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April 03, 2005

Ray Allen Investigated for Illegal Use of Staff

By Byron LaMasters

State Rep. Ray Allen (R-Grand Prairie) is currently being investigated by Travis County prosecutors for using state-paid employees and property for personal profit. The Dallas Morning News reports:

Mindy Montford McCracken, an assistant district attorney for the public integrity unit, said her office received a complaint shortly after an August newspaper report that Mr. Allen and his staff engaged in private and campaign business in his taxpayer-funded Capitol office.

Ms. McCracken declined to say who complained. She said prosecutors are waiting for documents they need before going further.

"Based on the story, we felt there was enough to explore further," Ms. McCracken said.

Ms. McCracken said the investigation is "very much in the initial stages," and declined to say what type of charges, if any, prosecutors might pursue. The penal code contains an offense called "abuse of official capacity," which forbids the misuse of government property. Based on the value of the property, it can range from a Class C misdemeanor to a first-degree felony.

Shortly after the report appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram , Mr. Allen acknowledged that the practice of employing his state aides to work for his business and campaign – even while using private computers and phone lines – looked bad.

He has since moved his business and personal records to an office at his apartment in Austin, he said. [...]

Mr. Allen said he lobbies for the National Correctional Industries Association only in Washington. The association promotes programs that allow private companies to use inmate labor.

Mr. Allen ran Service House, his lobby practice, with his former chief of staff, Scott Gilmore. Mr. Gilmore quit working for Mr. Allen in December and has formed his own lobbying practice in Austin. [...]

Mr. Gilmore said Mr. Allen's employees were aware they could not mix public affairs with private business.

"The policy was, you don't use state computers," he said.

On one occasion, however, an aide stored a letter involving his lobbying client on her state computer. That aide also sent an e-mail on the state computer network that described a "to-do" list, mostly devoted to Service House business, the Star-Telegram story said.

Mr. Gilmore said the aide sent that e-mail in error and said it was not a common practice.

While not illegal in of itself, it's just not smart for an elected official to hire his/her government employed staffers for their personal business. The tendency towards mistakes at best, and the temptation of illegal and unethical behavior at worst is much too great. Whether the case is the former or the latter, the public official - in this case, State Rep. Ray Allen (R-Grand Praire) has betrayed the trust of the public. As is the case, Allen should resign. I hope that the Travis County prosecutors get to the bottom of this.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Three Candidates Announce For Dallas County Chair

By Byron LaMasters

Three candidates have announced for Dallas County Democratic Party Chair in the past days.

Former Judge and precinct chair Darlene Ewing of Mesquite announced over the weekend. Ewing was appointed judge by Ann Richards, but lost election to a full term in 1994.

Former congressional candidate Walter Hofheinz also announced his candidacy. Hofheinz lost to Pauline Dixon in the 2002 CD 32 primary for the right to take on Pete Sessions.

Today, Bruce Rothstein announced his intent to run for chair as well. Rothstein was an early Kerry supporter and led Dallas for Kerry during the primary and general election. Rothstein was also elected out of the 16th Senate District to serve as a delegate to the 2004 Democratic convention.

I know that others are considering a run for chair, and I'm sure that there will be more announcements and horsetrading in the coming days and weeks.

Update: Hofheinz website here.

Another Update: Former Dallas County Chair Bill Howell has more on the executive committee meeting yesterday at his blog, Stout Dem Blog.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 09:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fredericksburg City Council Update

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I did a little analysis of the past few Election Cycles for city Council in Fredericksburg, where my father is running. I ran some numbers on how many people in each election cast just 1 vote (even though they are allotted 2). This assumes that there are few to no ballots cast with 0 votes on them, which would otherwise put in a margin of error. I've cut and pasted the interesting trends here, but if anyone wants the original file, leave a comment.

