The Texas Progressive Alliance thinks that we should have tried to get redistricting done right the first time instead of waiting till now to involve the public as it brings you this week’s roundup.
Off the Kuff gave an updated look at the state of the 2013 elections in Houston.
Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw explains that Texas Ranks 51 in Voter Turnout. Another dubious achievement for Governor Oops…Check it out.
Which news item was false but with a ring of truth, and which was true but everyone wishes was false? PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reports… you decide.
Stace at Dos Centavos is a proponent of using Mexican American culture as a means of capturing that demographic’s vote. He provides a follow-up to a recent KHOU report by Vicente Arenas on the resurgence of Tejano music. It’s a good opportunity for non-Tejano fans to learn a little cultural history about the music genre whose live concerts still attract thousands of eligible voters.
WCNews at Eye on Williamson tells why The Lege Putting some money back into public education is unlikely to end school finance case.
Judge Edith Jones has the racist, Republican vibe down pat. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why she hasn’t been impeached yet.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
Texas Clean Air Matters advocates for stronger ozone standards, for a healthier Texas.
Greg Wythe liveblogs the Senate redistricting hearing from Houston.
Texas Redistricting explains what “candidate of choice” means.
The Texas Green Report gives Austin the advantage over San Antonio on green building codes…for now.
Texas Vox preps us for the way climate change will affect our summers.
Colin Strother points out that campus carry is a conundrum for cops.
BOR cannot believe that a Texas jury acquitted a man for killing an escort that wouldn’t have sex with him.
Texpatriate offers its list of Best and Worst legislators.
Texas Leftist makes the connection between the war on drugs and racial profiling.
A hearty “Welcome Back” to blogging to John Coby, who tells us about the trouble (sorry, “twouble”) with TWIA.
And finally, Lemon Sweetie asked Sir Patrick Stewart a question about his work fighting against domestic violence while at Comicpalooza in Houston, and got an amazing answer. Be sure to watch the video as well.
The American people and their branch of government are the only ones that can force this to change. No single person and no single party. But the people working together. And I don’t know if our country can act in that manner anymore.
Here’s an excerpt from Glenn Greenald on Democracy Now today.
AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, on Thursday, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein told reporters in the Senate gallery that the government’s top-secret court order to obtain phone records on millions of Americans is, quote, “lawful.”
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: As far as I know, this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years. This renewal is carried out by the FISA court under the business records section of the PATRIOT Act, therefore it is lawful.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Senator Dianne Feinstein. Glenn Greenwald?
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, first of all, the fact that something is lawful doesn’t mean that it isn’t dangerous or tyrannical or wrong. You can enact laws that endorse tyrannical behavior. And there’s no question, if you look at what the government has done, from the PATRIOT Act, the Protect America Act, the Military Commissions Act and the FISA Amendments Act, that’s exactly what the war on terror has been about.
But I would just defer to two senators who are her colleagues, who are named Ron Wyden and Mark Udall. They have—are good Democrats. They have spent two years now running around trying to get people to listen to them as they’ve been saying, “Look, what the Obama administration is doing in interpreting the PATRIOT Act is so radical and so distorted and warped that Americans will be stunned to learn” — that’s their words — “what is being done in the name of these legal theories, these secret legal theories, in terms of the powers the Obama administration has claimed for itself in how it can spy on Americans.”
When the PATRIOT Act was enacted—and you can go back and look at the debates, as I’ve done this week—nobody thought, even opponents of the PATRIOT Act, that it would ever be used to enable the government to gather up everybody’s telephone records and communication records without regard to whether they’ve done anything wrong. The idea of the PATRIOT Act was that when the government suspects somebody of being involved in terrorism or serious crimes, the standard of proof is lowered for them to be able to get these documents. But the idea that the PATRIOT Act enables bulk collection, mass collection of the records of hundreds of millions of Americans, so that the government can store that and know what it is that we’re doing at all times, even when there’s no reason to believe that we’ve done anything wrong, that is ludicrous, and Democratic senators are the ones saying that it has nothing to do with that law. [Emphasis added]
The PATRIOT Act has become the the definition of a “slipper slope“.
