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Burnt Orange Reporters
Editor-in-Chief - Matt G.
Senior Adviser - Phillip M.
Featured Writer - Kirk M.
Featured Writer - Michael H.
Featured Writer - Sarah W.
Featured Writer - Todd H.
Guest Writer - Jose B.
Guest Writer - M. Eddie R.
Guest Writer - Vince L.
Publisher - Karl-Thomas M.
Founder - Byron L.

Texas BlogWire

Jaworski, Criss Formally Announce

by: Matt Glazer

Sat Dec 22, 2007 at 04:14 PM CST

Recently we reprinted excerpts of the announcements have over a dozen campaigns.  Over the past few weeks Democrats across the state have filed with the Democratic Party to appear on the ballot in March.

Two announcements we failed to run include Judge Susan Criss and State Senate candidate Joe Jaworski.  

Their announcement can be found below the fold.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 228 words in story)

Happy Holidays from Rick Noriega

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 11:55 AM CST

I love that in Texas, you can have a video like this and have it be devoid of snow and ice. Don't forget, you can help close the quarter strong for Rick by giving online today.  

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Ralph Hall Holds Your Children Hostage and Threatens World Peace

by: Glenn Melancon

Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 02:46 PM CST

(Glenn is running for Congress in Texas 4th Congressional District.   - promoted by Karl-Thomas Musselman)

As a child I was raised to believe that Christmas is a time of comfort and joy.  Jesus, the Prince of Peace, arrived in the world preaching a gospel of love.

Today I read in my local paper a threat from Ralph Hall.   He said, “If we don’t solve our energy problems we’re going to have to send our kids over in some kind of troop ship to take some energy away from someone else.” After representing the oil and gas industry for 30 years, Ralph wants more welfare for these giant corporations.

It’s time for us to stop this childish behavior.  Our children will NOT be used to steal oil.

We can do better.  We must do better.

Please join me this holiday season and renew the true meaning of Christmas.  No more wars for oil.  No more torture.  No more worshiping at the altar of crony capitalism.  America has always been stronger, prouder and more secure when we’ve exported hope and inspiration.

Have a Merry Christmas and joyous New Year.
There's More... :: (0 Comments, 51 words in story)

Donnie Dippel Announces in HD 17, Give Democrats Strong Chance to Win

by: Matt Glazer

Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 05:50 PM CST

Donnie Dippel, former Assistant Commissioner at the Texas Department of Agriculture, has announced that he will fight to represent Texans and hold on to Democrat Robbie Cook's seat.

According to his press release:

Dippel served as Assistant Commissioner for Pesticide Programs at the Texas Department of Agriculture for six years, and worked for fourteen years total at the TDA.   "My time at the Department of Agriculture will allow me to serve District 17 well in Austin," Dippel continued.  "At the TDA we put politics aside and focused on getting real results for Texas agriculture producers.   That is exactly the kind of state representative I plan to be."

Dippel currently works as the owner of CHB Consulting, a small business specializing in agriculture consulting.   Dippel has been honored as a strong advocate of worker-safety and enforcement of pesticide regulations.  He has also worked to protect surface water and Texas' endangered species.

Like Cook, Dippel appears to be a conservative Democrat which is a solid fit for HD-17.  His priorities will include-- "fighting for public schools, Texas agriculture and economic development in District 17."

Sources around the district tell BOR that at least one other potential candidate is considering the race, but Dippel's strong ties to the area, the community support surrounding him, and his previous political experience give Democrats the best chance to hold on to HD-17.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

The 12 Days of A Cornyn Christmas

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 03:56 PM CST

We've finally got there. Day 12 of "A Cornyn Christmas". We already know that Sen. Cornyn is a Grinch thanks to the Texas College Democrats.

Now, thanks to the Texas Democratic Party, we seen 12 times why Cornyn is not the reason for the season. So check for those looking to catch up on both of these great efforts, we've gathered links below.

