12.31.09

Annise Parker – Texas Progressive Alliance “Texan of the Year”

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Good Stuff, Media at 9:40 pm by wcnews

From the TPA Press Release:

The Texas Progressive Alliance announced on Wednesday, December 30th that Houston Mayor-Elect Annise Parker is its “Texan of the Year” for 2009.

“Annise Parker’s win is a testament to the power of grassroots campaigning,” said Texas Progressive Alliance Chair Vince Leibowitz. “Key Houston progressive bloggers endorsed Parker and contributed to her win, with hard hitting stories contrasting her strengths with her opponent’s weaknesses,” he continued.

Annise Parker is the Alliance’s fifth recipient of its “Texan of the Year Award.” Parker joins former State Representative Carter Casteel of New Braunfels, who won the award in 2005; Carolyn Boyle of Texas Parent PAC in 2006; State Representatives Garnet Coleman, Jim Dunnam, and Pete Gallego who shared the honor in 2007; and the Harris County Democratic Party’s Coordinated Campaign in 2008.

The Texan of the Year Award is voted on annually by the members of the Texas Progressive Alliance, the largest state-level organization of bloggers, blogs, and netroots activists in the United States.

Also earning recognition from the Alliance were Ramey Ko, Hank Gilbert, Calvin Tillman, Texas Watchdog, and State Representative Elliott Naishtat, who were each recognized as “Gold Star Texans” for 2009.

More on Parker’s accomplishment in 2009:

With the election of Annise Parker as mayor of Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States signaled that they pay more attention to qualifications than to sexual orientation. This news reverberated around the globe, and brought positive attention to Texas. National Democratic groups took note of a more progressive Houston than they assumed, and the talk and speculation turned to the possibilities of Texas turning blue sooner rather than later.

The Parker win was no accident. She put together a talented campaign team that ran on the strength of the grassroots, rather than City Hall insiders. Key Houston area progressive bloggers aligned themselves with Parker, and were embraced by the campaign. Blogs became an effective messaging strategy, emphasizing Parker’s qualifications, and her opponent’s weaknesses.

In the runoff, several third parties, including one longtime right wing operative who endorsed Parker’s opponent, launched a series of homophobic attacks against her, but they failed to do her any serious damage because voters recognized her distinguished service as a member of Council and City Controller, and valued her experience and financial acumen. Voters knew who she was and what she was about because she had always been open and honest about it, and that was more important than anything some agitator could say.

For her historic victory, for making the rest of the world re-evaluate its opinion of Texas, and for running a truly modern grassroots campaign, the Texas Progressive Alliance is proud to name Houston’s Mayor-Elect Annise Parker its Texan of the Year for 2009.

More about the “Gold Star Texans” Ramey Ko, Hank Gilbert, Calvin Tillman, Texas Watchdog, and State Representative Elliott Naishtat in the extended entry.

Read the rest of this entry �

GOP statewide ballot getting stale

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Commentary, Election 2010 at 1:48 pm by wcnews

Via an email from Democratic candidate for Attorney General Barbara Ann Radnofsky:

It is no secret, in Austin or anywhere in Texas, that AG Abbott does not want to be Attorney General anymore. We read countless news stories about his desire to be Lieutenant Governor or U.S. Senator. Our state leaders do not make decisions on what is best for the people; they make decisions based on what is best for their personal political futures.

The same can be said for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, he doesn’t really want to spend four more years playing second fiddle to a bunch of state Senators. Dewhurst will leave the Lt. Gov. position in a hearbeat to run for Senate, as soon as Hutchison’s current term is over, at the latest. Much is being made of the voters supposed “Perry fatigue“. But it seems that Abbott and Dewhurst are fatigued with their current positions. And if the GOP statewide ticket stays essentially the same, for the third straight cycle, voters will surely look up next November and realize that if they want something different they’ll have to vote for Democrats.

12.30.09

The choice

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Commentary, Election 2010 at 4:24 pm by wcnews

The contrast couldn’t be more stark.

Marc Katz
:

Austin deli owner Marc Katz, filing papers to run for lieutenant governor at Texas Democratic Party headquarters today, said his relatives will make a “huge, milestone contribution” to his campaign that will allow him to buy TV and travel the state spreading his progressive-populist message.

“It’s in the millions,” Katz said of the family donation. He promised more details Friday.

[...]

Katz said the relatives making the contributions to his campaign mainly live in New York, California and Florida.

