03.30.07

Statement from Texas bloggers regarding TX-SEN

Posted in 2006 Democratic Candidates, 2008 Primary, Around The State, Elections at 9:27 pm by wcnews

(X-poster at DKos and TexasKaos – check out the comments in those two posts. This is regarding recent activity in recruiting Democrats to run against Cornyn. We are a vast and diverse group with many different opinions. We are not a monolith. My statement from my earlier post still stands:

Let’s not try and predetermine the outcome by deterring candidates from entering the race. Let’s have a fair fight and then we’ll have a candidate all Democrats can get behind.)

We, the undersigned, are some of the many progressive bloggers and online activists in Texas. The Texas netroots community is a large and diverse one – from blogs to Democratic Underground, from Democracy for Texas to MoveOn, and more. No one person or group speaks for it. While we often communicate among ourselves, and often agree on many points, we all have our own perspectives and preferences.

Though we are speaking as one in this post, we are speaking for ourselves. Though we are a part of the Texas netroots, we do not speak for the Texas netroots, because nobody speaks for the Texas netroots.

We are confident, however, that everybody in the Texas netroots is united behind the goal of replacing our ineffective and out of touch junior Senator, who is up for re-election next year. We fully expect to give our unqualified support to the Democratic nominee for Senate, and we fully expect the wider Democratic community, netroots and otherwise, to do the same.

While we all have our own preferences among the many fine choices to be that nominee next year, we do agree on one other thing, and that is that we intend to be a full-blooded participant in the process to choose him or her. We do not appreciate any effort by one group or another to dictate who that nominee will be, just as we would not expect anyone else to appreciate our dictating of a nominee. Some of us are undertaking an effort to draft a particular candidate to run next year, but those of us who are doing so hope to win that battle on the merits of our candidate. Others of us are not involved in any draft movements but are focusing on helping the eventual Democratic candidate. All of us expect a vigorous debate that will lead to the best choice being made, one we will all then unite behind. We are all committed to taking this seat back for the people of Texas.

We hope this clarifies matters, and we hope that you will join us in helping to elect a progressive, people-powered Senator from the great state of Texas in 2008. Thank you very much.

Charles Kuffner
Off the Kuff

Karl-Thomas Musselman
Matt Glazer
Burnt Orange Report

Annatopia
Moiv
Texas Kaos

Vince Leibowitz
Capitol Annex

McBlogger
Mayor McSleaze
McBlogger

WCBlog
DemBones
Eye on Williamson

Muse
Muse Musings

Bradley Bowen
North Texas Liberal

Xanthippas
Three Wise Men

PDiddie
Brains and Eggs

Jaye Ramsey Sutter
Winding Road in Urban Area

Lyn Wall
Feet to Fire

House Democrats Pass Historic Teacher Pay Raise, Kill School Vouchers

Posted in 80th Legislature, Public Schools, The Budget, Vouchers at 9:28 am by wcnews

HB 1 gets through the House. Democrats add across-the-board teacher pay raise and kill public school vouchers. Press release here, PR On HB 1.

Texas House Democrats passed an historic increase in teacher pay and killed efforts to fund private school vouchers today, flying in the face of opposition from Republican Speaker of the House Tom Craddick. Led by Reps. Rick Noriega (D-Houston) and Joe Heflin (D-Crosbyton), Democrats in the House led a bipartisan coalition to convert a controversial and divisive teacher incentive pay program—which is opposed by teachers across the state—into an
across-the-board pay raise for every teacher in Texas and drove a nail into the coffin of private school vouchers.

[...]

“Texans have spoken and we’ve been on their side—we hear them loud and clear,” said Rep. Dunnam. “Texans support our public schools and they simply do not believe it is right to rob our public schools to pay for more failed social experiments. Today, a bipartisan majority of the House rejected the radicalism of Rick Perry, Tom Craddick, and James Leininger.”

“By passing an across-the-board pay raise for Texas teachers and killing vouchers, House Democrats are delivering on the promises we have made the people of Texas. We will continue to work hard for hard-working families,” Rep. Dunnam concluded.