Year 1999
Voters 663
% 1 Vote 16.89%

Year 2000
Voters 1202
% 1 Vote 22.21%

Year 2001
Voters 715
% 1 Vote 19.58%

Year 2003
Voters 470
% 1 Vote 24.47%

Year 2004
Voters 819
% 1 Vote 40.17%

My analysis is that I believe traditionally Fredericksburg CC Elections have 20% of the electorate that votes for one candidate out of strategy in any given year. I believe that bump up in 2003 to about 25% is due to the entrance of Melodi who was a Tax Protest candidate.

Her run in 2004 may also help count for the high 40% rate but I now believe (contrary to before) that the high 2004 level is not due to simply Melodi's Anit-Tax forces, but also MacWithey's entrance into the race which changed the dynamic of City Council elections. As someone outside of the usual base of voters, he probably brought in a whole new cross-section of voters, many who didn't know the 'traditional' candidates or were encouraged to cast one vote for MacWithey, since his electoral strategy didn't depend so much upon the old formula.

I would say, with Francis out of the race, two 'traditional' candidates, and the fact that Tom Musselman knows many of the traditional voters (as well as many new ones) would make it seem like the 1 Vote group wouldn't be as high this year, but at the same time, I believe that the Musselman campaign has/will have contacted more people than in past year, due to the existence of an actual campaign structure, advertising, outreach, and the upcoming GOTV efforts. I feel an increase in voters helps Musselman and will be more likely to increase the 1 Vote Cast share.

NOTES: Fredericksburg City Council races have not run above 13% turnout in recent years, with some years being as low at 7% (there are about 7000 registered voters). In addition, all seats are at large, and there are no run-offs... the top two vote getters are elected. This is why the 1 Vote strategy can be beneficial because if there are three candidates, with the top one being a high voter getter, anyone casting dual votes for the 2nd and 3rd place candidates are not actually helping the 3rd place candidate, since they move up in tandem but still always the same number of votes below the 2nd place candidate. Therefore, core supporters of any candidate should be encouraged to cast 1 vote to have the greatest effect.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 03:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

DeLay'd reaction

By Jim Dallas

The Houston Chronicle does a poll of the angry 22nd district.

Kuff, , Daily DeLay and the D-Trippers have more. And Hunter blogs on editorial reaction.

Meanwhile, those kooky anonymous GOP aides are once again cryptically foretelling more doom and gloom for the Bugman. The LA Times reports:

Until now, one House Republican leadership aide said, DeLay's problems have not been serious enough to distract the caucus from its efforts to push forward President Bush's legislative agenda.

"But it could very possibly become a distraction" in the coming week, said the aide, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

Eagle to gray squirrel, eagle to gray squirrel...

Houtopia catches DeLay trying to mooch off of Bill White's popularity. That can't possibly be a good for either of them (ATTN: Mayor White, Don't DeLay, Run Away!).

Posted by Jim Dallas at 02:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What housing bubble?

By Jim Dallas

The econo-nerds have been going on about a housing bubble for quite a while now. But it's very selective -- indeed, almost all of the Texas home market is significantly undervalued (with San Antonio being at about par). Indeed, home prices in Beaumont are depressed as much as prices in New York City are inflated.

Granted, any hard-landing would be bad for all Americans. I'm curious, though, whether it will send prices here up, or down further.

(As someone who would like to be in the home-buying market in the next decade, this is starting to worry me. Will I be priced-out? or will I miss a chance to snatch up "once in a lifetime" property when it hits rock bottom?)

Posted by Jim Dallas at 01:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 02, 2005

Peace Breaks Out in the Dallas County Democratic Party

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas County Democratic Executive Committee met today at 2 PM at the Hall of State in Fair Park to continue the recessed meeting of February 28. The meeting was conducted in an orderly manner and most business was passed unanimously. The meeting was called to order by Precinct Chair Shannon Bailey shortly after 2 PM with a quorum present. Following the call to order current and former SDEC (State Democratic Executive Committee) members and former Party officers were invited to join the presiding officers in unison on the stage.

