Via the City of Georgetown, MLK, Jr. ‘Dream’ Speech Commemoration On Saturday.
An event to mark the 50th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will be held at the Williamson County Courthouse on Saturday. The public commemoration begins at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 24. The event will be on the east steps of the Courthouse at 710 S. Main Street in Georgetown.
A reading of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is planned as part of the program for the event. The public is welcome to attend and participate.
The Georgetown event will coincide with a daylong program on Saturday in Washington to mark the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington and King’s “Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. The speech was a key moment in the history of civil rights in the U.S.
The event at the Williamson County Courthouse is co-sponsored by LULAC District VII, the Methodist Federation for Social Action, and the Central Texas NAACP.
Leading Democratic senators on Friday said Gov. Rick Perry has vetoed a bill that would make it easier for Texas women to sue employers in state court over pay discrimination.
On average, women are paid only 77 cents for every $1 earned by men, according to a 2010 study by the National Committee on Pay Equity. Proponents noted that sometimes women do not learn that they are being paid unfairly low amounts until after the 180 day period has expired.
“Today, one man has stripped them of the ability to seek equal pay for equal work,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Kirk Watson of Austin.
Fort Worth Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis, who carried the bill in the Senate, said women prefer to take equal-pay complaints before elected state judges, to be decided by Texas jurors.
“I am very surprised that Governor Perry does not see the value in it,” she said. “It’s a statement of his absolute disregard for the challenges that women … face in their lives.”
Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, who authored HB 950 mirroring the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, said she unaware that the group and the businesses opposed her bill, or that they sought a gubernatorial veto.
Among the businesses advocating for a veto was Kroger Food Stores.
“I shop at Kroger’s for my groceries,” Thompson said. “I shopped there just last week. I’m going to have to go to HEB now. I am really shocked.”
Also writing to seek a veto were representatives of Macy’s, the Houston grocery company Gerland Corp., Brookshire Grocery Company, Market Basket, the Texas Association of Business and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
HEB is a member of the Texas Retailers Association, but lobbyist Rusty Kelley said the company did not lobby against the bill.
The letters to Perry provide a behind-the-scene glimpse of the legislative process. Entities such as the Texas Retailers Association can seek a gubernatorial veto without the knowledge of sponsors. Thompson and her Senate counterpart, Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, say they were blind-sided by Perry’s veto and the retailers’ opposition.
Veteran Austin lobbyist Bill Miller said seeking a gubernatorial veto is a common lobby tactic. “That’s a smart play. You don’t fade the heat (by publicly opposing a bill) on the front end and you win on the back end.” He said that, except for the Chronicle’s open records request, “no one would be the wiser. You do what you gotta do to protect your client.”
In other words better to advocate against equal pay in the dark, then in the sunlight. This is how our plutocracy works, especially in Texas. It’s also the long-standing policies of Cheap Labor Conservatism. It’s clear that we need new leadership and it can’t, at least at this current time, come from anyone with an R next to their name.
During the question-and-answer period that followed her speech, Davis was asked what chance she thought a Democrat really had at being elected into office in her notoriously red state.
“You know, I think the question really is: What chance do new leaders have of winning elected office in the state of Texas?” she said. “I think the best way to talk about that is to talk about what Texans want to see in their government, and not to talk about it in party frames.”
In both her speech and the question period, Davis laid out her case against the current leadership, talking not only of the recent anti-choice bill that drew national attention, but also of the legislature’s 2011 bill that “strip[ped] $5.4 billion from our already underfunded public schools.” That attempt prompted her first, less-heralded filibuster, which despite the bill’s ultimate passage (which led to the layoffs of some 10,000 teachers), bought time for parents and teachers to travel to the capitol to voice their opposition, Davis said.
Sun City Social Center Ballroom
2 Texas Drive, Georgetown, Texas
Free! But please feel free to bring a donation.
Battleground Texas Leader Jeremy Bird speaks with Stephen Colbert.
Bird was the wizard behind Obama’s successful 2012 re-election campaign.
This event will be headlined by two top-ranking officials with the Battleground Texas (BGTX) organization: Cliff Walker, Political Director, and Megan Klein, Regional Director for Central Texas. They will speak on the BGTX’s sole mission and purpose of “Turning Texas Blue”.
