Wrap-Up Of Yesterday’s Noriega Announcement - UPDATED

Posted in US Senate Race, Election 2008, 2008 Primary, 2006 Democratic Candidates, Around The State at 10:59 am by wcnews

OffTheKuff has the definitive list of traditional media and blog coverage of Rick Noriega’s announcement yesterday.

Be sure and check out the KVUE video. (Tip, click and view the larger video.)

Here’s an English Translation of the Spanish Q&A from yesterday. (Great job Stace!!)

Also drop him a few bucks if you can.

[UPDATE]: South Texas Chisme points out that the “so-called liberal media” is at it again, Pitiful press coverage.

So, I’m going through the press reports of Rick Noriega’s announcement and I was very disappointed to find the articles were written from a Republican’s perspective. I know. I know. What should I expect from a suck up press.

Chisme notes that the AAS article is about Perry - G’s reporting has always made clear his bias toward Perry - and the DMN article is all about Sen. Cornyn. As CouldBeTrue said, “Countering this kind of press coverage is why I blog.” Amen, that’s one of the main reasons we all started blogging. And It’s sad to see the Texas media following the GOP’s play book so blatantly.

Texas GOP Has Issues, Democrats Must Exploit Them

Posted in US Senate Race, Election 2008, 2008 Primary, Commentary, Around The State at 10:40 am by wcnews

The Chronic’s piece yesterday, Welcome to Election ‘08! , about Rick Noriega’s announcement and a Texas GOP trick to try and take away from the announcement makes it obvious that the GOP is worried about this Senate race. The excerpt below does a pretty good job of showing just what kind of mess they’re in:

It was scarcely an ebullient exercise. In one of the smaller conference rooms in the Omni, to a crowd that was mostly party operatives, Perry announced that his former secretary of state Roger Williams will head up the fundraising and grass-roots campaign (everyone had been wondering why he’d quit in June, and the rumors that he was seeking office seemed a bit premature.) They’d be targeting traditional conservative values and traditional conservative voters and make a traditional conservative grassroots campaign. So, no shockers there.

But there was a tacit admission this will be a hard campaign: Three million new voters, many from out of state, who may not be hardcore Republicans and would need winning over. Hispanic voters who might not be very interested in backing the Republican immigration policy. Of course, no-one was churlish enough to mention Iraq, but even Cornyn was commenting that the GOP had never really treated Texas as a state that needed a big investment of time and money – an implicit statement that now it may be “in play”.

Then there’s the lack of pizzazz. It’s always said by campaign gurus that a good candidate needs a little bit of Elvis, and it seemed fairly missing today. (More than one hack noted that it had all the woo-hoo factor of Chris Bell’s abortive campaign for governor last year.) And then there was the thought of who wasn’t there – not just the state officials were AWOL, but the heavy hitters that had shaped so many Republican campaigns in recent years. No Rove, no DeLay, the heavy-hitters that put real fire in the fundraising belly. Fair enough – Williams is no noob, having been a cash-gatherer and grassroots planter for every major Texas campaign in a decade and a half, but there’s a question of where the big motivators and big visionaries may be. Plus the bad news that, in the presidential primary race, the GOP is currently trailing the Democrats by $30 million.

A campaign starting this early to rally the base, to try and attract new voters, and attempt to hold independent and Hispanic voters shows the trouble the Texas GOP is in for ‘08. After ‘06 some said that Texas is usually two years behind national political trends. If Texas keeps going the way it did in ‘06, in ‘08, that will prove to be correct. Sen. Cornyn’s and the Texas GOP’s intolerant stance on immigration will keep the base, aka “wing-nuts”, on board, but it won’t do much to keep or bring in new voters. The fact that America’s biggest issue - IRAQ - wasn’t even mentioned shows had scared Cornyn and the Texas GOP are of that issue, which won’t help either.

The article points out that the GOP is saddled with a dud for a candidate in the 2008 Senate race. A candidate who didn’t have to worry about that issue in 202 and was elected then because he was able to tie himself to, at that time, an extremely popular president. Now that candidate is running for reelection - not only without a popular president, but he’s trying to distance himself form that president - and has a record of incompetence and destruction that he has to try and run away from.

The Texas GOP should have no trouble keeping it’s base with it’s stances on the “war” - even though they don’t want to mention it - and their intolerant immigration stance. But they will struggle mightily with independents, Hispanics and new voters. It’s a party without a “rock star” or any of the “characters” it once had that gave the party more appeal. It’s message of tax cuts has not only grown stale and been proven wrong, see toll toads for example. It’s a party that’s strapped nationally - as the Democrats continue to out raise them - that will have to defend everywhere, with many US Senate seats up for grabs, and won’t be able to help the Texas GOP much when it finally needs it. (Hap tip to DNC Chair Howard Dean and his 50 state strategy, by the way). Not to mention the fact that it’s a party in turmoil, (remember Craddick’s meltdown), that’s less unified than it’s been since taking power in Texas.