  • On the First Day: Partisanship and Demagoguery
  • On the Second Day: Two Abandoned Veterans
  • On the Third Day: Three Disenfranchised Voters
  • On the Fourth Day: Four Undisclosed Earmarks
  • On the Fifth Day: Five Border Fence Lies
  • On the Sixth Day:  Six Hurricane-Ravaged Homes
  • On the Seventh Day: Seven Undetected WMDs
  • On the Eighth Day:  Eight Children Left Behind
  • On the Ninth Day: Nine Fired US Attorneys
  • On the Tenth Day: Ten (Million) Sick Children
  • On the Eleventh Day: Eleven Forgotten Military Bases
  • On the Twelfth Day: Twelve Lapdog Cronies
Discuss :: (3 Comments)

John Cornyn Lacks Substance

by: Vince Leibowitz

Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 00:36 PM CST

We know John Cornyn is a Bush lap-dog who spouts his party's line like it was the Lord's Prayer. We know that John Cornyn was very likely a draft-dodger. And, we know that John Cornyn supported segregationist George Wallace for President. But, what about the real substance behind the man Lt. Col. and State Rep. Rick Noriega will defeat next November.

You can tell a lot about what an elected official thinks and does by the columns they are often privileged to be able to scatter through our state's newspapers like pepper on mashed potatoes. In John Cornyn's case, if you read his columns, you might get the impression (and rightfully so) that he has about as much substance as a bag of instant mashed potatoes.

Over the past year, he's extolled the virtues of Blue Bell Ice Cream, shared his undying (and, we're sure, completely platonic) love for Big Tex, and even offered a history lesson on the Texas Cowboy.

Oh, the substance! Our nation is mired n the quagmire that is Iraq, the NSA is probably reading this very blog post (as I type it!), children are without healthcare, and Mr. Substance, Jr., delivers messages like this to voters in his weekly columns:

County fairs and rodeos, usually in the winter or spring, are a staple of Texas life. The state fair over three autumn weeks has many similar ingredients, including youth livestock raising competitions. But everything is bigger.

Fairgoers are greeted by Big Tex, a 52-foot inflatable figure that started life as a Santa promoting Christmas shopping in Kerens, Texas. He was redressed in country gear for the 1952 fair, and he began talking a year later. Big Tex was refurbished in 1999 and given his AARP card when he turned 50 three years later.

A group of Dallas civic leaders came up with the idea for a state fair in 1886. After an argument led to two competing fairs, they soon combined operations at what is now Fair Park in East Dallas.

Perhaps, now more than ever, my oft-given moniker of "Senator Corny Dog" is appropriate.
There's More... :: (1 Comments, 1171 words in story)

Jim Jordan to Challenge Wallace Jefferson for TX Supreme Court Chief Justice

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 00:09 PM CST

It's great to see another seat challenged on the Texas Supreme Court, this time, that for chief justice. From that candidate's press release...

The highly partisan, all Republican Texas Supreme Court will soon face another voice for reform as Dallas District Judge Jim Jordan amended his committee filings with the Texas Ethics Commission to allow for a candidacy for Chief Justice.

Jordan, a veteran civil defense attorney and past member of the Texas Association of Defense Counsel, noted a serious backlog in cases at the state's highest court.  "They are failing to do their work as the backlog in cases has reached record levels."

Jordan, who currently presides over the 160th District Court in Dallas, is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law - a certification earned by less than 2% of Texas Lawyers.

"When the system is broken, the responsibility must fall on the leader," Jordan noted, explaining his decision to seek the Chief Justice position.  "I am running for Chief Justice because this Court has lost its way.  Instead of upholding the law, it is advancing an ideology," Jordan added, referring to a recent study released by a University of Texas law professor that criticized the court for routinely exceeding its Constitutional authority, ignoring the role of juries, and using the bench to make policy instead of deciding questions of law.

