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May 18, 2005

Candy Marcum Withdraws her Endorsement of Kathy Ingle

By Byron LaMasters

Earlier this week, I reported that Dallas City Council District 14 candidate Kathy Ingle (R) is a Republican activist that has donated $7775 to Republican candidates and committees in the past two years alone. Ingle is in a run-off election against Angela Hunt (D). The third place finisher in the race, Candy Marcum (D) endosed Ingle when she conceded. Today, Marcum sent out an email retracting her endorsement of Ingle:

Endorsement withdrawl of Kathy Ingle for District 14 City Council

Dear Friends, Neighbors and Supporters,

As some of you are aware, there have been a flurry of e-mails having to do with the runoff race for Dallas City Council District 14 and my endorsement of Kathy Ingle. I thought for the sake of open, honest and clear communication, I would write to you about the series of events leading up to the withdrawal of my endorsement of Kathy Ingle's candidacy.

The week after the election, I met with Kathy Ingle and went over the issues that were important to me in order to support her candidacy. These mainly had to do with her stance on GLBT issues. She assured me that she was a person who would not only support the non-discrimination ordinances currently in place in Dallas, but would also advocate for shoring up a loop hole in the housing ordinance. Never in that discussion was it revealed how she had voted on the DART non-discrimination policy 10 years ago.

When it came to my attention Monday, May 16th at 10:00pm by a good friend that Kathy had voted against including sexual orientation in DART's non-discrimination policy, I immediately made the decision to withdraw my endorsement for her candidacy for City Council. As you know, my life's work has been about fighting and advocating for equality for the GLBT community. I cannot and will not support someone who in any way deters my community from that goal.

So, dear friends, many of you have contacted me asking for clarification about this flurry of contradicting e-mails. I hope this helps with your confusion. At this time, I am not endorsing anyone for City Council District 14. My favorite candidate did not make the runoff! I am now in a neutral position where it comes to endorsing.

I encourage those of you who live in District 14 to vote for the candidate of your choice. Early voting has started today and Election Day is Saturday, June 4th.

Again, thank you for all your support and love. As generous as you have been with me, let me tell you I feel that 10 times more back to you!!

Love and kisses...


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May 15, 2005

GOP Major Donor and Activist Kathy Ingle Seeks Dallas City Council District 14 Seat in Run-off

By Byron LaMasters

On June 4th, Dallas voters will vote in several run-off races for city council. In District 2, voters will choose between a transsexual woman, Monica Barros-Greene, and a longtime Democratic activist, Pauline Medrano for the seat of the term-limited John Loza. In District 8, former councilman Al Lipscomb will face off against incumbent James Fantroy. In district 12, Tony Fleo and Ron Natinsky will fight for the seat of term-limited Sandy Greyson. And in District 14, Angela Hunt and Kathy Ingle will face off for the seat of term-limited Veletta Lill. District maps available here.

While all city elections are non-partisan, many candidates have an obvious partisan agenda. Kathy Ingle is one of them. In the past two years, Ingle has donated $7,775 to Republican candidates and causes:


12 records found in 0.0469 seconds.

Search Criteria:
Donor name: ingle, kathy
Donor State: TX
Cycle(s) selected: 2006, 2004 Contributor

Total for this search: $7,775

Contributor Occupation Date Amount Recipient
INGLE, KATHY SELF EMPLOYED/SELF EMPLOYED 2/2/2005 $1,000 Texas Republican Congressional Cmte
INGLE, KATHY SELF EMPLOYED/INVESTMENTS 11/5/2004 $1,000 Republican Party of Dallas County
INGLE, KATHY SHAKE AND SHINGLE SUPPLY 8/9/2004 $1,000 Shelby, Richard C
INGLE, KATHY SELF/INVESTMENTS 12/5/2003 $500 Young, Don
INGLE, KATHY SELF EMPLOYED/SELF EMPLOYED 9/22/2003 $225 Texas Republican Congressional Cmte
INGLE, KATHY MRS SHAKE & SHINGLE SUPPLY INC./MANAGEM 9/8/2004 $1,000 Marchant, Kenny Ewell
INGLE, KATHY MRS SHAKE AND SHINGLES SUPPLY INC./INVE 2/4/2005 $500 National Republican Congressional Cmte
INGLE, KATHY MRS SHAKE AND SHINGLES SUPPLY INC./INVE 1/6/2004 $500 National Republican Congressional Cmte
INGLE, KATHY MRS SHAKE AND SHINGLES SUPPLY/INVESTMEN 9/24/2003 $500 National Republican Congressional Cmte
INGLE, KATHY MRS INGLE RENTALS/OWNER 6/4/2003 $300 National Republican Congressional Cmte

Do District 14 voters want a Republican activist to be their representative on the Dallas City Council? Ingle sought the endorsement of the Dallas Stonewall Democrats, and at their meeting she stated that she disapproved of the tactics of Tom DeLay and thought that he was an embarrassment for her party. Why then, has Ingle donated to the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Texas Republican Congressional Committee in the past two years? Why then has she donated to Kenny Marchant and Pete Sessions - two of Tom DeLay's top congressional cronies?

After initially endorsing Candy Marcum, the Dallas County Young Democrats have endorsed Democrat Angela Hunt:

At our May 10 meeting, the Dallas County Young Democrats voted unanimously to endorse Angela Hunt in her run off election for Place 14 on the Dallas City Council. Angela is a longtime Democratic activist and a good friend of our organization. We encourage everyone in her district to support her in the June 4 election.

The incumbent, Veletta Lill has also endorsed Hunt. However, Candy Marcum endorsed Kathy Ingle. Rumors have circulated that Ingle and Marcum had a deal that the third place finisher would endorse the other in the run-off against Hunt. Regardless, I hope that Dallas voters reject Republican activist Kathy Ingle for the Dallas City Council. I would urge District 14 voters to vote for Angela Hunt. Not only is she a great Democrat, but she has a blog.

You can donate to Angela Hunt here.

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May 10, 2005

Darlene Ewing Elected DCDP Chair

By Byron LaMasters

Darlene Ewing was elected chair of the Dallas County Democratic Party tonight at their executive committee meeting. She was elected with 118 votes to 61 for Bruce Rothstein and 40 for Walter Hofheinz. A quorum of 56% was present (225 precinct chairs).

After the meeting I had the chance to speak with the new chair, and asked her if there was anything that she wanted to share with our readers. Ewing said that I could share with you all that she graduated from UT and is a proud Longhorn. She also agreed to participate in a Q&A interview on BOR in the coming weeks. If any of you have a question that you would to ask of the new party chair, please post it in comments (or email me).

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May 08, 2005

Huge South Dallas Opposition Fuels Strong Mayor Defeat

By Byron LaMasters

I spent some time playing with the turnout numbers earlier today in the Dallas strong mayor race. The results? There are two major reasons for the defeat.

First, voters in north Dallas did not turn out very heavily for the Blackwood proposal. Of the north Dallas districts most likely to vote for a strong mayor proposal, three saw a decreased turnout from 2003 - Districts 9, 10 and 13.

Second, south Dallas and the African-American community turned out very heavily against the strong mayor proposal. The opposition in the Black community was fueled by a distrust of mayor Laura Miller regarding her opposition to former mayor Ron Kirk and former Police Chief Terrell Bolton among other issues. In the four city council districts represented by African-Americans, turnout increased dramatically. In fact, the turnout in two of the southern sector districts (5 and 8) more than doubled from 2003.

In 2003 there was a mayoral election in Dallas between Laura Miller (a Democrat and the wife of former State Rep. Steve Wolens, D-Dallas) and Republican Mary Poss. Many majority African-American precincts voted for Mary Poss, but the turnout was low. This time, African-American voters had the opportunity to vote against Miller, a supporter of the strong-mayor proposal without voting for a Republican - and the turnout reflected this. Check out the extended entry for the turnout in various districts across the city.

Here is a look at the turnouts of the 2003 and 2005 Dallas city elections by city council district. Listed first is the district number. Listed second is the turnout in the 2003 city election that saw a contested mayoral election between Laura Miller and Mary Poss. Listed third is the turnout by council district in the 2005 election where the strong mayor proposal was rejected by city voters. Listed fourth is the location of the districts (also available here). Listed fifth is the vote change in turnout in each district between 2003 and 2005. Listed sixth is the percentage increase in turnout in each seat.

Seat       2003    2005    Loc.    Change  % Increase
1       1892    1897    SW Ctrl 5       0%
2       2349    2993    Central 644     27%
3       6976    7386    WSW     410     6%
4       6613    9610    South   2997    45%
5       4123    8822    South   4699    114%
6       1764    1518    West    -246    -12%
7       4921    6688    SE      1767    36%
8       3239    7118    South   3879    120%
9       10748   9646    NE      -1102   -11%
10      9287    8140    NE      -1147   -14%
11      5039    7027    North   1988    39%
12      6931    7798    North   867     13%
13      9105    9447    North   -342    -4%
14      8158    10138   Central 1980    24%

A map of the districts is available here. Several notes should be made.

Districts 2, 11, 12 and 14 had open-seat elections this year as the incumbent was term-limited. This clearly increased the turnout in those districts.

In 2003, District 3 had a high turnout due to a redistricting incumbent pairing. Also District 6 was a newly created seat in redistricting in 2003 which was open. The lowest turnout districts - 1, 2 and 6 are all Hispanic majority districts. All three have a large immigrant and foreign population that account for their low turnout. Also, districts 9 and 10 were open seat elections in 2003, which may account for their decrease in turnout in 2005.

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Marchant Son Defeated for Carrollton Mayor

By Byron LaMasters

I spent little time following the elections outside of the major cities last night, but one race in particular caught my eye this morning, and made me smile a little bit. Matthew Marchant, the son of the U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Carrollton) lost his bid for mayor of Carrollton (a northwest Dallas suburb) to Becky Miller.

The final results from Dallas County Elections:


Matthew Marchant 2,227 - 47.33%
Becky Miller 2,378 - 50.54%
Christopher Edward Norton 100 - 2.13%

I know next to nothing about Becky Miller, but I do know that Kenny Marchant was one of the most vocal Craddick/DeLay hacks during the 2003 re-redistricting ordeal (and was rewarded with a seat in congress - Texas's 24th CD, formerly held by Martin Frost). So, I was pleased to see Kenny's attempts to use his name to carry his son to office fail.

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May 04, 2005

Dallas Co. YD's Endorse Bruce Rothstein

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas County Democratic Party will be electing their permanent party chair at their May 9th executive committee meeting. Three candidates - Bruce Rothstein, Walter Hofheinz and Darlene Ewing are running. Last week, the Dallas County Young Democrats endorsed Bruce Rothstein:

At the April 28 Happy Hour, after meeting with all three candidates for Dallas County Democratic Party Chair and having the opportunity to ask them questions and listen to them speak, the Dallas County Young Democrats voted to endorse Bruce Rothstein for County Party Chair.

Bruce is a Precinct Chair, a member of the DCDP Advisory Committee, a former member of the Dallas County Democratic Party Legal team, and a sustaining member of the DCDP. He is a founding member of Dallas Area Democrats and the Dallas County Democratic Victory PAC. He has been a delegate to every state convention since 1994. Bruce was the co-chair of Dallas for Kerry-Edwards. He is also a former president of the Dallas County Young Democrats.

The Dallas County Young Democrats encourage all precinct chairs to support Bruce in the upcoming party chair election.

We would like to thank all of the candidates for taking the time to come out and meet with our members.

Have any other Democratic clubs endorsed?

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April 25, 2005

Guest Post on Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Race

By Byron LaMasters

Here's an email that I received from Jake Sapiens regarding the April 22nd Grand Prairie forum for Dallas Democratic Party County Chair candidates:

On Friday I attended a candidates forum hosted by Grand Prairie (and now Irving?) Democrats at Monterey's in Downtown Grand Prairie.

Of course I came into it with a bias: I already know and respect Bruce Rothstein as a longtime Democratic grassroots activist, and on this note the forum reinforced my opinion of him as the best candidate for these reasons. He had the strongest message about message, and had more nuts and bolts understanding of what goes into the political work of a county party structure. His vision seemed the most ambitious as well as the most based in concrete knowledge. I don't forsee any on-the-job training necessary should he become the interim or even regular party chair. His longtime experience as an activist and precinct chair makes him a favorite on those values which the last party chair found herself most in conflict with. On the subject of Susan Hayes, however, he stressed the need for all party leadership both past and current to communicate with each other. "We can't afford to lose institutional knowledge." I was impressed with his intelligence and ability to move into the future. All of the candidates expressed similar sentiments and impressed me with their positive attitudes and the lack of needless dwelling on the now-publicized party conflict which brought the party to this point in the first place.

I am not unfamiliar with Walter Hofheinz; he has become a friend-in-democracy of mine through this last election cycle as I've run into him at numerous fundraising and social events. Since I had never seen him address a group like this, I previously viewed him as just a low-key and friendly guy. Nothing had particularly impressed me of his leadership potential until the forum. Now that I look up his background as a candidate and his history of convention involvement I suppose I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was at the smoothness of his communication and his confidence in working with a room of people the way he did. Of all the candidates, my opinion of him changed the most through the forum, his communication skills seeming the best. If elected, I think he could be a fast-learner and would inspire the kind of confidence that potential Democratic candidates for office would want in deciding to put their own name on the line.

Darlene Ewing came into the forum as the most unknown to me, however her connections and loyalty are not unfamiliar. I "know" her through her work in Citizens for Equality. On the issue of election protection all of the candidates were on the same page, however she had the strongest and most informed message on this. With the transition to electronic voting machines and the irregularities many have actually experienced first hand, she impressed me as the candidate who would best address ballot protection. She stressed her fundraising experience which on further research I see is considerable, and her unique skills as a family lawyer in relation to dealing with the kind of recent conflicts. Her presentation came across as upbeat and can-do.

All of the candidates seemed to know and genuinely like each other, sticking around afterwards to talk to each other, precinct chairs, and other assembled Democrats. Katy Hubener was an excellent moderator for the event, letting the candidates shine while sticking to the tough concerns of the group through pointed questions. The tone of the forum and all of the candidates inspired hope in me for the Democrats of this county.

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April 14, 2005

Endorsements, Resolutions From Dallas

By Byron LaMasters

I would say that the Stonewall (GLBT) Democrats and the Dallas County Young Democrats are the two most active Democratic clubs in Dallas County. Both clubs have made endorsements in the Dallas City Elections in the past weeks. You can read of the Dallas Stonewall Democrats endorsements in their newsletter (PDF file). The Dallas County Young Democrats made their endorsements on Tuesday night and passed several resolutions as well.

The Dallas County Young Democrats made the following endorsements and resolutions at their Tuesday meeting:

NO on the Strong Mayor Proposal
A Resolution Calling for the Resignation of Tom DeLay
A Resolution Regarding Senator John Cornyn
A Resolution Opposing HJR 6 (gay marriage amendment)

Also, DCYD's endorsed in several city council and county school board races. I do not have the full list, but I know that they voted to endose Pauline Medrano in Place 2, Candy Marcum in Place 14, and Anne Hubener and Pauline Dixon for Dallas County School Board. I did not attend the meeting, but I also support those four candidates.

I attended the Dallas Stonewall Democrats meeting a few weeks ago. I have attended Stonewall meetings regularly when I am in Dallas for the past two years, and I finally joined as a member, because I wanted to be able to vote to support two great Democrats at their endorsement meeting - Pauline Medrano and Candy Marcum.

The two city council districts that take in the majority of the gay community in Dallas are District 2 and 14. Distict 2 is represented by the openly-gay and term limited mayor pro tem, John Loza. I've known Loza since I was in high school, when I got my first campaign job experience with his 2001 re-election campaign. Running to replace him is longtime Democratic activist Pauline Medrano and restuarant owner Monica Barros-Greene. Greene is a member of the GLBT community as a transgendered woman, and all things being equal, that would weigh positively into my decision on the race. However, Medrano's activism and service to the Democratic party seal the deal for me.

In district 14, there are two good candidates - Angela Hunt and Candy Marcum for the open seat of term-limited Veletta Lill . Both are good Democrats and would represent Dallas well on the city council. However, Marcum would add another GLBT voice to the council, and that is the tiebreaker for me. Marcum's professional and personal experience also make her a phenominal candidate.

The Dallas Stonewall Democrats endorsed the following:

Dallas City Council District 2: Pauline Medrano
Dallas City Council District 3: Ed Oakley
Dallas City Council District 6: Linus Spiller
Dallas City Council District 14: Candy Marcum
Strong Mayor Proposal: NO
Dallas County School Board Precinct 4: Anne Hubener

Medrano was endorsed by a 16-13 vote. I think that former Dallas County Chair Bill Howell, and author of Stout Dem Blog made the difference. Various charges against Pauline Medrano were made in discussion, and a Dallas Morning News article was cited. The Dallas Morning News has endorsed Monica Barros-Greene. Howell then noted that the Dallas Morning News has actively opposed the Medrano family for many years because of the Medrano family's work in organizing unions, notably for newspaper workers. The Dallas Morning News opposed their work in this regard, and have questioned the reputation of many in the Medrano family for years. I followed up by remarking that great Democrats and great friends of the GLBT community such as former State Rep. Harryette Ehrhardt (D-Dallas) and State Rep. Terri Hodge (D-Dallas) were supporting Medrano and that she deserved the support of the organization. After debate, the motion to endorse Medrano passed by a 16-13 margin.

In district 3, Stonewall endorsed the openly gay incumbent Ed Oakley. Oakley had a tough first race in 2001, and another tough race after redistricting as he was paired with another incumbent in 2003. This time, Oakley should have no trouble winning re-election.

Linus Spiller was endorsed over Steve Salazar in place 6 because of Salazar's role in denying representation of many Stonewall members at the Senate District 23 caucus at the 2004 Democratic convention in Houston. Salazar will likely win re-election, but Stonewall made the point that they feel that they needed to make.

In district 14, a motion for a dual endorsement of Angela Hunt and Candy Marcum failed, and the motion to endorse Marcum passed. Both are good candidates, but Marcum is the best candidate.

The strong mayor proposal was opposed overwhelmingly. I must give plugs to Beth Ann Blackwood for speaking at the meeting in a hostile environment, but the proposal was seen as too far-reaching by the organization. The organization also had serious problems with the fact that several individuals with a history of supporting anti-gay causes were major donors of the strong mayor proposal.

The Hubener family have been friends of the GLBT community for a long time, and Stonewall was pleased to support Anne Hubener in her race for Dallas County School Board.

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April 08, 2005

Ron Kirk, Laura Miller Debate Dallas Strong Mayor

By Byron LaMasters

They're both Democrats, but the two never agree on anything, and strong mayor is no exception. Miller supports it, Kirk opposes it. The Dallas Morning News reports:

On Thursday, they renewed their storied rivalry, jousting over the merits of a May 7 referendum that would give the mayor more power, while joking about their feud that changed the city's political landscape.

Mr. Kirk, the former Dallas mayor, described the proposal by Dallas lawyer Beth Ann Blackwood as a divisive, almost diabolical plan that would push the city over a cliff.

Ms. Miller, who served on the City Council before succeeding Mr. Kirk as mayor, said the Blackwood proposal was the tonic needed to pull the city out of its doldrums.
Also Online

The lively debate before the Metro Tex Association of Realtors, moderated by University of North Texas Chancellor Lee Jackson, gave a glimpse of how both sides of the strong-mayor debate will frame their arguments.

Ms. Miller frequently criticized City Hall and its workers – past and present.

"No accountability, no one in charge, no one to blame," she said. "It's been like this for years at Dallas City Hall, and that's what this is all about."

She then invoked memories of ousted Police Chief Terrell Bolton and former City Manager Ted Benavides, both of whom she fought hard to vanquish.

Speaking at times in an aggressive, tense tone, she even insulted Mr. Bolton, the city's first black chief, who was unpopular in parts of Dallas.

"I spent the first two years as mayor trying, trying to get a better city manager, and no one on the council supported me," Ms. Miller said. "And that manager hired an idiot to be a police chief without even interviewing anybody."

Near the end of the debate, Mr. Kirk accused Ms. Miller of using Mr. Bolton as a boogeyman.

"Bolton was a failure as police chief," he said. "But this has nothing to do with Terrell Bolton."

Mr. Kirk, who is a member of the Dallas Citizens Council, said the Blackwood proposal would confirm the fears of minority residents who say the plan would diminish their clout at City Hall.

"We would return to the days when a handful of people get into a room and make the decisions for the rest of us," he said, explaining that the proposal was developed by a small number of people.

"If Blackwood passes, they [minorities] would be right. ... I want us to go for a strong-mayor form of government, but I want us all to go together."

Ms. Miller and Mr. Kirk agree that the mayor should have more power, and both were rebuffed when they asked their respective councils to produce a plan that would allow the mayor to hire and fire the city manager.

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April 07, 2005

Learn about the Dallas County Chair Candidates

By Byron LaMasters

You can read about the three announced candidates for Dallas County Chair on the Dallas County Democratic Party website. The three announced candidates are Darlene Ewing, Walter Hofheintz and Bruce Rothstein.

You can have the chance to meet the candidates at the DCDP Burger Bash on Wednesday, April 13:

Next Wednesday, April 13, the Dallas County Democratic Party will be having its third annual Burger Bash in honor of taxpaying working Americans. Once again it will be at the party office, 4209 Parry at Fletcher in Dallas, starting at 6 PM. For a symbolically correct $10.40 you'll get burgers, chips, cookies, and good fellowship with other Democrats. And all three candidates for County Chair have been invited to meet folks there as well. Come meet them and other sane and fun people in this county that we are beginning to turn around, as last year's elections showed. If you want a veggie burger instead of meat, please email so we'll have a count, or call the office at 214-821-8331 during our expanded hours from 9 to 6. Look for more details soon on the party website.

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April 05, 2005

Date Set for DCDP Meeting to Elect New Chair

By Byron LaMasters

A date was set earlier today by the Secretary of the Dallas County Democratic Party, David Wilkins for an election to fill the vacancy of chair. Theresa Daniel was elected on Saturday to serve as interim chair. Daniel will chair the meeting, although she is not running for permanent chair. Announced candidates include Darlene Ewing, Walter Hofheintz and Bruce Rothstein thus far. The meeting will be held:

When: Monday, May 9 at 6:30 PM.
Where: Communications Workers of America (CWA) Hall - 1408 N. Washington, Dallas, TX.
Purpose: Election of to fill the vacancy of Party Chair

The official notice as posted is available here in PDF format.

Update: Stout Dem Blog has the info up as well.

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April 03, 2005

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.

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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.]

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March 30, 2005

Is this Racially Insensitive?

By Byron LaMasters

We report. You decide.

I'm posting the email that I received from Wick Allison of D Magazine last night. The email is related to my comments regarding the Park Cities People editorial that wrote that it is an "unpleasant fact" that "Anglos will be a minority in North Texas". In response I wrote this:

I agree - we should talk about race, and the serious factors regarding our changing demographics in north Texas. High teen birth rates, high dropout rates and declining household incomes are serious problems that must be solved. My point is that the Park Cities People editorial addressed those issues in a highly insensitive manner. Stating that Anglos being a minority is an "unpleasant fact" suggests racial insensitivity at best, and blatant racism at worst. We'll never solve our problems by scapegoating one race or ethnicity or another. We'll solve our problems by working together towards common ground with mutual respect - something that the writers of the Park Cities People editorial page certainly lack.

Now, Wick Allison has responded by saying that the Park Cities People editorial was correct as he stated via email that "Anglo society is superior to Hispanic society". I would say that such a statement is racially insensitve at best, and is reflective of the attitude held by many north Dallas and Park Cities Republicans that is usually said in private, but usually does not make waves into the mainstream media. Read the full email in the extended entry:

But it IS an unpleasant fact. Anglo society is superior to Hispanic society. Why do you think so many Hispanics want to be here? How many Anglos are fleeing the other direction? Read, for example, the Catholic thinker Michael Novak on Spanish Catholic thinking vs. American protestant thinking and how this divergence formed two very different societies in the Americas. Mexico, for example, has some of the wealthiest families in the world, but it is not (Novak's point) a wealth-producing, wealth-sharing society. Ask Argentinean political analysts about their society, and they will tell that it is a "take" society vs. the Anglo "build" society. It is a fine and wonderful thing to celebrate the different cultures that form our country, but it would be suicide to acquiesce to them. Hispanics flee their culture for a reason. The point of the editorial was to point out the dangers if we do not spend money now to educate and enculturate the new majority, which by the way increasingly consists of illegal aliens. I think the use of the word "alien" is interesting, because they are alien to our culture and way of thinking. So were the Jews and the Italians and the Irish at one time, but the nation made a whole-hearted effort to "Anglicize" them--that's why public education was started in the first place.

Now, to your point about racism. It would be racist to suggest that Hispanics are prone to destructive behavior. It would also be untrue. "Have-nots"--white, black, brown--have patterns of destructive behavior that are not correlated to race or ethnicity. And D Magazine has published extensive research to show that patterns of behavior and even political ideas correlate to class much more than, even to the exclusion of, race or ethnicity. Once again, we have the Jews and the Italians and the Irish and so forth. So we have to take into account poverty as well as an entirely different cultural background--and treat these two phenomena separately. But we DO have to treat them. And we can't treat them if we can't talk about them without having some (highly intelligent, wonderful, nice) liberal yell "Racism!!" every time somebody tries to address it.

