Are Democrats Statewide Prospects Improving Because Of GOP Gerrymandering?

Posted in Immigration, Election 2008, 2008 Primary, Around The State at 5:21 pm by wcnews

First there’s this less than enthusiastic article, A statewide Democratic win in cards?, by Clay Robison that starts like this.

Sooner or later, the Democratic Party will recapture a statewide office in Texas, a feat that hasn’t occurred since 1994.

What a great topic for an article, some day the Democrats will win statewide in Texas, they can’t lose every race from here to eternity. He goes on to talk about an upcoming Democratic Primary battle for the right to challenge a Perry-appointed/uneelected Supreme court judge. There are those that disagree, but EOW believes, that primary challenges are mostly good things. While, I’ll concede the money issue, I believe whichever candidate comes out the other side is then battle-tested, and ultimately a better candidate in the general election.

Now compare the above article to what Harvey Kronberg has written today at News 8, Immigration debate could have repurcussions for lege.

When Republicans John Cornyn, David Dewhurst and Carole Strayhorn sat on the Legislative Redistricting Board in 2000, they had one mandate — create as many Republican seats in the Texas Legislature as possible.

Despite public assurances to the contrary, the threesome ripped apart communities of interest, splitting up cities, towns and school districts. They disenfranchised millions of Texans who never understood that redistricting made the Republican and Democratic primaries in March more important than the general election in November.

It was actually 2001 when the initial redistricting took place. That “mandate” was to ensure a GOP Texas House so the travesty of 2003 could take place. Also remember there were two other members to the LRB, Speaker Pete Laney (D) and Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff (R), that voted against the plan. But as with any redistricting plan, assumptions were made. But reality can render assumptions meaningless, and bring about unintended consequences.

But as Republican redistricters, Cornyn, Dewhurst and Strayhorn were operating on an assumption that may place the GOP at greater risk than anyone could have imagined at the beginning of the decade.

The map drawers knew the Hispanic population in Texas was exploding. Despite some success in wooing Latinos by then-Governor George Bush, they also knew that two out of three Hispanics typically vote Democratic.

Unphased, the number-crunchers advising Cornyn, Dewhurst and Strayhorn reported the growth of legal Hispanic voters in Texas was not a big issue because of their historically low voter turnout. The calculation was that Hispanic participation would only grow by one to two percent per election meaning Latinos could be parceled into otherwise safe Republican districts.

Of course, that was before the immigration debate inflamed passions with lurid rhetoric. Polling shows Hispanic support for Republicans has collapsed.

(Just check out this HChron article, GOP losing support with Hispanic voters). The GOP anti-immigration rhetoric could be nullifying that assumption of 2001.

Suppose for a moment the numbers crunchers were wrong. Republicans need anti-immigration positions to energize a key part of their base. But what if the inflammatory rhetoric from Republican candidates ignites Texas Hispanic voters and their participation jumps not by the traditional 2 percent next year but instead by 7 or 10 percent?

It happened in California twenty years ago.

I am not yet predicting anything, but if the stars align, the anti-immigration debate could make the Texas Legislature a very different place in 2009.

More on this from Kuff and Dos Centavos.

The September Iraq Debate Begins

Posted in Congress, Had Enough Yet?, Around The Nation at 1:12 pm by wcnews

Watch Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D - Austin) on the House floor today.

Short excerpt:

“When the surge was announced, the White House said, ‘wait til the summer.’ And as the summer approached, the White House said, ‘wait til September.’ Well, now that this much overrated September is here, they cry, ‘wait til next year.’ The only real mystery about President Bush’s September decision has been what new excuse he would offer to justify staying the same old deadly course. And as the American people have seen through the duplicity of each and other excuse, the President has returned to his original ploy: 9/11. Coincidentally, just as we receive this report on the anniversary of 9/11. He claims that, quote, ‘the same folks that are bombing in Iraq are the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th.’ That is false and he knows it’s false.”

And read McClatchy, Security in Iraq still elusive.

When President Bush announced in January what the White House called a “New Way Forward” in Iraq, he said that Iraqi and American troops would improve security while the Iraqi government improved services. Responsibility for security in most of Iraq would be turned over to Iraqi security forces by November.

With better security would come the breathing room needed for political reconciliation, Bush said.

With less than a week to go before the White House delivers a congressionally mandated report on that plan, none of this has happened.


According to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, 984 people were killed across Iraq in February, and 1,011 died in violence in August. No July numbers were released because the ministry said the numbers weren’t clear.

But an official in the ministry who spoke anonymously because he wasn’t authorized to release numbers said those numbers were heavily manipulated.