The first order of business was to appoint a temporary chair to chair the meeting. Precinct Chair Michael Moon was nominated and seconded, and was appointed unanimously as temporary chair to preside over the rest of the meeting. Finally, there was the opportunity to elect precinct chairs to many of the vacant seats and approximately sixty vacancies were filled. What many thought might be a controversial topic, a resolution to correct the congressional record passed unanimously. The executive committee asked that a letter be sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee to reflect that Susan Hays’s endorsement of a Republican Judge, Michael Schneider was hers alone and not authorized by the Dallas County Democratic Party Executive Committee.

There was some debate over when to elect a permanent chair (to serve the remainder of Susan Hays’s unexpired term), but it was decided to call a meeting within 45 days to allow time for candidates to campaign for the position. At this time, SDEC 16 member Theresa Daniel (and 2002 HD 107 nominee) was elected to serve as interim chair until a permanent chair was elected. Daniel also announced that she was not a candidate for permanent chair.

Also at the meeting, several elected officials had the opportunity to speak. State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) stressed the importance of the 2006 elections and urged party unity. State Rep. Terri Hodge (D-Dallas) thanked the members of the committee who recognized that there was a problem and for acting upon that problem, and looked forward to moving towards 2006 working together as “one, big, happy, dysfunctional family”. At the end of her speech, Hodge asked the entire committee to join her in supporting the party financially. Hodge personally wrote a check for $120, many others joined her, and by the end of the afternoon approximately $9000 was raised at the meeting for the Dallas County Democratic Party.

[Ed. Note. I did not attend this meeting. This account was compiled after speaking with numerous people who attended the meeting.]

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:32 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

SG Special Session: A Bust

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

In yet another abdication of duty, a number of Student Government Voting Representatives did not show up for today's special session to discuss the three remaining bills that were on the Table for this Assembly to deal with. 17 Reps did show, though 26 were needed for a quorum.

Tim has a mini-liveblog record of the event here.

Your President-Elect Omar Ochoa waltzed in after the meeting was over, and I have yet to hear if VP-elect Elizabeth Brummet showed at all. Both are also current Reps. Grant Stannis, lead quorum buster, wasn't there either. Luckily, Rep. Laura Gladney-Lemon asked for a roll call of those that were there, so as soon as I have my hands on that I can do a better post. It's sad, because this means that election reform is most likely dead. The next assembly isn't interested as far as I know. I can't wait to read Monday's Daily Texan which should have a nice piece on this with a twist, since the new Assembly is seating on Tuesday (and sworn in tomorrow if I'm correct).

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 09:11 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

UDs / CAD Endorse

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Well today's 4 hour long endorsement meeting was fun. I'll cut to the chase and let you know the results.

Both the Univerisity Democrats and Central Austin Democrats endorsed Lee Leffingwell in Place 1, Betty Dunkerly in Place 4, and YES votes on the proposed Smoking Ban and ACC District Annexation.

CAD went to a run-off in Place 3 between Margot Clarke and Gregg Knaupe and endorsed Margot Clarke, though that wasn't a big suprise. UDems went to a run-off between Margot Clarke and Mandy Dealey and endorsed Mandy Dealey. A lot of people's votes shifted very late in UDems, for a variety of reasons, towards Dealey, and the runoff was not one decided by just a couple votes or anything.

Of course, I'm not allowed to release the vote totals of any of the balloting because UDems has this informal agreement of not allowing it, which is no where in the constitution and when push comes to shove, I'm sure could be a FOIA issue or something that probably is a tad illegal if anyone really cared. I might draw up some language to clarify it in the constitution to all the numbers to be public later on since it's always bugged me.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 09:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

APC Endorsements

By Byron LaMasters

I liveblogged the meeting earlier today, but I shut off my computer shortly before voting took place. Here are the endorsements made today by the two organization:

University Democrats:
Place 1, Lee Leffingwell
Place 3, Mandy Dealey
Place 4, Betty Dunkerly
Smoking Ban, YES
ACC Expansion, YES

Central Austin Democrats:
Place 1, Lee Leffingwell
Place 3, Margot Clarke
Place 4, Betty Dunkerly
Smoking Ban, YES
ACC Expansion, YES

All candidates and ballot initiatives except the Place 3 endorsees are also endorsed by the Austin Progressive Coalition, so if you live in Central Austin, you'll be getting your yellow doorhanger in the coming weeks.