What do you think? Let's keep the debate going, and let us know in comments.

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March 29, 2005

Soechting's Ruling

By Byron LaMasters

From my post earlier today was news of the opinion of the state party chair, Charles Soechting over who should chair the April 2 Dallas County Democratic Executive Committee Meeting. I've now posted the letter from State Chair Charles Soechting to Dallas SDEC member Ken Molberg. You can read it here in PDF format.

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Soechting Offers Opinion on Dallas County Meeting

By Byron LaMasters

Texas Democratic Chair Charles Soechting has issued an opinion on who should chair the Dallas County Democratic Party Executive Committee meeting on this Saturday, April 2. The current chair of the Dallas County Democratic Party, Susan Hays had appointed precinct chair 1802 Robert Franklin to chair the April 2nd meeting. The chair appealed to party rules in making her decision. Susan Hays will be resigning on April 1st.

The petitioners, disputed the appointment by Susan Hays, saying that the decision was in conflict with the Texas Election Code. They then asked for an opinion from the state party chair, Charles Soechting. Soechting opined that the chair of the meeting should be appointed by the secretary of the Dallas County Democratic Party - David Wilkins. Now, a letter from Robert Franklin is posted on the Dallas County Democratic Party webpage:

State Party Ruling regarding April 2nd Meeting

DATE: MARCH 28, 2005

There has been some controversy over the selection of a temporary chair for the April 2 meeting of the Executive Committee for Dallas County. It is the ruling of the Texas Democratic Party that only David Wilkins, party Secretary, has the authority to appoint a temporary chair for the purpose of conducting a meeting to choose a successor to resigning chair Susan Hays.

I urge all Democratic precinct chairs to attend this meeting and cooperate with Mr. Wilkins in the conduct of the hearing. A repeat of the chaos of the February 28 cannot be permitted. Please support and help Mr. Wilkins to chair a productive and orderly meeting. If all segments of the party work together for our common goals, we shall continue to enjoy greater and greater success in the future.

Robert Franklin

Now, all that is needed is for the Party Secretary to choose a temporary chair and for a quorum to show up for the meeting. It is important that Dallas County to have a strong Democratic Party going into the 2006 election cycle, and for that reason it is critical that all precinct chairs show up for the meeting. If you are a precinct chair in Dallas, please attend the meeting at 2 PM at the Hall of State in Fair Park.

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March 28, 2005

Dallas Meeting Notice Posted

By Byron LaMasters

Read the posting of the Dallas County Democratic Executive Committee Meeting in PDF format here.

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Dallas Rally to Protect Social Security

By Byron LaMasters

From our Dallas friends, a rally to protect Social Security hosted by the NAACP and the AFL-CIO:

The Dallas AFL-CIO is taking action to save Social Security at 11:45 AM through lunchtime this Thursday, March 31, in the 7600 block of Northwest Highway (at Central Expressway in Dallas). It's just across the street, south of Northpark shopping mall.

There's a public sidewalk there just fine for picketing. Right beside it is the office of Charles Schwab brokers, one of the main financial backers of the propaganda campaign for privatizing Social Security. You can see why Schwab will be targeted all over the nation on Thursday: they stand to profit first and foremost if the government undermines Social Security by privatizing.

Jim McCasland of AFL-CIO and Bob Lydia of NAACP have agreed to approach the Schwab people while we're outside. AFL-CIO will provide all the signs, so we just need you to come to enjoy an hour or less with us.

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Updates from Dallas County

By Byron LaMasters

News of Dallas County Democratic Chair Susan Hays's pending resignation has certainly been a topic of interest to readers of this blog. There are now over 60 Comments to my post on Thursday night. Since then, another letter has been sent out by the Concerned Democrats of Dallas County (PDF file). The letter urges precinct chairs to attend the Dallas County Democratic Executive Committee Meeting at 2 PM on April 2nd as called by the chair. The letter also disputes several appointments made by the chair. Former Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Bill Howell has weighed in on the matter as well over at Stout Dem Blog as has 100 Monkey's Typing and Off the Kuff.

More news can be found over at the Dallas County Democratic Party website. In Susan Hays's resignation letter, she appointed two judges to chair the credentialing table - Ted Akin and Ron Chapman. Chapman is a well-known Democrat from his 2002 congressional run. According to comments from my Thursday post (along with several emails), Judge Akin voted in the 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004 Republican primaries. Thus, its perplexing why a Republican would be named to the credentialing committee. If this information is incorrect, please correct me, but it has come from several sources.

Also on the Dallas County Democratic Party website is a place where candidates for chair can announce their intent to run for chair. At this point, no candidates have announced on the county party website. A new chair may be elected at the April 2nd meeting, or there may be an election of a temporary chair for 30 days or so in order to give candidates the opportunity to campaign. The only name of a likely candidate for chair that I have heard thus far is precint chair and former judge Darlene Ewing.

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March 27, 2005

Dallas Strong Mayor Proposal a Dead Heat

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas Morning News reports that the Dallas strong mayor proposal is a dead heat. In typical Dallas fashion, feelings about the strong mayor proposal closely follow ethnic, regional and economic divides:

Just six weeks before a landmark election that could change Dallas' form of government, the city is divided on whether to maintain the current system or greatly increase mayoral power, according to a Dallas Morning News poll.

Nearly 500 likely voters were asked whether they would vote on May 7 to eliminate the city manager position and give the mayor a slate of new powers. Forty-one percent favored the change, 40 percent opposed it, and 19 percent were undecided.

The city is divided economically, racially and geographically, with most North Dallas whites favoring the measure and most blacks in southern Dallas opposed, the poll indicates. Experts say the election could swing either way, depending on which camp more effectively mobilizes its voters. [...]

Mayor Laura Miller's supporters are most likely to favor the switch to a strong-mayor system. And her approval rating stands at 57 percent (68 percent among white likely voters, 53 percent among Latinos and 28 percent among blacks). [...]

Both supporters and opponents of the May ballot measure have stressed publicly that race and geography are not factors in the election, but the News poll suggests otherwise. White respondents favored the strong-mayor proposal by a 5-to-3 ratio, while black respondents opposed it nearly 5-to-1. Hispanics were evenly divided.

Geographically, likely voters in Dallas' northern sector strongly favored the measure, while southern-sector respondents overwhelmingly opposed it. [...]

Education and socioeconomic factors also were underscored in the poll. Likely voters who are highly educated, wealthy and over 40 were more likely to favor the ballot measure than those without college degrees and with household incomes of less than $50,000. Women were less likely than men to support the proposal. [...]

Opinions on the proposed strong-mayor amendment were also closely aligned with support of Ms. Miller. Most of the poll respondents who said they would vote for the proposal also voted for Ms. Miller in 2003.

Because Ms. Miller's job approval rating is so low among black residents, many of whom live in the city's southern sector, "she becomes a mobilizing force for the opponents of the strong-mayor proposal," said Harold Stanley, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University and author of the book Vital Statistics in American Politics. "Attitudes about Laura Miller herself do factor into this."

I am inclined to oppose this amendment. While I think that a stronger mayor system would serve Dallas well, I think that this proposal goes too far. I will be issuing an endorsement on this issue as well as for Dallas city council districts 2 and 14 later this week.

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March 24, 2005

Susan Hays Resigns Effective April 1st

By Byron LaMasters

The embattled Dallas County Democratic Chair, Susan Hays has announced her resignation effective April 1st. A draft of her letter to precinct chairs can be read as a PDF file, here.

The Dallas Morning News reports on Susan Hays's resignation:

Susan Hays announced Thursday that she would resign as chairwoman of the Dallas County Democratic Party on April 1, saying she was the victim of a witch hunt.

In a letter mailed Thursday, Ms. Hays asked precinct chairmen to meet April 2 at the Hall of State in Fair Park to select the next leader.

She appointed precinct chairman Robert Franklin as temporary chairman for the April 2 meeting.

"I am saddened to say that infighting has broken out, giving the public appearance that we prefer to fight among ourselves rather than stand united behind our Democratic beliefs and work together to get Democrats elected," Ms. Hays wrote. "My loyalty is not to the position of the chair, but to the larger progressive movement."


"It is time for us all to move forward," Ms. Hays said in her resignation. "Rest assured that the party will move forward, not because I am resigning or because of the artificial lines people have drawn – but because rather than be divided by personalities we are united by our strong, shared Democratic beliefs."

Mr. Molberg and about 10 other Democrats were meeting Thursday night to talk about a succession procedure. The Dallas lawyer said the precinct chairs could select a temporary chairman April 2 for 30 days. That would allow time for candidates for the chair to campaign and develop their platforms.

First, I think that it was bad form that the Chair went to the press on this matter before infoming her executive committee of her decision. Saying that she was the victim of a "witch hunt" without allowing a forum for the very legitimate grievances against her is, in my opinion, quite inappropriate. Second, I don't believe that the chair has the authority to appoint a chair for a meeting after she has resigned as chair. The Texas Election Code states the necessary procedure on this matter:

§ 171.025. PROCEDURE FOR FILLING VACANCY IN OFFICE OF COUNTY CHAIR. (a) If a vacancy occurs in the office of county chair, the secretary of the county executive committee shall call a meeting for the purpose of filling the vacancy. If a committee member files with the secretary a written request for a meeting to fill a vacancy, the secretary shall call the meeting to convene not later than the 20th day after the date the secretary receives the request.

As someone who attended the February 28th meeting, it is my understanding that the meeting was recessed until April 2nd, and that the April 2nd meeting will be a continuation of the previous meeting. According to the minutes submitted by the Party Secretary, after the chair Susan Hays abdicated the gavel at the 2/28 meeting, Dorothy Dean moved to elect a temporary chair to conduct further business. At that time, the motion was set aside, and should be the first order of business at the April 2nd meeting.

I certainly applaud Susan Hays's decision to resign as chair. She is a dedicated Democrat and has many talents, especially as a lawyer and as a lobbyist. While I don't think that her calling was as party chair, I think that she has much to offer our party.

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Susan Hays to Resign?

By Byron LaMasters

Unsubstantiated rumors have been swirling around this afternoon and evening stating that embattled Dallas County Democratic Chair Susan Hays will resign. The chair had previously announced that an executive committee meeting will be held on April 2. When I hear futher details, I will post them.

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March 19, 2005

More on the Park Cities People Editorial

By Byron LaMasters

I wrote on Thursday my objection to this remark in the Park Cities People editorial on HB 3 - "First, a few unpleasant facts. In just 10 years, Anglos will be a minority in North Texas". Wick Allison of the D Magazine Blog, The Frontburner posted this in reply:


According to the Burnt Orange Report, we're not supposed to talk about it. Staggeringly high birth rates for teenagers? The second highest dropout rate in the nation? Declining household income? Apparently, we are supposed to treat these social disasters as mysteries too deep to plumb. The fact that Texas is about to become a majority-minority state has profound consequences that need to be faced now. And you can't face them if you are too politically correct to talk about them.

Here's my response:

I agree - we should talk about race, and the serious factors regarding our changing demographics in north Texas. High teen birth rates, high dropout rates and declining household incomes are serious problems that must be solved. My point is that the Park Cities People editorial addressed those issues in a highly insensitive manner. Stating that Anglos being a minority is an "unpleasant fact" suggests racial insensitivity at best, and blatant racism at worst. We'll never solve our problems by scapegoating one race or ethnicity or another. We'll solve our problems by working together towards common ground with mutual respect - something that the writers of the Park Cities People editorial page certainly lack.

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March 18, 2005

Minutes of the 2/28/05 Dallas Co. Executive Committee Meeting

By Byron LaMasters

The Secretary of the Dallas County Democratic Party, David Wilkins, has submitted the minutes of the February 28, 2005 Dallas County Democratic Executive Committee meeting. You may view them in PDF format here. Also attached in the file are the two resolutions approved by the committee at their 2/28 meeting.

I have read the minutes, and as someone who attended the meeting, it is my opinion that they accurately reflect the events of the meeting.

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March 14, 2005

Dallas County Judge Margaret Keliher in Trouble

By Byron LaMasters

It's nice to know that Dallas County Democrats aren't the only ones involved in a public feud. The Dallas Morning News writes of the Republican quarrels on the Dallas County Commissioners Court:

Discord among Dallas County commissioners has grown so personal and vitriolic that some political observers fear it could hamper the county's ability to solve serious issues.

The four Republican members of the Commissioners Court publicly acknowledge the deteriorating atmosphere on the panel, which stems from an irritation over the leadership style of County Judge Margaret Keliher.

Commissioners Mike Cantrell and Kenneth Mayfield's displeasure with the judge has grown so pervasive they now routinely cast withering remarks her way during weekly court meetings and try to trip her up on the rules of order for moving legislation.

They complain that she works as a loner, neglects to keep them informed, fails to attempt consensus-building, and airs the county's dirty laundry in public for no good purpose when it would be better to solve problems quietly, behind the scenes – the way former County Judge Lee Jackson did.

Ms. Keliher, in turn, considers the commissioners' demeanor rude and unprofessional and says she's just trying to provide a more open county government and publicly air the issues of the day.

"I don't have any personal disdain for Judge Keliher," Mr. Mayfield said. "But she doesn't bring people together. She's out on her own."

The Dallas County Commissioners Court has a 4-1 GOP majority. Both the Precinct 4 seat and County Judge are up in 2006. The DPI (Democratic Performance Index - meaning the average Democratic performance) of Dallas County was 50.18% in 2004. The DPI has increased by about 1.5% each cycle for the past several cycles. The DPI of precinct 4 is in the high 40s. Dallas County is turning Democratic, but it is critical that we recruit a quality candidate for County Judge (an executive, not judicial position). My top choices would be 2000 Congressional candidate Regina Montoya Coggins, Former State Sen. David Cain or Former State Rep. Dale Tillery. One of them should be recruited.

Beyond that, Democrats are well-positioned to take back Dallas County government. The keys to taking over county government are winning a majority on the Commissioners Court, and winning the DA office, District Clerk and County Clerk (since we won the sheriff's office in 2004). I know that a top-notch African-American candidate has been recruited to run for DA, but the other offices are in need of good Democrats to step up. It is my hope that Dallas Democrats will be able to unite under new leadership in order to be victorious in 2006.

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Filings for the Dallas County School Board

By Byron LaMasters

I finally got on the Dallas County Democratic Party email list, and today's email brings news of two Democrats filing to run for the Dallas County School Board:

Ann Hubener and Pauline Dixon, both longtime Democrats, have filed for Dallas County School Board of Trustees. Both are active in the Democratic Party and have served their communities in many leadership roles.

Hubener, a Duncanville realtor, is running for the District 4 seat. Dixon, a retired schoolteacher and former Congressional candidate, is vying for the District 1 seat.

In addition to bus service, Dallas County Schools provides medias ervices, psychological services, and technology services to area school districts. The last day to register to vote is April 7. Early voting runs from April 20-May 3. Election Day is May 7.

Ann Hubener is the mother of Katy Hubener - the 2004 Democratic nominee for HD 106 who nearly defeated Ray Allen. Dixon was the 2002 Democratic nominee for CD 32, losing to Pete Sessions. Dixon also ran for Dallas County School Board in 2003 finishing third in a field of six for two at-large seats (interestingly, now-Sheriff Lupe Valdez was also among the losing candidates in that field - I endorsed Dixon and Valdez in that race). Both Hubener and Dixon are great Democrats, and would certainly add some needed diversity to a White-male dominated board.

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March 11, 2005

Air America Radio Coming to Dallas

By Byron LaMasters

We've noted that Air America Radio is coming to Austin and that other Texas cities are on the way. It's now official - Dallas is next (albeit on a low frequency station):

Air America Radio, the left-leaning network, is taking on Texas.

Its round-the-clock political talk will hit the air Monday in Austin and debut March 21 in the Dallas area, replacing the Spanish-language programming on KXEB-AM (910). Air America is already on in Corpus Christi.

In North Texas, Air America's success could be limited by the reach of the low-wattage station. Static nearly drowns out KXEB in some areas, but officials at Border Media Partners, the station's owners, said they were trying to strengthen the signal.

Air America executives, who called the expansion in Texas the high point for the network, said Mr. Franken will find an audience, even in President Bush's home state.

"We're providing an alternative for a minority that feels alienated," CEO Danny Goldberg said.

Update: Tom Blackwell reminds us that John Kerry won the city of Dallas by 53,902 votes (Kerry 200,854, Bush 146,952). Dallas is a Democratic city, and is getting more so each election cycle.

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March 08, 2005

CWA Local Head Says Sergeant-at-Arms not Authorized to Shut Down Dallas Meeting

By Byron LaMasters

A letter is being sent out to the Dallas County Democratic Executive Committee by CWA Local 6215 President J.D. Williams (available here - PDF file). In the letter, Williams notes that the action of Gene Freeland (Sergeant-at-Arms of the executive committee meeting at the Dallas CWA Hall last Monday) to kick the Democratic Party out of the CWA Hall was not authorized by the CWA. Freeland was appointed to serve as Sergeant-at-Arms by the chair, Susan Hays. Williams writes:

I want each of you to know that no one in C.W.A. authorized the Sergeant-at-Arms, who is not a member of C.W.A. to speak on behalf of the building owners and ask all of you to leave immediately. I gave no such authority to anyone that night.

Subject to our own needs, our facility will continue to be available for Party meetings in the future.

Susan Hays and Gene Freeland repeatedly warned that Freeland had the authority to shut down the meeting if things got unruly. This letter makes clear that the owners of the building, the CWA, had given no such authority.

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March 07, 2005

Sam Johnson Story Finally hits the local Press

By Byron LaMasters

Finally, weeks after U.S. Rep. Sam "Nuke 'em" Johnson (R-Plano) suggested that the United State should nuke Syria, the comments have hit the local press. Here's the Fort Worth Star-Telegram article from Sunday:

Capitol Hill is buzzing over remarks made by Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Plano, to President Bush and Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, last month at the White House that the way to solve the problem of Syria allegedly harboring Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is "to put two nukes in 'em."

Johnson, a former fighter pilot and prisoner of war in Vietnam, relayed that conversation with the president at a veterans event Feb. 19 at Suncreek United Methodist Church in Allen. Someone taped Johnson's speech and shared it with Roll Call, a nonpartisan newspaper that covers Capitol Hill.

"Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on 'em and I'll make one pass. We won't have to worry about Syria anymore." While there was loud applause, some people took offense.

As for Granger, spokesman Pat Svacina said, "She has no recollection of that conversation."

Isn't that convenient, Kay. Fortunately, other witnesses have better memories. The Houston Chronicle also picked up on the story on Sunday as well:

Dallas-area congressman Sam Johnson raised eyebrows with his recent offer to personally drop a couple of nuclear bombs on Syria.

But he said that he was "kind of joking" in his comments at a pancake breakfast at a North Texas church in February.

His remarks in Allen were first reported last week in Roll Call. The Capitol Hill newspaper said it had heard a recording of the talk.

According to Roll Call, Johnson said he was talking with President Bush and Rep. Kay Granger, a Fort Worth Republican, at the White House about weapons of mass destruction that U.S. troops had failed to find in Iraq.

Johnson said he told the president: "Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view."

"You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on 'em and I'll make one pass. We won't have to worry about Syria anymore," he said.

Johnson, 74, is a former Air Force combat pilot who served in the wars in Korea and Vietnam, where he was shot down and spent 7 1/2 years as a prisoner of war.

Note to congressmen.... you don't "joke" and you certainly don't "kind of joke" about using nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the Dallas Morning News picked up on the story on Friday:

Folks know the colorful Sam Johnson, R-Plano, is good for the occasional off-the-wall comment, and here's what one person with a tape recorder caught the congressman saying last month to a group of veterans gathered at an Allen church: "Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on 'em and I'll make one pass. We won't have to worry about Syria anymore." We're not sure which is worse, that Mr. Johnson, a former fighter pilot, made such an inappropriate, tongue-in-cheek comment or that the group applauded so loudly. It only helps those who would harm this country to paint us all as bloodthirsty cowboys.

I have two questions. First, why did it take two weeks for the local media to pick up on these outrageous remarks? Second, why are people not calling for Sam Johnson's resignation?

I'll do it. Joking about using a weapon that could lead to the end of civilization as we know it, is just not funny. Hearing a member of our federal government make such comments is downright scary. No one who makes such irresponsible statements should serve at any level of government, especially not as a member of Congress, which has the constitutional authority to authorize military action. Sam Johnson should resign. Who will join me in calling for Sam Johnson's resignation?

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March 05, 2005

Editorialized and another Letter

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas Morning News wrote this on their editorial page:

And these bozos expect people to vote for them?

Count on the party of Andrew Jackson, LBJ and Bill Clinton to eat its young. Just when Dallas County Democrats should be figuring out how to advance the major gains they racked up in November – the sheriff's office and three judgeships – they've contrived to implode. A party meeting this week ended when security guards broke up what was fast becoming an out-and-out brawl. Sheriff Lupe Valdez felt the need to call the county chairwoman, Susan Hays, from outside the meeting and tell her it wasn't safe for her to leave. This is madness. For the sake of democracy (with a small "d"), stop it.

Count on the Dallas Morning News to do what they can to make a bad situation for the Democratic Party look worse. Anyone who read this blog during the past election season would know my opinion of the Dallas Morning News editorial page. Furthermore, to my knowledge, the DMN did not attend the meeting. There were no "security guards" breaking up the meeting. The sergeant-at-arms, ousted labor leader Gene Freeland (an ally of the chair), threw the party out of the CWA Hall. If the Dallas Morning News would have actually attended the meeting they would know that the meeting, while very heated in rhetoric was in no sense an "out-in-out" brawl. I did not observe ANY physical violence, nor threats thereof.

Also, another letter is being sent out to precinct chairs. I've included it in the extended entry:


March 4, 2005

Dear Fellow Democrat:

Last Monday night’s meeting of the Dallas County Democratic Executive Committee was one of the most interesting and revealing in our County Party’s history.

We want to thank the large majority of you who petitioned for that meeting. The petition, signed by more than 200 of you, was an historic event–the first time in memory that the Precinct Chairs themselves have undertaken the difficult task of calling their own meeting. This is proof that our Party is strong, active, energized and ready to wrest control of this county from the Republicans.

We are sorry, however, that our opportunity to plan the future of our Party was not completed, and it troubles us that the meeting’s unnecessary and abrupt conclusion silenced many of your voices. Troubling, too, is the misportrayal of the meeting by our local daily newspaper, in a story written four days after the fact. As for the meeting itself, we saw no reason for the extreme delay between the announced start time and the time the meeting was actually called to order. It was clear to all that a quorum was present within less than 20 minutes. The meeting should have been opened then. And, as a last point here, many of us cannot quietly accept the action of the Chair in recognizing a strategic quorum call designed to hobble the meeting, which had the immediate and damaging result of preventing us from filling numerous Precinct Chair vacancies. Many pending Precinct Chairs were in attendance, each one ready to become an official part of the Party structure and move forward. Instead, they were needlessly sacrificed, and that misguided act cost us valuable time, resources and political personnel.

Nevertheless, two very positive things happened. First, you unanimously passed a rule requiring that the Executive Committee meet no less than quarterly, thus ending the chance that the Executive Committee will be forced by the Chair’s inaction to sit idle during a volatile election season. As you know, until the other night, we had not met for some 10 months, not even before the presidential election. Second, you overwhelmingly approved the creation of a Democratic Party Advisory Committee ,whose purpose, among others, is to develop a strategic political plan for our county. This is long overdue. The Advisory Committee is made up of three persons elected from each Senate District, and each district has now elected its representatives and is preparing to move forward.

We have a common goal: securing the election of Democratic candidates who will promote the interests of the many rather than the few, and to do so with an inclusive and active Party structure, one that translates words into action at the grassroots level. For the Party Chair to refer in the press to your actions in your leadership roles as “mob rule,” and to claim with a straight face that the only reason the reformers have taken action is because of a desire for “jobs” from the Party, pointedly illustrates, again, the Chair’s failure to recognize the purpose and value of the Party structure. It is neither wise nor proper to ignore, be intolerant of, or disrespect the Precinct Chairs. One thing is certain, however: a solution cannot be imposed from the top down. A solution must involve the governing organization of our local Party, and it can only be reached through our collective wisdom and experience.

We ask for your continued input. Your voice does matter. We also ask for your help in reaching a quorum at the April 2, 2005 Executive Committee meeting, so that we may fill the vacant precincts. Working together, we will soon put an end to the current difficulties and unite to accomplish our goals in 2006 and beyond. The issues are too important to allow any other result.

Concerned Democrats of Dallas County

Theresa Daniel

Ken Molberg
SDEC and former County Chair

Shannon Bailey
SDEC and President, Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus

Steve Tillery

Michael Moon
President, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas

Dorothy Dean
Precinct Chair

Bruce Rothstein
Precinct Chair

Gary Fitzsimmons
Former SDEC

Janice Mattox
Precinct Chair

Buck Massey
Precinct Chair

Ricardo Medrano
Precinct Chair

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March 04, 2005

Dallas Morning News Covers Monday Meeting

By Byron LaMasters

Frankly, I was surprised not to see an article in the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday. Gromer Jeffers has an article on the topic here. Stout Dem Blog has some problems with the article, and posts on such. The only real news in the article is mention that the chair is considering resigning:

Embattled Dallas County Democratic Party leader Susan Hays said Thursday that she's studying ways to bring the splintered party back together – including the possibility of departing as chairwoman.

