03.31.08

Early Voting For The Primary Runoff Starts Today

Posted in 2008 Primary, Election 2008, Take Action, Williamson County at 9:53 am by wcnews

When and where to vote can be found by going to the Williamson County Elections page.

The only race on the ballot for the Democrats is a runoff for Railroad Commissioner, Dale Henry against Mark Thompson.

Stoutdemblog has this analysis of the race, Send Me Someone Who Knows.

Art Hall, who came in third in the Primary, seemed not to clearly understand what the office does. Henry does, and despite (or because of) having worked in the industry, is actually taking progressive positions on the issues. Check out his web site at ElectDaleHenry.com. As for Thompson, well, I think the article above says it all….

It’s not Clinton/Obama but go vote, and vote for Dale Henry.

Texas Blog Round Up (March 31, 2008)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 9:15 am by wcnews

It’s Monday and that means it is time for another Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round-Up. The weekly round up is compiled from submissions submitted by member bloggers.

Saturday, TXsharon of Bluedaze attended the Barnett Shale Expo and the lies told by John Tinterra, Texas Railroad Commission, in front of citizens who pay his salary and in front of his boss, Victor Carrillo, reminded TXS of a quote from Cold Mountain: “That man is so full of manure we could plant him and grow another one!”.

McBlogger’s never been a big fan of tax abatements to lure new companies to Austin. He’s even less thrilled with them when they are being used to entice developers, especially developers who can’t seem to make their finances work without the abatements.

Off the Kuff takes one last look at primary voting in Harris County, this time examining Democratic turnout by State Rep district.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson previews the GOP runoff in HD-52, The Same Only Different.

Over a thousand Harris County voters took “vote twice” too seriously, writes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

Hal at Half Empty will vote in the Democratic primary runoff, to be sure, despite the fact that only one race will appear on his ballot. The tables are turned and the Republicans in CD 22 have a much more juicy decision to make. Oh, to be a Republican.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News turned it over to his brother Jim for a few odd links as he was getting ready to be tired out at the third step of the Texas Two-Step. Earlier in the week Gary got his dander riled at racist media conservatives.

nytexan at BlueBloggin tells us that keeping 378 delegates and 275 alternates under control is like herding cats in It’s Great To Be A Democrat In Texas at the Senatorial District 18, Bastrop County Convention.

03.30.08

Thoughts & Impressions From Yesterday’s Convention

Posted in Good Stuff, Williamson County at 1:34 pm by wcnews

Anyone who went and would like to sound off, feel free in the comments below.

AAS has a little video here.

03.29.08

County Convention Coverage

Posted in Election 2008, Williamson County at 5:26 pm by wcnews

Postcards is doing a good job of keeping those of us not in attendance of what’s going on at the convention.  They’re reporting that Williamson County Went for Obama (Obama with 65.88 percent and Sen. Hillary Clinton with 34.12 percent).  128 delegates will be divided 84 – 44 by my math.

Blog Update

Posted in Blogging at 10:49 am by wcnews

There have been some issues come up beyond our control that brought blogging to an abrupt halt. Expect regular blogging to come back online in the near future.

To tide you over go read what Sal posted earlier in the week about the latest GOP disaster plan for toll roads in Texas, Sen. Steve Ogden and Special Interest Pals Push Multi Billion Toll Pension Scheme!

03.28.08

CCA’s Latest Maneuver

Posted in Commentary, T. Don Hutto, Taylor, Williamson County at 2:51 pm by wcnews

(Received via email)

Dear WCNews CCA is requesting that the Taylor ISD sign an agreement to house detainees on school property in case of an emergency. My belief is that TISD should not enter into any agreement with CCA as this is in in essence tacit approval of CCA’s treatment of detainees as prisoners. Families though detained in the same facility don’t all sleep in the same cell. It is a sad commentary that it will take an emergency evacuation so that children who aren’t in the same cells as their mothers to have an opportunity for families to be together. CCA is arguing that it pays a lot of school taxes which may be the case. But all property owners pay school taxes whether they have children or not. CCA’s school taxes would be the same if they were imprisoning convicted criminals or storing books there. So, Taylor ISD not only owes them nothing, but is generously 32 providing testing services at taxpayer expense while CCA rakes in huge profits. If TISD is willing to house detainees – even temporarily – why aren’t they as open to reaching out and providing an education to the children at T Don Hutto? You can read
more about this situation here. I sent the following letter in opposition to Dr. Bruce Scott at Taylor ISD…. Can you ask that others
do the same he can be reached at: bscott@taylor.isd.tenet.edu

Sincerely:

Jose Orta
Dr Scott – I want to voice my opposition to the proposed CCA/TISD Memorandum of Agreement to house detainees from T Don Hutto at the Old Middle School Gym in case of emergency evacuations at the T Don Hutto Detention Center. I believe that Correctional Corportion of America, a for profit multimillion dollar business, should not be looking for handouts from TISD. CCA has ample amount of funds to put detainees in a more family oriented residential facility such as a motel or hotel in case their prison is forced to evacuate. In fact, CCA readily admits this is there Plan B option if the evacuation last for longer than 2 or more days. By signing on to this memorandum TISD is in effect giving up evacuation space to a for profit corporation when it should make space available to families who may be in financial need and need shelter like Taylor saw in the Hurrican Katrina evacuations. I highly encourage TISD to pass on signing such an agreement.

