Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Heckuva Job MALDEF

I have a hard time feeling sorry for MALDEF and its unhappiness over the new interim maps.  This is the same group that in early February cut a deal with Greg Abbott on Congressional and State House maps.  Even then the deal was a sham.

From MALDEF's and the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force press release on Feb. 6
MALDEF and the Task Force believe the congressional plan reflects the tremendous demographic growth in Texas: Latinos represented 65 percent of all new growth in the state since 2000. There are nine Latino opportunity districts statewide: CD 15, 16, 20, 23, 28, 29, 33, 34 and 35. No incumbents have been drawn out of their existing districts; and there has been no retrogression of existing African American opportunity districts. The new plan is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court remand to utilize the state enacted map, with the exception of where legal defects exist under the Voting Rights Act or the Constitution. 
According to the 2010 Census, Hispanic and Latino Texans are now 37.6% of the population in the state.   Texas will now have 36 seats.  Percentage wise Hispanics and Latinos should be the majority in 13-14 Congressional seats.  Yet MALDEF and the Task Force were praising 9 seats.  Including the 3 African American districts and it would have meant 1 additional minority seat in Texas.  WOW! 1 more seat.

FYI, here's the racial breakdown from the Census:
Non-Hispanic White: 45.3%
Hispanic or Latino: 37.6%
Black or African American: 11.8%
Asian: 3.8%
Native American: .7%
Pacific Islander: .1%

Now the interim maps are out and MALDEF is upset.  Maybe if MALDEF had stuck with the rest of the plaintiffs...

Connect the Dots

Connect the dots in cuts to public health.  From NPR:
According to a new report from the Pew Center on the States, more than 800,000 visits to the ER in 2009 were for toothaches and other avoidable dental ailments.

"People showing up at emergency rooms for dental is really your sign that your system is breaking down," Shelly Gehshan, director for the Pew Center's Children's Dental Campaign says. "It's just not serving enough people. This is your symptom of a system in crisis."
  In hard times, states often cut Medicaid's dental benefits, pushing low-income patients from the dentist's office to the emergency room.

But the shift from Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals is still costly to states. Dental groups have long since said that ERs only provide temporary relief for dental emergencies and lead to reoccurring hospital visits, which burden taxpayers. "We're spending in the worst possible way," Gehshan says.

For example the report shows that in 2002 Maryland had a 12 percent increase in the rate of ER dental visits once the state stopped Medicaid reimbursements for private practice dentists treating adult emergencies. Florida reported more than 115,000 dental-related ER visits in 2010, and in Oregon a 31 percent hike of ER cases among Medicaid enrollees over a three-year period.

Access to dental care is also creating the surge in ER visits. Safety-net facilities like community health centers are losing federal funding and are unable to provide comprehensive dental care.

The report suggests several steps to alleviate this problem. "States committed to serving more low-income people should ensure their Medicaid reimbursement rates are high enough to cover the cost of care," the report notes. Gehshan says that 90 percent of dental care in the U.S. is done by private practitioners and the majority of them don't accept Medicaid.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Order in the Court: Race for the 57th District Court

57th Judicial District

Primary Outlook: Arteaga Likely

General Election Outlook: Tossup - Lean Democratic

This particular court is noteworthy simply because of who previously served as Judge...Congressman Charlie Gonzalez.  He served as district judge from 1989-1997, when he resigned to run for the 20th Congressional District.

In 1998, Republican Pat Boone (not the singer) won this seat.  He beat Barbara Nellermoe who would later go on to win her current position as Judge of the 45th District Court.  Boone held this seat until he retired in 2008.

That year the current Judge, Toni Arteaga, won.

Who's running?

I Hate Mondays...

but I love seeing a conservative government in trouble.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Order In the Court: Race for 37th District Court

37th Judicial District

Primary Outlook: Mery edge

General Election Outlook: Tossup - Lean Democratic

Since 1993 the 37th District Court seat has been held by Republican David Berchelmann.  He announced that he is not running for re-election.  Since then, 3 Democrats and 1 Republican have announced for the seat.  This court is a civil bench (versus a criminal bench).

First, a little history.  Berchelmann himself has been a district judge in Bexar County from 1981-1988.  In '88 he was appointed by Gov. Bill Clements (R) to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. He served there for two years and was unable to win election.  In 1992, he won election to his current position of 37th District Court Judge.