"I'm considering all options," Ms. Hays said. "The overall goal is to stabilize the situation."

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March 02, 2005

Tejano Democrats Of Dallas County Resolution

By Byron LaMasters

This was passed yesterday:

After reviewing all the facts and hearing the allegations against our party chair, today the Tejano Democrats of Dallas County executive committee (the official Hispanic caucus of the Democratic Party) passed a resolution of no-confidence in our party chair. It also calls for her resignation for malfeasance and undemocratic activities. Until yesterday's meeting the organization had not taken a position, however the chair's actions and refusal to comply with basic party rules leaves us no choice but to encourage our members to get involved and support this grassroots movement for reform and change.

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Lake Highlands / White Rock Democrats Recap Dallas Meeting

By Byron LaMasters

From the email bag today is another recap of the Dallas Democratic Executive Committee meeting from the Lake Highlands / White Rock Democratic Club. They are sending the following article in their newsletter this month. The authors are Bill James, the Newsletter Chair of the Lake Highlands White Rock Democrats and SDEC 16 member Theresa Daniel. Daniel is a former president of the club and the Democratic nominee for HD 107 in 2002. The account given here is the account that I believe is most likely to be reflected in the minutes of the meeting to be prepared by the party secretary and to be approved by the executive committee at the next official meeting:

Petitioned Meeting of DCDP Ends In Controversy By Bill James and Theresa Daniel

Dallas County Democratic Party meetings can be noisy and contentious, but Monday evening February 28 had a special air. The meeting was called by a majority of 324 (347?) precinct chairs (actually over 60% responded) with a signature petition. This was the first time in memory of many of the chairs that such a meeting was called by petition; similar measures were taken in 1990 in Harris County. Why people signed varied - some thought it was time, since the last DCDP executive committee meeting was May 2004. Others had a broad range of dissatisfaction with the performance of Democratic County Chair, Susan Hays. The complaints covered dereliction of duty, statutory negligence, primary election ballot shenanigans, misuse of party resources, a stunted unified campaign effort, and financial and personnel mismanagement.

The 6:30 pm meeting was delayed for over an hour as Chair Hays stalled calling the meeting to order waiting for confirmation of a quorum. Rumblings in the assembled delegation called for “getting on with the meeting.”

Instead, Hays filled time by rehashing the voter turnout numbers for the past election. Once Chair Hays called the meeting to order, she appointed Gene Freeland Sergeant at Arms to maintain order. With his appointment came the warning that the CWA Local president had stated, that if the meeting became disorderly, Mr. Freeland had the authority to order the building vacated on behalf of the owners. Warning taken, the crowd behaved very well.

The first motion on the floor was made by Shannon Bailey to adopt an agenda prepared by the petitioning precinct chair group that included two resolutions to be placed on the floor. After parliamentary games, the first resolution, “to establish quarterly meetings of the executive committee of the DCDP” passed unanimously.

The second resolution, “to establish a Democratic Advisory Committee to create a DCDP Two-Year Plan for 2005-2006” was moved and seconded with various amendments. This passed with a very large margin. Then a Hays supporter was recognized and stated that a quorum was no longer present. A back-and-forth discussion of parliamentary and party rule questions was called in rapid succession when it became clear that Chair Hays was seeking to adjourn the meeting for lack of a quorum. Votes were taken with Chair Hays declaring the meeting out of order to thwart the will of the assembled petitioning Precinct Chairs.

A Roll Call of the precinct chairs was attempted to determine the quorum status. The meeting degenerated quickly as it became evident that the official list was faulty. At one point, Chair Hays read a name of precinct chair who had died. [A precinct chair], scolded the chair stating that this lack of knowledge was typical of the problem. The Roll Call was stopped.

Chair Hays directed Gene Freeland as Sergeant at Arms to declare the meeting over and ordered the assembled Democrats to “leave the building immediately.”

SDEC 16 was hastily assembled by Committee-members Ken Molberg and Theresa Daniel where nominations were made and Shannon Bailey (3220) and Bruce Rothstein (1147) were elected as the delegates from SD16 to the Advisory Committee formed with ratification of the second resolution.

As the SD16 meeting closed Ken Molberg, SDEC 16 Co-Chair said, “After many decades of Democratic activism, I was embarrassed by the actions of the County Chair and her abuse of the precinct chairs. We must regroup and move on.”

Like SDEC 16 the other Senate District Committees met to nominate and elect Advisory Committee members as prescribed in the second resolution as passed.

SDEC 2 seated Charles Bowen (2601), and Gay Michele (2324), with Darlene Ewing (2319) as an alternate. Steve Tillery assumed the committeeman representation.

SDEC 8 elected Kathy Bannon, (1405), and Anthony Pace (1811), with Al Daniels (1110) as an alternate, David Griggs will serve as the committeeman.

SDEC 9 elected Katy Hubener, and Tom Madrzy-Kowski (4601). Christine Asberry as the committeewoman.

SDEC 23 elected Michael Moon (3309), and Dorothy Dean (3535), with Elaine Wiant (3204) as alternate.

Outside the CWA Hall, around the flagpole DCDP Secretary, David Wilkins continued chairing the meeting with many of the petitioning precinct chairs participating. Recognizing that the meeting had never been officially adjourned, they passed a motion declaring the meeting to be “in recess, and to be continued at the stated date of April 2.” That date coincides with the Summit Meeting announced earlier by Chair Hays.

What does this all mean? Theresa Daniel, the other co-committee member of SD16, agrees that the disrespect shown the Democratic precinct chairs by the county chair tonight was unprecedented. “Our challenge is go around, go through, whatever we need to do to achieve our goals as Democrats. It may not be easy, but we are here to see Dallas County through to its place on the Democratic side.”

The greatest loss of the meeting was that 60 pending precinct chairs were not installed. Hopefully next time we will have a quorum to do that.

More from Bill James:

I am the Newsletter Chair for the Lake Highlands White Rock Democrats. Theresa Daniel and I wrote [this article] to report about the County Executive Committee Meeting of DCDP called by petition on Feb. 28, 2005 for the LHWR Democrats monthly newsletter.

LH/WR Democrats was one of the first clubs to begin open discussion of the problems with Susan Hays as Chair of DCDP in December. We ratified the first of the club resolutions regarding the Chair in that arose in January. There is a deep distrust that has developed among a vast majority of the activist base in Dallas toward Susan Hays. It has seemed to many very experienced, long time Democrat activists that the strength of Dallas Democrats was being deeply eroded under her leadership. All during 2004 under the leadership of Chair Hays the County Party apparatus seemed to be unused, the web site had no information, precinct chairs couldn’t get information to help work their neighborhoods, and on and on.

The disorderliness of the meeting on Monday, in my opinion, was provoked by Chair Hays. The two resolutions were handled quite well and seemed to me to be great deliberative process. The meeting veered out of control when quorum questions arose by Hays supporters. It seemed that dirty tricks were afoot to somehow break the meeting. Any damage done to the Democratic Party is a result of her intransigence in failing to see she has lost the confidence of the rank and file activists of Dallas County.

If she has the best interests of the Democratic Party in her heart, she should resign her post, and let the advisory committee cover the Duties of the Chair until the next election in spring of 2006.

Bill James
Dallas, Texas
Newsletter Chair, Lake Highlands White Rock Democrats

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Guest Post by Commenter "WhoMe?"

By Byron LaMasters

"WhoMe?" is a regular BOR commenter, and also a Dallas County Precinct Chair who had some additional thoughts to share from the Dallas County Executive Meeting on Monday night:

New Precinct Chairs Sacrificed by County's Chair's Paranoia

By now, many BOR readers have heard about the heavy-handed tactics used by the Dallas County Chair at the most recent Dallas County Executive Committee meeting. While many other posts focused on past grievances and the delay tactics the Chair employed at the meeting itself, perhaps the biggest casualty of all was the failure to swear in new Precinct Chairs. The Dallas County Party has committed to recruit as many new Precinct Chairs as possible. Precinct Chairs are the life-blood of the party. More than 50 budding activists attended the meeting for their "special day" - their chance to become part of the Committee. Instead, they were not sworn in and many, many left disillusioned and ready to give up on the party they so wanted to make their home.

How did this happen? They were a casualty of a Chair who was so paranoid about losing any grip on her power that she played procedural games to halt the meeting. The Chair's quorum shennaigans may have allowed her to halt the meeting, but it also deprived the party of dozens, if not scores, of people willing to give to the Party their most prized possession: their love and their labor. To all present in the room, there was clearly a quorum present (both to conduct business and to swear in new Precinct Chairs). Many "counters" certifed as much, but to admit this fact would have deprived the County Chair of the sharpest arrow in her quiver - the quorum buster. (How ironic that such a device was used for such noble purposes by our House Members, and how shameful that our Chair invoked this heroic deed in using the same tactic to bully the overwhelming sentiment of the Committee).

New Precinct Chairs are our future. A committed new Party activist is literally worth his or her weight in gold. If money is King in politics, then the loyalty and gumshoe work of an activist Precinct Chair is the Emperor. How many legions of volunteers did our County Chair sacrifice so that she could declare that a quorum was no quorum? How many people returned to their communities, not to sing the praises of our Party, but to tell their neighbors that we are dysfunctional? How many would-be-members of the Committee will NEVER come back? The answer to these questions should strike fear into the very heart of everyone who loves our Party and the simple principle that defines us as Democrats: everyone does better when EVERYONE does better.

We know the price that was paid. For what gain? - so that our Chair would not have to co-exist with an ADVISORY committee.

O Tempora! O Mores!

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March 01, 2005

More Reaction From the Meeting Last Night

By Byron LaMasters

SDEC 16 Member Ken Molberg:

I am not a member of the Committee, therefore I could not speak tonight. Being your SDEC person - - Let me go on record as saying how disgusted I was with our Party Chair who could not control the meeting, and who did everything to deliberately thwart your voice, regardless of which side you were on. I think this is testimony to the fact that this party needs to get itself together and move on, and she is not part of the plan.

Precinct Chair Elaine Wiant, elected last night to serve as a member of the advisory committee out of SD 23:

If the chair had allowed the meeting to proceed – from the very beginning -- none of the disruptions would have occurred. The meeting was called by petition, not by the Chair. This should have been a clue to the Chair. She took every step possible to delay and obstruct the meeting.

From the viewpoint of the petitioners, the request for Sheriff Valdez to speak early was clearly a delaying tactic. We would have all liked to hear from her after the business was conducted. It could have been so easy – if only the chair had allowed it to be so. The meeting did NOT have to be a marathon session, and I, one of the petitioners, didn’t expect to be one.

Interestingly, the 23rd Senate District caucused on the street corner after the meeting was recessed and elected its representatives to the advisory committee.

Also, interestingly, I talked to a least one precinct chair who was prepared to support the chair when he arrived and changed his mind after observing her obstructionist tactics.

Kudus to David Griggs, who probably should have chaired the entire meeting!

Dallas Stonewall Democrats President Michael Moon:

I have been involved in Democratic Politics since I was 16. And since the Party Chair won't do it, I will apologize to everyone in attendance last night. It was the most embarrassing meeting I have ever been to. The party had a poorly maintained precinct chair list so no could tell who was pending, who had resigned, or who had moved. The chair ordered a quorum call which is not he motion to make.

Former County Chair Bill Howell:

It is inconceivable that this person who has consistently refused to seek or accept advice from the party activists (thus following the lamentable model of the first campaign she was active in here, that of Victor "no, you can't use me on your party slate card" Morales), would even consider resigning. We have had County Chairs before who hoped to use the job to bolster their resume or name ID for a political future. For that to have any chance of working one needs to spend the time in the position making friends in the party and building favorable contacts. Ignoring and offending the party loyalists is downright counterproductive to any future aims. It has been reported that she previously said she does not intend to run for another term next year anyway. If true, that will spare us a very divisive primary. People should start recruiting good candidates now, and make sure they are the kind of folk that genuinely respect and want to work with other Democrats.

We used to have petty tyrants as County Chairs, who would ignore and try to circumvent the Executive Committee. That was more than three decades ago, before reform rules gave the grass roots a recourse to challenge their power. Democracy must be not just an abstract concept, but a vital means of dealing with others with respect to make a better world together. All of those bullies were conservatives who later became Republicans before they died or retired to rocking chairs. Good riddance.

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Shame and Disgust in Dallas County

By Byron LaMasters

I must respectfully disagree with the assessments of tonight's Dallas County Democratic Executive Committee meeting provided by 100 Monkeys Typing and by Vince. I am saddened and I regret that I must write this post, because I often shy away from intraparty conflict – especially such conflict that will inevitably bring our party bad press. For example, I considered writing a post last June regarding some very unfortunate proceedings in the 23rd Senatorial District Caucus at the State Democratic Convention in Houston, but I decided against writing such a post. Whatever benefits attained by exposing the activities of that caucus were likely to be outweighed by the bad press such publicity would provide in the middle of a heated election season.

Today, however, I feel that it is my obligation as a witness to the events of the evening to explain my view of the Dallas County Executive Committee meeting. While the details of the meeting could bring the party bad press, I believe that there is more danger in allowing the status quo to continue unabated. Before decrying the petitioners in Dallas County as power-hungry agitators (or worse), it is key to understand the background in which the meeting took place. This post from Saturday outlines some of their concerns, but there are many significant grievances of the chair, of which I will only mention one specifically that I find inexcusable. Chair Susan Hays had failed to call a single executive meeting since May 2004. The Texas Democratic Party rules clearly state in Article III.E.6.b, “the County Executive Committee shall have the primary responsibility for planning and coordinating the General Election Campaigns of the Democratic Party’s nominees within the County”. It is nothing short of dereliction of her duty as party chair to have not called a County Executive Meeting to coordinate such a campaign during the election campaign season.

With no plan in place, the chair relied on outsourcing much of the coordinated campaign to the Frost campaign and the Sen. West organization. With Martin Frost’s money, Lupe Valdez’s campaign energizing Hispanics (along with the well-documented GOP corruption from the Dallas Sheriff’s Department), and the gradual, but inevitable Democratic trend of Dallas County, Democrats attained much success in 2004. Arguments can be made as to whether the success was because of, or in spite of the leadership of Chair Susan Hays. Either way, it is this context, along with the failure of Chair Hays to call an executive committee meeting in nearly ten months, that the Dallas County Club Council (the organization representing the leadership of all Dallas Democratic Clubs) decided that as an option of last resort, petitions should be circulated in order to force an executive committee meeting upon an unresponsive chair.

The petitioners had called for an executive committee meeting to begin at 6:30 PM in the evening. Their petition to call an executive committee meeting was signed by 60% of the precinct chairs in a matter of weeks – not an easy feat. Within 15-20 minutes of the proposed start time for the meeting, the petitioners, who called the executive committee meeting, verified that they had attained a quorum (40% of the executive committee present per Texas Democratic Party rules). However, the staff of the party had incomplete records of the precinct chairs, including a record of a deceased person as an active precinct chair (more on this later), and managed to bumble around in stalling tactics for over an hour. During this time, the chair Susan Hays, decided to start the meeting of the committee without calling the meeting to order, thus preventing any motions to be made. The chair proceeded to have her staff hand out analysis of the 2004 results and of the advances in fundraising over the past years, while defending her record from various attacks made on her by the petitioners. Instead of allowing an open forum for debate, the chair proceeded in her delaying tactics for over one hour. Finally, at 7:34 PM, the chair announced a quorum of 147 members (or 45% of the committee).

Finally, once the meeting began, there was a debate on the agenda of the meeting. I posted the two competing agenda’s earlier in this post. The chair, Susan Hays had prepared one agenda, and the petitioners, who had called the executive committee meeting, had prepared another. Texas Stonewall Democrats President (and SDEC member) Shannon Bailey moved to adopt the petitioner’s agenda. The chair continued with her delaying tactics. She wanted to speak in opposition to the petitioner’s agenda, and attempted to allow a chair pro-tem to chair the question so that she could speak on it. First, Chair Hays attempted to hand the gavel to County Commissioner John Wiley Price, which violated Robert’s Rules of order as Price was not a member of the committee. Next, Chair Hays attempted to hand the gavel to Gene Freeland, an ousted labor official and ally of the chair, whom the chair had appointed Sergeant-at-Arms of the meeting. Again, Freeland was not a member of the committee, and he was rejected. Finally, the chair asked a member of the committee to serve as chair pro-tem, her decision was accepted, and Hays handed over the gavel. However, the question was called without debate. Members of the executive committee were asked to vote to call the question of whether to accept the petitioners agenda (again, see here) printed on yellow paper to replace the chair’s agenda, printed on white paper. The vote to call the question passed overwhelmingly, and the subsequent vote to approve the petitioner’s agenda passed easily as well at 7:51 PM. In my estimate, both procedural votes resulted in a vote against the chair by a rough margin of five-to-one.

Next, there was a vote to amend the petitioner’s agenda to include the Pledge of Allegiance to both the United States and Texas flag before other action was taken. This amendment passed unanimously, and the pledge was taken. Another issue of no contention was the approval of the minutes of the previous (May 2004) meeting. The minutes were approved without objection.

Finally, after the chair had wasted an hour and a half of the committee’s time (perhaps about an hour of which was avoidable), it was time for business to be conducted. At this point, a motion on the floor from a supporter of the chair called to allow Sheriff Valdez speak out of order. The petitioner’s agenda allowed for “Remarks of elected officials” after business had been conducted. The Chair’s agenda, on the other hand, called for the address from Sheriff Valdez before business had been conducted. Considering that the chair had wasted nearly an hour and a half in stalling tactics, the committee was in no position to allow for such tactics to continue. There was a sympathy vote to allow Sheriff Valdez to speak out of order – in fact it received the most votes on a contested issue for the position of the chair, but the motion still failed by a rough margin of 50 in favor and 90 against (a two-thirds majority was needed).

Finally, the committee was able to get to proposed resolutions. The first resolution called for mandatory quarterly meetings of the executive committee. The chair did not object to this resolution and the resolution passed unanimously. The second resolution was a bit more complicated – it called for creating a Democratic Advisory Committee to assist the chair comprised of 15 members – three from each of the five senatorial districts included in Dallas County. After several friendly amendments, this resolution passed with little to no opposition as well.

At this point, resolutions from the floor were open, but supporters of the chair, seeing the lopsided margins of victory on procedural votes for the petitioners, engaged in further stalling tactics. This time, the tactics meant preventing a quorum – a tactic wholeheartedly endorsed by the chair, who compared precinct chairs breaking the quorum to the “Killer D’s” who fled to Oklahoma during the redistricting saga (this is apples and oranges – the Killer D’s operated under State House rules and were fighting against Tom Craddick and Tom Delay, the Dallas County Democratic Party operates under Texas Democratic Party rules and the chair's supporters were fighting against activists seeking to ensure that the executive committee fulfilled it's duty per the party rules). Quickly, supporters of the chair noted that a quorum was not present, and insisted that proving a quorum was necessary before any further business was conducted. At this point, chaos broke out. Angry precinct chairs attempted to take control of the meeting away from the chair and continue business. However, the chair ignored points of order, and insisted upon a roll call of the 300+ precinct chairs. She began the roll call vote and halfway through the A’s she got to the name of the aforementioned deceased precinct chair that was still on the list of precinct chairs. At that point, a respected precinct chair, and longtime activist notified Chair Hays that the member was deceased, and if the chair would bother to pay any attention to her executive committee, she would be aware of that fact. The comments received a strong ovation. Shortly thereafter, the incident regarding Ms. Hubener which Vince described occurred.

There was so much anger at the chair by this time, and many tempers had boiled over. I don’t agree with the actions made by some of the petitioners, but I understand the context in which they were made. At this point, pandemonium erupted in the hall and the sergeant-at-arms, Gene Freeland declared that the meeting was adjourned and kicked the Democratic Party out of the CWA Union Hall – an action that someone who was not a member of the committee could not take. Gene Freeland will likely have to answer to officials in the Dallas AFL-CIO who are likely to disagree with the aggressive (and perhaps illegal) actions he took on behalf of the chair. Regardless, at that point the chair left the meeting, several senate districts met to elect their members to the Democratic Advisory Committee, and a motion was made to continue the meeting in the parking lot. It is my understanding that the meeting continued in the parking lot with the decision to recess the meeting until the next scheduled executive committee meeting on April 2nd, where the agenda will be completed by the committee.

Regardless of what happens, however, it was clear to me tonight that the Chair, Susan Hays does not have the confidence of the vast majority of the grassroots and precinct chairs in Dallas County. Hays refused - just as she has refused for the past ten months - to accept a forum for grievances against her. Furthermore, she used continuous stalling tactics to prevent business from being accomplished. I offer this summary as evidence that Dallas County needs new leadership, and if Chair Hays will not step down, it is critical that Dallas Democrats work to elect a chair next March that will lead a united Dallas Democratic Party to victory in November 2006.

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February 28, 2005

Two Agendas

By Byron LaMasters

I'm at the CWA Hall liveblogging the Dallas County Democratic Executive Committee Meeting. Fortunately, they've got a wireless connection here (you would think so, being the Communications Workers). The meeting is scheduled to begin in a few minutes here and we currently have two agendas. The agenda of the chair, and the agenda of the petitioners:

The Agenda of the Petitioners:

I. Adoption of the agenda.
II. Approval of the minutes of last meeting.
III. Resolutions
A. To establish quarterly meetings of the executive committee
B. To establish a Democratic Advisory Committee and and select the members thereof.
IV. Business
A. Old Business
B. New Business
- installation of pending precinct chairs
- direction to correct Congressional record
- remarks or resolutions of precinct chairs
V. Announcements
VI. Remarks of elected officials
VII. Adjourn

The Agenda of the Chair:

I. Welcome and Pledge
II. Announcement/Introductions
III. Approval of the Minutes of May 3, 20004
IV. State of the Party Address by the Chair
V. Address by Sheriff Lupe Valdez
VI. New Business
A. Approval and Swearing in of Pend
B. Other New Business
VII. Adjourn

Update: After things got a bit rowdy at the meeting, I decided not to liveblog the meeting. Instead I wanted to gather my thoughts and write a summary post. You can view that here.

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February 26, 2005

From the email bag

By Byron LaMasters

Another letter regarding the Dallas County Democratic Party Executive Committee Meeting:

[ed. note: The following letter is in response to this letter by Chair Susan Hays to the precinct chairs of Dallas County which arrived in the mail of precinct chairs today. The letter from Hays also included a letter (PDF file) signed by State Rep. Rafael Anchia, State Sen. Royce West, County Commissioner John Wiley Price and Sheriff Lupe Valdez. State Rep. Jesse Jones wrote a seperate letter (PDF file).]


February 26, 2005

Dear Fellow Democrat:

By now you have no doubt received a letter from Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Susan Hays about the County Executive meeting called for 6:30 p.m. Monday at the CWA Hall. We write in response.

The County Executive Committee (made up of you, your fellow precinct chairs, our county chair and secretary) is by law the governing body of the Dallas County Democratic Party. In other words, the Party is our responsibility–not only morally but legally.

The Chair takes the position that the petition calling the meeting was unnecessary. She further implies that the meeting was improperly called. Neither is correct. Despite an intervening presidential election, the executive committee has not met since early May 2004. When we met at that time, the meeting almost turned to chaos. No meetings were called after that date to coordinate the efforts of the precinct chairs for purposes of general election victory, even though Party rules charge us with the task of planning and coordinating the general election campaign, fundraising, and producing materials and coordinating services for the benefit of local campaigns. No meetings of the committee have been called by the chair since the general election. In truth, many of you, as well as Democratic organizations and other party leaders, have repeatedly requested the chair to call an executive committee meeting for the purpose of planning strategy, re-invigorating basic party political programs, fundraising efforts and traditional party events that have withered, and mobilizing our precincts to work on behalf of our Party and our candidates. Those calls have been ignored.

As a result, more than 60 percent of you–substantially more than the required number–took the option specifically provided for by Democratic Party Rules: to call a meeting by a petition process. More than 210 of you have signed that petition and many more sought to sign but were unable to because of time limits. Thus, to imply that this meeting has been called by a handful of disgruntled people is at the least misleading. At the very least, it is an unjustified indictment of the vast majority of the committee.

The calling of the meeting is both necessary and lawful. And given the current circumstances, the action was wise.

The chair personally attacks David Wilkins, our unanimously elected Party Secretary, as the one who called the meeting. That is not correct. Mr. Wilkins merely posted the legally required notice of the action of the precinct chairs in calling the meeting. We applaud him for doing what is no doubt his required duty. To chastize his legitimate actions in an effort to personalize this process is wrong.

You are the Democratic Party of Dallas County. Many of you, like us, have dedicated immense time and effort to the Party over many years–often at great personal expense. You have an absolute right to call a meeting. As Party rules state, the executive committee, among other things, may adopt continuing rules for the conduct of its business and establish committees as it deems appropriate. To suggest that a clear majority of you should not be able to call a meeting for this purpose is not only an affront to you as a precinct chair, it sets a dangerous precedent.