The Place 3 race went into a run-off with both clubs. CAD had a run-off between Margot Clarke and Gregg Knaupe, which Clarke won easily. UD's had a run-off between Margot Clarke and Mandy Dealey, which Dealey won as many Clarke supporters only voted in Place 3 and left the meeting early.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 08:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mexican Democracy Watch

By Jim Dallas

In about a year, Mexico will have its first post-PRI presidential election. Lindsay at Majikthise brings our attention to what may be a less-than-spectacular turn of events: the upcoming impeachment trial of Mexico City Mayor Andres Miguel Lopez Obrador.

The PRI and PAN both would benefit greatly if the PRD were wounded by scandal. While Mexico is now a two-and-a-half party system, with the PRI contesting the PAN in the north and the PRD in the south, my gut tells me this is ultimately an unstable arrangement, and the likely result is probably a two-party system. Which two parties, though, is a big question.

Vicente Fox, of course, is barred from re-election by Mexico's constitution.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 05:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Texas Democrats: A Statistical Profile

By Jim Dallas

Using the recently-released Edison/Mitofsky 2004 exit poll data (back-up | code-book | my Excel spreadsheet), a few interesting statistics about Texas Democrats can be constructed.

Exit polls are, of course, polls, so take with a grain of salt. I sure wish those urging that exit poll discrepancies prove voter fraud would take a chill-pill.

UPDATE: Some errors in the age tabs were fixed. The under 30 share of the Democratic vote is 20 percent, not 8 percent (8 percent is the 18-24 share).

The entire Texas electorate is summarized on the CNN web site, and my weighted numbers essentially match theirs (adjusting for rounding).

Numbers may not add up to 100 due to missing data, etc.

Democratic Voters (32.1% of total electorate, MoE 2.4%)

Presidential Vote:

Kerry Bush
90 10

Ideology/Philosophy (self-reported)

Liberal Moderate Conservative
24 51 23


Male Female
47 53


White Black Latino Asian
41 29 28 1


Under 30 30-45 45-65 65+
20 21 42 15

Size of Place

500000+ 50000 - 500000 Surburban Small Town Rural
31 23 31 9 5

N: 577, Approx Margin of Error 4.2%

I'm not going to reproduce the Kerry and Liberal voter cross-tabs here, though I will note an odd quirk - 32 percent of self-identified "liberal" voters reported voting for Bush (approximate margin of error 6.5%).

The exit poll data contains a number of other interesting variables (region, religion, income, urban/rural, etc.) but I am busy working on a paper this weekend, and don't have the time to crunch those numbers.

Posted by Jim Dallas at 04:17 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Pope John Paul II Dies at 84

By Andrea Meyer

Well, it's official. The Pope has passed. Karol Jozef "Lolek" Wojtya has been an enigma as pope--contradictory, a man of changing views, but nonetheless a strong religious leader. For his unwavering faith, for the life he has lived, for the questions he has raised, I admire him.

I want to pick up with what Katie wrote the other day. I was raised Roman Catholic, and have spent just about my whole life with this pope. Before I begin, this is a rare topic for me to discuss--religion. I may discuss a couple of my beliefs, which I try never to do on a public forum. But I believe that an event of this magnitude warrants a break and discussion.

Although I have had my disagreements with the Catholic Church and this Pope, I admired this man, despite my misgivings on the social issues. He was an intellectual and was guided by unwavering faith and sincerity. His stances were taken because of personal conviction and a deep belief in what he believed was right, rather than political demagoguery and personal gain. I have often said that the Church needs to take the great leap put of the Middle Ages, and I believe this pope set that in motion. Hopefully, his successor will pick up where Pope John Paul II left off.

