Saturday, December 31, 2005

HAPPY NEW YEAR
2006



My New Year's wish is that we all look back a year from now with pride on all the hard work we did in 2006 to bring Democrats and accountability back to our government.


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Friday, December 30, 2005

Steve Wyman to Challenge Sen. Ogden In SD 5

Stephen Wyman
for
Texas Senate
District 5
Born in NH in 1957; raised in MA; college at IU, Bloomington, IN; tech
school in MA; moved to TX by Western Geophysical Co. in January of
1981.

I was a dues paying Republican till 1980, when the far-right decided
that all other perspectives need not be heard; mine was in the center.

Spokesperson for MoveOn.org during President Clinton's impeachment
hearings; interviewed for an article that ran in the Ft Worth Star-Telegram
in 1999.

I joined my wife and parents in the Democratic Party in 2001.

I've submitted editorial pieces that have run in both the Dallas
Morning News and Williamson County Sun.

I've been a Data Telemetry (Telecommunications) Technical Professional
since 1981.

I'm a candidate for the TX Senate, district 5, in the upcoming, 2006
election.


Sincerely,
Stephen Wyman
(512)635-5334


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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The "Fix In '06"

Two articles on school finance caught my "eye" today. They both go to what the real problem is with school finance, the unfair/inadequate financing that sadly won't be addressed this coming year when the legislature convenes in an attempt to come up with the "Fix In '06". The coming special session will deal with "buying down" property taxes with some other tax or combination of taxes. If you remember, the inadequacy in financing was hinted at in the supreme court decision as, possibly/some day/in the future becoming a problem if something isn't done to fix it. But with the supreme court giving the legislature such a short deadline (June 1, 2006) for completely overhauling school finance, it seems as if they are ignoring the political ramifications of setting the deadline for that date. Knowing that there would be no action until after the primaries, they've pretty much guaranteed that no such overhaul will occur. It's like the court wanted another bad school finance system.

The first article, Legislators find no solution in public school finance system, shows the difference between what the Texas Supreme Court wants - a complete overhaul - versus what's going to be done - substantial reform. The other story, New pools of money slake schools' thirst, introduces us to education foundations, which reminds us that where there is a need, something will come along to fill that need. In other words, wealthy school districts are finding "creative" ways to funnel money to their schools in order to keep them funded to a certain standard. In both articles, superintendents from wealthy school districts make statements that sound like they have become accustomed to a higher standard than other communities and, therefore, need the extra money to keep that standard. In reality, everyone wants that kind of standard for their community; it's just that most can't afford it.
"I am disappointed that it (the Supreme Court decision) didn't take up the issue of adequacy," (Coppell ISD Superintendent Jim) Turner said. "Right now we are not allowed to keep enough of our money to keep the kind of education system the community expects and the students deserve."

[...]

Eanes Superintendent Nola Wellman said the donations help the district save positions that might otherwise be cut and raise salaries.

"Our community realizes the importance of personnel in the classroom," Wellman said. "We will designate the money to go into personnel if that's what the community values."
That quote makes it seem like she is saying that they do this because "our community" wants to retain good teachers and others don't, when in actuality, Eanes already has the money to do this and most school districts don't - that's why!

There is also another theme that I've noticed in the last few days. Many believe that the legislature has been trying to do too much with schools all at once when they should just focus on fixing the finance part first.
Critics of the funding system said the legislators failed in so many sessions because they tried to tackle too much by combining school funding, education reform and property tax reductions in the state proposals.

[...]

The failed sessions this year bogged down in two key areas: 1.) a list of education reforms that some legislators wanted to see (and others didn't), paired with a certain level of funding (and debate over whether it was enough); and 2.) implementation of new taxes (including business taxes) to balance out proposed cuts in property taxes.
Let's not forget: the property tax as an unconstitutional statewide property tax is just an offshoot of the inadequate funding as a whole. If the state was holding up its end of the funding bargain - the state's share of education funding has dropped to a historic low of 38 percent - property taxes would be much lower.

The "new pools of money" story is far more disturbing to me. When I read this the first time, I didn't see much wrong with it. The function of these foundations seemed similar to selling candy - or whatever school children sell - to pay for a new playscape or a group trip to Disney World. But when I got to the part about Eanes ISD using its foundation to pay teachers' salaries, - let me put it this way - it raised questions, big time. Eanes is a very wealthy district, and I'm sure they can get quite a few donations to keep their teachers. What about the poor districts? This would seem to, once again, give the wealthy districts an advantage to hire and retain the best teachers. With the governor ordering the "65% Ruse" into effect, that means districts that have spent their allotted percentage in the classroom and don't have one of these foundations or one that can support teachers is at a extreme disadvantage. As the article states, the proceeds go to the districts, but the foundations operate independent of the district, and that can't be good. This quote seems to show that your school officials will become like political candidates, stumping for money all the time:
"The question we're asking is, 'How creative can we be in doing things that will provide the funding we need without having corporations that can come in and help us?' " [Pflugerville ISD grant developer Deborah] Porter said. "We really believe this foundation will help us keep teachers who are creative and innovative. We think that we can do some special things for kids."
And along with that, comes the question of what would be expected of the school district if it received, shall we say, an extremely generous gift from someone or some organization? Let's say the individual or organization had an agenda that included teaching sex education or intelligent design. Would that cause a problem? These are just a few things that crossed my mind when I read the article.

But to get back to the subject, this all stems from the fact that the public school system in Texas is woefully underfunded. We have poorly funded public schools, and we have a state leadership in place that wants to privatize schools and generally believes that government is the problem, not that government can be a solution. I'm not talking about all Republicans in this state. I'm talking about the leadership of the Republican Party in this state. Oh yeah, they don't believe schools are underfunded; they believe that schools just don't spend the money wisely. Did you hear that, Eanes ISD? School districts having to come up with creative ways to raise money to pay for what every child in every community should expect from its public schools just goes to underscore how poorly financed Texas schools are.

All the quotes in this article come from these articles:
- Legislators find no solution in public school finance system
- New pools of money slake schools' thirst
- Court rules state school finance system unconstitutional
- On the must-do list


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Did John Sharp's Brother Make Rick Perry Cry?

This is one funny fluff piece, Governor counting on friend for tax fix:
And, according to Sharp's recollection, both could have died while his older brother showed off a flashy new car, a GTX 440 Magnum, during a 13-mile drive from Placedo to Victoria at speeds that he insists hit 150 mph.

"Perry will still tell you this is the absolute scariest time of his entire life," Sharp said. "I was shaking, I was so scared. Perry won't admit it, but it looked like he was crying to me."

Sharp said he refused to ride back to Placedo from Victoria, accused his brother of being crazy and hitchhiked home.

"I'm pretty sure he (Perry) would tell you today that he's never in his entire life been that scared," Sharp said.

Perry validated the story — except for the crying part.
And this part too:
Fellow Aggie Hector Gutierrez has been a longtime friend of both Perry and Sharp, and he stayed neutral during the 1998 race. After winning, Perry appointed Gutierrez his legislative liaison to the Senate.

"Bitter" is too mild for describing relationships between the Perry and Sharp camps, Gutierrez said of that campaign.

But "Aggies don't hate other Aggies," Gutierrez said.
Right.


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Local News On Democratic Filings

Taylor Daily Press:
Karen Felthauser has filed for the Democratic primary as a candidate for the Dist. 52 House seat.
Hill Country News:
As of Wednesday, Dec. 21, the following have filed with the Democratic Party for local seats: Mary Beth Harrell for U.S. Congress, District 31; Jim Stauber for Texas House Representative, District 20; and Karen Felthauser for Texas House Representative, District 52.



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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Should The Minimum Wage Be Raised

Should the Democratic Party embrace raising the minimum wage as a major theme in 2006?

There were two posts over at DailyKos yesterday that talked about this quite a bit (Pay vs. Gay in Turning Out the Base and Feeding the minimum wage debate: some graphs on income inequality). There was also quite a bit of discussion on this as a ballot initiative in all states that don't have a state minimum wage law. Many think it hasn't and won't be as good for Democrats as gay marriage was for Republicans. I disagree with that. I believe if it is taken up as a cause by all Democrats and repeated over and over wherever they show up (TV, radio, speeches, etc.), it would become a big boost for the party. It would once again show that Democrats are for working Americans.

It's an issue the Democrats have an advantage on, Fixing a Sagging Wage Floor:
There is one fight, however, that liberals are winning this year, even in states where the numbers would seem to be against them. They are winning on the minimum wage.

