Latinos For Texas Blog

2006-Jun-28

Supreme Court to ‘protect minority voting rights’ in Texas Redistricting case

Filed under: — site admin @ 8:34 am

No real details yet, but ABCNEWS reports:

WASHINGTON Jun 28, 2006 (AP)— The Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out part of a Texas congressional map engineered by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, saying some of the new boundaries failed to protect minority voting rights.

The fractured decision was a small victory for Democratic and minority groups who accused Republicans of an unconstitutional power grab in drawing boundaries that booted four Democratic incumbents out of office.

UPDATE:
from New YorkTimes Online, a useful graphic:
Texas Redistricting along racial lines

The NYTimes story: Justices Back Most G.O.P. Changes to Texas Districts

2006-Jun-27

Rep. Eddie Rodriguez: A heavy toll; Almost all of the planned pay-as-you-go roads are in East Austin

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 8:26 am

Austin American Statesman

COMMENTARY

Eddie Rodriguez, STATE REPRESENTATIVE, DISTRICT 51

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I was reminded recently why I voted against the Phase II toll road plan for Austin. At the June meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the board (on which I serve) viewed a slide that mapped the toll roads planned for Austin. Most of those in Travis County were east of Interstate 35, and every single mile of toll lane in the City of Austin was on the East side.

Texas requires us to develop a plan in order to receive state transportation money. Our critical need for new highways can’t be met by existing levels of state and federal funding. So, the state extended special borrowing authority to local area in our case, the three-county area of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, which covers Travis, Williamson and Hays counties. Such loans transportation revenue bonds — must be used to develop a system of toll roads, and they must be repaid by quarters and dollar bills collected at toll booths.

As each metropolitan planning organization complies, by designating transportation corridors under a toll road plan, that area qualifies for the balance of state transportation money.

But designating those corridors creates immense opposition from affected neighborhoods and those with political clout have been most effective in resisting toll roads in their area.

Residents in the eastern part of the city have tended to have lower incomes and be less involved in the political process. That helps to explain why CAMPO’s Phase II has scheduled almost all of the mandatory toll roads in East Austin’s back yard.

For generations, those residents have disproportionately endured power plants, landfills, tank farms, wastewater treatment plants and excessive industrial zoning. Now, we see plans for East Austin to bear most of the burden of funding toll roads so the rest of the city can qualify for other state transportation money.

In the plan, only 37 toll lane miles lie west of I-35; a whopping 136 miles of toll lanes are planned east of I-35. With just a little math, you can see that the east side will fund about four times as many toll miles as the west side. The statistics within the city are even worse. Phase II directs the state to establish all toll lanes in East Austin.

In July 2004, the CAMPO board adopted eight resolutions detailing its intent for the implementation of toll roads. One resolution addressed fair and equitable treatment of all citizens in bearing the burden of the toll roads.

That intent was apparently abandoned. In fact, 46 miles of Texas Loop 360 had been planned as a future toll road in the first phase of this project. After a huge protest from residents in that area, CAMPO decided not to fund it leaving East Austin to pay the tab.

I have a problem with that.

When CAMPO votes on Phase II in the next month or two, we could be in serious jeopardy concerning our own resolution to see that this toll plan is fair. The lack of social equity in the plan is a concern that will weigh heavily on my voting decision.

We Austinites care deeply about our city and the people who live on both sides of the I-35 divide. I’m tired of the East versus West debate. I want to see both sides treated fairly and equally. But I have an obligation to my district, and to all like-minded Austinites, to raise this issue of disparity in this toll road plan.

2006-Jun-22

Kinky and Grandma Make Ballot

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 2:36 pm

Check it out at MySA.com.

2006-Jun-12

A TDP Convention wrap-up (mostly links)

Filed under: — site admin @ 8:46 am

Well that was a heck of a 36 hours.

As i am sure you know by now, Boyd Richie was elected in a run-off nail-biter 52%-48%. He won the election, and so he should have all our support.

Glen gave a hell of a candidate’s speech, and a top-tier concession speech, and BOR post.

Of course its tempting to let things just coast along while we Maxey supporters ponder how we got so close, yet didnt cross the line, but we gotta pull like our candidate won. We grassroots and active folks (and the new blood on the SDEC) gotta hold the new chairman’s feet to the fire to do all the things he talked about, AND we have to hold our own feet to the fire and do what we said we would do. Uniendo Comunidades, as we like to say.

This was my first state convention, i got elected to nominations committee (thanks SD14!) and generally got an intriguing education. I was honored to give the official motion to recommend “all” candidates for State Chair, rather then a “no recommendation,” even after some moves by Richie’s camp to kick Maxey supporter Rich Bailey off the nominations committee.

