Burka Tries To Tell Democrats What’s Good For Them - UPDATED

Posted in 80th Legislature, Commentary, Around The State at 3:25 pm by wcnews

Paul Burka, to his credit, is trying to save the Democrats from making, what he believes, would be a horrible mistake. In his estimation the Democrats have so far had a good session, even though they CHIP has not been reinstated, the System Benefit Fund (SBF) has not been reinstated, a horrendous voter IDiocy bill was just passed, etc.. But any attempt to shine a light on the shenanigans of Speaker Craddick, his hypocrisy on point of order rulings, would be “irresponsible”, and would “marginalize” them as “obstructionists”. No, Paul, what it would do is draw a nice clear line, if the media would report it correctly, between Democrats and Republicans. It would show that the Democrats are for funding health care for children, assisting the elderly with their utilities, and allowing everyone to vote without harassment, etc.. and Republicans aren’t.

There’s an excellent response to Burka’s post, in the comments, which points out the rank hypocrisy of Speaker Craddick’s rulings on point’s of order.

It seems like the only valid points of order that Craddick sustains are Talton points called on Sylvester Turner bills like CHIP and System Benefit Fund (hmmmm…that’s kind of curious). You and I both know that many of the points he has overruled would have been valid under any other Speaker, however, Craddick still exhibits no regard for the rules.

To suggest that D’s are throwing a hissy fit in killing the calendar is unfair and disingenuous - if that was their goal they’d call a point every day on the calendar because 4 days out of 5 there’s a mistake on it.

The point here is Craddick still refuses to sustain points called by D’s on bad bills that Craddick supports - he’s more than willing to sustain points on good bills that D’s support. If he ruled equally and fairly and impartially, none of this would be a problem.

The Democrats won back seats in the House not by playing nice, but by taking the fight to the GOP. When Democrats fight the results are much better for Democrats than when they try to play along with Craddick and his ilk. For proof see the difference between Rep. Rick Noriega and Rep. Sylvester Turner - CHIP is in the hands of a GOP controlled conference committee - this session.

[UPDATE]: After posting Sylvester finally got the SBF through the House, now onto the Senate.

Senate Appropriations Conferees - UPDATED

Posted in The Budget, 80th Legislature, Around The State at 1:47 pm by wcnews

When will Lt. Gov. Dewhurst announce his 5 HB 1 conferees? Burkablog said he was waiting on Jessica’s Law to pass and it’s has. Today should be the day.

[UPDATE]: QR’s got them:

Conferees are Ogden, Zaffirini, Duncan, Whitmire and Williams.

[UPDATE]: AAS has party affiliation and hometown listed:

Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan; Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D- Laredo; Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock; Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston; Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands.

Rep. Krusee Releases A Statement On His Lobbyist Paid Travel

Posted in Corruption, Had Enough Yet?, Williamson County, Uncategorized at 11:07 am by wcnews

Link via Pinkdome, and there you have it.

There’s an article about state lawmakers taking trips funded by lobbyists in today’s paper. No one gives three shits about it, because everybody does it, no one is going to vote to change it and it’s boring. But, Rep. Mike Krusee R-Williamson County is quoted:

People can criticize if they want; they do it every day.
You, sir, are an ass. This quote ought to be the main plank of the Republican Party’s platform. People (the voters) may disagree with us, people may be be critical of our policy positions and initiatives but we will not be deterred from our stubbornness, blatant disregard for the will of the people we were voted to represent.Basically, I’m entitled to do whatever the hell I want to do once I’m elected and the rest of y’all can just suck on it. I would suggest Rep. Krusee take a class in “class” and civic duty before he shoots off his big mouth again with such a doozy of a quote. (Emphasis added by EOW)

There’s nothing new about Rep. Krusee showing contempt for anyone, constituents included, that question his actions. Here’s the full quote in context, from the article, Group calls Williamson County lawmaker a ‘lobby favorite.’, not that it changes anything:

Krusee’s office issued a statement Tuesday stating that he “learns from other parts of the country and innovative industries about how to get traffic moving, how to improve safety and how to build roads in cost-effective ways.”