When Wisconsin raised its minimum last month, to $5.70 and then $6.50 in a two-step process, it became the 17th state to establish a wage floor higher than the $5.15 level that has prevailed under federal law since 1997. A dozen of those states have acted in the past 18 months alone. Most of them have Republican legislatures, or Republican governors, or both.
When a minimum wage is discussed inevitably two things happen. We are told that it will cause unemployment and it leads to Democrats being accused of class-warfare - in other words stop pointing out that the rich are getting richer and everyone else is getting poorer. (Al Gore didn't catch up to Bush until he adopted that type on popular message in 2000). The first point about unemployment is false, maybe if it was raised too high, but with "..the minimum wage's buying power at its second-lowest level since 1955..". Like this commenter in the DKos diary said:
Quote from Henry Ford, "If I pay people enough money to buy my car, they will buy my car" or something very close to that.

Small businesses benefit when everyone is making enough money to use their services. The cost in wages will be more than offset by the ability of more people to afford their goods and services.
I don't think raising it will cause economic problems. As far as the class warfare argument I think it's way past time for the Democratic Party to embrace workers issues again. If they accuse of class warfare we should say it is, you started it and we are on the side of working Americans.

Rep. Lon Burnam introduced a bill to raise the minimum wage in Texas to $6.15/hr. last session, HB 816, it never got out of committee of course. Every Republican running in Texas should be made to ask why the minimum wage shouldn't be raised and they should not be allowed to use the false argument that it will cause unemployment. The minimum wage issue is a safe, effective and defining issue for Democrats to use in the 2006 election.

What do you think?


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What Republicans Have Been Doing While You Were Away

The Texas media finally picks up on Republicans eating their own, Not Republican enough? It's a crappy title because this has nothing to do with being "Republican" this has to do with voting your district/constituency vs. voting the party line. If you're a Republican and you're not on board with vouchers and defunding public education you are a target.

This from the file, If the Dallas Morning News is calling something Republican "foolish" it must be really bad, A Foolish Proposal: Referendum suggests capping local taxes:
Check out the loaded language that Republican leaders are putting on the March ballot for GOP voters to embrace or reject:

"In order to address the inequity of homeowners' property taxes increasing at a rate far above the rate of inflation, the current 10 percent cap on the rate of increase of appraised value for all homesteads shall be reduced to 5 percent or less."
DallasNews.com/Extra

Tax cap: Answers to commonly asked questions

We appreciate what restraint it must have taken to not include language in this nonbinding referendum calling local officials "out-of-control, tax-raising weasels."
Here's another in the long list of articles that leads you to believe they know what's going to happen with school finance. It then ends with well, they gotta do something and we'll have to wait for the spring to find out what that is? On the must-do list

I thought Republicans were for competition? Texas attorney general wrong to strike down a law to protect Texans who purchase drugs from Canada. Not when it'll hurt the big Pharma.

In order for the Republicans to punish Planned Parenthood they also punish Mother and child, Women, children last:
In Dallas, withdrawal of $1.7 million is forcing the closure of three family planning clinics. In Houston, where the Legislature cut more than 50 percent of Planned Parenthood funds, as many as 10,000 women will lose access to well-woman exams, contraception and cancer screenings. Under federal law, none of these Texas clinics could have used these funds to perform abortions. Nevertheless, legislators chose to cripple the clinics.

The pivotal operating funds will go to pregnancy crisis centers or to 19 Federally Qualified Health Centers — some of which never requested the help. These FQHCs are valuable resources, offering primary care to poor neighborhoods. But the clinics are scarce, far-flung, and often lack family planning services such as contraception. They can't replace the multiservice family planning clinics that have treated Texans for decades.

Legislators have every right to push abortion alternatives -— as long as they don't abdicate their other duties. But ravaging working clinics during a health coverage crisis has nothing to do with protecting women or children. It's self-interested strutting, and it's trampling on the health of thousands of Texas wives, mothers and daughters.
They sure haven't been protecting consumer's, Costs on many services, including electric, to rise. This article talks about how you gas, electricity, local phone service, food stamps, are all going up. Not to worry though:
But there were some bright spots.

For instance, state employees are slated to get the second half of a 7 percent pay raise in 2006, and teachers who earn the minimum for their level of experience will get a state-approved pay increase.

In addition, starting Sunday, the first pay raise for Texas jurors in more than 51 years will go into effect.

Under a new state law, pay will go to $40 per day, beginning on their second day of service, compared with the current day rate of $6.
That's all you got for bright spots?


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Brig Mireles To File For County Commissioner, Precinct 4 Today

Williamson County Democratic Party
Campaign Kickoff Party for Brig Mireles



Come join the Williamson County Democratic Party as we celebrate Brig Mireles' official Campaign Kickoff for County Commissioner, Precinct 4! Brig's Campaign Kickoff Party will be at 6:30 PM, Tuesday, December 27, at Louisiana Longhorn Cafe, 200 E. Main Street, Round Rock. Enjoy continued Holiday Cheer with other Williamson County Democrats as we congratulate Brig and prepare for victory in '06!


Warm Holiday Wishes,
Jimmy Rocha, Chair
Williamson County Democratic Party


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Monday, December 26, 2005

Article From The Williamson County Sun On Democratic Candidates For Commissioner's Court

The Williamson County Sun
by Ben Trollinger

Democrats join '06 election fray

Round Rock trustee counting on Democrat tradition in Commissioner's Precinct 4

Two Democratic candidates emerged this week to announce they will run for seats on the Williamson County Commissioners Court. One is a new comer and the other is a Round Rock resident now serving as vice-president on the Round Rock Independent School District's board of trustees.

Brig Mireles, 67, served two terms on the school board before retiring. The board called him out of retirement after the board's former vice president, Steven Copenhaver, resigned facing criminal charges.

Mr. Mireles will run for Precinct 4 County Commissioner, which includes part of Round Rock, Taylor, Hutto, Granger, Coupland and Bartlett. It is the largest of any the four precincts. It is also historically the most Democratic. Before Commissioner Frankie Limmer, a Republican, took office, Democratic Jerry Mehevec held the seat for several terms.

Mr. Mireles said he believes that history, coupled with the board support he has in Round Rock, makes the office winnalbe.

"It is the most Democratic of the precincts," he said. "It used to be the other way around, but Republicans were very presistent and kept on going and I'm hoping we're doing the same thing. I'm hoping that a victory will be a step in reestablishing the Democratic Party in the county."

Mr. Mireles has lived in Round Rock for close to 14 years, he said. In addition to the school board, he also serves on the board of directors for the Williamson County Appraisal District and the Senior Citizens Foundation.

He said he believes people will cross party lines to vote for him, because he is known as someone who cooperates in working toward a share goal.

"I think I'll be able to work with folks from all campus," he said, "Ultimately it's not about who's a Democrat or Republican in county government. When we come to the general election, folks are going to have to start looking at the candidate. There are only going to be two of us. Who has a wealth of experience and a dedication to the community?"

Even though the majority of Precinct 4 candidates have been from Round Rock, Mr. Mireles emphasized that he is sensitive to the needs of residents living in other parts of the county.

He said that environmental issues, including the county landfill and water quality, will be central in his campaign.

Leander resident Michael Hofmann has lived in Williamson County for about three years and already he is "fed up" he said.

He's fed up that not one Democrat holds and office in county government. In running for Precinct 2 County Commissioner, he hopes to change that.

"It puts a different voice out there," he said. "If there's a Democratic county commissioner, then people think "The tide is turning.' Right now, there's not balance."

The 39-year old Houston native moved to the Austin area around 1999 to work as a sales manager for Circuit City and later for a software company. Three years ago, he and his wife Tonya moved to Leander, where they eventually started their own business, and online marketing company geared toward helping small businesses.

Previously, he and his wife owned and operated a retail shop in Houston similar to the Nature Store, he said.

He's never run for public office before, he said. "But I've been a diehard Democrat for a long time."

He said he is currently researching how county government works and has yet to develop his campaign platform. He opposes toll road projects such as 183A., supports others such as State Highway 130 and doesn't like the rising cost of the courthouse restoration.

At presentime, neither candidate had filled.

Mr. Hofmann is collecting signatures in lieu of the filing fee of $1250.00, according to Williamson County Democratic Party Chair Jimmy Rocha. He must collect at least 500 signatures, he said.