The problems with this are many. And the only way this will stop is if the people of America demand it stops. Unfortunately our elected leaders and the corporations that bankroll them know that too, and they’re going to work hard to make sure that the people don’t come together and demand this stops.
As John Nichols reminds us it is up to Congress to change this.
Some senators think that’s acceptable. Indeed, Senator Lindsay Graham, R-SC, has declared himself “glad” that the National Security Agency is obtaining the phone records of millions of Verizon customers. And key Democrats, such as Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, D-California, have adopted a “what’s-the-big-deal?” stance that says the spying is old news that senators should have been aware of.
But many of the sharpest and most engaged members of the chamber are rejecting that assessment. Among those stepping up today were Democrats and Republicans who have histories of expressing concern about abuses of privacy rights. In the House, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Michigan Democrat John Conyers, Jr., and the ranking member of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler, and the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, Virginia Democrat Robert C. “Bobby” Scott moved fast to declare: “The recent revelation that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has approved the blanket and ongoing collection of telephone records — including those of everyday Americans with absolutely no ties to terrorism — is highly problematic and reveals serious flaws in the scope and application of the USA PATRIOT Act. We believe this type of program is far too broad and is inconsistent with our Nation’s founding principles. We cannot defeat terrorism by compromising our commitment to our civil rights and liberties.”
With the latest revelation, Congress has an opportunity to do what [Russ] Feingold begged the House and especially the Senate to do from 2001 on: provide meaningful oversight and real checks and balances on surveillance initiatives that are clearly at odds with a Fourth Amendment protection that says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”
Feingold warned us five years ago that Congress, through its inaction and its explicit authorizations of unchecked surveillance in the Patriot Act and rewrites of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, ushered in “one of the greatest intrusions, potentially, on the rights of Americans protected under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution in the history of our country.”
Ideally, the pair of former senators who once expressed deep concerns about abuses of privacy rights and now serve as president and vice president would take the lead in addressing abuses.
But it is an understanding that the executive branch rarely surrenders authority that had been ceded to it that led the founders to separate the powers of the federal government. They wanted to assure that, when the executive branch did not act properly, the legislative branch could step up.
It is time for Congress to recognize that Feingold was right in his warning. The potential for for intrusions on the rights of Americans protected under the Fourth Amendment has been realized.
And it must be addressed by a Congress that understands and embraces its role as a defender of the Constitution to which every member swears an oath.
Rick Perlstein adds his perspective, The NSA Doppleganger.
What You Should Know About the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).
Obama Says No One Is Listening To Your Phone Calls. ‘Trust Me!’.
Trust the professionals. They’ll strike the right balance.
ProPublica has this, Mass Surveillance in America: A Timeline of Loosening Laws and Practices.
Abby Rapoport in the American Prospect wrote an article on where things stand with Democrats and Battleground Texas right now, Can Obama’s Organizing Army Take Texas?
While Governor Rick Perry laughed off the effort to turn Texas blue as “the biggest pipe dream I have ever heard,” other Republican leaders are giving Battleground Texas free publicity by decrying it as a coven of dangerous outside agitators—“masters of the slimy dark arts of campaigning,” state Republican Party Chair Steve Munisteri wrote in a fundraising letter. Speaking at a lunch in Waco, Attorney General Greg Abbott called the arrival of Team Obama members “a new ?assault, an assault far more dangerous than what the leader of North Korea threatened when he said he was going to add Austin, Texas, as one of the recipients of his nuclear weapons. The threat that we’re getting is the threat from the Obama administration and his political machine.”