Texas is the #1 State that the National Democratic Party is focusing on, among a Top Ten List of states that could and should have more Democratic voters turning out than Republican voters. So they are concentrating on getting both known and suspected Democrats, including millions of like-minded minorities, women and seniors, to become Registered Voters ASAP!
There’s more to know and more to get enthused about. But you’ll have to join us on Saturday, June 1 to see and hear it all, right from the lips of our Battleground Texas leaders.
Breakfast will consist of breakfast burritos, pastries, gluten-free pastries, watermelons filled with fruit, coffee and orange juice. Please join us!
Austin is the ninth stop on a 14-city tour that Brown, alternating with Alex Steele, the lead field organizer, are conducting across the state. An earlier meeting last month in Austin drew a crowd of 300 but that was more a pep rally. This was a little bit more nuts and bolts – “how do we get from here to there.”
Battleground Texas is the brainchild of former Obama campaign organizers. They are not the first or only people attempting to do what they are doing, but their arrival has had an energizing effect, drawing national attention, which can lead to national money, and bringing with them the secret organizational sauce that worked for the Obama campaign.
“What was the secret to the Obama campaign? We talked to voters, neighbors talked to neighbors,” said Brown. “That is 100 percent how we won the election.”
Old-school organizing would pay 250 field organizers to each knock on 50 doors a day – for a grand total of 12,500 doors knocked. The Obama campaign, instead, had those 250 field organizers each create five neighborhood teams, which would each recruit eight volunteers, who would each knock on 50 doors in a day, for a grand total of 500,000 doors knocked.
“It is unbelievably exponential and I know some of you think that’s impossible, but I will tell you, that it is not because I’ve seen it,” said Brown, who was the field organizer for Obama in Ohio in 2012, where she said, each of the last four weekends of the campaign, “we talked to the margin of victory,”
It’s the way the Obama campaign drove up turnout in North Carolina and made it a battleground state.
Brown refuses to be sucked into an expectations game.
“Republicans are saying right now, if we don’t win the governor’s race in 2014 this whole thing is a bust, and take the wind out of our sails. l know this is a long-term effort. I know it’s going to take time.”
If it doesn’t yield a statewide win in 2014, “that’s OK.” If Democrats don’t carry Texas in 2016, “that’s totally OK too.”
“If 2020 is the year we turn this state blue, that’s OK with me.”
All that said, “I’d like to do well in 2014, and convince somebody” – a quality candidate – “we’re here for them,” and to get the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee to seriously contest Texas.
The emotional high point of the meeting came when Brown completed her presentation and asked for questions and comments and called on a burly man with a brush cut, who proceeded to thunder, “I’ll just say that your chart says, have excitement and energy. I have no energy. I have no excitement. But I see this like a Medieval battle. I don’t care if I don’t get the governorship. I’m going to form a shield wall with my clipboard, I’m going to register people and I’m going to push that red wall back. I am powered by disgust and determination.”
“I detect a little excitement,” said Brown.
“I”ll be out here there registering voters in 102 degree weather with a jug of water and I won’t care,” said the man, an East Austin artist by the name of Arthur Schoenig.
The most hopeful sign to me about this effort is that they seem to understand that this must be a years-long battle that will take several election cycles. And they seem to understand that it all starts with registering more voters and then getting them to the polls on election day. All good signs. Be sure and go to their web site and sign up for email updates, if you haven’t done so already.
Former Obama campaign operatives are relocating in Texas as part of a group that plans to use the tools of Barack Obama’s reelection nationally to make Texas a competitive state in future presidential races. Texas is a prime piece of electoral property with 38 electoral votes. The state has been solidly Republican for 20 years. But a growing Hispanic population should help Democrats. Organizers of “Battleground Texas” say they’ll focus on identifying voters, getting them registered and turning them out to vote on Election Day. We wrote about the “Battleground Texas” in January.