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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

The text of St. Matthew runs as follows:

* Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 3)
* Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land. (Verse 4)
* Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Verse 5)
* Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. (Verse 6)
* Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Verse 7)
* Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. (Verse 8)
* Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Verse 9)
* Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 10)


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Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Few More Items

It looks like the reason for Strayhorn aide Mark Sanders' call to Allison Bell has more to do with finding someone to run against Susan Combs for Comptroller than to get Bell to drop out of the governor's race specifically, Larson says Strayhorn aide pitched idea to him, too:
"This guy calls and says he's Mark Sanders and that he works closely with Carole Strayhorn," (Bexar County Commissioner Lyle) Larson recalled. "He tells me there's a large group of people who would like to find someone else to run for comptroller against Susan Combs."

As an enticement, Larson said, Sanders claimed the group could raise $3.5 million for his campaign and facilitate a meeting with a top staffer in the comptroller's office to give Larson a crash course in the ins and outs of the statewide post.
There's more on it here from the Star-Telegram, Democrat sticks to gubernatorial bid. And a really good post on Strayhorn from Common Sense, Grandma got run over by a reindeer.

State Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, District 123 has an editorial in the Express-News today, Mike Villarreal: Raise revenue by closing business tax loophole.

Lt. Gov. Dewhurst appointed a Senate panel to address school finance. Roll Call is:
Florence Shapiro, R-Plano
Kip Averitt, R-McGregor
Kim Brimer, R-Fort Worth
Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock
Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen
Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville
Steve Ogden, R-Bryan
Royce West, D-Dallas
Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands
And the House?
There will be little input from House leaders, however, as Speaker Tom Craddick canceled an agreement with Mr. Dewhurst to create a House-Senate committee. Mr. Craddick said he decided to defer to a tax commission appointed by Gov. Rick Perry.
I guess Dewhurst has to show that he's doing something?


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If Compassionate Conservatism Ever Was, It's Gone Now

Gardner Selby brings up Bill Ratliff's comments, A political puck says religion, government do mix, from a couple of weeks ago:
In his remarks, later excerpted in the American-Statesman, Ratliff said individuals who win election touting Christian credentials sometimes don't heed biblical teachings once in office.

...

Ratliff later said he feels distress over legislators eroding a 1998 goal of prioritizing the Children's Health Insurance Program with money from the state's $15.3 billion settlement of a lawsuit against big tobacco companies. At the time, Ratliff called CHIP, which serves the working poor, realistic because of the settlement.

CHIP enrollment reached 500,000 in 2003 but has since dropped to less than 325,000, partly because the 2003 Legislature cut benefits and made it harder to join. Legislators this year restored benefits but also authorized a waiting list if funds run short.
Here's what Sen. Ogden had to say about this:
Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, chief of the Finance Committee, agreed that officeholders can be hypocritical facing tough decisions. Such gaps between belief and action, he said, are "a recognition, from a Christian viewpoint, of our sinful nature."
They may have been referring to un-Christian/sinful things like this, Abbott says it could cause $2 billion drop in collections in Texas. In case anyone forgot Abbott's a Republican, so you see it's not just Democrats that are against it. Here are a few quotes from the article:
"I am deeply concerned about the harm that this legislation will cause children in Texas and across the nation," Abbott, a Republican, said in a news release. The bill "will make it much harder for my office to help a million Texas children who need child support to furnish the basic necessities of life."

...

"Texas has one of the most successful child support programs in the nation, yet this bill punishes states that have performed well," Abbott said. "How unfortunate that when a government program proves to be successful, it is victimized by its very success."

...


Like most Senate Republicans, John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas supported the budget bill.

Cornyn, a former Texas attorney general who ran for Senate touting his record on child support collections, and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, a former deputy attorney general, worked to limit the cuts, spokesmen for both said.

...

But U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, criticized the bill in general and the child support enforcement cuts in particular.

"The cuts to child support enforcement are ill-advised and morally wrong and signify a chilling disregard for the most vulnerable among us," Doggett said in a statement.

Scott McCown, executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which advocates for low- and middle-income Texans, also criticized the cuts.

"These cuts to child support enforcement will mean fewer mothers and children will get the support they need," McCown said. "More families will be on public benefits as a result."




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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

If You Want Accountability In Williamson County Government We Need Your Help

Here is you chance to help us get our two candidates for County Commissioner on the ballot.

They are:

Precinct 2, Michael Hofmann
Precinct 4, Brig Mireles

We need your help and just think of the benefit of getting two Democrats on the Commissioner's Court.

For those who don't know there are two ways to get people on the ballot. $1,250 or 500 signatures on a petition. It would be preferable to get them on the ballot by getting signatures on petitions that would then free up that money for the campaigns. Half (250) of the signatures on the petitions need to come from the precinct that the candidate is running in and the other half (250) can come from anywhere in the county. So it doesn't matter what precinct you live in you can get signatures. Take them with you this week and get your family and friends to sign them. Those signing must be registered voters in Williamson County. Here's the, petition. I recommend printing out a couple for each candidate. Each page has enough room for 10 signatures. Our goal is for everyone to get one page per candidate, if you can get more that's better, obviously. If you can't get 10 that's OK. If you can get 1 that's fine, we need all we can get. Also the petitions must be notarized. You can get them notarized at your bank for free.

Of course if you want to contribute you can do that as well. Either way we need the petitions by the middle of next week, the 27th or 28th. Send your signed and notarized petitions or your contributions to the candidates at:

Make checks payable to:

Michael Hofmann for Commissioner

1525 Cypress Creek Rd. H-208
Cedar Park, Texas 78613

(www.votehofmann.com)

mhofmann@votehofmann.com

AND

Brig Mireles for Commissioner
6 Timberline
Round Rock, TX 78664-9409

Or you can drop them by the Williamson County Democratic Party Primary Headquarter'’s location room 217 in the Cirkiel Commons Building, 1901 East Palm Valley Blvd in Round Rock. (Across Hwy. 79 from the new H.E.B.)


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The Best Case For Barbara Ann Radnofsky

This never would have passed if Barbara Ann Radnofsky was in the Senate. It is also nice to see that every Democrat voted against this.




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Lack Of Media Coverage Of Mary Beth Harrell Is An Indictment Of Texas Media

I can't find much press coverage of Mary Beth Harrell's filing on Monday. Just his from the Statesman and I can't find it online here is what is says:
Harrell hopes to oust Carter

Killeen lawyer Mary Beth Harrell plans to challenge U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, for his 31st Congressional District seat

On Monday, Harrell filed with the Texas Democratic Party to put her name on the March 7 primary election ballot. Harrell, a private practice lawyer, also serves as city prosecutor for Nolanville in Bell County.
Two paragraphs!? If you look at her press release, which I'm sure the AAS being part of the press got, they could have done much better than this! They should have said that she is a military wife and mother. I think the AAS needs a letter. Also be sure to see if your local paper mentions anything this week. If not they need a letter too!

[UPDATE]: Here the image of a Killeen Daily Herald Story, it's not available online. I would recommend saving it to your computer so you can enlarge it and read it.



Thanks to Kellisa Stanley, Volunteer Coordinator for Mary Beth Harrell's campaign.





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One Day He's In, The Next He's Out

Sutff like this always cracks me up, Reynolds drops out:
Robert Reynolds, a Republican who filed Monday to run in a special election to replace former Rep. Todd Baxter, ended his campaign today as abruptly as it began.

Reynolds’ filing angered local GOP insiders who wanted the party to unite behind candidate Ben Bentzin against two Democrats and a Libertarian. Their goal is a Bentzin victory without a runoff, and another Republican in the race would have made that more difficult since it could have split GOP votes between two candidates. Travis County Republican Party Chairman Alan Sager said Monday night that Reynolds had no record of party activism or voting in Republican primaries.

Reynolds said Tuesday he did not face pressure to get out of the race and withdrew because of family reasons that came up on Tuesday morning. “No one’s called me,” he said.

Reynolds’ name will not appear on the Jan. 17 ballot, according to the secretary of state’s office.
Family reasons that came up Tuesday morning? That's sounds a little "fishy"?




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More Fun Early In The Governor's Race

Did you see this story in today's Statesman, Assistant: Call to wife of Democrat not made on Strayhorn's behalf? This story seems a little pointless. What is this? It's a newspaper story about a private conversation between a candidates wife and another candidates spokesman.

It seems like it's just a story to put something out there, to give Chris Bell an out, fat chance, if he wants to switch races. Or it's just an idiotic way to come up with a story trying to say, again, that Chris Bell has no chance to win the governor's race. Chris for his part says this:
Chris Bell said that he will not run for comptroller and that there was no mention in his wife's conversation with Sanders of Strayhorn running as a Democrat.
I especially like this part:
(Strayhorn spokesman Mark) Sanders, who worked for 2002 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tony Sanchez, said he does not think that Bell can win the governor's race because the state so strongly favors Republicans. "A Democrat will not win in 2006," Sanders said.

