves," the Judge cut in.

"the Banker there in town..."

"He cheats widows and orphans and charges usurious rates," the Judge shouted.

"and the Mayor."

"He's a crook, he stole his way into office.He stuffed the ballot boxes," the judge screamed.

At this point, Johnson's Dad grabbed the phone, "Judge calm down. No one came over here and testified to abolish your court.Your court is in the Budget. The budget is passed and signed and you're fine for 2 more years."

This was met with silence at the other end of the line.

"Now Judge doesn't that make you feel better?" Rep. Johnson asked.

"Yea," the Judge replied, "but those were some terrible untrue things you made me say about three of the best friends a man could ever have."

Now I don't want this campaign to cause fellow Democrats to say "terrible untrue things" about each other no matter how intense this campaign becomes.We gain nothing if a contest over leadership divides rather than unifies our Party before the important November elections.

We have run a campaign that I am proud to say has and continues to receive the enthusiastic support of Texas Democratic leaders from all parts of the state and all elements of the Party. I believe this is because we have run a positive campaign about how I want to unify and build this Party so we can and will win again.

We have not and will not say "terrible untrue things" about my opponents.Both are honorable men who have and will make great contributions to our Party.I simply believe that at this time I can do a better job of uniting and leading this Party.

This needs to be a clash of visions and ideas not of invectives and personal attacks.I have told those who support me to speak the truth and campaign on what I hope to achieve.For the benefit of our Texas Democratic Party, and I hope to the detriment of the Republicans, that is the kind of campaign everyone running for Texas Democratic State Chairman will wage.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Mike Villarreal Seeks Input for Special Session

School finance, new tax plans, and a question-and-answer session are planned for a town hall meeting with Rep. Mike Villarreal set for Monday.

The meeting will include discussion on the upcoming special session, plus strategies to get constituents involved. The meeting is from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Brackenridge High School, 400 Eagleland.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Cute or Scary?

That really is a bunny... no photoshop, no gimmick, just rabbits.

Friday, April 07, 2006

National News Round Up

After less than a day, the Senate’s bi-partisan compromise on immigration has fallen apart and there are now talks of tabling Immigration Reform in the Seante. Keep in mind this is a Bush priority and a key point of his State of the Union.

Might be why Bush and the Republican Congress are seeing the lowest approval ratings yet. Democrats are also getting a near majority of people surveyed saying they want a Democratic Congress. The best quote in the article has got to be:

"I'd just as soon they shut (Congress) down for a few years," said Robert Hirsch, 72, a Republican-leaning voter in Chicago. "All they do is keep passing laws and figuring out ways to spend our money."

Interesting, and not a bad idea Mr Hirsch.

The most surprising news today is that neither the White House nor President Bush is denying that Bush played some role in the release of Valerie Plame’s identity to Robert Novak, Judith Miller, or anyone else.

At this point there defense is, “
There's nothing in that, that was declassified that could compromise our nation's security," McClellan said. "It was a historical context about some of the intelligence that was used in making the decision to go to war in Iraq."

Funny how they won't name the document or the people involved. I guess the point they are fogetting is that there was a name in that same report that was semi-historical and very classified. Instead of admitting that, the administration is just going to defend itself the same way it always does, for those that disagree, you are playing a game of “crass politics".

Seriously Folks...

The news seems so serious lately. The President and the White House not only performed illegal wire-tapping on American's, it seems they also outed a CIA agent. DeLay resigned, but now he is sending out people to harass Nick Lampson, and then there is always the whole immigration debate.

I think it is time to have fun with all these serious stories! After going through my site statistics, I found Gizoogle, which describes its self as a site that is, "fo all you beotches who wanna find shiznit".

So if you want to find some "shiznit" or want to see news with a fun twist, check it out!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Even With DeLay’s Absence the Culture of Corruption Continues

John Courage, candidate for the 21st Congressional District, released the following statement today on the resignation of Representative Tom DeLay:

"Tom DeLay's resignation should come as no surprise. The consequences of his unscrupulous behavior were inevitable, despite the fact that he employed tactics to try to postpone them, including appointing his long-time friend Lamar Smith to the House Ethics Committee last year. I twice asked Smith to resign from the Ethics Committee because of his inherent conflict of interest as a close ally of DeLay’s, and as a $10,000 contributor to his defense fund, but to no avail.