The official said 1,980 Iraqis had been killed in July and that violent deaths soared in August, to 2,890.

Both links via Atrios.

East Williamson County Democrats Club Presents Free Showing Of “Truth Be Tolled”

Posted in Take Action, Good Stuff, Democratic Events, Privatization, Road Issues, Williamson County at 12:00 pm by wcnews

On September 20, 2007 at 7:00 pm, in an effort to better inform the local community about transportation issues and the Trans-Texas Corridor in particular, the East Williamson County Democrats Club (EWCD) is offering a free showing of the movie, Truth Be Tolled. You can view two trailers for the movie below.



Here’s a written syonpsis.

It will be show at the historic Howard Theatre in downtown Taylor (MAP).

EWCD has created a flyer for the event which can be downloaded an printed for distribution here [.PDF]. This is the first of what,hopefully, will be a series of films to be shown by the EWCD at the Howard Theatre. Please join them.

There will also be voter registration going on, and be sure to donate a couple of bucks if you can, so the series can continue for free.

Texas Blog Round Up (September 10, 2007)

Posted in Commentary, Around The State at 9:12 am by wcnews

A new week is here and that means it’s time for another edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance’s Blog Round Up. This week’s round-up is brought to you by Vince from Capitol Annex.

Do You Ever Feel Like Cassandra? Gary Denton at Easter Lemming Liberal News is beginning to feel like Cassandra again over Iran. Condemned to know the future but unable to convince others to prevent it.

Port Arthur gets shipped several hundred thousand gallons of a waste byproduct of the chemical nerve agent VX or incineration, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs reveals that neither a federal judge nor the TCEQ nor Rick Perry did anything to stop it.

Over at Three Wise Men, Nat-Wu notes that, whether or homosexuality is a choice or not, everyone deserves the same rights.

Blogging and the University of North Texas Democrats‘ site, Adam Silva of Three Wise Men notes that pundits are over-analyzing polls in the 2008 presidential race.

Hal at Half Empty blogs about some hot water Senate Candidate Mikal Watts got into over a letter he wrote to another attorney talking about contributions to judges.

Stace Medellin at Dos Centavos reports on a recent Democratic event held in a Houston suburb (Kingwood). Along with several locals running in the 2007 Houston city council election, the event attracted several more judicial candidates running in 2008, including Texas Supreme Court Place 8 candidate Judge Susan Criss.

In one of his information packed open threads on Texas Kaos, lightseeker notes that T Boone Pickens is stacking the deck in Roberts County to suck up water rights.

McBlogger at McBlogger has an update on the toll roads in the Austin area and urges those on CAMPO to think about what they are doing carefully and advises them to not burden taxpayers with the most expensive method of financing road construction.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson wonders if the “conservative” WCGOP and Craddick are going soft and will they let Rep. Mike Krusee go without a primary challenge from the right, in Will Craddick Let Krusee Go Unpunished?

Bradley Bowen of North Texas Liberal tells us about the excitement at a Hillary Clinton event in DC — the crowd was moved and motivated, and Sen. Clinton is in it to win it.

Could Be True at South Texas Chisme notes that a polluting refiner gets only a teeny, teeny, tiny slap on wrist. Oh, why did they even bother. Just taking the time of a minimum wage clerk to file the darn thing would cost more than the fine does.

Vince at Capitol Annex discusses the race of a “Craddick D” down in House District 40 (Aaron Pena) and offers his opinions on the blogging legislator’s chances in a contested primary.

At Bluedaze, TXsharon tell us about yet Another Republican Sexual Pervert.


No Denying It Now, Bloggers Are A Force In Texas Politics - UPDATED

Posted in US Senate Race, 2008 Primary, Around The State at 10:07 pm by wcnews

Today’s story surrounding an out of context quote by Rick Noriega’s campaign about bloggers shows that bloggers have arrived as a force in politics in Texas. Otherwise why attack a bunch of DFH’s. Were enough of a force that opposing campaign consultants would use those out of context words to try and drive a wedge between bloggers and the Noriega campaign. Nice try. Or as McBlogger said:

While Mr. Aldrete may not have defined the ‘blogs’ closely enough in the speech, we do know that was the intent, to talk about Cornyn’s divisiveness and poor leadership. We honestly can’t believe any reporter in the MSM would have been foolish enough to run with a story being pimped by a simple political operative who pretends that there’ s nothing to see in the story of the overwhelming silence of the pro-Watts online support.