Jordan, who first presided over the 44th District Court in Dallas, was a partner with the firm Shannon, Gracey, Ratliff & Miller before returning to the bench.  In 2006, he won election to the 160th District Court.   In amending his filings with the Texas Ethics Commission, Jordan also reaffirmed his intention to voluntarily comply with the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Smoking Gun in Sharon Keller Fiasco: Full Text of Policies She Violated

by: Scott Cobb

Thu Dec 20, 2007 at 10:11 PM CST

(More developments in this story... - promoted by Karl-Thomas Musselman)

Texas Moratorium Network submitted a Public Information Request to Sharon Keller to receive a copy of the letter she wrote to the Houston Chronicle's R.G. Ratcliffe in response to Ratcliffe's own PIR. Ratcliffe wrote his story on his PIR on Dec 13 ("Judge in death case violated policies: Keller, who shut out appeal, says new written rules reflect unwritten ones on that day"). He wrote that "Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller apparently violated court policies for handling death penalty cases when she closed the court clerk's doors on Michael Richard's efforts to file a last-minute appeal before his execution."

Ratcliffe's reporting seems to have uncovered the smoking gun admission that Keller broke the CCA's policies in effect on the day of Richard's execution. He should be given some sort of journalism award for his work. We congratulate him on his idea of asking for the policies in effect on Sept 25. His article left us wanting to see the entire text of the policies ourselves, so we submitted our own PIR.

Reading the entire text of the policies makes it very clear that Keller violated the rules by not contacting the assigned duty judge about the request by Richard's lawyers to file a late appeal. The consequences of her action should be for her to resign immediately or if she lacks the integrity to resign on her own, then the State Commission on Judicial Conduct should compel her to resign.

We will send a copy to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct of Keller's letter to Ratcliffe and of the document "Execution-day Procedures". We hope the Commission has already obtained a copy, but just in case, we will send them our copy, along with another 250 or so new names of people who have signed our judicial complaint against Keller since we first submitted about 1600 names on Nov 16.

Read the procedures below and judge for yourselves if she violated them. Here is a link to a pdf of the document we received from the Court.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 285 words in story)

Weekly 50 State Round-Up

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Fri Dec 21, 2007 at 11:16 AM CST

Here's what's happening across the country in our various state level blogging communities.

   PSB poster bored now serves up an excellent updated analysis of the Dem candidate three-way for Denny Hastert's abandoned seat in IL-14. In IL-03: Lipinski wants to have his cake and eat it too

   Maryland Republicans are suing to prevent recently passed tax legislation from going into law. Gotta give them points for moxie.

   Texas Democrats pick up a Republican state house seat in a special election in Fort Worth. Dems are now only 5 seats away from regaining the majority!

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 825 words in story)

Noriega Endorsed by National Bloggers

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Thu Dec 20, 2007 at 03:29 PM CST

Today, Rick Noriega was endorsed by the Blue Majority National Netroots community. For me, this is hugely exciting as both a Texas blogger and someone who has the pleasure of supporting Rick.

Read Markos's full post or this really great section below.

But aside from that, Noriega is the face of a our modern Democratic Party -- pluralistic and multicultural, committed to national service, and competent. There's a reason that Republican Texas chose Noriega (a Democrat) to run the Katrina relief effort at the Houston Convention Center.

These are the races that define us as a movement. We can shy away from tough challenges, or we can meet them head on and build for a future in which the Democratic Party doesn't just govern, but that it reflects the values all Americans hold dear -- values forgotten by not just Republicans in DC, but the Democrats currently in charge of Congress. In 2006, we took out the frontrunner to the GOP presidential nomination (George Allen) as well as delivered a Democratic Senator from blood Red Montana. We kicked out the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee out of the Democratic Party.

There's no doubt that Texas is our biggest challenge yet, but we don't gain anything by sitting back and looking for the easy calls. We didn't get this far by being timid, and we won't advance by retreating into caution and tenuousness. And the Texas progressive community is working their ass for Noriega. Let's give them moral and material support, no matter where we might live.

Donate towards the effort and help give Rick an impressive end of quarter fundraising total. Having the support of Blue Majority and the Blue America national blogging community is a huge plus for putting Texas on the national stage (in a good way this time!). 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

The Public Has a Right to Know

by: Glen Maxey

Thu Dec 20, 2007 at 02:40 PM CST

(Here's another candidate diary for discussion.   - promoted by BOR)

Why hasn't Nelda Spears Filed her Personal Financial Statements?