This is good stuff and by the way the votes looked there was significant bipartisan support for both. Texans and Democrats have long wanted to do both of these and with the losses the GOP suffered in ’06 they had no choice but to relent on these two issues. Of course, teachers deserve much more than a $900/year raise. The votes on the two amendments are below the fold.

Notice who was absent on the voucher vote.  One is the Leininger financed candidate Nathan Macias, that beat voucher opponent Carter Casteel in the GOP primary.  The least he could have done was show up for this vote, it’s Leininger’s pet project after all, since he took all that money from him.

Read the rest of this entry �

03.29.07

Toll Roads, Not Only Expensive But Noisy

Posted in Privatization, Road Issues, Williamson County at 5:20 pm by wcnews

From the AAS, Toll road too noisy, some residents complain.

Tina Ambrose, a real estate agent whose home backs up to the highway, and other residents say they are concerned that the road could ultimately lower their property values.

“Just listen,” Ambrose said. “It sounds like we’re in an arcade game.”

Pustelnyk said property values for people such as Ambrose could actually increase because of the quick access to the road. He cited Austin homes near Loop 1 (MoPac Boulevard) as an example.

We’ll see.

Early Primary For Texas Democrats, No Matter What

Posted in 2008 Primary, Around The State at 4:33 pm by wcnews

At least when it comes to picking an opponent to Sen. Cornyn. (if he lasts that long, I think if the GOP believes he will lose in ’08 they will give him another job, let him to replace Alberto or put him on the Supreme Court). Two posts on this, one from Anna at TexasKaos and one from Markos and DailyKos.

As I read through the comments at Kos I saw one that said, “let them all run”. That’s what should happen but that’s exactly what the establishment doesn’t want to happen. They want their anointed to run against as little opposition as possible. It’s this part of Anna’s post that needs the most attention.

How would you react if you were told that the same guys responsible for the craptastic 2006 Texas statewide election “strategy” were trying to stomp all over the 2008 Texas Senate race?

How would you feel if you were told that certain money players here in Texas were calling all of their big donor friends and ordering them not to fund people powered possibilities like Rick Noriega, Pete Gallego, and Hank Gilbert?

It’s not about a Texroots candidate v. an establishment candidate. If we have a wide open, and fair election and pick a nominee, no matter who it turns out to be that would greatly benefit the eventual nominee, no matter which side he came from. Nobody would then be able to hold a grudge and keep their self-respect and not get behind the winner, even if it turned out to be the establishment candidate.

Let’s not try and predetermine the outcome by deterring candidates from entering the race. Let’s have a fair fight and then we’ll have a candidate all Democrats can get behind.

Here’s How Revolutions Get Started

Posted in Commentary at 11:13 am by wcnews

30 people at a Barnes & Noble?

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay told about 30 people at a Dallas Barnes & Noble bookstore Wednesday evening that Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic senator from New York, would be elected president if conservatives didn’t put aside their differences.

“If the conservatives, slash Republicans, don’t get their act together and push all this stuff behind us and come together and unite, Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States,” Mr. DeLay said.

Mr. DeLay was in town promoting his book No Retreat, No Surrender Changing Arenas.

DeLay tells a few “big tent” party lemmings to get in line or a Democrat will be elected President in 2008. Wow, 30 people showed up, that’s pretty good.

Loopholes? In The Business Tax?

Posted in 80th Legislature, Education, The Budget at 9:07 am by wcnews

Say it isn’t so. Well, no need to worry, Sen. Ogden’s looking at it, Loopholes may let funds leak out of business-tax kitty.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden said Wednesday he’ll take a hard look at the state’s new business tax to make sure loopholes don’t cause it to fall up to $900 million short of annual projected revenue.

“I’m concerned about that business tax not meeting revenue projections,” Sen. Ogden, R-Bryan, said. “I’m worried about the fine print of the bill … which would allow people that we intended to pay the tax to not pay it. So I’m worried about loopholes.”
[...]
Ogden said although the state now has billions on hand, the structure of school funding would be thrown out of balance if the state business tax consistently raises less than projected.