Jose Orta
LULAC President Council 4721

Thanks Jose for letting us know about this
____________________________________

03.25.08

Commissioners Court Drops Dress Code, Not Language Ban

Posted in Commissioners Court, Williamson County at 1:13 pm by wcnews

Via AAS, After criticism, commissioners remove dress code from meetings.

After coming under fire from some residents and civil rights groups, Williamson County commissioners removed a controversial rule requiring a dress code in their meetings.

The rule, approved in October, required audience members to dress in “attire suitable for professional or business engagements.”

Some civil rights groups and attorneys cried foul, saying the dress code, and another that prohibits “insulting language,” could prohibit people from attending court and open the door for commissioners to subjectively decide violations.

Commissioners didn’t discuss the ban on insulting language during their meeting this morning, but afterward, County Judge Dan A. Gattis said the court probably won’t remove the rule, saying commissioners had been “pretty liberal” with interpreting it.

[...]

Some Williamson County residents who had spoken out against the dress code in months past, such as Jane Van Praag of Bartlett, said they were satisfied with the court’s action today.

However, a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union said she still has concerns over the ban on insulting language.

“We’re pleased in the change in the dress code, but we’d like to have seen them go one step further and strike the insulting language, because it’s so vague,” said Rebecca Bernhardt, ACLU’s director of policy development. “It could suppress somebody from talking, or somebody would be cautious to speak.”

Commissioners also asked county officials to look into the costs and feasibility of posting video recordings of court meetings on the county’s Web site.

1 down, 1 to go.

Democrats Continue Making News In Williamson County

Posted in 2008 Primary, Election 2008, Good Stuff, Williamson County at 1:08 pm by wcnews

The huge numbers from primary day will translate into massive turnout for the county convention this Saturday. From the RRL, Turnout for convention may will be heavy, (the strike through is EOW’s, some are still having trouble with the changing reality):

Democratic Party Chairman Richard Torres said he anticipates next Saturday’s countywide convention at Stony Point High School will draw between 2,000 and 2,500 people.

“Which is unprecedented for us,” Torres said.

Former Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox will be guest speaker at the convention, which originally was to have been at Forbes Middle School in Georgetown.

The convention had to be moved to a larger facility – Stony Point – based on turnout at Democratic precinct conventions, which began when March 8 primary polls closed.

“We had 99 conventions,” Torres said, noting there was one for each election precinct in the county. “We usually only have about 30 conventions.”

More than 11,000 people attended the 99 precinct conventions.

“Some of them only had 40 to 50,” Torres said. “Some had 300 to 400. We had no room (anywhere) for 300 people. That added to the confusion. The good news is we had massive turnout for Democrats. The numbers are just overwhelming.”

Unprecedented indeed!! Let’s not forget that it wasn’t long ago Democrats were hearing that all too similar refrain that made Democrats in Williamson County cringe. Now is not the time to repeat it, but anyone who’s been involved in Democratic politics in Williamson County for a couple of years knows what it is. Just suffice it to say that everyone knows that there are Democrats in Williamson County now.

Which is why it’s humorous to read that GOP head Fairbrother is trying to make it look like this unprecedented action nothing new.

Williamson County Republican Party Chairman Bill Fairbrother of Round Rock said his party’s delegate apportionment process is less complicated.

[...]

Fairbrother acknowledged the March 29 Williamson County GOP convention at Taylor High School won’t draw anywhere near the numbers Democrats are anticipating in Round Rock.

“There are about 1,100 people eligible to attend,” Fairbrother said. “Historically, about 50 percent actually show.

“Since it is not Obama vs. Clinton and there are not delegates at stake, our turnout will not be as high as the Democrats. That doesn’t bother me.”

Sure it doesn’t…right. Don’t buy it, 2,000 plus showing up at the WCDP convention, does bother him. What’s undeniable is that what’s happening with Democrats in Williamson County is news, big news. The GOP…not so much. Nothing has been won yet, of course. But let’s be clear, Democrats have an opportunity in Williamson County. What the current situation shows is that what was previously assumed about Williamson County, it’s a GOP county and will be forever, is no longer an operable assumption. And if Democrats do their work it’ll be a reality.

Be sure and check out WilliamsonCountyDemocrats.org for all convention related needs.

