Sunday, December 31, 2006

Texan is 3000th U.S. soldier to die in Iraq

The new year rings in on a tragic note.

A grim milestone was crossed on the final day of 2006 and at the end of the deadliest month for the American military in Iraq in the past 12 months. At least 111 U.S. service members were reported to have died in December.

Spc. Dustin R. Donica, 22, of Spring, Texas, was killed Thursday by small arms fire in Baghdad, the Defense Department said. Donica was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

Donica's death brings to over 250 the number of Texans killed since the war began.

Vigils are planned for Monday, January 1st in memoriam and to ask for immediate U.S. troop withdrawal. Actions are scheduled for various locations around the Metroplex and across Texas, including Arlington, Dallas, Denton and Fort Worth.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

saddam hussein hanged in iraq

According to BBC:
Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been executed by hanging at a secure facility in northern Baghdad for crimes against humanity.

The news was confirmed to the BBC by the Iraqi deputy foreign minister.

Iraqi TV said the execution took place just before 0600 local time (0300GMT). A representative of the prime minister and a Sunni Muslim cleric were present.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

president gerald ford dies at 93

The longest-living and the only unelected President of the United States, Gerald Ford, died on Tuesday. Ford, a Michigan Republican, was 93.

Ford became vice president after Spiro Agnew resigned amid controversy, and became president when the embattled Richard Nixon was forced to leave office over the Watergate scandal. He was succeeded by Democrat Jimmy Carter.

Some speculate that Ford's legacy will be molded by his decision to pardon Nixon for any wrong-doing. Others insist that Ford will be remembered for healing a post-Watergate nation.

President Bush said this today:
"President Ford was a great American who gave many years of dedicated service to our country. On August 9, 1974, after a long career in the House of Representatives and service as vice president, he assumed the presidency in an hour of national turmoil and division. With his quiet integrity, common sense, and kind instincts, President Ford helped heal our land and restore public confidence in the presidency."
Former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, had the following words of remembrance for Ford:
"Gerald Ford brought Americans together during a difficult chapter in our history with strength, integrity, and humility. All Americans should be grateful for his life of service; he served our nation well. To his great credit, he was the same hard-working, down-to-earth person the day he left the White House as he was when he first entered Congress almost 30 years earlier."
NTL remembers Gerald Ford, an American President. We join the nation today in the mourning of the loss of one of our leaders.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Parsing the emergency contraception bill HB 23

North Texas made headlines in 2004 when a pharmacist in Denton, Texas refused to fill a prescription for emergency contraception for a rape victim. Since that time, the FDA has debated the merits of the emergency contraception pill in an approval process noteworthy more for its political posturing than its scientific merits. Nonetheless, the agency finally approved the drug for use without a prescription for women over the age of 17 in August of this year.

Wouldn't you think that all of those "family values" legislators would welcome a pill that...
....was responsible for approximately 43 percent of the decrease in the number of abortions from 1994 to 2000. If more widely available, EC could prevent 1.7 million unintended pregnancies and 800,000 abortions each year in the United States alone.
Apparently not. Frank Corte, R-San Antonio, has introduced legislation which deals with emergency contraception. Corte has been dubbed the energizer bunny of anti-choice legislation for his prolific attempts at curtailing women's reproductive rights, and nothing in this legislative run-up contradicts that. Vince Leibowitz at Capitol Annex posted an in-depth analysis of several bills that have been filed by Corte, including HB 23. Vince's post has an extended excerpt of the bill, which is a doozy, and he does a great job of highlighting the complete absurdity of the logic behind the proposed bill.

After a short holiday hiatus, it seemed like a good time to point out an issue with Corte's bill that hasn't had too much discussion and deals specifically with the wording of the warning to be posted in the pharmacy.

But first, it might help to mention what emergency contraception is and is not. Emergency contraception usually refers to the brand name, Plan B, a synthetic hormone approved for use over-the-counter by the FDA. It should not be confused with RU486, the abortion pill. Plan B uses progestin, the same hormone used in daily birth control pills, but in a higher dosage.

From an Austin Chronicle op-ed on the HB 23:

....Corte's front-running legislative stinker would define emergency contraceptives as drugs that "prevent pregnancy by preventing fertilization of an egg or preventing implantation of an egg in a uterus," conveniently leaving out the third way EC can work, by preventing ovulation altogether.

Let's clarify this even further. Consider this statement from the FDA.

Plan B works like a birth control pill to prevent pregnancy mainly by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary. It is possible that Plan B may also work by preventing fertilization of an egg (the uniting of sperm with the egg) or by preventing attachment (implantation) to the uterus (womb), which usually occurs beginning 7 days after release of an egg from the ovary [emphasis mine]. Plan B will not do anything to a fertilized egg already attached to the uterus. The pregnancy will continue.

Preventing ovulation isn't just a third way that Plan B works - all evidence suggests that it is its primary mechanism of action. The reference to fertilization and implantation are speculation, but scientists, being a cautious lot, won't rule it out.

"....researchers will probably never be able to prove for certain whether or not emergency contraceptive pills have an effect after fertilization."

Of course, Corte doesn't want anyone to know that, because by emphasizing implantation, he wants us to equate emergency contraception with abortion. The Austin Chronicle article distills the logic behind this, quoting Corte staffer Kathi Seay:

"If you know, up front, that [Plan B] is preventing the implantation of an egg, and you're fine with it, [then] go for it."

So this then is the purpose of the bill: to misrepresent the science in order to confuse potential users, and if that doesn't work, then to stigmatize anyone who still insists on access to the drug.

And if all this seems a bit confusing, imagine how it must seem to young adults who haven't even had the benefit of comprehensive sex education.

View the text of HB 23 here.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

happy holidays

Dear Readers,

We appreciate you welcoming us into your lives this year. We started this blog in February as a place to rant about local (and occasionally national) politics. Little did we know that along the way we'd become enamored with this blog and the desire to inform.

With nearly 300 posts about everything from James Leininger's lobbying in Austin to CWA protests in Fort Worth, from the South Dakota abortion ban to the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, we have grown so much this year, as writers, as friends, as people. We wouldn't have come this far without your support. We hope to continue providing you news pertinent to progressive minds in North Texas, so keep us turned on and we'll keep you tuned in.

In short, thank you for a great year. Happy holidays to you and yours... may the rest of this holiday season be bright and spent with those you love most. We'll see you next year.

And because they're irresistible, here are the holiday cards sent out by Sen. Barack Obama and his beautiful family.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Amarillo sky high

The president of Pantex, the company in charge of dismantling nuclear weapons at their plant in Amarillo, has issued a statement categorically denying that the panhandle almost blew up last year.
A warning that an accident last year at the government's Pantex nuclear weapons factory near Amarillo could have led to a nuclear detonation "is an outright falsehood," the head of the company that runs the plant said Thursday.
Whew, that's a relief. So don't worry about those letters alleging "unthinkable" hazards, or the history of safety violations (who knew duct tape was so versatile?), or the on-going investigation into the latest accidents, or the whistleblower citing concerns about security.

According to one site that sounds like it might know, even if there were an accident, the possibility of a nuclear explosion is really, really unlikely. And even if an explosion occurred, it wouldn't be a melt-down, just a conventional explosion, you know, like setting off a little TNT.

Wait a minute.....isn't that the definition of a dirty bomb?