What’s new is an announcement today that Jenn Brown, the Obama campaign field director in Ohio, will be executive director. And Christina Gomez, a former digital strategist for the Democratic National Committee, will direct high-tech and social media efforts. The on-line plan, so successful in Obama’s national campaign, will be a key part of the group’s strategy. Brown and Gomez will join political consultant and former Obama field director Jeremy Bird in Austin. “We know part of the problem is too few Texans are participating in the democratic process — so we’re bringing some of the best talent and strategies in politics to the Lone Star State to help expand the electorate by registering more voters and by mobilizing Texans.”
They’re saying the right things, in particular that this will be a years long struggle. So check them out and I wish them luck and will help in anyway that I can.
The American People will take Socialism, but they won’t take the label. I certainly proved it in the case of EPIC. Running on the Socialist ticket I got 60,000 votes, and running on the slogan to “End Poverty in California” I got 879,000. I think we simply have to recognize the fact that our enemies have succeeded in spreading the Big Lie. There is no use attacking it by a front attack, it is much better to out-flank them. - Upton Sinclair, Letter to Norman Thomas (25 September 1951)
The new study, Strengthening Social Security: What Do Americans Want?, finds a sharp contrast between what Americans say they want and changes being discussed in Washington, such as cutting benefits by using a “chained” Consumer Price Index to determine Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).
Large majorities of Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, agree on ways to strengthen Social Security — without cutting benefits. Fully 74% of Republicans and 88% of Democrats agree that “it is critical to preserve Social Security even if it means increasing Social Security taxes paid by working Americans.”
When asked the same question about increasing Social Security taxes for better-off Americans, 71% of Republicans and 97% of Democrats agree. Social Security taxes are paid by workers and their employers on earnings up to a cap ($113,700 in 2013). About 5% of workers earn more than the cap.
The survey used a new approach to measuring public opinion about Social Security. In addition to asking participants whether they would favor a particular change, they were asked to choose a preferred package of changes, much as lawmakers might do. Participants considered various combinations of 12 possible changes, including raising taxes; lowering benefits by raising the full retirement age, changing the COLA, or means-testing benefits; and increasing benefits.
The most favored package of changes — preferred to the status quo by seven in 10 participants across generations and income levels — would:
Gradually, over 10 years, eliminate the cap on earnings taxed for Social Security. This would mean that the 5% of workers who earn more than the cap would pay into Social Security all year, as other workers do.
Gradually, over 20 years, raise the Social Security tax that workers and employers each pay from 6.2% of earnings to 7.2%. The increase would be so gradual that someone earning $50,000 a year would pay about 50 cents a week more each year, with the employer’s share increasing by the same amount.
Increase the COLA to more accurately reflect the inflation actually experienced by seniors, who typically pay more out-of-pocket for medical care than other Americans.
Raise Social Security’s minimum benefit so that a worker who pays into Social Security for 30 years can retire at 62 or later with benefits above the federal poverty line ($10,788 in 2011). Currently, lifetime low-wage workers are at risk of falling into poverty in their old age, even after paying Social Security taxes throughout their working lives.
Social Security currently faces a projected long-term funding shortfall, and in the absence of action by Congress the program would be able to pay only about 75% of scheduled benefits after 2033. The above package of four changes would turn the projected financing gap into a small surplus, providing a margin of safety.
“This report deserves close attention from policymakers,” said James Roosevelt, Jr., President and CEO of Tufts Health Plan and grandson of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who created Social Security in 1935. “It drills deeper into public opinion than standard surveys and shows how Americans are willing to make hard choices and address challenges for the common good.”
Social Security is one of the most popular and well run government programs in US history. That’s why the American public loves it so much and wants to strengthen it for generations to come. It’s also true that the right wing in America has always hated it, and wants to destroy it.
My thoughts on the fiscal whatchamacallit are that it’s a political ploy created by Congress and can just as easily be ended by Congress, as if it never existed. It is a totally contrived piece of crap to force them to act, or compromise. Obviously it isn’t working as designed. They should agree, at least, that this was a bad idea and go home until the next Congress starts.
The proposed plans on both sides are idiotic thus far, No Money There.
