Friday, November 30, 2012

Weekend Sports Break

Congrats to UTSA (Go Roadrunners!) on its 8-4 football season.  If it weren't in transition it might be waiting to see if it was going to a bowl game.

As we wait to see which football teams are going to which bowls, what about basketball?

The UTSA men are currently 3-3 and in the middle of the WAC.

The UTSA women are sitting pretty at 5-2 and #1 in the WAC.

Over in the Big 12, the Texas men are having a rough go of it at 4-2 and second to last in the conference.

It is nice to see the Lady Longhorns doing well this season.  Currently 5-0, they're ranked #13 in the nation.

Kudos to the Big 12 women which boast 7 out of 10 teams from the conference in the top 25:
#3 Baylor
#12 Oklahoma
#13 Texas
#18 Oklahoma State
#20 Kansas
#24 Iowa State
#25 West Virginia

Thursday, November 29, 2012

John Steen, Secretary of State, Part 3

We've seen some of the donations our new Secretary of State, John Steen, has made over the years, but there is 1 name missing from the previous two lists:

Associated Republicans of Texas (ART)

This PAC is separated from the rest of the group simply because of some of the names involved or statements made by the group.  In fact, Steen is listed as being on ART's Board of Directors, as well as some other names that may be familiar to people.

 So who is this group that the new Secretary of State donated to and supported?

According to ART, the 82nd Legislative Session (2011) was a success.  Among the items they highlight:
  • Passed - by the largest margin in history - a state budget that reduced the cost and size of government
  • Protected the fairness of elections by requiring photo ID for voting
  • Safeguarded unborn children with a strong sonogram bill
  • Approved a fair and legal Texas House and Senate redistricting map

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Are Texas cities gay friendly?

From the Human Rights Campaign:
The Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the first ever rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law, finds that while many U.S. cities lag behind in protections for LGBT people, some of the most LGBT-friendly policies in the country have been innovated and implemented at the municipal level, including in states with laws that are unfriendly to the LGBT community.

The MEI rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under six broad categories: non-discrimination laws; relationship recognition; the municipality’s employment practices; inclusiveness of city services; law enforcement; and municipal leadership.  Key findings from the MEI create a snapshot of LGBT equality in 137 municipalities of varying sizes drawn from every state in the nation – these include the 50 state capitals, the 50 most populous cities in the country, and the 25 large, 25 mid-size, and 25 small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples.  Seattle and other 100-point cities serve as shining examples of LGBT inclusivity, with excellent policies ranging from non-discrimination laws, equal employee benefits, and cutting-edge city services. 
In Texas, HRC looked at 7 cities: Arlington, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, & San Antonio.  These are also the top 7 cities in the state in terms of population.  So how did they do?

Out of a possible 100...
Austin - 91
Fort Worth - 89
Dallas - 76
Houston - 52
El Paso - 49
San Antonio - 48
Arlington - 16

For San Antonio we scored:
0 points for Non-Discrimination Laws
0 points for Relationship Recognition
6 points for Municipality as Employer
10 points for Municipal Services & Programs
18 points for Municipality as Law Enforcement
8 points for Municipality's Relationship with the LGBT Community

We got bonus points for Services to vulnerable LGBT populations (2), Engagement with LGBT Community (2), & Success despite restrictive state laws (2).

John Steen, Secretary of State, Part 2

Previously we looked at which Republicans the new Texas Secretary of State, John Steen, had made donations to who were running for state office.

So what about federal office?

Henry Bonilla, former Congressman (TX)
Scott Brown, soon-to-be former Republican Senator (MA)
George W. Bush, former (thank God) President
John Cornyn, soon-to-be Senate Minority Whip
Elizabeth Dole, former Republican Senator (NC)
Jeb Hensarling, Republican Congressman (TX)
Duncan Hunter, former Republican Congressman (CA)
Kay Baily Hutchison, soon-to-be former Republican Senator (TX)
Lyle Larson, failed congressional candidate now State Rep. District 122
John McCain, disgruntled failed presidential candidate and Republican Senator (AZ)
Michael McCaul, Republican Congressman (TX)
Mitch McConnell, soon-to-be once again Senate Minority Leader
National Republican Senatorial Committee
James Oberstar, former Democratic Congressman (MN)
Republican National Committee
Olympia Snowe, soon-to-be former Republican Senator (ME)
Straight Talk America, McCain campaign PAC
John Thune, Republican Senator (SD)
Volunteer PAC, former Maj. Leader Bill Frist's (R-TN) Leadership PAC

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

John Steen, Secretary of State, Part 1

Rick Perry appointed a new Secretary of State, naming San Antonio attorney John T. Steen, Jr. to the post.

It's the last line of San Antonio Express-News article that pretty much sums up why Steen may have gotten the appointment:
A longtime GOP supporter, Steen has contributed to the campaigns of Perry and several other Republican statewide officials.
This isn't to say Steen doesn't deserve the appointment.  Let's be frank, aren't a lot of political appointments sadly determined by someone's checkbook versus someone's ability.  Anyways...  He's served on the Texas Public Safety Commission, the Texas Commission on Economy and Efficiency in State Government; been past chair of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and past president of the Fiesta San Antonio Commission.

So who have been some of the recipients of Mr. Steen's donations? *These contributions are only those listed at the Texas Ethics Commission.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Government Secrecy Suffers Defeat

Unfortunately the defeat was not in America, but in the Britain.

From the BBC:
The government has been defeated three times in the House of Lords over plans to allow ministers to order secret court hearings to consider evidence in cases relating to national security.

Peers backed calls to give judges the say over the use of "closed material proceedings" by 264 votes to 159.
Critics say closed hearings are unfair to defendants and threaten the principle of open justice.

But ministers say intelligence which risks UK lives must not be disclosed.

The House of Lords is debating the Justice and Security Bill, which would ensure far greater use of so-called closed proceedings to examine sensitive intelligence and protect national security.

The BBC's deputy political editor, James Landale, said ministers had been braced for a number of defeats after a coalition of crossbench peers, led by QC Lord Pannick, joined forces with Labour and Liberal Democrat peers to introduce safeguards into the bill.

Peers backed Lord Pannick's call to give judges greater discretion to hold secret hearings, rather than obliging them to do so in national security cases, by a majority of 105.

Once again defying the government, peers voted by 273 to 173 to give judges and defendants, not just ministers, the right to demand closed material proceedings.

After suffering a third substantial defeat on a related issue, ministers chose not to oppose a series of further amendments tabled by opponents.

As such, peers nodded through without a vote changes that would ensure that closed proceedings would be used only as a last resort, and only if the court also had considered using an existing mechanism allowing some proceedings to be secret, known as the public interest immunity system.

However, a backbench Labour-led amendment that would have removed the whole concept of secret hearings from the bill was defeated by 164 votes to 25, a government majority of 139, although Labour suggested many of its peers had abstained from voting because it would have contradicted earlier concessions.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Texas Courts of Appeals, post election

Post 2012 Elections, this is now the new map of the 14 Courts of Appeals in Texas.  The blue areas are where Democrats are a majority on the court and the red for the Republicans.  Democrats will be the majority on the 4th, 8th, and 13th Courts of Appeals.  On the 4th, a 4-3 majority; on the 8th, a 3-0 majority; and the 13th, a 5-1 majority.

In addition, the 4th and the 8th will have all female courts.