Basically, the principal type of dirty bomb, or Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD), combines a conventional explosive, such as dynamite, with radioactive material. In most instances, the conventional explosive itself would have more immediate lethality than the radioactive material......A dirty bomb is in no way similar to a nuclear weapon. The presumed purpose of its use would be therefore not as a Weapon of Mass Destruction but rather as a Weapon of Mass Disruption.

Not to be confused with Weapons of Mass Deception, that's a whole 'nother story.

The gurus describe a likely scenario.
Anyway, yield or no yield, an accidental explosion of the HE in a W56 primary would be extremely lethal to nearby workers, create a major environmental cleanup problem and seriously erode the public’s confidence in operations at Pantex.
Ya think?

Just in case, if you're sending Christmas cookies to anyone in Amarillo, don't forget the potassium iodide tablets.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Market Street project goes back to P & Z

The Flower Mound Leader reports that the Flower Mound Town Council failed to approve the Market Street plan at Monday's meeting.

The debate over the Shops at Market Street raged on in Monday’s Town Council meeting. Ultimately, the council tabled the item until their January meeting, but intense discussion preceded the decision. At issue is the urban forest which would be significantly impacted by the development of the Market Street project called the Shops at Market Street.

Despite assurances from the developer to the News Connection that the impact on the urban forest zone would be minimal, critics of the plan say that it would remove several hundred trees, or over 58% of the total forest. Slated for removal is the oldest post oak in Flower Mound, estimated to be 400 years old.

“The site contains a significant amount of protected urban forest which should be protected as the town develops,” Doug Powell, executive director of development services, said. The intent behind protecting the urban forest in the Master Plan is the question the town now faces, Powell said.“What was the intent of the Master Plan? When it was said to be preserved?” he said.

In his presentation to town council, Alton Bowman, founder of the Flower Mound Association, suggested that if Flower Mound allows destruction of the forest, the town should modify its logo and replace the oak tree with a big box grocery store.

Another concern for the town council was the lack of resolution on the issue of the flood plain. Despite much ambiguity about where the actual flood plain lays, the developers for Market Street are requesting approval for their plan based on the contingency that the floodplain would be changed.

A final issue raised during the town council meeting deal with truck traffic. Councilmen Trotter and Lindsey expressed concerns that traffic routed through customer parking areas onto FM 1171 would present serious safety issues.

Consider this statement from the Market Street parent company website:

Since its founding in 1916, family-owned United Supermarkets has adhered to its founder's philosophy of growing and expanding into markets in order to "build up" communities.....One of the greatest privileges we enjoy is to be able to make a positive impact in the communities we serve.

It's ironic that a store which prides itself on being an asset to the community would champion a plan responsible for destroying so much of the character of a neighborhood during its development. If you would like to see a Market Street grocery store in Flower Mound, contact United Supermarkets and tell them you would welcome their development, but they need to find an alternate location for it.

At the conclusion of Monday's meeting, Councilman Trotter made a motion to remand the issue back to P&Z. Joining in this motion were Lindsey and Councilwoman Long. Voting to approve the plan as is were Stone and Tasker. The proposal now heads back to the P&Z board, currently scheduled for January 8, 2007.

Monday, December 18, 2006

will radnofsky challenge cornyn in 2008?

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, the Houston Democrat that challenged Republican incumbent Kay Bailey Hutchison for her seat in the U.S. Senate, may be gearing up for another campaign for the same position... in 2008.

Many have speculated that her bid against a popular incumbent was simply a way to gain name recognition while campaigning statewide. Not only would she earn credentials, she would be able to say that she took on the most popular politician in Texas unflinchingly. Then she would be able to challenge the weaker of Texas' two Republican Senators, John Cornyn, who is up for re-election in 2008.

Radnofsky's holiday message to supporters suggests that she might be planning to announce an exploratory committee or an official campaign sometime in 2007.
We've kept the entire professional campaign staff together. Katie Floyd, Communications Director, is busy with our new Art Project (we have become dealers in JapanArt.Org and will be posting on the website soon), visiting her beautiful horse and baking for the holidays. She's also editing the second campaign book, and will plan a book and thank you tour for the spring. Katie planned and executed our successful fundraiser for Ciro and we all rejoiced in his win in the runoff. We're also working on starting a PAC. Your suggestions for names would be appreciated.

Seth Davidson, Campaign Manager, is also a principal in our Japan Art venture and remains with his business, Wildsteps. I'm traveling, thanking folks, spending time with family, doing the occassional mediation, planning the PAC and looking forward to the future. I'm counting my blessings, particularly you who read the newsletters.

I have great hope for the future. Believe.

Warmest regards,

One thing is for sure: if Radnofsky decides to make a run for Cornyn's seat, she'll have to emerge victorious from what is bound to be a more contentious primary than she faced in 2006, when she was forced into a runoff election against a perennial candidate. There are bound to be several sets of prominent Democratic eyes focusing on Cornyn's floundering approval ratings.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Why the conservative approach is sometimes best (or how we almost blew up Amarillo)

An article in the LA Times set the stage a few weeks ago.

In response to a secret order from President Bush, the nation's nuclear weapons laboratories are developing technology to make the weapons virtually impossible to use if they fall into the wrong hands......

But the 3-year-old effort, known as National Security Presidential Directive 28, has drawn strong criticism from many nuclear weapons experts, who doubt that absolute safeguards are necessary or even possible. Instead, they say, the federal government should fix known security weaknesses at bomb labs and factories......

"The real threat is the uranium and plutonium materials that are spread across the country in totally inappropriate places and inadequate facilities," said Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington group that has long criticized security at Energy Department sites. "So, rather than fixing the problem they have, they are trying to fix a problem they don't have."

Okay, the president is proposing another secret defense boondoggle, a la star wars, to sweeten the pot of some crony, while ignoring real security concerns. What else is new?

Well, one of those inappropriate places happens to be in Texas. Following a news release sent just after Thanksgiving, reports started circulating about a nuclear decommissioning facility in Amarillo. They cited concerns by the Department of Energy, including allegations that engineers were required to work 84 hour weeks and noted a fine was leveraged against BWTX Pantex, the contractor in charge of the facility...

....for three unsuccessful attempts between March 30 and April 26, 2005, to separate parts of a weapon.

The plant was cited for exceeding the amount of allowed force to a weapon and for failing to follow operating procedure.

The actions "demonstrated a nonconservative approach in decision making during a process in which strict adherence to established procedure was vital," according to a department of Energy news release.

."....demonstrated a nonconservative approach....." Such a benign way of saying WE ALMOST BLEW UP THE &&%%$$## PANHANDLE!!!! (Hey, we're a PG site so we'll have to leave it to McBlogger to fill in the blanks.)

Here's some analysis of that little "mishap".

"The Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit nuclear watchdog organization, called the incident a “near-miss” where production technicians who were disassembling a W56 warhead were putting too much pressure on the warhead.

The Pantex plant, located in the Texas Panhandle, was fined $110,000 and is now being investigated by the Department of Energy for a number of other alleged safety problems.

“When you’re dealing with full-up nuclear weapons, this near-miss is a hell of a situation,” said Peter Stockton, a spokesman for the Project on Government Oversight, or POGO. “A near-miss generally means that something horrible almost happened.”

This is how the Bush administration deals with security in our own back yard -- with pie-in-the-sky boondoggles, lax government oversight, a corporate contractor cutting corners and sacrificing safety for profit, and a nuclear facility that is still not secure.

A year ago we came close to setting off a nuclear catastrophe worse than any dirty bomb scenario ever imagined. With friends like these...