Krusee said last week that he’d be happy to have the state pay travel costs.

“I vote and advocate for the people of my district,” he said. “I don’t even know who funds these trips. People can criticize if they want; they do it every day.”

And with an attitude like that “they” surely will continue to criticize.

I sure hope these folks got their money’s worth buying breakfast, ice cream and salsa. But they may need to send him to Vegas for it their efforts to really pay off.

Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and Voter IDiocy

Posted in Elections, 80th Legislature, Had Enough Yet?, Commentary, Around The State at 10:45 am by wcnews

Apparently Lt. Gov. Dewhurst favors the Voter IDiocy bill that passed the House earlier this week. But this quote from the today’s HChron article, Dewhurst backs voter ID bill, moving primary, is just wrong:

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Tuesday that he will try to win Senate approval of a controversial, partisan-charged bill to require Texans to show photo identification before being allowed to vote.


In an interview, Dewhurst said he believed the “huge majority” of Texans supported the voter ID legislation, which won final House approval on Tuesday over the opposition of Democratic lawmakers.

“Why isn’t it necessary to prove that you’re a U.S. citizen to vote in U.S. elections?” he asked.

First of all HB 218, which was referenced in the article as the “partisan-charged bill”, has nothing to do with proving your a U.S. citizen. But to answer the Lt. Gov. question, people already to have to prove they’re a U.S. citizen to vote. Let’s go back to yesterday’s post, Voter IDiocy - The Final Word, For Now, if you look at the voter registration application (.PDF), the first question asked is, Are you a United States Citizen? Hopefully the local officials will cross check that name to make sure that person is, indeed, a U.S. citizen before registering them to vote. If non-U.S. citizens are getting registered to vote, making them show their electric bill at the polling location won’t fix that.

Later in the article we find out why Lt. Gov. Dewhurst is making such ignorant statements:

The voter ID bill, which Republican sponsors say is important to guard against voter fraud, is strongly supported by conservative voters who dominate Republican primaries. Dewhurst is eying a race for governor in the 2010 GOP primary.

Yep, Texas Rush is breathing down his neck. The bottom line is that Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, with that quote, is trying to mesh the Voter ID bill with the “wing-nut” hysteria over illegal immigration. To say something like that the Lt. Gov. is also trying to infer that there is a major problem with non-citizens voting, and there’s not evidence of that. This needs to be said again, the voter IDiocy bill, as it passed the House, would do nothing different to stop voter fraud than is done today, that is if it existed. Now, with the Lt. Gov. mixing in these ignorant comments it just makes the situation worse.


Hawkins Will Stay?!

Posted in Health Care, Privatization, Corruption, Around The State at 5:04 pm by wcnews

Albert Hawkins will keep his job says the AAS, Hawkins could get nod from Senate committee tomorrow. It’s amazing the excuses Sen. Jackson is making. Just imagine if a Democrat said this kind of stuff about an incompetent appointee who’s running a state agency like Mr. Hawkins, what Sen. Jackson would be saying.

In February, Hawkins took some tough questions from senators about Perry’s executive order requiring girls to be vaccinated against HPV.

“He was the closest they could get to the governor, so they could vent their frustration at him,” Jackson said.

Senators also questioned Hawkins on the state’s now-canceled contract with Accenture LLP for call centers to enroll Texans in social services.

Jackson said he believes Hawkins is performing well in a very tough job.

“Just about everything we do could be handled in a different way, but you live and you grow and you learn,” Jackson said.

Here’s the lowdown from the Observer Blog who’s been on top of this story for a while:

But the clear political subtext of the day’s events was a strong push by the offices of Gov. Rick Perry and House Speaker Tom Craddick to save Hawkins’ job despite the fact that the commissioner’s poor decision making has resulted in hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds wasted. The HHSC czar has drawn lawmakers’ ire this session: first he took heat — unfairly in our view — for Perry’s HPV executive order. More recently, legislators of both parties have become angered by revelations that Hawkins moved ahead with the Accenture and TIERS projects despite numerous warnings from the feds and his own auditors that these costly experiments would fail. The Observer has broken much of this story in the past two weeks in exposes on the Accenture contract and TIERS.