It’s no surprise the Watts campaign downplays the online outreach aspect of their campaign. Essentially, they have none. Simply a mechanism for releasing press releases on line through an ‘online outreach coordinator’ and a cadre of commenter’s who can’t even be bothered to write entire blogposts in support of a candidate

Watts’ people can say what they will, but the traditional media and a competing campaign wouldn’t care about a bunch of bloggers if we didn’t have at least some power to change the outcome of this Senate race. This “non-story” will change nothing.

[UPDATE]: Kuff has full story:

‘ve included Noriega’s full remarks as prepared beneath the fold. You’ll see reactions to this elsewhere. The bottom line is that my colleagues and I who have been supporting Rick Noriega continue to do so. We’ve talked to him, and we know this was not a true reflection of his opinions. It was a screwup - a screwup by the campaign to include that bit in the speech in a misguided attempt at “balance”, and a screwup on Rick’s part by reading it as was instead of pushing back, since he knows full well that isn’t what he believes. Rick is a supporter of blogs - no surprise, since the blogosphere has been a big supporter of him - and I know he has no intention of triangulating against, well, folks like me. I know he’s going to address this himself directly very soon, and I know that we’ll never hear him say that sort of thing again. He made a mistake, but being the standup guy that he is, he’s owning it and he’ll make it right.

As well as the full text of Rick Noriega’s speech.


Pro-Toll Site Critiques Sen. Hutchison’s Bill To Prohibit Tolling Existing Interstates

Posted in Privatization, Congress, Road Issues, Around The State at 11:27 am by wcnews

Here’s the article from Pro-Toll site TollRaodNew.com, Wild anti-toll bill filed in US Senate by Sen KB Hutchinson. It takes issue with claims mad by Sen. Hutchison regarding the bill she filed this week, S 2109.

US Senator from Texas Kay Bailey Hutchinson (Repub) has filed a bill S2109 which purports to prohibit tolls on existing untolled interstates. The bill is so poorly drafted it is difficult to know whether to take it seriously.

Section 1 is titled “Prohibition on imposition and collection of tolls on certain highways constructed (NOTE: past tense) using federal funds”. Then under definitions “The term ‘federal highway facility’ means any highway, bridge or tunnel on the Interstate System that is (NOTE: present tense) constructed using federal funds.”

The garbled tenses make it unclear whether S2109 means to ban tolls on interstates built in the past with federal funds (the title’s past tense) or to prevent tolling of highways being built now with some federal funds (the definition’s present tense).

The present tense used in that definition in the Hutchinson bill seems to emasculate it. It could be interpreted to exempt all the existing facilities already constructed from a toll ban.

Keeping tolls from being put on currently non-tolled interstate highways apparently isn’t as easy as just passing a bill. Tolling existing interstates faces an uphill battle without this bill. From an earlier AAS article:

Texas law would require approval by county commissioners and taxpayers in a referendum if the state wanted to convert interstate highways to toll roads.

With that in mind it’s doubtful that a county commissioner could get reelected voting for tolling existing interstates. It’s even more doubtful a referendum would pass in the current environment. So, with that in mind Sen. Hutchison’s bill, at this point, seems like political pandering. Not to mention she hasn’t said much about how she would propose to funding transportation in Texas

The senator’s bill is full of what she’s against - it offers no alternative to tolls for funding or managing traffic better than the gridlocked and unfunded “free” interstates.

Politicians often file silly bills in order to gain plaudits from a noisy constituency without wanting them to become law. Hopefully this is just one of those posturing bills.

Reassuring is a reminder in Hutchinson’s accompanying statement that she attempted to insert a measure just like this in the 2005 highway bill but it failed. But this shoddy, obscure bill is nevertheless irresponsible mischief because it promotes populist fantasies and distracts attention from problem-solving.

Or is a setup for a run at governor in 2010.

CAMPO, Kirk Watson & The Austin Chamber Of Commerce

Posted in Privatization, Road Issues, Central Texas at 10:27 am by wcnews

EOW is not fan of Chamber’s of Commerce (CC). They’re traditionally “wing-nut” organizations out to promote what’s best for business and corporations at all costs. It’s not a knock on them, that’s just what they do. When taking into consideration that current state Sen. Kirk Waston (D - Austin) and CAMPO Chair, was not only the former Mayor of Austin but the former Chair of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, it makes their collaborative effort on tolling Austin’s roads a no-brainer.

KVUE did a spot yesterday on it’s eventing news cast on what’s “..sort of like a political campaign”, Chamber ramps up media blitz to fight congestion (Video too). Other than citizens KVUE did not have anyone on to counter the CC’s claims, especially the one that their’s no other option than tolls to pay for building roads.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce is ramping up its media campaign to “Take on Traffic” on Austin area roadways. This week, “Take on Traffic” radio ads started playing and more signs began popping up around town to encourage drivers to call and record their complaints about congested roadways.