Pope John Paul II's passing is not merely the death of a pope. It is the end of an era of change and a search for truth. He was a truly unique leader in how he led our church. In this extended entry, I'll quote sources regarding this "Millenial Pope" who embraced our modern times and technology to reach out to people around the world and of other faiths. I can only write so much--I encourage all of you to read about Karol Wojtyla's Poland, because that is really the only way to understand the man himself.

Here is an excellent link, from which I have quoted.

What has made this Pope in particular so extraordinary? Perhaps a summary from Frontline will help put in perspective the enigma that was Pope John Paul II:

On the surface, John Paul II's faith seems contradictory:

He is a man of fierce Catholic emotion and sensibility: passionately devoted to the Virgin Mary and the saints, attentive to--and accepting of --the miraculous and the inexplicable. At the same time, he is a professional modern philosopher, defending the capacity of the human intelligence and profoundly respectful of the scientific quest for truth.
He believes in absolute truth and absolute moral values, and yet he has devoted his entire efforts as a moral philosopher to the modern notions of experience and subjectivity.

He passionately defends the rights of the individual and just as passionately defends ancient dogmas that seem to restrict that freedom.

His birthday should have been a sign--May 18th, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland-- a day called The Polish Miracle, a day of Polish military victory, which briefly restored Poland's independence. A bit of irony, as the Pope would eventually speak out against war.

His notable relationship with the Jewish community is complicated, and worth writing about. Growing up, his best friend was Jewish. He never exhibited anti-Semitic behavior, although his hometown did have some feelings to that regard prior to the Nazi invasion. He witnessed the murders of Jews in public, and noticed the deafening silence of the Catholic Church. He helped Jews as an individual, but was not part of any underground movement. He was present at the Vatican II Council, and was the voice of reason in that debate--that Jews did not kill Christ, therefore the church should try to repair the relationship between the two religions. His own feelings were projected outside of Poland until he was Pope--perhaps his fear of retribution led to silence, as anti-Semitism was alive and well in Poland for decades following the war.

He was the first pope to visit a mosque and synagogue. He was politically involved, and supported the workers on strike in Gdansk in 1980. His opposition to Poland's martial law was made clear via radio broadcast in 1981. He played a strong role in ending the cold war. Although he championed free speech and church political activism in Poland, he was tough on those members of the Church in Latin America who took part in politics. However, he later brokered peace in Latin America, and helped destroy right-wing dictatorships.Here is a link regarding Latin America.

His views changed constantly, however, as his trip to Cuba would prove. A strident anti-Communist, he praised Cubans for retaining their faith, yet had kind words for some tenets of Socialism. He spoke out against the death penalty and the War in Iraq, but is against abortion and women in the priesthood. While embracing politics championed by liberals, he also has a conservative outlook on gender politics.

In short, although the Pope had his shortcomings, in my opinion (regarding his views on choice, birth control and condom use, women's issues, and the virtual silence from the Vatican regarding the child molestation scandal in the U.S.), he raised questions and issues that warrant further discussion as the Church evolves. He used mass media tools to reach out to the masses, and had a profound respect for science. This pope was a complicated man, and although I wish I could touch upon every aspect of his life and times, that is impossible at the moment. He was a modern pope, as far as the Church is concerned, yet held tightly onto old beliefs and dogma. So, I will leave as I began, with a quote from Frontline:

If the contradictions in his life and faith are due to something that he has failed to grasp, Pope John Paul II has been a tragic figure indeed. But if they are due to something we fail to grasp, then the inability to understand him has been our tragedy.
Posted by Andrea Meyer at 02:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Liveblogging the APC/UD/CAD Endorsement Meeting

By Byron LaMasters

I'm liveblogging the joint city council endorsement meeting of the Austin Progressive Coalition, University Democrats and Central Austin Democrats. Andrew is sitting next to me, so he'll be adding some thoughts later as well. Also liveblogged at Alert The Inter.net.