With Glen’s loss, I was disheartened for a while, but when i look around at all that we and our allies have done in a state this big this red this diverse, i still get excited.

how was your experience? what did you learn, see, experience?

onward, forward,
mario

2006-Jun-8

Hate on the Highways

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 10:05 am

Did you hear the one about the bust up of that terror plot in Canada? None of the alleged terrorists were undocumented.

Did you hear that there’s like 10,000 Border Patrol agents on the Mexico-U.S. border compared to the 1,000 on the Canandian border even though it’s twice as long?

Isn’t it ironic?

Now this:
Dallas Billboard
Dallas Billboard

KESQ from Palm Springs, CA reports:

Anti-illegal immigration billboards go up in California

IRWINDALE, Calif. Anti-illegal immigration activists are taking their message to the state’s highways with a series of billboard ads.

The first of the billboards paid for by the group Grassfire-dot-org went up yesterday near the Foothill and San Gabriel freeways in Irwindale.

Organizers say Some fifteen more billboards with the message “Stop The Invasion: Save Our Border” are planned for the state. The group already has its message on billboards in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Florida and West Virginia.

Grassfire-dot-org president Steve Elliott says the billboards will send a strong message to Congress as it discusses immigration reform.

But some immigration advocates say the billboards are racist and inflammatory and could further unify Latinos on immigrant rights.

___

Information from: San Gabriel Valley Tribune

2006-Jun-6

Texas Dem Party State Chair and the Executive Director should be a strong team

ok, i like you Alfred Stanley, so dont take this personal. BUT i have some disagreements with how your email to TDP Convention Delegates is presenting information, some of it small, but still telling, some of it larger, and questionable.

perhaps its just a misunderstanding, in which case, someone, Alfred or Boyd or Ruben if you are reading, please fill me in.

In an email the TDP delegates just received, Alfred calls Boyd, ‘our current chair’ but really, by law and more importantly by concept, he is the ‘interim chair’ and BECAUSE its already been debated, and i would be surprised if Alfred didnt see this debate on BOR, to keep calling him just Chair hardly seems a meaningless slip. I think someone wants folks to think Boyd, a good and hard-working fellow and all, IS the Chair, and that in just a few weeks he can properly claim credit to things outside his control, and that support for any other candidate is preventing Dem unity or is time-wasting or rock-the-boat-for-rocking’s sake — and its exactly that sort of game-playing with the rules that make people think Boyd is the establishment-machine back-room deal-making being foisted upon the Party.

Whomever wins Saturday’s vote will be Chair, and have the full support of folks like me and other delegates i am sure, but until then, its frankly a disservice to use that title now.

Also, Alfred’s email claims that we dont need Glen to be TDP chair because we have Ruben Hernandez as Executive Director. I have met Ruben, and i like him and am impressed and i hope he stays on as ED, but thats a red herring as to whether Glen or Boyd are better for the role of TDP Chair.

On to the specifics of why Ruben negates a need for Glen and how the ED prescribes a CHAIR role better suited to Boyd, Alfred writes “Ruben has hired the most diverse staff the Texas Democratic Party has ever had including two Hispanic field organizers, an African-American field organizer and an experienced, bilingual Deputy Communications Director whose top priority is Hispanic media and outreach. ”

Meanwhile Boyd has been claiming credit for these decision/actions both in person at the LFT meetup, and in his emails and direct-mail.

“As TDP Chair, I’ve already hired staff to concentrate on Hispanic media and grassroots outreach and have also initiated meetings with activists to begin our campaign efforts for the November election.” - June 03 email from Boyd Richie

You cant have it both ways. If Ruben alone made those decisions, why is Boyd claiming credit and merit for them, and if it is in fact a joint decision, then of course it matters who makes up the team that leads to those decisions. If its a joint decision, or perhaps one that came from the Chair, the assertion that Ruben negates a need for a personality like Glen is spurious, and non-causal.

BUT more importantly, let me remind folks who forgot, or perhaps never knew, that the bilingual, hispanic, black, and anglo field staff are ordered, and paid for by Dean’s DNC. And those of us who went to the DNC Hispanic Summit in San Antonio last year will recall Dean’s direct statement that money will not come into to Texas until TDP staff reflects Texas, and that specifically until TDP hired some black and hispanic field staff.

It is a good decision, but it wasnt really Ruben’s, or Soechting, or Boyd, or Glen or me or you. I think probably Ruben would have made a similar decision because it is a good decision, as building the strongest team is the goal so that the strong decisions become the ordinary fare of the day.