(Hat tip to Panhandle Truth Squad)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Market Street vote scheduled for Flower Mound Town Council

The Flower Mound Town Council will consider the Market Street plan for a grocery store at the corner of FM 1171 and FM 2499 in its meeting on Monday, Dec. 18th. This vote was originally scheduled for the Dec. 5th meeting of town council, but was postponed.

According to the News Connection:

At the last meeting of the Flower Mound Planning and Zoning Commission, [J.C. Bursiaga's] proposal to build a Market Street gourmet grocery store on the corner of FM 1171 and FM 2499 was turned down by a single vote. Reasons given by the commission included a reluctance to allow a portion of the Cross Timbers Urban Forest to be torn down and hesitation to amend the town’s master plan, allowing a big-box retail store to be built in a FEMA-designated flood plain.

It's not clear from Bursiaga's interview whether the issue of the flood plain will be resolved in time for Monday's meeting.
“FEMA has zoned this area as a flood plain,” [Bursiaga] said. “With our detailed analysis and our professional engineering company that specializes in flood, we’ve submitted two reports to staff and they are still trying to determine what the flood plain actually is.”

Members of the Planning and Zoning previously faulted Burciaga for not submitting flood plain information, even after “more than ample time was given.”

“We’re working on the third report,” he said. “We are working aggressively with staff to agree on what the flood plain is. The gentleman that we have is Jim O’Brian out of Dallas. He has done work with the military, and has done work with different governments in determining what flood issues might plague a site. He has issued his opinion on what flood is on this site, and we are in the process of agreeing with staff what the flood is on a portion of the property.”

If you are a resident of Flower Mound, you can weigh in on the issue by sending email prior to Monday's meeting. Then watch the meeting live.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Covenant marriage bill introduced by Arlington legislator

An op-ed in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram begins with this commentary about a proposed bill, introduced by state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, to allow couples to opt into a covenant marriage.

From the party of less goverment comes the latest initiative emblematic of a nanny state: covenant marriage.

The Texas Republican Party adopted as part of its platform the establishment of a covenant marriage option in the Lone Star State.

Arlington state Rep. Bill Zedler stepped forward as the point man on the issue when he filed a bill this week that would allow couples to opt into such a marriage by attending state-paid premarital counseling. Should the union turn sour — as defined by adultery, physical or sexual abuse, felony conviction, or living separately for at least three years — couples would have to attend counseling and go through a two-year separation before a judge could hear the divorce case.

Zedler and the proponents of covenant marriage have worthy goals: strengthening families and stemming the divorce rate in Texas, which is 4.1 per 1,000 population. Premarital and pre-divorce counseling in a nation in which 40 percent of all unions end in a split is a capital idea.

But is it an idea that every Texas taxpayer should be underwriting?

Well, no. And that was the conclusion the legislature came to the last time this concept was introduced. The FWST editorial gives several good reasons why the legislature should not be wasting their time again on such a bill, including the extremely low rate of participation in states where covenant marriages are already law. The Texas Freedom Network highlights some others, including the fact that covenant marriage is dangerous to victims of domestic violence.

Ironically, the representative who prevented its introduction to the floor was another Arlington legislator, out-going vice chair of the House Committee on Juvenile Justice & Family Issues, Rep. Toby Goodman, who was defeated in November by Democrat Paul Hightower Pierson. Said Goodman, a divorce attorney, of his reasons for quashing the bill:

"I think they were misguided. I think they were filed for political reasons,"Goodman said.

"You cannot legislate marital bliss."

Monday, December 11, 2006

ntl nominated in capitol annex readers' choice awards

North Texas Liberal has been nominated in the Capitol Annex Best & Worst of 2006 Readers' Choice Awards for the Best Regional Blog Award. We are honored to be nominated alongside several other prime examples of terrific regional blogging here in Texas. Thanks to our readers for nominating us and getting us past the first round of voting!

If you enjoy our blog, why not vote for us? You'll also get to vote in several other interesting categories to decide the Best & Worst of Texas politics over the past year.

VOTE for North Texas Liberal for Best Texas Politics Regional Blog!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Burgess to Serve as Vice Chair of GOP Policy Committee

The GOP has tapped Michael Burgess (TX-26) to serve as Vice Chair of the GOP Policy Committee. The committee, according to a release by Burgess
....serves as a formal council to meet regularly to facilitate the formulation and carrying out of national policy, and to improve relationships between the executive and legislative branches of government.
Burgess joins another Texan, Kay Granger, appointed as GOP Conference Vice Chair, in the GOP leadership ranks.

The GOP Policy Committee is headed by Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan, who had this to say about his election.
U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, a Livonia Republican who ascended to the chairmanship of the influential House Republican Policy Committee, knows it was more than his charm, popularity and dry sense of humor that led to the post.

There's some history to the new position. Past chairmen have included former President Gerald Ford and Vice President Dick Cheney.

"There's a lot of bald guys on that committee. It seems to be the official bald guys' spot," he said. "That's the only reason I got it."
Do you really think he's trying to bring our attention to his hair, or hint at larger political aspirations? Anyway, it was clever.

He also had this to say about Iraq.
Right off the bat, we need to make sure to have a policy that will bring victory in Iraq," said McCotter. "That is the No. 1 issue on the American public's mind."
In his defense, this quote was from November, before James Baker put the lie to that part about "victory." But here's the important part: The GOP Policy Committee is putting Iraq front and center, and a North Texas congressman is number two on that committee. It sounds like a good time for North Texans to remind Congressman Burgess what the November elections were all about.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

ntl remembers pearl harbor

Today, NTL honors the men and women that died in the attack on Pearl Harbor 65 years ago today. The surprise attack by the Japanese spurred President Roosevelt to enter U.S. troops into WWII.

Yahoo! News has an excellent story on today's memorial service.

Nearly 500 survivors bowed their heads at 7:55 a.m., the minute planes began bombing the harbor in a surprise attack that thrust the United States into World War II.

"America in an instant became the land of the indivisible," said former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, the author of "The Greatest Generation," who spoke at the shoreside ceremonies. "There are so many lessons from that time for our time, none greater than the idea of one nation greater than the sum of its parts."

The veterans, most in Hawaiian aloha shirts, were honored with prolonged applause at the solemn ceremony near where some of the ships remain rusting and moss-covered under the harbor's waters.

Many were treating the gathering as their last, uncertain if they would be alive or healthy enough to travel to Hawaii for the next big memorial ceremony, the 70th anniversary.

"It is because of you and people like you that we have the freedoms we enjoy today," Capt. Taylor Skardon said after relating each ship's story at the end of the ceremony.

Please join us in honoring our WWII veterans and those that made their final sacrifice on Dec. 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Why You Really Should Have Voted for Radnofsky

Texas, you had your chance. You could have elected an intelligent, intellectually honest lawmaker who was dedicated to ending the conflict in Iraq. Instead, you voted Kay Bailey Hutchison back in office by a wide margin.

As further proof of the folly of that vote, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram offers us reactions from Texas politicians to the much-hailed Iraq Study Group Report. In a sidebar beside an article headlined "Panel concludes Bush's war policies have largely failed," Senator Hutchison offers this assessment:
Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison: "A well-thought-out report. ... Having the Arab countries step up to the plate is a very good suggestion. I do not think it was in any way a repudiation [of the Bush administration's policy]....."
This is the woman that Republicans are kicking around as a possible Vice Presidential nominee. Seriously.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

texan of the year: carolyn boyle/parent pac

Carolyn Boyle & Parent PAC

AUSTIN - The Texas Progressive Alliance has named Carolyn Boyle and Texas Parent PAC as its "Texan of the Year" for 2006.

