Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Millionaire Tax Cuts

This pretty much sums up my feelings about the Presidents capitulation on the Bush tax cuts.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Don "No you can't" Sumners UPDATE w/ video

So we all known that back on November 3rd Democrats took a shellacking. In that carnage we lost a chance to bring back integrity and competence to the Tax Assessors office (also the Harris County Voter Registrar) with Diane Trautman. Instead, we got this:
The county's new voter registrar is ending a longstanding agreement that allowed the League of Women Voters to register more than 1,000 voters a month without issuing them receipts for their voter registration applications.

Don Sumners, who as tax assessor-collector is in charge of voter registration in Harris County, said Monday that technically the League's voter registration activities at monthly naturalization ceremonies are illegal without the receipts.
Way to go Don! Not only is this a boneheaded move but it's probably illegal. From Harris County Democratic party chair, Gerry Birnberg, via Carl Whitmarsh's listserv:
The minute I learned of this Sunday night, I sent an e-mail to the county attorney's office protesting that this appears to be a pretty clear violation of the Voting Rights Act and urging them to contact Mr. Summers immediately to remind him that any change in the way voter registration activities are undertaken in this county require preclearance from the Voting Rights Section of the Department of Justice, and that if he failed to seek or obtain same (as I am confident he has failed to do), he is in violation of federal law and the judgment of the federal court and exposing the county to significant liability.

I understand that the problem relates to Mr. Summers' change of prior procedures to refuse to staff the swearing in ceremonies with a county official who can take possession of the applications on the spot.

It is very disappointing -- though not particularly surprising -- that Mr. Summers' first act as Voter Registrar is to (a) violate federal law and (b) reduce rather than expand voter registration -- and this of newly naturalized citizens.
All the hoop and hollering about voter fraud in the last couple years from the right pale in comparison to this blatantly partisan move on the part of this newly elected teabagger.

Kuff has more and so does KHOU:

Don "I was Tea Party before the Tea Party was cool" Sumners is political hack with an agenda to politicise the office even more so than it was before. Just check out his GeoCity esque website.

I have also attached the letter form Mr. Sumners to the Houston Area League of Women Voters.

City Hall Shakeup

What's going on down there at City Hall?
Mayor Annise Parker has parted ways with two major conservatives on the Houston City Council, removing Councilman Mike Sullivan from his role overseeing redistricting and accepting the resignation of Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck as mayor pro tem.
The development, which stems, in part, from a recent spat over who would be appointed to serve as a Port of Houston Authority commission member, comes at a critical time for Parker, who is about to confront three issues that are expected to greatly test her ability to rally the council's support.

Passing an extremely tight 2012 budget, a drainage fee mandated by popular vote and redrawing the lines of City Council boundaries could become far more difficult as her allies dwindle at City Hall.
Lot's of tough choices coming down the pipe for the Mayor and Council one of which is highly partisan (redistricting). I don't blame the Mayor for removing Sullivan from overseeing redistricting and I agree that if she can't trust him to keep his word on the Port Commission vote then how can she expect him to be a trusted voice when redistricting comes to the forefront next year.

Anybody want to take a guess who the next Pro-Tem will be? My guess is Costello.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A return to the blogosphere

"Then most important political office is that of the private citizen" - Louis Brandeis

It's been almost a year since the last time I posted anything on this blog and to be honest I haven't really missed the day to day grind of trying to figure out what to write about. One of the reasons I wanted to start this thing was first and foremost to develop a voice in this crazy mixed up world that we like to political punditry and analysis. And secondly, to somehow in my own little way make a difference.

Quite frankly though, I soon realized it was a bit more than that. Collectively, during the 2009 Houston Mayoral race, local political blogs that I had read for years soon became a legitimate force in shaping the trajectory of the message in the final weeks of the campaign. In a time when newspapers and TV stations see increasingly smaller budgets to cover politics on a local level we now have a pajama wearing force of journalistic novices taking the fight to the man and attempting to driving home the message.

Unfortunately the Democratic message was lost in this last election. People (voters) forgot that all politics are local. It is your local representatives to your city, county and state government that have the most influence on our daily lives. We have allowed the idea to get stuck in peoples minds that the goings on in Washington DC have more effect on our day to day lives than our school board members or the local city council. This among many other things is why I hope to be a vocal voice in that ocean of other opinions that sticks out and makes you second guess what you thought you already knew.