So speaking of a team and each member’s role, the explicit conclusion of Alfred’s email that the presence of Ruben as ED means that the TDP Chair exists solely for “fund-raising and financial ability, communications and coalition-building skills, knowledge of the entire state and the administrative skills to support the fine work our new executive director is doing” is, to me and i think people like me, a partial picture, and a little bit of exactly what people say when they say “establishment.” Its more of the same, tweaked up and all, but its not likely to be enough, in my humble opinion. I mean, if it were, whats been going on the last dozen years? Does anyone claim the previous Chairs and staff were so out of touch that they couldnt see they just needed some tweaks. Of course they werent. They were and are hardworking and committed and caring, but (enjoy this metaphor) they seem to be deciding among the best driving routes from here to there — as there are many many routes in this big State– and in the meantime have forgotten you can also get there both by flying, and telephone.

i think reasonable people can disagree, but it certainly doesnt seem like a tweak is gonna break us through to the winning side. Glen’s responses that i have seen and read easily sail past Boyd’s toward my desire for big structural fundamental RE-definition of TDP Chair’s roles.

Having a politician/political consultant who has won CONTESTED races for himself and others, as the head of a political party is a really obvious (and sensible) decision! Choosing an atty who theoretically can tap other attys for funds is a short-sighted decision, in my estimation — especially now that ‘tort reform’ laws have dried up much of the trial lawyer’s long-vaunted funding.

comments, ideas??
mario

2006-Jun-4

TAKS, Chris Bell, GOP, Immigration, Winning and Losing

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 2:44 pm

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Bell is campaigning against high-stakes testing and believes the $360 million spent on selected teacher bonuses should have been used for a larger, overall pay raise.

He is correct. Even with the additional $2,000, average teacher pay in Texas will continue to lag several thousand dollars behind the national average. Most Texas teachers are being “squeezed.”

Clay Robison chief of the Houston Chronicle’s Austin Bureau.

“Those folks running schools from Austin think they can use tests to make our kids smarter,” he rails before chuckling: “But a test won’t make you any smarter than a ruler will make you taller.”

Chris Bell on the TAKS test in a column by Carlos Guerra.

“For them to adopt such an egregious proposal makes their platform look more like a hate crime than a policy position.”

Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer (D-San Antonio) in a press conference on the Texas GOP’s divisive immigration stance.

“It’s not very often that you have a Democrat candidate for governor trying to come in third. You have to relish that.”

Rep. Lamar Smith to the GOP executive committee. Smith is facing John Courage in November.

She also warned the party faithful that President Bush’s sagging poll numbers and general unease across a spectrum of issues could jeopardize the Republican majorities in Congress.

“We have never had so much to lose, and we’ve never had so far to fall,” said Hutchison, whose re-election is being challenged by Democrat Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer.

John Moritz - Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

2006-Jun-2

TSEU, Carole Keeton Strayhorn - The Past and Future

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 6:56 pm

This is old news, but I am just getting around to it…

On April 24, 2006, the Texas State Employees Union Executive Committee endorsed Carole Keeton Strayhorn for Governor. As many people know the endorsement did not sit well with many members, and had little effect on the AFL-CIO who endorsed Democrat Chris Bell.

The TSEU Executive Committee cited three reasons to favor Strayhorn.

1. Carole Keeton Strayhorn has made commitments on key TSEU issues. Among them: she has opposed the Convergys/AccessHR contract and the Accenture/IEE contract, and will work with us to defeat them, and she will oppose the privatization of state services. She also has committed to work to include university employees in any statewide pay raise while she is governor.

2. As Comptroller she has already shown her willingness to stand up for state employees by forcing HHSC and its contracted HR system to honor the procedures established in state law for state employee organization membership. AccessHR had stopped accepting TSEU membership forms until Comptroller Strayhorn got involved.

3. WE NEED A NEW GOVERNOR! Carole Keeton Strayhorn is our best chance to move Rick Perry out of the Governor’s Mansion. She is the only challenger who has a real statewide campaign and a campaign fund that will allow her to take on the Perry machine.

Strayhorn has stood up for state employees, but so far she has not been successful. AG Abbott disagreed when she sought to restrict the release of personal and identifying information after the DMN filed a request for the names, birth dates, and salaries of the state’s employees.

In response to TSEU’s endorsement Strayhorn said in a press release, “State employees are the unsung heros of the state. They stay on the job year after year with their pay stagnant, with cuts in their health and retirement plans, with skyrocketing workloads as their agencies are downsized and their assignments are upsized.”

However, her previous actions show that she’s pro-privatization the Grandma of privitization and has stepped on some state employees a time or two. She seems to have been most brazen during her run for and freshman year as Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander.

In September of 1998, the SAEN reported:

Rylander said she would target the comptroller’s audits to districts that need the most help, such as those that are low-performing academically and financially.