In our collective memory–dating from 1972–there has not been a meeting called by a majority of the executive committee. That an overwhelming majority of the committee has now succeeded in the difficult job of doing so is evidence of the importance of this gathering.

We look forward to a productive gathering. This meeting is important to you and our beloved Party. Please be there Monday evening.


Theresa Daniel

Ken Molberg
SDEC and former County Chair

Steve Tillery

Shannon Bailey
SDEC and President,
Stonewall Democrats of Texas

Michael Moon
Stonewall Democrats of Dallas

Dorothy Dean
former SDEC

Bruce Rothstein
Precinct Chair

Janice Mattox
Precinct Chair

Gary Fitzsimmons
former SDEC

Buck Massey
Precinct Chair

Ricardo Medrano
Precinct Chair


The Dallas County Chair has asked concerned Democrats to provide her, in writing, with a list of concerns and complaints regarding her leadership. Although these issues have been addressed with her on numerous occasions both individually and through our Democratic Clubs, we have narrowed that list into a few items that clearly show a history of financial mismanagement, statutory negligence, irresponsibility and malfeasance that threaten our Party’s financial integrity, reputation and cost our Party votes in

  • Chair Hays approved a defective 2004 General Election ballot that placed Martin Frost’s name next to Republican Robert Frost’s such that it was unclear which oval belonged to which candidate. The Frost campaign, after discovering the defect, made an emergency appeal to the County Elections Department to prevent the use of the defective ballot. The Elections Department complied but only after
    approximately 1,000 ballots had already been mailed to early voters.

  • Chair Hays reluctantly litigated to protect our vote in 2002 when Dallas County early voting machines malfunctioned from mis-calibrations. When our counsel subpoenaed the defective machines, Chair Hays became upset that this action “…would upset the Republicans.”

  • After the revolving door of four Executive Directors in less than three years, the excessive salaries paid to staff ($5,000 per month for the first two directors and $4,000 per month for the third) have left party coffers nearly dry. Dallas Democrats have no idea how
    much the fourth is being paid.

  • The annual Fish Fry in its first year took in $13,000, $25,000 in the second, and $50,000 in the third attracting nearly 400 participants. In 2004, after disbanding the fundraising committee which was responsible for that success, Chair Hays produced a Fish Fry that was an embarrassing failure attracting less than 100 with some invitations arriving the day of the event and most the day before.

  • Dallas for Kerry made an agreement with Chair Hays to raise funds that would be turned over to the Party in order to purchase yard signs to sell or give away to those who could not afford them. After selling out of the yard signs twice, Chair Hays refused to purchase any more even at a $4 per sign profit. Chair Hays indicated that it was too much trouble for the Party staff to continue to collect purchaser contact information even though Dallas Republicans sold 18,000 Bush signs and collected contact information for all
    those purchasers.

  • Chair Hays’ poor judgment extended to consolidating and moving polling places without consultation of longtime Election Judges during 2004 Primary Runoff causing voter confusion and chaos. When one elderly Election Judge from the 23rd Senate District, understandably upset to find her election materials at a distant location, complained to Chair Hays, the Chair responded with “…just shut up…!”

  • The Chair failed to call the Executive Committee together as required by Party rules so as to mount a coordinated campaign; failed to initiate any voter registration projects; has disbanded the party structure of volunteer committees; has staffed the office with inexperienced staffers and one with Republican voting history; has turned successful fundraising events into money-losing failures; and created an atmosphere of dissension, chaos, and distrust through her callous, reckless and irresponsible behavior.

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Dallas Democrats Prepare for Executive Committee Meeting

By Byron LaMasters

Last week, I reported that for the first time in memory, the Dallas County Democratic Party will be holding an executive committee meeting called not by the chair, but by petition of 51% of the executive committee (precinct chairs). While there were runors that the Chair would attempt to challenge the legality of the meeting, notice of the meeting is now on the webpage of the Dallas County Democratic Party. The meeting will be Monday, February 28, at 6:30 p.m. at the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Hall. I plan on attending the meeting in order to keep an unofficial record of the proceedings.

Both supporters and opponents of Chair Susan Hays have sent a series of emails and letters this past week. Much of the criticism of Susan Hays is related to her letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee last year in support of Bush judicial nominee Michael Schneider. I wrote at the time that I didn't think that the letter was that big of a deal, but there are a few issues of concern which I was not aware of at the time.

First, the fact that Susan Hays wrote the letter on a Dallas County Democratic Party letterhead implied that she was not only speaking for herself, but for the Dallas County Democratic Party. That apparently was the assumption made by Senator Cornyn who said the following in the Senate record:

Justice Schneider's reputation as an exceptional jurist and a true gentleman is well known throughout the State of Texas. It is also well known by the American Bar Association, which gave him its highest rating, when its standing committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously certified him as ``well qualified'' for the Federal bench. And his nomination enjoys broad bipartisan support across the State of Texas. For example, Susan Hays , who chairs the Dallas County Democratic Party, has written a strong letter of support. [...]

I also ask unanimous consent to print in the RECORD a letter from the Dallas County Democratic Party.

Also of concern is the fact that this appointment violated the so-called "Thurmond Rule". Sen. Leahy (D-VT) said the following in the Senate record on the Schneider confirmation:

Finally, I note today is the 7th day of September and we are way beyond what is called the "Thurmond Rule." It was back in July of 1980 when Ronald Reagan, who was not yet President but was running for that office sought to stop any more judicial nominees of President Carter from being confirmed. The Republicans were actually in the minority in the Senate but candidate Reagan asked Senator Thurmond, who was the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee which was led by Chairman KENNEDY, to block any more nominees from being confirmed for the remainder of the year. Senator Thurmond happily obliged and from July 1980 until the end of the year the only judicial nominees confirmed were those who had the consent of the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader and the Chairman and Ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. All of President Carter's other judicial nominees were blocked and defeated without votes.

The "Thurmond Rule" is that after July or the nominating conventions no more judges will be confirmed in a Presidential election year unless there is consent. Today's vote on Justice Schneider actually will be one of the last votes, as we all know. But it is an interesting thing. I note that every year where there has been a Democratic President, Republicans have adhered to the Thurmond rule as though it was handed down from on Mount Olympus. The Olympian heights of that standard, precedent and history somehow have changed when there was a Republican in the White House. Now that there is a Republican in the White House, we have heard little about this precedent from Republicans even though it was sheer gospel to them when there was a Democratic President.

So, while Schneider was not an egregious nominee, it could be argued that the letter by Susan Hays legitimized the violation of the "Thurmond Rule" by Senate Republicans.

It should be noted that Susan Hays sent a letter to precinct chairs apologizing for using the party letterhead, but not for writing the letter after at least six local clubs passed resolutions denouncing her leadership. You can view copies of the letter and resolutions here.

Four Dallas County Democratic elected officials co-signed a letter to precinct chairs this week indicating their support for Susan Hays. Here is the letter:

February 24, 2005

Dear Precinct Chair,

We stand today at a crossroads. Our local success in the November 2004 elections was remarkable, and our potential for building upon that success in 2006 should be unlimited.

We stress that phrase, should be, because the momentum we’ve fought so hard to gain is unquestionably ours to lose — and we fear that internal squabbles over our Dallas County Democratic Party leadership may soon sap our ability to achieve the local election victories so important to us all.

You may have gotten notice of a precinct chair meeting next Monday. Some of those calling for this meeting have been attacking the County Party and our Chair at the very time we should be celebrating success. This infighting must stop. Otherwise, we are doing a disservice to the Party and our ability to win elections in the future.

We urge you to come to the meeting on Monday at 6:30 p.m., and support the Chair and our Party. If there are specific criticisms of current leadership, those should be articulated in writing before the meeting and aired in a productive atmosphere. You can email any concerns to the Chair or to either of us at: chair AT dallasdemocrats DOT org, roycew AT wglegal DOT com, or rafael AT rafaelanchia DOT com.

This is the new Dallas Democratic Party — one where we work together toward victory unafraid of new ways and innovations. If we are to achieve the victories we deserve we must unite as we did when we worked together and with the Chair on a coordinated campaign to get out the vote in our districts in 2004. We now urge you to work together, with us and the Chair toward a 2006 Democratic victory.

These are challenging times. If we don’t succeed in pulling together, our Republican opponents won’t have to work to divide us — we will have done it for them. We’ve achieved too much to help them in their efforts to derail us. Please work with us to find common ground and renew our unity of passion of getting Democrats elected.


Sen. Royce West
Rep. Rafael Anchia
Commissioner John Wiley Price
Sheriff Lupe Valdez

I would say that it is rather unimpressive that Susan Hays could only find four Dallas County elected officials willing to go on the record stating their support for her. Furthermore, her backing from Rafael Anchia is unsurprising considering Hays' role in bringing forth a legal challenge to knock Anchia's Democratic primary opponent off the ballot. Valdez's support is unsurprising as well. After the election, Hays fired the executive director of the Dallas County Democratic Party, and hired Valdez's campaign manager to fill the job. More telling is who is NOT on the list (State Reps. Hodge, Alonzo, Davis, Jones, Giddings and Judges Adams, Montgomery, Garcia and Raggio).

Needless to say, the meeting on Monday ought to provide some fireworks.

Update: Former Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Bill Howell shares his thoughts on the matter over at Stout Dem Blog.

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February 22, 2005

Dallas Co. Democratic Executive Committee to Meet

By Byron LaMasters

For the first time in memory, the Dallas County Democratic Executive Committee will meet - not because a meeting was called by the county chair, but because over 51% of the committee (precinct chairs) have signed a petition calling for such a meeting. The Dallas County Executive Committee has not met since May 2004, and a meeting has been called presumably to discuss issues related with the party leadership.

The meeting will occur at the CWA Hall at 6:30 PM on Monday, February 28th. A copy of the notice is available here (PDF file).

Issues of concern between some activists in the county, and the county chair are many, but most of the concerns are enumerated in the resolutions passed by several local clubs on the matter:

Dallas County Young Democrats
Dallas Stonewall Democrats
Lake Highlands / White Rock Democrats
Dallas County East Democrats
Richardson / Northeast Dallas Democrats
University Democrats at UT-Dallas

The party chair addressed some of these concerns in a letter sent to a select group of precinct chairs, available here (PDF file). In particular, the chair apologized for using the party stationary while endorsing confirmation of a judicial appointee of President Bush, but did not apologize for her support of the appointee. Regardless, next Monday's meeting should be interesting.

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February 01, 2005

More on Frost and Dallas Democrats

By Byron LaMasters

Some of the final comments on my thread detailing the effect that Martin Frost had on the success of the 2004 Dallas Democratic Countywide candidates got buried, so I wanted to do one more post on the topic to highlight the comments of former SDEC member of the 23rd Senatorial district, and well-known Democratic freebooter Gary Fitzsimmons - who crunched the numbers in Dallas County of which my analysis is based, and also the comments of a Dallas County Precinct 1811 Chair, Anthony Pace who was active in the campaigns of both Martin Frost and State Rep. candidate Harriet Miller.

My original post can be found here and you can download the PowerPoint Presentation of which my analysis is based here. I did my best to paraphrase the commentary that Gary Fitzsimmons, but it's not the same as using his own words. Their comments in the extended entry (this exchange is probably more relevant to those of you interested in Dallas County politics, as opposed to the DNC race, but it's relevent to both [update: yeah, well it's still something good to chew on for those interested in the dynamics of Dallas County politics]):

Gary Fitzsimmons writes:

What’s missing from the PowerPoint presentation provided is the commentary that went with it. My intention was to show not only how Frost’s effort “democratized” Dallas county, but also a gratuitous plug for how I think the prevailing thinking in Dallas must change in order to securely win in the future. The point was not so much that Miller benefited from Frost’s campaign, but rather that like Frost she brought an aggressive persuasional campaign to a republican district and the results were quite dramatic. Although there was certainly some synergy between the two candidates, Miller did exceedingly well largely due to her and her volunteer’s extraordinary efforts. Now Miller, like Frost, had only the most remote chance of winning, but their campaigns both proved the truth of what Frost himself said during the campaign – the democratic message can resonate even among voters that we have traditionally written off.

The historical refrain, at least in Dallas, is that “turnout is everything” – thus, all of our county efforts have been targeted to minority or “base” constituencies. If raising turnout from our base alone could win elections, then we would have won the County in 2002 when the minority vote as a percentage of total county turnout was highest. We won a handful of races this year, however, when it was significantly lower. How can this be? Simply put – it seems to me that Frost’s efforts broke straight ticket voting and had the effect of making Democrats and our message more palatable to an enormous number of voters. And remember, Frost’s campaign was not limited to CD32 – he ran advertisements across North Texas and all sorts of people were exposed to his message thru media coverage and interaction with the candidates at forums, public events and churches.

To suggest, as our Chairwoman has done, that the victory was due to turnout work in 16 precincts in the 23rd Senate District (this has now morphed into 35 precincts over the past two weeks) is simply erroneous. Not only was the 23rd’s contribution to the total countywide turnout this year lower than the past 3 election cycles, whatever gain was made in Hispanic turnout (largely located in those CD32 precincts within SD23) was offset by the drop in black participation! – Not surprising since there we no African Americans on the ballot. So what does this mean for the future? Well – it’s simply not reasonable to assume that black voters are going to be motivated by billboard appeals from Senator Royce West alone without African Americans actually on the ticket; this was a huge deficit which the Dallas County Chairman must accept some responsibility. Nor can we assume that the Hispanic electorate is going to come to the rescue anytime soon – they’re getting more republican and at least in Dallas still have very anemic turnout.

What works is getting a persuasional message out to a much broader range of Dallas voters - and with our very limited campaign budgets, its only possible with aggressive direct mail (just like the republicans have been doing since the late 70s.) TDP sent out direct mail pieces (not the County party) featuring Valdez, Raggio & Ms. Huebener – quite effective. Simply put, our Party’s problem, not only in Dallas but the state as well, is not with minority voters; it’s with anglo voters. Our Dallas county effort in 2006 must have both turnout and persuasional components to be successful – in other words, replicate as far as possible what Frost was able to do among voters long written-off by party activists along with a diverse ticket and meaningful turnout efforts.

Precinct 1811 Chair Anthony Pace writes:

I agree with Gary's posting on Frost and Harriet Miller races. I am a precinct chair in a Republican majority precinct (1811) that is in both CD 32 and HD 102 and worked on both Frost & Miller's races. What made a positive difference this yr. were good candidates and good organization. Previously we didn't have strong Democratic candidates for Congress and House Rep. in this area, and our past numbers reflected this. In 2004 my precinct improved its DPI by 12+ pts, in 2002 our DPI was 21 and this yr for Frost we got him a 33% and 35% for Harriet Miller, while Kerry and the judges received about 29%. We saw this kind of improvement in many of the precincts in Far North Dallas, some of them recording middle 40s% DPIs for Frost and Miller. Also these DPI increases took place in precincts that had turnouts in the 70-75%.

I am strong believer that Lupe and the Judges owe their victories in part to the good organizing work that Frost did in increasing DPI throughout the 32nd and repressing the Republican vote. While many are rightly excited about the Democratic victories, 2006 may not be as Democratic friendly for the county as some think without a Frost on the ticket fighting the good battle.

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January 27, 2005

Frost and the Success of 2004 Dallas Democrats

By Byron LaMasters

In 2004 Dallas County Democrats had perhaps their most successful election in twenty years (on a countywide level). They elected a Democratic Sheriff for the first time since the 1970s, and Democrats picked up three GOP-held judicial seats. Naturally, everyone wants to take credit for such success. But instead of debating over who worked harder, who donated more, who ran the best ads or who registered the most voters, it makes the most sense to take a good, hard look at the numbers, because the numbers don’t lie.

Last week, Anna wrote this:

i've seen all sorts of folks whom i respect write that martin helped downticket dems. i don't believe this is borne out by the numbers. byron over at BOR attributes the high turnout in dallas county, as well as the judgeship and sherriff victories, to martin's campaign (i hope i'm not misinterpreting what you said, B). i respectfully disagree, and here is why. i think that in order to really get an idea of who martin's race affected the downticket dems, we need to focus on the numbers that came out of martin's district and how the non-martin candidates fared there. then we need to look at the county-wide totals. but you can't really just throw out the county-wide totals and claim that's the end-all-be-all assessment.

I had hoped to respond earlier, but it took about a week to get the numbers that I needed to make my points about how the 2004 Martin Frost campaign affected downballot races. At the December 2004 Dallas County Young Democrats meeting, former SDEC member of the 23rd Senatorial district, and well-known Democratic freebooter Gary Fitzsimmons presented his analysis of the 2004 election results. Gary didn’t work for the Dallas County Democratic Party or the Martin Frost campaign. He’s just a well respected activist who crunches the numbers after the elections and presents the results to local Democratic clubs.

Gary’s presentation effectively showed that much of the success of Dallas County Democrats (winning the race for sheriff and three judicial races) was due to the GOTV operation of the Martin Frost campaign as opposed to any of the efforts put forth by the Dallas County Democratic Party. He prepared a PowerPoint presentation to present to Democratic clubs which you can download here.

I’ll explain this slide-by-slide. Slide two shows how turnout in 2004 in Dallas County was up sharply. The 58% turnout of 2004 contrasts sharply with the 49% turnout of 2000, and the 52.5% turnout of 1996. Slide three shows how the number of registered voters compares to the number of voters in each presidential election since 1992. The number of registered voters varies greatly from 1992 to 2004 as the county “cleaned up” it’s voter rolls at various points. That explains the decline in registered voters between 2000 and 2004, while the number of voters in 2004 increased by over 70,000 from 2000.

Slide four makes some noteworthy comparisons. It takes a look at each congressional district that contains a portion of Dallas County – 3, 5, 24, 30 and 32, and compares the percentage of the vote received by three candidates. First, is the vote of (losing) 2002 Democratic DA candidate Craig Watkins, second the vote share of 2002 U.S. Senate candidate Ron Kirk (also lost), and third is the vote of the victorious 2004 Democratic Sheriff candidate Lupe Valdez.

Watkins' race is a good benchmark race for DPI in Dallas County in 2002. The DPI (Democratic Performance Index) of Dallas County in 2002 in 2002 can be generally pegged at 48-49%. Watkins received 48.8% of the vote in his race. Kirk, meanwhile won Dallas County with 50.2% of the vote in 2002. In 2004 the DPI of Dallas County was pretty much right at 50%. Valdez won her race with 51.35% of the vote. That's a 2.5% increase over Craig Watkins vote in 2002. Where did that increase come from? Much of it came from the District 32 portion of Dallas County. Slides four and five show how Lupe Valdez improved on Craig Watkins 2002 performance by a full 6% in the 32nd Congressional District. That effectively amounts to nearly 12,000 votes (slide 5).

Valdez won by just over 17,000 votes, so Martin Frost’s GOTV operation can legitimately lay claim to providing over two-thirds of her victory margin. However, assuming that Valdez’s improvement over Watkins’ performance remains a relative constant for all Democrats in the 32nd district (and the evidence suggests as much), Martin Frost’s GOTV operation can legitimately claim to providing the entire margin for two of the three victorious Democratic judicial candidates. Judge Don Adams and Judge Dennise Garcia won their races by 5000 and 7000 votes respectively. The ability of Martin Frost to raise the DPI in the 32nd Congressional District in 2004 easily provided the entire margin of victory for both.

Another example of the Martin Frost campaign helping Dallas County Democrats is with the campaign of State Representative candidate Harriet Miller (slide 6). Harriet ran in a state representative district partially within the 32nd Congressional district. She took on a longtime incumbent Republican, and ran nearly a full ten points ahead of DPI, losing with 47% of the vote. Miller’s campaign was one of the biggest surprises of election night in Texas. Her race was not highly targeted by the state party nor typical interest groups that generally engage the top state representative campaigns. Texas Tuesdays and BOR didn’t mention the race, because I pretty much expected her to get in the low 40s. Well, Harriet Miller surprised us all, and got 47%. Why? Harriet Miller ran a great campaign, and Martin Frost raised the DPI of the district with his campaign. Because of that, Harriet Miller is running for state representative again in 2006. You can bet that we’ll be paying attention this time.

Slides seven through twelve focus on the turnout in various state senate districts, so that’s not particularly relevant to our discussion of Martin Frost here, but in my analysis, I’m inclined to give the Martin Frost campaign much of the credit for the success of Dallas Democrats in 2004. Gary Fitzsimmons comes to similar conclusions:

The Martin Frost campaign improved Democratic performance in Congressional District 32 by 3% to 8% depending on race. Lupe Valdez ran 6% ahead of DPI in the congressional district [...]

The Martin Frost campaign was responsible for the overall improvement of the Democratic margin countywide. The more aggressive Democratic campaigns were able to capitalize on this improvement.

Most Democratic improvement came from outside the Democratic base and probably resulted from Frost’s intensive voter persuasion efforts.

Furthermore, I’m inclined to credit the Martin Frost campaign for much of the success of Dallas County Democrats as the Dallas County Democratic Party is in relative disarray. The activist base in the county Democratic Party has become increasingly disenchanted with the county party chair, and several high dollar donors have cut their contributions to the county party after some of the actions of the county chair, notably her endorsement of a Republican judge. At least five Dallas County Democratic clubs have passed resolutions denouncing her leadership.

There are a few examples here: Dallas County Young Democrats, Dallas Stonewall Democrats, the Lake Highlands / White Rock Democrats, Dallas County East Democrats and the Richardson / Northeast Democrats. This may all seem beside the point, but I think that this information reinforces my point. The evidence from both the voting data, and the analysis of Gary Fitzsimmons suggests very strongly that much of the Dallas County Democratic success in 2004 can be attributed to the Martin Frost campaign while the turnout efforts of the Dallas County Democratic Party among the base were relatively mediocre.

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January 03, 2005

Sheriff Lupe Valdez has an Agenda for Dallas County

By Byron LaMasters

Here's is the agenda of Sheriff Lupe Valdez (D-Dallas) as it appeared in the Dallas Morning News:

As the new sheriff of Dallas County, I have spent the past two months analyzing and assessing the department's strengths and shortcomings. Some people could label me an "outsider" to the department, but my 23 years of experience in law enforcement, from the military to immigration agencies, have given me the skills to manage an urban sheriff's department in a professional manner.

The voters of Dallas County elected me for many reasons, but throughout my campaign and during this transition period, it was clear that they wanted a new way of doing business in the Sheriff's Department.

My transition team is a bipartisan group of community leaders helping me analyze and assess how to rejuvenate the department. In so doing, we are also mindful of the department's mission: To protect and serve the community with integrity, pride and professionalism; to operate a safe and humane jail system; and to deliver on our commitment to swift, fair and effective enforcement of the law.

To fulfill that mission and to re-energize the department, I have resolved to meet the following goals in 2005:

Continued after the jump...

• To restore the confidence of the citizens of Dallas County in their Sheriff's Department. The vast majority of deputies are competent and caring, but their morale has suffered because of scandal, inattention and incompetence in the higher ranks. My first priority is to restore the good reputation of the department and, by doing that, restore the morale of the deputies.

To keep this resolution, I have interviewed many of the department's fine officers, including the major deputies in the department, and I have made one message very clear: If an officer is good for the department and committed to meeting these goals and changing the direction of the department, I want that officer on my team. The time for politics has ended. The election is over.

• To implement an audit, by outside accountants, of all major activities of the department. This audit will include the scandal-plagued commissary contract, which will be rebid or renegotiated, as appropriate, in accordance with proper standards for government procurement.

Dallas County has internal auditors, but the citizens of Dallas County deserve to know that outside, independent auditors have looked at the operations of the department and made appropriate recommendations.

• To modernize personnel policies. The Sheriff's Department must attract and retain the most qualified officers and deputies. Current policies do not give the department the flexibility or opportunity to staff its needs in the most effective manner.

• To engage a full-time community relations coordinator. Part of the restoration of citizens' confidence will be establishing outreach into the various communities we serve. We will be better equipped to meet our mission if we are more community oriented. Not only will the coordinator be the eyes and ears of the department, but that person will also be able to coordinate the receipt of nonprofit grants for law enforcement projects.

This is an optimistic agenda for changing the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, but with the public's help and good will, it can be done. The citizens of Dallas County expect a revitalized department, and that's what the deputies and I are going to give them.

If you have the chance, also check out a long profile of Lupe Valdez from the Dallas Morning News this week.

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December 30, 2004

Dallas Police and Deep Ellum Businesses to Share Surveillance Tapes

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas Morning News reports:

If you're thinking about stirring up trouble on the streets of Deep Ellum this New Year's Eve, think twice: You're being watched.

Dallas police will be able to monitor crowds from 16 cameras on the roofs of three businesses in Deep Ellum: the Gypsy Tea Room, Club Clearview and Digital Strata. [...]

The businesses and police will share the footage via the Internet. Although live activity can be monitored, police said they won't be watching it like a reality show.

"The intent is not just to provide real-time video images but to provide a history of what happened," Chief David Kunkle said. "This is part of making the city of Dallas safer."

Virtual Surveillance of Plano donated about $20,000 worth of equipment and services for the pilot project. The cameras will remain in place indefinitely.

