Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Judges

This Tuesday, Jan 1, there will be some new Democratic faces joining the courthouse.

At 10:00 am in the Central Jury Room, Gloria Saldana will be sworn in as Judge of the 438th District Court.  Saldana will be returning after being swept out in the 2010 red tidal wave.

At 10:30 am in the Presiding Court Room, attorney David Canales will be sworn in as Judge of the 73rd District Court.  The seat of the late Andy Mireles, this seat returns to Democratic hands after only a brief intermission.  Canales has been criticized for being too young and inexperienced, hopefully he can prove the critics wrong.

At 11:30 am in the Central Jury Room, Michael Mery will be sworn in as Judge of the 37th District Court.  Mery is making a return and getting a promotion.  Previously a County Court-at-Law judge, Mery was defeated in the Democratic primary for re-election 2010.  Mery returns to the bench, but with a promotion to a state judge.

At 1:00 pm in the Central Jury Room, Laura Salinas will be sworn in as Judge of the 166th District Court.  Like Mery, Salinas is also making a return and getting a promotion.  Also a County Court-at-Law judge, Salinas lost in the 2010 general election.

At 2:30 pm in the Central Jury Room, Ray Olivarri will be sworn in as Judge of the 399th District Court.  Olivarri rounds out our 3 former county court judges who made a return this year and got a promotion.

At 4:00 pm in the Central Jury Room, Rebeca Martinez will be sworn in as a Justice on the 4th Court of Appeals.

At 5:00 pm in the Central Jury Room, Luz Elena Chapa will be sworn in also as a Justice on the 4th Court of Appeals.

Both Chapa and Martinez, along with Patricia Alvarez (she is being sworn in, in Laredo) are part of the new Democratic majority on the 4th Court of Appeals.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2 Whorehouse Connections

While more people probably heard about the passing of actor Charles Durning, another person passed away two days earlier who also had a connection to The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.  Larry L. King.  From the AP via the San Antonio Express-News:
Larry L. King, a writer and playwright whose magazine article about a campaign to close down a popular bordello became a hit Tony Award-nominated musical "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and a movie starring Burt Reynolds, died Thursday. He was 83.

...King wrote his most famous piece about the Chicken Ranch brothel in 1974 for Playboy magazine, took the $3,000 and thought no more about it. But Peter Masterson, a Texas actor, saw the article and thought it would make a great play. He and King got together with songwriter Carol Hall, another Texan, to create the smash musical. Tommy Tune was the director and in charge of musical staging.

The movie version starring Dolly Parton and Reynolds was less than a smash with critics, including King, who thought Hollywood had ruined the story and turned it into a sex romp.

King was one of a group of journalists who spent 1969-70 at Harvard University and his 8,000-word account of the year, "Blowing My Mind at Harvard," appeared in Harper's magazine. He also wrote for The Texas Observer, Life and Texas Monthly, among others, and penned a biography of former Harper's editor Willie Morris in 2006...
Here's Durning as the Academy Award nominated role of the Governor of Texas.  He also played a Governor of Mississippi, who was named after a Governor of Texas, in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou?:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Messages

A couple of Christmas messages.  First from the Obamas:

And here's one from down under, Australian PM Julia Gillard:

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Certified Platinum

The federal building here in San Antonio has been certified platinum:

On the third floor of the Hipolito F. Garcia Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, a door leads from a beige-painted hallway to a lush meadow.

Inside the building, at Houston and Alamo streets, bureaucrats, lawyers and the public shuffle between U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the post office and various federal agencies.

In the meadow, planted on the roof, butterflies and bees flutter and buzz between tufts of dark-green buffalo grass and purple heart.

The green roof is the centerpiece of a $56 million renovation of the 75-year-old building, the "greenest" owned by the U.S. General Services Administration. It is the first GSA building to earn platinum certification — the highest — in its category from the U.S. Green Building Council under its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system.

The mixture of native and adaptive grasses and sedum proved that plants can grow on a roof in the middle of San Antonio. At 13,000 square feet, it is the largest green roof in the city.

Friday, December 21, 2012

New Texans on House Committees

The Democratic Caucus has selected committee slots for new members.  For the newly elected Democrats from Texas, here's what they got:

Joaquin Castro, Armed Services

Pete Gallego, Armed Services

Beto O'Rourke, Homeland Security

Marc Veasey, Armed Services

Filemon Vela, Agriculture

Some other announcements that made news...

Henry Cuellar has been moved onto Appropriations

Eddie Bernice Johnson is now the ranking member for Science, Space & Technology

Cryin' Time

Break out the handkerchiefs.  It's Cryin' Time again for Republicans.  First, the Crier in Chief John Boehner was denied Plan B by the Republican Caucus.  Apparently Republicans don't like Plan B when it comes to contraception and they don't like Plan B when it comes to the budget.

