06.28.10

What happened to the rest of the rules?

Posted in Around The State at 10:41 am by dembones

At roughly 1:45 p.m. Saturday, after voting 25-8 to keep the two-step process for allocating national delegates’ presidential preferences, the convention permanent rules committee voted to sever that portion of their report and send it immediately to the convention floor. With delegates leaving Corpus Christi to return to their homes around the state, attendance steadily declines throughout the convention’s second session. Severing the report allowed the convention to take up this important issue with the largest number of delegates in attendance.

When the issue came to the floor, members of the committee wanted to come to the hall to have an opportunity to speak and vote their positions. According to sources on the permanent rules committee, the committee recessed in order to give its members that chance. However, many of the members of the committee never returned, and the committee was unable to reach a quorum to continue its business.

More than 40 proposed rules changes on their agenda did not deal with the “Texas Two-Step”. A number of those were recommended by the temporary rule committee to be referred to the resolutions or legislative committees. The permanent rules committee acted on these with a single vote to agree with the recommendations. That left about a dozen proposed rules changes waiting for action.

Because those rules changes were not acted upon, they fall to the SDEC’s rules committee. The main question is whether the members of the permanent rules committee who did not return to the meeting in room 225D were confused into thinking the meeting had been adjourned instead of recessed. According to sources, SDEC member John Behrman made a motion to adjourn, which (if true) would have been out of order because Behrman was not a member of the permanent rules committee.

Alternatively, enough members of the permanent rules committee could have decided that because the main issue before the committee had been decided, they were not inclined to invest any more time on the committee’s agenda.

For whatever reason, there was no further report from the permanent rules committee to the convention. The delegates to the state convention were not allowed an opportunity to hear the proposals nor their recommendations. About a dozen such proposals passed multiple county and senatorial district conventions and deserved a hearing by the permanent rules committee.

06.25.10

Democrats consider whether to keep Texas Two-Step

Posted in Elections, Good Stuff, Presidential Election at 7:27 pm by dembones

As a member of the temporary rules committee, I was present at the meeting R. G Ratliff describes in today’s Houston Chronicle.

The hybrid system of awarding some presidential convention delegates through a primary vote and others through a series of caucuses held on primary night became contentious in the contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Clinton won the primary vote, but Obama outmaneuvered her in the caucuses and walked away with the most pledged Texas delegates to the national nominating convention: 99-94. The state fight over those delegates continued from the March primary until a week before the 2008 state convention when Clinton conceded the nomination to Obama.

In some ways, the fight reignited Thursday morning during a pre-convention meeting in Corpus Christi in a sometimes-heated discussion over whether to keep the system or start allocating presidential delegates based only on primary results.

The temporary rules committee voted unanimously to recommend the adoption of the West Commission report, which keeps the allocations of national delegates’ presidential preferences based up on the combined results of the primary and caucuses. In the interests of full disclosure, this reporter served on the Temporary Rules Committee and authored a supplement to our report on the issue.

Now the work passes to the permanent Rules committee in the morning, where I believe the committee will vote to allow the full convention an opportunity to vote on a simple question: “Should Presidential Delegates’ presidential preference be determined exclusively by Primary election results?” If the full convention agrees with me and the rest of the Temporary Rules Committee, then the answer to this question will be no.

The concerns of those who would prefer we changed to a conventional primary are currently being addressed by the Texas Democratic Party. With improved and secured record-keeping, participant credentialing, improved training and certification, the scenes of chaos that made the national news in 2008 won’t be repeated. We can retain the precinct conventions as a party-building exercise in the long Presidential nomination process, honoring the tradition of the Texas Democratic party, and keep our unique process. It is going to take work.

My hope is that the convention will commit to completing this task and saving this critical organizing tool for future presidential elections.

Two New Directors Elected to PEC Board

Posted in Commentary, Elections, Energy at 6:00 am by PECmember

The Pedernales Electric Cooperative held its annual meeting on Saturday, June 19, 2010 in Johnson City. The annual meeting culminated in the announcement of Board of Director elections. The two newly elected Directors will replace Directors R.B. Felps and O.C. Harmon, the last two holdovers from the regime of former General Manager Bennie Fuelberg. Fuelberg is currently under indictment for misapplication of fiduciary property in excess of $200,000, theft of property in excess of $200,000, and money laundering between $100,000 and $200,000. The PEC Board is now comprised of entirely democratically elected Directors. Members also voted to approve a Member Bill of Rights which guarantees their right to open meetings and open records.