Bad idea on several levels. I don't like the idea of a public/private partnership when it comes to law enforcement as they have two very different motivations - one to keep the public safe, and the other to make a profit. Putting surveillance videos on the internet leaves it wide open to all sorts of problems, and who knows what the motivation of the company donating everything for the project. Yes, I know crime is high in many parts of Dallas, and I'm all for trying innovative ideas, but just check out Grits for Breakfast if you can't think of the potential problems here:

Police shouldn't share surveillance data with private entities, much less transmit that data blithely over the Internet, but that's what happening in Dallas. Once private businesses get the tapes, they can do what they want with them. It really doesn't seem like Chief Kunkle has thought the whole thing through.

In other words, if young women celebrating Mardi Gras in Deep Ellum decide to flash the crowd, the videotape could be sold for use on Girls Gone Wild. They might even get some good shots. After all, the donor company touts its system's zoom and tracking capabilities. A British study found that one out of ten women were targeted by male surveillance camera operators for voyeuristic purposes, and steamy excerpts from British police surveillance tapes have wound up in the hands of B filmmakers, who profiteered off of them.

For a whole lot more, read more Grits and Talk Left.

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December 23, 2004

Dallas Strong-Mayor Petition Makes the Ballot

By Andrew Dobbs

This is a story I've been meaning to write about for a while now, but keep forgetting to. Now there is a new wrinkle that makes it quite salient.

For the last month or two a petition has been going around Dallas urging people to vote for a "strong mayor" city government. Right now it is a City Manager system, and an incredibly weak one at that. Nobody has any real power- the council has very little control over how city agencies function other than their budget writing authority, the mayor is nothing more than the biggest cheerleader on the city council and the city manager is beholden to the Magic Number 8 (the number of votes needed to get anything done). Nobody has any authority and thus nobody is accountable for the screwups around City Hall. Furthermore, even if there was some "accountability", there is nothing anyone can really do without trying to get a lot of different scummy ward-heelers and right wing nut jobs all on the same page. Dallas is a dying city, and the cancer is centered at City Hall.

So first time City Council candidate Beth Ann Blackwood realized what a lot of people have- Dallas needs to scrap the City Manager system. She then realized what everybody has- that it'd be a cold day in hell before the City Council would ever get around to doing that. So Beth Ann put together the aforementioned petition and according to Channel 8 News, it made the ballot today. Great!

But there are some problems. The petition is, to say the least, radical. This isn't a "no city manager, strong mayor and council" petition. It is kind of a Reichstag fire petition.

Let me let veteran Dallas city reporter Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer explain what I mean:

I had been told the charter amendments amounted merely to crossing out all references to "city manager" and replacing them with "mayor"--a simple "search and replace."

More like "search and destroy."

Let me share. First the legalese. And this is only an example. The existing charter talks about how "all ordinances and resolutions of the city council...shall be final on the passage or adoption by the required majority of the city council."

If we vote yes on this thing next May, that language will say: "All ordinances and resolutions of the city council AND ORDERS OF THE MAYOR shall be final on the passage or adoption by EITHER THE MAYOR or the required majority of the city council."

Yeah, take a deep breath. That's what I did. Right now, the council votes on ordinances--local laws. But under the new version, the mayor could also pass laws, called "orders."

By fiat.

Are you mentally searching for a parallel in your experience as an American that might help you comprehend that? How about "martial law"?

And I still think I may be OK with it.

n the last week I have been reading political science journals (I deserve hazardous mental duty pay) dealing with forms of local government. The bottom line is that types of city government occupy a spectrum. Right now we are way over at one end--weak mayor, weak council, weak city manager. The weak, weak, weak system.

The proposal put forward by the petitions would slam us all the way over to the other extreme: no city manager or other statutory chief administrative officer at all, a crippled city council that reporters won't even bother to cover, and "The Hulk" for mayor.

This mayor would run every department of the city and have hire-and-fire authority over all non-civil service city employees and appointees. She would appoint the civil service commission. As a matter of fact, she would appoint all members of all city boards and commissions.

The mayor would hire and fire the city council's personal staff and decide what to pay them. You know those city council secretaries who campaigned against Mayor Laura Miller and then brought an ethics complaint against her? They would need to dump their stuff in boxes and run.

The mayor would hire and fire the chief of police, the city attorney, all municipal judges and court clerks. The mayor could create or kill entire city departments--any city department. The mayor would be able to create special police and detectives apart from the police department. (...)

There is a general perception in the city--a kind of reluctant recognition--that Dallas City Hall is like a human heart in fibrillation. It shakes. It jiggles. It tries so hard. But it just can't pump blood.

People have been jumping on Mayor Miller for being all over the place on this--against the Blackwood petitions, now apparently for them. But Miller is consistent on one point: She keeps telling the cameras that what we have now does not work.

She's right. So how could we possibly justify keeping it? (...)

So how could I vote for this? Not happily. I sure wish we had another choice. But this summer is when the voting public will get a chance to vote for change. The only way to put this off is by campaigning against change in May. I believe that would be the worse poison.

Do the Park Cities bubblati and their North Dallas cohort think they'll be able to capture the mayor's seat after the charter has been changed? Of course they do. There's talk now among the business moguls of being tired of Laura Miller, thinking she's a photo-op former journalist who can't run a company.

But the people I talk to who see the polls regularly tell me Laura Miller is still extremely hot with the heavy-voting middle-class base. I think the next mayor under the new system will be Laura Miller.

Then we'll see. Boy will we see.

The two biggest complaints about this proposal are that 1. it is radical and 2. it is supported by the old guard types who used their power to keep minorities and other groups from having a say in city government for decades. But I'd say that drastic times call for drastic (ballot) measures, the proposed system would be better than the one we have now- where a bunch of demagogues keep crooked, incompetent people like Terrell Bolton in power. The mayor has to build a coalition, it is not nearly as prone to pandering to extreme interest groups as the Council seats are and s/he is far more accountable to the people than the City Manager by virtue of his or her being elected. That is the position to give the power to.

And who cares who supports the thing? In case the election of a lesbian Latina as SHERIFF didn't alert you, those old mossbacks don't have a whole lot of pull any more. Sure they have the money, but R.L. Thornton couldn't get elected nowadays. People opposing the measure on these grounds are locked in a 1970 mindset that is happily promoted by the corrupt, demagogic, race-baiting South Dallas politicians that keep their constituents afraid of whitey even while they buddy up with the powerful special interests to promote their own well-being. That's not to say that all who oppose this come from those quarters, but the idea originates with those people and others who know better are swallowing the story whole.

I don't like all the powers it gives the mayor, but something's gotta give. Like I said, Dallas is a dying city. Crime is awful, anybody with any money is fleeing to the suburbs or elsewhere, there is little to know investment in large sectors of the city, infrastructure is crumbling, code enforcement is non-existant and it is just an increasingly unlivable city. The only way the dramatic changes are going to be made before the city is too far gone (if it isn't already) is to get someone with the power to make dramatic changes, a power nobody has right now. This charter change would make that possible, and that is why- warts and all- I have to support it.

But there are people smarter than me out there (hard to believe, but it's true). What do you all think?

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December 22, 2004

It's Almost a White Christmas in Dallas

By Byron LaMasters

It was a pleasant surprise to wake up to snow on the ground in Dallas this morning. It's the best kind of snow, too. I went out for lunch, and the streets were fine for driving (at least in my part of town), but the snow packs well, and I can pack a mean snowball when given the rare chance. It's nice to feel like a kid again :-)

Here's some shots of the Doppler Radar of the Dallas area from earlier today.

Update: Anna has a shot from this morning.

Update: Things are starting to ice over, so be careful if you have to drive in the DFW area tonight.

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December 21, 2004

Somedays I wonder why I read the Newspaper

By Byron LaMasters

And today, it's not for the usual reasons. Usually, I get pissed off with the Dallas Morning News GOP/conservative bias. Today, it's just because there were two terribly depressing stories in this morning's paper.

First, a front page investigative report on how Dallas County has failed miserably in funding guardianship programs for our "old, vulnerable and alone" citizens. It is the responsibility of the County Government to fund such programs that assist elderly citizens with medical problems who have no family to take care of them - and our Republican-controlled County Commissioners Court has failed miserably in that regard. In 2006, Democrats will have an opportunity to take back the commissioners court, and thus retake Dallas County government. The Republicans have failed the most vulnerable amongst us, and it's time that Dallas County voters toss out County Judge Margaret Keliher and County Commissioner Ken Mayfield, and give Democrats a chance to lead Dallas County government.

Second is a story about an 18-year old honor student at Trinity Christian Academy who was asked to leave after school administrators found out that he was gay:

Three weeks ago an 18-year-old honor student at Trinity Christian Academy was cruising toward graduation. He had already been accepted to a prestigious university, and the final months of high school seemed a mere formality.

He was a varsity athlete and a winner of service and citizenship awards at the fundamentalist private school in Addison. He was active in the school theater, was a yearbook editor and helped younger students with Bible study.

Trinity Christian was his second family, the student said, and by every indication he was one of the school's favorite sons.

But when the school's top administrators learned that the student had created a Web site where teens chat about homosexuality, he said they gave him a choice: either leave quietly or face expulsion for "immoral behavior," which is prohibited by the school's code of conduct.

In a matter of days, the student, who is gay, went from prized student to sinner outcast.


"I feel completely violated," said the student, who had attended Trinity Christian since kindergarten. "The big lesson here for me is that you can't really trust anybody. That, and I should have kept my mouth shut."

The Dallas Morning News didn't publish his name at the request of his parents, but the story was actually broken by Ryan Davis of Not Geniuses and the Houston Voice last week - and that story comes complete with the guy's name, a picture and several updates. I guess we can credit the blogs and probably Kos Diaries for contacting the Dallas media about the story.

My two cents on the whole affair is this. Trinity Christian is a private religious school, and it's probably within their rights to expel this guy. This type of thing is not uncommon at religious private schools. I attended a private high school in Dallas myself, and essentially came out my senior year. Although, I really didn't have too much to worry about as the school was officially non-sectarian (with an Episcopalian priest on staff).

Expulsions of gay kids at religious schools are not that uncommon - Heartstrong, a GLBT organization that helps GLBT students in religious schools notes over 830 reported expulsions of GLBT students in religious schools over the past eight years. However, the fact that this story has reached the mainstream media is quite unusual. Usually, these expulsions are quiet events, where the student is too ashamed, or too closeted to go forward to the media, and expose their school's administration for being hateful, intolerant bigots. But this guy did, and I commend him, because the whole world will now know that the Trinity Christian Academy administration is made up of hateful, intolerant bigots hiding behind the shield of Christianity. I just feel for what he must be going through right now between dealing with his parents, his friends and his (former) school.

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December 13, 2004

More on Lupe Valdez

By Byron LaMasters

I finally had the opportunity to congratulate Lupe Valdez on her victory at an event I attended in Dallas last night. Of course, I had to ask her if she knew anything about blogs, and she appeared a bit confused. Oh well, I suppose that's alright, as long as she does a good job as Dallas County Sheriff.

Anyway, the Houston Chronicle has a good article about Valdez today, so check it out.

Via Kuff.

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November 30, 2004

The Hispanic Vote in Dallas County...

By Byron LaMasters

Is decisive. One of my Winter Break projects is to crunch the numbers in Dallas County, and figure out how Democrats can strategically use their resources to sweep the county in 2006. Democrats won six of twelve countywide races this year in which there was a Democrat and a Republican on the ballot. According to one study, there was one key difference between the Democrats that won Dallas County, and the Democrats that lost Dallas County -- the Hispanic vote. Via the Dallas Morning News:

Dallas County Sheriff-elect Lupe Valdez and judicial candidate Don Adams effectively used the Dallas County Hispanic vote to get elected.

According to a study just released by Dallas mathematician and political consultant Dr. Dan Weiser, Ms. Valdez and Mr. Adams got 60 percent or more of the Hispanic vote and 88 percent or more of the black vote.

They won.

In contrast, Mr. Kerry got 88 percent of the black vote, but only 56 percent of the Hispanic vote.

He narrowly lost Dallas County to Mr. Bush.

All three Democratic candidates got 40 percent of the white vote.

Dr. Weiser says the rise of the Hispanic electorate here signals that the county is trending Democratic.

Dallas County is extremely winnable for Democrats in years to come. If Democrats can win 40%+ of the White vote, demographics should make it easy to win assuming we turn out our base, and maintain our advantage among Hispanics. Having a Hispanic woman (Lupe Valdez) leading the county ticket in 2004 probably helped in that regard.

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November 20, 2004

New Dallas Blog

By Byron LaMasters

Martin Frost may have lost, but his campaign organized and worked precincts in Dallas county that hadn't been worked by Democrats in decades. Case in point?

Take a look at the blog set up by the Precinct 1117 Democrats in Dallas County. It's a group blog by Democrats in their northwest Dallas precinct.

Precinct organization makes a huge difference, and these guys have the numbers to prove it. Here's what they accomplished compared to the 2000 presidential election:

  • 75 new voters showed up in our Precinct.
  • The Dems gained 140 New Votes for Pres.
  • The Reps lost 20.
  • We showed an 8% gain in votes for Kerry over Gore (40% vs. 32%). This is 4 times the average change in Dallas County. (This in spite of the fact that the work we did was mostly for Frost).
  • Because we went over 600 votes, we get another delegate to the State Convention.
  • Martin Frost garnered 45% of the vote in our precinct which historically has a 32% Democratic average.
  • We started a community of friends and have forged bonds with neighbors we didn’t know existed.
  • Last but not least, WE KNOW WE ARE NOT ALONE!

Precinct organization is easy. Anyone can do it, and organizing your own precinct and talking to your neighbors is perhaps the most effective way to make a difference.

I did get a little criticism when I posted how despite Texas Republicans urban problems, Democrats margins in coming years from urban counties still won't be enough to win statewide on a regular basis for at least another decade or so. Demographic inevitability is happening. Democrats will be the majority party in Dallas and Harris counties without much effort within a few cycles. Having said that, whether Democrats will be able to use that advantage to win back county governments, to pick up seats in the state legislature and to offset the Republican margins statewide in rural and suburban counties depends entirely on whether Democrats can regularly organize precincts countywide each election year in the future -- because we won't have Martin Frost spending four million dollars to get out the vote again.

Via alandwilliams.

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November 13, 2004

The "L" Word and Lupe Valdez

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas Observer seems obsessed with the "L" word, among others... you'll get the idea:

Two months before Election Day, Lupe Valdez, Democratic candidate for Dallas sheriff, was invited by outgoing Sheriff Jim Bowles to meet his staff. Asked by someone why she wanted the job, Valdez replied that she wanted to "shine up" the badge of an office tarnished by turmoil and charges of corruption. Says one longtime deputy: "She said, 'I'm not like anybody in here. I'm the element of change. I'm a lesbian.'"

After Valdez's upset win last week over Republican Danny Chandler--the veteran deputy supported by virtually all deputies--employees of the sheriff's department are bracing themselves for the unknown. "They knew the management style they'd get from Chandler," the deputy says. "They don't know what they'll get from a lesbian."

Deputies are trying to guess how her endorsement by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund will affect policy in a law-enforcement agency that manages jails housing 7,000 inmates. The Victory Fund requires that candidates receiving its financial support be openly homosexual publicly endorse gay civil rights and anti-discrimination legislation and "advocate aggressive public policies and positions" concerning gay and lesbian health.

"The first thing you would assume is that we will begin to hire openly gay deputy sheriffs," the deputy says. While there may already be gay deputies in the department, the anti-gay culture in law enforcement keeps them in the closet. "It's pretty hard for gays to get past our psychological tests," the deputy says. "You used to have to take a polygraph asking if you'd had homosexual relationships." (That question is no longer asked.)

Another big question: Will a lesbian sheriff want to change the inmate classification system? To limit sexual assaults, always a problem in jails, incoming prisoners are housed in cells based on their history and declared sexual orientation. Homosexual inmates aren't put in cells with straight inmates. State prisoners who are shipped here to testify aren't put in tanks with young first-time offenders arrested for shoplifting. Will Valdez declare the classification system discriminatory against gays and lesbians?

Then there's the question of how Valdez will work with the Dallas County Commissioners Court, which oversees the sheriff's budget; three of the four commissioners are conservative Republicans. With Bowles now taking credit for getting "Lupe the Lesbian" elected at the expense of his bitter rival Chandler, the county Republican Party is so mad at Bowles they can't see straight. Or gay.

I'm rather amused over the fact that the media can't seem to stop talking about Lupe Valdez's sexual orientation. However, this article actually brings up some interesting issues especially in regards to hiring and inmate classification decisions. It'll be interesting to see what, if any changes are made.

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November 11, 2004

Everyone Ogles over Lupe Valdez

By Byron LaMasters

It's good to see, even if the Republican controlled Dallas County Commissioners Court is threatening to strip much of her budget, people seem to be taking notice of Dallas County's Female, Hispanic, Lesbian, Short, Democratic Sheriff-Elect Lupe Valdez. Everyone I've been speaking to in Dallas say that there's pretty much no doubt that Republicans will cut her budget, though. Regardless, when the issue comes up, I'll be sure to raise some hell. Fortunately, Democrats do have a realistic chance of retaking the Commissioners Court in Dallas County come 2006 (the county judge and county commissioner precinct four will be up in 2006, both controlled by the GOP, but where Democrats won 47% in each race in 2002 - the GOP currently has a 4-1 edge).

I posted on the raise at 2 AM election night, because, well -- it was about the best news anywhere that I could find at the time. Not only did Lupe Valdez win, but three Democratic Judges were elected, including the first Latina judge in Dallas County -- Dennise Garcia, who will take office as soon as she is able as she ran for the unexpired term of a Republican incumbent who passed away earlier this year.

Back to Lupe Valdez, it's good to see her getting national international press. Check it all out if you have the chance:

Washington Post
New York Times
The Guardian

Also blogged at: Off the Kuff and the Free State Standard.

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Who gets Credit for Dallas County?

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas Morning News debates with itself over who deserves credit:

On November 3rd, the paper quoted SMU political scientist Cal Jillson saying this:

"The Democrats are on their way back," said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University.

He predicted two years ago that Dallas County's longtime political underdogs would see some gains in Tuesday's election.

"It's not that their party is well-organized or doing things that improve their chances of winning," Mr. Jillson said. "It's the demographic changes in the county that are helping them win."

Then on Monday, Gromer Jeffers wrote this:

Several weeks ago I wrote a column suggesting that Dallas County Democrats work on their image – including doing something about the dive they used as an office.

The next day their landlord called and told them that if they didn't like their Fair Park-area headquarters, they could get the heck out.

That may have been the way to talk to losers, which Democrats here perennially were.

But after last Tuesday's stunning election results, the Dallas County Democratic Party has earned a little more respect.

Personally, I'm inclined to agree more with Jillson than Jeffers. I think that it was the $4+ Million that Martin Frost spent, along with the excellent work by the campaign teams of Lupe Valdez, the strong local Kerry group among others (not to mention the key reason -- demographic inevitability) that gave Dallas Democrats their first multiple countywide victories in years. I'm not saying that Dallas County Democratic Party didn't do some good work, but I think that Jeffers oversimplifies the situation a great deal (and incorrectly suggests that there is some sort of tension or unease between the DCDP and their landlord). Regardless of who gets credit, Dallas Democrats can be proud of themselves. Of the twelve contested countywide elections with Democrats and Republicans (from President all the way down to County Tax Assessor-Collector, Democrats won six of twelve races in the county. Look for Democrats to win more in two years.

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November 03, 2004

Dallas County Has a Democratic Lesbian Hispanic Sheriff-Elect

By Byron LaMasters

Lupe Valdez wins!!!!

The Dallas Morning News reports:

Democrat Lupe Valdez became Dallas County's first female and first Hispanic elected sheriff last night, edging out a three-decade veteran of the sheriff's department.

In defeating Republican opponent Danny Chandler, she also became the first new sheriff in 20 years and the first Democrat to hold the post since the mid-1970s.

"I'm looking forward to a change," a jubilant Ms. Valdez said. "We are an international county, and this is what I want to represent."

It's nice to see gay-baiting tactics fail.

Here's the final returns:

Danny Chandler (REP) 319,494 48.65
Lupe Valdez (DEM) 337,228 51.35

Two years ago, a single Democrat -- Sally Montgomery broke through the Republican lock on Dallas countywide offices. This year, Dallas County Democrats have won a number of countywide races -- further evidence that Dallas County is turning blue.

Democrats won the following judicial races in Dallas County tonight (ALL pickups from the GOP):

Bill Rhea (REP) 316,565 48.93%
Lorraine Raggio (DEM) 330,462 51.07%

Cliff Stricklin (REP) 319,642 49.63%
Don Adams (DEM) 324,401 50.37%

Beth Maultsby (REP) 321,209 49.46%
Dennise Garcia (DEM) 328,199 50.54%

Republicans won a few of the races also by excruciatingly close margins:

Robert Frost (REP) 331,542 50.83%
Carlos R. Cortez (DEM) 320,742 49.17%

Robert W. Francis (REP) 323,329 50.17%
Carter Thompson (DEM) 321,121 49.83%

Dallas County Democrats won three of the five contested countywide judicial races. Dallas County is turning Democratic.

We didn't pick up any state rep seats in the county. Katy Hubener ran a good, strong campaign, but as much as I wanted her to win, she topped out in the high 40s:

Ray Allen (REP) 18,795 52.59%
Katy Hubener (DEM) 16,945 47.41%

Katy is a friend of mine, and she ran a great campaign. She got off to a bit of a slow start, but she found her stride, and closed very strong in the final months. She'll have to decide what she wants to do, but if she runs again in 2006, she has my support, and she has a great shot.

Hariet Miller did much better than I expected in HD 102:

Tony Goolsby (REP) 21,410 53.20%
Harriet Miller (DEM) 18,836 46.80%

This is a north Dallas Republican seat, so the closeness of the race surprised me, but perhaps this suggests that this seat is in play in two years.

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November 01, 2004

Pete Sessions Introduces Bush

By Byron LaMasters

Watch C-SPAN. One idiot is introducing another in Dallas, Texas tonight...

Update: Sessions's only hope is that Bush pulls him across the finish line tomorrow night. Bush just said how important it is to send Sessions (who is sitting next to the Wohlgemonster and Gohmert) back to Washington -- and Rick Perry (how stupid is too stupid?), David Dewhurst, Tom Craddick and all of them are at the Bush rally in Dallas tonight -- so send them all a message tomorrow.

"He's from Massachusetts, and I'm from Texas" - why does President Bush continue to divide Americans by geography? I'm a native Texan, and I proudly voted for the junior senator from Massachusetts for President.

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Sessions Needs Bush to Drag him to Victory

By Byron LaMasters

One GOP congressman in a non-swing state gets a last minute campaign rally with President Bush. Who is it?

Pete Sessions:

President Bush is coming to Dallas!!!

President Bush will be here for a late-night rally on his way to Crawford, where he will vote on Election Day.

Monday, November 1st
Southern Methodist University
Moody Coliseum
6024 Airline Drive
Dallas, Texas

I hope that Dallas Democrats will be outside with their Frost signs -- Bush would not be wasting election eve in Dallas if this race were anything but a dead heat. Frost can squeak this out, but only if all you guys in Dallas work your butts off to get out the vote tomorrow.

More at MyDD.

Update: Ok, comments say no Frost signs. The people on the ground in Dallas probably know better than I do, so listen to what the Frost folks are saying.

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October 28, 2004

More Dallas Morning News Layoffs

By Byron LaMasters

According to several emails today there was apparently another round of layoffs at the Dallas Morning News today. Of note is the fact that the pictures and contact information of three of the more progressive members of the editorial board - Jim Frisinger, John Chamless, and Tim O'Leary are missing from the Editorial Board Blog as of this morning. I don't have confirmation that they've been laid off, but the evidence I've seen suggests that this is the case.

Update: Here's what Rob Dreher, probably the most conservative member of a very conservative editorial board had to say this morning on the DMN blog:

Today's a bad day

As many people outside this building know, there are layoffs coming down today, all over the paper. Our little editorial board band has been hit hard. We'll tell you more when we can.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Oct 27, 9:48 AM

And more:

You can see by looking at the photo roster which of our colleagues are no longer with us. My sense is that we're simply not going to discuss any of this on this blog, not because anybody has told us to clam up, but because we want to respect the privacy of our friends. We hope you faithful readers and correspondents will understand. And we thank you for the expressions of concern and loyalty you have e-mailed to us since yesterday morning.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Oct 28, 10:40 AM

And more:

re: a bad day

As Rod said, yesterday was a very tough day here. We lost not only colleagues, but friends. A number of people have sent emails expressing their sense of appreciation for those who lost their jobs, and we greatly value those responses. We will make sure the departed know of your kind notes. To pay tribute to their sense of mission, we blog on!

posted by Bill McKenzie @ Oct 28, 11:14 AM

Sorry to hear it...

Another Update: More at Super Awesome Good Analysis and The Frontburner.

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October 25, 2004

Want a 30% Sales Tax?