And for that Sen. Jackson sayd, “Heckuva job Hawkins”. Just like Rummy and Alberto, loyal ’til the end. If Perry was to fire Mr. Hawkins then maybe, just maybe, Texans would have to hold the governor responsible, and we can’t have that.

RIP, David Halberstam, 1934 - 2007

Posted in Commentary at 2:57 pm by wcnews

I would be remiss if I didn’t post on the tragic passing of David Halberstam. David Halberstam was an excellent journalist and author and influenced me greatly, he will be missed. In early adulthood when I started reading non-fiction voraciously David Halberstam was one of the first authors I encountered. The first three books of his I read, in this order, were The Powers That Be, The Reckoning and The Best And The Brightest. Subjects or these three books are, respectively, the media, now known as the MSM, an excellent history of the rise and fall of the American auto industry and the ascendancy of the Japanese auto industry, and last, but in no way least, the definitive book on the the mistakes of Vietnam. Thank you David Halberstam, for a life lived.

Linked below is the text of a speech (via Glen Greenwald) he gave at the Columbia Journalism School, almost two years ago. Keep in mind when reading it that David Halberstam took on the government, over the lies, and yes he called them lies, of Vietnam when it wasn’t the cool thing to do. I would encourage everyone to watch Bill Moyers show tomorrow night, Buying The War, and think what might have been if we’d have had a David Halberstam at the NY Times during the run up to the war in Iraq.

Read the rest of this entry »

TPJ Report - Rep. Mike Krusee, Frequent Flyer - UPDATED - UPDATED II

Posted in Corruption, Had Enough Yet?, Williamson County, The Lege at 1:36 pm by wcnews

Texans for Public Justice has released it’s report on flights paid for by private interests for state officials, Making Connections: State Officials and Their Private-Interest Travel Agents. This from the press release:

  • The top legislative recipients of travel gifts were Senator Kim Brimer (R-Fort Worth) as well as Representatives Kino Flores (D-Palmview) and Mike Krusee (R-Round Rock).
  • […]

  • Toll road lobbyists flew Rep. Mike Krusee to Washington, New York and Las Vegas. Krusee went to the Big Apple, for example, when the Bond Buyer newspaper awarded the Southwest region’s “Deal-of-the-Year” award to the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority (CMTRA) for issuing $238 million in toll-road bonds. Krusee authored the 2003 legislation that authorized CTRMA to issue such bonds.

The main offender, of course, is Gov. 39% with 66 trips. Here’s the list. No mention of Williamson County’s other Dan Gattis in the report, Sen. Ogden had 2 such trips.

[UPDATE]: Sal’s got much, much more of Rep. Krusee’s trips, Mike Krusee and his Special-Interest Travel Agents.

[UPDATE II]: From the AAS and BOR the TPJ study had errors and there are some questions about how it was done. Keep that in mind, but it does not detract from the whole report.

Geroge Bush’s Purple Heart - UPDATE

Posted in District 31, Had Enough Yet?, Around The Nation, Williamson County at 12:00 pm by wcnews

The Cove Herald has the update to the original story, Cove veteran presents Purple Heart to President Bush.

Bill and Georgia Thomas reported they were elated Monday when they met in the Oval Office with President George W. Bush to present him with a Purple Heart.

“We were just absolutely bowled over. Without reservation, it was one of the highlights of our life. He was such a gracious host,” Thomas said. “It was just an incredible, incredible experience.”

The couple was able to meet with President Bush for about 20 minutes to present him with one of three Purple Hearts that Bill Thomas received during his service in Vietnam.

“He said he didn’t feel like he had earned it,”
Thomas said, noting the president looked thinner in person than on television.

That’s an understatement.

The national blogs are hitting it. Crooks and Liars and The Carpetbagger Report are on it.

Voter IDiocy - The Final Word, For Now - UPDATED

Posted in 80th Legislature, Elections, Had Enough Yet?, Commentary, Williamson County, Around The State, Uncategorized at 11:38 am by wcnews

What was the point? Why would the Republicans in Texas waste a whole day in the Texas House on a bill that is racist, barbaric and anti-democratic, that attempts to fix a problem that doesn’t even exist?

