01.31.07

Molly Ivins Always Made Me Laugh, You Are Missed

Posted in Commentary, Uncategorized at 11:33 pm by wcnews

This is the column of hers that came immediately to mind when I heard she had passed, Chicken Killin’ Dog. It was written shortly after Bush beat Kerry in ’04. Here’s the first few graphs:

Do you know how to cure a chicken-killin’ dog? Now, you know you cannot keep a dog that kills chickens, no matter how fine a dog it is otherwise.

Some people think you cannot break a dog that has got in the habit of killin’ chickens, but my friend John Henry always claimed you could. He said the way to do it is to take one of the chickens the dog has killed and wire the thing around the dog’s neck, good and strong. And leave it there until that dead chicken stinks so bad that no other dog or person will even go near that poor beast. Thing’ll smell so bad the dog won’t be able to stand himself. You leave it on there until the last little bit of flesh rots and falls off, and that dog won’t kill chickens again.

The Bush administration is going to be wired around the neck of the American people for four more years, long enough for the stench to sicken everybody. It should cure the country of electing Republicans.

And at least Democrats won’t have to clean up after him until it is real clear to everyone who made the mess.

Damn if she wasn’t right.  That’s still good today. Peace Molly.

Smooth Sailing For State Parks In The State House

Posted in 80th Legislature, Around The State at 11:19 pm by wcnews

That’s what I take from this story, Craddick backs restoration of funds. This is a no-brainer that will easily get the 120 votes if they want to take it up in the first 60 days.

Setting himself apart from the state’s other top leaders, Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick on Wednesday announced his unequivocal support for the restoration of full funding for state parks, saying that every dime from a sales tax on sporting goods should go to the beleaguered system.“I also support some type of one-time expenditure to do whatever needs to be fixed,” said Craddick, R-Midland. “They have historical sites as well as parks that are in real disarray and they’re a major part of economic development. . . .  We’d like to see it all fixed.”

[...]

Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, commended Craddick for dispelling “the myth that the parks department would not know how to spend the money” and for taking the lead on the funding issue.

“He [Craddick] has always been strong on this issue — he came out last summer for increased funding for parks and he hasn’t backed down from that,” said Metzger. “It’s reassuring to know that Speaker Craddick has not had any second thoughts.”

Way to go Speaker Craddick!  Now let’s hope Perry and Dewhurst will get on board.

More From Yesterday’s Commissioners Court Vote

Posted in T. Don Hutto, Williamson County at 10:20 am by wcnews

Here I will post reactions from those that were at the meeting yesterday on what occurred.  All below the fold.

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Why Blogs Are Better Than The MSM, 60-Day Rule Vote Coverage Edition

Posted in 80th Legislature, Commentary at 9:38 am by wcnews

Let’s be frank. Yesterday’s vote not to suspend the constitutional 60 day rule will not clog the calendar and will not cause gridlock. Tom Craddick’s stalling on committee assignments did more than this will to slow the process. The main contention of this post is that the MSM is treating this as Democratic infighting and either can’t or won’t deal with the specifics/minutiae of this issue.

One specific being the number of bills this is likely to effect. An issue which Kuff posted on and quotes Rep. Jim Dunnam from yesterday’s debate:

[Democratic Rep. Jim] Dunnam is up now. Says look at the facts of what we are really talking about. “We are told if we don’t pass this, the whole House will come to gridlock. I have the calendars from the last several sessions. In the 76th legislature, do you know how many were brought up in the first 60 days? Two! In the 77th, we brought up six. In the 78th session, six came to the House floor, and in the 79th session, ten bills. Those include the emergency bills. So you are being told if we can’t bring up ten bills in the next 60 days the Senate is going to rule the world and the sky is going to fall. If we can’t take up 6-10 bills in the next 60 days, nobody’s bills are going to be passed. That’s not credible. You know that.”

(2,6,6 & 10 in the last four sessions). Gridlock is not coming because of this despite what is the headlines and stories. I’m not sure why this context is being left out of these articles.

Read through these four main dailies of Texas and you would think this vote just shutdown the Texas Legislature for the first 60 days of session:

DMN, Democrats’ ploy delays House votes.

HChron (also in the SAEN), House members get $132 a day to do nothing until Feb. 8. Way to use one of Rep. Turner’s talking points for your headline.
AAS, House denies Craddick control of early agenda.

Startlegram, Democrats in Legislature divided.