As Krugman says, many of the preferred by the Villager solutions to nonexistent problems don’t actually save the government any money. Raising the Medicare age a bit wouldn’t save much public money, and would likely end up costing more in the net. Also, too, suffering, bankruptcy, and misery.
But we know this, as the preferred method for cutting the deficit is… cutting taxes..
There is a real way to fix our problem, it’s called Prosperity for All. It’s really pretty simple:
Prosperity economics is built on three pillars: growth, security and democracy. These pillars reinforce oneanother and are intertwined politically and economically.
1. Dynamic, innovation?led growth, grounded in job creation, public investment and broad opportunityWe must take immediate action to jumpstart our sagging economy. In the future, we need to invest inpeople and productivity that will lead to good jobs and rising wages. Growth alone is not sufficient tosustain our nation. We need long?term growth that is broadly enjoyed, sustainable in light of ourresource and energy constraints and driven by investments in our workforce and strong collectivebargaining rules that raise our standard of living.
2. Security for workers and their families, the environment and government financesMarkets work better when working families feel a basic security for their futures. A dynamic andcompetitive market requires a strong foundation that is reinforced by programs like Social Security andMedicare that guarantee a secure retirement and access to health care. Markets also work betterwhen governments have the resources to operate smoothly far into the future. These resources arebest raised through a progressive tax structure that supports the middle class; no more tax giveawaysfor corporations and super rich.
3. Democratic voice, inclusivity and accountability in Washington and the workplaceMoney is increasingly corrupting and corroding democracy. When economic winners are allowed towrite the economic rules, the rest of America becomes poorer and our political system weaker. Fordemocracy to thrive, strong Unions, and empowered citizens and community organizations are neededto ensure that workers and the broader public have an organized, effective voice in our politics.
But ideas like that rarely get mentioned and when they do they get shouted down even on the SCLM:
The fiscal whatchamacallit is a sham and a scam. Congress invented this….Frankenscam…and now Congress should end it. The people want higher taxes on the wealthy and no cuts to the safety net. The only way this will happen is if the people start pressuring them to do what’s right. Click her to stop the grand swindle.
There are so many families in Texas who are living in poverty through no fault of their own – because of unforeseen medical bills or a layoff. People that are victims of circumstance, and are working hard to get out of their situation but can’t. Far too many of us are just a job loss or a medical emergency away from being in the same situation. That’s what this trailer for a documentary called A Fighting Chance brings to light.
Anyone who want to learn more can check out this free screening and discussion of the documentary on December 6th, via the CPPP, A Fighting Chance.
We are thrilled to share the two-minute trailer of our 30-minute documentary A Fighting Chance, which sheds light on what it really takes for families to survive and thrive in Texas and exposes the tough choices families must make on a daily basis.
The film will chronicle every step of their journey as they fight to meet their most basic needs. Thanks to the generosity of Methodist Health Care Ministries, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Citi Foundation, we hope to touch the hearts and minds of Texans by exposing the harsh reality of poverty and challenging our common assumptions.
A Fighting Chance will air on KLRU Austin, the local PBS station, and others statewide in a few weeks. If you are in Austin, please join us next week for a premiere screening of the film followed by a panel discussion:
Williamson County, with 422,679 residents in 2010, has grown more diverse. The Hispanic population alone jumped from 17 percent of the county’s residents in 2000 to nearly 24 percent in 2010 — but county Democratic Chairwoman Karen Carter said her party has failed to turn out the voters they need.
Democrats had a recent taste of victory in Williamson County in 2008, when Diana Maldonado won a state House seat centered on Round Rock. She lost two years later to Republican Larry Gonzalez. That same year, County Commissioner Lisa Birkman, a Republican who serves a precinct that includes Round Rock, beat Democrat Mike Grimes by just 321 votes.
This year, Democrats pinned their hopes and resources on a new state House district centered on Cedar Park, but Republican Tony Dale — a former Cedar Park city council member — took the seat with 53 percent of the vote. Democrat Matt Stillwell took 41 percent and Libertarian Matthew Whittington had 6 percent.
Dale’s margin of victory was the smallest of any race between a Republican and Democrat in the county. Republican Jana Duty won a countywide race for district attorney against Democrat Ken Crain with 59 percent of the vote.