Well it’s based on a fraud, that voter impersonation/fraud is a big problem in our elections, that’s being used by the Republicans to deny the vote to segments of the population - minorities, the elderly, the poor, and the disabled - that vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. No need to worry about rigging the voting machines or the vote counting machines when you’ve already rigged the voter pool.

To understand this better let’s go through the voting process, from registration to the poll. To register to vote a person needs to fill out a white voter registration card(.PDF) and supply some basic information. For new registrations a person is asked to supply their DL # or the last four of their SS # on the card. If they don’t they will be asked for one or the other the first time they vote. After sending in the registration card, in about a month or so, they’ll receive a voter registration certificate in the mail. On election day, as long as they have that certificate, all they have to do is show it and if their name is on the voter roll in their precinct, they’re allowed to vote.

From the poll worker’s standpoint, it’s drilled into them at training that the ideal voter is someone that shows up at the poll with their certificate in hand, or wallet, ready to vote. If the voter doesn’t have it then all a person has to do is show their DL, or many of the same alternate identifications discussed on the floor yesterday for this new bill, and they can vote. It’s extremely rare that it gets any further than that to identify a voter. The fraud, we’re supposed to believe, is being perpetrated under these rules by these people:

The rules would prevent illegal immigrants, felons and others ineligible to vote from doing so, while also ensuring that people couldn’t vote using dead voters’ names.

How are illegal immigrants, felons and others ineligible to vote - could the GOP talking points get more vague and unspecific? - registering to vote in the first place? If this was a problem, that would be a failure at the local level. But this inane law, which still allows somebody to show up with my dead Grandpa or Grandma’s electric bill and gas bill, at the local polling place and vote, as long as their name is still on the voter roll, would not fix this problem, if it existed.

Most people in this state who’ve lived here for many years, who’ve been registered to vote for many years, are used to showing up to vote, showing their voter registration certificate and voting. They’ve perpetrated no fraud, and never would. Most of these people would, frankly, have no problem showing a photo ID to vote because they’re not criminals and don’t want to perpetrate a fraud. See where I’m going? It’s those that do want to perpetrate this “supposed fraud” that will not be stopped by this bill. This bill is a sham, puts an extra burden on law-abiding citizens, and does absolutely nothing to fix the problem, that doesn’t exist, it sets out to solve.

So why do the Republicans want to pass this law that will do nothing to fix this problem that doesn’t exist? Well there’s been a plan afoot by the Texas GOP’s Nixonian dirty trickster for many, many years. And, at it’s most basic, it’s a plan to keep as many likely Democratic voters as possible away from the polls on election day, to better the GOP’s chances of winning. Put another way, it’s cheating.

FYI: Vince has his take from yesterday, he was there, with a mention that at one point Rep. Mike Krusee may have been against this bill.

In the “yes” votes, the bold names have some significance. Geren, Hamilton, and Krusee, Republicans all, were all supposed to be “cross-over” votes. Word around the Capitol Monday morning was that Geren was firmly a “cross-over,” and had even rebuffed personal threats from Texas Republican Party Chairwoman Tina Benkiser that she would see to it that $100,000 was poured into the coffers of a primary challenger.

Krusee and Hamilton ditched the cause after the first contested vote, on an amendment to the first amendment to the bill (Amendment 2). Geren stayed with the cause fairly consistently until the final amendments, when he ditched.

It’s time to call your Senator about this, Sen. Steve Ogden.

[UPDATE]: This from QR:

The Voting Rights Act changed all of that. The bill shifted the presumption to the voter. Boiled down to its nut, the VRA said that the presumption was that a registered voter could participate unencumbered. The burden of proof shifted from the voter justifying why they should be allowed to vote to the state explaining why they could not.

In passing HB218 on a near-party line vote yesterday, House Republicans began re-establishing the discredited principal that the burden is on the citizen to explain why they should be permitted vote.

Well said.