Drivers seem to be taking notice.

“I’ve seen the signs but haven’t been to the website so I don’t know what it’s about,” said Austin motorist Cathy Edwards.

The Chamber is hoping Edwards - and others - find out what it’s about by following the signs.

Well here’s what it’s about. CC’s generally take the opinion that if something benefits businesses and corporations then their can’t be anything wrong with it. Naturally toll roads are a cheap way, for them, to improve their bottom lines. Here’s the way this works.

Chamber developers profit by buying cheap land and making the public pay for roads to that land. Chamber bankers profit by financing bloated freeway tolls that cost 2-4 times as much as non-tolled roads.

It’s just a media campaign to sucker citizens into believing that building roads is the best thing to do, no matter the cost to them, as long as it benefits business and corporations. I’m sure they both make campaign contributions too. It’s not surprising that as the CAMPO vote to toll all new highways appraoches that the former mayor and chamber chair and his cohorts are ramping up their propaganda effort to help.

Also from Sal Costello we learn their signs may be in violation of city code.

Please take 3 minutes and report the swarm of large TakeOnTraffic!com (TOT) pro toll signs all over town by calling 311 now.

Have at least one location to report, and add that they are all over town (and from what I’ve seen, not all of them are on private property, and I don’t know if they have a permit for the private property ones).

You can call 24/7. I called and did this today at 7am, If they get a bunch of calls, I assume they will move quicker in calling TOT to remove the illegal signs or be fined if more than 1 person calls.

Since TOT does not report any of its contributions for their political signs, we don’t know who paid for them.


From the city of Austin website, a citizen can call 311 and report sign violations:


You may not post a sign in the right of way.
In residential areas, you may post the following signs on private property temporarily:

  • Contractors’ signs
  • Garage or yard sale signs
  • Lost or found pet signs
  • Neighborhood meeting signs
  • Political signs
  • Real estate signs

In non-residential areas, all signs must be on private property and have a permit. The City of Austin does not regulate the content of billboards.

Report suspected violations to 3-1-1

TxDOT Has A Sense Of Humor

Posted in Privatization, Road Issues, Around The State at 12:50 am by wcnews

Via SAEN, DOT guru for Perry skips PR training.

Gov. Rick Perry’s deputy chief of staff decided to skip Friday’s training session meant to prep officials for talk-radio appearances promoting the Trans-Texas Corridor and toll roads, a spokeswoman said.

“With the workload he had, he wasn’t able to give up a half day,” Perry spokeswoman Krista Moody said Friday of deputy chief of staff Kris Heckmann, Perry’s point person on transportation.


Heckmann’s decision doesn’t imply any criticism of the training, Moody added.

“We think it’s definitely going to be very beneficial for the policy professionals and policy wonks to get a better grasp on how to communicate their message and their vision to Texans,” Moody said.


The divisiveness of the transportation initiatives was the basis of an e-mail joke by TxDOT spokesman Chris Lippincott as he let people know about one of the training sessions, which was at the downtown Austin Club.

“Our room is reserved under the name ViaNovo,” he quipped, “because ‘Mile-Wide NAFTA Drug Corridor Conspiracy’ wouldn’t fit on the reservation card.”

They just don’t get it.


More On TxDOT’s PR Blitz That The Legislature Demanded

Posted in HD-52, Privatization, Road Issues, Around The State, Uncategorized at 8:12 am by wcnews

The HChron has the story, State officials trained to promote toll road plans on radio.

The Texas Department of Transportation has hired a public relations firm to help prepare agency officials and a top aide to Gov. Rick Perry for appearances on radio to promote toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor.

The $20,000 contract with ViaNovo is part of the agency’s Keep Texas Moving campaign, a public relations effort touting its implementation of Perry’s transportation policy.

Some lawmakers and anti-toll activists have condemned spending state highway funds — estimated to be from $7 million to $9 million — on a public relations campaign

Well we knew the money would be spent, it’s been appropriated after all. Rep. Mike Krusee is quoted in this one. Showing another reason why Rep. Mike Krusee won’t be reelected. This guy is just tone deaf. Did he spend the whole session in London? Here’s what he thinks the legislature “demanded” last session by passing two toll road moratorium bills.

But Rep. Mike Krusee, House Transportation Committee chairman, said the campaign is a response to lawmakers’ demands for the agency to improve its communication with the public.

“I think TxDOT’s doing exactly what the Legislature asked them to do, demanded that they do, and legislators who now cry foul are being hypocritical,” said Krusee, R-Round Rock. “They were the ones that beat TxDOT over the head in public hearings for not explaining this.”