New District 4 Director member of Special Interest Group

Chris Perry, 57, a resident of Dripping Springs, won the District 4 election. He was one of two candidates endorsed by special interest groups “PEC4U” and the Texas Clean Water Action. (You can read the Clean Water endorsement at http://www.cleanwateraction.org/feature/finish-reforming-pedernales-electric-co-op) In their press release, Clean Water Action takes credit for playing a role in the reforms at PEC and claims to have “endorsed and assisted” the PEC Board, which oversees electrical distribution and service to its members, but not their water supply. Perry, was on the 2009 PEC4U steering committee which helped to elect Directors Larry Landaker and Cristi Clement. Perry will now be the fifth elected director out of seven to be endorsed by one special interest group.

Both PEC4U and Texas Clean Water have angered members for stacking the PEC Board with their candidates thanks to the at-large voting system. Members have voiced their desire for single member district voting, which allows residents of a district to only vote for their representative, to an at-large elected Board which increasingly becomes deaf to member and employee concerns. All four PEC4U/Texas Clean Water endorsed Directors have voted against single member district voting despite prior claims to support it. District 2 Director Patrick Cox, Associate Director at the Center for American History at the University of Texas and Chair of the Governance and Bylaws Committee, had promised the PEC Board and membership that single member district voting would be carried out in 2009. Instead he successfully buried the proposal in committee for “further study” and then left it out of proposed bylaws revisions, causing that critical document to fail to garner the full support of the Board.

Independent Candidate Elected for District 5

Ross Fischer, 36, a resident of Kendalia, won the District 5 election. He was an independent candidate who beat out the PEC4U/Clean Water candidate Steve Carriker. Carriker is a former Texas State Legislator (D, Roby) voted  the #1 Worst Legislator by colleagues in 1993 (list available at: http://www.texasmonthly.com/magazine/bestworst#1993).  In his acceptance speech Fischer stated he is “independent with no ties to any special faction.” An attorney, Fischer was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to the Texas Ethics Commission. His Bio states that he is “a lawyer in private practice, specializing in local government law, including open records, open meetings, and ethical standards for public officials.”

Interim General Manager Appointed

Luis Garcia, currently the cooperative’s General Counsel, was appointed by the Board to be the Interim General Manager. Departing GM Juan Garza was terminated at the Board’s regular June 14, 2010 board meeting. A sizeable number of employees attended the annual meeting to protest the termination of Garza’s contract. Board President Larry Landaker, in his speech to the attendees, cited the need for new leadership in order to keep the cooperative healthy and progressive. “All of you may have read about the recent woes of Austin Energy,” said Landaker. “They are deep in the red—in the millions. Their General Manager recently said, ‘We need a new business model or we go bankrupt.’ Because they overspent and deferred critical decisions for years, they will have to raise consumer rates 6.5% in 2012, with more to come.” Garza was, until 2008, the General Manager of the now struggling Austin Energy.

A video of the PEC Annual Meeting can be viewed at: http://pec.iqm2.com/Citizens/VIdeomain.aspx?MeetingID=1008

The complete 2010 PEC Election Results can be viewed at: http://www.pec.coop/CorpProfile/Election2010.aspx

06.24.10

Judge disqualifies Green petition drive

Posted in Around The State, Election 2010, Right Wing Lies at 11:18 pm by dembones

The Houston Chronicle reports: “State District Judge John Dietz ruled that restricted corporate money was used to support the signature drive and did not comply with state election law.” Also reporting this breaking story are the Texas Tribune, Charles Kuffner, Bay Area Houston and pretty much everyone else.

06.23.10

Legality of Republican petition-drive questioned

Posted in Bad Government Republicans, Election 2010, Had Enough Yet?, Money In Politics, Right Wing Lies at 11:18 pm by dembones

The aptly-named Take Initiative America, took the initiative and broke the law in spending secretive corporate cash to help the Green Party gain access to the statewide ballot in November, according to Texas Democratic Party lawyers. The Austin American-Statesman is reporting that the shadow Republican group spent more than a half-million dollars to gather signatures for the Green Party’s ballot petition.

Jason Embry is reporting that Take Initiative America misled at least one Green Party officer before the petition drive began.

In a June 10 e-mail to other Green Party officials, state party treasurer David Wager said, “I was promised by a representative of Take Initiative America that the organization was not a corporation and that he would comply with all disclosure requests. Today I was informed that the organization is in fact a corporation and they will not disclose their donors. They claim that their collection of signatures and in-kind contribution was not political. I don’t agree. In my opinion, we have no choice but to refuse the signatures.”

On his blog, Embry explains that “Democrats contend that Republicans are behind the effort because a Green candidate likely would pull votes away from Democrat Bill White, who is challenging Gov. Rick Perry. Take Initiative America has not disclosed its donors. ”

Texas Democratic Convention set to begin

Posted in Commentary, Democratic Events, Speakers Race at 7:58 pm by dembones

With temporary committees and State Democratic Executive Committee meetings on the agenda tomorrow, Democrats are beginning to filter into downtown Corpus Christi for the state Democratic convention. Ahead are fights over party rules that partially govern the “PrimaCaucus”, our delightfully frustrating Presidential delegate nominations process; a challenge to the re-election of State Chair Boyd Richie; countless resolutions and drafting the party’s platform.