Noting that the House — where tax bills must originate — is working on a bill that includes technical changes in the business tax, Ogden said, “I want to use that cleanup bill as a vehicle to make sure that business tax works the way it was intended.”

But Rep. Jim Keffer, head of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, said it’s too soon to tell whether major business-tax changes are needed in response to the new revenue information.

Lawmakers might need to wait until firm numbers are available after the state has collected the tax, which is due starting next year, said Keffer, R-Eastland.

“We’re really shooting in the dark,” Keffer said. “To do anything constructive, I think we’re going to have to get the receipts in and know where we are.”

Keffer said he believes the tax will end up bringing in as much as or more than originally estimated.

Shooting in the dark, that’s pretty good. But doing nothing, because of what Rep. Keffer “believes”, is shooting in the dark as well.

Here’s one Democrats take on this.

“Is it a surprise? Absolutely not,” said Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine. “Is it something that we are going to have to deal with at some point? Well, of course. The chickens come home to roost, and frankly, they’re all lining up right about now.”

All this amid the fact that education and everything else is being underfunded in the current budget that’s about to pass the House.  Because last Summer’s tax-swap takes precedence over everything else.  The battle over the budget begins in the House today, go here to watch.

03.27.07

LTE: Toll Road Madness

Posted in 80th Legislature, Around The State, Privatization, Road Issues at 2:12 pm by wcnews

(This was sent to the editor and it’s worth publishing)

To Senator Carona and our Texas Lawmakers,

You have a chance to actually stand up for all Texans and stop the surge of selling our roads to private companies and selling out drivers to be at the mercy of excessive price-gouging professionals. It seemed like politicians were actually listening to the many, many people who are outraged about being tolled to death by private companies and TxDOT. With a huge majority of leaders in the Senate and in the House already signed on to stop Toll Fever, I cannot for the life of me figure out why the brakes have been applied. We don’t want tollroads, no matter who builds them. We do not want to drive around with cameras pointed at our butts, then receive 10 bills from 10 different toll companies with 10 different fees/charges.

It is very simple and the public gets it: TxDot needs money and tollroads/TTC are the quickest way to get resources for other projects. This upfront money will then be used for other projects around Texas. Threats of “delayed projects” have started making the papers. Have you seen the $1.00 charge for “invoice fee” at the bottom of a toll bill? What about the rumored $1.50 “camera fee”? What other hidden charges or increases can we expect from these For-Profit companies?

I have three of the same form letters from Gov. Rick Perry saying that “to convert an existing tollroad into a tollroad the public has to vote on it”. WHAT VOTE? Is this letter referring back to vote back in 2001 (Amendment 15) in which the governor loves to say that “we voted for tollroads all across Texas” and the “conversion to toll vote”? Put it very clearly on the next state ballot and see what your answer will be!

Don’t we have a $13 billion surplus? There are other forms of taxation or revenue that the state needs to look at first. Also, if we’re embracing public-private partnerships, why not let corporations “sponsor” our roadways instead of OWN them? Example: the ExxonMobil I35 Interstate. Let them pay millions to have their name/signs, while we still get to keep our state road system.

It took decades for our Texas Highway system to be outdated, mismanaged, or ignored. Interstate 35 has been 2 lanes since the 1960’s! We’re not buying the threat of “delayed projects” as an excuse for TxDOT/politicians to get in bed with for-profit only companies. Private tollroads and the TTC are the biggest and most shameful Land-and-Money Grabs that Texas has ever seen! Why do you think so many people (Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and former apathetic voters) are furious and loudly speaking out? But, ……… are you listening?

You have a choice:
a) Side with Private Business, Special Interests Groups, Lobbyists
b) Side with THE PEOPLE OF YOUR STATE

We are watching very, very closely. What’s it going to be?