By Byron LaMasters

Pete Sessions does:

I took a picture of this sign while I was in Dallas over the weekend. This one is on Preston Road near Walnut Hill in north Dallas. Sessions signs outnumbered the Frost signs in the Preston Hollow and Park Cities neighborhoods of the district (no shocker there), but I drove through the Kessler Park and Wynnewood neighborhoods of north Oak Cliff where Frost signs predominated (again, no surprise). I wish I would have had more of a chance to drive through the swing areas of the district such as east Dallas, Irving and Richardson. I did, however notice that Sessions is doing just what Arlene Wohlgemuth is doing to associate himself with the Bush / Cheney ticket. Here's another picture from the Bent Tree neighborhood of far north Dallas:

If Pete Sessions wins, it'll be because of straight ticket voting for the Bush / Cheney ticket, and Dallas Republicans are doing their best to prop up Bush / Cheney by adding Sessions (or Wohlgemuth, or insert the name of the embattled Texas Republican here) to the ticket.

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October 22, 2004

A Sorta Non-endorsement of Smoky Joe Barton

By Byron LaMasters

In their editorial entitled "Joe Barton: Our Honest Editorial Conversation", the Dallas Morning News decided to sort of not endorse Barton and didn't mention his opponent, Democrat Morris Meyer once:

We explain all of the above as part of our effort to keep an honest editorial conversation with Mr. Barton. We will continue to invite Mr. Barton to discuss issues with us and listen to his point of view, just as we do with other members of Congress and candidates. We urge Mr. Barton to consider himself a committee chairman for all citizens.

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October 18, 2004

If all you care about is...

By Byron LaMasters

Radical right-wing Republican values, then vote for Pete Sessions. Not sure if it's the Park Cities People or D Magazine, but they endorse Sessions even after admitting that Frost has "done more for Dallas":

We Endorse Sessions. Both men are solid on national security, the war on terror, and the war in Iraq. Mr. Sessions is better on taxes and job growth. Mr. Frost has done more for Dallas, especially in pushing the Trinity River project that is so essential to the city’s future. But for us, the decisive point comes down to conservative values, not to pragmatic pluses and minuses. In that regard, Mr. Sessions is the better choice.

We urge our readers to vote for him. If he wins, we expect him to get the message that a Congressman from Dallas should be a fighter for its future — and rise to the stature of his position.

D Magazine has a good review of the most recent Frost / Sessions debate as well. A few of their observations:

I think Sessions has a hard time getting comfortable at these events. [...]

Frost, on the other hand, never seems more comfortable than when he's either responding to an attack or ramping up his own. [...]

I counted that Frost took one drink of water from a cup hidden behind his podium. I lost track of how many drinks Sessions took, but I know that he dropped his cup on the floor once, and twice he kneeled down behind his podium for an extended period of time. [...]

Sessions repeated the point that Frost had invited Peter Yarrow to sing at an October fundraiser. [...] Though Frost immediately withdrew the invitation, Sessions suggested that this meant Frost didn't care about the safety of children, a line of attack that seems overheated at best. Frost responded with a new bit of information: Yarrow had sung at the Republican Conference two years ago, and Sessions had not objected to that. The word "hypocrite" hung lightly in the air.

Haha. Pete Sessions is an idiot. According to a reader that attended the debate, Sessions also directed people to an anti-Frost website on several occasions, however he must have taken directions from Dick Cheney. Sessions meant to direct debate watchers to CostOfFrost.com, but apparently said at least once CostOfMartinFrost.com, a website which the Frost campaign bought immediately following the debate.

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October 14, 2004

Pete Sessions Doesn't Understand the Concerns of Young Voters

By Byron LaMasters

The latest on the ads in this race here.

Yesterday, Sessions and Frost visited Richardson High School, and Sessions showed that he is completely out of touch with the concerns of young people:

They listened intently to U.S. Reps. Pete Sessions and Martin Frost and questioned them without fear.

In the end, a cross-section of the dozens of Richardson High School seniors who attended a question-and-answer forum with the 32nd Congressional District campaign opponents gave Mr. Frost high marks for addressing the issues concerning them most.

It seemed Mr. Sessions, several students explained, just didn't know how to communicate with 17- and 18-year-old prospective voters.

"He wasn't talking to us; he was talking to the television cameras," Mandi Raz, 17, said of Mr. Sessions. She said she supported Mr. Sessions before Wednesday's forum at the high school. Ms. Raz, who says her chief election-year concerns are financing college and job outsourcing, is now leaning Mr. Frost's way.

The students' major concerns, based on interviews with 15 students representing various economic and ethnic backgrounds, centered on terrorism, college tuition assistance and environmental protection. A majority of the students, some of whom will vote for the first time in November, also cited the reconstitution of a national military draft as one of their primary election-year fears.

Jackie Garza, 17, said she plans to enlist in the Marine Corps next year.

"But I don't feel you should go to war if you don't want to," she said.

Tim Williams, a 17-year-old prospective Air Force recruit, agreed.

Both students said Mr. Frost explained, to their satisfaction, that he'd fight in Congress against a compulsory draft. Mr. Sessions wasn't as convincing, they added.

Smart kids. Seriously, there's three major issues for young people this election. The draft and the war in Iraq, affordable tuitions and opportunities for college, and jobs, jobs, jobs.

Republicans are wrong on all three. When Tim Ryan blasted the Bush administration on the draft, he made a lot of sense. How can we trust the Bush administration not to reinstate a draft when they've essentially begun a backdoor draft through our national guard and reservists - extending tours of duty by six and twelve months?

Here in Texas, Republicans have raised our tuition rates by about 30%, balancing the budget on the backs of students and middle class families. That's a huge issue for young people.

Finally, the Bush adminstration has lost jobs - the first administration to do so since Herbert Hoover. Young people in high school and college are concerned that there won't be well-paying jobs available to use when we graduate, and Republicans have done nothing about it.

Finally, Pete Sessions decided to stress one issue in particular that's a total nonstarter with young people - a national sales tax:

Mr. Frost argued against a federal sales tax that he accused Mr. Sessions of supporting.

"You wouldn't pay $20,000 for a car; you'd pay $26,000," Mr. Frost said.

Young people don't make much money, so we don't pay much income tax. But a national sales tax would hit our pocketbook every time we go to the store. Anyway, there's no surprise that Sessions didn't want to debate.

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October 13, 2004

Lupe Valdez for Dallas Co. Sheriff

By Byron LaMasters

Mark that two days in a row where the Dallas Morning News put their GOP cheerleading on hold - today endorsing Democrat Lupe Valdez for Dallas County Sheriff:

Republican Danny Chandler and Democrat Lupe Valdez both have a passion for the job, impressive law enforcement backgrounds, a commitment to restore integrity to a department rocked by scandal, and experience in management and leadership roles.

Key distinction: One has spent much of his career working in the ranks of the organization he now wants to lead, and the other has spent her career working at the state and federal level and would come to this job as an outsider.

We give the nod to the outsider, Ms. Valdez. Just as another outsider – Police Chief David Kunkle – seems to be doing a fine job of leading the Dallas Police Department, the sheriff's office could benefit from being led by someone with a clean slate. This organization needs to be shaken up, as the last year of turmoil makes clear. The best way to do that is with fresh blood, fresh instincts and fresh ideas.

Ms. Valdez, 56, is a retired federal agent with the U.S. Customs Service, a former corrections officer and a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves. She is well equipped to handle the challenges of being sheriff. Bilingual and armed with a master's degree in criminology and criminal justice from UT Arlington, Ms. Valdez has the added benefit of coming to the post without pre-existing relationships, expectations, loyalties or grudges.

Damn right, the Dallas Sheriff's office needs an outsider. Anyone that's followed what's happened there over the past few years knows that. Read more about Lupe Valdez on her website.

Current tally DMN endorsement tally:

22 Republicans
5 Democrats

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Pete Sessions: Weak on Terrorism

By Byron LaMasters

Good new ads by Martin Frost. They're hard hitting, and use the images of 9/11, but they're justified. When Congress voted for reinforcing cockpit doors, putting air marshalls on our airplanes, toughening security in our airports and ensuring that our baggage screeners are top-notch professionals, Pete Sessions voted no. These weren't controversial issues then, nor are they today. Both then, and now, they were common sense security measures aimed at making America safer, and protecting us from another terrorist strike. Martin Frost voted yes, Pete Sessions voted no.

Check out the ads:

Air Safety. (MOV file)
Too Tight? (MOV file)
Who Has? (MOV file)

Also, Frost has an 26 Years of experience ad (WMV file) that I had not seen before.

Yeah, the ads are a bit (ok, very) nasty, and some might say they're a sign of desperation, but remember that it was Pete Sessions who ran a hardcore-nasty (no pun intended in light of the recent news) negative radio ad entitled Frost-Caught accusing Frost of commingling with child molesters. Sessions' response ad doesn't defend his record, its just some red meat union-bashing to the Republican base (yeah, and there's the "I'm Rudy Giuliani, and I'll lie and tell you that Pete Sessions is a leader on homeland security, if he'll lie and vouch for me as a genuine conservative when I run in the 2008 GOP Presidential primaries" ad, which beyond the obvious fluff and cynicism that I see, might prove to be effective in the district. But, another thing to keep in mind is that people remember and are effected by negative ads, and much less so by positive ones, so whether the Giuliani ad proves effective is still up in the air).

Anyway, Texas politics definitely isn't for the squemish. So, wander over to MartinFrost.com or the DCCC to help our guys win twenty days from now.

Update: I've added the Frost Press Release for these ads in the extended entry.

26 Years”

The first ad titled, “26 Years” highlights Congressman Frost’s bipartisan leadership, emphasizing his success in taking on tough jobs that have helped improve the quality of life here in Dallas. Martin led the fight to create DART, and was the only local leader with the ability and stature to bring both labor and management together and save American Airlines from bankruptcy, protecting over 20,000 jobs. Congressman Frost’s bipartisan leadership contrasts dramatically with Sessions’ opposition to DART and his lack of a single successful job creation project over his eight years in Congress.

“Too Tight”

Our second ad this week reinforces the advertisement we aired last week highlighting Sessions’ vote against President Bush’s major air safety plan to fight terrorism. 510 Members of Congress voted to support the anti-terrorism plan, while Sessions joined a band of only nine dangerously out of touch Members who voted “no”. What’s more, the ad shows Sessions himself explaining his vote by saying security at our airports is “too tight” because people like “even Senator Ted Kennedy” might be delayed.

“Stronger vs Weaker Homeland Security”

Virtually every American knows that everything changed on September 11, 2001…. but not Pete Sessions. While Republicans, Democrats and Independents came together to fight terrorism and protect America, Pete Sessions continued following an overtly partisan and dangerous ideology that puts raw politics ahead of American security. It’s an attitude President Bush has described as a “September 10th mentality.” Throughout his career, Congressman Frost has been willing to stand up to the leaders of either party in order to make sure that our Nation’s defenses remain the strongest in the World and that the safety of those he represents comes before any partisan or ideological pursuits. Sessions' voting record and his own words demonstrate clearly that he can’t be trusted to keep America safe.

Informed Decision-Clear Choice

Congressman Frost has a deep trust in the wisdom of informed voters. We believe you will find these advertisements helpful as you begin to decide your vote for Congress. Please share this information with your friends and family because, when the record of both candidates is fully and fairly reviewed, the choice for Congressman Frost is clear.

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October 12, 2004

Sessions Doesn't Want to Debate

By Byron LaMasters

Well, I wouldn't want to debate Frost either if I thought that terrorism was a game:

As part of KERA's Student Voices project, Congressman Martin Frost and Pete Sessions are scheduled to make a joint appearance at Richardson High School. Instead of addressing the group of young adults together with Congressman Frost in a civilized debate, Pete Sessions instead insists on making a quick speech and an early exit. It's sad that Sessions has been ducking the issues this entire campaign, but what's worse is the fact that he refuses to act like an adult in front of a group of high school students. But, given recent disclosures of Sessions' activities, what would you expect?

Who: Congressman Martin Frost and Pete Sessions addressing Richardson High School separately.
What: KERA's Student Voices Project
When: Wednesday, October 13, 2004, 10:30 - 11:15 a.m.

I think that President Bush has a line for this.... "you can run, but you can't hide". Some one tell Pete Sessions.

Where: Richardson High School

1250 W. Beltline Road

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October 11, 2004

Sessions leads Frost within Margin of Error

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas Morning News poll gives Sessions a 50-44% lead in TX-32:

The four-term Republican congressman leads his Democratic rival, U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, 50 percent to 44 percent in their quest to represent Texas' 32nd Congressional District, according to a Dallas Morning News poll.


In this district designed by Republicans in the Texas Legislature to end Mr. Frost's 26-year congressional career, Mr. Frost is appealing more to women, minorities and independents than Mr. Sessions does, according to the survey of about 800 likely voters in the district.

Mr. Frost's strength among independent poll respondents – 56 percent favored him, compared with 37 percent for Mr. Sessions – and an unusually high Hispanic voter turnout are Mr. Frost's best hopes for victory, Dr. Selzer said.


And since only 4 percent of the poll's respondents are Hispanics – they represent 36 percent of the district's total population, including nonvoters – Mr. Frost said he believes a higher Hispanic turnout will close the poll's 6-percentage-point margin.

Eighty-two percent of respondents identified themselves as white, while 7 percent said they are black.

I think it's very telling that the poll only includes four percent Hispanics when Hispanics make up 36% of the district's population. I think that about ten percent of the vote in the district will come from Hispanic voters, and if they favor Frost by the margin that Hispanics typically favor Democrats (and Rep. Frost in the past), then this race is a dead heat.

As for the presidential race in the district, Sessions is running five points behind Bush:

For example, 55 percent of respondents said they would vote for President Bush on Election Day, while 42 percent said they would vote for Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee. In 2000, 57 percent of respondents said they voted for Mr. Bush, compared with 31 percent for Al Gore.

This poll should give Democrats confidence. I believe that it severely undersamples Hispanics, and that this race could easily go either way.

What can you do? Donate to Martin Frost or the DCCC.

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More DMN Endorsements

By Byron LaMasters

Three more Goopers today.

Current Tally?

21 Republicans
4 Democrats

Bush is next, even if most major daily papers are breaking strongly for Kerry.

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October 07, 2004

DMN Endorsement Watch

By Byron LaMasters

Three more Republicans in the past day.

Current tally:

17 Republicans
4 Democrats

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October 05, 2004

An Email from a Reader

By Byron LaMasters

It looks like the letter was also sent to The Lasso (and posted), but it's a well researched critic of the Dallas Morning News, which as a rule is something I pretty much can't resist:

msalditch@sbcglobal.net writes:

I wake up each morning with the DMN and lately their editorial page has made me want to call up and cancel my subscription. Friday, they called Bush the winner of the debate because he didn't lose, whatever that means.

Then on Saturday, in their chatty Hits and Misses editorial column, the final item admonishes Martin Frost for having a fund raiser with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame. Headlined, "Dude, where's my due diligence?" the blurb by Rod Dreher drags out the 35 yr old arrest of "crusty old Peter Yarrow, the epitome of the diehard '60s liberal," for taking "immoral liberties" with a 14 yr old girl in 1970. The editorial then suggests that Frost's campaign Google all potential fund raisers, which I thought was pretty hip for Belo. Even though the whole "immoral liberties" thing does sound just a tad dated.

So I Google Peter Yarrow. 33,700 matches. Result 109 (page 11) led me to House Resolution 161, "a tribute to Operation Respect, Inc., and Peter Yarrow for anti-bullying, compassion and tolerance program Engrossed as Agreed to or Passed by House April 29, 2003." So here's a man honored by the Congress last year for his good works that the DMN wants to sling mud at for a 35 yr old crime.

By page 13, I started getting pages from Japanese web sites in Kanji, so I decided to refine my search. Using "peter yarrow" and "immoral liberties" in quotes, I got 71 matches to the DMN story. I wonder how they came up with that search string?

So then I Googled "Dallas Morning News" and "fraud." Result number three was a story in the Dallas Observer about the News inflating their circulation figures and over billing their advertisers from August of this year.

Thank god for the Internet!

This is what the original Dallas Morning News editorial wrote:

It's hard to see where the payoff for Martin Frost would have been in bringing crusty old Peter Yarrow, the epitome of the diehard '60s liberal, to Dallas to perform at a campaign fund-raiser in his new, Republican-leaning district. But never mind that: Who on Team Frost forgot to Google the guy's name to find out if he'd been tarred with anything untoward – like, say, a 1970 guilty plea for taking "immoral liberties" with a 14-year-old girl?

Pete Sessions, meanwhile, has turned the incident into a Radio Ad (scroll to "Frost-caught").

The letter brings up an interesting point, though. Did Pete Sessions object to the U.S. House resolution (approved by a voice vote) honoring the work of Peter Yarrow's organization, Operation Respect, Inc.? If not, Sessions has some explaining to do. Why would he support honoring the work of a man, who he is now attacking in press releases and radio ads?

In all seriousness, inviting Peter Yarrow to do a fundraiser in Dallas was a mistake by the Frost campaign. It sends the wrong message when you base much of your campaign on creating legislation to be tough on child molesters, and then you plan a fundraiser with someone who took "immoral liberties" with a 14 year-old girl while in his thirties. Still, Frost has the upper hand on the issue. However much Pete Sessions wants to change the topic, Martin Frost created a law that has helped a tremendous number of kidnapped children, while Pete Sessions voted against it. It's that simple.

Back to the Dallas Morning News for the latest endorsement tally. They endorsed Republicans Linda Harper-Brown and Robert Frost (Frost, no relation to the aforementioned congressman, is running against Carlos Cortez, a member of the Dallas County Young Democrats who is running a strong campaign. Check out his website and throw some change his way if you have a chance).

Current DMN endorsement tally?

14 Republicans
3 Democrats

Fair and balanced alright...

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October 04, 2004

A little bit of Balance from Today's Morning News

By Byron LaMasters

They'll surely be back to their GOP cheerleading tomorrow, but today the Dallas Morning News endorsed Harriet Miller for State Representative:

Democrat Harriet Miller, on the other hand, struck us as smart, responsive and practical. A lawyer who graduated from Rutgers University, Ms. Miller has practiced law for 30 years and cut her teeth at the federal agency once known as the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. She helped draft the federal regulations implementing Title IX, which led to increased funding for girls' sports in public schools. For the last 10 years, she has worked as a professional mediator. We hope that she can put those consensus-building skills to work in Austin.

Ms. Miller, 55, supports an expanded business tax to pay for education, restoring funding for children's health insurance, the local-option transit election and pledges to be more in touch with district interests than the incumbent. She has an uphill climb in this GOP-heavy district, but as a former PTA president in the Richardson school district, she knows something about community meetings.

We thank Rep. Goolsby for his service.

We recommend Harriet Miller.

Current DMN endorsement tally:

12 Republicans
3 Democrats

And while you're at it, check out Harriet's webpage and drop her a few bucks. She's raised a considerable amount of money for this race, and along with Katy Hubener is running the strongest campaign challenging a Republican state representative in Dallas County.

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October 02, 2004

Best Dallas Morning News Retort in Awhile

By Byron LaMasters

Not surprising anyone, the Dallas Morning News called the debate for Bush in their Friday editorial:

Great Debate: Bush wins by not losing

The only truly surprising thing about last night's presidential debate was how good it was.

Crisp, authoritative and articulate, both George W. Bush and John Kerry were at the top of their respective games. We call it a draw. But because Mr. Kerry did not get the breakout performance that he needs to turn this race around heading into the homestretch, the president won by not losing.

This letter responds best to the Dallas Morning News wingnuttery:

What did you watch?

Re: "Great Debate – Bush wins by not losing," Friday Editorial.

"Bush wins by not losing?" Is this what America wants or needs: a pass/fail presidency?

John Kerry was specific and concrete with facts and figures, to which George Bush's only answer was: "Well, it's hard work." Mr. Kerry made it clear that he's a straight-talking man concerned with our security. He made it clear that he understands the implications of strategic foreign policy in ways that George Bush does not now and never will.

And the best The Dallas Morning News can do is surrender to the soft bigotry of lowered expectations. The president won the debate by not losing? I certainly don't feel safe having a president whose only success is avoiding utter failure.

Tena Hollingsworth, Dallas

Ahh, I love it. Throwing the conservative "soft bigotry of lowered expectations" line right back at 'em.

And as for the Dallas Morning News, they ought to take a look at the latest Newsweek poll. Sludge tells us that Newsweek's polling gives Kerry a two to three point lead.

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September 29, 2004

Holy Shit! The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!

By Byron LaMasters

Ok, not really, but the Dallas Morning News endorsed Democrat Diana Lackey for Dallas County Tax Assessor over GOP incumbent David Childs.

In the last year for which statistics are available, the Dallas County tax office, headed by 15-year GOP incumbent David Childs, collected 95.8 percent of the taxes owed the county. That sounds good, but it puts Dallas County fourth among Texas' five major urban counties. (Only Harris County was less effective.)

One year might be a fluke, but for the past 10 years Dallas County's collection rate has consistently lagged those of Tarrant, Travis and Bexar counties. If Mr. Childs' office had been as effective as the other three, averaged, Dallas County's coffers would have been fatter by $43 million over that period.


The 51-year-old challenger, who has a bachelor's of science in accounting from San Diego State University, comes with an impressive resume and glowing recommendations from her former employers in California's Santa Clara and San Diego counties. Between them, she worked in those counties' tax offices for 24 years, working her way up from a trainee in San Diego to the No. 2 person in the Santa Clara office. (Santa Clara, site of San Jose, is California's fourth-most-populous county.) During her six-year tenure there, the county's collection rate jumped substantially over previous years'.


Fortunately, voters have an excellent alternative. We feel confident that Ms. Lackey can take the tax office to the next level.

Wow. I can't remember the last time the Dallas Morning News endorsed a Democratic challenger over a GOP incumbent (even if it's for the lowly office of tax assessor). Maybe I should lighten up a bit on them. Or maybe I should just remind themselves that they still have a rigid GOP bias.

Current DMN endorsement tally:

9 Republicans
2 Democrats

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September 28, 2004

Al Gore and Bob Dole Debate at SMU Tonight

By Byron LaMasters

This ought to be interesting:

Title: TATE Lecture - Gergen Panel Discussion Date: 2004 Sep 28 Time: 8:00 PM - 9:30 PM Calendar: McFarlin Events Calendar Contact: David Scannell Categories: Lectures Description: A Panel discussion with Bob Dole and Al Gore moderated by David Gergen Tele. #: 214-768-8283 Building & Address: McFarlin Auditorium - 6405 Boaz Ln.

I'm not sure if it's just for students, or open to the public, but if I were in Dallas, I'd just call the above number and find out. Show Al G. some love tonight...

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September 27, 2004

Katy Hubener Campaign Update

By Byron LaMasters

From the Hubener campaign:

We’ve knocked on over 8,000 doors, made over 1,100 phone calls, put 25 3X6 Katy signs, and given out over 1,500 yard signs.

The success of this grassroots campaign has been in its people.

Two Saturdays ago, over 150 people joined us to register voters, knock on doors, and put up yard signs. The huge volunteer turnout and voter response proves that the people of District 106 are ready for new leadership in the Texas House of Representatives.

Donate to Katy here.

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Which Republican did the DMN endorse today?

By Byron LaMasters

They said this one was a close one, but the Dallas Morning News still recommended Republican Beth Maultsby over Democrat Dennise Garcia for Family District Court 303.

That's nine Republicans and one Democrat so far (and they still haven't officially endorsed Bush, but that'll make it ten).

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September 26, 2004

Dallas Morning News Drinkin' Kool-Aide

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas Morning News really needs to be called out more often for their totally idiotic editorials. Today's editorial reads like a Bush / Cheney Press release full of fluff and devoid of facts (ok, they do give him a minor wrist slap over the deficit).

The U.S. economy is coming back, and you can thank President Bush's tax cuts for much of the rebound.

Four years ago, President Bush inherited an economy tumbling into recession after the tech bubble burst. In the uncertainty after 9-11, the raft of tax cuts he pushed through Congress stimulated the laggard economy.


The president has pledged to reduce the projected budget deficit to around $260 billion by 2009, down from $420 billion this year. Reality check: He can't do that unless he is willing to get serious about cutting up the government's credit cards, which neither Congress nor the White House cares to do just yet. His convention wish list of generous new social programs is unrealistic, and his desire to make his first-term tax cuts permanent would wreck his pledge to cut the deficit in half within five years.

Mr. Kerry inspires less confidence. His economic proposals are dangerous prescriptions for both higher taxes and sharply increased federal spending. The Kerry plan is precisely the wrong remedy for long-term economic growth.


The test for any economic policy is whether it creates jobs and raises the standard of living. Mr. Bush is headed in the right direction.

Huh? Are they on crack? Ok, fact check:

America under Bush = 913,000 lost jobs (Department of Labor).

The Bush record? The worst since Herbert Hoover. Either the Dallas Morning News has remarkably low standards, or they're living in fantasyland.

Next up - federal spending. The DMN is worried that a President Kerry would see "sharply increased federal spending". Perhaps they never saw that left-wing commie report this summer by the Cato Institute that showed that conservative President Bush had increased domestic spending greater than those liberal Presidents - Carter and Clinton:

George W. Bush is the most gratuitous big spender to occupy the White House since Jimmy Carter. One could say that he has become the "Mother of All Big Spenders."


According to the new numbers, defense spending will have risen by about 34 percent since Bush came into office. But, at the same time, non-defense discretionary spending will have skyrocketed by almost 28 percent. Government agencies that Republicans were calling to be abolished less than 10 years ago, such as education and labor, have enjoyed jaw-dropping spending increases under Bush of 70 percent and 65 percent respectively.