For a fledgling effort, Battleground Texas has already become a national media darling, prominently featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Bloomberg News. In February, Bird even had a guest turn on The Colbert Report, where the host described him as “the man behind Obama’s minority outreach-around.” It’s easy to see why there’s so much interest. If Texas were to become a competitive state, the impact on national politics would be enormous. Without the state’s 38 electoral votes, Republicans would find it virtually impossible to win presidential elections with the current national map. Even the threat of losing Texas would influence a presidential contest. If the GOP has to start fighting for votes in such an enormous state—with 20 media markets—it will drain resources the party could devote to other battlegrounds.
No state has greater potential for Democrats. Texas is already “majority-minority,” with Latinos making up 38 percent of the population and African Americans 12 percent. According to the state demographer, the number of Latinos will surpass the number of whites in the next decade; by 2040, 52 percent of the state will be Latino, and 27 percent will be white. Between just 2012 and 2016, about a million additional Latinos in Texas will become eligible to vote. But that’s been the trouble for Democrats: Latinos aren’t voting. Forty-seven percent of eligible Latinos have not even registered. In 2010, when Perry won re-election, the Latino turnout rate was an anemic 16 percent, about half the typical Latino turnout in New Mexico. An analysis by the Houston Chronicle shows that if Latinos voted at the same rate as whites, the state would already be a toss-up.
National GOP resource diversion is one of the earliest goals and so far it’s working. Or course the main goal, making Democrats competitive again all over Texas and statewide is going to take a while and those running this effort are aware of that.
How will Battleground Texas mount a challenge to Republican hegemony in the ultimate red state? Slowly but surely, as Jenn Brown told the Austin Democrats. “We know this is a long-term effort,” she said. “We know it will take time.” The initial focus will be to create a massive network of Democratic organizers and volunteers across the state. Imagine, Brown said, what could happen with 250 paid field organizers in Texas, each with five teams of volunteers; they could reach 500,000 potential voters if everyone just knocked on 50 doors.
At this point, the details are hypothetical: A full-scale plan for “getting that started” won’t be rolled out until this summer. But Jeremy Bird offers a few more details. In the next couple of election cycles, Battleground Texas will target “battleground zones”—races that organizers believe could either be winnable or could help Democrats build infrastructure by training new candidates and registering voters. A battleground zone could be a city council race with a promising young Latino candidate in Waco or a state House race in a heavily minority district in Houston. The idea is to seize every viable opportunity to build new Democratic networks around the state, creating new voters along the way.
For the time being, that’ll be done without backing candidates for statewide offices. Texas has a few rising Democratic stars—most notably San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and his twin, Congressman Joaquin Castro—but running them for major offices too soon and losing risks diminishing their appeal. Democratic strategist James Aldrete says the Battleground Texas approach—build the base rather than expecting miracle results right away—is refreshing. For too long, Aldrete says, Texas Democrats tried the opposite approach: “waiting for the amazing candidate that’s gonna inspire everyone and solve all our problems.” Finally, Texas Democrats are attempting to replicate what has worked elsewhere. “The way I look at it,” Bird says, “Texas is our candidate.”
Harris County Democrats and Battleground Texas volunteers will have to start making calls and venturing into minority neighborhoods for the first time in decades. The effort has, at least, belatedly begun. Houston elected a new Democratic chair in 2011, Lane Lewis, who is focusing the party for the first time on Dallas-style field organizing. Lewis estimates that if the party registers 120,000 new nonwhite voters, it will result in 80,000 more people going to the polls. “We’re already block-walking,” Lewis says. “We’ve already had phone banks this year.” But his field team is not just trying to woo new voters; Democratic staffers and volunteers are participating year-round in projects like building a community garden in the tough Independence Heights neighborhood, an effort to show that the party cares about more than winning votes.
If Democrats can galvanize Houston’s nonvoters, they will be well on their way to turning Texas blue. But all those years of ignoring minorities will make it a formidable task. “You’ve got to commit at least ten years,” Antonio Gonzalez says. “It takes at least ten years to undo twenty years of neglect.”