The Alliance announced Boyle's selection on Wednesday following several days of discussion and voting among writers, editors and owners of some of the state's most prominent and often read progressive political blogs.

Boyle and Texas Parent PAC were among more than 40 individuals and organizations initially nominated for the honor by the bloggers. The race for Texan of the Year was very close due to the many influential organizations and candidates that played a role in Texas politics during 2006. Other finalists who were neck-and-neck with Boyle and the Parent PAC included the Dallas County Democratic Party (for their transformation of the political landscape in Dallas County) and State Rep.-elect Juan Garcia (D-Corpus Christi), for the high quality campaign he waged leading to his defeat of Rep. Gene Seaman (R-Corpus Christi) in a tough district.

The selection of Boyle and Texas Parent PAC recognizes the tremendous impact both Boyle--individually--and the PAC had on Texas politics in 2006.

Texas Parent PAC was founded in 2005 by Boyle, a former public relations executive who is well-known inthe Texas Capitol as an advocate for Texas public schools.

Read the entire press release from the Texas Progressive Alliance at Capitol Annex. NTL congratulates Boyle and the Parent PAC for the distinguished honor.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Petitioners Gather Signatures to Put Immigration Issue on Ballot

A group known as "Let the Voters Decide" was in Farmers Branch this weekend gathering petitions to put its immigration ordinance on the ballot. Volunteers were walking in several neighborhoods, asking registered voters to sign a petition challenging the ordinance that requires landlords to verify proof of citizenship or residency for every tenant. The group has a week to sign up 5% of registered voters based on last May's election in order to get the ordinance on the ballot. This works out to about 726 valid signatures.

The controversial measures passed by council have brought national attention to this town of 30,000 in Dallas County. The ordinances, put forth by councilman Tim O'Hare, also include making English the official language and another one enabling the Police Department to check the residency status of people arrested for a crime. A fourth provision that would have made employers criminally responsible for hiring illegals was withdrawn. The petition being circulated targets only the landlord ordinance.

Reactions of residents to the measures vary. Some are extremely embarrassed and feel that the ordinances do not reflect the tolerant community in which they live. Others adamantly feel that the council did the right thing. Most agree that the city laws are a poor substitute for comprehensive federal immigration reform.

And not all signers of the petition are in favor of repealing the ordinance. Some residents feel that such a controversial issue should be subject to wider debate, but still expected the majority of Farmers Branch voters to support the ordinance. City council members seem content to let the issue be decided by "the will of the people."

City Council member Tim O'Hare said the petition process is a good check on the City Council, but he's confident voters would back the ordinance if it came to a vote.

"I don't think it will be close," he said.

Mayor Bob Phelps said residents have the right to gather signatures. "If they do that and the city secretary certifies everything, then I certainly have no problem with it," he said.

As of this weekend, the petition drive appeared to be going well. If enough signatures are validated, the ordinance could be brought before the Farmers Branch town council for a revote. If town council still supports the ordinance, it would be put on the May ballot for voter approval. If the ordinance takes effect in January, as planned, several groups stand ready to file lawsuits to prevent its enforcement.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

john edwards in dallas tomorrow

John Edwards, former senator from North Carolina and the Democratic vice presidential candidate in the 2004 election (and possible presidential contender in 2008), will be visiting Dallas tomorrow evening for a signing in promotion of his new picture book, Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives.

When: Friday, December 1 at 7 p.m.
Where: Borders, 10720 Preston Rd., Dallas

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

west texas congressman considered to head intelligence committee

Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-El Paso) may have a shot at being appointed chairman of the House Intelligence Committee when the new Congress convenes in January.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the incoming Speaker of the House, has said that she will look past the ranking Democrat on that committee, Rep. Jane Harman of California. Today, Pelosi announced she will not appoint Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida, formerly the front-runner for the position.

Tuesday's decision came despite Hastings pleading with colleagues to ignore the "sometimes venomous attacks" stemming from a bribery investigation in the 1980s.

Hastings, then a federal judge, was acquitted of the criminal charges that resulted from the probe, but he was later impeached and removed from the bench by Congress.

Texas Democrat Reyes is the third ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee and is now the most likely pick to chair the committee in the Democratic Congress.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Flower Mound Town Council to Consider Market Street Plan

By a vote of 4-3, the Nov. 13 session of the Flower Mound Planning and Zoning Commission rejected the Market Street plan proposed for the area north of Cross Timbers Road and east of Long Prairie Road. (See previous post Planning & Zoning to Consider Amendment to Flower Mound Master Plan.)

According to the News Connection:
"The rezoning would be necessary to accommodate the building of The Shops at Market Street, 17.5 acre property zoned for retail usage. After hearing specifics from town staff and listening to the comments, both for and against the project, the commissioners voted 4-3 against approval of the multi-million dollar development."
In rejecting the plan, the P&Z cited two issues: 1) the need to preserve the Ancient Post Oak Forest designated as an Urban Forest Zone in the 2001 Master Plan; 2) concerns about building within the flood plain. Flower Mound currently does not allow building within the 100 year flood plain as defined by FEMA.

The plan will now come before the full council for a vote on Dec. 4. Citizens should email the city council or appear in person and voice their concerns. You can let your Town Council know how you feel by email comments. Include your name and home address to insure the Council knows you are a Flower Mound resident. In the agenda item field, indicate “Market Street Grocery”.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

happy thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 18, 2006

house republicans elect boehner minority leader

Yesterday, House Republicans voted to instate Rep. John Boehner of Ohio to the position of minority leader. Boehner took over as majority leader earlier this year after Tom DeLay's resignation. With the Democrats now in control, Republicans elected to keep their once interim leader by a vote of 168-27. One vote was cast for North Texas Rep. Joe Barton, who previously withdrew from the race.

Shortly afterward, Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, won a 137-57 vote to keep his post as whip, which will be the No. 2 GOP job when Republicans become the minority party in January. Blunt is currently the No. 3 House Republican; he defeated Arizona conservative Rep. John Shadegg despite sentiment for fresh leadership faces and concerns that Republicans had strayed from their conservative principles.

Capitol Annex has information on Texas Republicans that were elected to the leadership.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Cornyn Stays the Course on Judicial Nominees

The Senate is gearing up for another bitter fight over judicial nominees, in response to the latest list of judges submitted by President Bush for consideration during the Senate's lame duck session. In what has been described as a "sop" to the president's conservative base, Bush has renominated six judges previously blocked by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary committee as being too conservative for the federal bench.
The White House on Wednesday submitted Terrence Boyle of North Carolina and William James Haynes II of Virginia to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.; Michael Brunson Wallace of Mississippi to the 5th Circuit in New Orleans; Peter Keisler of Maryland to the District of Columbia Circuit; and William Gerry Myers III and Norman Randy Smith, both of Idaho, for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.Everyone except Keisler has generated intense opposition from Democrats.Under Senate rules the nominations must be resubmitted after Congress takes an extended break, as was the case this year for the 2006 election.
Why would the president choose to resubmit judges who couldn't reach the floor before the elections? Because he's a uniter, not a divider, meaning after the thumpin' Republicans just took at the polls, he's trying to shore up support among his conservative base by uniting them with tired rhetoric about activist judges. Apparently, that old cunard still works for some.
"I think if the president is concerned about his legacy, he will continue to nominate the judges he promised in his campaign speeches in 2000 and 2004," said Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on Family Action, a Christian group started by James Dobson. "If those nominees are obstructed, I think the American public needs to see the Democrats in action."
Prominent among the list being submitted is Michael Wallace, who is nominated for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which hears cases from Texas.