Boehner brought this on himself.  He let the Tea Party Republicans takeover during the debt ceiling debate.  What was always just a routine vote turned into a monster.  Boehner couldn't control his caucus during the debt ceiling debacle and now the chickens are coming home to roost.  The Republicans wanted that debt ceiling deal (no ceiling raise without cuts) and now they're shocked that it's coming to fruition.

Second, Texas House Speaker candidate David Simpson is all upset because someone was mean to him.  You can almost hear the tears welling up when he says, "These tactics exemplify what’s wrong with ‘politics as usual’ in Texas right now. … We must leave behind the politics of whispered insinuations, intimidation, and retribution."

I guess he prefers the Tea Party way of doing things...yell insinuations like a mob, use mob intimidation, and mob retribution.  Pretty much, just act like they did during the health care debate.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Gift That Will Keep On Giving: Donna Campbell

After State Sen. Donna Campbell's statement about the fetal pain bill, you know we're going to get nothing but a never ending supply of jokes flowing from her mouth like diarrhea from a cholera epidemic.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Number for the Day

Number for the day: 3,308,124

Significance?  It's the number of votes Barack Obama received in the state of Texas for the 2012 election.

Texas Democrats PAY ATTENTION!

3,308,124 votes was enough for every statewide Democratic candidate in 2010 to win.  You heard that right.  If every 2012 Obama voter had voted for all the statewide Democrats in 2010, Republicans would have only won 3 statewide races (because there were no Democrats running in those particular races).

Not to rub salt into a wound, but who would Democrats have been celebrating?

Governor Bill White, by a margin of 570,643 votes
Lite Gov. Linda Chavez-Thompson, by a margin of 259,015 votes
Attorney General Barbara Ann Radnofsky, by a margin of 157,060 votes
Land Commissioner Hector Uribe, by a margin of 306,388 votes
Agriculture Commissioner Hank Gilbert, by a margin of 354,349 votes
Railroad Commissioner Jeff Weems, by a margin of 427,359 votes
Supreme Court Justice Jim Sharp, by a margin of 400,328 votes
Supreme Court Justice Bill Moody, by a margin of 404,765 votes
Supreme Court Justice Blake Bailey, by a margin of 389,070 votes
Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Keith Hampton, by a margin of 402,112 votes

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

JP Wentworth

Looks like soon-to-be former State Sen. Jeff Wentworth will be the new JP for Pct. 3.

The decision was unanimous by Commissioners Court.  Overall, this was probably the smartest decision.  The area is heavily Republican, so even if Democrats appointed a Democrat, that person likely wouldn't have run for election or would have run and faced almost certain defeat.

With Wentworth, Republicans keep the seat, but it prevents any young, up-and-coming Republicans from adding a position to their resume, as well as preventing them from having a springboard for higher office.

Wentworth is 72 years old and not likely to be climbing the political ladder.  He'll either serve out the remainder of this JP term or run for election to the post and serve a couple of terms and then retire.

There are still some benefits to being a Texas version of a moderate Republican.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Who Wants to be Pct. 3 JP?

Under nearly everyone's radar, Bexar County is playing host to its own version of American Idol.  In place of contestants singing their way into contention, we have politicos vying to be the last one standing in the game of Who Wants to be Pct. 3 JP?

Instead of the crusty and irascible Simon Cowell we have Commissioner Kevin Wolff.  Standing in for Randy Jackson, pre-gastric bypass, we have Commissioner Paul Elizondo; for Randy Jackson, post-gastric bypass, we have County Judge Nelson Wolff.  Rather than Paula Abdul, we have Commissioners Chico Rodriguez and Tommy Adkisson.

Who will they pick?

Democrats have a 4-1 majority on the court...but the vacancy comes in Precinct 3 which is heavily Republican and is mostly Kevin Wolff's area.  Will the Democrats pick a Democrat for the sake of adding another Democratic official...even though said official is likely going to lose (if they run for election) next time the seat is up?  Will Democrats defer to Kevin?  Will Democrats pick a Republican placeholder?  Or how about a Republican who won't seek higher office?

Ooooo the intrigue...

Who are the contestants?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Good on Malcolm Turnbull

It's not often I praise conservative politicians, but kudos to Australian MP Malcolm Turnbull.

From The Age:
On Saturday, in the wake of the shooting in Connecticut where 26 people were killed at an elementary school, Mr Turnbull replied to a tweet by Mr Murdoch.

‘‘Terrible news today. When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons? As in Oz after similar tragedy,’’ Mr Murdoch said.