There’s still a bunch of “ifs” with Battleground Texas, as well there should be. But the one thing I’ve always liked about this effort is that they know this is going to take a while and they’re not setting unrealistic goals. Kos has more, Texas is going to get very, very interesting. And Blue.
[UPDATE]: Another take on all of this from the Socratic Gadfly, Texas Dems should be circumspect about “blue state” assumptions.
Let’s look at this issue per the various subheaders of this blog post.
First, why is Texas’ Hispanic voting rate 10 percentage points below the national average? Can that gap be closed, and how quickly? What do you think it will take?
Second, since, per Tom Edsall, that alone will be nowhere near enough, what does Battleground Texas and the Texas Democratic Party need to do to recruit more white voters, whether native/semi-native, or recent moves from elsewhere in the country? Has either BG or TDP made specific statements to that end or indicated they have a strategy?
Third, name me some names for non-crappy candidates in future elections. Related to that, tell me more specifically why black Democrats, say black state senators like Royce West and Rodney Ellis, refuse to consider running for statewide offices?
Fourth, other than hype/hoopla, even though BG is brand new, are you satisfied so far, not just with what you hear, but, per Jenn Brown, being told to can the hoopla and dig in for a long-term, and incremental-step, grind? Hinojosa is semi-new but not brand new as TDP chair, and he’s nowhere near new as a politico. Are you satisfied with his work? With him being party chair?
“I’m going to be real honest with you, the Republican Party doesn’t want black people to vote if they’re going to vote 9-to-1 for Democrats.”
- Dallas Tea Party activist Ken Emanuelson, 2013
“Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome — good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
- Paul Weyrich talking to a conservative Christian audience in 1980.
Whether 1980 or 2013 the so-called “conservatives” know that their best bet to win elections is to do what they can to keep turnout low. Whether through apathy, intimidation, or disenfranchisement it doesn’t matter how, just so long as turnout stays low.
A new study from the by the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, called the Texas Civic Health Index shows that the plan is working well in Texas. Via the Texas Tribune, Civic Engagement and the Future of Texas.
As the 83rd Texas Legislature winds down, the future of public education, water infrastructure, and other critical problems hangs in the balance. These issues and others will directly impact our pocketbooks, our quality of life, and the future of the nation’s second-largest state. Yet few Texans participated in sending these legislators to Austin to pass laws on our behalf.
In fact, Texas sits squarely at the bottom of the political participation barrel.
The state’s dynamic growth is bringing serious policy challenges. Meeting these challenges will require the public’s involvement. Expert research and common sense both strongly suggest that a society lacking in citizen participation is more prone to inefficiency, corruption, and unresponsive government. When close to 64 percent of voting age citizens choose to sit on the sidelines, that inaction allows an active minority of citizens to drive decisions that affect the majority.
Does that ring a bell or what! The complete study can be read here.
Corporations in Texas are worried about going thirsty. The water funding fight in Texas looks to be between the corporate GOP and the tea party. From Dave Montgomery, Opposition forming to massive Texas water plan.
The unfolding campaign appears almost certain to match the contours of the legislative debate, balancing the need to keep Texas economically vibrant with a robust water supply against Tea Party-fueled opposition over spending rainy-day money on the multibillion-dollar program.
The effort is expected to include much of the state’s political leadership, including Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
H204Texas, a coalition that includes chambers of commerce, energy companies, water suppliers and other interests, has already started mapping out a political-style campaign that includes fundraising, media buys, op-ed pieces and elaborate use of social media.
“We’re already in full force,” said Heather Harward, the coalition’s executive director.
SJR1 has strong support among community leaders in the Metroplex. Representatives of the Tarrant County government, the City of Fort Worth and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce testified in behalf of the measure during the Legislature.