Despite the loss, Carter said Democrats aren’t giving up: “We absolutely think everything in the future is working toward us.”
Carter said she sees three groups that could help turn the county purple: Progressive voters moving from Austin and from outside of Texas, young people now old enough to vote, and Republicans who were once Democrats and might now consider “returning to their roots.”
“We’re not going away. We’re continuing to grow,” Carter said.
Brian Hamon, a local Democratic activist and former county Democratic Party chair, sees things differently.
“The fact of the matter is we haven’t got a chance,” Hamon said, pointing to the low turnout by likely Democratic voters.
Democrats can win in Williamson County but it’s going to take time, lots of money, and a sustained effort even when it seems like it’s hopeless.
“It’s OK if it’s impossible; it’s OK! Now I’m going to speak to you as organizers. Listen carefully. The object is not to win. That’s not the objective. The object is to do the right and good thing. If you decide not to do anything, because it’s too hard or too impossible, then nothing will be done, and when you’re on your death bed, you’re gonna say, “I wish I had done something. But if you go and do the right thing NOW, and you do it long enough “good things will happen—something’s gonna happen.”
Democratic victories across the nation left Republican voters and activists with the political version of a hangover last week. In the alternate universe known as Texas, they are blaming the Champagne.
Republicans here are celebrating another statewide sweep. They held onto huge majorities in the Legislature and the Texas congressional delegation. And at a time of increasing angst about their ability to thrive as the Hispanic population grows, the Texas Republican Party has fielded the first Hispanic U.S. senator from Texas — Ted Cruz.
There was a little good new is Texas for Democrats.
There are some caveats to the victory narrative. Just as Republicans had some bright spots nationally, Democrats in Texas are crowing about a handful of electoral successes here.
In the state’s only congressional swing district, state Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, was declared the winner against U.S. Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco, R-San Antonio, though Canseco has not conceded. State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, whose defeat would have brought Republicans one vote shy of an unbreakable two-thirds majority in that chamber, hung on in a district drawn to elect a Republican. And, with an influx of minority voters over the last decade, there will be more Democrats in the Legislature as a result of a redistricting process.
Scattered among the state’s election results are some warning signs for Republicans looking at a future that might not be as accommodating to their policy prescriptions and sometimes harsh rhetoric on hot-button social issues.
At the top of the ticket, Democrats were either tied with or dominating Republicans in four of the five largest counties, forcing Republicans to count on ever-larger margins in predominately white suburban and rural areas to stay on top.
Democrats, meanwhile, picked off three Republican incumbents in legislative races, but none of their own lost re-election contests. Three Republican incumbents also lost races — to little-known Democrats with Hispanic surnames — for seats on the 4th Court of Appeals in heavily Hispanic South Texas.
But it ended with this about what’s needed.
For Democrats, the day when Hispanics vote in high enough numbers to help put them back into statewide competition cannot come soon enough. Richard Morrison, a Democrat, barely won his re-election as a Fort Bend county commissioner — over a Republican abandoned by his own county party after records showed he had voted in both Texas and Pennsylvania three times, an alleged felony.
“Someone is going to have to come down here and invest significant money on turning out the Latino population. It’s going to take about $25 million,’’ Morrison said. “Until they do that we’re just going to be in the same spot.’’
Republican Party leaders on Wednesday began picking up the pieces of their movement, trying to figure how to put them back together.
The GOP was blindsided Tuesday, but also revealed. The Democrats’ ground organization was beyond anything they’d imagined, pulling in new voters with stunning effectiveness. It exposed a major weakness in the Republican approach to winning elections, practically and intellectually.
“I don’t think anyone on our side understood or comprehended how good their turnout was going to be,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican committee man from Mississippi. “The Democrats do voter registration like a factory, like a business, and Republicans tend to leave it to the blue hairs.”
But President Barack Obama’s triumphant get-out-the-vote program also pulled back the curtain on the GOP’s looming demographic demise. The exposure was so severe that there will be few inside the party who can deny the need to work toward immigration reform, as well the need to make a broader effort to communicate to parts of the electorate that the party has not tried to in the past.