Clinton had overseen a total spending increase of only 3.5 percent at the same point in his administration. More importantly, after his first three years in office, non-defense discretionary spending actually went down by 0.7 percent. This is contrasted by Bush's three-year total spending increase of 15.6 percent and a 20.8 percent explosion in non-defense discretionary spending.

That's the CATO institute folks. As for the deficit. Need I say more? Eight years of deficit reduction under Clinton, followed by four years of destroying it all. Sure, some of it was inevitable because of 9/11, but much of it is due to President Bush's out of control spending.

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September 13, 2004

Dallas Morning News: Which Republican will they endorse tomorrow?

By Byron LaMasters

I'm always amused with the process in which the Dallas Morning News endorsements are cushioned to appear nonpartisan, when a closer examination clearly yields a strong Republican bias. And they continue the trend this year...

Tuesday, September 7:

DMN enthusiastically endorses Republican Criminal District Court Judge Cliff Stricklin over Democrat Don Adams in a highly contested race.

DMN enthusiastically endorses Republican Criminal District Couty Judge Robert Francis over Democrat Carter Thompson in a highly contested race.

Saturday, September 11:

DMN wholeheartedly endorses George W. Bush's policy (or lack thereof, rather) over John Kerry's.

Monday, September 13:

DMN endorses Democrat Lon Burnam as the "better of two weak candidates" for State Representative in an uncompetitive race in a 70% Democratic district.

So, basically, the DMN endorsements so far... Vote for the Republican judges, Bush is great and Kerry is weak on terrorism (and don't forget that President Bush is Texan of the year), and if you happen to live in Lon Burnam's district, hold your nose and vote for the scumbag.

The Dallas Morning News will probably take a pretty solidly GOP line this year as usual, although I do have a suspicion that they'll bite the bullet and endorse Frost over Sessions.

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August 20, 2004

Uh, what's that, Pete?

By Byron LaMasters

I'm certainly not an expert in the lie-detector department, but I do recall that the repeated use of the word "uh" is certainly one indicator of uncertainty and lying. On that note, here's exhibit A - the transcript of Pete Sessions answering questions this week on a local radio show regarding his stealing of yard signs during the 2002 election ("uh" emphasis mine):

Rep. Pete Sessions (R) gave an interview to KLIF radio's Gary Knapp.

GK: "The Martin Frost (D) campaign has come out with this miscellaneous incident report that says that a police officer stopped you in 2002, where you were taking signs up from along the road of Skillman and Northwest Highway, uh ('02 Dem nominee) Pauline Dixon's signs, and that you had put them in your truck bed. Is that true?"
PS: "Absolutely correct."
GK: "OK, and they're saying that means you stole signs. Is that true?"
PS: "No, that is not true."
GK. "Ok, explain that."
PS: "Greg what happened is is that uh, a couple years ago, uh when I was coming back from a uh a meeting, uh to my house, uh, I was on a state highway that is called Northwest Highway, and every single sign, political sign, in the state of Texas says you're not allowed to put those in in uh, the uh in the right of way."
GK: "It's illegal to put political signs in the right of way."
PS: "On a state highway. Uh, and I was driving by the signs which we had uh put out earlier, several weeks before on a piece of property that was private property that was directly there, and as I was driving home, someone had come and in front of and behind every one of my signs, they put these Pauline Dixon signs. In front of mine and behind mine. Just a political game, that's ok."
GK: "So you're saying your signs were on legal?"
PS: "Absolutely."
GK: "Because your signs were on private yards?"
PS: "No there's uh, it's it's an apartment complex that is there, uh that has allowed us to put ours exclusively there, on, directly on Northwest highway..."
GK: "OK now wait one second, because I'm still kind of confused... There's an area in front of what is an apartment complex, that is owned by the apartment complex that you were allowed to put your signs on because they told you you could."
PS: "Absolutely."
GK: "Ok and then next to that is the right of way that goes to the road where nobody's allowed to put their signs there, whether permission is given from the apartment complex or not because it's not their property. Is that true?" PS: "Well, the highway, theoretically would be down the middle part, or where where, the right of way is a middle part that really nobody owns except the state. It's no-mans land."
GK: "Right. But your signs were on the part..."
PS: "They were on private property."
GK: "Ok, so if yours were on private property and theirs were directly in front of yours, wouldn't they still be on private property too."
PS: "They would have been."
GK. "Oh, so you're saying that because they didn't get permission from the apartment complex to put them there they were illegal."
PS: "Yeah."
GK: "Now I'm with you. See why I was confused."
PS: "They were also on a state highway, a right of way state highway and all I'm suggesting to you is that I went down, saw it, I we had, we put the signs in, we checked them on a regular basis, driving the way home, and I just went down, put my flashers on, the police officer at, uh about two minutes later saw us."
GK: "The only thing that I'm still confused about with you taking these signs down, Congressman Sessions, is did you check with the apartment complex and say did Pauline Dixon, did she ask you permission to put these up, or did you just assume she didn't have the right to put those up?"
PS: "She did not, and no I did not. It was they were they were put up that night at some point and they were uh dropped on the they were dropped on the uh ground."
GK: "Can you see why some people would say, 'Well wait a second, why didn't you just leave those signs there. Isn't it wrong to pull other people's signs down?"
PS: "No no, I don't think so at all. I think if I went by the CWA uh, or any other Union place that Martin Frost had his signs up and he knew they were up, and some of our supporters or somebody came and put them there, I think it's perfectly professional to pick them up and drop them" (Excerpted from Frost release, 8/19).

I counted fifteen. Anyone want to check that? Regardless of the legitimacy of what Pete Sessions' did that night, he certainly does not project confidence of the legality of his actions in this interview. I was speaking with some friends about this last night, and I'm glad that Frost is making an issue of this. I think it's easy to take this incident and tie it into Pete Sessions' other shady activities such as employing a communications director who was convicted of a felony for his work as a Republican Party operative. We'll see if it comes up...

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August 17, 2004

Fuck Pete Sessions

By Byron LaMasters

I'm about to head out here, but I've received several calls regarding Pete Sessions yard sign stealing today, and Kos has the proof.

Sessions is really a worthless scumbag, and idiot at that, so I'll be back with more later this evening when I get home from dinner and a meeting.

Update: Ok, no more posts tonight on this, but Josh Marshall has some good stuff on the topic, here and here.

By the way, Pete Sessions is obviouslly paranoid. Take a look at the last email he sent to his supporters:

August Mega Walks have Started!! – Team Sessions completed its first of three Mega Walks this past Saturday with tremendous success. With more than enough walkers to cover the four North Dallas precincts that were scheduled, we were able to send walkers into three other precincts. Folks – that is dedication from a volunteer corp. which is putting Martin Frost and his paid "volunteers" to shame.

Mr. Frost is so deficient in his efforts that he even sent his Campaign Manager, Jess Fassler, out this weekend to harass our walkers and lead a group of Frosty workers who were instructed to tear off the door hangers that our folks were putting on homes. No doubt, this is very annoying, but it shows what pathetic shape the Frost campaign is in. They cannot stage their own positive voter contact effort, so they are now left to trying to disrupt ours. As always, be on the lookout for this type of activity – if we can secure photos or film, witnesses, and a homeowner willing to press charges – we WILL go after Frost and his campaign workers to the full legal extent possible.

Total crap. Total bullshit. If anyone should have charges pressed against him, it's Pete Sessions...

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August 13, 2004

I know I make Editing Errors, but...

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas County Democratic Party could at least get Martin Frost's gender correct in their weekly email:

>CONGRESSWOMAN FROST TO OPEN >AN OAK CLIFF OFFICE ON SATURDAY >WITH A FIESTA! > >Come join Martin Frost tomorrow, Saturday, August 14, 2004 for the grand opening of the Frost Oak Cliff Office. >1:00pm – 3:00pm >512 W. Davis St. >Dallas, TX 75208 >Free food and refreshments will be provided. >RSVP to (214) 943-2005 >The Oak Cliff Headquarters is located on W. Davis St. in between North Adams Ave. and Cedar Hill Ave. near the Bishop Arts District.

So, yeah, join congressman Frost tomorrow as he opens his Oak Cliff office.

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DFW TV Stations Refuse to Air Bigoted Anti-Frost Ad

By Byron LaMasters

Good news from the Martin Frost campaign. The Coalition for the Future of the America Worker - an organization with racist ties has targeted Martin Frost with their brand of hate mongering attack ads. The Martin Frost campaign gives us the latest:

We have just learned that KTVT - CBS Channel 11 has joined KXAS - NBC Channel 5 in refusing to run the inaccurate and racially inflammatory attack spots by the anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, Coalition for the Future American Worker, aimed at Congressman Martin Frost. A recent Wall Street Journal piece wrote that the principal sponsor of this group, “received more than $1.5 million from the Pioneer Fund, a white-supremacist outfit devoted to racial purity through eugenics.” [Wall Street Journal March 15, 2004]

Your calls and e-mails are working! Now it’s time to redouble our efforts and focus our attention on WFAA – ABC Channel 8 and KDFW – FOX Channel 4. Even if you have called or e-mailed once please send another message TODAY and let these channels know that they should not take money from hate groups seeking to divide our community and spread lies and fear.

Comment line: 214.720.3103
Comment email: viewersvoice@kdfwfox4.com

Direct/Comment line: 214-748-9631
Comment email: news8@wfaa.com

After reviewing the scripts of the new ads we have found that not only are these
spots entirely inaccurate they are also just as irresponsible as the last ones. So
please contact WFAA and KDFW now!

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August 03, 2004

Bush in Dallas Today

By Byron LaMasters

President Bush is in Dallas today, trying to out-Catholic John Kerry. The Dallas Morning News reports:

Among Catholics, the Knights of Columbus are known as the men with the capes, swords and "Three Musketeers" hats, the ones who raise millions for charities, most famously by flipping pancakes.

But at the White House, they're known as voters. Crucial voters. So President Bush is stopping by Dallas today to address the world's largest Catholic fraternal organization – 1.2 million strong in the United States alone.

The Knights are meeting this week at the downtown Hyatt Regency essentially for a religious convention. All but two U.S. cardinals and dozens of bishops will be on hand, which speaks to the influence and standing the Knights hold in the church.

The sitting U.S. president is always invited to the group's annual convention. In recent years, only Republicans have accepted. (John F. Kennedy, the only Catholic president, was a Knight; John Kerry, the first Catholic nominee since JFK, is not.)

The Knights don't endorse presidential candidates, and members arriving in town Monday had mixed feelings about Mr. Bush's visit. He will have to do more than trot out his opposition to abortion to get their votes, many said.

I really don't get it. Bush is a good Catholic because he's against abortion and believes in discrimination against gay people. Yet, John Kerry is a bad Catholic despite being against capitol punishment in most cases, supporting programs to create more jobs, getting health insurance for more kids, making health care more affordable for the elderly, and providing all qualified students with the opportunity to get a great college education. Catholics that claim that George W. Bush is more in line with their values must have forgotten that the Catholic Church used to believe in social welfare programs that helped people get ahead in life, instead of the current single-issue judgement of politicians by the rigidity of their opposition to abortion rights.

Anyway, some folks in Dallas are protesting the speech, so we'll see how the protest goes.

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July 17, 2004

Bush Whack Music Festival

By Byron LaMasters

If you're in Dallas, come out to the Bush Whack Music Festival! It's at Club Dada in Deep Ellum from 2 PM until Midnight (or whenever) tomorrow (Sunday). There will be six bands, and the proceeds will support the Dallas County Young Democrats. If we make enough money from the event, the DCYD's will hire interns to work on the campaigns of local young Democratic candidates in Dallas County. It's $10 to get in, so come on out, support Democrats and have a fun time.

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July 11, 2004

Dallas County Dem Chair Supporting GOP Judges?

By Byron LaMasters

There's been quite a bit of chatter in Dallas Democratic circles over the weekend about news that the chair of the Dallas County Democratic Party, Susan Hays gave a statement in support of one of President Bush's judicial nominees last week. The San Antonio Express-News reports:

Texas Supreme Court Justice Michael Schneider sailed through a Senate confirmation hearing today, clearing the way for a vote on his nomination to the federal bench.

Schneider, 61, is a San Antonio native who was nominated by President Bush on May 17 to fill the Eastern District of Texas post that was held by the late Chief Judge John Hannah Jr.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, introduced Schneider to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"I cannot think of anyone who has the respect that he does, who is seeking a permanent position on the court," Hutchison said.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, chaired the confirmation hearing.

Cornyn, a former Texas Supreme Court justice, said Schneider understands, "as every good judge must, that the duty of a judge is to interpret the law, not legislate from the bench."

Schneider is a non-controversial judicial nominee, who received the backing of Susan Hays, chairwoman of the Dallas County Democratic Party.

There's probably several different versions to this story. The chair of a county party has an obligation to support that party's candidates and nominees for office at all levels. However, does that mean that the chair has an obligation to oppose a nomination of a Republican to a higher office? Since this is an appointment rather than an election, should the same rules apply? Is it justifiable for a party chair to support a relatively moderate and fair-minded judicial nomination of a Republican when the alternative would likely be much worse? Based on the statements of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), that seems to be the case:

Today we are considering the nomination of Michael Schneider to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. He currently serves on the Supreme Court of Texas, where he has served since September 2002. Prior to serving on the Texas Supreme Court, he spent 12 years on the State bench as a trial and appellate judge. He has a reputation as a conservative, but fair-minded judge. On the Texas Supreme Court, he has only authored a few opinions to date, but they lay out the facts and the law with no hint of a personal bias. Justice Schneider shows a willingness to listen to all litigants and to be fair. Unlike some of his more conservative colleagues on the court, Justice Schneider has not been a judicial activist and has not distorted the law to benefit corporations at the expense of consumers and injured individuals. In contrast, his opinions have focused on statutory interpretation, proper trial procedures, and the rule of law.

I would note that, like his colleagues on the court, Justice Schneider campaigned for his seat on the high court and received campaign donations from a number of lawyers, including employees at large defense firms. However, in contrast to Justice Owen, who received 17 percent of her total campaign contributions in 1994 from the two leading business tort political action committees and consistently ruled in their favor, Justice Schneider received only 1 percent of his total contributions from such groups with self-employed donors constituted the largest share of his donations.

Throughout his career, Justice Schneider has demonstrated a commitment to serving those less fortunate, by developing a mock trial program at a school in an impoverished neighborhood, participating in Habitat for Humanity projects, establishing alternative dispute resolution programs, and working with the State Bar of Texas to increase access to justice.

Sounds like a decent guy to me. Based on that information, I'd probably vote to approve the guy if I were on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and hold my fire for the true wing-nuts. But still, it kind of rubs me the wrong way to see Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) use the party chair as something of a pawn in the fight over judicial nominations:

Justice Schneider’s reputation as an exceptional jurist and a true gentleman is well known throughout the state of Texas. It is also well known by the American Bar Association, which recently gave him its highest rating, when its Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously certified him as “well qualified” for the federal bench. His nomination enjoys broad bipartisan support across the state of Texas. For example, Susan Hays, who chairs the Dallas County Democratic Party, has written a strong letter of support, and without objection, I’d like to submit that letter for the record.

I don't personally think that this is a huge deal, but I do think that it's legitimate to ask questions regarding the party chair's motivations for such actions.

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June 22, 2004

Republican Neighbors...

By Byron LaMasters

When I first got involved in politics at the age of 18, I registered to vote at my parents home in Collin County (northern Dallas suburbs). It's not an easy place to be a Democrat. There aren't too many of us. So, it didn't surprise me to read this:

While flags flew at half-staff for late President Ronald Reagan, some unpatriotic so-and-so yanked the stars and stripes off Morton "Jeff" Graham's front porch. For the third time in the last year, he says. Display mount and all.

In January, chunks of cinder block were thrown through two of his bedroom windows. And then there's the broken window and later the denting of his pickup in front of his Plano home.

"This must have been some kind of blunt instrument," he said, touching the cherry red Ford with the subtle window-sticker messages: Impeach Bush. George Bush AWOL. Veterans for Kerry.

Such words shock the system in Collin County, where Elect Bush (versions I and II) and Republicans in general long have been the sentiment of choice.

And call him crazy, but Mr. Graham, a former outspoken chairman of the county Democratic Party, figures the nighttime bashings on Stonetrail Drive are politically inspired.

"I'm sure people might think I'm a paranoid nut," he said. "But I don't know why else I'd be singled out."

Mr. Graham, 36, was credited with resurrecting the local party , but he resigned in January 2002 at the request of party leaders after deciding not to seek re-election.

The business owner and Navy veteran said he loses a half dozen or so yard signs every election season and has no idea who keeps picking on his property.

Plano police said criminal mischief has been reported this year at only one other property on Mr. Graham's block.

It's probably kids, Mr. Graham said, "who come from a home with extreme beliefs."

Whoever it is, after 12 years in the neighborhood, "I'm not going to let somebody run me out," he said.

Sign stealing is pretty common, but tearing down the U.S. flag and throwing cinder blocks through someone's window because of their political expression?

This is the second such story in two weeks in the Dallas Morning News. Last week, the Dallas Morning News ran a story about a meeting of the Dallas chapter of Mother's Opposing Bush (MOB). The Dallas Morning News found a slightly provacative picture of the MOB rally and proceeded to print the name of a 2-year old, then include the phone number and email address of the leader of the organization. What happened? The poor women has received hate email and vicious phone calls constantly over the past week. Can't we just have a little civility here?

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May 31, 2004

Dallas Police to Endorse Martin Frost

By Byron LaMasters

From the Martin Frost Press Release:

Dallas Police Officer's Political Action Committee to Endorse Congressman Martin Frost Endorsement Represents Over 2,500 Police Officers

DALLAS, TX - The Dallas Police Officer's Political Action Committee, the largest such law enforcement political organization in Dallas, will announce their endorsement of Congressman Martin Frost for re-election to Congress in the new 32nd district.

Frost will receive the endorsement because of his long-standing commitment to community safety, and his work in supporting the dedicated public servants of the Dallas Police Department.

WHAT: Dallas Police Officer's Political Action Committee Endorsement of Congressman Martin Frost for TX 32

WHERE: Dallas Police Association Building, 1412 Griffin St. East, Dallas (Mapsco 45Q)

WHEN: Tuesday, June 1, 2004, 10:00 AM

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May 25, 2004

Dallas is #1... in Crime

By Byron LaMasters


As expected, FBI statistics for 2003 show Dallas has the highest overall crime rate among the country's largest cities for the sixth year in a row.

City and police officials have known since last summer that Dallas was on track to keep the top crime spot. Since then, they have instituted new crime initiatives, fired the police chief and replaced him with a proven crime fighter, former Arlington Police Chief David Kunkle.

"We've known that we would be hampered by last year's numbers. That's what they are last year's," Mayor Laura Miller said. "We're really happy with the trend we've seen so far in 2004."

Rough numbers as of Monday for the first five months of 2004 show about a 6 percent drop in the major crime categories compared with this time last year, interim Police Chief Randy Hampton said.

Violent crimes -- murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults -- are down about 8 percent, while property crimes -- burglaries, thefts and auto thefts -- have fallen 5.7 percent, he said in Tuesday's edition of The Dallas Morning News.

At least the trends seem to be going in the right direction...

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May 14, 2004

Dallas Rally Against FMA Tomorrow

By Byron LaMasters

Hosted by Stand Out Texas:

Date: May 15 2004
Time: 1:00 pm
Place: Lee Park

The rally will focus on defending the U.S. Constitution against the proposed Amendment to discriminate against American families. If passed, the amendment could have a far-reaching impact on the LGBT community, and on the freedoms all Americans enjoy. Join our community and those in the non-gay community who are combining forces with us to ensure that discrimination does not become a part of the very document that safeguards liberty and equal rights for all citizens, the U.S. Constitution.

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April 20, 2004

Sessions Steps in It Again

By Andrew Dobbs

Not too long ago I ran into Byron on campus and we put off studying for tests to do what we always do when we are hanging out- talked politics. The discussion came around to the Frost-Sessions matchup in North Dallas and Byron made the very wise remark that while it is close, Sessions will probably win unless he screws up somehow, which is very likely. This is a guy whose Dad, the director of the FBI, couldn't get him into even a third tier law school and who was middle management at Southwestern Bell before going to congress. He's an idiot and so we suspected that he'd end up screwing up somehow, giving Frost a real shot at staying in Congress.

Byron, it seems, was probably right. After first benefitting from the services of a white supremacist group, one that had been condemned by other candidates it sought to shill for in the past, he is now in trouble for his questionable congressional mail pieces. Via Atrios from the Frost Camp:

Politician in trouble uses taxpayer funds to promote controversial
Washington lobbyist and partisan hatchet man
'Bipartisanship is another name for date rape,' [Grover Norquist, Pete
Sessions friend and supporter]

DALLAS, TX- After refusing to denounce the widely discredited hate ads sponsored by a white supremacist group polluting North Texas airwaves in an effort to bolster his troubled campaign, Pete Sessions has again used questionable tactics to mislead voters and save his political hide. This time, Sessions has used an expensive taxpayer-funded mailing to promote a Washington DC special interest lobbyist who has become famous for his ruthless partisanship, his ideological extremism and his controversial and insensitive remarks.

The slick six-page colored mailing from Pete Sessions recently hit North Texas mailboxes. At first glance it looks like any other political advertising. However, at closer inspection this campaign style advertisement is actually a taxpayer funded mailing sent under the cover of Pete Sessions' Congressional office. That type mailing could typically cost as much as $50,000 in taxpayer money. Even worse, the mailing prominently shows a picture of controversial Washington lobbyist Grover Norquist posing with Pete Sessions.

Grover Norquist is best known for trivializing the heinous crime of rape and for comparing the Holocaust with taxes.

* "'We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals - and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship,' said Grover Norquist, a leading Republican strategist, who heads a group called Americans for Tax Reform. 'Bipartisanship is another name for date rape,' Norquist, a onetime adviser to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, said..." [Denver Post May, 26 2003]

* "[George H.W.] Bush raised taxes, increased spending more than even Jimmy Carter, added 20,000 new regulators to the public payroll, and cut secret deals with House speaker Tom Foley and Senate majority leader George Mitchell -- whom he called his "friends" after each date-rape." [Grover Norquist, The American Spectator, February 1993]

* "Norquist compared the estate tax to the Holocaust. This remark, so bizarre and tasteless that I felt it deserved checking, sent me to the transcript of the show, where, sure enough, it was confirmed. [Richard Cohen, Washington Post January 6, 2004]

"I am very concerned about the insensitive manner in which Pete Sessions chooses to define himself. First Pete Sessions refuses to denounce a white supremacist funded outside group running inaccurate and inflammatory ads on his behalf. Now he is wasting taxpayer dollars mugging for the camera with a man who routinely trivializes abuse towards women and belittles the Holocaust," said Marc Stanley, Congressman Frost's campaign chair and local Jewish leader. "Pete Sessions has a serious character problem and owes the taxpayers of the 32nd Congressional district an apology and a refund."

Sally Garcia, a local Womens' advocate added, "The fact that Sessions would proudly appear with a guy who said, 'Bipartisanship is another name for date rape' just confirms in my mind that Pete either doesn't understand violent crime against women and may not care. Clearly he doesn't understand that trivializing rape is offensive and inexcusable to most women."

Now, is Grover Norquist a neo-Nazi? Almost assuredly not. But the fact of the matter is that by first tying Sessions to a white supremacist group and now to a guy who belittles the Holocaust and date rape, Frost is able to make Sessions look like an extremist. Frost is aggravating the charge by offering a "Clean Campaign Pledge" that will ask outside groups to refrain from advertising in the race. Sessions mentioned the idea first in an article in the Dallas Morning News, but has yet to sign the pledge. The actions are helping to paint Sessions as an ultra-partisan hack.

Its a good strategy for this district. While it is slightly more Republican than Democrat it also has a pretty strong independent streak- this is fiercely independent Dallas Mayor Laura Miller's base of support and has Democratic bases in Oak Cliff and a large Jewish population. It is also about 50% minority with large Asian and Middle Eastern immigrant bases. Making Sessions out to be a hard right yes man to the party will help Frost look like an independent voice of moderation and he could end up winning this area. Its a great plan and let's hope that it ends up working out.

Finally, there is some question as to whether or not Sessions ought to be sending out campaign-like literature on the tax payer dime at this time. It seems to be a pretty shady dealing and one that will help enhance Frost's identity as the honest man of the people versus the sketchy servant to the special interests. The more Sessions tries to win this race the easy way, the more Frost ends up looking like a winner. Let's help get him there by donating to Frost's campaign. Texas deserves representation from men like Frost.

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April 13, 2004

Lupe Valdez wins Dallas Co. Dem. Sheriff Nomination

By Byron LaMasters

In a landslide.

Learn more about her, here.

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March 31, 2004

Dallas County Democratic Leaders Endorse Lupe Valdez in Sheriff Run-off

By Byron LaMasters

I don't have a horse in this race, but it looks as if much of the Democratic establishment in Dallas is lining up behind Lupe Valdez in the run-off for the Democratic nomination for Dallas County Sheriff. The Dallas Morning News reports:

Several prominent Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, have endorsed Lupe Valdez's candidacy for Dallas County sheriff, campaign officials said Tuesday.