Wallace, a Biloxi attorney and former aide to conservative Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., received a rare "unqualified" rating from the American Bar Association.

To be fair, based on the president's previous choices in public servants, the Bush administration obviously considers the whole issue of competency to be a bit overrated. I'm sure Judge Wallace would do a "heck of a job."

Senator John Cornyn, who really should take a look at his poll numbers before taking too much comfort in Kay Bailey's win, had this to say regarding the latest round of nominations.

"It is my hope that with the election behind us, the Senate could move forward in a bipartisan manner," said Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

It seems, however, that despite their bipartisan rhetoric on election night, some of my Democrat colleagues seem intent on continuing their record of obstruction when it comes to the president's nominees."

So Cornyn, who felt that the public had sent a clear "message of change" with the midterm elections, intends to apply that lesson by.....refusing to budge an inch. Apparently, "stay the course" doesn't just apply to Bush's failed Iraq policies. Blogger James B. Shearer dryly notes a silver lining in the judicial debate.
"Well if you like pointless demonstrations of “resolve” this is good news. At least unlike Bush’s Iraq policy it won’t get people killed."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

pelosi officially speaker; hoyer elected majority leader

House Democrats spoke unanimously today in electing Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California to the highest ranking position in Congress, Speaker of the House.

Her choice for Majority Leader, Rep. John Murtha, was beaten out by Maryland Democrat Rep. Steny Hoyer. Hoyer won the secret-ballot vote 149-86. Pelosi and Hoyer pledged to put aside differences and move Congress forward with the new Democratic majority. Said Hoyer: "The Republicans need to know, the president needs to know and the country needs to know our caucus is unified today."

North Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Ennis dropped out of the race for minority leader, leaving Republicans to decide between Rep. John Boehner of Ohio and Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana. That vote will be held tomorrow.

Read more on the leadership elections at Three Wise Men.

Redistricting Reform on the Agenda for 2007

The midterm elections were hailed as a "tsunami" for the Democrats, but many pundits have suggested that the win might have been even bigger if not for gerrymandered districts. Nationwide the shift in governors' races and state legislatures bode well for handing Democrats control of the redistricting process in several states. So will the 2006 victories and the potential for more gains after the next census make the Democrats complacent, or are they serious enough about reform to tackle the redistricting debate?

There are reasons other than the issue of competitiveness to oppose partisan redistricting. By eliminating the need to appeal to moderates of the opposite party, gerrymandering contributes to the polarization of political parties, although its role is often overstated. Still, according to Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institute:
"The U.S. is an outlier in the democratic world in the extent to which we allow those in office to control their own fates by rigging the rules."
The ruling on the Texas plan earlier this year highlighted the limits of the judicial branch in resolving the redistricting debate. It did not throw the door completely open on mid-decade redistricting. Two factors were key in the decision: 1) the legislature was replacing a map drawn by a federal court and; 2) the courts had preserved a majority Democratic delegation in a majority Republican state. But as the challenge to the Texas redistricting plan proved, courts are reluctant to address the issue of competitiveness. With the courts limited ruling, and without an initiative and referendum process, the best possibility of reform still lies with state constitutional amendments.

In Texas, there are signs that redistricting will be a major issue on the agenda for the 2007 legislature. Bills already introduced to address the abuses of the Tom DeLay era.

State Rep. Allan Ritter, D-Nederland, introduced a proposed constitutional amendment Wednesday that would prohibit congressional and legislative redistricting more than once a decade unless the courts order otherwise.

House Joint Resolution 31, to be considered when lawmakers return to Austin in January, is intended to forever forbid a repeat of the maneuver engineered by DeLay in 2003 when he was the Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.

A constitutional amendment would have to be approved by the public, but once passed, it could not be overturned at the whim of the legislature. While HJR 31 would prevent a mid-decade redistricting such as the one conducted by Tom DeLay, it still allows a partisan redrawing of the map in the year after a decennial U.S. census. Other legislators are considering taking the redistricting process out of the hands of politicians altogether.
Several efforts have been made over the years to reform the redistricting process. Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, has long advocated turning the process over to a nonpartisan panel and has said he will likely renew that effort during the 2007 session. Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, has signaled his intention to join forces with Wentworth.
The real reason such reform hasn't been more popular, of course, is that the party in power is the only one who can push for this kind of legislation, and usually they are the beneficiaries of the gerrymander. Since the Democrats are still a minority party in the Texas state house, it will require the cooperation of a significant number of Republicans to support the non-partisan approach. Don't hold your breath.

Capitol Annex and Off the Kuff have links here and here to help you follow all the action on redistricting (HJR31, HB112 and HJR22) and other bills in the upcoming legislative session.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

senate leadership elections create a stir in washington

The halls of the U.S. Senate are abuzz with the news of the Senate Republican leadership elections. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was unanimously voted on to replace outgoing GOP Leader Sen. Bill Frist, who did not seek re-election. Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi was elected by a razor-thin margin to the post of Minority Whip.

Lott beat out Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee for the position by one vote. Alexander, who had previously stated that he'd received more than 30 pledges, lost with 24 votes to Lott's 25.

In 2002, Lott was forced to resign as Senate Majority Leader over comments he made that were considered racially-charged. At an event for segregationist Strom Thurmond, Lott suggested that "we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years" if American voters had elected Thurmond president. President Bush was quick to say that Lott's opinion was not the opinion of the White House.

The National Jewish Democratic Council warns that we should be deeply concerned by Lott's re-entrance into the party leadership.
In 1987, just before announcing his 1988 candidacy for the Senate, Lott likened his campaign to a "crusade." The Washington Post reported that he told the Christian audience, "Conservative, G-d-fearing, hard-working Christian people make a mistake by not being more aggressive. This is our country and it's time we take it back."
Senate Democrats elected their leadership slate on Tuesday, allowing their previous leadership to have a promotion. The senators that led the Democrats through the minority era will now control the Senate.

Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Minority Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois will ascend to majority leader and majority whip, respectively.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, will continue as the chairman of the party's campaign fundraising committee. Schumer also will add vice chairman to his title, making him No. 3 in the leadership and a chief strategist.

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington will serve as conference secretary; Debbie Stabenow of Michigan will chair the steering committee; and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota will serve as chairman of the research-focused policy committee.

House Democrats will pick their leaders Thursday; House Republicans hold leadership elections on Friday.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

victory video - "save me"

Check out this video from KT over at Burnt Orange Report. It's a video tribute celebrating the fall of the Republican majority. It's very well-done and has a great soundtrack ("Save Me" by Unwritten Law).

Monday, November 13, 2006

farmers branch passes anti-immigration measures

At tonight's meeting, city council members in Farmers Branch unanimously approved strict new anti-immigration measures, including standardizing English as the official language of the city and imposing harsh penalties for landlords and business owners that deal with illegal immigrants.

The Dallas Morning News reports that inside the hall, supporters applauded as the votes were announced. Gathered outside were hundreds of protestors in opposition to the new measures.