It is apparent that the culture of corruption in our nation’s capital did not end with DeLay’s resignation on Monday. Two of DeLay’s close aides have been convicted, Representative Bob Ney is under investigation, Duke Cunningham is on his way to prison, and Jack Abramoff’s ties to Republicans run all the way to the White House. We have every reason to believe that more of the same is on the way.

With DeLay’s fall from grace, Lamar Smith becomes the new leader of the Texas Republican delegation, despite the fact that he has been an ineffective advocate for Texans for the past nineteen years.

Smith has reduced medical services and V.A. Hospital capacity within the 21st District to an all-time low.

He has engineered the largest reduction in Pell grants for students, even though ten of the largest schools in the nation are in Texas.

Smith has supported countless pet projects of Tom DeLay’s like the Trans-Texas Corridor.

Now he’s trying to carry out another DeLay dream -- arming a civilian militia to guard the border between Texas and Mexico. His advocacy of this project, combined with his call for a $1.2 trillion wall, is out of step with virtually everyone, even in his own party.

The people of the 21st District deserve someone in Congress who represents them, not his cronies in Washington. On November 7, they will have the opportunity to make a much-needed change. The 21st District needs Courage in Congress.”

Senate Immigration Debate Over?

According to and other sources, the Senate has reached a deal that would, "provide for enhanced border security, regulate the future flow of immigrants into the United States and offer legalized status to the millions of men, women and children in the country unlawfully."

Other details include:

Illegal immigrants here longer than five years would not be required to return home; those in the country less than two years would be required to leave without assurances of returning, and take their place in line with others seeking entry papers.

The debate is not over until the votes are cast, but it seems like bipartisanship may prevail in DC.

Immigration Debate Rages On

With all this DeLay stuff going on, and all the rumors swirling around the state about TX-22, it is easy to over look an important policy debate going on in Washington right now.

The Texas blog-o-sphere has been impressively active on the topic, and I have made an effort to find as many articles as I can, so please take a moment and read what other brilliant writers have to say.

The debate on migrant workers and their families stand at two different levels- policy and personal.

The personal side are the countless protests by citizens and both local and statewide politicians (like Republican Governor Jeb Bush), who are uniformly asking the federal government not to push the Lamar Smith House version that would build a $1.2 trillion wall and require a mass deportation of 11 million undocumented migrant workers and their families.

As describes it, the other side consists of the disconnected DC fraction that group people into three groups:

Those who had been in the country the longest, more than five years, would not be required to return to their home country before gaining legal status. They would be subject to several tests, including the payment of fines and back taxes, and be required to submit to a background check, according to these officials.

Illegal immigrants in the United States less than five years but more than two would be required to go to a border point of entry, briefly leave and then be readmitted to the United States. As with the longer-term illegal immigrants, other steps would be required for re-entry, after which they could begin seeking citizenship, these officials said.

Illegal immigrants in the United States less than two years would be required to leave the country and join any other foreign residents seeking legal entry.

These groupings were established because of an inability for conservatives to compromise on the bipartisan McCain/Kennedy bill that would allow for an earned citizenship classification and create the guest worker program President Bush supports.

Rebeca Chapa has a write up in the Express-News discussing the economic implications of immigration for the United States. Chapa argues that economic impact is a wash until we enforce current laws because they create wealth at the same rate they use social programs.

However, if we created a guest worker program,, documented current migrant workers, and implemented the already written policy incentives, then migrant workers would make closer to the minimum wage and use less social programs to supplement their income. In addition creating a stronger health care system, would decrease the cost for businesses (small and corporate) and decrease the cost of emergency medicine.

Hence the McCain/Kennedy bill in the Senate.

Rallies are continuing across the country and state and a large/organized rally will occur Monday in San Antonio, visit here for national march information.

We are still two or three days away from knowing how the federal government feels about states rights, workers rights, and the sanctity of family. I have a hunch they are going to write a law that is more in line with the House version than the McCain/Kennedy version. This would affectively give corporations an advantage over small business and yank parents away from children.