Just for fun, the other district judges elected that year were now-Congressman Charlie Gonzalez, the late Andy Mireles, Judge Johnny Gabriel, Judge Martha Tanner, and Judge Mary Roman.  FYI, Roman beat Republican Raymond Angelini that year.

Tax Assessor-Collector Sylvia Romo was elected to the State House.  In addition, Ciro Rodriguez and now-State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte were won re-election to the State House.

Like all district courts in Bexar County, this is a countywide seat and as shown in previous years, very susceptible to wave elections and what's at the top of the ticket.  That's the reason we give this a Lean Democratic rating.  This is the first of 6 contested primary races for various district court seats in Bexar County.

I Hate Mondays...

but who can't love Betty Everett and the Shoop Shoop Song?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Another One Steps Up

Another state steps up and legalizes gay marriage: Washington.  State #7 means at least 35,258,372 U.S. citizens live in states or jurisdictions where gay marriage is legal.  That's about 11% of the U.S. population.

14% of U.S. Senators now represent states where gay marriage is legal.  14% of U.S. House members (including the non-voting delegates) now represent states or jurisdictions where gay marriage is legal.

I Hate Mondays...

but I love seeing change for the better.

If you've never heard of Fannie Lou Hamer, I recommend reading This Little Light of Mine. From Wikipedia:
On August 31, she traveled on a rented bus with other attendees of Bevel's sermon to Indianola, Mississippi to register. In what would become a signature trait of Hamer's activist career, she began singing Christian hymns, such as "Go Tell It on the Mountain" and "This Little Light of Mine," to the group in order to bolster their resolve. The hymns also reflected Hamer's belief that the civil rights struggle was a deeply spiritual one.
I think anyone's resolve could be bolstered with Tracie Thoms singing.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

HD-125: Who Will Succeed Joaquin?


Primary Outlook: Rodriguez Likely

General Election Outlook: Likely-Safe Democratic

State Rep. Joaquin Castro, has held this seat since 2002, when he ousted former State Rep. Art Reyna in the Democratic primary and defeated Republican Nelson Balido in the general election.  Since that time, the closest election was in 2006 when Balido ran a second time.  Castro scored nearly 58% of the vote.

He was unopposed or had Libertarian opposition the rest of the time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2012 Republican Primary Results, by County

2012 Republican Presidential Primary Results, by County

Gingrich - Purple
Paul - Yellow
Perry - Dark Red
Romney - Orange
Santorum - Green
Tied - Blue

Cortez Continues To Run Into Trouble

Another day, another article, another bad one for Phil Cortez.  From the Express-News:

...Talking directly to voters, he said, is “going to win this race.”

He was knocking on doors that day in Palo Alto, the neighborhood in which he was raised and his parents have lived for decades. The timing was likely not a coincidence, considering a columnist was tagging along and taking notes.

Many of the voters who answered their doors treated Cortez, 33, like family. For his part, he exuded an easy charm.

Then another dark cloud appeared: Nathan Guzman, the sort of neighbor politicians avoid because he's not a registered voter, and the sort of neighbor other neighbors avoid because he's often angry.

Cortez listened as a furious Guzman complained about crime and stray dogs in the neighborhood before denouncing the entire nation, society in general and “90 percent of you politicians.”

“You even were drug through the dirt,” Guzman said.

That's true: Cortez's credibility has taken public beatings on three occasions.

While running for the City Council, Cortez told voters he'd earned a master's degree in public administration that he hadn't earned yet.

As a councilman, he led the rezoning of a property near Toyota's South Side plant that violated a pact with the automaker and was later reversed.

And two years later, he announced he'd been called to active duty, on short notice, by the Air Force Reserve, an absence that allowed his fiancĂ©e, Leticia Cantu, to serve as his interim replacement.

He'd actually initiated the activation process. Cantu ran for the council last year but lost...
Phil Cortez runs into trouble in his own backyard, literally.

Monday, February 6, 2012

And They're Off: 2016 Race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination Underway

2012 isn't even over, the Republicans have only allocated 6% of their delegates, and we are already speculating about "After Obama."  The New York Times went through a list of potential Democratic successors to President Obama.