WhosPlayin? has reported on startling irregularities at the meeting where the controversial immigration measure was passed. According to a source, Hispanics were being turned away from the meeting and a disproportionate number of Caucasian citizens were admitted to the hearing.
It seems that although the crowd outside was 90% Hispanic and 10% White, the authorities only let about 10% Hispanics into the chambers for the meeting. According to one source, Hispanics were being turned away while whites were let in. The source estimated the attendees inside the chambers to be 90% white.
Farmers Branch is a Dallas suburb. According to Wikipedia's information from the 2000 Census, the city is 37% Hispanic. Demographics have continued to shift over the past six years.

north texas legislators run for republican leadership positions

According to Capitol Annex, several North Texas Republicans are planning to make a bid for House leadership positions within the party.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Ennis) is running for Minority Leader. He faces opposition in Rep. John Boehner of Ohio and Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana. Kay Granger (R-Ft. Worth) is running for GOP Conference Vice Chair. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) hopes to become the next chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

House Republicans hold leadership elections on Nov. 17.

Planning & Zoning to Consider Amendment to Flower Mound Master Plan

If you are a resident of Flower Mound, you might be interested in an item on the agenda for tonight's Planning and Zoning Commission.
On Monday night, the P&Z will be considering a development plan that calls for the drastic reduction in Flower Mound’s Urban Forest Protection Zone located north of Cross Timbers Rd, west of Forums Dr., south of Euclid Dr. and east of FM 2499. This is an area designated for protection in the Master Plan 2001. The developer is proposing a 69,000 sq ft grocery store, a bank, a fast food restaurant and 3 small retail buildings. This development plan replaces Cross Timbers Forest with concrete parking lots and a big box grocery store.
There is a public hearing at tonight's P&Z meeting.

What: Town of Flower Mound Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting
When: Monday, November 13 at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Flower Mound Town Hall, 2121 Cross Timber Road, Flower Mound, Texas

Let the Town know how you feel. If you can't make it in person, email and reference 11/13 P&Z, Item #9-MPA 04-08.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Pollsters Weigh in on Election: Part 2

Continuing the synopsis of the AARP panel on 2006 midterm election results analyzing the 2006 elections, Celinda Lake weighs in for the Democrats:
  • This election was a vote for change. Iraq was certainly an issue, but so was the way Washington works.
  • Concern about the economy was an issue, with many Americans concerned that the American dream is at risk.
  • The Republicans push on security late in the election was stalled by the Foley scandal.
  • The winning slogan was, "Had enough?"
  • A second big theme in this election was that message beat mechanics. In 2004 both parties succeeded in voter turnout, but Republicans beat the Democrats on message. This year, again both parties succeeded in mobilization, but the Democrats won on message.
  • Who delivers the message matters. Those who won came across as authentic outsiders. This gave Democrats an edge, since it's hard for incumbents to run as outsiders.
  • This was also the "year of the woman leader." In addition to Nancy Pelosi, this election cycle will see the first woman head of the National Governor's Association, and the First Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
  • The last point is that the battlefield expanded. Demographically, Democrats made gains with rural voters, won Catholics, and tied married women. Seniors, once considered reliably Democratic, are now in play.
  • Long term trends favor Democrats. Single voters, both men and women, have voted Democratic for the last two elections.
  • 69% of Latino voters voted Democratic.
  • Young voters, who were the most Democratic group in 2004, were again in 2006, voting Democratic by margins from 15-22%.
  • Governors will make a big difference in the presidential elections, since governors control the state parties and define policy within a state.
  • This was not a conservative wave, as some have stated. It was a pragmatic wave. Many of the incoming candidates are "quite progressive, but they are pragmatists." Tester's slogan when he ran the Montana State Senate was "we'll get 'er done."
  • Voters voted on referenda in progressive ways, too, increasing the minimum wage, and passing stem cell research.
  • Some Democrats coming in are pro-life, but more Republicans leaving were pro-life. Some of the seats gaining pro-choice Democrats haven't supported that position for 10-15 years.

There is a great deal of nervousness among pundits and party loyalists on both sides that the Democrats not be perceived to swing too far to the left. By emphasizing that the voters "fired the Republicans, they didn't hire the Democrats," they hope to dampen the expectations of the left wing that this election represents a mandate for a more liberal platform.

It's easy to understand why party operators who watched Newt Gingrich self-destruct over the Clinton impeachment would want to avoid making the same error. But make no mistake, voters supporting Democrats this fall were also expressing outrage over the corruption of the entire Washington political machine. Here's the difference. All the polls prior to the 1998 election suggested that the majority of Americans wanted to put Monica and the little blue dress behind them, and get on to matters of more vital concern to the affairs of a nation. Polls prior to this year's election suggest that corruption was a motivating factor for those voting Democratic. Republicans made a great effort to inform voters that Pelosi's leadership would result in endless investigations and subpoenas, and voters still gave Democrats the House by a wide margin. It's hard not to read that as a mandate for oversight and accountability.

Does that mean impeachment? No, that means the public expects Congress to convene hearings and conduct due diligence to determine where the train went off the track, and take corrective action. The public's outrage over President Bush's executive overreach has muted to a slow burn. It will take some fairly damning new revelations to push that sentiment far enough to call for the ouster of a sitting president. But given the excesses to which this administration has gone to thwart any accountability, and surely there is a reason for the extraordinary amount of secrecy with which they have conducted their affairs, you can guarantee we haven't seen the last indictment. How well the President and Vice President have protected themselves from any fallout remains to be seen.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pollsters Weigh in on Election: Part 1

C-SPAN has a fascinating video up. The AARP assembled a panel of pollsters to discuss the results of the midterm election. The following is a summary of some of the comments. It's a long clip, and I'm going to break it down into two posts.

Charlie Cook, the Cook Political Report:

  • Cook thinks the "wave" for Democrats was as strong as the Republican wave in 1994, but that the Republican losses were protected somewhat by "structures" put in place since that time (presumably a reference to redistricting.)
  • The midterm elections were about anger; nobody voted for the Democrats, they voted against Republicans. (This is a sentiment echoed throughout the panel.)
  • The Foley scandal put all the other scandals in a "big box and tied a bow on it."
  • This kind of election happens only once every 30 years, so enjoy it.

Chuck Todd, Editor of Hotline:

  • Voter turn-out wasn't bad for Republicans, Republicans got killed among independents. Todd termed it the "revenge of the independents."
  • Rather than think in red/blue, he broke it down by geographic region.
  • South is still strongly Republican.
  • Northeast is strongly Democratic.
  • Midwest saw a resurgence of populism, including significant pro-labor sentiment.
  • West was molded by reaction among the secular conservative libertarian, those who want small, competent government. Republicans lost many of these voters in this election.

Ed Goeas, Republican Pollster:

  • Eight districts were lost directly due to scandal.
  • Republicans voters were motivated by 1) terrorism; 2) taxes; and 3) Nancy Pelosi.
  • The week following the Foley scandal saw a shift in sentiment, but it was not due to Republican support falling off. The movement actually preceded the scandal, and was due to the Clinton/Fox news interview. The interview was a "rallying cry to Democrats." The interview "popped intensity of the Democratic base by 9 points in the five days following...."

That last comment was probably the most interesting of the entire clip. Goeas has much more to say, including some interesting comments on the roll of the Blue Dog Democrats, and is worth a listen. Tomorrow I'll summarize comments by the Democratic pollster Celinda Lake and add a few thoughts on the conventional wisdom.

democrats take the senate

After an exhausting hotly-contested Senate race in Virginia, Democrat Jim Webb has been declared the victor, leading his party to the majority in the United States Senate for the first time since 2002.

A source close to incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen says that the ongoing canvass, expected to end sometime today, has not put a dent in his challenger's leading numbers.

The new makeup of the Senate will consist of 49 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and two independents. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut have both promised to caucus with the Democrats, giving that party the 51 seats it will need to reclaim a majority in the Senate.

