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Hometown: Austin, TX
Home country: U.S.
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 18,063

Journal Archives

Doggett’s district could be sticking point in redistricting case

AAS 2/13/12

AG: Doggett’s district could be sticking point in redistricting case

From the perspective of the Austin Democrat, one of the casualties of the GOP-controlled Legislature’s map is his Congressional District 25. The Legislature’s map would make CD 25 a Republican district, one Doggett said he couldn’t win, and one that would push him to run in the proposed CD 35, which is based in Bexar County and stretches up Interstate 35 to Austin.

Lawyers representing Travis County and other attorneys working for a major Latino rights groups have said that District 25 deserves to be protected as a “coalition district” - one in which Latinos and African-Americans vote together to elect the candidate of their choice: Doggett.

Abbott, however, doesn’t see it that way at all.

And to that end, Abbott concluded that he “cannot compromise on this district.”

They just can't stand Doggett or Travis county. Those puny little republican minds can't handle Lloyd. They would rather die in a fire together than compromise on just that one district.

Those bastards did the same thing the last time they re-re-redistricted Travis county. Cowards! Lloyd you're just too powerful for them. They can't vote you out so they keep trying to gerrymander you out. Huge fraidy cat cowards!


Texas has spent nearly $10 million on interest for late payments

AAS 1/12/12

Texas has spent nearly $10 million during past decade on interest for late payments

During the past 10 years, state agencies and public universities have paid out $9.4 million worth of interest on late payments to vendors and contractors, an American-Statesman analysis has found.

Under a state law aimed at ensuring that Texas pays its bills in a timely manner, state agencies have to tack on interest if they pay their bills more than 30 days late. Agencies currently have to add an extra 4.25 percent — the prime rate plus 1 percent — on late bills. The amount is automatically added by a statewide accounting system.

Vendors and contractors aren't allowed to charge separate late fees, and the agencies said they have redoubled their efforts to minimize late payments, which can also happen because of delays in processing invoices, disputes over whether goods and services were delivered as promised and a host of other reasons. The agencies have also been helped by steadily falling interest rates.

Nearly $1 million per year in interest payments seems like small change in a state with a $173 billion two-year budget .

But for public schools and state agencies that had to slash their budgets after the Legislature reduced the state budget by $15 billion last year, it's real money.

Republican rule in Texas - how's that working for you Texas taxpayers?

Imagine if the state agencies had enough employees to do the job in a timely manner. Maybe we could save some of that interest money.

For-Profit Lock-Up Leaves Littlefield Taxpayers With Texas-sized Headache

Burnt Orange Report 2/8/12
For-Profit Lock-Up Leaves Littlefield Taxpayers With Texas-sized Headache

For the past three years, the small West Texas town of Littlefield has had to come up with $65,000 a month to service a loan on an empty prison it never needed. To avoid defaulting on its prison loan, Littlefield has laid off workers, cut every department's budget, raised property taxes, increased fees, raided its municipal sewer and water fund, and even delayed its purchase of a new police car.

With just 6,507 residents during the 2000 census, Littlefield did not need a new prison. The city's elected officials decided to build one anyways. Littlefield issued $10 million in revenue bonds for construction of a 310-bed for-profit detention center as part of the city's economic development strategy in 1999. Revenue bonds are a special type of municipal bond that do not require voter approval, because they are backed by the expected revenue a project will generate. Littlefield's politicians built the prison believing it would pay for itself, pump money into the local economy, and expand job opportunity.


As a result of this experience, Littlefield's bond rating was downgraded to junk status, and Littlefield taxpayers were saddled with millions in debt after discovery of mismanagement by for-profit prison operator Geo Group led the Idaho Department of Corrections (IDOC) to terminate its contract and remove its prisoners in 2009. When IDOC cancelled its contract, Geo Group bailed on Littlefield by terminating its contract and laying off 74 workers.

Excellent reporting by Nick Hudson blogging for Cuentame. Very nice video at the link above too. The video is in Spanish but has English sub-titles.