“I think voters in Texas understand the challenges that we face with our water needs here,” said state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. “I definitely will speak in my district about it and certainly encourage the consideration of its passage in my district. “
Matt Geske, director of government affairs for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, said the business-based entity plans to promote the initiative actively, adopting a strategy similar to a high-profile effort the chamber used in helping pass a 2009 constitutional amendment to expand the number of tier one universities in Texas.
“I think it’s going to be a similar push for this one to make sure everyone knows why this is important,” Geske said.
But opposition is also taking shape as an array of conservative groups — including Tea Party and citizens lobby organizations — work their formidable email networks to point up what they say are a number of reasons why the initiative should be defeated.
Recycling a major element from the legislative debate, opponents have begun to denounce the proposed use of $2 billion in state rainy-day funds, which lawmakers approved in a separate appropriations bill to capitalize the proposed bank.
Opponents say that putting the $2 billion into a constitutionally dedicated fund enables supporters to avoid having the money count against a state spending cap, which conservatives both in and out of the Legislature have vowed to protect vigorously.
“We’re going to have to oppose it,” said JoAnn Fleming of Tyler, executive director of Grassroots America, which she said networks with more than 300 Tea Party and liberty organizations.
Fleming said members of her organization and related groups plan to work through summer and fall in a “good old-fashioned grassroots effort” to drum up votes against the initiative. “We’ve been successful with that in the past,” she said.
One influential conservative group, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, came out against the proposal during the just-ended regular legislative session, but group President Michael Quinn Sullivan said in an email that “it’s premature to speculate on what we may or may not be doing in the fall on constitutional amendments.”
“A great many conservative groups opposed SJR1 in the legislature,” said Sullivan, who is president of Empower Texans and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. “We know a lot of folks are going to be talking about it in the fall. If or when we decide to engage in that issue, we’ll engage.”
Chuck Molyneaux of McKinney, 73, a retired software developer who heads the North Texas Citizens Lobby, said his organization is reaching out to its allies in the Tea Party community to oppose the measure and the proposed use of rainy-day funds.
“We’re going to do our best to keep it from being passed,” he said. “This one just reeks of smoke and mirrors.”
H2O4Texas has corporate sponsors out the wazoo. The corporate side wants to make sure that everyone is aware of the supposedly good “economic impact” of doing something about water. The tea party opposes it because of where the money comes from. They’d be for it if the money came from cutting what they deem unnecessary government like public education.
Missing mostly from the conversation, as usual, is what, if any, benefit the taxpayers will receive, other then the so-called economic benefits. Hopefully the plan will keep taxpayers in drinking water, without ra raising our taxes too much. The corporate thirst for Texas water may be unquenchable.
The money The Lege put back into public education is unlikely to end the legal case, Analysis: Lawmakers not out of the woods on school finance.
But will a $3.4 billion increase in funding and a sharp reduction in high-stakes testing be enough to sway Dietz and ultimately the Texas Supreme Court?
Closing the chasm between districts may help with the issue of equity. The second issue, adequacy, is hotly contested, as education groups and others note that funding is, at best, where it was four years ago. And lawmakers did little to address the third major component of the case, the ruling that districts are locked into what is essentially an illegal statewide property tax.
Legislative leaders are nonetheless optimistic, while the plaintiff school districts see only a small impact.
“This should influence the final decision that Judge Dietz is going to write,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick, R-Houston. “With the combination of the reduction in STAAR testing and this infusion of cash into our schools, I believe the judge needs to revisit the issue. At the least, it could mean that the state may want to ask to reopen the case.”
In addition to the extra $3.4 billion in the coming two years — which erased a good chunk of the $5.4 billion funding reduction over the past two years — lawmakers also slashed the number of high school end-of-course tests required for graduation.
While some money was put back there are still huge problems with public educaiton in Texas.
The judge’s point was driven home in the National Education Association’s annual comparison of school spending this spring, which showed that Texas had slipped to 49th among the 50 states and District of Columbia in spending per pupil.