So who is worthy of mentioning?  According to the New York Times:

Vice-President Joe Biden
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Professor and 2012 Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick
Former Virginia Gov. and DNC Chair (and also 2012 Senate candidate) Tim Kaine
Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon
Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak

Diamond Jubilee

It's February 6 and you know what that means.  You might if you live in Australia, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, Malta, Mozambique, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and Zambia.

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne.

The celebration taking place later this year will be her Diamond Jubilee.  She joins only one other monarch in having a Diamond Jubilee: Queen Victoria.

Congratulations, Your Majesty.

Below is the Queen's 2011 Christmas message, followed by Carol Burnett's portrayal of the Queen.

I Hate Mondays...

but I love Cass Elliot.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Good Friday

3 good energy stories from

First a Texas related one.  LEED for the Outdoors? Landscapes Get Their own Green Certification Standards:
Green-building standards like LEED and SEED help guide and spur environmentally conscious construction. But step outside the door and into the garden, the campus quad, or the street, and there’s never been one set of rules to promote sustainability. Until now.

The American Society of Landscape Architects and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin have been working to create a set of standards since 2005. Last week, the program they developed, The Sustainable Sites Initiative, certified the first three landscapes through its standards process. In Missouri, a corporate campus where parking lots retain storm water, a walking trail passes through restored prairie, and a garden grows vegetables earned three stars. A green space at a Texas college and a playground at a urban park in Memphis each earned one star. To earn certification, sites can earn points for features like soil restoration, water conservation, native plants, and sustainable land maintenance.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  From Wikipedia:  Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) consists of a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighborhoods.

A second story that has President Obama besting the Republicans.  How Clean Energy Projects on Public Land Will Power 3 Million Homes:
Not so long ago, American energy policy might have included carbon-busting endeavors like cap-and-trade. But now, politicians’ focus has turned to clean energy, which Congress isn’t exactly rushing to support. In last week’s State of the Union, President Obama pointed out that his administration was doing what it could without Congress. The Navy is committed to ramping up clean energy. And Obama had directed his administration to facilitate the development of clean energy on public lands—enough to power 3 million homes.

That promise isn’t quite as ambitious as it sounds: In 2005, a Republican Congress passed a bill requiring 10,000 megawatts of clean energy to go on public lands by 2015. But the Obama administration has been hustling to meet that goal, which it moved up by three years, to the end of 2012. The Interior Department oversees public lands, and by 2009, it had approved zero megawatts of solar projects. Since then, the department has approved more than 5,500 megawatts of solar projects, plus a handful of wind and geothermal efforts. In 2012, Interior is prioritizing projects that would provide 7,000 megawatts of energy, including a gigantic wind installation in Wyoming that’s rated at 3,000 megawatts. If these projects move along on schedule, the Obama administration will meet its self-imposed deadline and the 3-million-home mark the president touted last week.
3 years ahead of schedule.

From New Orleans.  House of the Rising Sun: In New Orleans, Solar Power Gives Poor Families a Boost:
The headquarters of the solar-energy company Sustainable Environmental Enterprises is a green oddity in this rough part of New Orleans’ Central City neighborhood. The butterfly-winged roof and lopsided, Lego building design, complete with a money green paint job, fits anything but neatly in this residential neighborhood where run-down shotgun-style houses are strewn amidst blighted properties.

Economic development and political power may have overlooked this community in favor of tourist magnets like the French Quarter, but SEE CEO Lea Keal, 32, and board chairman Stacey Danner, 37, see only opportunity in helping develop this community and others like it by providing access to solar power.

...Keal’s enterprise has found a way to get solar tech into residents’ hands for as low as $43 a month. Producing power from the sun and not the fossil fuel-sourced local power utility, Entergy, SEE can now replace light bills that often run $100-$200 a month with a lease payment that’s less than $50. Solar customers only pay for Entergy’s power if they use more energy than is absorbed from the sun through the panels—providing they use less energy than is produced, most customers pay only the leasing fee for the panels. And since they don’t rely on the grid, a solar-powered house will keep the lights on during a neighborhood blackout—an event not uncommon in New Orleans, especially after Katrina.

Another $5 affords customers maintenance service for the life of the system, typically 25 years. At the end of their lease agreements, anywhere from five to 15 years, they can purchase the solar panels outright for $1. It’s accepted across the solar industry that panels will last at least 25 years, but if the panels were damaged in, say, a hurricane, SEE technicians will repair not only the panels, but any damage to the roof as well.