Mr Turnbull then observed: ‘‘@rupertmurdoch I suspect they will find the courage when Fox News enthusiastically campaigns for it.’’

Big Shoes to Fill

The Express-News has an article about outgoing-Rep. Charlie Gonzalez.

Needless to say, he leaves big shoes to fill.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Democrats Dig In Their Heels On Entitlement Cuts

That's the kind of headline I love to see right now.  Democrats hold all the cards in the fiscal cliff negotiations.  The people voted for a Democratic White House, Democratic House, and Democratic Senate.  The opinion polls show the public - even Republican voters - supports the Democrats' plan.  There's no reason Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security should be cut to protect the tax rates for the rich.

Republicans lost.  They don't get to call the shots.

If anything, at least the Republicans get a little taste of their own medicine.  All they've done is say no, no, no to everything, now the tables are turned and it's the Democrats' turn to say no.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gov. Perry: I Hate After Birth

On Dec. 11, Gov. Oops confirmed that he hates After Birth.  No, no the placental expulsion, although for most "pro-life" Republicans it can mean the same thing.  In this case, After Birth refers to the fetal expulsion that grows into a child, and hopefully an adult, and gracefully into a senior citizen.

Looks like we're going to have a fetal pain law on the books here in Texas.  Quick question: Is there any other medical procedure that is this regulated?  Additional quick question: If  men were the ones who got pregnant, would these fights over abortion be happening?

But I digress...

At this announcement with the Governor was a future legislator who is going to be a never ending source of jokes, State Sen. Donna Campbell:
“How tragic to think that these babies suffer pain, a cruel and unnatural death, for simply being unwanted while they’re in the womb,” said incoming state Sen. Donna Campbell, a Tea Party Republican from New Braunfels who was also on hand in Houston to support the measure. “It’s time to strengthen our laws to be in line with what science tells us is possible.”
I feel sorry for the suffering, pain, and cruel visits that people to the ER are subjected to when Donna Campbell is on call.  AND NOW a Republican cares about science.  Science for abortion = yes.  Science for evolution = HELL NO.

I don't know why the governor and others don't just come out and say it, "We love fetuses.  We just hate everything that comes after."

Question: Will this fetal pain bill come with anything other than a mandate?  Maybe additional funding for pregnant women?  Maybe funding for lab work & tests, prenatal vitamins?  Maybe an expansion of SCHIP to cover low-income pregnant women?

Somehow I doubt it.

We're 1st in the nation for uninsured people, but we need a fetal pain bill.
We're 49th in the percentage of low income people covered by Medicaid, but we need a fetal pain bill.
We're 48th in the percentage of people with employer health insurance, but we need a fetal pain bill.
We're 43rd in the amount the state spends on health, but we need a fetal pain bill.
We're 50th in mental health spending, but we need a fetal pain bill.
We're 49th in state spending on Medicaid, but we need a fetal pain bill.
We're 4th in the nation for people living below poverty, but we need a fetal pain bill.
We're 47th in monthly WIC (women, infant, & children) Benefits, but we need a fetal pain bill.

Let's face it, this being Texas, we're likely to get a fetal pain bill. But very unlikely to get any funding for those pesky things, like schools and health care, that actually help a population to grow and live.

I'd like to ask Governor Oops, how many of these anti-After Birth bills are we going to be subjected to?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Texas House Speaker Race

Rumble in the Capitol.  At first it was Bryan Hughes vs. Joe Straus.  Now it's David Simpson vs. Joe Straus.  Republican on Republican.  There can be only one.

Today State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) officially became a challenger to Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio).  First elected in 2010, he has been around for 1 Legislative Session, but has learned enough during that time to know how to be Speaker.

Who is David Simpson?  He was one of those Republicans who rode the 2010 Tea Party wave into elected office.  According to Simpson he got elected on the controversial platform of, "defending the Constitution, preserving our East Texas family values, and restoring government to its proper, limited role."  Somehow, that platform worked for him in a conservative, East Texas district.  Who would have thought?

He even includes a Statement of Faith on his website, because as you know, Christians are under such attack here in the State of Texas.  Since Republicans hold every statewide office, control the state legislature, and control the state courts, I'm not sure where the attack is coming from, but I'm sure there are some godless atheists somewhere that are hampering his ability to practice his faith.

He also has a habit of signing everything "For Texas and Liberty, David Simpson".  I guess just to remind everyone, if they hadn't already figured it out, that he really likes Texas and Liberty.  Personally I like to think Texas and Liberty were just what he named his 2 dogs.  This being East Texas, Texas and Liberty could be the names of his 2 six shooters.