She said these audits should be a catalyst for school districts to provide its taxpayers the best cost savings.

To achieve cost-effectiveness and quality, she suggests districts use the “yellow pages test” for private services to save taxpayer dollars.

“Government should do no job if there is a business in the yellow pages that can do that job better and at a lower cost,” Rylander said.

And in October of the same year, the AP ran a story by Renae Merel:

Ms. Rylander wants to apply the “yellow-pages test” to every state function. “If you can look in the yellow pages and find someone to do it better for cheaper, then that’s the way you should go,” she said.

[Opponent Paul] Hobby says privatization can sometimes be misguided. “What she says is the politically easy answer. Privatization is an intelligent decision in some circumstances, but it’s not a default buzzword,” he said.

In January of 1999, Rylander laid of 60 people with the intention of making her office more efficient and Democrat-free (she denied that part). The Statesman reported:

Boone Taylor, an organizer for the Texas State Employees Union, said the union isn’t surprised by the additional cuts. He added, though, that people who have done a good job in the past should be allowed to stay if they want.

“Unfortunately, TSEU expects more layoffs,” Taylor said.

That same month The Dallas Observer pointed out that Rylander bypassed state hiring laws to bring on the wife of her Chief of Staff and long-time associate John Colyandro. Helena Colyandro was hired directly out of college as the funds marketing manager of the Texas Tomorrow Fund. No one else was interviewed for the position. The Colyandros both resigned months apart. The Weekly also critiques Rylander’s e-Texas initiative:

“It’s time for government to stop competing with the private sector,” she told her Heritage Foundation audience. “E-Texas will be a true public-private partnership using new strategic tools such as activity-based costing, outsourcing, managed competition, and benchmarking the best practices… E-Texas, a medley of 14 task forces of 10 to 15 people each, will recommend to the Legislature areas of government that can be outsourced to the private sector. In that way, Rylander is making good on her campaign promise to apply the Yellow Pages test across state government.

The e-Texas task force to focus on outsourcing is chaired by Bill Hammond, who says his committee will take a thoughtful approach in recommending which services should be shifted to the private sector. Hammond, an advocate of outsourcing, has been president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business and Chambers of Commerce since April 1998… Hammond says he expects his so-called competitive government task force to get help from Bill Eggers, a top Rylander aide. Eggers co-authored the 1995 book Revolution at the Roots, which offers glowing accounts of privatization efforts nationally. The book is a bible for outsourcing proponents. Hammond sounds like he prefers that representatives of state employee unions, who have been the most vocal critics of privatization, do not become members of his task force.

TSEU is right about one thing, we do need a new Governor; but Carole Keeton Strayhorn is neither the answer nor the best choice. People can change, but voters are not naïve. Who really thinks a politician will walk away from the trough regardless of her “independence” when she’s already sold out for that last bit of election cash?

TSEU members are right to call this endorsement what it is – unfortunate and short-sighted. In fact, outside of these three promises and her crowing over Perry’s perils, we don’t know what her plan is for all Texans – even the person that answered at her campaign headquarters wasn’t sure.

TSEU also pointed out that Strayhorn’s war chest is bigger than Chris Bell’s and that makes her more viable as a candidate. Texans can’t afford to role the dice because she might have more money. There are just some principals that you don’t walk away from and they are best represented by Texas Democrats all over the state. TSEU and some big Dem donors may have abandoned the party, but I think (hope) they’ll be surprised come November because there’s a Texas Democratic state takeover brewing.

2006-Jun-1

So, what is the role of the TDP Chair?

Perhaps it too late, but it seems the first order should be to determine on what basis people are actually casting their votes for TDP Chair?

There seems to be some fundamentally different views of the Chair’s role:

  • Chairman of the board? (if so what board? SDEC?)
  • Executive Director?
  • CEO? COO? HR? MARKETING? or??
  • fundraiser-in-chief?
  • strategist-in-chief?(global or local or all?)
  • spokesperson-in-chief?
  • lead-field-organizer?
  • lead-inspirer?
  • lead-blockwalker?

all, none, just a few…?

Lets separate opinion from legal fact, if any.

So, perhaps there is some legal description of this (unpaid) job?

or legal proscription of what the Chair can and cannot do (regardless of what traditionally the chair does and doesnt do)?

what body, if any, governs the chair? does the legal language,if any, say they have to approve, allow, guide??

Once those facts are known, then let the discussion debates arguments roll on about what roles COULD be filled, and which are most important (and give some basis for why its important), and who is most likely to fill that bill.

so, who has some knowledge on the legal questions?

thanks
mario

(cross-posted at BOR)

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