10:55 AM: The forum started with the place 1 candidates.

Andrew Bucknall spoke first and was well received. He emphasized his work as President of the Huston-Tullitson University Democrats and with the Martin Luther King neighborhood association. Bucknall said that he was the “grassroots progressive” choice for place 1 and served in various other capacity.

Next Lee Leffingwell spoke about his background also as a lifelong Democrat, his military experience, and his passion for environmental protection. Leffingwell also spoke of the need for greater mass transit with an emphasis on light rail and bike lanes. He also noted the need to better fund city services. Finally, Leffingwell noted that every city Democratic club except for the H-T young Democrats had endorsed him.

Casey Walker spoke as a lifelong Austin resident, and spoke much on student issues. Walker noted his endorsement of toll road opponents and Independent Texans.

11:14: First question for Walker. Says that he is a registered Indepdent (ed. Note, there is no party registration in Texas). However, he noted that he voted for John Kerry

Question two for Leffingwell on his involvement with the ACLU’s project on banned books. Leffingwell worked with the ACLU to issue a report on banned books in public schools in Texas and says that it has been a great experience.

Smoking ban. Leffingwell opposes the idea, but says he is taking no public position. Bucknall and Walker oppose the ban as well.

Last question on what issues are most critical to students. Tuition and public education and mentioned as the major issues by all candidates.

11:35: Margot Clarke spoke first. Speaks of Austin background and experience with non-profit advocacy. She stresses her involvement with Planned Parenthood, League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra club. States her Democratic credentials and of her canvassing in Ohio for John Kerry in the 2004 election. Speaks of investing in the future of the city, cleaner air and water, etc. States her endorsements notably Democratic one.

Mandy Dealey starts off with a laugh that she’s the first candidate here that was not a native Austinite, but that she got here as quickly as she could. Mandy is also wearing burnt orange and said that she hoped that it would send a subliminable message – to quote our president. Dealey speaks of how welcoming Austin was for her and her son many years ago. Dealey was proud of her involvement with the local and national boards of Planned Parenthood. Dealey also spoke of work with the mental health association. She long-range planning, problem solving, consensus building and developing a budget.

Jennifer Kim spoke next. She spoke of her work on environmental protection for state sen. Judith Zafferini (D-Laredo). She stated that this work in poor minority communities around the boarder was extremely rewarding. Also mentions her work on affordable housing. She mentions her work in former East Germany in the U.S. state department as part of her diverse level of experience. She wants more affordable housing for Austin. Mentions the aquifer as an important reason for the need to have an important relationship with the legislature.

Gregg Knaupe spoke last. Said that he came to Austin in 1987 and fell in love with the city. Mentions his work for State Rep. Barry Telford and his work on the 1990 Ann Richards as evidence that he is a lifelong Democrats. Stresses the importance of dealing with Austin’s growth in order to prevent people from being left out or left behind – strategic land use planning. Mentions that he works for the Texas Hospital Association as a lawyer. Notes his emphasis on health care work. Mentions his federal, statewide and local experience on various issues in addition to health care, notably affordable housing.

Question for Gregg Knaupe for his support of Prop 12 in 2003 on tort reform. Knaupe stated that he voted against Prop 12, and has problems with it, but the Hospital District had it on their agenda. Another question for Knaupe regarding Austin Police Department allegedly funneling money through the Real Estate Council spending money in his campaign. Knaupe said that he was unaware of what activities APD would be engaged in, and told the questioner that he would have to ask APD.

Next question was on the smoking ban. Kim is voting for the smoking ban. Dealey supports smoking ban as does Clarke. Knaupe doesn’t really answer the question. Says that he’ll support the will of the people.

Andrew asked if any candidates were supported by the Austin Toll Party which is seeking to recall elected Democratic officials. Dealey, Knaupe and Kim state that they have not been supported by the Austin Toll Party. Clake says that she opposes the recall efforts, but opposes toll roads and is proud to stand up against it.