But who are we kidding? The state convention is all about candidates, glad-handing, fund raising and momentum-building. And, the drinking Blogger’s Caucus Friday night. And more parties.

Democratic success in November will hinge on whether the party faithful get their mojo back and resume their gradual return to political prominence. It’s been a long walk in the woods, oh-fer-29, according to the Richie’s challenger. The energy of 2008 produced some wins, but statewide success continues to be just around the corner. With Bill White at the top of the ticket, there’s potential for victory, but only with enthusiasm.

I’m looking forward to hopefully finding some energy in Corpus Christi — other than washed-up tar globs on the beach.

Site news

Posted in Blogging at 7:34 pm by dembones

We’ve been enjoying the summer a bit too much, neglecting our blogging duties for which we’re so highly paid not compensated in any way.

Of course, there has been plenty going on, and we’ll get you caught up. So please stay tuned.

06.15.10

PEC Board Votes to Oust General Manager

Posted in Central Texas, Energy at 8:50 am by PECmember

кухненски столовеAt its regularly scheduled board meeting on June 14, 2010, the Pedernales Electric Cooperative Board of Directors announced it had decided to terminate General Manager Juan Garza’s employment. Garza will serve until June 30th, upon which time an interim General Manager, to be determined, will be appointed.

In their short announcement the board gave no specific reasons for the termination. Board President Larry Landaker  stated the majority of the board members had voted to terminate Garza’s contract in their executive session. Following the announcement, Garza made a brief statement calling it “a day of personal sadness.” He gave kudos to the PEC employees and said, “I leave with my head held high and with a great sense of accomplishment.”

Garza was hired in 2008 by the “old guard” board members following the resignation of former General Manager Bennie Fuelberg and Bud Burnett. Fuelberg is currently under indictment for misapplication of fiduciary property in excess of $200,000, theft of property in excess of $200,000, and money laundering between $100,000 and $200,000. Garza, following direction from the Board of Directors, has helped to usher in a new era of openness and transparency at the troubled electric cooperative.

While the exact reasons for Garza’s termination currently remain unclear, there have been some negative reviews from hired management consultants in regards to operational controls and budgetary oversight. In March of 2010 PEC released the results of the Somerset Guild survey, a report which highlighted both employee and member concerns (download the March 15, 2010 Board Meeting materials at http://pec.coop/CorpProfile/BoardMeeting.aspx). The survey states that interviews with Board Directors showed that they held a strong emphasis on “financial responsibility.” The employee interviews indicated that “In some cases, employees were afraid to talk for fear of losing their jobs.” Following the Board meeting, District 2 Director James Williams, answering a member’s concerns, said “this board has no intention of falling backwards in its commitment to open governance.”

The PEC Board of Directors are elected to three year terms by the membership on an annual basis. The PEC annual meeting is this Saturday, June 19th, at the Johnson City Training Center. Voting for Directors for Districts 4 and 5 is closed to online and mail in ballot voting, but voting is still possible in person at the annual meeting. Voting and annual meeting information can be obtained at http://pec.coop/CorpProfile/Election2010.aspx.

06.12.10

Runoff voting today

Posted in Election 2010, Elections, Local Elections at 9:50 am by wcnews

PLEASE VOTE TODAY 7am -7pm FOR DEMOCRAT VIC VILLAREAL, running for ACC TRUSTEE. It’s a non-partisan race, so just remember “VOTE FOR VIC!!”  He has excellent credentials and endorsements. I’ve met him a few times and seems genuine and very nice. He won 40% of the vote in the primary, his opponent got 25%, but since Vic didn’t have a majority, it goes to a run-off. Go to:
wilco.org and click on elections. Find your precinct number to see where your polling location is. Please urge everyone you know to vote today for Vic Villareal. If they live in the Austin school district, the RR school district or the Leander school district you can Vote for Vic!! If you want more info about him, here is his website, you can also google him:  http://www.vicforacc.com/

06.08.10

Vigil to be held in front of Austin BP offices Tuesday at 7:30pm

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:01 am by dembones

Local activists are planning to conduct an “Emergency Oil Spill Vigil” in front of BP’s Austin office, 1005 N. Congress Ave., Tuesday at 7:30pm. Word of the vigil comes to Eye On Williamson via an email from a WCDP precinct chair. It identifies the group calling for the vigil as “friends, neighbors, people who care enough to come,” and states that “Participants will stand with the Gulf Coast and all of its affected people, wildlife and ecology and call for increased effective efforts to end the spill.”

Eye on Willamson will provide additional details as they become available.

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