Ronnie Earle:

I’m running for Lieutenant Governor of Texas because I want to be a voice for regular Texans. Right now, just about the only voices being heard at the Capitol are those of hired guns for large moneyed interests. The process is not open to the public. That’s not democracy. The influence of large moneyed interests is like a silent, creeping growth blocking Texans from access to their Capitol. Most Texas citizens and small businesses can’t get heard without money because it’s turned into a pay to play system.

Kay’s transportation plan is a clunker

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Commentary, Election 2010, Privatization, Road Issues, Transportation at 2:01 pm by wcnews

The big story out of GOP gubernatorial hopeful Kay Bailey Hutchison’s transportation “plan” she released yesterday was that while full of rehashed and previously discussed ideas, she appears ready to continue the funding neglect of the last two decades.  Oh, bless her heart.  Her plan is much of what was debated last session while TxDOT was under Sunset review.  And while surely there’s some waste and abuse at TxDOT it’s likely not near enough to make up for the almost two decades of  neglect by the Texas GOP.

The Scoop has the full take down, Oh, that’s pretty sweet, Senator!.

Well, it would appear that our very senior Senator released her little transportation plan today. To yawns and stifled laughter. Some of the ideas were recycled from the the plan Hank released during his race for Governor. You may remember it… it’s the only one released so far that actually addresses the problem of transportation planning and finance without putting our children in hock.Of course, given that it was Senator Hutchison, it was inevitable that she would decide to kick the can down the road and let your children and grandchildren deal with debt and obligations we’ll be piling up. After all, she’s been doing it for years in DC.

[...]

Oh, She also wants some rail but it was more an afterthought than a proposal and no real funding ideas were presented. We at The Scoop give it a great big FAIL for, frankly, being as worthless as our senior Senator.

Hutchison’s plan involves creating a task force, to study inefficiencies, among other things, via the DMN:

Continue the use of private toll roads, but with more public scrutiny and without provisions that unfairly push drivers to use them.

Don’t increase gas taxes without proof an increase is needed and wouldn’t be wasted.

Appoint a task force to examine how the Texas Department of Transportation uses tax dollars and to eliminate inefficiencies.

Expand the five-member Texas Transportation Commission to nine members, providing other areas of the state more input into departmental decisions.

Reduce the power of the commission in day-to-day operations, including which roads to build and where.

Create a much stronger executive director who would act more like the CEO of transportation in Texas.

Give local planning agencies, like the Regional Transportation Agency in North Texas, a larger role in deciding how and where to spend transportation tax dollars.

Begin planning for more rail in the state’s long-term transportation future.

We’ve long ago determined that there are only two ways, currently, to pay for new roads – raise the gas tax or toll roads. Hutchison has clearly chosen toll roads. But if elected it won’t be until after her second session in office that anything would be passed to address the neglect of transportation financing in Texas.

Campaign aides confirmed that, if she were to win in November, an audit of the department could not be completed in time for Hutchison to consider any tax increase during the 2011 session.

Kay’s plan is a clunker, just kickin’ the can down the road. A road that needs to be repaved, but can’t because there’s no money. To recap Hutchison has a plan, same plan that’s been discussed for years now, that doesn’t work. And if elected, she won’t have a plan to bring in new money until her second session as Governor in 2013. That’s not leadership.

12.29.09

Hutchison goes all-in on corporate toll roads

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Commentary, Election 2010, Privatization, Road Issues, Transportation at 2:41 pm by wcnews

Via the DMN, Hutchison says private toll roads will continue if she is governor. This was totally expected. It’s not like she was going to come out for a gas tax increase when she’s down double digits in a GOP primary race in Texas.

Private toll roads will continue to be a significant part of Texas’ transportation solutions should Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison be elected governor in 2010, the candidate said today.

“Public-private partnerships are an important part of a modern transportation system, and can often build roads faster and cheaper than the government could do it working alone,” Hutchison said in a new policy paper presented by her campaign, and unveiled at a series of public speeches throughout Texas today.

[...]

Hutchison said Gov. Rick Perry, who has pushed hard for privatization of highways for most of his tenure, has failed to include necessary safeguards in the contracts awarded to private companies who seek to build Texas toll roads, in return for the right to collect tolls there for generations to come.