When we are told certain outcomes are inevitable we check that box and think it has already being done. It’s as if we think since were told it is going to happen anyway, it already has, and there’s no need to work for that goal anymore. Just because were told that something is going to happen, it doesn’t mean it is inevitable. The work must still be done to insure that it actually does happen.
The most obvious example of this is the eventuality of a Latino voting Democratic demographic wave in Texas, that will turn Texas blue, or at least purple in the near future. At this time at least it is a myth and it seems to be keeping too many Democrats – at all levels (federal, state, and local) – from making the needed investments, in money and human capital, to insure that the wave actually happens.
Demographics, we are told, is destiny. But people and parties make their own destinies. For more than a decade, Texas Democrats have failed repeatedly to take advantage of the incredible potential among Latino voters. The problem is well known: Latino turnout in Texas is abysmal compared to other states. In 2008, 38 percent of Texas Latinos went to the polls. In California the turnout was 57 percent. Everyone knows this. The party’s old guard doesn’t put much time or effort into engaging and energizing potential Latino voters. Rather, its main strategy involves putting a Latino at the top of the ballot—think Tony Sanchez for governor or Rick Noriega for U.S. Senate—and hoping that Latinos will magically turn out to vote. Guess what? It doesn’t work.There are signs that Democrats are finally going on the offensive. The party recently launched The Promesa Project, an effort to get young Latinos to “promise” to act as “Democratic messengers to their families and social networks,” according to the project’s website. The party is investing $1 million in it. Better than nothing. Yet Promesa, modeled on the “Great Schlep,” a 2008 initiative deployed in Florida to get young Jews to convince their grandparents to vote for Obama, is only a complement, not a substitute, to the dull, block-by-block work needed to enfranchise Latinos. Until that happens, Texas Democrats run the risk of becoming even more irrelevant.
Anyone who thinks the changes that are needed in Texas are inevitable, or that change will be made without a hard-won fight, is kidding themselves.
True, Texas will remain Republican in the short term. But the changing political face of the state’s cities and the slow but steady emergence of Latino votes will eventually make it less of a tea party state.
Here’s what Republicans should worry about, even if they win. Democrats are starting to own the center in Texas with candidates like White and Sadler. These are not Democrats who line up with the party’s more liberal national profile. Coming up are leaders such as Julian Castro, San Antonio’s mayor; his twin brother, Joaquin, who is likely to win a congressional seat this year; and Rafael Anchia, a persuasive Dallas state representative. These crossover Democrats know how to win independents and moderate Republicans.
When Texas finally becomes more competitive, which will happen because of Democratic growth in major cities and Latinos shaping outcomes, candidates like these will know how to win elections. They will be in the center, talking realistically to Texans about building better transportation systems, supplying enough water and growing our economy.
Where will Republicans be?
In trouble, and with leaders still screeching about abolishing the education department, securing the borders or the latest right-wing cause. Meanwhile, Texans will want candidates who know how to make the state work.
I don’t think the GOP in Texas is worried about any of that. As long as they continue to see that the Democrats aren’t making the needed investments to change anything, they really don’t believe it’s going to happen, nor should they.
And as far as what’s going to happen with the budget next session, as much as I want to agree with Kuff, The Lege is going to have to spend some money, I don’t think that’s how the GOP sees it at all. This is the chance they’ve been waiting for to defund everything Texas government spends money on that they hate. And public education has always been at the top of their list.
One axiom I believe – and it applies to life, sports, and politics – is that things are never as good or as bad as they seem. Another is that there’s no such thing as luck, we make luck through hard work. The truth is nothing is going to change unless we make it. Too many of us, too often see Election Day as the end, when it should be seen as the beginning of the democratic process. The day after this election is the day to start organizing for the next one. (More on that soon).
Paul Burka about two weeks ago all but declared the Democratic Party dead in Texas, The Baselice Poll
The lesson here is that the worst thing that can happen to the state Democratic Party, or what’s left of it, is to have an unpopular Democratic president in the White House. The Democratic brand is ruined in Texas. The last Democrat to carry Texas was Jimmy Carter in 1976, and he was defeated in the Reagan landslide of 1980.