Partial deal on interim maps

Texas Redistricting blog 2/6/12
Breaking: Partial deal on interim maps
Press statement by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott:

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today issued the following statement on the proposed interim redistricting maps for Texas’ 2012 elections:

“The proposed maps minimize changes to the redistricting plan passed by the Legislature and, as the U. S. Supreme Court required, makes changes only where necessary. The Texas Attorney General’s Office has worked with a wide range of interest groups to incorporate reasonable requests from all parties to the extent possible without compromising the will of the Texas Legislature. Even though these proposed interim maps aren’t fully supported by all interest groups, modifications have been incorporated based on requests made by all parties. Today’s maps should allow the court to finalize the interim redistricting maps in time to have elections in April,” Attorney General Abbott said.

Well maybe they've saved a unified April primary. We'll see.

Rick Perry's campaign fell hard and fast in 2012

Austin Chronicle 1/27/12

Rick Perry's campaign fell hard and fast in 2012


1) Iowa Owie: If the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus used Texas school accountability standards, count Perry as "Presidentially Unaccept­able." He limped over the line in fifth place with 10.3% in a state where he had been leading in August.

2) Will You, Won't You?: After his Iowa drubbing, rumors were circulating that his staff were sitting in bars as if the campaign were already over, and Perry himself was telling everyone he would decamp to Texas to consider his options. Instead, he just went for a jog and decided, yup, he was staying in for the long haul – which turned out to be a grand total of 16 days.

3) Iraq the Third: What's a Texas Republican presidential hopeful without a Gulf War? At the Jan. 7 ABC debate, Perry announced that he would send troops back into Iraq. Really, he actually said that.

4) No, No, New Hampshire: Accepting that the Northeast was always stony ground for his brand of good ol' boyism, Perry announced he was bypassing the Granite State's Jan. 10 vote and heading straight to South Carolina, which he declared to be his Alamo. The result? A mortifying 0.7% showing in the nation's first primary.

5) Perfect, Immobile Hair: On a Jan. 13 trip to the Squat 'n' Gobble in Bluffton, S.C., the governor seemed to take a question from a store mannequin. There was back-and-forth among the press whether Perry was joking or not, but the discussion just proved that no one took him seriously.

Oh damn I do sure love making fun of Perry. That's the only thing I will miss about his huge national landslide failure.

Obama DOJ Protects Military Voters From Texas Republicans

Talking Points Memo 1/27/12

Obama DOJ Protects Military Voters From Texas Republicans

The Justice Department said in a filing on Friday that the primary schedule proposed by the Texas Republican Party wouldn’t give enough time for military and overseas voters to participate in the election process in violation of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.

Here’s the kicker: conservatives — led by Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn — have long been on a crusade against the Justice Department for what they said was a failure to protect military voters under the MOVE Act.

Now it’s Texas’ Republican Party which would be violating the law. The party suggested on Jan. 23 that the court issue an order stating that ballots to voters subject to the MOVE Act should be mailed on March 9 “Notwithstanding the requirements of the MOVE Act,” even thought the election is supposed to be held on April 3.

Justice Department lawyers said that the Republican Party “has proposed shortening the amount of time that military and overseas voters will have to participate in the election” and that such proposals are in “conflict with UOCAVA’s explicit requirement that states transmit ballots to the voters protected under the act at least 45 days before a federal election.”

Go get'em AG Holder!!

Oops: State of Texas' Expert Says State's Senate Map Hurts Minorities

Burnt Orange Report 1/26/12
Oops: State of Texas' Expert Says State's Senate Map Hurts Minorities

The 8-day preclearance trial wraps up in Washington today, but yesterday brought a stunning admission from the State of Texas' expert witness, Rice professor John Alford.

Put on the stand to testify about the treatment of minority groups under the state's maps, Alford testified under oath that the state's senate map hurts the ability of minorities in SD-10 in Tarrant County to elect their candidate of choice. That's, of course, the district currently represented by State Sen. Wendy Davis.