“Too often, those partnerships have given unfair advantages to private parties at public expense,” she said. “Some Comprehensive Development Agreements in Texas contain obscure clauses that limit public rights without the public fully realizing it. Some clauses would prohibit the state from building public roads within a certain distance of the toll road. Others could steer traffic onto toll roads by lowering the speed limit on the public road and raising the speed limit on the toll road.” [Emphasis added].

Still, the campaign was not able to immediately point to those examples. And in recent years as the push back against the Trans Texas Corridor grew louder, the Texas Department of Transportation has instituted rules of its own that largely mirror Hutchison’s concerns.

It’s obvious from the highlighted part above that Hutchison doesn’t seem to realize that without those “unfair advantages” in a contract corporations balked at building toll roads.  I guess she wasn’t paying attention when it was being debated in the legislature.

Ben Philpott at the TexasTrib has more, On the Road Again.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has laid out her vision for the future of transportation in Texas.

[...]

Reforms include:

  • Hire a Transportation CEO
  • Increase Transparency
  • Restructure TX Transportation Commission
  • Stop Highway Fund Diversions

Wow! What an innovative and fresh plan for transportation in Texas – NOT! Corporate toll roads and reforming TxDOT? That sounds familiar. If you have the stomach you can read the entire nonsense here [.pdf].

KBH to unveil transportation plan, Wear on the last decade

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Commentary, Election 2010, Privatization, Road Issues, Transportation at 12:32 pm by wcnews

As the DMN reports GOP gubernatorial hopeful Kay Bailey Hutchison will unveil her transportation plan this afternoon. It’s unlikely we’ll get anything new, but the boys at the DMN are more than willing to giver her every benefit of the doubt:

This blog has noted often that her criticisms of Perry’s positions have seldom been matched with answers about her own policies — whether, for instance, she will consider a hike in gas taxes or other steps to provide more funds for transportation.

Tomorrow’s press conference may afford her an opportunity to be specific. She could also choose a different route, and simply repeat previous statements about the need for the Texas Department of Transportation to spend the money it already receives more wisely.

I am hoping for clear presentation of thought-through ideas, and there is every reason to suspect she may produce just that tomorrow.

McBlogger has a much more realistic take on what’s going on, Sen. KBH to unveil plan…today:

OK, so you need to know that this is rolling at 3:25 this afternoon meaning that other than blogs, there won’t be much coverage of this for a day or so. Which means she’s not particularly comfortable with the plan and neither she nor her staff know the numbers well enough. To be honest, even if it’s unalloyed anti-Perry goodness I’ll still be asking why they didn’t wait until they were a little more solid and could pull more coverage. Bad press hit planning, IMHO… but it really shouldn’t surprise me since the MO of Hutchison’s campaign has been incompetence wrapped in abject stupidity.

Meanwhile, nothing from Shami or Bill White yet on this. I know Shami is working on his because of friends working with the campaign and I’m sure White’s folks are as well. Word of advice to the D’s… just copy Hank’s plan. There was a reason the press didn’t rip it to shreds, it was solid as rock and I’ve seen the polling on increasing the gas tax. The privatization hit on Perry is BRUTALLY effective, by the way.

McBlogger is spot on, Hank’s plan is the bomb. (Speaking of KBH’s bad campaign Kuff has a good wrap-up of her campaign keeping Burka our of the debate, The debate over Burka.)

Ben Wear at the AAS does a quick wrap-up of the last decade of transportation changes in the Austin area, A decade in transportation: new tollways and a long wait for rail.

Think back, if you will, to those last moments of Dec. 31, 1999, when all of us were watching the clock and wondering if time, the lights, our computers, the electrical grid and who knows what else were about to just stop.

Didn’t happen, of course. But think about what was about to happen: toll roads and passenger rail in Central Texas (well, passenger rail construction), Rick and Ric turning Texas transportation on its ear, Sal Costello and the Texas Toll Party. A new (bicycle and pedestrian) bridge over the Colorado River. The end of sub-$2-a-gallon gasoline and the American debut of $4-a-gallon gasoline. The advent of texting — and then rampant texting while driving — and now, a new City of Austin ordinance against that.

With the possible exception of the 1960s, when most of the interstate highway system was built, the past decade saw more change in Central Texas transportation than any period since horseback travel phased out a century ago. Most decades bring more of the same. This one brought a whole lot of new, including more miles of tollways than the combined length of Interstate 35 and MoPac Boulevard in Travis County.