12:17 PM: I started to drift off as the q&a continued on for awhile. Place 3 is completed, Place 4 is starting now with Betty Dunkerly, Jennifer Gale and John Wickham.

Dunkerly speaks first. She is running for re-election. States her background in city governments in Beaumont and Austin. She said that her experience prepared her to make the tough decisions during the recent economic downturn by cutting the budget and keeping the tax rate the lowest of any major city in Texas.

Jennifer Gale spoke next wearing a yellow shirt with Martin Luther King on it. She attacked David Butts and the Chamber of Commerce for supporting Betty Dunkerly. She attacked Wes Benedict (who was not even present) for working for the Libertarian Party. She attacks Butts again and the light rail system. Jennifer Gale certainly adds comic relief to these type of things. Once again, today, she has not disappointed. At the end she also attacked the GLBT community for supporting candidates that do not support them. I’ll be asking a question in that regard.

John Whickham spoke next. If someone was listening, post it in comments.

It was asked if the candidates were Democrats. Dunkerly stated that she supported many Democrats and Democratic causes but is an Independent. Gale mentioned that she ran for Congress as a Democrats. Wickham said that she was a swing voter.

I told Jennifer Gale that I was a board member of the Austin Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, an organization that has endorsed Dunkerly. I asked if she was aware that candidates were required to fill out a questionnaire in order to speak before the organization. She attacked the organization as mean-spirited and urged candidates in the future not to attend their meetings.

Next question was on the smoking ban. Dunkerly will vote for the ban. Gale mentioned that smoking kills, but sought compromise. She complained that no one listened to her.

12:33 PM: Next was the debate on the smoking ban. David Butts spoke against the ban. Butts said the human costs of covering uninsured people of lung cancer was much higher than the amount of fees that could potentially be collected by fees. Next a small business owner with a punk rock club spoke against the ban. He stated that he didn’t smoke, but that the vast majority of his customers did. Next was a question regarding second hand smoke. The business owner stated that second hand smoke did not necessarily cause lung cancer – the same argument made by decades by cigarette manufacturers.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 10:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 01, 2005

The Pope's Last Days

By Katie Naranjo

First, thank you for the lovely picture KT. I love you dearly.

No matter what religion you are, or if you are not religious, everyone can appreciate another's religious leader. Pope John Paul II, has been announced to be in the final stages of his life. Vatican officials made statements today that the Pope is deteriorating very fast and has grown very week. Although I am not Catholic, I have seen many great decisions fulfilled by this Pope. In the upcoming weeks, if the Pope does leave this Earth the process of selecting the new Pope will begin. The Vatican officials have warned the cardinals that a conclave might occur sooner then they expected. So key yours eyes peeled, for the next Pope and think about the current Pope too.

For more: http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/04/01/pope1/index.html

Posted by Katie Naranjo at 04:35 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

Gene Seaman's Priorities

By Byron LaMasters

State Rep. Gene Seaman (R-Corpus Christi) certainly has his priorities in the state house. Are they yours? Watch the ad here (warning, probably not the best thing to open up at work). Practice What you Preach issued a press release today:

Today Practice What You Preach, a mainstream PAC organized around the notion that putting an existing ban on same-sex marriage into the Texas Constitution would be a hypocritical diversion from the clear and present dangers to the institution of marriage, today released ³Tool,² a web ad that shows a Republican state representative who voted to ban gay marriage imitating an erection on the House floor.

³I refuse to take marriage lessons from anyone who thinks it is a good idea to imitate an erection on the floor of the legislature,² said Jason Stanford, president of the Practice What You Preach PAC. ³Changing the constitution so that something that is now illegal won¹t happen will do as much to protect marriage as imitating erections does to reform insurance, taxing cookies does to make us all skinny, or taxing lap dances does to fund public schools.²

Texas Republicans have either done or attempted to do all of those things in the last couple of years.

On Monday, the House State Affairs Committee will hear testimony on HJR 6, a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, something state law already does.