On Tuesday, my campaign manager, Elliott McFadden, filed a complaint with the County Attorney against Nelda Spears for failing to file her Personal Financial Statements with the County Clerk in the years 2001, 2002, and 2003.

These reports include information about all sources of income, debt, and boards elected officials serve on. They are required to be filed every year by elected officials to ensure there are no conflicts of interest. Failure to file is a Class B misdemeanor. The Spears campaign response in the Austin Chronicle has been to hide behind the statute of limitations on these offenses.

This is absurd! Elected officials should be held to a higher standard than being able to get away with breaking the law because time has run out. Instead of arguing over which law Ms. Spear broke, she should just file the missing information.

As a leader on ethics reform in the State Legislature, I believe in full discloure to ensure there are no secret deals and no hidden conflicts of interest. I filed my Personal Financial Statements each year as a legislator which are available to view at the Texas Ethics Commission.

Though I am not required by law to do so, I am disclosing on my website my client list since I retired from the Legislature. I encourage Ms. Spears to file these missing reports prompting so that public can be assured there is no conflict of interest.

I'm Glen Maxey and I'm running as a Democrat for Travis County Tax Assessor Collector.

Discuss :: (19 Comments)

It's Time To Start Putting Texans First

by: dalehenry2008

Wed Dec 19, 2007 at 11:35 PM CST

(We've been promoting candidate posts this week. Dale Henry is running for Railroad Commissioner. - promoted by Karl-Thomas Musselman)

For too long, the Texas Railroad Commission has put big oil and gas companies' interests ahead of those of the people of Texas. That must change.

It's time to start putting Texans first.  That's why I'm running for Texas Railroad Commission. On Tuesday morning, I held a press conference at Texas Democratic Party Headquarters to announce my candidacy for the Railroad Commission. 

Safety and environmental protection will be my top prorities as your next Railroad Commissioner. The Texas Railroad Commission has abdicated its responsibility as a regulatory body dedicated to protecting the interest of Texans like you and me. From dangerous underground gas couplings which have resulted in explosions and deaths in North Texas to salt water injection wells that are polluting our underground water supply, the Railroad Commission has shown a complete and utter disregard for the well-being of the people of Texas.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 246 words in story)

Breaking: Craddick to Get a Serious Opponent

by: Michael Hurta

Wed Dec 19, 2007 at 06:36 PM CST

UPDATE: Mr. Dingus has emailed me a confirmation that he is, indeed, running.  He later sent out a press release.  You can find the release beneath the fold.

Texas Monthly's editor, Evan Smith, reports that Speaker/Dictator Tom Craddick may actually get an opponent.  In his words, this time it will be a "real one."  The challenger may even run as a Democrat.

I have it on authority that Bill Dingus, a seven-year member of the Midland City Council who happens to be the brother of longtime TEXAS MONTHLY writer Anne Dingus (not my source), will file tomorrow to run against Tom Craddick.

Council members in Midland don't declare a party when they run, and my source tells me that Dingus has always been an independent, in public and private, but after considering running against Craddick as a Republican -- not a bad move in a heavily Republican district -- he's decided to file as a Democrat. Dingus has said before something to the effect that "the two-party system has lots of flaws, but it sure beats the one-party system." And, indeed, part of his motivation, I'm told, is to bring the Democratic party in Midland back into existence.

We want to challenge Tom Craddick, and so far we have done so throughout the state.  Most recently, our distrust of the Speaker's leadership showed itself in Tarrant County with Dan Barrett's upset election victory.  Now it seems the fight against Craddick's leadership has appeared in his own home.  This challenge is viable, too.  A city councilman with  business connections from oil and gas investment is a solid candidate.  If nothing else, we receive the additional benefit of an opponent forcing Mr. Craddick to spend his money on himself.  

This news bears extra excitement to top off yesterday's victory for Barrett.  The Burnt Orange Report will keep an eye on these developments and give updates as they come.

There's More... :: (21 Comments, 300 words in story)
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