Well it’s no doubt that the Texas GOP has issues. But for these issues to matter they must be exploited by an opposition party. As EOW has pointed out before let us begin. There’s no better way, nor a better candidate to begin exploiting those issues than Rick Noriega. Start today by donating to Rick Noriega’s run for the Senate.


Rick Noriega’s Announcement - [UPDATED]

Posted in US Senate Race, Election 2008, 2008 Primary at 1:25 pm by wcnews

Gardner Selby at PFTL had this report, Noriega sounds like candidate without exit strategy.

Standing outside the Capitol today, Democratic state Rep. Rick Noriega of Houston speculated that only personal catastrophe could deter him from trying for the U.S. Senate seat held by John Cornyn.

Noriega was at the Capitol to formally announce formation of an exploratory committee for the Senate race next year. He named Paul Hobby, the Democratic nominee for state comptroller in 1998 and the son of former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby, as the chairman of his committee, and Arthur Gochman, former president of the Academy sporting goods chain, as his treasurer.

Asked what would deter him from running, Noriega said: “I don’t know at this point separate (apart from) a devastating personal experience. … If some tragedy struck the Noriega family, I don’t know how we’d respond, frankly.”


His parents, Joe and Tommie, watched from the shade of a tree. “He’s got a lot of experience,” Joe Noriega said afterward. “He’s got good references.”

Texas Politics has a podcast of Rick Noriega’s announcement en español. They promise more blogging on this and an English podcast too. Check back for updates, EOW will post those when they become available. [UPDATE]: More from Texas Politics, including podcast of today’s announcement.

What would a Democratic event be without some GOP shenanigans? TO Blog has the story, I’m Calling Shenanigans.

That shenanigans was to setup a the GOP’s Disaster Victory’08″ lack of effort and to appoint Roger Williams scapegoat for the disaster to lead it.

[UPDATE]: There are some pictures of today’s event here.

Rick Noriega Announces Today

Posted in Take Action, Election 2008, 2008 Primary, Around The State at 10:22 am by wcnews

Today Rick Noriega will officially announce he’s exploring a run for the US Senate to defeat Sen. John Cornyn, aka Stop Cornyn. Rick Noriega is the best hope for the Democrats to defeat John Cornyn in 2008. But his vast experience and record of accomplishments, while impressive, can’t do it alone. We will need an army of volunteers across the state and in this day and age enough money to get the word out. So please if you can’t make it today please go to his website and register and there’s more below on how to donate to his campaign.

Lt Col. Rick Noriega is our candidate and we aren’t asking for big money; we are only asking for an expression of your support.

800 donors in 4 weeks. 200 donors a week. 29 a day. That’s our lofty goal. What we have — you have — is an opportunity to change the equation. And power a political revolution.

800 donors is a statement that we are tired of politics as usual in Texas.

You are invited to be one of the first 800 to change Texas forever. Donate any amount today.

Candidates should not be able to buy elections or allow special interests to buy the nomination $1,000 at a time. “800 donors” sends a message that we are ready to crash the gate and take back our party.

You can tell Texas, and the powers that be, that you are ready right now for a change by donating any amount. We are joining forces to say that, when it comes to people-powered politics, one dollar is as important as one thousand.

Donate today.

Texas progressive bloggers throughout the state are working together to support Rick Noriega, not by raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, but by declaring their support for a populist revolution.

Now all we need is you.

Change the equation with any donation.

We’re asking you to sign up with the team, not buy influence. Campaigns should be about people and ideas, not bank accounts and millionaires. With your donation in any amount we can not only stop Cornyn, but we will change Texas forever.

Donate today.

Texas Blog Round Up (July 16, 2007)

Posted in Commentary, Around The State at 8:58 am by wcnews

Last week, member blogs in the Texas Progressive Alliance premiered a new feature, the Texas Blog Round Up, modeled after the 50 State Blog Round Up. We plan to bring this to readers every Monday. Without further ado, here is this week’s installment, brought to you by Vince from Capitol Annex.