When he filed, Simpson wrote an open letter to his fellow State Reps asking for their support.  Let's go through it, shall we.  My take in bold:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fun With Word Clouds

While we have finished our elections in this country (at least for a few months anyway), there are political contests going on all over the world.  One of those places is Canada where the Liberal Party is going to be picking a new leader who will try to lead the Liberals out of 3rd place federally.

Not being Canadian, but enjoying politics, it might be fun to at least just take a gander at what is going on by having Fun With Word Clouds.  We took the 5 officials candidates (according to the LPC website) and word clouded their vision/message for Canada.  All but Coyne, were taken from their launch speeches. Like politicians here in this country, they seem to like talking about their own country.

For anyone not familiar, word clouding is just taking something like a speech and seeing which words were used the most.  The more often a word was used, the larger it is. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jack Brooks, 1922-2012

Former Rep. Jack Brooks has died.  He was one of those rare breed of politicos who left a good legacy.

From the Beaumont Enterprise:
The counties airport and the Beaumont's federal courthouse are named for Brooks.

Brooks was among the last links to an era when Democrats dominated Texas politics and was the last of "Mr. Sam's Boys," protégés of fellow Texan and legendary 21-year Democratic House Speaker Sam Rayburn in the state's congressional delegation.

"I'm just like old man Rayburn," Brooks, from Beaumont, once said. "Just a Democrat, no prefix or suffix."
He also was a contemporary and supporter of Lyndon Johnson, who was U.S. Senate majority leader in the 1950s and later president.

Brooks was in the Dallas motorcade Nov. 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated. He's in the famous photo taken later that day aboard Air Force One at Dallas' Love Field, standing immediately behind the grief-stricken Jacqueline Kennedy as Johnson, his right hand raised, takes the oath of office from U.S. District Judge Sarah Hughes.

 ...A Brooks-authored law required full and open competition to be the standard for awarding federal contracts. The 1965 Brooks Act set policy for the government's computer acquisition program, requiring competitive bidding and central management. His Inspector General Act established independent Offices of Inspector General in major agencies to prevent fraud and waste.

Other Brooks bills reduced federal paperwork, provided a uniform system of federal procurement, eliminated overlapping audit requirements and established the Department of Education.

"He literally has saved American taxpayers billions of dollars through his actions in improving government efficiency and eliminating waste," former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe, a longtime friend who died in 2010, said two years earlier when Brooks donated his congressional papers, photos, correspondence and other items to the Center for American History at the University of Texas.

Brooks also served on the House Judiciary Committee, where he strongly supported President Richard Nixon's impeachment and drafted the articles of impeachment the judiciary panel adopted. Nixon, who resigned Aug. 8, 1974, referred to Brooks as "the executioner." Brooks would rise to committee chairman.

...He supported civil rights bills, refused to sign the segregationist "Southern manifesto" in 1956, helped write the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 that banned racial segregation.

His congressional longevity - figures showed there were 13,858 roll call votes during his tenure - was an issue for him and other long-serving Democrats who were swept from office in 1994. Brooks also had alienated gun owners for supporting a ban on assault weapons and abortion opponents for his support of abortion rights.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wanted: A Competent SBOE Member

San Antonio Express-News columnist Brian Chasnoff recently featured the new SBOE member Marisa Perez in his latest piece.

To sum up the piece, if you had a bad opinion of Perez after she unexpectedly won the primary, she seems to have done nothing to change opinions.  When a TEA spokesperson has to reach out to a columnist in order to get in touch with an elected official, something is wrong.

Perez was far and away the worst Democratic candidate on the ballot and should easily be primaried when she comes up for re-election.

She is wholly unqualified for the job and doesn't seem to have the maturity necessary to carry out the duties required of her.  Her judgement is lacking, as well as her transparency.

She violates the spirit of the Education Code, Ch. 7, Sec. 7.103, part c:
Sec. 7.103. ELIGIBILITY FOR MEMBERSHIP. (a) A person is not eligible for election to or service on the board if the person holds an office with this state or any political subdivision of this state.
(b) A person may not be elected from or serve in a district who is not a bona fide resident of the district with one year's continuous residence before election. A person is not eligible for election to or service on the board unless the person is a qualified voter of the district in which the person resides and is at least 26 years of age.
(c) A person who is required to register as a lobbyist under Chapter 305, Government Code, by virtue of the person's activities for compensation in or on behalf of a profession, business, or association related to the operation of the board, may not serve as a member of the board or act as the general counsel to the board.

By taking a government relations position with SAISD it shows an extreme lack of judgement and immaturity on Perez' part.  If she doesn't violate Part C, she at least violates the spirit.

This is not the type of person who should be holding public office and she should be defeated for re-election.