Close elections were also held in Missouri, Montana and Tennessee. In Missouri, Democrat Claire McCaskill unseated Republican incumbent Sen. Jim Talent; in Montana, Democrat Jon Tester defeated Republican incumbent Sen. Conrad Burns; and in Tennessee, Republican Bob Corker was able to defeat Democrat Harold Ford, Jr. in what many pundits agreed was a nasty campaign from both candidates.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

rumsfeld resigns

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tendered his resignation today in the wake of the Democrats taking control of the House and possibly the Senate in yesterday's midterm elections.

President Bush and Rumsfeld apparently agreed to allow a "fresh perspective" on Iraq after many Republicans were unseated, presumably because of their support of the botched war. CNN pundit Lou Dobbs says that Rumsfeld does not have any regrets about Iraq and has not conceded any policy failures.

Prominent Democrats and varied critics within the military and from elsewhere have called for Rumsfeld's resignation for weeks. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the next Speaker of the House, confirmed today that she was happy to hear of the resignation and considered it "a signal of hope" for change in Iraq.

Bush has nominated former CIA Director Robert Gates, currently the president of Texas A&M University, to the position. Rumsfeld will continue serving in his capacity until the Senate can confirm his successor in January. "If confirmed by the Senate, I will serve with all my heart, and with gratitude to the president for giving me the opportunity to do so," Gates said.

democrats sweep dallas county

Dallas County Democrats are ecstatic this afternoon as they realize just how well they did in yesterday's elections. According to The Dallas Morning News, "Big D Means Democrat Again."
Riding a trend that began four years ago, Democrats have turned the tide in Dallas County, rejecting a high-profile GOP candidate for district attorney, kicking incumbent county judge Margaret Keliher to the curb and choosing dozens of Democrats for judicial posts.
Fox 4 Dallas reports that nearly 124,000 Dallas voters chose a straight Democratic ticket.

Dallas voters cut off two decades of Republican control in the county, sending a diverse group of Democrats to 42 judicial posts and six countywide offices, including the first black district attorney Craig Watkins. Watkins upset favored Republican Toby Shook.

congratulations speaker pelosi and new democratic house of representatives

Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California is expected to be elected the first ever female Speaker of the House in history on the heels of the Democratic Party gaining control of the United States House of Representatives. The Democrats have confiscated Congress from the Republicans, holding on to every single incumbent seat and earning a greater majority than the Republicans won in 2004. "Tonight is a great victory for the American people," Pelosi said. Pundits agree that this year's midterm election was a referendum on Iraq, the culture of corruption and Republicans turning a blind eye to concerns such as health care and education.

denton county totals dismal

Here are the percentages for the candidates on Denton County ballots... keep in mind these are Denton County totals, not statewide totals. While they may seem dismal, Democrats succeeded in making inroads in traditionally conservative areas of Denton County and look forward to future election cycles.

Hutchison: 69.67%
Radnofsy: 28.01%
Jameson: 2.31%

Marchant: 62.25%
Page: 34.71%
Frohman: 3.03%

Burgess: 67.33%
Barnwell: 30.02%
Haas: 2.63%

Perry: 46.96%
Bell: 23.09%
Werner: 0.57%
Friedman: 12.34%
Strayhorn: 17.01%
Dillon: 0.00%

These figures are with about 70% of precincts reporting in Denton County. Our best showing was in the State Rep. 64 race, where John McLeod took nearly 41% of the vote. We also showed well in the two judge races and in U.S. Rep 24, where Gary Page received about 35%.

All of the Denton County totals can be found here. Expect more election analysis tomorrow.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Where to Vote on Election Day

Here's everything you need to know to cast your ballot tomorrow in North Texas. Please forward the following information to friends and family in North Texas. Let's make a real effort to get out the vote and increase turnout among progressive voters. This is definitely the year to give this our best effort. 2006 is the year: we'll take back Congress... with your help we can also take back Texas. See you at the polls.

[Ed. note: If you experience any problems voting or witness anything suspicious on election day, contact the Texas Democratic Party's Election Protection Team at 512-478-9800.]

Denton County:
Collin County:
Dallas County:
Tarrant County:
To view the League of Women's Voter Guide to statewide races, click here. To view NTL's endorsements for North Texas races, click here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

NTL Endorses: Midterms 2006

On Tuesday, North Texas voters have the opportunity to really shake things up. We have a fantastic slate of candidates this year and we are prepared to send them to either Austin or Washington.

Listed below are the endorsements of the staff here at NTL. After some bickering and some persuading, we've agreed that the following candidates are the best in their race. You may notice that our list is decidedly slanted... keep in mind that we embrace our liberal bias, but we really do think that these candidates offer the best vision for Texas.


For U.S. Senate - Barbara Ann Radnofsky
During the Republican Revolution, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said that she believed in term limits. She has not honored that and is running for a third term in the U.S. Senate. Democrat Barbara Ann Radnofsky has proven herself a fierce competitor that will serve all Texans in the Senate. She will best Hutchison on veterans' affairs and healthcare if elected.

For Governor - Chris Bell
The biggest criticism against Bell in this campaign has been that he's boring. This argument follows the same logic as those who urged you to vote for Bush because he was the candidate most people would want to have a beer with. How'd that work out? In person, Bell is a dynamic and funny speaker, and he proved his mettle by taking on Tom DeLay. He's run a gutsy and largely error-free campaign. But the best reason to vote for Bell? He recognizes the threat of global warming, and has a plan to deal with it. A serious man for serious times, indeed.

For Lieutenant Governor - Maria Luisa Alvarado
Dewhurst has proven to be an incompetent Republican tool for Governor Perry. If Chris Bell (or Strayhorn or Friedman for that matter) is elected to replace Perry, let's send a strong Democrat to Austin to rule the Texas Senate underneath him. Alvarado has a strong military background and is right on the issues that matter to Texans.

For Attorney General - David Van Os
Van Os has toured every county in the state, stopping at each courthouse on his "Whistlestop Tour." He truly is dedicated to this campaign. Perhaps you've seen his signs: "Notice to Big Oil - I'm coming after you." That right there is message enough. Texas is in desperate need of a strong voice for Texas that will put an end to the corruption that plagues Austin.

For Agriculture Commissioner - Hank Gilbert
A&M graduate Gilbert is a real East Texan farmer and rancher directly involved with livestock. He understands the needs of farmers in this state. His opponent, Todd Staples, will obviously use the position as a stepping stone toward a career as a politician. Why not elect a person that actually wants to do the job? We're voting for Hank Gilbert.

For Land Commissioner - VaLinda Hathcox
As the former Special Assistant Attorney General of Texas, Hathcox is well qualified to hold public office. If elected, she would be the first female to serve in this capacity. Hathcox would lower land taxes and dedicate gaming to public education.

For Railroad Commissioner - Dale Henry
Henry is a Republican convert: he became a Democrat when the Republican Party shifted too far to the right and further away from his ideology. We're excited to endorse him as he plans to protect Texas' natural resources. Henry is well-qualified as a former member of the Region "K" Lower Colorado River Regional Water Planning Group.

For Justice, Texas Supreme Court, Place 2 - Bill Moody
Respected judge from the 34th District Court in El Paso and one of the few Democrats to win the State Bar Poll, Judge Moody deserves to be elected to the Supreme Court. His history of honesty, integrity, good politics and respect as a jurist almost over-qualifies him for the position.