Ms. Valdez faces Jim Foster in an April 13 runoff. Ms. Valdez and Mr. Foster led a field of four candidates in this month's Democratic primary, but neither won a majority.

State Sen. Royce West, state Rep. Yvonne Davis and Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price also are supporting Ms. Valdez, campaign officials said. The campaign scheduled a news conference for 10:30 a.m. today at the Frank Crowley Criminal Courts Building to introduce its new supporters.


Mr. Foster, a former Dallas County deputy constable, outpolled Ms. Valdez in many precincts in southern Dallas that have a majority of black voters, election results show.

Ms. Valdez won many of the precincts in North Dallas, the northern suburbs, East Dallas and north Oak Cliff. Those precincts are majority white or Hispanic.

Ms. Valdez said she did not do as well in black neighborhoods because "Mr. Foster spent a lot of time advertising and calling to that area, while financially I could not afford it."

Mr. Price said he would campaign with Ms. Valdez and predicted that she would win.

Mr. Foster "spent all his time and effort in southern Dallas," Mr. Price said. "She did not have the wherewithal to get her message out. We know we can help her."

I'm betting on Valdez to win this one. Both Valdez and Foster would be decent candidates, but Valdez looks to be the most experienced candidate with 28 years in law enforcement, including stints as a special agent at the Customs Service and with the Department of Homeland Security. Foster benefited in the primary, because of his extensive campaigning in the south Dallas precincts where turnout was high due to an major GOTV opperation by County Commissioner John Wiley Price (who easily fended off two challengers). In fact, one study suggested that African Americans made up 49% of the Dallas County Democratic Primary vote:

Black voters helped boost Jim Foster into a Democratic runoff for sheriff.

But his opponent, Lupe Valdez, was first with white and Hispanic voters.

So who has the edge for the April 13 runoff?

Dr. Dan Weiser, a political consultant and mathematician, says Ms. Valdez could be in the best position.

That's because black voters who supported Mr. Foster might not return to the polls next month, particularly because many of them were drawn to the March 9 primary by the caustic race for Dallas County Commissioners Court between incumbent John Wiley Price and Judge Charles Rose .

"Foster has a good campaign, but I don't think he can bring people out who don't want to come out," Mr. Weiser said.


A study prepared by Mr. Weiser shows that in the Democratic primary, blacks constituted 49 percent of the overall vote. Anglos were second with 42 percent, and Hispanics had 9 percent.

Mr. Foster, who is Anglo, got 42 percent of the black vote, followed by the 36 percent received by Sam Allen, who is black. Ms. Valdez received 15 percent of the black vote.

But Ms. Valdez fared better among Anglos, carrying 47 percent of their vote. Mr. Foster got 19 percent.

And Ms. Valdez got the biggest share of the Hispanic vote as well, with 46 percent. Eighteen percent of Hispanic voters went for Mr. Foster.

Overall, the race was a near dead heat, with Ms. Valdez getting 31 percent of the vote and Mr. Foster getting 30 percent.

"Because she finished first with Anglos and Hispanics," Mr. Weiser said, "it gives her an advantage."

Now with Valdez's endorsement of several prominent African-American elected officials, she looks to be in a perfect position. Anyway, if I were registered in Dallas County, she'd probably have my vote, but regardless, I would encourage Dallas Democrats to learn about both candidates and vote in the run-off on April 13th. Either of our candidates will be better than the current sheriff (Jim Bowles) who was indicted for misusing campaign funds.

Lupe Valdez Website.

Jim Foster Website.

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March 11, 2004

Dallas Sheriff Indicted by Grand Jury

By Byron LaMasters

Dallas Sheriff Jim Bowles lost in the Republican primary Tuesday after twenty years as Dallas sheriff. Yesterday, Bowles was indicted. The Dallas Morning News reports:

A grand jury indicted Dallas County Sheriff Jim Bowles on Wednesday, alleging he misused more than $100,000 worth of campaign donations, a day after the longtime sheriff overwhelmingly lost his bid for re-election.


Sheriff Lucas and Sheriff Bowles both have ties to jail vendor Jack Madera. Court records say Sheriff Bowles transferred the money in January 2000 from two campaign accounts and one "sheriff's account" into his personal checking and investment accounts.

A review of Sheriff Bowles' campaign finance reports show that he should have had a surplus of campaign funds for Tuesday's primary. Instead, he claimed political poverty.

Sheriff Bowles said he did not have the money to pay his political consultant, Clayton P. Henry, who quit in early January. The sheriff loaned his campaign $29,000 of his own money.

According to campaign finance reports, Sheriff Bowles received $363,544 in political contributions between January 1988 and June 2003. He spent about $214,900 over the same period, records show. That should have left a campaign balance of $148,644.

But in a report Sheriff Bowles filed with the county Elections Department in January, he said he had only $7,532 on hand.

On Election Day, Sheriff Bowles said he did not make "anything but my salary" during his 20 years as sheriff.


Danny Chandler, the county's emergency management coordinator, defeated Sheriff Bowles in Tuesday's Republican primary election. Sheriff Bowles complained that his campaign was crippled by the investigation and accused the prosecutor of political assassination.

Mr. Chandler said he would like to assume the office if Sheriff Bowles resigned and if county commissioners appointed him.

Two Democrats, Lupe Valdez and Jim Foster, are in a runoff for the Democratic nomination for sheriff, but the Republican-dominated Commissioners Court would be unlikely to appoint a Democrat to the position.

State law does not require an elected official under indictment to resign. A felony or misdemeanor conviction for official misconduct requires immediate removal.

Republicans have controlled and corrupted Dallas County for long enough. I think that Sheriff Bowles loss in the GOP primary and indictment yesterday are the begining of the end of Republican control of Dallas county.

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March 10, 2004

Dallas County Sheriff Falls After 20 Years

By Byron LaMasters

Well, this is good and bad news. On one hand, it's good to see corrupt sheriff fall to defeat, but on the other, Sheriff Bowles would have been a much easier opponent to defeat in November. The Dallas Morning News reports:

Danny Chandler defeated Sheriff Jim Bowles in Tuesday's Republican primary, forcing Dallas County's senior lawman into retirement and guaranteeing the county a new sheriff for the first time in 20 years.

Mr. Chandler, the county's director of security and emergency management, will have to wait a month to know his November opponent. A field of four Democratic candidates failed to produce a victor, with Jim Foster and Lupe Valdez headed for a runoff on April 13.

Ruddy-faced from a long day of greeting voters, Mr. Chandler said he was humbled to soundly defeat the incumbent sheriff by more than a 2-1 ratio. He also offered an olive branch to Sheriff Bowles.


Sheriff Bowles, 75, blamed a continuing investigation of his dealings with a jail vendor for his loss. A special prosecutor has been investigating the sheriff's dealings with businessman Jack Madera for almost five months.

The investigation began after The Dallas Morning News reported last year that Sheriff Bowles accepted thousands of dollars worth of meals and trips from Mr. Madera before awarding him a commissary contract.

The contract gave less money to the Sheriff's Department than other vendors offered. Sheriff Bowles defended his decision, saying Mr. Madera had the only company that could handle the job.

Full Results for both primaries are at Dalco Elections:

Sheriff - Republican Primary:

Jim Bowles . . . . . . . . . . 7,547 - 25.03%
Danny Chandler. . . . . . . . . 18,025 - 59.79%
Leonard L. Bueber. . . . . . . . 1,018 - 3.38%
Larry Locke. . . . . . . . . . 3,556 - 11.80%

Sheriff - Democratic Primary:

Charles A. Munoz (Chuck) . . . . . 5,766 - 13.03%
Lupe Valdez. . . . . . . . . . 13,867 - 31.34%
Jim Foster . . . . . . . . . . 13,310 - 30.08%
Sam Allen . . . . . . . . . . 11,301 - 25.54%

Lupe Valdez and Jim Foster would both make good sheriff's for Dallas County. We'll see which one emerges in the April run-off.

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February 14, 2004

And Just when I thought Dallas was Finally Normal...

By Byron LaMasters

We see crazy billboards like this:

Via AP / Yahoo News

And I can't leave out the caption:

This billboard in Dallas on Feb. 2, 2004, is a campaign by Dallas-based nonprofit software company by NetAccountability, a nonprofit software company that aims to help Christians confront the 'secret sin' of pornography. The company is urging men to give their wives a special gift for Valentines -- abstinence from porn. The billboards are scheduled to be displayed on Friday, Feb. 13, 2004, the day before Valentines Day.

Good God. Well, if you have a pornography problem, by all means, check out their website. I'm frankly amused by it. Don't we have bigger things to worry about?

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January 22, 2004

A Plug From D Magazine!

By Byron LaMasters

D Magazine, a magazine covering the city of Dallas has started a blog and they've given us a nice plug.

Here's a great blog on politics from the Democratic side, published by four students at UT, called, appropriately Burnt Orange Report. It has a fairly comprehensive listing of other political blogs in the state.

Thanks! And BTW, Charles Kuffner has the best list of Texas political blogs.

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January 13, 2004

Miller Recall Effort Fails Again

By Byron LaMasters

No surpise here:

Supporters of the effort to recall [Dallas] Mayor Laura Miller said Sunday night that they have not collected enough signatures for the measure.

Organizers said they will spend the next 40 days in a period of prayer, waiting for guidance as to what their next move should be.

"We're going to take these 40 days to back off and debrief our staff and volunteers," said Bishop Harold Edwards, who filed the recall petition Nov. 14. "We're not saying we're not going to try again. But we do know we're going to take a break."

Mr. Edwards said organizers did not gather as many signatures this time as they did in the last recall drive. He said that "quite a few" signatures were collected but that the cold weather and winter holidays prevented the necessary canvassing of neighborhoods.

I'm getting tired of recalls. I know that a lot of people are unhappy with Laura Miller here in Dallas, but she was legitimately elected last year by a large margin and I think that her opponents would be best off trying to work with her, rather than continue what seems to be a continuous cycle of failed recall petitions.

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November 25, 2003

Laura Miller Recall Effort Fails

By Byron LaMasters

The Dallas Morning News reports:

The drive to recall Mayor Laura Miller sputtered to a temporary halt Monday, as organizers acknowledged that they had failed to collect the signatures needed to force an election.

But they vowed to immediately refocus their attention on a newly launched recall effort, promising perpetual petition drives as long as Ms. Miller remains in office.

Opponents of the mayor had collected thousands of signatures in a frantic effort to meet Monday's deadline for submitting their petitions. But less than an hour before the cutoff, organizers announced that they had fallen short of the 72,873 signatures required.

Organizers say they will try again, but there's no reason to believe that the result will be any different next time around. Personally, I just think that people aren't really up for recalls in the aftermath of the California recall. Just yesterday it was announced that the recall against Nevada governor Kenny Guinn had failed. Both failures are good news. While I was angry about the California recall for a few days afterwards and was ready to see an immediate recall of Arnold, after reflecting on the whole ordeal, I've come to reaffirm what I thought about recalls in the first place. They're bad for democracy and should only be used in the most extreme cases when an elected offical has severely abused his/her power.

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September 26, 2003

State Fair Starts Today

By Byron LaMasters

The State Fair of Texas starts today in Dallas, home of the Red River Shootout on October 11th.

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September 20, 2003

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) Aides Call Police to Stop Free Speech

By Byron LaMasters

A friend and I handed out these flyers outside of a Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) meeting on Social Security in Richardson (Dallas suburb) this morning. We didn't do anything to disrupt the meeting, we simply asked people as they left the event outside if they would like a flyer, and handed out several dozen that way. We just felt that it was important that the good people of Texas' 32nd Congressional district know that their congressman knowingly hired a criminal thug to be his communications director. Aides to Pete Sessions had a security guard at the school ask us to leave, and when we objected, telling him that we had every right to be there, they called the police. At that point we left, but the behavior is quite typical of the Sessions team.

Here is the flyer which we handed out (click on the image for an enlarged version):

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September 12, 2003

Recall Miller?

By Byron LaMasters

I think we all have recall fever. There's the recall election in California. A lot of us Democrats in Texas would like to recall Gov. Rick Perry (although there's no constitutional provision for such a recall in Texas, it's a nice thought), and now community activists opposed to Laura Miller's firing of Police Chief Terrell Bolton want to recall Dallas Mayor Laura Miller. The Dallas Morning News reports.

It won't happen. Organizers would need to gather 72,873 signatures in 60 days, and unless Darrell Issa decides he want so dump a few hundred grand into the effort, then it ain't going anywhere.

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September 09, 2003

Kirk Supported Bolton Firing

By Byron LaMasters

Wow. I'm surprised. Ron Kirk's actually helping Laura Miller here. I'm personally glad to here Kirk say this. It will probably help quell some of the anger from the Black community in Dallas over this. The Dallas Morning News reports:

Mr. Kirk, who was mayor during the first two years of Mr. Bolton's tenure, has said in recent days that he would have supported firing Mr. Bolton in 2001. "I had seen enough," Mr. Kirk said last week.

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September 02, 2003

Angry Dallas City Council Meeting

By Byron LaMasters

No surprise here. Last week, Andrew blogged on the firing of Dallas Police Chief Terrell Bolton. And in typically Dallas fashion, the way you look at the issue is oftentimes determined by your race. A lot of Blacks see Bolton's firing as a racist attempt to get rid of the first African-American Police Chief in Dallas. Some have even claimed that there was a secret deal between Mayor Laura Miller and the Hispanic community to fire Bolton, then appoint a Hispanic Police Chief. On the other hand, it seems as if Hispanics and Whites are more likely to see the firing as a necesary change needed to lower Dallas' high crime rate.

I've written before on Dallas Mayor, Laura Miller's Black Problem, so when it is all put together, it made for a quite contentious city council meeting this week. Anyway, for all the action, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Angry supporters of ousted Police Chief Terrell Bolton filled the City Council chambers Wednesday, demanding to know why the city's first black chief was fired Tuesday and why he wasn't given an opportunity to resign.

"We want answers. We want answers," said Frank Ward.

City Manager Ted Benavides, who has said that he alone made the decision to fire the chief, sat silently as speaker after speaker railed from the microphone. But before the meeting ended, he agreed to meet at 9 a.m. Thursday with those who have questions about the chief's firing.

Mayor Laura Miller was the target of several outbursts from the gallery during Wednesday's raucous council meeting, which had to be suspended twice.
Mr. Benavides said Wednesday he acted because controversy over the chief had eclipsed discussion of how to bring the city's crime rate under control.

"The focus was on the chief," Mr. Benavides said. "The focus needed to be on the department.

"The fact remains that we're the No. 1 crime city with over 1 million people. I thought that making a change would allow us to shift the focus and move in a new direction."

Twice, Wednesday's council meeting was suspended when the clamor became so great that it threatened to spin out of control. During the intervals, black council members quietly urged the most vehement protesters to sit down rather than risk eviction from the chamber.

Several speakers focused their outrage on Mayor Laura Miller, accusing her of making a secret pledge during her re-election campaign to force out Mr. Bolton. They threatened political repercussions.

"Madam mayor, we're going to recall you," Joyce Foreman said. After she spoke, many in the capacity crowd stood up, clapped and cheered. A petition to recall Ms. Miller was circulated at the meeting.

Ms. Miller – a longtime critic of the chief's management style – reiterated that she did not take part in the decision to fire Mr. Bolton, had no warning that it would happen Tuesday and didn't know why Mr. Benavides reached the decision when he did.

"There's only one person that can answer those things, and I can't make him talk," the mayor said.
Several in the crowd started yelling when Ms. Miller said the community needs to be unified.

"You're the divider," yelled former council member Sandra Crenshaw. "You're trying to play us against the Hispanics, and we want some answers."

The city charter gives the city manager sole authority to hire and fire department heads, including the police chief. However, it says a fired department head must be given a written explanation and a hearing before the City Council if he demands them in writing.

Bob Hinton, Mr. Bolton's attorney, said he was hoping to get an explanation from Mr. Benavides at Thursday morning's meeting. He said he would wait until then before deciding whether he would demand a written explanation or a public hearing.

"We're waiting to see tomorrow what Benavides says," Mr. Hinton said. "He's going to explain why he was fired."

But Mr. Hinton added he doubts that there was a good reason.

"He doesn't have a why, because the why is, 'I was told to do so by Laura Miller,' " he said.

Mr. Hinton said he did not have confidence that the city would honor the charter even if he asked for a public hearing.

"I don't think it's appropriate, quite frankly, right now to ask for a public hearing or to have an explanation because they just simply haven't followed the city charter in any of this."

Speaking at the council meeting, the Rev. Stephen Nash vowed to press for the reinstatement of Mr. Bolton. He also planned to lead a boycott of several businesses, including The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV (Channel 8), which he accused of biased coverage.

Mr. Nash, who said he spoke on behalf of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Metropolitan Dallas and the African-American Pastors Alliance Coalition of Dallas, left the meeting disappointed.

"I think that the very intent of letting us come down to vent is an insult," Mr. Nash said. "What we needed were some answers."

County Commissioner John Wiley Price called Mr. Bolton a sacrificial lamb, saying, "It's a sad message that's being sent.

"This is a wake-up lesson in political maneuvering for the black community," he said, adding that Mr. Bolton had been micromanaged, undermined and sabotaged.

Former council candidate Roy Williams accused Mr. Benavides of sacrificing Mr. Bolton "to save your own hide."

Lee Alcorn, former head of the NAACP's Dallas chapter, asked why Mr. Benavides did not give Mr. Bolton the chance to resign.

"Firing Bolton will not save your job – you're going to be next," Mr. Alcorn told Mr. Benavides.

In response to reporters' questions, Mr. Benavides repeated what he had said Tuesday: that he considered the decision for weeks and that it was not prompted by any one incident.

"I try not to make quick decisions," he said. "I try to contemplate, talk to other folks and make an evaluation before taking action."

Donna Halstead, a former council member who is now president of the Dallas Citizens Council, said that description matches her 14-year experience with Mr. Benavides.

"He kind of holds things close to his vest and doesn't act precipitously," she said.

On the other hand, she said, Mr. Benavides does not hesitate to let those he works with know whether he thinks they are not performing well.

"He's very forthcoming if he has criticism," she said.

Mr. Benavides also dismissed suggestions that problems in the chief's personal life affected his decision.

"Absolutely not," he said.

Mr. Benavides denied that he was prompted to act by a request from the district attorney's office for the names of police officers who have criminal convictions in their background. He said that he did not receive a copy of the letter until Wednesday and that he had not read it.

Council member Elba Garcia said she intends to ask interim Chief Randy Hampton to comply with that request. The letter also asked for names of any officers who omitted pertinent information from their applications.

Chief Hampton said he would work to comply with the request for information about officers' backgrounds, which have come under scrutiny since Mr. Bolton fired Derrick Evans.

"We'll see what we can do to accommodate that request," he said. "I want to be clear about what they want."

The district attorney's letter came after revelations that the Police Department hired recruit Evans despite knowing that he failed a lie-detector test in an unsolved homicide and falsified his employment application.

The district attorney's office said it has a legal duty to review the criminal backgrounds of officers to determine whether there is information that prosecutors must disclose to defense attorneys if the officer is testifying during a trial.

Dr. Garcia said Wednesday that concerns prosecutors outlined in the letter were still valid, even though Mr. Bolton has been fired.

"I'm going to write a letter [requesting that] ... we notify [the district attorney's] office about whether we have any other potential problem officers with backgrounds like ex-Officer Derrick Evans'," Dr. Garcia said.

Council member Veletta Forsythe Lill said that even though Mr. Benavides did not consult with council members immediately before the firing, he was certainly attuned to members' opinions on the subject.

"I'm certain that he had visited with a large majority of the council," she said. "Ultimately, it was Ted's decision, but he had to know that he had backing."

But black council members said they were blindsided – and angered – by Mr. Benavides' action.

"The city manager has the authority to hire and fire the police chief," council member Leo Chaney said. "But we the council have the authority to hire and fire the city manager."

The city manager is hired by a majority vote of the City Council but can be fired only by a two-thirds vote, or 10 members.

Mr. Chaney said he was led to believe that the chief's weekly meetings with the mayor had been productive and that Mr. Bolton was on the right path.

Mr. Chaney said this was not a racial matter but an issue of respect.

Council member Don Hill said he was not satisfied with Mr. Benavides' stated reasons for terminating Mr. Bolton.

"I don't have an answer. I can't tell you what was the reason or the cause for what happened," he said. "So far, I have not gotten any sufficient answers."

Mr. Benavides said he would gladly comply with Mr. Hill's request for an open discussion about the decision to terminate the chief.

"I'd be glad to talk to council members individually or in a group," he said.

He said he did not consult with council members about his decision because personnel issues are his responsibility.

"The council hires me. I hire ... [Mr. Bolton]. This is still a personnel matter. I made the choice to hire Terrell, and I thought it was appropriate that I make the decision to terminate him."

Mr. Benavides said he was not surprised by the angry response from some on the council and in the community.

"I fully anticipated this," he said.

It's nice to be back in Austin...

Posted at 02:19 PM to Dallas City Limits | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 29, 2003

Bolton Gets the Boot

By Andrew Dobbs

I know that this happened on Tuesday but I'm just now finding some time to post on this news. Terrell Bolton, the first black police cheif in Dallas history was given his walking papers by City Manager Ted Benavides on Tuesday, causing an uproar among certain elements of the black community in Dallas. Bolton's four year stint as the top dog at DPD includes such shining accomplishments as having the worst crime rate in the nation, sending dozens of (presumably) innocent people to jail for posessing what turned out to be sheetrock crushed up to look like drugs, hiring a suspected murderer as a police officer and shamelessly playing the race card to keep a job he certainly didn't deserve. As happy as I am that someone who was so clearly not cut out for the job of Dallas Police Cheif got a pink slip the whole episode neatly illustrates all of the things that make me glad I moved down to Austin.

First, we must realize that in Dallas there is only one issue, race. No other issue is important because all issues are merely facets of the one issue. South and East Dallas council members run race-loaded and often crooked campaigns such as Black member Maxine Thornton-Reese's 1999 election against a white incumbent with the slogan "Vote for someone who looks like you." In North Dallas the candidates feed off of the racism and fear of its largely White electorate to win elections. As soon as any Black official is accused, legitimately or not, of corruption, the South Dallas self-declared, self-promoting "community activists" jump all over the White officials accusing them of racism. For example, Mayor Laura Miller, a White liberal, was the object of protests led by powerful Black County Commissioner John Wiley Price that included calling her by vulgar names in her front yard as her children were home because of her opposition to former Council Member Al Lipscomb. Lipscomb, who has been nominated to serve on a police oversight committee, has been convicted of federal corruption charges (the conviction was overturned on a technicality though the evidence is overwhelmingly against him).

Though it was the Hispanic City Manager, Ted Benavides, that actually fired the police chief (as the Mayor or Council cannot fire the cheif, only the City Manager can), most of the invective has been hurled Miller's way. One writer to today's Dallas Morning News called her "a sick and dangerous person." Another suggested that Benavides fire her instead, which is not only impossible but idiotic. Bolton's attorney says that the explanation for his firing was "Laura Miller told (him) so." The final claim is distinctly unlikely as Miller has been gunning for Benavides as much as Bolton and with a divided council he is fire-proof- she has nothing to coerce him to do anything. It is clear that this is yet another example of the race card being played against White politicians who were simply doing their job, or rather, not doing anything but getting the blame when another officer does their job. Not to be outdone in the stooping low department, Price and other city officials suggested that race riots would follow a Bolton firing. If so, they'll only be able to happen because an incompetent and poorly managed police department festered under Bolton's lack of leadership.

There are lessons to be learned from this episode. First, move to Austin- race really never seems to play a big part of our politics, we have Black and Hispanic council members and they are elected by a White electorate. We also have a great City Manager in Tobi Futrell. Barring that, Dallas MUST get rid of the City Manager system. The current Council of 14 members and the Mayor has to have a 2/3 vote to fire the City Manager so as long as 6 members are putting their race over their city Ted can kick back and relax and can let awful police cheifs like Bolton run amok. Currently, 7 members and Mayor Miller would have voted to fire Bolton, but they didn't have that power. Dallas is the largest city in America to use this antiquated system and it seems that they have outgrown its usefulness.

Finally, Miller might be able to get a two for one deal. Benavides fires Bolton and stirs up the rancor of the minority members who once formed a coalition to protect him. Miller and the North Dallas members join them in firing Benavides as this takes 10 votes, but then hire a new, Miller-ite manager as it only takes a simple majority to hire a manager (which the 7 N. Dallas members and Miller will make). For the longest time I've said that Benavides and Bolton should both get the axe and now, that just might happen without having to win a whole bunch of elections.

Race is a touchy subject and there are a lot of White politicians, including some on the Dallas City Council I'm sure, who are legitimately racist and are set on reducing the rights and status of minorities in America. But Black and Hispanic community leaders severely diminish their credibility when they rally around criminals like Lipscomb, racists like Thornton-Reese or incompetents such as Bolton simply because of the color of their skin. Dallas needs to update its charter, but more importantly, update its heart- a city with such a dramatic and devastating divide cannot do the great things it should. Bolton's departure is a step in the right direction, though we must weather a storm of short-sightedness before that becomes apparant to all.

Posted at 01:07 AM to Dallas City Limits | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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