Lady Bird Was Ours

Among many Texas blogs authoring poignant posts about the passing of Lady Bird Johnson was Fort Bend-based Musings. In Lady Bird Was Ours, Muse offers personal reflections about the former first lady and reminds us that, though Lady Bird now belongs to the ages, she still belongs to us.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Can you see any progress in Iraq? Chances are you can’t, but Texas Senator John Cornyn can (evidently through rose-colored glasses). In Cornyn Sees Progress In Iraq, Texas Toad of Denton County-based North Texas Liberal explores how Rubberstamping Republican Cornyn’s recent votes fail to support our troops.

Who Is For Whom?

Though we’re months away from the Democratic primary, the race to determine which Democrat will take on Cornyn is already heating up on the blogs. In Watts v. Noriega In The Blogosphere, Hal at Fort Bend-based Half Empty explores the various blogs to determine which ones are supporting Rep. Rick Noriega’s exploration and which are in support of attorney Mikal Watts. And he asks the important question: “where are all the pro-Watts bloggers?”

Need Birth Control? Better Have Cash.

Could Be True at SouthTexas Chisme explores difficulties Houston-area female college students (and others around the state) may be having when it comes to obtaining birth control from their college health services department, thanks to changes in Medicaid reimbursement policies in Stupid, Stupid, Stupid. College Health Centers To Charge More For Birth Control.

Craddick Stands By His Man

Austin-based McBlogger tells us that House Speaker Tom Craddick is standing by his man and keeping former state representative Terry Keel (R-Austin) on as House Parliamentarian… all the while trying to find a challenger for Travis County Constable Richard McCain, who defeated Keel’s brother for that post in 2004. Check it out in Speaking of People We Don’t Like.

Even Right Wingers Know When To Pull Out

Bay Area Houston explores the fact that, according to a recent poll, even the listeners of one of the most right-wing radio stations in Houston are in favor of pulling out from war-torn Iraq in Right-Wing Radio Listeners Want Out of Iraq.

What Can You Buy With $900 Million?

Though Harris County is proposing a $900 million bond package for various courthouse and jail projects, Charles Kuffner at Houston-based Off The Kuff has serious concerns about whether the bond package will do anything to alleviate a serious guard shortage at the county jail. Though it is now being discussed in the media, Charles says he’s still not satisfied the issue is being addressed in County Bonds and Staffing Issues.

A Closer Look At Terry Keel

Matt Glazer of Burnt Orange Report takes a closer look at some ethical issues facing new House parliamentarian Terry Keel, such as potential conflicts of interest concerning Keel’s future rulings as well as maintaining a private law practice while working for the state. Matt also closely examines the timing of Keel’s Capitol ID card in Keel’s Conflict Of Interest.

Rick Perry v. Community Colleges

Few of Rick Perry’s recent vetoes have garnered more attention than the one of community college employee health insurance appropriations. Marc G. at Marc’s Miscellany explores the issue further, and takes issue with Perry’s accusation that community colleges have essentially falsified their appropriations requests in More On Perry’s Battle With Community Colleges.

Perry’s Defiant Response To Congress

WCNews at Eye On Williamson takes a closer look at a letter Texas Governor Rick Perry recently sent to Congressional leaders who criticized public-private partnerships to build transportation projects such as the Trans-Texas Corridor in Governor Perry Uses Fuzzy Math In Letter To Congress.

TYC Still Plagued With Difficulties

Vince Leibowitz at Capitol Annex takes a look at the fact that the Texas Youth Commission remains plagued with difficulties concerning a recent incident in which violent juveniles were set for release with little or no review in Texas Youth Commission Can’t Seem To Get Its Act Together.

‘I Couldn’t Make It’ Is No Excuse

Matt Glazer at Stop Cornyn reveals the excuse the junior senator from Texas offered for missing the funeral of Lady Bird Johnson in Cornyn Refuses To Honor Lady Bird.

And lastly, women’s health services are under perennial assault here in Texas — but it’s not just Dan Patrick, Warren Chisum, and the odd mad bomber who want to control women’s health choices. Texas Kaos‘ Moiv is keeping an eye on them, and in Operation Rescue’s Back-Not a Secret Anymore she covers just how widespread is this open conspiracy against women — involving politicians, fringe religious figures, and Ricky Skagg’s “shofar.”


Cedar Park City Council On WCRAS

Posted in Animal Shelter, Had Enough Yet?, Williamson County at 11:23 pm by wcnews

Great report here from Shelter Concerns on the July 12th Cedar Park City Council meeting which included much discussion on the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter. Here are a few excerpts:

Dr. Boehm, Interim Animal Services Director addressed the city council. She spoke about “moving forward.” Dr. Boehm spoke about adhering to rules and regulations. She mentioned the backlog of spay and neuters and that it is an ongoing issue. Dr. Boehm said it would be posted on the shelter website that people could take their pets to their vet or Emancipet to be altered and that the shelter would reimburse them. She further stated that then the animal would receive one-on-one care versus being part of a group of 40-50 animals being altered (at the shelter) and it would be more convenient.