For Presiding Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals - J. R. Molina
Molina has a lot of experience under his belt: 27 years of experience in criminal law and service as a former assistant district attorney in Tarrant County. He is "deeply committed" to due process and respect for the law. In a position as important as this, we recommend Molina's reasonable point of view.

For U.S. Representative, District 3 - Dan Dodd
Vietnam veteran Dan Dodd is ready to serve North Texas constituents. He is right on the economy, education and the environment. As a West Point graduate, he understands the correct approach to national security and promotes diplomacy. Voters should be scrambling to elect an honorable candidate like Dodd.

For U.S. Representative, District 4 - Glenn Melançon
The gap is closing, reports the Glenn Melançon campaign. Sherman is tired of Rep. Ralph Hall and its ready for real change. Melançon is ready to throw out the extreme conservatism of the past in favor of a more moderate view to build our economy and break our addiction to foreign oil.

For U.S. Representative, District 6 - David Harris
Veteran David Harris is opposing Rep. "Smokey" Joe Barton for his seat. Harris hopes to create policy that would foster strong defense, strong families and equal rights for all citizens. Harris is also a strong supporter of Texas Parks & Wildlife.

For U.S. Representative, District 12 - John Morris
If elected, John Morris promises to bring integrity and accountability to the Congress. He believes that we must reduce the demand for foreign oil, we must begin to bring our troops home safely from Iraq and that Tom DeLay's Republicans do not deserve re-election after proving their corruption.

For U.S. Representative, District 13 - Roger Waun
Roger Waun has an impressive military background and an extensive education. He supports ending the war in Iraq responsibly, as well as ending the current culture of corruption in Congress. Wichita Falls deserves Waun in Congress!

For U.S. Representative, District 24 - Gary Page
Gary Page is prepared to break up the Marchant monopoly. Send them a message: they don't own Carrollton or its voters! Gary Page is right on the issues: immigration, Iraq and campaign finance reform. North Texas is ready for change and that change begins with electing someone to Congress that will take the job seriously and vote his conscience.

For U.S. Representative, District 26 - Tim Barnwell
Rep. Michael Burgess has been a a rubber-stamp for the Bush agenda. Denton County voters are ready for a change this year. Elect someone that will stand up to the Republican rhetoric and give North Texas the real representation it deserves.

For U.S. Representative, District 30 - Eddie Bernice Johnson
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson has proudly served her Dallas constituents for many years. She's ready to go back to Washington and continue fighting for Texans, as well as building bipartisan coalitions to accomplish more in Congress.

For U.S. Representative, District 32 - Will Pryor
The DCCC named this campaign an emerging race - Will Pryor has got the stuff to win. Pryor will vote to make healthcare affordable, fund stem cell research, and protect children from online predators. Dallas voters: if you're sick of Sessions, vote for change.

NTL recommends the following candidates in local Texas Legislature races:
For Texas State Senate, District 12 - Dwight B. Fullingim
For Texas State House, District 62 - Pete Veeck
For Texas State House, District 64 - John McLeod
For Texas State House, District 69 - David Farabee
For Texas State House, District 70 - Rick Koster
For Texas State House, District 89 - Lehman Harris
For Texas State House, District 90 - Lon Burnam
For Texas State House, District 91 - Byron Sibbet
For Texas State House, District 93 - Paula Hightower Pierson
For Texas State House, District 94 - David Pillow
For Texas State House, District 95 - Marc Veasey
For Texas State House, District 96 - Christopher Youngblood
For Texas State House, District 99 - Sheila Ford
For Texas State House, District 100 - Terri Hodge
For Texas State House, District 102 - Harriet Miller
For Texas State House, District 103 - Rafael Anchia
For Texas State House, District 104 - Roberto Alonzo
For Texas State House, District 105 - Bob Romano
For Texas State House, District 106 - Katy Hubener
For Texas State House, District 107 - Allen Vaught
For Texas State House, District 108 - Jack Borden
For Texas State House, District 109 - Helen Giddings
For Texas State House, District 110 - Barbara Mallory Caraway
For Texas State House, District 111 - Yvonne Davis
For Texas State House, District 113 - Eric Brandler
For Texas State House, District 114 - Phillip Shinoda

Friday, November 03, 2006

Tarrant County Democrats Interviewed on Ballot Decision

Shaun Rabb, of Fox News KDFW-TV, interviewed Tarrant County Democratic Party Chair Art Brender and State Representative District 95 Marc Veasey on the recent court decision regarding mail-in ballots. Federal Judge T. John Ward ordered Attorney General Greg Abbott to stop enforcing a provision of the election code regarding mail-in ballots. The ruling allows workers assisting the elderly or disabled to help deliver those ballots to the post office.

To view the video, click here. The following is a partial transcript:

Brender: It's a victory for every voter who needs to vote absentee - people that are elderly, that can't get out, that are bedridden, that are disabled - because for many, many years, up until this law went into effect a couple of years ago, anybody could help them.....

Veasey: It basically suppressed that partciular tradition in the coummunity of neighbor watching out for neighbor. And that's what was so really significant about this ruling.....

Rabb: In an email statement, Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz writes: "The Office of the Attorney General will file an immediate appeal...the district court's decision is contrary to binding precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court, and we are highly confident upon appeal." Brender hopes the federal judge's ruling stands.

Brender: The Attorney General in the comments to Judge Ward said "Well, we would never prosecute anyone for just mailing somebody's ballot, handling it and putting it in the mailbox, that sort of thing." So that admission, I think, is an indication the law is overly broad.

Although a ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will have enormous impact in the long term, the influence on this year's elections is largely decided. An article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reveals that mail-in ballots for Tarrant County were down compared with 2002.

Mail-in voting for the November general election has dropped 62 percent this year in Tarrant County, although early voting in person is up 8 percent in the county and across the state.

With early voting ending today, Tarrant County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn said he could not explain the sharp drop in mail-in ballots since the comparable election in 2002, but said mail-in ballot applications generated by the major political parties appear to be down significantly this year.

Statewide, mail-in ballots have dropped 26 percent, according to the secretary of state's Web site.

All of the thirteen people Greg Abbott has prosecuted for voter fraud under the 2003 law have been Democrats, and all but one has been Hispanic or African-American.

Amber Moon, spokeswoman for the Texas Democratic Party, predicted that the post-election analysis of the mail-in ballots will show that the decrease is mostly from Democratic strongholds.

Vote by mail in our communities have suffered more because our people have the attorney general's task force following them," Moon said.

A direct comparison to the 2002 election is difficult, with both sides agreeing that strategy may have influenced results. And it's difficult to determine how many of those choosing to forgo mail-in ballots chose to vote in person. However, in the end, it appears Republicans may have accomplished their goal - suppression of minority votes.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

West Texas A&M Exit Poll

Tomorrow is the last day of the early voting period, so go vote! Contact your county elections office for more information about where and when to vote. (The information is likely posted on the county website, as well.) After you cast your ballot, here's something else for you to do.

Capitol Annex has made us aware of an exit poll being conducted by Dr. David Rausch of West Texas A&M University.
According to Dr. Rausch, “[t]he site will have a series of exit poll links with different surveys for Randall and Potter counties, Amarillo, Canyon and for people outside of Randall and Potter counties. The surveys will include questions about property tax freeze initiatives and the changes to the Amarillo City Commission as well as questions about the Texas gubernatorial elections.”
All Texans of every political stripe should take this short survey to help Rausch to ensure accuracy. It'll only take two minutes of your time and you'll be helping with an important exit poll.