Asked why the same logic did not apply to the comptroller's race, in which Republican Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs has been running for months, Sanders said he knew only that Bell could not win the governor's race.
Why is this reporter asking a Republican to base an argument on logic? Who knows what the point of this is it all just seems like someone is trying to make up news, in this slow Holiday season.

The Chris Bell campaign responds to Gov. Perry's dirty trick, A Vast Write-wing Conspiracy?:
If you ask me, the problem with Team Perry's little ploy isn't so much that they're asking supporters to write their local paper (which campaigns have done since the beginning of time), but that the letters they're asking for are nothing more than petty personal attacks. He isn't asking supporters to help spread the word about his own ideas or his own vision for Texas, but rather asking supporters to simply tear down an opponent in hopes of scoring a few points.


[UPDATE]: Chris Bell's campaign responds, Another one to file under the "Not Gonna Happen" tab...:
It’s time for Democrats to start leading again, and Chris is exactly the kind of fighter we need leading the charge.


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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

WOW!!

I just saw this editorial today, Texas lawmakers want our schools to fail. It makes the case, very well I might add, that what has been happening these last few years with our public schools is not incompetence. Instead it's all just part of the plan. I recommend reading the whole thing but here's a little to get you started:
Sometimes I have to remind myself that even though some of Texas' lawmakers meet the definition, the leadership in the Texas Legislature is not as incompetent as it appears.

In fact, the governor, the speaker and veteran lawmakers who are trying to remake public schools, like the Republicans' education point man, State Rep. Kent Grusendorf, are not incompetent at all. They are doing exactly what they've set out to do.


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GOP Governor's Race, Oh Yeah And Sen. Cornyn

Yesterday Gov. Perry filed his papers to be a 10 year governor. That alone should disqualify him. 10 years of this guy should be against the law. But don't worry he's got his record to run on and that should discourage plenty of people from voting for him:
"I am going to campaign on my record as a fiscal conservative who has fought for lower taxes and responsible government spending while investing billions more in education," Perry said. "I am going to articulate a clear vision for the future that is based upon the same conservative convictions that the people of this state have seen me act upon during my first full term in office."

Perry said Texans "understand that I will work to build consensus when I can, but when the time for talk ends, I will take decisive action, just as I did by issuing executive orders to improve education and by providing $10 million for a more secure border."
That's where you're wrong Governor. I think Texans want results not just action. We don't want to see you doing something, no matter how wrong it is, just to do something! We actually want a governor that will fix the school finance problem!

Not to worry though it looks like Carole ETC is still going to run for governor, Strayhorn's just getting started:
In the language of prizefighting, Carole Keeton Strayhorn is sure Gov. Rick Perry has a glass jaw.

"Perry's support is this deep," she said, holding her finger and thumb an inch apart. "Once we get to issues, he collapses."

[and]

"Rick Perry has promised tax reductions, and he broke that promise. He promised to fix school reform. He's broken that promise," Mrs. Strayhorn told business leaders at a Duncanville hotel. "Now he promises me, and I quote in his own words, 'a bloody, brutal campaign.'

"I say, bring it on," she said.

In her caffeinated, rat-a-tat speaking style, Mrs. Strayhorn blasted Mr. Perry for "signing into law $2.7 billion in new fees, taxpayer charges and out-of-pocket expenses" to balance the state budget. She denounced the governor's toll-road project as a land grab by "Governor Perry and his highway henchmen" to benefit a foreign contractor under secret terms. She said the state budget has grown 41 percent under his tenure, electric and insurance bills are on the rise, and children's health insurance is not properly funded.
It also appears that a big part of her strategy will be to get Democrats to vote for her in the Republican Primary. I would urge every Democrat not to take that bait. The best way to get rid of Perry is to get the best Democratic candidate nominated and then have all Democrats get behind that candidate.

As I've said all along with the Comptroller's "wit" this should make for an interesting primary. Just scroll down in that article to where it starts talking about how the governor's campaign is already trying to get the LTE battle going. I just wouldn't watch much TV after the New Year because these two mugs will be all over it:
The Perry campaign is expected to spend at least $15 million in the primary, beginning with a high-dollar TV spot during the Rose Bowl, the college football championship game featuring the University of Texas. The Strayhorn camp will report in January that it has more than $10 million, which would allow a $1 million-a-week advertising campaign highlighting what the comptroller calls the governor's "misplaced priorities and failed leadership."
Oh yeah, Sen. Cornyn doesn't think you need civil liberties anymore, "None of your civil liberties matter much after you're dead,"” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former judge and close ally of the president who sits on the Judiciary Committee. Senator there ain't much that will matter after you're dead. If you voted for this guy go sit in the corner for an hour!



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Monday, December 19, 2005

"Run.Everywhere" and The DMN on Redistricting

Greg started it with his A "Run.Everywhere" Update. It being the "Run.Everywehre" talk. This article from MySA.com, Democrats vying to take back Texas, kept it going. It's like this HChron story from early this month, Dems, GOP set sights on elections, it seems like the writer believes that the Democrats have no chance of winning and therefore shouldn't we shouldn't even try. Not to mention at that time the writer didn't even know who was going to run as a Democrat.

Greg does an excellent job, as usual, of showing what "Run.Everywhere" is all about. And here he talks about the fact that much of the time our biggest opponent in some inside the Democratic Party itself:
Unfortunately, it's not an invisible army of naysayers who try and trash this batty idea of challenging Republicans. It's high-priced political consultants right here in Harris County. It's former candidates for statewide office right here in Texas. Our biggest enemies, it often seems, isn't the other party ... it's those within our ranks who have simply given up and are content to take what the Republican Party of Texas gives them. I could go on and on about how wrong they are, but I'd like to offer another option: It's time to prove them wrong.
But in the MySA article there seems to be a little different stance being taken by political scientists:
Political scientists don't see much of a chance for victory by the Democrats assembled thus far — despite controversies starting at the national level including the Bush-led war in Iraq and the allegations about DeLay.

Fueling doubt is a recent Scripps-Howard Texas poll showing either Perry or his GOP challenger Carole Keeton Strayhorn likely would beat Bell in the general election.

The poll didn't include a more recently interested Democrat, former Texas Supreme Court justice Bob Gammage, who's is considering a March primary bid. The same poll showed Hutchison with a 70 percent job approval rating.

"The only thing that Democrats may have to bank on is if the Republican Party is so beset by troubles and scandals that it really rubs off on them, which really right now doesn't seem to be happening," said political scientist Allan Saxe of the University of Texas at Arlington.

"George Bush would still carry this state today."

Referring to the well-financed 2002 team led by Laredo businessman Tony Sanchez for governor and former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk for U.S. Senate, Saxe said if that "dream ticket" couldn't win then, "I doubt they (the current candidates) can do it this time around."

Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson said Democrats could win if the GOP were to "go off the rails completely in another special session on education or if a particularly attractive Democratic candidate were to come along."

But he added, "I don't see a prime-time player on the stage yet." Democrats need a farm team to cultivate attractive candidates and prepare them for statewide races, Jillson said.

"Right now, it looks like people sort of choose spots and bounce up and Democrats appear to be happy if someone will agree to run for the United States Senate or governor," he said. "There's no bench strength."
And that last quote is what "Run.Everywhere" is about, building bench strength. It's not necessarily about winning this year but building the party back so it will win in the future. Having a prescence everywhere. It appears that one consultant has come around:
Democrats such as consultant Kelly Fero aren't concentrating on statewide races this time but on legislative races as part of a plan for resurgence. But Fero emphasized he's not in the business of counting out hopefuls.

"It is obviously a very tough thing to do to run statewide when you are outspent so heavily," Fero said. But he sees a "sky-high frustration among voters" that could make a difference in this election.
and a political scientist too:
Even with the odds against them, experts don't discount the value of Democratic efforts. Choices make a democracy, help a party build for the future and allow it to capitalize on any incumbent missteps, said Andy Hernandez, a political scientist at St. Mary's University.

"If you don't compete," he said, "you're out of the game."
Very true Andy. You can't win if you don't run. Greg wraps it up this way:
I can't think of a legitimate excuse for that. Run everywhere. It's the only way we'll rebuild the party. There's about two weeks left to file. Don't know the first thing about running? Drop me a line. If anyone tells you it's pointless to challenge a Republican, pity them. They're the ones who have given up. I'll take the fighters.
Me too!


DMN on all the possibilities if the SCOTUS overturns the Texas' congressional map, A few what-ifs about House redistricting:
If the Supreme Court throws out the current Texas congressional map, the state could revert to lines used in 2002. But so much has happened since then that the mere thought gives heartburn to GOP strategists and politicians.