It is up to you to make sure that our legislators know how to vote.

For more background and the progression of this story visit the following sites:
Readers Know the Details:
Pink Dome- Here

Student Protests:
Kuff- Here and Here
People’s Republic of Seabrook- Here
Capital Annex- Here

General Overview:
Burnt Report- Here
Pink Dome- Here
Capital Annex- Here
Eye On Williamson County- Here

Colorado Rep Tom Tancredo:
Pink Dome- Here
People’s Republic of Seabrook- Here
And here are some of my older posts, here and here. Did I miss anything?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

You Hit Me! You are Bad for National Security!

Let’s start with one simple fact, our civil servants and first responders deserve respect and should be applauded for the hard work that they do day in and day out. However while respect should be our guttural instinct, it can easily be lost.

That brings us to what happened yesterday at the capitol between U.S. Capitol Police and sitting Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. After being asked to provide credentials and being grabbed by the police, McKinney struck the officer.
“He reached out and grabbed her and she turned around and hit him,” Capitol Police Cheif Terrance Gainer said on CNN. “Even the high and the haughty should be able to stop and say, ’I’m a congressman’ and then everybody moves on.”

Rep McKinney apologized and the story should be over, right? Not if you are Republican leadership and are trying to hide from bad polling numbers, the resignation of your former boss, and generally getting your butt kicked on policy issues (Social Security, Workers Rights, etc).

Republican leaders immediately jumped on the old phrase, “Democrats are bad on security”. This seems a bit interesting with new revelation about the Homeland Security Department.
“This is not about personality,” added House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. “It’s not about racial profiling. It’s about making this place safer.”

“Cynthia McKinney is a racist,” Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said on Fox News Channel, a day after abandoning his reelection bid under a cloud of ethics charges. “She has a long history of racism. Everything is racism with her. This is incredible arrogance that sometimes hits these members of Congress, but especially Cynthia McKinney.”

Capitol Police have turned the case over to U.S. Attorney Kenneth Wainstein, who must decide whether to clear the way for any charges against McKinney. An official in his office said no announcement was expected Wednesday.
In order to waste more time and avoid passing legislation that help Americans, House Republicans have decided to pass a non-binding resolution that “supports Capitol police”.

Republicans, meanwhile, presented a resolution commending Capitol police for professionalism toward members of Congress and visitors — even though they “endure physical and verbal assaults in some extreme cases.”
“I don’t think it’s fair to attack the Capitol Police and I think it’s time that we show our support for them,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., a sponsor of the measure. Ignoring a police officer’s order to stop, or hitting one, “is never OK,” McHenry said.
If McHenry was serious about showing his support, why not increase funding for police across the country or develop policies that promote port security?

I am not going to defend McKinney. It’s not my place. But as the 41st President George Bush pointed out last night, these are the most partisan times America has faced, and instead of having a debate on what can be done to improve real security issues or relations with Capitol Police and Congress… we see more partisan sniping by the Republican leadership.

Excepts taken from Associated Press article posted on

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

George Bush Speaks at Trinity University TONIGHT

With all the DeLay news and speculation, I nearly forgot about this:
George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, will present Trinity University'’s Flora Cameron Lecture on Politics and Public Affairs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, in Laurie Auditorium. His presentation is free and open to the public.
If you don't already know about the 41st president, here is the bio he submitted to Trinity. In the past they have had an unmoderated question and answer period... could be fun to watch.

Nick Lampson Responds to DeLay Resignation

As many of you may have heard, last night Rep. Tom DeLay announced he would not seek re-election.

From day one, I have been running this race because Southeast Texans need a congressman who will make headlines for the right reasons. I have spent the past several weeks talking to voters about my vision for stronger homeland security, plans to provide for NASA and cutting our massive debt and deficit. I will continue to push these issues from now until November.

I will continue traveling the district talking about important issues and laying out my plans to bring Texas values back to the 22nd congressional district. Because of you, we will have the support we need to run a formidable campaign, no matter who I face in the general election.

I urge you to volunteer for our campaign. And I urge you to help us grow our grassroots team, and invite your friends to join our team.