Commissioners Court Still To Fix Unconstitutional Rules

Posted in Bad Government Republicans, Commissioners Court, Had Enough Yet?, Williamson County at 8:58 am by wcnews

(Post submitted by MaryEllen Kersch) 

Williamson County Commissioners Court to assertions that WCCC procedural rules violate citizens’ Constitutional rights:

“SO?”

Per the Wilco posted agenda [.PDF] for the Tuesday, March 25th meeting:
“The Commissioner’s Court of Williamson County, Texas will meet in regular session in the Commissioner’s Courtroom, 710 Main Street, in Georgetown, Texas to consider the following items:

19. Discuss and take possible action regarding “Rules of Procedure, Conduct and Decorum” plus other matters regarding commissioner’s court meetings including video recordings of court sessions being posted online.”

Birkman has proposed some inane edits to the existing, un-Constitutional language of the rules. No changes to the objectionable dress code and gag-rule are to be addressed (although she is striking the rule against interviews being conducted inside the courtroom during recesses and breaks); Mr. Gattis, it would appear, has added consideration of the video recordings being posted online.

Despite numerous complaints about First Amendment violations of the rules passed in October, including an appearance by a representative of the A.C.L.U., ignoring their own promises (twice) to address these issues, the WCCC remains unconcerned about, and unresponsive to, legitimate protests to their arrogant disregard for the laws they are elected to respect and defend.

2007:

September: WCCC is operating without procedures required under the Texas Open Meeting Act; they are privately contacted about this and take no action. Citizens wishing to address the WCCC continue to receive uneven and inequitable treatment. A complaint is filed (twice) with District Attorney John Bradley, which he declares “unworthy of criminal charges.”

October: In an illegal meeting (agenda was posted to the county website less than 24 hours before the meeting convened, with the resulting complaint also being ruled “unworthy” by the District Attorney), the WCCC passes their procedural rules containing a gag rule and dress code. (Mr. Bradley first denied any dress code was included, then declared a complaint about the unconstitutionality of those sections, also, “unworthy.”)

November: Subsequent to an article in the Round Rock Leader confirming that, indeed, WCCC had instituted a dress code, Mr. Gattis said WCCC would review the rules after seeing how they worked for a few weeks.

2008:

January: ACLU attorney Rebecca Bernhardt attends WCCC and points out inconsistent adherence by WCCC to their own rules at that very meeting, also admonishing them that there were First Amendment issues with the dress code and gag rules. AAS quotes Mr. Gattis as stating an intent to take “another look” at those sections.

March: The primary elections over, Ms. Birkman proposes doing away with the restriction on interviews in the meeting room during recesses and makes some inane editorial alterations to a few inconsequential passages. No changes were proposed to the objectionable dress code and gag rule. Mr. Gattis adds to the constitutional insult by raising issues relating to internet posting of videos of the WCCC.

Williamson County Republicans at work—on behalf of, not the citizens of Williamson County, but themselves.

03.24.08

The Runoff In HD-52, The Same Only Different

Posted in 2008 Primary, Commentary, HD-52, Williamson County at 12:48 pm by wcnews

Diana Maldonado will finally find out who her Republican opponent will be in November on April 8th. Ever since soon-to-be-former Rep. Mike Krusee (R – Round Rock) decided in December to not seek re-election, the choice for his designated Replublican replacement has been up in the air. Four candidates threw their hats in the ring for the GOP nomination. Now there are two left, insurance man Bryan Daniel and Williamson County Assistant DA Dee Hobbs. As far as their stances on the issues, (see here, here and here), there are few differences between the two.

Both, like many in their party, have seen the light on toll roads and now oppose the Trans-Texas Corridor. While they have no alternate funding plan to toll roads to build new roads, other than cutting the state budget, just where those cuts would come from, they won’t say. They would support school vouchers, hiking the sales tax, building the border fence, the continued scapegoating of immigrants, non-punishment of corporations that employ them, and worst of all, another term as Speaker for Tom Craddick.

The biggest difference between the two is that Daniel is better funded with his statewide connections. Hobbs has been endorsed by the two candidates that didn’t make the runoff and is a native of Williamson County. Oftentimes it’s assumed that the candidate with the most money is a shoe-in. That’s not necessarily the case with the GOP voters in Williamson County. Current Congressman John Carter faced a daunting money deficit in the primary when he first ran for Congress and was able to overcome it and win, due mainly to the loyalty of the voters in Williamson County. Without polling in this race it’s hard to tell what the outcome will be. It would seem that Hobbs is the favorite, but if money matters in this race then Daniel has to be given a chance.

But HD-52 and Williamson County are not the same as they were in 2002.  The changing demographics have made this a much more Democratic leaning as is Williamson County as a whole.  No matter who wins this runoff for the right to take on Maldonado in the fall, it’s important for Democrats around the state to understand that this is one of the most important Democratic pick-ups for 2008. And if Democrats not only make sure Craddick does not get reelected as Speaker in 2009, but that they take over the majority in the house as well, this is a must-win.

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