Dr. Boehm addressed the efficiency of cleaning.

Dr. Boehm noted that the Board of Directors had met several times and was addressing the staffing issue.

Dr. Boehm said that the animal care employees are motivated.


Councilman Caputo stated that the right people may not be on the Board of Directors. He further stated “I blame myself. I am not sure where to apply pressure.” People are needed who are going to do this. “All I have is the current situation.”

No one wanted to volunteer to be on the Executive Committee. Eventually Councilman Mitchell agreed to serve as the Cedar Park representative.


Kathy Springer addressed the council. Ms. Springer is in animal rescue. She asked that the next qualified Director hired has shelter experience. She stated that the shelter needs approximate staff to run properly. She also demanded that Williamson County Commissioners, Board members and city representatives meet the needs of the shelter. Ms. Springer requested that a regular audit of the shelter take place and the results be made public. She asked that an open line of communication with rescue groups be made. She further stated that she has seen sick and healthy animals housed together, i.e. sick kittens with healthy ones, which is breaking Texas law.

The audience voiced tremendous disapproval of the job that the Board of Directors is doing. People specifically want Williamson County Commissioner Valerie Covey taken off the Board.

Is Freedom Of Speech Under Attack In Leander?

Posted in Had Enough Yet?, Commentary, Williamson County at 10:57 pm by wcnews

What is it with Williamson County? Americans participating in Democracy causes the Leander City Council to consider curtailing freedom of speech at meetings. From the AAS last week, Leander council to decide on citizen communication rules.

A proposed ordinance that would limit the number of people who can speak during City Council meetings is raising free speech issues in Leander.

The ordinance, which was prepared by the city attorney’s office, would allow a maximum of 10 people to speak on agenda items at council meetings. Five of those could speak in support of the issue; five could speak against it.

The ordinance would also allow a maximum of five people to speak during “citizens comments” time, when people can discuss issues not listed on the agenda.

Some council members say the proposed rules would harm free speech rights.

That’s right. Democracy can be very, very difficult at times. Makes one wonder what these people expected when they ran for office.

Council members agreed in early June to limit the number of speakers during public meetings. But they also agreed that they wanted to keep a record of how many people at the meeting were actually in support of or against an item — even if they were not one of the 10 people called on to speak, Council Member Kirsten Lynch, said.

That was not included in the proposed ordinance.

“I would definitely want people on record. I want to make sure everybody has a voice,” Lynch said.

Some members also say they think the draft of the ordinance is too long and imposes too many restrictions. The city attorney’s office is expected to bring a revamped ordinance to the council in early August.

That’s better. But in my experience from watching many committee hearings, etc., when many people sign up at one of these, many will wind up not speaking - especially when everyone’s saying the same thing - and if given the chance to be put on the record or submit written comment will do that instead. But the most sensible thing is to allow them to talk but limit their time, give them 2 or 3 minutes. That’s what is done at most hearings.

Joe Larsen, an attorney and board member of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the state’s open meetings and open records laws, said he has some concerns about the proposed ordinance.

Larsen reviewed the nine-page ordinance and said it follows the law, except for the part that limits speakers based on their viewpoints.

“In other words, if 100 people sign up and 90 want to talk for and 10 against, this allows a 50-50 distribution of who can talk when clearly, in the example, 9 out of 10 would speak in favor,” Larsen said. “I’m not opposed to efforts to regulate public comment, but it cannot be done according to what a person has to say.”

Larsen said that cities are not required by law to allow citizen comments but that most do. Cities often have to establish rules for meetings to keep them from running late and to keep them running properly, he said.

He said the best way to do that is to limit the amount of time people can speak or to restrict the number of speakers based on when they sign up.

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and they’ll do the right, and the American thing on this issue, and allow citizens their right to speak.


Conditions Still Bad At WCRAS

Posted in Animal Shelter, Had Enough Yet?, Williamson County at 12:08 am by wcnews

From this AAS article today, Shelter struggles with disease, turnover, we learn that there are still major problems at the Williamson County Animal Shelter.

Cedar Park City Council Member Cobby Caputo said he has questioned the shelter’s size and staffing from the beginning.

“I just have the sense that there’s not enough staff there,” he said at the council’s meeting Thursday, later questioning why the interim director is charged with hiring staff members on top of her other duties. “Why isn’t (the county’s human resources department) filling those positions?”