All five Republican freshmen would find themselves shifted into districts held by senior colleagues. Democrats would have a good shot at recapturing at least four of six seats that changed hands last year after redistricting.
Good stuff.


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Mary Beth Harrell Files For CD 31 Today

Mary Beth Harrell filed this morning. Go check out her posts at DailyKos and TexasTuesdays, Mary Beth would love comments on both posts. Here is the press release for her filing:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, December 19, 2005
CONTACT: Mary Beth Harrell, 254-616-0058 info@marybethharrellforcongress.com

KILLEEN ATTORNEY MARY BETH HARRELL FILES FOR CONGRESS
Soldiers’ Mom challenges Republican John Carter in Texas’ 31st Congressional District

(AUSTIN, TX) Killeen Attorney Mary Beth Harrell filed papers with the Texas Democratic Party today to place her name on the ballot of the March 7, 2006 Democratic Primary for the office of United States Representative from the 31st Congressional District of Texas. The office is held by Republican John Carter. Besides Harrell, no other potential Democratic candidates have declared that they will be seeking this office.

Harrell, a Killeen attorney in the private practice of law, also serves as City Prosecutor for the town of Nolanville in Bell County. She is married to Bob Harrell, a retired Army Warrant Officer who worked his way up through the enlisted ranks and retired as a CW3. Bob Harrell, a self-described “Reagan Republican,” proudly supports his wife for Congress.

“I’m running for Congress because I love my country and I love my kids.” Harrell says, “And I know in my heart that as a nation we are headed in the wrong direction.”

Harrell is running on “Integrity, Accountability and Faith in the Future.” Harrell criticizes her opponent for voting repeatedly to weaken House ethics rules. “I am disappointed that John Carter, a former Judge, would vote to weaken ethics rules and to allow Tom DeLay to remain as Majority Leader even while under indictment,” Harrell said. “He accepted $20,000 in donations from DeLay’s ARMPAC, donated $5,000 to DeLay’s defense fund and voted with DeLay 97% of the time during his first 15 months in office.”

With a veteran husband and two sons in the Army, Harrell pledges to look out for soldiers’ and veterans’ interests in Congress. “Those who serve have greater needs today than ever, yet some wounded have been having to pay for their own meals while hospitalized. The Republicans’ failure to increase spending on our veterans represents an unbelievable failure of leadership. It’s time for a change in that leadership.”

Mary Beth and Bob Harrell have been part of the Fort Hood community since 1987 with the exceptions of Bob’s three-year deployment to Germany and their three-year move to San Antonio after Bob’s retirement so that Mary Beth could study law at St. Mary’s University. Harrell has practiced law in Bell, Coryell and Lampasas counties since 1999. The Harrell’s have recently purchased a ranch in Gatesville, Coryell County, where Bob intends to raise sheep.

Mary Beth and Bob Harrell have a daughter, Tonya Rosas of Austin, and two sons, Joshua and Rob Harrell. Both sons are on active duty in the Army. Sgt. Joshua Harrell serves at Fort Huachuca, Arizona and Staff Sgt. Rob Harrell is now serving in Iraq with the 4th Infantry Division. The Harrell’s have three granddaughters.




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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Mary Beth Harrell To File Tomorrow

A message from Mary Beth:

I'm going down to the State Party office in Austin tomorrow, December 19th, to
file my candidacy for Congress!

At the same time, I'll publish my next campaign diary on DailyKos and TexasTuesdays The new entry will be published at 7:30 am.

I'm asking you to take just a moment tomorrow morning to visit either blog to
read my short diary entry which explains why I'm running and how I plan to win
this race! Then please post your comments about my diary on the blog - and you
can rate it too.

Your comments on either blog will make a real difference to my campaign!

You will be helping to increase the reputation and reach of my campaign -
because high visibility on these blogs increases the traffic and donations on my
website.

THANKS SO MUCH!!
Mary Beth Harrell
District 31
www.MaryBethHarrellforCongress.com
254 616 0058


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Michael Hofmann, Democratic Candidate for Williamson County Commissioners Court Place #2

Michael Hofmann of Leander will run in the Democratic Primary for Williamson County Commissioner's Court Place #2. Right now we need all Democrats in Williamson County to help us get him on the ballot. More on his qualifications and background in the coming days.
Fellow Democrats,

We have our Democratic Candidate for Commissioners Place #2 seeking our help.

Your assistance is needed in obtaining petition signatures to help place Democratic Candidate Michael Hofmann's name on our ballot. We need a total of 500 signatures to waive the $1250.00 filing fee. 250 signatures must be from Precinct #2. Our deadline is Jan. 2nd at 6:00 PM.

Click here to print the petition.

If you are able to obtain additional WCDP Democratic friends to sign the petition, it would help greatly. If you are able to sign just yourself, still send it in. Please note on the side of the petition each precinct number to assist with the difference of district. We have over 700 members on our list so it is possible to meet this goal in a short time if everyone sends in their petition. Each signature counts. Please ensure that it is notarized prior to it being mailed.

Mail to : Hofmann for Commissioner 2

Address:

1257 Pine Portage Loop
Leander, Tx 78641


Thank you for your help,

Jimmy Rocha
Williamson County Democratic Party







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Karen Felthauser, Press Release On Filing In HD 52

Below is Karen Felthauser's press release on her filing for State House District 52. She does an excellent job of pointing out the failings and schemes of Rep. Krusee over these many years. If there was ever a poster boy for term limits it's Mike "toll road" Krusee.


KAREN FELTHAUSER ANNOUNCES HER CANDIDACY CHALLENGING MIKE KRUSEE FOR THE 52ND DISTRICT SEAT OF THE TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Williamson County Democrat Files to run for State Representative for District 52, Cites the Failure of Current Representation to Deal with Education Issues as Motivation for Second Run at Public Office.

Karen Felthauser filed on Friday, December 16, 2005, with the Williamson County Democratic Party Chair to run as a Democratic candidate for State Representative for the 52nd district. Her application for a place on the Democratic Party Primary Ballot was filed with over 600 signatures from Williamson County’s District 52 residents. Ms. Felthauser, along with seventeen campaign volunteers, circulated her petition, speaking with residents throughout the district. Her organization also registered a number of new Williamson County voters during the petition drive.

[Pictured, l to r: Gretchen Froehler (WCDP elections administrator), Jane Van Praag,( Campaign Manager) , Karen, Jimmy Rocha (WCDP Chair)]

An active member of the education community for many years, Ms. Felthauser is a certified teacher, a member of Education Round Rock, the Texas Federation of Teachers, The Texas State Teachers Association and two PTA’s. She is the mother of 5 and the wife of Jim, a software engineer.

“I choose to run, once again, because I don’t believe the current representative adequately addresses the very real needs of Williamson C ounty’s District 52 residents. These needs include a good public education system, access to affordable healthcare and a rational approach to the funding of new highway systems.”

During the 78th legislative session, legislators cut 2.3 billion dollars from primary and secondary education and deregulated college tuition, causing huge jumps in the price of a college education. During the watch of the 79th Legislature we were the only state in the nation to cut per pupil expenditures! The most recent National Education Association study to be released puts Texas at 40th in per pupil expenditures. Williamson County School Districts, as well as those across the state, have been facing unacceptable cuts to their education budgets. We have seen increasing class sizes, fewer electives offered, sports programs being forced outside the school day, coaches being asked to teach more academic classes, and elementary teachers forced to teach two grade levels at the same time. The level of state funding for public education is down to 38% - the lowest level since WWII. This is just unacceptable in these times of foreign competition for U.S. jobs.

Texas is 1st in the number of uninsured children and yet the 79th legislature continues to under fund the Children’s Health Insurance program! Since the federal government matches each dollar invested by the state with $2.59, this is a foolish thing to do. Many federal dollars are left on the table and our local governments are forced to pick up the tab for health care when these children show up in emergency rooms. This is poor public policy.

Lastly, while I firmly believe in the necessity of transportation development in our rapidly growing district, I strongly believe the decision to fund this development with privately owned toll road schemes is ill conceived and unnecessary. Under the traditional method of paying for our roads, 25 cents of every gas tax dollar goes to education. Under tolling proposals 40 cents of every dollar will go instead to private, for profit, often foreign companies. We will be paying for toll booths and a toll collecting infrastructure and profits for a foreign company. We are effectively outsourcing our transportation dollars to a foreign firm. Converting roads our citizens have already paid for with their hard earned tax dollars to tolled roads is not acceptable, and is not fair. Additionally, the massive land grab from private land owners to give to other private interests that is proposed by the Trans Texas Corridor supporters is unconscionable. The Trans Texas Corridor is ¼ mile wide super toll road proposed to cross eastern Williamson County. Also, tolling is a massive commuter tax and Williamson County is a commuter community! Road construction is an area best addressed by good government, not by “for profit” companies.