Linda Lancaster

Rep. John Carter’s Votes Against Funding The Troops

Posted in Around The Nation, Central Texas, Congress, District 31, Had Enough Yet?, Uncategorized, Williamson County at 9:17 am by wcnews

Shocking headline, while true, it’s not reality so much. I wish it could be said that he only did it because he knows the President will veto the bill. But from the post below it’s more than apparent that Mr. Carter is a far-right lemming. From this WacoTrib story, Congress passes war funding bill with controversial timetable, we see that Mr. Carter still doesn’t get it.

Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, whose district includes Bell County and Fort Hood, said the bill would undermine commanders in the field and lead to failure in Iraq.

“We are sending the message to the terrorists that we are not focused, resolved and determined to win, but instead distracted by silly political games,” he said in a statement. “We are telling them that we give up and they have won this battle. All they have to do is wait until August 2008.”

From the looks of it they’re not waiting. And most informed people know that we’re not fighting “terrorists” in Iraq it’s a civil war. You can go here, Two stories you won’t hear much about on CNN or Fox, to see that we still haven’t gotten the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and what our leaving could do to foster compromise in Iraq.

03.26.07

Rep. John Carter Votes Against Repeal Of US Attorney Loophole In The Patriot Act

Posted in Around The Nation, Congress, Corruption, District 31 at 11:21 pm by wcnews

The loophole, slipped into the Patriot Act reauthorization, is the reason were in the US Attorney mess were in and John Carter would rather continue it. Here’s the vote tally, he was in the 78 vote minority. Here’s what Speaker Pelosi had to say:

“This legislation restores Constitutional checks and balances in the appointment process of interim U.S. Attorneys. It removes a loophole
inserted by the prior Republican Congress that permits the indefinite
appointment of interim U.S. Attorneys without Senate confirmation.

Recent evidence indicates that the Bush Administration — contrary to
public and private assurances — exploited this loophole to fire a
respected U.S. Attorney in order to appoint a protege of Karl Rove without
confirmation.”

“Congress must now find out what happened with the unprecedented
mid-term firings of U.S. Attorneys for ostensibly political purposes. This
legislation is a small step toward restoring confidence and independence in
the administration of justice.”

It was a mistake and almost everyone agrees.

Craddick D’s Get Nothing Until The Budget Passes

Posted in Adminisphere, Around The Nation, Public Schools, Uncategorized, Vouchers, Williamson County at 4:11 pm by wcnews

Both Harvey Kronberg at News 8 and Jason Embry at the AAS are reporting that CHIP and the System Benefit Fund (SBF) will be held up until, of course, the GOP’s number one budget priotity is secure. But Kronberg knows that the Craddick D’s need a win or they’re in deep trouble, no matter when the primary is.

News 8 on CHIP:

As he promised, Craddick gave the CHIP restoration bill a shot lost week but consideration was delayed by a point of order. The bill is ready to return to the floor this week, but it did not make it on the calendar. Some believe that the CHIP bill is being held hostage until Democrats vote for a budget that reserves billions of dollars for future property tax cuts at the continued expense of social safety net and public education dollars.

It’s a fascinating political game. The Craddick Democrats need a significant win or some won’t be coming back in two years. As go their fortunes, so go those of Craddick.

AAS on the SBF:

The fund comes from a 65-cent fee on electric bills in areas that are open to electric competition. In other words, not places like Austin, where we get electricity from the city. The money is supposed to provide an electric-bill discount for low-income residents, but the state has used it instead over the last couple of years to justify other areas of the state budget.

The House was scheduled to vote Monday to use the money for those discounts and a couple of other programs, such as electricity help for nonprofit nursing homes and for consumer education programs. But the vote has been postponed until next week, which will be Thursday’s vote on the full House budget. For that matter, a vote on loosening requirements of the Children’s Health Insurance Program also has been delayed past the budget vote.

[..]

It could be that House Speaker Tom Craddick is holding off on the two proposals in order to get Democratic votes for the budget on Thursday. Maybe he’s having a harder time getting support for the budget from Republicans in general than he did in the Appropriations Committee, where all of them voted for it.

Nice, holding children and the elderly hostage to make sure tax cuts for the wealthy get passed. How much more of this are the Craddick D’s going to take?

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