Nope. Most of the legislature wanted to stop the TTC because of the PPP’s/CDA’s, non-compete clauses, 50 year leases, and foreign corporations fleecing Texans. Texans don’t need a PR campaign, they need legislators to come up with a real solution to our transportation problem. What the legislature showed was that they want a different policy, not a PR campaign. Krusee’s not going to win back any friends in the legislature by blaming this disastrous PR scheme on them.

Toll roads and the state’s aggressive policies regarding the controversial Trans-Texas Corridor were among the major issues of the last legislative session.

Opponents questioned the agency’s decision to use tolling to fund new roads, the route and necessity of the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor superhighway, and the state’s partnering with private companies to run toll roads.

Perry and other state officials have argued that toll roads are necessary in the face of congestion and transportation needs outpacing gas tax revenues.

That’s because the gas tax hasn’t been raised in 15 years. The end of the article has rebuttal from Rep. Lois Kolkhorst and Sen. John Carona.

Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, who sought to freeze development of privately run toll roads, said there’s a “lack of faith” in the agency’s policies.

“The Legislature did not tell TxDOT to go on a media campaign explaining the pros of the Trans-Texas Corridor and private equity investment (in toll roads). The Legislature said, ‘Please slow down, take a deep breath. We want you to pause while we make sure we are making the right decisions.’”

Sen. John Carona, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, said the program should be judged on how the officials use their air time.

“I don’t think there’s anything inappropriate about them obtaining media training,” Carona said. “I think it’s important to share with the public TxDOT’s goals and missions.

“If what they do on these radio shows turns out to be nothing more than a PR initiative for their current tolling plans and other controversial initiatives, then I and other legislators, I think, would have a great problem with it,” he said. “Additionally, if they were to use TxDOT funds to buy radio time or anything of that nature, we would be very opposed to it.”

From what I understand that is the plan Senator. Rep. Kolkhorst is completely right. Not to mention, that if all Rep. Krusee, Gov. Perry, and TxDOT took from last session was that they just didn’t do a good enough sales job on the TTC and toll roads then they just weren’t involved in the same session everyone else was.

Note: There are no Democrats quoted in this article. Which is typical of an article on statewide transportation policy. Like this one.
Nice quote here from Terri Hall of Texas TURF from a similar article in the SAEN.

But Terri Hall, founder and executive director of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, which opposes toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor, said: “It’s clear that TxDOT is not interested in listening to the people. That’s how they’ve gotten such an image problem. They could certainly use a PR campaign to clean it up — but not with my taxpayer money.”

Amen, make the corporations pay for this advertising not the taxpayers.

More On The Latest Euthanized Family Pet At The WCRAS

Posted in Animal Shelter, Williamson County at 12:20 am by wcnews

AAS has now has a story up on the latest family pet to be euthanized at the WCRAS, Shelter euthanizes dog while owner tried to retrieve her.

When Jose Martinez of Hutto lost his dog last week, he was relieved to find her Tuesday at the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter.

He was escorted to the back of the shelter, where he identified his pit bull, Lady.

But as he filled out the paperwork to reclaim her, unknowing shelter staffers euthanized the dog.

Shelter manager Ethel Spence called Martinez over.

“We walked into her office; she closed the door and said, ‘We just euthanized your dog,’ ” he said.

Spence said the dog’s death was an accident.

The staff member who had accompanied Martinez was new, Spence said, and didn’t realize that Lady had been tagged for euthanization because she had tried to bite two shelter workers. When Martinez and the staff member went to fill out paperwork, another staffer took the dog to be euthanized.

“It was a very, very freak and unfortunate event,” Spence said. “I know how I would feel if it was my pet. All we can do is learn from a mistake and prevent it from happening again.”

It seems a little odd that animals are getting euthanized so quickly for “biting”. It would seem that dogs in a foreign environment like this would be a little edgy and prone to acting out of character. Meaning it would seem that at an animal shelter they’d be a little more forgiving than this. It appears the latest pet owner is now considering taking legal action.

Martinez is considering legal action and has hired Austin attorney Bill Aleshire, who also represents the Angelles.

“Why did it take another dog to change their policy?” Martinez said. “They say she was aggressive, but I went to pick her up, and they killed her while I was there.”

The Williamson County sheriff’s office is looking into whether an offense was committed, Detective John Foster said.

Here’s the letter [.PDF] the AAS has linked from Mr. Aleshire to Sheriff Wilson. The last line says it all.

I’ve been searching for any Williamson County elected official who gives a damn about this mess at the Shelter and will try to fix it. Are you the one?


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