Patrick played down Dietz’s funding estimate as “a number he pulled out of the sky.” He also noted that the state Supreme Court will ultimately decide, factoring in what lawmakers did this year.
Thompson, who has been an attorney in the last two school finance cases and is a former general counsel for the Texas Education Agency, compared the new arguments of the state to someone deciding how to salvage an ailing vehicle.
“What they did was like fixing a 20-year-old car. They spent a significant amount of money on the repairs, but they’ve still got a 20-year-old car,” he said.
“They made no changes in the structure of the funding system,” he added. “All they did was put money into an outdated system that is not designed to help our neediest kids, the ones who are struggling and who are now the majority of students in our schools.”
As the Morgan Smith points out we’re still waiting on the judge’s final decision, Whatever Became of That School Finance Ruling?
When John Dietz issued an oral ruling declaring the state’s school finance system unconstitutional in February, the state district court judge said he would release a more detailed, written decision by mid-March.
It’s now June, and there is still no final decision in the sweeping lawsuit involving more than two-thirds of Texas school districts that arose after the Legislature eliminated roughly $5.4 billion from state public education funding in 2011.
Dietz, who did not return a call for comment, has not formally communicated any reason for the delay to the parties in the lawsuit, according to David Thompson, an attorney involved in the litigation.
Many believed, before the legislative session began, that there would be a special session on public education once the courts were finished, in the Spring of 2014. It’s still looks likely that public education will need to be addressed before the next regular session in 2015.
Here’s what the issues are in the court case (from DMN article linked above):
The three major issues on which the state lost its school finance case:
EFFICIENCY: Districts argued that the finance system distributes money to school districts inequitably, giving some districts thousands of dollars more per student than other districts despite having similar property tax rates.
Ruling: The inequities violate the state constitutional requirement that the system be efficient. Said state District Judge John Dietz: “The Texas Constitution states a shared truth that education of all is necessary to preserve our rights and liberties.”
ADEQUACY: School districts complained that they were not receiving enough money to pay for programs required to meet higher state standards for students.
Ruling: Dietz agreed, saying that the constitution’s requirement for adequacy of funding was violated in part because the state was demanding more without a boost in funds.
STATE PROPERTY TAX: School districts lack discretion to raise enough funds because they’ve maxed out what they can tax property owners under state law.
Ruling: Many poor districts have hit the cap of $1.17 per $100 valuation “merely to fulfill state mandates and no longer have meaningful discretion in setting their tax rates,” Dietz wrote. That is in effect a statewide property tax, which is unconstitutional, he ruled.
The House came in for a very short time today and then recessed for two weeks. While they were in Redistricting Committee Chair Rep. Drew Darby announced three committee hearings in the next two weeks.
Any hope of getting out of the current special session in short order has now evaporated.
State Rep. Drew Darby, chair of House’s redistricting committee, told members of the House on Monday that he has scheduled three additional redistricting hearings around the state.
Originally, the San Angelo Republican had planned on just two days worth of hearings last week in Austin.
Darby also said last week that he hoped to have a committee vote on redistricting maps by Friday. But with hearings now scheduled in Dallas on June 6, in San Antonio on June 10 and in Houston on June 12, the committee won’t be able to kick bills out for a while.
The whole House isn’t scheduled to convene again until June 17 at 10 a.m.
Darby didn’t give a reason for the new hearings, but since Texas still needs the blessing of the federal government before it can pass redistricting maps — or any other change to election law — Darby could be trying to minimize any federal interference in the process.
State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo and chair of the Senate’s redistricting committee, has scheduled hearings in Austin on Thursday and on June 12.
Soon to be posted, are additional hearings in Corpus Christi on Friday and in Houston on Saturday, his staff said.
@PhilipMartin on Twitter said the reason the House recessed instead of adjourning was:
so they recessed instead of adjourned so if items are added to the call, committees could meet
Harvey Kronberg at QR posted this, Special Session Unhappiness—Have Wheels Come Off?