The last question of Vince’s interview with Rep. Mike Villarreal really lays out what this has done:

Capitol Annex: Listening to the debate, with the talk of suspending on a bill-by-bill basis, I got the impression that, doing it that way, it takes a lot of the control out of the Speaker’s hands and even the Calendar’s Committee and really gives a lot more control to the 150 members, individually and collectively.

Rep. Villarreal: There are lots of thoughts on who would end up setting the agenda. It is dependant on how the governor responds, how the Speaker responds and how the Senate and individual members respond on the house floor. One can only theorize who this will help or hurt in terms of ability to influence the agenda. Let me give you an example.

Today, Rep. [Mike] Krusse [R-Round Rock], set a of bills for consideration in committee, and he came to the mic and moved to suspend Article III Section 5 of the constitution to allow the House to take up and consider House Bills x, y, and z. I believe it was Rep. Eiland (D-Galveston) who took the back mic and ask him to describe what they did he described them. They were good bills about child safety seats, seatbelts, things like that which are of public interest and concern and we gave unanimous consent and supported suspension of the rules.

If a member’s bill or committee hearing – committees only until Feb 7th – are above board and legitimate they’ll get the votes and business can proceed as usual. If someone’s trying something shady, it’ll be stopped. This vote provides a check, in the first 60 days, that’s all. Why the MSM won’t report this issue that way is beyond me.

Below the fold I go through the Startlegram article above.

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01.30.07

Talk About A Waste Of Time

Posted in 80th Legislature at 5:15 pm by wcnews

This is being reported via QR, HOUSE LEADERSHIP PLANS TO CONTINUE BRINGING UP VOTE TO SUSPEND RULES.

For the second time this month, the House bogged down in a procedural floor fight on a provision that normally passes with little discussion or dissent. This time around, it was a motion to suspend rules that disallow committees from hearing legislation in the first 30 days of a session and prevent the House from considering bills in the first 60 days.

And in contrast to what occurred in the debate to adopt House rules, the anti-Craddick faction won this time. Suspension of the rules takes 120 votes, or four-fifths of the members. The resolution’s backers got 108 votes with 34 voting against it.

Immediately afterward, Reps. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa), Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) and Craddick characterized the vote as an act by a small group of legislators to slow the legislative process. Rep. Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria) said that the immediate impact would be on the committee process. She predicted a logjam as bills wait to be referred to the House floor. The losers in the process would be local bills that get shoved to the back of the line.

Again this is BS. If it’s legit, bring it up and it’ll get the 4/5ths to move ahead, even committees. The committee rule expires Feb 7ht. No logjam. If there’s a logjam it was created by Mr. Speaker dragging on Committee assignments.

60 Day Rule Vote Analysis

Posted in 80th Legislature, Commentary, The Lege at 3:49 pm by wcnews

The vote on the 60-day Rule, mentioned below, changes very little but gives the minority an opportunity, if it presents itself, to shelve bad legislation, if it were to come up, in the first 60 days of session. If the governor deems something an emergency then this rule does not apply. If there’s truly anything pressing, rest assured, the governor would deem it an emergency and it would pass with unanimous support. What this does is put a check on what gets done in the first 60 days and doesn’t allow the House leadership to sneak something through without proper consideration. It doesn’t keep anything from getting done, usually nothing much gets done – in the Capitol at least – in the first 60 days of session. This just means that for something to get done it needs 4/5ths, 120 votes, to be taken up before during the first 60 days of session. Again, unless the governor deems it an emergency. (There is a 30 day limit on committees, which will end Feb.7, again allowable with a 4/5ths vote).

Respect is a two way street and Craddick and his band of looters have not sought nor earned it and this is the result. It was particularly disheartening that Craddick’s mouthpiece on this issue was none other than “Democrat” for “reform” Rep. Sylvester Turner.  Must be part of his duties a speaker pro-tem. But he may as well just join with Patrick Rose, who’s rumored to be joining the GOP before the ’08 election, if he’s going to keep shilling for Craddick like this.

That being said, symbolic as it may have been (link via ITP), it’s good to see symbols like this.

Commissioners Court Unanimously Votes To Extend Contract

Posted in T. Don Hutto, Williamson County at 1:35 pm by wcnews

The Williamson County Commissioners Court voted unanimously today to continue to profit from locking up children and mothers, not families, if you recall, fathers are locked elsewhere. The lease agreement has been revised to make sure the corporation running the lock up, Corrections Corporation of American (CCA), starts abiding by the law. They will now provide, we’ll check back, the legal amount of daily education for the children, 7 hours. For those who think nothing has changed, in reality, much has. When we first heard of this problem children were receiving only 1 hour of education per day.  Even though our county is still failing in it’s moral obligations many, many more are aware of this and changes are happening.