Along with toll roads, came the backlash. It’s key to remember that the backlash to toll roads wasn’t because of a hate for paying tolls, or that toll roads shouldn’t exist. The problem with toll road was always with the sneaky way they were concocted – without public involvement, behind closed doors, and with corporate interests first.

Ronnie Earle, “Why I’m Running”

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Election 2010, Good Stuff at 11:41 am by wcnews

Earle lays out why he can’t sit on the sidelines any longer, because everyone must participate if we want to keep our democracy.  He takes a shot a deserved shot at entrenched power.

But anyone who has been paying attention to national politics knows that it takes more than just changing the party in power to achieve real change.

It’s easy to change whichever party is in power, but the hard reality is that if we’re not vigilant, the same shadow party — government by and for the favored few — will just continue to run things their way and keep doing better and better as they make things worse for everybody else.

Political parties like to think of themselves as families. There are lots of kinds of families.

You’ve all heard the story about the dysfunctional family Christmas where Uncle Henry throws the turkey up against the wall?

Well, I’m going to throw a bit of turkey against the wall. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about families, it is that to be healthy the dirty laundry has to get clean, and that means we all have to look at ourselves.

Corruption is like a relay race and the baton is easily passed from one political party to the next if both parties are not vigilant about policing their own ranks.

That’s because politics is like a tepee — it comes together at the top. In the places where the decisions are made that affect our lives, the powerful all too often come together and cut secret deals for their own benefit.

There are powerful forces that have been working hard over the past decade and a half trying to turn Texas into a third-world country. It is not enough that they enrich themselves at the expense of regular Texans; they want to reserve the top for themselves, with the rest of us struggling at the bottom.

The only thing higher than the luxurious private sky-boxes at our State college football stadiums are the tuitions our middle class families have to pay to send their kids to that same State college. Families have been running on treadmills for years, running faster and faster but never getting ahead and now it’s becoming too expensive for them to educate their children.

The American Dream has always been a better life for our children and that has included a college education. Now that dream is being betrayed.

And we’ve got a Governor who apparently never wants to leave his job even as he blocks unemployment benefits from millions of hard-working Texans who lost their jobs when Wall Street and Washington ran off with the economy.

And the Lieutenant Governor, traditionally the most powerful elected official in the State? From all the difference he’s made for ordinary Texans the office might as well have been left vacant all these years. And the longer Texas goes with a do-nothing State government, the more relentlessly the federal government encroaches on the powers and prerogatives of the state.

Texans must retake our state government, for there are always those who are willing to fill the vacuum when a people will not govern themselves.

It’s time for real change for Texas.

That’s why I’m running for Lieutenant Governor. I’ll need your help. Please come to my campaign web site and get involved.

The same corporations paying different people is not change. It looks like Earle will have at least one primary opponent.

12.28.09

Texas Blog Round Up (December 28, 2009)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 12:31 pm by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance would like to thank everyone for reading all of the weekly blog roundups this year. This is the last roundup of 2009, and we are all looking forward to 2010.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants everyone to be afraid of drug cartels buying our politicians. We’ve all seen what money and power did to health care reform. Imagine all that drug money buying power here. It’s time to legalize drugs and take away the profit.

You can’t make this stuff up at Bay Area Houston. GOP “Bubba” white supremacist wanted for murder.

Barnett Shale Communities can breathe easier after a VICTORY last week when TCEQ issued a new emission policy following the release of Texas OGAP’s Study: Shale Gas Threatens Human Health. Read the study and view documents TCEQ will use to record odor complaints and take necessary enforcement action.

WhosPlayin picked up on the TCEQ policy change, and also weighed in on strange comments by a Flower Mound Councilman explaining his vote not to impose an oil and gas moratorium. Speaking of councilmen, Lewisville has a teabagger councilman who wants to turn down a $913,000 stimulus grant from the federal government.

The Texas Cloverleaf looks at the potential for a contested party chair race in Dallas County. And, it is among the Democrats.

Xanthippas at Three Wise Men, on Robert George, the conservative Christian “big thinker” who dresses up old prejudices in new rationales.

Justin at Asian American Action Fund Blog is terribly excited that Gordon Quan is running for Harris County Judge.

Off the Kuff writes about Harris County Board of Ed Trustee Michael Wolfe, the silliest officeholder in Harris County.