Many of our current representatives have stood in front of us boasting of having not raised our taxes. But what they have really done is push expenses for necessary services down to the local level with regressive, backdoor taxes. This is forcing high property taxes, outrageous toll road schemes, and skyrocketing college tuition. I believe Texas can do better than this. Money spent on education, health care and an improved transportation system for our citizens is an investment in our future.

Texas needs to invest in Texans!




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Friday, December 16, 2005

Karen Felthauser Files For State Representative Race In District 52


(l to r: Jane Van Praag, Karen Felthauser, Jimmy Rocha)

On Friday, December 16, 2005, at 11 a.m. Karen Felthauser filed her application for a place on the March Democratic Party General Primary Ballot. Karen is seeking the office of State Representative for District 52, located in Southern Williamson County. The application was submitted with a nominating petition of 81 pages signed by over 600 District 52 residents. The petition was circulated by 18 campaign volunteers. The application was filed with the Democratic Party'’s County Chair, Jimmy Rocha, at the Williamson County Democratic Party Primary Headquarter’s, located in room 217 at the Cirkiel Commons Building at1901 East Palm Valley Blvd in Round Rock. The event was attended by Karen's Campaign Manager, Jane Van Praag and numerous campaign supporters.


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Gammage And The State Of The Governor's Race

I think Bob Gammage is going to add another interesting dynamic to the Governor's race. Not just in the Democratic primary but overall. We have a possible fight in the Republican primary, a race in the Democratic primary, and, of course, Kinky "The Kinster" Friedman waiting in the wings. I say possible fight because Carole Keeton ETC's campaign is, as Dave McNeely says, floundering:
Flounder (n.) -- A fish with both eyes on one side, which lies in the sand to hunt prey; (v.) The status of to the Carole Keeton Strayhorn campaign for governor.
The interesting thing to see will be if Carole ETC drops out will Gov. Perry fade to the background during the primary season. In other words does he need a primary opponent to keep in the media or will it allow time for the challengers to catch up?

Below is the coverage from around the state of Bob Gammage's filing:

HChron, Fmr. local lawmaker to run for governor
DMN via DentonRC, Former Texas justice gunning for Perry's seat
Star-Telegram, Dems get 2nd gubernatorial hopeful
Express-News, Newest Demo hopeful sees Perry as the competition

A synopsis of the coverage is basically that all the articles mention Gammage's prior political jobs and his railing on Gov. Perry and the Republicans for their corrupt actions. Three of the four bring up the fact that Bob Gammage was one of three arbitrators to decide how much the lawyers for the tobacco lawsuit should be paid.
In 1998, he was one of three state arbitrators selected by then-Attorney General Dan Morales and a friend, Marc Murr, to get Murr millions of dollars in fraudulent legal fees from the state's $17.3 billion settlement of a lawsuit against tobacco companies.

The arbitrators recommended Murr be paid $260 million, a figure that was all but wiped out later by a national arbitration panel, which accepted arguments from other lawyers that Murr did little, if any, work on the case.

Morales and Murr both pleaded guilty in 2003 to federal mail-fraud charges stemming from the case. Morales is now about halfway through a four-year prison sentence, and Murr was sentenced to six months in prison.

Gammage said Morales and Murr lied to the arbitrators, who acted on the alleged evidence they were presented.

"I don't know why it would undermine my anti-corruption campaign. They were the corrupt ones, and they went to jail," he said.
The two questions I have about this are, did Gammage benefit from this in any way and who were the other two judges and what do they say about it? If he didn't benefit in any way and he did nothing wrong, like he says, this shouldn't matter.

The Perry camp was pretty much quoted with the same line in all the stories:
Dismissing the criticism, Perry spokesman Robert Black said he hopes "Mr. Gammage has more to offer Texans than petty partisan attacks."
Here are a couple of the lines from Gammage that I though were interesting:
"Here's my first campaign promise: As governor of Texas, I will make policy in the state Capitol, not in the Bahamas."

[...]

Gammage said he would address specific issues later during a formal campaign announcement. He calls himself "pro-choice, pro-guns, pro-Bill of Rights, pro-family and pro-privacy."

[...]

He faulted Perry for a slow response to school funding problems and blasted the governor for developing a plan influenced by wealthy donors with whom he had just taken a Caribbean cruise nearly two years ago, including John Nau of Houston, head of one of the country's largest beer distributorships.

Perry's school funding plan included a tax on bottled water, "but it didn't put any tax on alcoholic beverages - imagine that," Gammage said.
Gammage seems to have a kind of legitimacy to bring to the Democratic primary that's wasn't there before. It's probably because his state political experience that does that. I'm not saying he's gonna or should win, all I'm saying is that by the way the press covered just his filing yesterday, they are at least acting like there's something to write about on the Democratic side now. With that in mind if the Democrats have a good, spirited, battle and Bell can beat Gammage that can only help him, during the general election, with his own legitimacy, having beaten someone like Gammage. I like Chris Bell and the fact that he stepped out early and was talking to Democrats about this race when nobody else was. But primaries are for culling the herd and now whoever steps up and makes the best case to Democrats in Texas gets to take on Gov. "MoFo", "Goodhair" Perry.

Here is Chris Bell's latest attack on Perry via BOR, Chris Bell Rails Against Gov. Perry's Executive Order to Enhance College Readiness Efforts

The humorous part of Gammage's filing yesterday was that Dewhuesrt got pushed aside


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Thursday, December 15, 2005

The So-Called-"Religious"-Right

I'm not sure if you read the commentary in the Sunday Statesman by former Lt. Gov. and state Senator Bill Ratliff, Before a vote, lawmakers should ask, 'What would Jesus do?'. Then today OffTheKuff linked to this article from the WaPo, A Religious Protest Largely From the Left. Both of them point to the fact that the so-called-"religious"-right (SCRR) thinks that all they have to focus on is abortion and tax cuts and can totally discount the least of their brothers. First from Bill Ratliff:
As opposed to the suggestion that we have too much religious influence on public policy, we actually have too little. Up to now, the application of religious principles in political debate has been mainly applied to abortion rights, same-sex marriage, intelligent design versus evolution and similar social issues.

But all too often, those Christians who take strong stands on such issues based on moral or biblical teachings do not then apply such teachings to other issues.

For instance, when considering how many poor children in Texas will be removed from the Children's Health Insurance Program in order to hold down costs to the state, they choose not to consider Christ's admonishment to "suffer the little children to come unto me."
Now from the WaPo:
"It's not a question of the poor not being important or that meeting their needs is not important," said Paul Hetrick, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, Dobson's influential, Colorado-based Christian organization. "But whether or not a baby is killed in the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy, that is less important than help for the poor? We would respectfully disagree with that."
That's an amazing quote. Here's the other side of the story:
Jim Wallis, editor of the liberal Christian journal Sojourners and an organizer of today's protest, was not buying it. Such conservative religious leaders "have agreed to support cutting food stamps for poor people if Republicans support them on judicial nominees," he said. "They are trading the lives of poor people for their agenda. They're being, and this is the worst insult, unbiblical."
This next qoute from the WaPo article shines a light on how the conservatives and the SCRR have come togehter around their mutual hate of government:
Dobson also has praised what he calls "pro-family tax cuts." And Janice Crouse, a senior fellow at the Christian group Concerned Women for America, said religious conservatives "know that the government is not really capable of love."

"You look to the government for justice, and you look to the church and individuals for mercy. I think Hurricane Katrina is a good example of that. FEMA just failed, and the church and the Salvation Army and corporations stepped in and met the need," she said.
FEMA failed Ms. Crouse because President Bush turned into a crony-led shell of what it was under Clinton. And they don't want the government to be responsible for helping people anymore. They don't believe the government ever did anything worthwhile. You know Socail Security, Medicare, Inspecting meat packing plants, the 40-hour work week, etc..

And this analysis from TAPPED:
The truth is that the leaders of this movement -- with Ralph Reed as the prime example -- have fallen in love with their role as political power brokers and have lost all sense of critical distance from the Republican Party and their own role in sustaining it in office.
If you want to read more on this go to The Stakeholder.