Dewhurst in France, lawmakers in unanticipated field hearings, no one clear on end game
Today we heard grumbling that Lt. Governor David Dewhurst forcefully advocated for a special session on redistricting and subsequently wrote a letter to the Governor seeking a catalog of red meat Republican issues be added to the call.
He then left for Europe on Saturday for a D-Day commemoration just as the wheels were coming off the redistricting effort. If the Governor did add Dewhurst’s laundry list of items to the Call went the grumbles, the Lite Guv would have to be notified overseas.
Spokesman Travis Considine told QR, “”Lt. Governor Dewhurst has chosen to honor his father’s memory and heroics during D-Day by visiting the Normandy Museum he has helped build in remembrance of those brave men who gave their last breath in service to our country during World War II. Those in the Senate who feel that he should not honor his father or our World War II veterans have not expressed this sentiment to Lt. Governor Dewhurst.”
This hastily called special session is starting to look hastily called. It looks like our so-called leaders didn’t think this through. Oh well, what’s $2 million to our elected leaders?
The thoughts and prayers of the Texas Progressive Alliance are with the families and friends of the Houston Fire Department as we bring you this week’s roundup.
Off the Kuff discusses why the special session won’t wrap up as quickly as first thought.
We said goodbye to Michele Bachmann and Susan Combs on the same day last week. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs tried hard to hold back the tears (of laughter), but ultimately submitted to the overwhelming schadenfreude in anticipation of a few Texans who might next wear the crown.
Dos Centavos provides a response to HB 5 by a statewide coalition of Latino groups who have much to say about the education assessment bill.
Texas’ plan to finance roads is privatized gains and socialized loses. WCNews at Eye on Williamson the poor performance of corporate toll roads in Texas, But you can drive 85 mph on it.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
Colin Strother joins the blogging world with a comparison of Battleground Texas today to the Assorted Republicans of Texas 30 years ago.
Concerned Citizens offers its own take on how BGT is perceived by its boosters and detractors.
Texpatriate wonders what the heck is going on in Galveston.
Texas Vox asks how ExxonMobil will adapt to the climate change it is helping to create.
Texas Leftist gives his impression of Houston Mayoral candidate Ben Hall.
Mean Green Cougar Red wants to know how safe our bridges are.
Lone Star Ma is upset about the politically-motivated death of CSCOPE.
Beyond Bones celebrates the sequencing of the coelecanth genome.
A special session on redistricting that was supposed to be a quick “rubber stamp” by The Lege of the current “interim” districts and get the state out of court will likely fulfill none of those aims. On Wednesday in San Antonio there was a hearing on the upcoming court case regarding The Lege’s discriminatory maps from 2011. At that meeting it was determined that any new districts approved by The Lege will still have to go through the court.
Today’s redistricting hearing in San Antonio was largely procedural but did have the court wrestling with some key threshold issues.
Indeed, much of the hearing centered the possible legal consequences of the Texas Legislature making the interim maps permanent.
Hispanic and African-American plaintiff groups took strong issue with the State of Texas’ argument that the case would essentially begin anew.
Jose Garza, counsel for the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus, told the three-judge panel that, if the Legislature were adopt the interim maps as permanent, the plaintiffs would be amending their pleadings to include claims based on those maps – and that case law supported the court’s retention of jurisdiction in those circumstances.
And they argued that because the new legislative maps would not really be new maps but rather a variant of the legislatively enacted maps that the court previously considered, the court’s work would essentially pick up where it left off when the interim maps were adopted.
At various points in the hearing, the narrowness of Gov. Perry’s special session call came into question.
Although the state’s lawyer David Mattax said that he could not say whether the call would restrict consideration of alternate maps, lawyers for plaintiff groups – and Circuit Judge Jerry Smith – suggested that it did – and plaintiff groups said that was further evidence that not only were the maps not new, but that Republican leaders had predetermined the outcome – and once again excluded meaningful input from minority groups.