Escalation in Afghanistan, a healthcare reform bill lacking a public option, and another climate change bust in Copenhagen has left a lot of Obama believers stranded at the intersection of Hope and Change. PDiddie has stepped off the bus; read why at Brains and Eggs.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the GOP property tax swap has fixed nothing, as most people knew back when it passed, The Texas GOP and the Texas budget.

Neil at Texas Liberal said that all of us in life seek the 60 votes of hope and kindness to defeat the filibusters of despair and anger. The Senate of life is always session so that we can rustle up the needed votes.

12.24.09

Filing Updates

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Election 2010, Williamson County at 1:58 pm by wcnews

Updated filing information heading into the Christmas Holiday.  (Democrats are listed in bold, (i) denotes incumbent).

Governor – Kay Bailey Hutchison, Debra Medina, and Rick Perry(i) / Felix Alvarado, Bill Dear, Farouk Shami, Bill White
Lieutenant Governor – David Dewhurst(i) / Ronnie Earle
Attorney General – Greg Abbott(i) / Barbara Ann Radnofsky
Comptroller of Public Accounts – Susan Combs(i)
Commissioner of the General Land Office – Jerry Patterson(i) / Bill Burton
Commissioner of Agriculture – Todd Staples(i) / Kinky Friedman, Hank Gilbert
Railroad Commissioner – Victor Carillo(i) / Jeff Weems
Justice, Supreme Court, Place 3 – Rebecca Simmons
Justice, Supreme Court, Place 5 – Paul Green(i)
Justice, Supreme Court, Place 9 –
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2 – Lawrence Meyers(i)
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5 – Cheryl Johnson(i)
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6 – Michael E. Keasler(i) / Keith Hampton

US Representative, District 31 – John Carter(i)
Member, State BoE, District 10 – Marsha Farney, Rebecca Osborne, and Brian Russell Judy Jennings
State Senator, District 5 – Ben Bius, Steve Ogden(i) / Steve Wyman
State Representative, District 20 – Milton Rister, Charles Schwertner, Stephen Thomas, and Patsy Williams
State Representative, District 52 – Diana Maldonado(i) / Stephen Casey, Alyssa Eacono, and Larry Gonzales
Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals DIST, P4 – Scott Field / Kurt Kuhn
District Judge, 277th Judicial District – Ken Anderson(i)
District Judge, 368th Judicial District – Burt Carnes(i)
County Judge – Dan Gattis(i)
County court at law judge 1 – Suzanne Brooks(i) / Teresa Duffin
County court at law judge 2 – Tim L. Wright(i)
County court at law judge 3 – Doug Arnold, Randall Pick
County court at law judge 4 – John B. McMaster(i)
District Clerk – Lisa David(i)
County Clerk – Nancy Rister(i)
County Treasurer – Kurt Showalter, Vivian L. Wood(i)
County Surveyor – Joe Baker(i)
County Commissioner, PCT 2 COMM – Cynthia Long(i) / Jim Stauber
County Commissioner, PCT 4 COMM – Ron Morrison(i) / Jeff Maurice
Justice of the Peace, Pct 1 – Dain Johnson(i)
Justice of the Peace, Pct 2 – Edna Staudt(i)
Justice of the Peace, Pct 3 – Steve Benton(i), L. E. Williams
Justice of the Peace, Pct 4 – Judy Schier Hobbs(i) / Norris Crook

A serious alternative to the powers that be

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Election 2010 at 12:52 am by wcnews

Kronberg on Ronnie Earle running for Lt. Gov., The new wrinkle in next year’s election cycle.

Under any circumstance, Earle will be outspent. But his mere presence on the ballot is a high visibility challenge to business as usual and the self-dealing that is part and parcel of Texas politics. There is no doubt that David Dewhurst’s opposition researchers are already looking at ways to bloody up Earle’s crusading prosecutor reputation.

And don’t forget — a place on the November ballot is not a slam dunk for the Travis Couunty Democrat. Hispanic surnames fare well in the Democratic primary. If she gets into the primary, former Texas AFL-CIO vice president Linda Chavez-Thompson could trump Earle.

But given a statewide pulpit along with his relatively high name ID, an Earle candidacy suddenly makes the Democratic ticket far more interesting. Whatever else one may say, Bill White, Ronnie Earle and Attorney general candidate Barbara Radnofsky are all serious people with a story to tell.

At the very least, the likely Democratic lineup has been transformed from a bad joke about self-promoters to a serious policy alternative to the powers that be.

We’ve been needing a serious alternative for a while now.

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