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Bob Gammage Is Running For Governor

Former judge, State Representative, State Senator and Dirty Thirty member Bob Gammage is running for Governor in the Democratic primary. I don't know much about him but after reading his statement I'll keep investigating. Here's a couple excerpts from the statement:
“Today there is a corrupt political machine which stretches from Washington, D.C. all the way to Austin. Tom DeLay and his cronies are at one end, and Rick Perry and his pals are at the other. The money flows both ways. It has corrupted our politics, corrupted our government and, more importantly, corrupted public policy and betrayed the public trust.

“Public office is a public trust. I am running against today's corrupt political machine. I am standing up for reform. I am determined to do everything in my power to restore the public trust and the integrity of the political system. Sometimes good citizenship requires you to put your personal interests aside and just do what's right.

“In an ideal world, the governor of Texas should denounce the shenanigans of Tom DeLay and his twisted, unethical schemes. But Rick Perry is too weak and too dependent on the wealthy, powerful and ruthless special interests that both he and DeLay work for.

“The sad truth is that bad values and weak character at the top produce bad policies for the rest of us. We've seen it time and again -- a leadership that preaches character and commonly held values while practicing neither. On virtually every important issue - funding our public schools, the tax burden on middle-income families, health care for our children, preserving our environment, funding for our public colleges and universities, and how we choose our elected officials -- the men at the top do not fight for the common good, but for the privileged power elite who bankroll their campaigns and keep their machine rolling.

[...]

“Finally. There are many fine, decent and, yes, compassionate and idealistic Texans out there who call themselves Republicans; people with conscience and heart. Many of them are also fed up with the corruption of their leadership and embarrassed by the scandals at the top of their party. Their party elite are more con artists than conservatives, and they have betrayed the trust and the values of the Republican grassroots.

“This campaign is about change. We are reaching out to every citizen who believes we need change at the top. Some of the early contributors to this campaign identify themselves as Republicans. I welcome them, and I welcome all like-minded Texans who will dedicate themselves to restoring the integrity of our political processes. We cannot change Texas without their help. Just as Republicans and Democrats joined hands many years ago to throw the rascals out and reform an out-of-control corrupt political machine and restore the public trust, together we can do it again.

“As I said, in a few weeks, at our formal announcement, we will roll out an agenda for change in Texas. I can promise you it will be interesting. You ain't heard nothing yet.”
Also there is a Statesman article on his statement already, Gammage, gunning for governor, blasts Perry:
Bob Gammage, 67, stood next to a blown-up photograph of a yacht on shimmering waters — though not the boat enjoyed by Perry, supporters and advisers.

After the trip, Perry outlined a school tax plan that floundered during a special legislative session on education finance.

Gammage, noting that Perry's security detail on the trip was funded by taxpayers, said: "We don't need a state government run from yachts."

As governor, he said, "I will make policy in the state Capitol; I'll be consulting with the taxpayers, I'll be consulting with the consumers of Texas. I won't be making it in the Bahamas."

[...]

Charles Soechting, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, said Gammage's entry will bring excitement to the primary — perhaps for everyone except Bell, who has been building a campaign for months.

"Chris would have loved to have an uncontested primary," Soechting said. But "I love a contested primary. It does Democrats good."
I'm with Soechting, it's good for the party. It can only help whoever the eventual winner is.




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Join Karen Felthauser Tomorrow As She Files in District 52



Join us as Karen Felthauser Files!

Help us Prioritize Public Education for Texas.



Karen Felthauser will file to run for State Representative for District 52

with the Williamson County Democratic Party Chair, Jimmy Rocha,

Tomorrow, friday December 16 at 11AM.

at the Williamson County Democratic Party Primary Headquarters office



(The office is located at 1901 East Palm Valley Blvd. on the east side of Round Rock

it is on the second floor. room 217, of the Cirkiel Commons - across from the new HEB)





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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Gov. Perry, Robin Hood And The TTRC

Looking over what has transpired since the legislature last worked on school finance it's hard to see what, if anything, has changed. With Gov. Perry's greatest priority - property tax relief/school finance reform - still not taken care of we are back to where we were a year ago. We still have a deadline to get a deal done - and supposedly they mean it this time - teachers still need a raise, etc. Two things have changed though: the governor has appointed a commission and the public is more weary.

So what is the plan? It appears it's to pretend last year didn't happen. Armed with a Texas Supreme Court ruling that Republicans believe validated what they attempted to push through during the sessions this year - which was soundly rejected - as yesterday's Texas Tax Reform Commission (TTRC) hearing shows - we're right back to where we started:
..an expansion of the sales tax to most services and a new, broad-based tax on businesses. The plan also would increase the state taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, and require full disclosure of real estate sale prices.

[...]

Other witnesses urged the panel to consider expansion of gambling in the state as a less painful way to raise revenue for schools.
I always love the thought of people going to the casinos to pay for schools. I'd rather sell candy. Anyway, back to the point at hand, now that we are back to raising sales taxes and adding sales tax to previously untaxed items, sin taxes, and the always popular, at least to Republican paymasters, raising business taxes. Don't forget where this got us during all the wrangling this past year. For all that was attempted EVERY plan put forward by the Republicans would have lowered the overall tax burden on the wealthy and raised taxes on the poor and middle class. That shouldn't surprise anyone because that's what Republicans do after all.

One Republican, Rep. Paxton, has even gone so far as to interpret the court ruling to say this:
The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled that the current "Robin Hood" tax system for funding education is unconstitutional.
Which is not the case at all, Robin Hood still stands:
"This is a lose and win situation right now," LISD Board President Fred Placke said. "It was expected to be a very strategic ruling but they didn't do a whole lot of anything. We still have to give the money and the Robin Hood law is still in the hand of the Legislature. It kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth."
What this means to me is that the Republicans are going to use the SC ruling to try to justify a lot of crap that ain't true and force through, again, the same plan from last year. While saying that They're only doing it because we have to do something before the schools close.

One more thing before I go:

I'm going to keep harping on this until something changes. Yesterday there were two meetings of the TTRC. One in Victoria and the other in Corpus Christi - you can see the stories to each by clicking on the city name. My point in highlighting this is that when the TTRC was announced everyone was going to be heard. Then of course the commissioners were announced, aka, the corporate all-stars. Not to worry, they were going to travel around the state to get everyone's input. Well so far I don't think the hearing dates, times and sites have been very well publicized. Here is the governor's press release on these two hearings, it gave people four whole days to prepare. If you look at the turnout yesterday (about 50 in Victoria, about 20 in Corpus Christi). I don't think everyone is showing up and getting heard. One thing I've been harping on is the need to create a website for the TTRC. Then many more people could participate. Why can't they have some evening hearings so those that work 9 to 5 can make hearings? Are we supposed to check back at the governor's website for the specifics for the future hearings? A website would also offer a place to put up hearing transcripts, specifics for future hearings, and maybe even a place for citizens to comment or contact the commissioners. It's almost like they're making it hard for people to participate.


[UPDATE]The Texas Tax Reform Commission has it's website up, here it is. It looks pretty good, has contact info and links for meeting dates. I hope they put up hearing transcripts.


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Mary Beth Harrell's Weekly Diary

It's up at TexasTuesday's, Soldier’s Mom/Congressional Candidate: “How Bush Divides Us.”. Mary Beth is encouraging comments to the entry:
In my last post I wrote that our son, Rob, had just been deployed to what my husband and I now know is a meaningless war in Iraq. Funny thing: my husband, Bob, bristled when he read the word “meaningless.” He challenged me about it and we argued. I was genuinely confused because I thought we’d agreed about that. Then I realized this is how the Bush Administration divides us from one another in their public relations war. Let me explain.

I wasn’t raised in a military family; Bob was. Bob’s dad was an orphan who made the Army his home. He fought in the Pacific in World War II and retired as a command sergeant major. Bob is a retired Army warrant officer. Our oldest boy, Rob, enlisted in 1995, right out of high school. Our youngest, Josh, enlisted in 1998, after a year of college.

Like so many, we believed the President that Iraq posed a threat to our security. But before the President proclaimed “mission accomplished,” Bob began to have his doubts. He began to tell his closest friends that he feared this was going to be another Vietnam. As the insurgency grew, he knew he was right.

Now he has another great fear: that our son will be hurt or killed fighting an unwinnable, unnecessary war. How does any mother or father live with the possibility that their son died in a meaningless war? That their son’s death served no national purpose? That their son answered his country’s call out of a sense of duty, honor, and love of country and his life was carelessly wasted by those who sent them there?

The war is meaningless; the service is not. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” That passage from the John resonates in a soldier’s heart like no other.

But when the only meaning one can find in this national undertaking is the commitment of our soldiers to each other, it’s time to say “enough.”