The AAS has this story, Williamson County renews contract on immigrant detention center. For those who think that national politics does not effect us locally just listen to County Judge Dan Gattis:

“I decided early on that it wasn’t my place to get into the national debate,” County Judge Dan A. Gattis said after court was adjourned. “Our concern was that (detainees) be treated fairly. Whether it’s proper to detain them — that’s a national decision.”

Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine…  There really wasn’t ever a doubt that our GOP dominated government wouldn’t renew this lease.  But to have our county’s Judge defer what happens here to the federal government is truly sad.  What leadership!  Whether we imprison children and mothers in Williamson County is not a national decision.  It can be denied a the local level, despite what Judge Gattis says.  I thought Republicans and “conservatives” were for local control of government.  If you don’t have a problem with imprisoning children and mothers just say so, but don’t act like you have no control over the decision when it’s obvious that you do.

We’ve Got A New Caucus – UPDATED

Posted in 80th Legislature at 12:27 pm by wcnews

34 house members vote not to suspend 60 Day Rule. Had Speaker Craddick shown some reconciliation in his committee assignments this could have been avoided. There’s no reason to work with someone who won’t work with you.

[UPDATE]: BOR has the list. It’s below the fold as well.

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Demcrats For Refrom??

Posted in 80th Legislature, Around The State, Commentary, The Lege at 9:52 am by wcnews

Only in Texas, where a bunch of Democrats who vote with Republicans A LOT, would coming out for things like this be considered reform:

  • HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES
  • Restore full funding of CHIP
  • Reform Medicaid eligibility
  • Increase Medicaid reimbursement rate for Doctors
  • Protect “Personal Needs” allowance of $60 for seniors in nursing homes

There’s plenty more to that list just click the link. This isn’t reform and it won’t be passed in the committees, I don’t care who’s the chair, as long as the House has it’s current leadership. That’s the point, there would be no reason for the Iscariot Caucus to hold a press conference stating their faithfulness to Democratic ideals if they hadn’t voted against them by ensuring Tom Craddick’s election as Speaker again, among other things.

The Startlegram has this article, Craddick backers still loyal to party line.

Although they sided with Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick, they still remain loyal Democrats.

There’s just something wrong with that sentence. “Democrats for reforming their tarnished image” is more like it.

I second what Rep. Coleman says here:

The time to be strong, they said, was in 2003 – when a Craddick-led House was passing an aggressive GOP agenda, with the help of some Democrats.”If their values are to repair the damage that was done [in past sessions] by Tom Craddick, whom they supported for speaker, and they’ve woken up to that, then that’s a good thing,” said Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston.

That would be a good thing and let’s hope for the best but prepare for the worst.  There are quite a few more articles on this here.

Williamson County Hires Rick Barron As New Elections Administrator

Posted in Elections, Williamson County at 8:52 am by wcnews

Both parties are happy with the choice, Rick Barron expected to straighten up county’s voting process.

Williamson County officials said Monday that they expect Rick Barron to restore trust in the county’s voting process when he takes over as elections administrator Monday.

Barron, who previously worked for Hart InterCivic, a voting systems company in Austin, was hired by Williamson County commissioners Friday at a salary of $76,786.

“I think he’ll make a good one,” former Elections Administrator John Willingham said Monday after officials searched for almost three months for an elections chief who they hope will eliminate snags that have plagued recent balloting.

[...]Chairmen of the county’s Democratic and Republican parties were among those who interviewed Barron before he was hired.

“We had a very rigorous interview process,” Republican chief Bill Fairbrother said Monday. “We were impressed with Mr. Barron’s experience in training people.”

Democratic Chairman Richard Torres said he expects Barron to help mold the election department into a team.

“The elections department has been through a lot of changes, and we need to make sure their morale is good,” Torres said. “We interviewed four candidates, and I believe we picked the best candidate to do that.”

Before working for Hart InterCivic, Barron was a manager at Sequoia Voting Systems. He also worked as elections management coordinator for the Travis County Elections Division.

He’s got considerable experience with electronic voting machines having worked for Hart InterCivic and Sequoia Voting Systems.  Let’s hope this one sticks.  Here’s to free and fair elections for many years to come.  Only time will tell.

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