The voters of this district have made it clear they are ready for a change. I am going to work hard to reach out to each and every one of them. I'm grateful for the support I have gotten so far, and my campaign is only getting stronger. We are going to win this race.

Monday, April 03, 2006

DeLay To Resign

Nobody has any real information except that DeLay will be stepping down and away from certain defeat in the TX-22.

CNN has the official story, Swing State has preliminary analysis, and the Texas Blog-o-sphere is going crazy. The real question is, can the Republican Party of Texas put one of their cronies in his place or is his seat vacant now? Burnt Orange has the first round speculation on that question, but answers are few and far between.

More answers to come as we get them, and all tips are welcomed.

A commenter at BOR has this useful information:
Chapter 145, Election Code, the Republicans can not replace him on the ballot if he were declared ineligible by the State party Chair, and that can only be done if he is declared unable to serve by a physician or if he becomes ineligible to hold the seat, which could occur if:
a. He could convince the Chair (and a Court) that he has moved his permanent residence out of the state, or
b. If he were finally convicted of a felony - two things that would disqualify him as a Texas Member.

Quorum Report: DeLay Brings Down Party

From the Quorum Report:

Anecdotal information from the Tom Delay's district clearly indicated many Republicans intended to sit out the election giving Democrat Nick Lampson a chance.

But the bigger story may be the drag he was becoming on the entire ticket. Having worked to build a Republican majority, Delay was on the edge of being responsible for its loss.

Matt Angle, former chief of US Rep. Martin Frost, runs the Lone Star Project out of Washington, DC. Angle says DeLay’s mission is now complete.

"Tom DeLay has managed to remove every single leader in the Texas delegation, including himself," Angle said. "He’s removed three ranking members, a key whip and now the majority leader of the House."

In Washington, there has been some speculation whether DeLay can remove himself from the ballot in Congressional District 22 at all, post-primary. Typically, under Texas law, the only way a candidate would be taken off the ballot is either to lie or to move out of state. The question, legally, is whether the ballot has been certified, and whether this timing – between the primary and run-off – is a loophole that gives the Republican Party a chance to offer up another candidate in Congressional District 22.

When contacted, the Texas Secretary of State's Office withheld comment pending legal review tomorrow morning. If the Governor can call a special election to replace Mr. Delay, it is not far fetched to believe that he can be placed on the ballot.

Tom DeLay easily swept the Republican primary in a safe Republican seat. Democrats speculate, however, that losing a third of the core Republican voters – added to the Democrat and independent voters in the general election – might have been enough to give DeLay pause when it comes to November.

Dan Rostenkowski, the former powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, went down in the House check-kiting scandal and later lost his own seat under similar circumstances, except in a safe Democratic district. A powerful House leader, faced with scandal, wins a primary but loses the general election.

Moussaoui Eligible for Death Penalty

The verdict came in at 3 pm CST, Zacarias Moussaoui is eligible for the death penalty. Not much more to say.

San Antonio Marlins May Hinge on TV Deal

The talks of MLB in San Antonio have grown rapidly from a buzz to a roar. Now there are some details about what the deal would like and what long term incentives need to be carved out for the Marlin’s to move to the Alamo City.

No. 1 is the team's need for a TV deal that would generate millions of dollars per season.

"(Stadium) naming rights, suite deals, season-ticket sales, corporate support — without all of that there is no franchise," Marlin’s President David Samson said. "But TV revenue is the engine that keeps the train rolling."

Things are looking good for San Antonio. County Judge Nelson Wolff has been putting together all of the pieces and earned praise and support from legends like Nolan Ryan, but TV is the lynchpin.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who is spearheading local efforts to lure the Marlins, has received 36 nonbinding commitments from area businesses and individuals to rent suites at a cost of $100,000-$200,000 a season. A proposed stadium for the Marlins in Bexar County would include 69 suites.

Bexar County has offered $200 million toward a ballpark, which the team estimates would cost at least $310 million, if voters approve an extension of the tourism taxes paying for the AT&T Center. An election could come as early as November.