I can't promise you that I will be as active as I once was on this thing but I can promise that I will keep it real and if you find my judgement lacking or in need of correction please let me know. Because in the end we are all just trying to do our part in shaping the direction of our collective future.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

From the party that brought us Sarah Palin

A new poll released today pretty much sums up my thoughts on the recent purging of intellectuals in the Republican party; there are none left.

From the Huffington Post via DailyKOS:
  • 39 percent of Republicans believe Obama should be impeached, 29 percent are not sure, 32 percent said he should not be voted out of office.
  • 36 percent of Republicans believe Obama was not born in the United States, 22 percent are not sure, 42 percent think he is a natural citizen.
  • 31 percent of Republicans believe Obama is a "Racist who hates White people" -- the description once adopted by Fox News's Glenn Beck. 33 percent were not sure, and 36 percent said he was not a racist.
  • 63 percent of Republicans think Obama is a socialist, 16 percent are not sure, 21 percent say he is not
  • 24 percent of Republicans believe Obama wants "the terrorists to win," 33 percent aren't sure, 43 percent said he did not want the terrorist to win.
  • 21 percent of Republicans believe ACORN stole the 2008 election, 55 percent are not sure, 24 percent said the community organizing group did not steal the election.
  • 23 percent of Republicans believe that their state should secede from the United States, 19 percent aren't sure, 58 percent said no.
  • 53 percent of Republicans said they believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be president than Obama.
I'm not really sure how to react to this news other then Republicans are idiots. Enough said.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

And the winner is....Houston

I don't think that last nights results have begun to set in yet so I will reserve my commentary to a minimum. As the Bloggateers sat waiting in anticipation of last nights results we could not help but worry when we saw the early vote totals come in, they were just too close for comfort. Visions of defeat were not far off because after all we had all stuck our necks out there in support of Annise Parker.

Personally, I spent election day at head-quarters receiving election poll vote totals from Annise's army of volunteers. It became clear around 3pm that we were going to win but elections are not an exact science so the campaign continued to push and push and push even harder because in the end you don't want to say that you didn't do enough. The end result was a victory not just for Annise but for Houston and the rest of this state.

A big shout out needs to go to the crack field team the campaign assembled including Ward, Sanjay, Joe, Jerry, Maggie, Kate, Katie (the first round), Hannah, Lindsay and Nelson (both former Peter Brown staffers). I know I'm probably forgetting someone but if I am you know who you are. Without you guys(and gal's) Annise could not have done it. You all deserve every ounce of credit, y'all ran an unbelievable campaign.

It was an honor and privilege to work alongside my fellow bloggers. Myself being new to the whole blogger thing people like Martha, Kuff, John Greg and Stace all welcomed me with open arms and great advice.

One of the things I must point out before I end this post is the utmost respect that I have for not only my fellow Bloggateers but also for the unbelievable outreach and support from the Parker campaign. People like Adam Harris (Campaign Manager), Sue Davis (Communications), Jeri Brooks (Communications Director) and Justin Concepcion(Social Media) all put their trust in us. I have NEVER seen anything like it. It really does say a lot about how Annise will operate as Mayor; open and transparent.

Thank You Annise and Thank you Houston! And now on to some good governing.

UPDATE: I can't believe that I forgot about the great finance team led by Gilbert Garcia, David Arpin, James Cardona, Jenn Char and Bren Gormen. They did and AMAZING job raising nearly $3.5 million from more than 8000 individual donors in the last year. Without them there would be no campaign.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ned Holmes get's thrown under the bus

The dominoes are falling after the big smoking gun was discovered yesterday that Gene Locke's finance chair Ned Holms gave $20,000 to Steven Hotze's PAC. Today in an interview with KHOU's Lee McGuire Locke stated:
"I didn't know this flyer was going to come out," Locke said. "I had no knowledge of it prior to that.... I was not involved in any of those discussions. There was no coordination or cooperation between my campaign and that mailer at all. Any insinuation or suggestion that there was is simply false."
We know that Gene sought the endorsement of Hotze a while back. And we now know that he solicited Gene for money in turn for the endorsement. Allan Blakemore (Hotze's political consultant) said in a statement to McGuire that:
"absolutely we solicited the donations. We said we'd like to publicize our endorsement of Mr. Locke and we asked if they would like to help us. They did not review the flyer first," he said.
So now we have Blakemore stating that there was some level of communication between the two camps in regards to the endorsement/mailer. What else needs to be said?

Gene is either continuing to spin a yarn and misleading the public or he's lost control of his campaign. I refuse to believe that there was no communication or blessing from the powers that be inside Gene's camp. The guys running Gene's campaign are pros and pros don't allow this sort of thing to go down with knowing. If anything this is a prequel to what we might expect from a Gene Locke administration. It's time to come clean Gene.