Financial Friday

From the Texas Ethics Commission, the latest financial reports on the Texas Democratic Party and the Texas Republican Party.

From their PTYC filings:

Contributions: $30,155
Expenditures: $31,675.97
CoH: $3,128.16

Contributions: $89,094
Expenditures: $86,187.81
CoH: $114,633.06

From their PAC filings:

Contributions: $16,797.50
Expenditures: $152,178.55
CoH: $138,464.53

Contributions: $285,111.17
Expenditures: $281,761.97
CoH: $104,520.19

Who were the largest donors in each filing?

PTYC filings

TDP:  Texas State Assn. of Electrical Workers - $10,000
Anheuser-Bush - $7,500
Texas AFL-CIO - $3,500
Verizon, Inc. - $2,500
Texas UAW State Cap Council - $2,000
There were several $1,000 contributors: CenterPoint Energy Services Company, LLC; Message, Audience, & Presentation, Inc.; Texas Building & Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO.

TXGOP: AT&T Services Inc. - $25,000
Verizon - $25,000
David Holdings - $10,000
Mach Industrial Group LP - $10,000
Empower Texans - $6,000
Anheuser-Busch Cos Inc - $2,500
Specialty Research Assoc LLC - $1,800
Texas for Lawsuit Reform - $1,800
Vector Automotive Technologies Inc. - $1,800
JBob's Designs Inc. - $1,500
Accuracy in Media Inc. - $1,000

PAC filings

TDP: State COPE Fund - $5,000
Joaquin Castro for State Representative Dist. 125 - $4,000
United Transportation Union PAC - $2,200
Hidalgo County Texas Democratic Women - $1,000
Yvonne Davis Campaign - $1,000

TXGOP: David Dewhurst Committee - $30,000
John Carona (& John Carona Campaign) - $26,000
Nate Crain - $26,000
Curtis Mewmoume - $25,000
Bob Perry - $25,000
Dick Saulsbury - $15,000
Texas for Greg Abbott - $10,000
Neal Adams - $5,000
Dale Brown - $5,000
Friends of Barry Smitherman - $5,000
Charles Hughes - $5,000
Texans for Tom Leppert - $5,000
Texans for Todd Staples - $4,300
Deborah Van Domolen - $3,100
Robin Armstrong - $2,500
Chris Craddick Campaign - $2,500
Daniel Branch - $2,000
Friends of Susan Combs - $2,000
$1,000 contributors: Brian Birdwell, Chris Harris, Coalition to Elect Larry Taylor, Conaway for Congress, Diane Patrick Campaign PAC, Josh Flynn, Patrick Gibson, Larry Gonzales, Lanham Lyne Campaign, Lee Pfluger Ranch, Sarah Lipsett, Olsen & Shuvalov LP, Patterson Campaign, Robert Pickard, Texans for Joe Straus, Texas Federation of Republican Women, Texas State Rifle Association PAC, The Hon. Kent Grusendorf, Scott Wisniewski

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sadler Moves to Become Democratic Nominee

Former State Rep. Paul Sadler's path to the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate just become virtually guaranteed today.

His most significant rival, Jason Gibson, has dropped out and endorsed Sadler.

This came quickly on the heels of several endorsements for Sadler, namely:

State Senator Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio
State Senator Mario Gallegos of Houston
State Representative and State Democratic Executive Committee member Roberto Alonzo of Dallas
State Representative Rafael Anchia of Dallas
State Representative Lon Burnam of Dallas
State Representative and Democratic National Committee Member Yvonne Davis of Dallas
State Representative Joe Deshotel of Beaumont
State Representative Dawnna Dukes of Austin
Former House Democratic Leader Jim Dunnam of Waco
State Representative Craig Eiland of Galveston
House Democratic Leader Jessica Farrar of Houston
State Representative Pete P. Gallego of Alpine
State Representative Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio
State Representative Scott Hochberg of Houston
State Representative Ruth Jones McClendon of San Antonio
State Representative Elliott Naishtat of Austin
State Representative Rene Oliveira of Brownsville
State Representative Joe Pickett of El Paso
State Representative Richard Pena Raymond of Laredo
State Representative Mark Strama of Austin
Former State Representative Allen Vaught of Dallas
State Representative Marc Veasey of Fort Worth DNC Vice-Chair and labor leader Linda Chavez-Thompson.