The funding for a new stadium seems assured if MLB and the Marlin’s give the green light to a November bond issue, and Samson is clear that the talks of moving the Marlin’s are serious.

"It's overstating it to say talks have stalled (in Florida)," Samson said. "We aren't going back and forth with term sheets, but we are still having global discussions not unlike the talks we are having with Nelson."

Samson called Bexar County's stadium financing plan "an extraordinarily good start to the framework of a deal" but said the Marlins need more specifics and revenue guarantees from Wolff before committing $212 million for a stadium in San Antonio.

"When baseball examines this deal at the end of the day, it is my opinion they would not allow us to move anywhere for the same deal," Samson said. "They would want us to be in a better position."

That's where TV comes into play, Samson said.

The full story can be found here.

Retrospective: Broken Election Strategies

I have been staring at the numbers for the past few weeks trying to understand what happened. Some have speculated that 2006 favors women citing Laura Salina’s and Carla Vela’s narrow victories. Others are hypothesizing a Kinky/Strayhorn affect because of the abysmal 7% turnout. The most recent critique is the “old guard” effect—the idea that long time consultants are losing because of a failure to change with the times.

The answer to what is going on is, this a new era of elections and the old guard doesn't realize how to win in this tech savy, low turnout, republican era. How do I know this?

Let’s start with the Kinky/Strayhorn effect, but let’s call it what it is, voters are disenfranchised by both parties. If the Republicans weren’t screwing up the state and nation, Strayhorn wouldn’t be running as an Independent, and if Democrats were more responsive to their base and vocal about their stance, Kinky wouldn’t be breaking 10% in the polls.

Strayhorn didn’t effect the primary results the same way Kinky did, and that is only because those that Strayhorn appeals to are Republican, conservative moderates, and swing non-primary voters. She has been a Republican too long to have the same effects Kinky had.

Kinky on the other hand did shape the outcome of the elections. He kept first time voters like students away from the polls. He kept angry Democrats away because of his “maverick” appeal, and because he is charismatic. This is a problem obviously. In races were Kazen lost by a mere 7 votes and Vela won by a few hundred, his contribution to the 7% turnout can’t go unnoticed, but in 2002 Bexar county saw a 7% voter turnout with the high profile Sanchez/Morales Gov race and the Ron Kirk vs. Victor Morales Senate race.

So Kinky hasn’t had the overwhelming affect people are giving him credit for.

The other prevailing sentiment is that women are winning this cycle. I laugh at this. There are no polls, no statistics, and no studies that support any claim that women or men have an electoral advantage based on gender alone. There are countless studies saying that female speakers are more credible on particular issues like reproductive rights, but these same studies show that teachers are more credible on education and veterans on veteran’s issues and war. Laura Salinas won because she made a better pitch and the same is true for Carla Vela.

The “female advantage” doesn’t even hold up in the numbers. Maria Alvarado won 53% of the vote in early vote and Election Day, but Salinas only had 50% and Vela had 51%. While there is only a 3% spread, this verifies that races had there own particular dynamic. To further support this look at other women in the Democratic primary: Barbara Radnofsky – 53%, Karen Crouch—72%, and Linda Penn— 63%. With only 5 women with primary opponents (not including precinct chairs), there is no way to make the claim that a female had an advantage based on gender alone.

Finally, there is the old guard. The old guard, especially in judicial races, runs campaigns through direct mail only. Most of these pieces failed to activate voters that either didn’t care, didn’t see a difference, or wanted to vote 3rd party. There were either no or very little elements of field or general outreach, and zero effort in voter registration.

Most of these candidates did not have websites (one reason I think Peter Sakai won over Ralph Lopez), and most focused on the south side of the city because that is were most of the San Antonio “consultants” are.

Looking outside the box and strategically, countless things could have been done to dramatically change the outcome of March 7th-- simply implementing technology and basic field infrastructure, developing a minor campus or university presence or talking to more than the people that have voted in the past three primaries.

The reason for the outcome cannot and should not be blamed on Independent candidates, gender, or a lack of a statewide democratic message. All local campaigns have to do with one thing, talking to voters, and the old guard doesn’t focus on that. That is why our political landscape looks like it does now.