Just like Michael Li points out in his blog post. Holy moly!!

Prospects brighten for settlement that could save April election

Texas Politics blog Houston Chronicle 1/27/12

Prospects brighten for settlement that could save April election

A leading player in the state’s redistricting turmoil said this morning he’s hopeful that both sides are closing in on a settlement that will salvage Texas’ April 3 primary.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has been meeting with representatives of minority groups that sued the state last year to stop new political boundaries from taking effect on grounds the decade-long maps ignore profound population growth of minority Texans – mostly Hispanics.

“I am confident that the parties are working in good faith and have enough time to craft a compromise that will assure that the April primaries go on as scheduled,” said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, chairman of the House Mexican American Legislative Caucus, which is one of the parties suing the state.

Caught off guard as he was preparing for a 1 p.m. court hearing in San Antonio before three federal judges refereering the redistricting fight, Martinez Fischer acknowledged that lawyers for his organization have been talking with Abbott and others in the case about a settlement. Martinez Fischer said he could not share details.

Well that's an interesting development.

Perry's poll numbers slip in Texas after presidential bid

CBS News 1/26/12

Perry's poll numbers slip in Texas after presidential bid

An ill-fated bid for the presidency has not only taken a toll on Texas Gov. Rick Perry's own popularity, it's also worsened the outlook for another gubernatorial campaign he may yet pursue, according to a new poll by several Texas newspapers.

Perry's popularity in his home state dropped 10 points in the past year to settle at 40 percent, a full three points below that of President Obama statewide. And 37 percent of people say that they have a less favorable view of Perry after a campaign filled with embarrassing stumbles on the national stage, like the time he famously failed to name a third federal department he would cut during a debate in early November.

In worse news for Perry, more than half of people - 53 percent - say he should not run for another term as governor in 2014 (Texas has no term limits). The Dallas Morning News notes that his support for another gubernatorial bid is especially weak among three key voting blocs: people 50 and older, with incomes over $100,000 and with advanced or professional degrees.

About freaking time! This waste of time and money known as Rick Perry should exit the stage. Left or right, we don't care which way he exits. We just want him to go away.

South Texas District Suspends Sports to Keep Afloat

Texas Tribune 1/26/12

South Texas District Suspends Sports to Keep Afloat

PREMONT — A plan to save a school district has come down to rows of yellow Post-it notes.

Dozens dot a wall in Premont Independent School District Superintendent Ernest Singleton's office, covering white poster boards labeled with the state benchmarks — 11 in total — that his district must meet in order to remain open next year. Each note points to a step toward the corresponding goal. Scrawled on one are two words that have brought national attention to the tiny 570-student school district in South Texas: "suspend sports."

Singleton came to Premont ISD in June. He received a letter from the Texas Education Agency in July saying that after years of financial disarray and lagging academic performance, the district would lose its accreditationand be absorbed into a neighboring district.

After the initial shock subsided — despite the district’s shabby record, Mr. Singleton said he did not expect closure so quickly — he took his case to Austin and asked for more time to turn it around. In November, Premont residents voted overwhelmingly for a 13-cent property tax hike to support the schools. A month later, the agency agreed to delay its decision by a year, setting out the stringent demands related to financial and academic improvement that now line the superintendent’s office.

The reprieve was hard-won. If Premont ISD fails this time around, there will be no appeal. With those stakes in mind, Mr. Singleton turned to a budget that he had already scrubbed bare and looked for more ways to save. The $150,000 that the district would spend during the next year on spring and fall sports, including football, stared him in the face.

Football takes a holiday in Texas. Freaking shocking. While it is sad that these kids will not have the same opportunities to compete in sports as other kids in districts nearby, at least they won't be doing a daily commute 20 or so miles to get to school. I could see that being much, much worse. And some families just making the decision not to send their kids to school.

This one belongs on the republican controlled legislature which has slowly been starving school budgets.

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