Voter IDiocy Passes The House

Posted in Elections, 80th Legislature, Had Enough Yet?, Around The State, Uncategorized at 9:48 pm by wcnews

Here’s the vote:

76 Yeas, 68 Nays, 3 Present, not voting

Yeas - Anderson; Aycock; Berman; Bohac; Bonnen; Branch; Brown, B.; Brown, F.; Callegari; Chisum; Christian; Cook, B.; Corte; Crabb; Creighton; Crownover; Darby; Davis, J.; Delisi; Driver; Eissler; Elkins; Flynn; Gattis; Geren; Haggerty; Hamilton; Hancock; Hardcastle; Harless; Harper-Brown; Hartnett; Hilderbran; Hill; Howard, C.; Hughes; Isett; Jackson; Keffer; King, P.; King, S.; Kolkhorst; Krusee; Kuempel; Latham; Laubenberg; Macias; Madden; McCall; Miller; Morrison; Mowery; Murphy; O’Day; Orr; Otto; Parker; Patrick; Paxton; Phillips; Pitts; Riddle; Smith, T.; Smith, W.; Smithee; Solomons; Straus; Swinford; Talton; Taylor; Truitt; Van Arsdale; West; Woolley; Zedler; Zerwas

Nays - Allen; Alonzo; Anchia; Bailey; Bolton; Burnam; Castro; Chavez; Cohen; Coleman; Cook, R.; Davis, Y.; Deshotel; Dukes; Dunnam; Dutton; Eiland; Escobar; Farabee; Farias; Farrar; Frost; Gallego; Garcia; Giddings; Gonzales; Gonzalez Toureilles; Guillen; Heflin; Hernandez; Herrero; Hochberg; Hodge; Homer; Hopson; Howard, D.; Jones; King, T.; Leibowitz; Lucio; Mallory Caraway; Martinez; Martinez Fischer; McClendon; McReynolds; Menendez; Merritt; Miles; Naishtat; Noriega; Oliveira; Olivo; Ortiz; Pickett; Pierson; Puente; Quintanilla; Raymond; Ritter; Rodriguez; Rose; Strama; Thompson; Turner; Vaught; Veasey; Villarreal; Vo

Present, not voting - Mr. Speaker(C); England; Goolsby

Absent, Excused - Flores; Moreno; Peña

Those in bold are, of course, Williamson County’s own and the only two Republicans that voted against this racist, barbaric and antidemocratic piece of legislation. (I take back what I said about Republicans in that earlier post, exception the two that voted against this horrible bill).

Gardner Selby has a great postmortem over at Postcards on today’s voter IDiocy, Two reactions (pro and con) to Brown’s voter measure.

The pretext for this legislation, which the Republican National Committee and Karl Rove have championed, is that voter impersonation is a significant problem. That assertion is without proof.

During a six-hour debate that cut off the rest of the day’s long calendar, Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, pointed up that the Republican assertion that dead people are voting is based on “research” done using an on-line genealogical web site.

Brown allowed the “poll tax” pig to be dressed up. She accepted an amendment exempting anyone 80 or over from the voter ID requirement, which is an exception that proves the rule. The 80-and-over amendment sounds awfully unconstitutional in that it attaches a greater significance to some voters than others and therefore violates the equal protection clause with regard to voters under age 80.


But Republicans voted down a variety of other amendments, including a substitute proposal by Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, which would have substituted an upgraded enforcement mechanism in cases of voter fraud for the ID requirement that would inconvenience millions of law-abiding Texans.

The real intent behind this bill showed up in this space a couple of weeks ago in a New York Times story on a report demonstrating that states that have adopted so-called “voter ID” rules have seen a two or three percentage point drop in voting, mainly among minorities and the elderly.

Those voters tend to be Democratic. It’s that simple.

The Senate’s Democrats have sufficient numbers to kill HB 218 as a stand-alone operation, though lawmakers expect an effort to attach the measure as an amendment to something else that supposedly “must pass”. The Senate is a body that loves compromise, but on this bill there should be none.

Good job Mr. Selby, more of that please.

« Previous entries · Next entries »