Anybody else think this is a metaphor of sorts for the Speaker's race?
Police shut down 10 blocks of businesses in the heart of downtown Austin early today after dozens of birds were found dead.
Emergency workers donned yellow hazardous-material suits, and dozens of fire trucks and ambulances were parked nearby, as they began testing for any sort of environmental contaminant or gas or chlorine leaks that might have cause the bird deaths.
Fort Worth GOP Rep. Charlie Geren, who is supporting Rep. Jim Pitts for House Speaker, is calling for a process that would make public who voted for whom - but couldn't be used against members in committee assignments.
He suggests that members write their votes on paper ballots, sign them, and then the Secretary of State Roger Williams tallies them and announces the winner.
Here's the twist: The names on the ballots wouldn't be released until after committee assignments are made.
"The vote process that I have presented today not only protects House members, it protects the integrity of open government," Geren said in a press release. "The process is the best of both worlds. It allows every member to vote his or her conscience for Speaker without the fear of retribution. It also maintains our commitment to open government by providing a mechanism for the ballots to be released to the public."
Craddick lieutenant Warren Chisum, a GOP rep from Pampa, said last night that Team Craddick was willing to negotiate with the other side on how to vote.
Rep. Joe Straus tonight sent out a press release blasting the idea. "I believe we must protect the institutions of good government against even the apperance of coersion. We must ensure that no single member stands in a hotter spotlight than any other when he or she casts a vote on Tuesday."
Straus goes on to say that he's still pledged to Craddick BUT "My support for any candidate for Speaker," Straus writes in his release, "is predicated on his or her support of a fair process. I believe this outweighs any member's personal ambitions."
In other news, former Speaker Billy Clayton passed away over the weekend. One of his former rivals for the Speakership, Carl Parker, who once championed secret balloting in that race, now supports a public vote. And finally, the whole Speaker's race saga has moved Miya Shay to poetry.Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 08, 2007 to That's our Lege