For some more background and the Parker campaigns response check Lee's story out.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Gene Locke Steven Hotze connection

Well, we have been complaining about the Locke-Hotze connection for the last couple of months and now we have proof. According to the Conservative Republicans of Harris County latest finance report Ned Holmes (Gene's Finance Chairman) and Jim Dannenbaum (a member of Gene's finance committee) both gave $20,000 each to the PAC. This is the smoking gun. This is the proof that has been missing to connect Gene and Hotze the hate monger. Gene likes to say that he's against all this divisive campaigning but all along has misled the public about his dealings with this man. It's time for Gene to Come Clean and apologize for the hate that he has inserted into his Mayoral campaign.

NO matter how the Locke campaign tries to spin this the proof is there. Somebody like Holmes does not jump unless you tell him to. There is absolutely no way that these guys went rouge and did this on their own. Somebody within the campaign had to have told them to do this and if they didn't then how in the hell can we trust Gene Locke to handle the city's business.

See for yourself.

UPDATE: Bay Area Houston,Dos Centavos and Kuff have more. And for any naysayers that say this is a fraudulent report check out the Texas Ethics Commission website.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Annise Parker leads 42-36 in Latest Poll

Considering that most politicos in town don't really have a life right now it seems fitting that I would write a post at 12:30 in the morning on a Saturday. The Chronicle and Zogby interactive have their latest poll out that shows Annise Parker leading Gene Locke 42-35 outside the margin of error(+/- 4.1%). I will wait to dive into the numbers until tomorrow but I thought that my readers should have a look at the internals of the poll that I snagged from the Chronicle's Political Blog section earlier tonight. Take a look for yourself and tell me what you think. Have at it.


Zobgy Internals

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gene Locke's Republican Heavy Hitters

I am a self-proclaimed political nerd and I look forward to scouring through various candidates finance reports. Well today the City of Houston uploaded the 8 Day reports for all the candidates in the various runoffs for December 12th.

After some lite reading I discovered an interesting payment by the Gene Locke campaign to a political consulting group by the name of The Election Group LLC. a subsidiary of the Eppstein Group. Why do I point this out you may ask. It turns out this firm and its parent company is run by some guys by the names of Bryan Eppstein and Keats Norfleet.

Lets start with Bryan Eppstein, from Texas Watchdog:
The Fort Worth political strategist helps elect politicians at every level in town, who turn right around and rubber-stamp his lucrative business deals. But now the powerful consultant may have invented an even cozier arrangement: using his lobbying client to provide aid and comfort for his political one in one of the most hotly contested races in Texas.
Did they say lobbyist? Sounds familiar right?
He works effectively on behalf of his clients, and in return they pay him handsomely and give him a political handout.For example, two years ago, he helped elect Jim Lane and Marty Leonard to the Tarrant Regional Water District Board. Soon after, the board turned around and gave Eppstein two no-bid contracts for crafting a public relations strategy for its half-billion dollar plan to redirect the Trinity River as it meanders through downtown Fort Worth.
That's enough on the primary benefactor of this group so lets move onto Mr. Norfleet. From the Quorum Report from earlier this year:
The Election Group LLC will be based in Austin. The new political consulting firm’s president will be 9 year veteran political operative Keats Norfleet. While at The Eppstein Group, Norfleet directed the successful 2007 statewide Texas Cancer Research referendum and co-directed The Eppstein Group’s 2008 election track record in winning 60 out of 65 candidate and referendum elections across Texas. Prior to joining The Eppstein Group, Norfleet served as 2006 deputy campaign manager for the statewide U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison reelection campaign and 2004 campaign manager for the Louie Gohmert East Texas Congressional Campaign. Norfleet also has past staff experience in the Texas legislature and served as West Texas/Harris County regional field director for the Republican Party of Texas.
This guy gets around the block and according to Gene's report it looks like he has been held on retainer for $13,000 (can be found on p.284 of Locke's 8 day report). Who knows what these guys are up to but if history is bound to repeat itself they are expecting a big payday if they manage to get Gene elected. What sort of backroom deals have been made already if any because it seems to be the modus operandi with these people.

It really is quite sad to see a hard working, civil rights activist like Gene Locke and his Democratic campaign manager Christian Archer stoop to these lows to win but is it really all that surprising?

I started off with a lot of respect for both of these guys. Gene has done a lot to help his community and I am willing to chalk this one up as a mistake by a first time candidate but Christian is another story.

I cannot wait for this election to be over.