This session won’t be a quickie as was originally thought and the redistricting process in Texas likely won’t end soon either.
Kuff has a few items of interest on the session so far:
- If the Lege slows things down and allows amendments, alternate maps, and public input at other hearings around the state, it’s almost certainly because the Republicans have come to realize that to do otherwise would be to repeat some of the behavior from 2011 that got them cited for discrimination. First Reading discusses how Democrats are setting them up for this (scroll down to the section that begins “Stop. Don’t. Come Back.”), and it’s clear from the questions at the Senate hearing that they’re laying down a paper trail for future litigation. We’ll see if the Republicans can avoid the trap – the Senators appear to be at least somewhat aware of the danger – or if they come under pressure to just get it done and leave all the worrying about the legal stuff to Greg Abbott.
- As Greg notes, if the floor is open for amendments, it is also possible that the Rs might want to tweak the Senate map, which is now acceptable to Sen. Wendy Davis. However, if that happens, it seems likely that they would all have to run for re-election in 2014; Sen. Royce West brought that up in his questioning. If so, that could put a damper on some Senators’ plans for the future, since at least three of them are thinking about running statewide – Hegar and Williams for Comptroller, Dan Patrick for Lite Guv. Hegar and Williams drew four year terms at the start of the session, meaning they could run for something in 2014 without putting their seat at risk if nothing changes, while Patrick drew a two year term and would have to make a choice.
- It’s not clear to me if the longer timetable for redistricting makes it more likely that Rick Perry will add to the call of the session, as Trail Blazers suggests, or less likely. Arguably, since there will be empty days between the committee hearings and the votes, Perry could add other items that could fill in the voids. Against that, the session is 30 days long, and we’ll be well past the halfway point by the time the maps are voted on at the current pace, which is almost two weeks later than originally projected. If the Rs do put more effort into taking public testimony, especially if they hold field hearings around the state, they’ll be hard pressed to do much else while redistricting is on the menu – and remember, Perry has basically said not to ask about anything else until redistricting is done – and they’d have a short horizon for anything else afterward. Not impossible, of course, and Perry can always call a second session if he wants – it’s all about what he wants, after all – it’s just not clear which way is more conducive to an expanded call for anything remotely controversial. As always, we’ll know when he wants us to know.
It looks like, at this point, that the intended purposes of this special session are already out the window, and we have Attorney General Gregg Abbott and Gov. Rick Perry to thank for this.
Battleground Texas Free Breakfast
||June 1, 2013
||Sun City Social Center Ballroom
2 Texas Drive, Georgetown, Texas
||Free! But please feel free to bring a donation.
Battleground Texas Leader Jeremy Bird speaks with Stephen Colbert.
Bird was the wizard behind Obama’s successful 2012 re-election campaign.
This event will be headlined by two top-ranking officials with the Battleground Texas (BGTX) organization: Cliff Walker, Political Director, and Megan Klein, Regional Director for Central Texas. They will speak on the BGTX’s sole mission and purpose of “Turning Texas Blue”.
Texas is the #1 State that the National Democratic Party is focusing on, among a Top Ten List of states that could and should have more Democratic voters turning out than Republican voters. So they are concentrating on getting both known and suspected Democrats, including millions of like-minded minorities, women and seniors, to become Registered Voters ASAP!
There’s more to know and more to get enthused about. But you’ll have to join us on Saturday, June 1 to see and hear it all, right from the lips of our Battleground Texas leaders.
Breakfast will consist of breakfast burritos, pastries, gluten-free pastries, watermelons filled with fruit, coffee and orange juice. Please join us!
Here are some recent links regarding Battleground Texas:
Battleground TX: Smart Data Plus Money Could Turn Texas Blue.
Here’s What It’ll Take To Turn Texas Blue.
Fact, fiction, and a whole lot of spin.
What Must Happen for Texas to Turn Blue.
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