Practice What You Preach envisions offering other ads on other representatives if the Republican leadership pushes for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

³The Republican leadership has to decide how many of their seats they are willing to lose over this,² said Stanford, a married father of two sons. ³It¹s time to make the Republicans pay a political price for using marriage as a wedge issue.²

Practice What You Preach is soliciting contributions to air ³Tool² in Corpus Christi (Gene Seaman¹s district). Saturating the media market would cost $22,000 at $22 a point, meaning the PAC has to raise at least $220 to get it on the air once.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at 03:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

City Council Update

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

First, here is a semi-live blog post about Wednesday's Place 3 City Council Forum thanks to Tim.

As far as the forum went. It changed minds. For a race that has has 4 great candidates, it is certainly hard to set them apart. But the forum certainly rearragned my own choices, though I have some commentary about all the candidates. (btw, 25 members joined last night and voting membership is now locked thanks to our little Constitutional Amendment that was passed for this endorsement.)

Commentary below the fold!!!

Margot Clarke- If there is any candidate in this race that provides what I can call a "vision" it's Margot. It's not too hard to tell that when it comes down to it, Community and the Austin flavor are at the heart of any decision that she might make. It's comforting to know as easily as it is with Margot where her heart it, so even if I don't know how she might vote on any specific proposal, and have a sense of where she is coming from. Granted, that shouldn't be a reason to vote for a candidate by itself (see the case with Republicans and Bush), but it's nice to see in a Democrat for once. Margot has been a friend of University Democrats for a long time and certainly has support there. The big question this week is how much of the membership are naturally Margot supporters or how many Margot supporters are now suddenly part of the membership...

Mandy Dealey- If anyone was a winner of last night's forum, it was Dealey. For someone who made horrible first impressions with UDems (in her frantic, hair ruffling, my car might get towed speech) last night she connected with and audience of students (even though she's the senior candidate in the race) and came across as quite motherly. Her responses showed her depth of knowledge of the issue, as well as how she might go about solving particular problems. Her clear statement that the Smoking Ban was a public health issue, plain and simple was a total plus for me as well as her concept of a Commission of Students from area Universities to work, dialouge, and interface with the Council was awesome, and if that was an on the spot idea, even more so. All semester long I didn't think I would ever be tempted by the Dealey campaign, but that changed last night as she swayed more than one officer's vote and a number of the members.

Jennifer Kim- From the very beginning I have been a supporter of Ms. Kim. I'm not one to turn away from candidates just because they are new, young, or it's "not their time". I can tell that she's doing this for the right reasons and no matter what happens, I hope to see her name on the ballot somewhere once again. But I was a bit disappointed last night, because what I saw as youth, fresh ideas, and enthusiasm, gave way to unpreparedness and a bit of nervousness on the understanding of some issues. I would have appreciated an "I don't have enough information on that issue to give an appropriate response" to some questions than what I heard, though that goes for a couple candidates at various times. People have been challenging me all semester as to having a good reason to vote Kim over others. I have been waiting for that reason, and I do not believe I was given one last night.

Gregg Knaupe- I've been a bit hard on the Knaupe campaign here on BOR. Gregg came off well at the forum, though he has a John Kerry-esqe ability for loooong answers, running over his time limit on almost every question. It wouldn't be so bad if it also weren't for the policy wonkish density of his answers, which would be great in front of the business crowd, but not a UDems Forum. Though his (and Kim's) respecting the choice of the voters on the smoking ban is a cop-out (and likely signal that they are opposed to it) it fits with his pro-business campaign.

But it still feels like the Knaupe campaign is just another Brewster McCracken/Will Wynn white male business guy snoozefest that is attempting to attract support from Liberal organizations to balance his otherwise more moderate background. Come on, he worked for the Texas Hospital Association (compared to a more progressive groups like Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, etc. like Margot or Dealey). He didn't lose any support last night, but I don't think he gained any either.

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at 01:06 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

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