That’s why I’m running for Congress–because it is my duty as a citizen to stand up and say “enough.” To echo the words of Jack Murtha, “Our military's done everything that has been asked of them. [The] U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily; it's time to bring the troops home.”
It's up at DailkKos as well, feel free to post there too.



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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

MoveOn members to deliver Iraq petition to Carter Wednesday

Tomorrow, MoveOn members will be delivering Iraq petitions to U.S. Rep. John Carter's office in Round Rock. If you would like to join them and add to the impact of this political action, follow the link below:

Bring Our Troops Home Petition Delivery To Rep. Carter

Rep Carter's office
1717 N IH35 Ste 303
Round Rock, TX
Wednesday, 14 Dec 2005, 12:00 PM


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Texas Tax Reform Commission (TTRC) Meeting Dates

From the Governor's web site, Texas Tax Reform Commission to Hold Hearings in Victoria, Corpus Christi. They are meeting today in Victoria and Corpus Christi. Here are the dates through January:
Monday, Jan. 9

10:00 a.m. - Austin

* Texas Tax Reform Commission to hold public hearing.
* Location TBD

Wednesday, Jan. 11

11:00 a.m. -– El Paso

* Texas Tax Reform Commission to hold public hearing.
* Location TBD

Wednesday, Jan. 18

10:00 a.m. -– Temple

* Texas Tax Reform Commission to hold public hearing.
* Location TBD

5:00 p.m. -– Waco

* Texas Tax Reform Commission to hold public hearing.
* Location TBD

Monday, Jan. 23

10:00 a.m. -– Lubbock

* Texas Tax Reform Commission to hold public hearing.
* Location TBD

Thursday, Jan. 26

5:00 p.m. -– Laredo

* Texas Tax Reform Commission to hold public hearing.
* Location TBD

Friday, Jan. 27

10:00 a.m. - Valley

* Texas Tax Reform Commission to hold public hearing.
* Location TBD
I assume this page will be updated with the times and locations when they are available? I still don't understand why this commission doesn't have it's own website, that would make too much sense.


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Redistricting Analysis

The Statesman has a pretty good editorial, Justices could set things right in Texas, on the redistricting case going to the U. S. Supreme Court, and starts with this bit of history:
A quick history: After the 2000 Census, the Legislature failed to draw up lines reflecting population changes for the state's 32 Congressional districts. A federal panel of judges took over and drafted a map that the U.S. Supreme Court found no reason to change.

Democrats held 17 seats, Republicans 15.

But then-U.S. House Majority Leader Tom Delay, R-Sugar Land, decided he needed more Republicans in his chamber and that the best way to get them was to redraw -— again -— Texas Congressional lines to favor the GOP.

To do that, DeLay campaigned to get more Republicans elected to the Texas Legislature, especially the Texas House. That campaign has brought him and several of his allies considerable grief in the form of criminal charges and civil lawsuits. But he did get the lines redrawn by the Legislature, and Texas now has 21 Republicans in its congressional delegation and 11 Democrats.
What they leave out is how we got to that point in the first place:
I feel some need to say a few things about this Texas thing. We need to go back a few years to remember how this all got started. In 2000, members of the House and Senate went around the state taking testimony on the subject of redistricting. During this process, there were rumblings that the Republicans simply did not care to get anything done during the upcoming session when it came to redistricting. The reason was that at that time, the Democrats still had a majority in the house and to get a plan out, the Republicans would have had to coompromise. If nothing happened during the session, the state plans (House and Senate) would go to the Legislative Redistricting Board (LRB). The LRB consists of the Speaker of the House, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller, Land Commissioner, and Attorney General. The Republicans held a 4-to-1 majority on the LRB, and there they could pass anything they wanted. Now we come to the Congressional plan. Interestingly, there was little apparent concern at the time over the fate of the Congressional plan. Perhaps the Republicans felt that the courts were in their favor, or perhaps that anything drawn by a court would be better than what might come out of the legislature. The House and the Senate each had their version of a Congressional plan. The House plan made it out of committee, but not to the floor; the Senate plan died in committee. Go figure. It went to a Republican-appointed federal three-judge panel who drew the current plan. It was later affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. This brings us to the current predicament. Now with a Republican majority in both houses, brought into being by the plans drawn by the uncompromising LRB, they want to revisit the Congressional plabecausese it is "unfair." Now I'm no conspiracy theorist, but could this have been the plan all along, since back in 2000? This is not to say the Democrats are any bettebecausese they redrew Congressional districts in the '90's using this same ploy. I am just trying to put a little perspective on the whole issue.
It's convoluteded tale about how the Republicans intentionally stalled all redistricting in the legislature in 2001 to force the legislative redistricting - state House and Senate - to be done by the LRB where the Republicans held the majority that they didn't have in the legislature. Once they had gerrymandered the legislature, and with the help of DeLay and TRMPAC won the majority in the state House, and holding every statewide office, they were then free to ram through Congressional redistricting.

Will the U. S. Supreme court have the will, if you will, to reverse this decision and as I mentioned yesterday, if the decision was to be reversed, what would the penalty be?


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President Bush And His Latest Oxymoron

I regularly watch "Countdown" on MSNBC. It's the only thing I can stomach on the cable "news" channels. Last night Keith Olbermann ran the interview Brian Williams had with our President and this asinine quote has stuck with me ever since:
In an interview with NBC's "Nightly News" program, Bush acknowledged the U.S. mission in Iraq has not gone as well as originally planned, when senior Bush officials had predicted U.S. troops would be welcomed as liberators.

"I think we are welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome," he said, while adding that a lot of Iraqis are glad the United States is there.
Never mind the crossed up tenses, just look at the oxymoron (no pun intended) he created, "unpeaceful welcome". Here's the definition of WELCOME:
Main Entry: wel-•come
Pronunciation: 'wel-k&m
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): wel-•comed; wel-•com-•ing
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English welcumian, wylcumian, fwelcomecuma, n.
1 : to greet hospitably and with courtesy or cordiality
2 : to accept with pleasure the occurrence or presence of (welcomes danger)

Funny, I didn't see create an insurgency that kills thousands and lasts for years in that definition.


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Monday, December 12, 2005

U. S. Supreme Court To Hear Texas Redistricting Case

Top court to review Texas redistricting plan:
The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday that it would decide a challenge by Democrats and minority groups to the controversial 2003 Republican-supported congressional redistricting plan in Texas.

The justices agreed to review a ruling by a federal three-judge panel that upheld the bitterly contested map, which had been strongly supported by U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas.
One giant step...Well if they uphold it nothing changes. And if they don't does anything change either? Will they put all the Democrats back in Congress as a penalty? I don't think so. Either way the mission was accomplished, the Republicans got rid of almost every incumbent Democrat they targeted (Chet Edwards and Lloyd Doggett were the exceptions). Who will pay for this? Maybe a few individual Republicans but not the Republican Party as a whole. There is really no way to pay for the wrong that was done.


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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Willamson County Filings, Jim Stauber in HD 20

Here's the story:
A slew of Republican candidates have filed for various Williamson County offices since the official filing period began Saturday.

County Court-at-Law No. 1 Judge Suzanne Brooks, County Court-at-Law No. 3 Judge Don Higginbotham, and Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Judy Hobbs have filed to run again for their seats.

Charlie Culpepper of Round Rock filed for county judge. Melissa Beaudoin of Cedar Park filed for county commissioner in Precinct 2, and Ron Morrison of Round Rock filed for Precinct 4.

Valerie Covey and Lisa Clark, both of Georgetown, filed for district clerk. County Court-at-Law No. 2 Judge Tim Wright and County Court-at-Law No. 4 Judge John McMaster, both from Georgetown, filed for re-election.

Democrat Jim Stauber of Liberty Hill filed for the District 20 state representative seat.
Notice the liberal AAS lists the Democrat last.



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Friday, December 09, 2005

One More Win And Hutto Plays For It All

I'm very late jumping on the bandwagon. Go HIPPOS!

This Hippo speaks loud and clear on the field.


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Congressman John Carter, Strong DeLay Supporter

From The Hill, ‘There’s no leadership race.’ Period.:
Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), a former judge and strong DeLay supporter, told members during the closed-door conference meeting that Monday's ruling was proof that the case against DeLay is unfounded.

"“Congressman DeLay'’s team has appeared in court twice, and has won both times,"” Carter told the conference as it was confirmed by a spokesperson. "“The conspiracy charge being thrown out by the judge is a victory for the DeLay team, since this was the easiest charge to prove."”
I think he should put that part in bold on all his campaign posters. #12 in the DeLay Rankings, he's received $20,000 from DeLay and given $5,000 to DeLay's defense fund.



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