And at least one shelter employee raised concerns about the potential spread of disease. Kathy Abdella, a veterinary technician and staff supervisor at the shelter, said conditions were so bad Thursday that the only solution is to close the shelter for several days, monitor illness and consider a mass euthanization, if necessary.

There are no plans to take such measures, county officials said.

“We have no intention of shutting the shelter down,” said Commissioner Valerie Covey, the county’s representative on the shelter board.

The shelter has temporarily closed on Thursdays to train new workers.

Abdella said she found several highly contagious animals when she reported to work Thursday after two weeks of medical leave.

As soon as she entered the building, she said, she could smell parvovirus, a highly contagious malady that attacks an animal’s digestive system. Abdella said she found one dog in the isolation area that was suffering from parvo but wasn’t being treated. Abdella said other dogs in the hallway had “kennel cough,” a highly contagious upper respiratory illness.

Interim director Dana Boehm confirmed that two dogs with parvo were euthanized and said that potentially infected dogs were isolated and tested negative for the disease.

On Friday afternoon, most animals were clean, had food and water, and appeared healthy during a visit by the American-Statesman. However, in the adoption areas, one dog was coughing heavily and two others were panting and shaking, despite the air-conditioned room. The isolation area was not available for examination, the staff said, to prevent the spread of disease.

The towns - Round Rock, Cedar Park, Leander and Hutto - that got suckered are involved in this deal are not happy either.


Governor Perry Uses Fuzzy Math In Letter To Congress

Posted in Privatization, Road Issues, Commentary, Around The Nation, Around The State at 8:47 am by wcnews

QR is reporting on a letter that Gov. Perry sent in response to a Congressional letter he received in May:

Gov. Rick Perry recently sent a defiant response to Congressional leaders who criticized the use of public-private partnerships to underwrite transportation projects, but the state’s actual position remains undefined until a 9-member legislative study group is named to determine the best way to proceed with alternative transportation funding.

Congressional leaders of the new Democratic majority, critical of the Bush administration’s push for private funding of public infrastructure, sent out a letter to all state leaders in May. The letter was critical of the use of public-private partnerships and declared that the new majority would move swiftly to protect the public’s interests under such arrangements. Perry’s four-page response, sent in early July, was critical of the federal governments failure to address the transportation gridlock of donor states.

“I should note that the State of Texas has no interest in rushing into any transportation agreements with the private sector,” Perry wrote in his letter to Congressmen James Oberstar and Peter De Fazio. “Our state’s contracting procedures are thorough and transparent. Our goal with every PPP is to create as much sustained benefit as possible for our driving public by meeting transportation needs that would otherwise go ignored.”

Transparency of public-partnership agreements on road projects - or the lack thereof - was a key issue during the recent legislative session. One key component of Senate 792 was a nine-member legislative study group - the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House appointing three members apiece - that is intended to make recommendations on the state’s future public-private partnerships.

Progress in this area is critical, especially given Texas Transportation Commission Chair Ric Williamson’s recent announcement to reporters that at least one leg of Trans-Texas Corridor 35 - the segment between Georgetown and Waco - should be ready to go out to bid by the time lawmakers return to the Capitol in 2009.

When is that 9-member commission going to be appointed? Perry also uses previously debunked numbers on the gas tax:

Some have suggested that our state should raise our state gas tax to pay for new raod construction, but the tax would have to be raised to a $1.40 to pay for all the transportation improvements our highway system needs over the next 25 years.

That $1.40 claim was debunked (more here):

Raise the motor fuels tax, currently 20 cents per gallon, to 51 cents. Interestingly, a Tx-Dot engineer had previously told the committee that the motor fuels tax would have to be raised to $1.40 per gallon to pay for the needed new construction. Needless to say, the Legislature is not going to raise the tax by 31 cents, much less a buck twenty.

the governor goes on to say that the legislature did not have the will to index the gas tax this session. He’s right and he didn’t have the will either. What we need to get these toll road schemes stopped is a leader, or leaders, that will tell the truth and are willing to bring Texans the information needed to bring them to the point of agreement on raising the gas tax. The gas tax is a cheaper, fairer, saner way to fund our highways. It will also take a legislature and a state leadership that is configured differently than it currently is. That means we need new representation, at every level, that’s committed to using the gas tax, as opposed to toll road schemes, to fund our transportation infrastructure.


Bloggers On The Passing Of Lady Bird Johnson

Posted in Commentary, Around The Nation, Around The State at 10:26 pm by wcnews

Vince at Capitol Annex has a collection of many bloggers memories and remembrances of Lady Bird Johnson, IN MEMORIAM: Texas Bloggers Remember Lady Bird.

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