House State Affairs Chairman David Swinford has said he'd rather kill HB 13, the Governor's homeland security bill, than move police powers to the Department of Public Safety away from the Governor's control. In both the committee hearings and on the floor the other day Swinford referenced a deal he made with Congressman John Culberson that he intended to honor. According to the El Paso Times:
Swinford said moving control of border security money out of Perry's office could jeopardize a deal he has made with Texas congressmen to get border sheriffs more federal money. "I will kill the bill before I go back on my word," he said.
That struck me as odd, and the chair has said it more than once - he'd rather kill his own bill than move this out of Gov. Perry's control!
What sort of deal could this be, I wondered? Why would John Culberson have so much say so over whether Texas gets money or not or whether a state agency is under the Governor or under an independent board?
At issue was a letter sent April 27 from state Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw to Noriega that accused the Houston Democrat of taking a "bury our heads in the sand" approach to border security.
Noriega, a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard who missed the 2005 legislative session while he was deployed to Afghanistan, called the letter "both insulting and irresponsible" and called on Perry to retract it.
"We're talking about the safety of Texas," Noriega told the Star-Telegram on Wednesday. "To then attempt a diversionary tactic by killing the messenger is not appropriate for something this serious."
Perry replied in a letter of his own thanking Noriega for his Guard service, and offered to address his concerns in depth at a later date. Perry spokesman Robert Black said Noriega might not have a complete grasp of the responsibilities of the homeland security office.
"It's important for Representative Noriega to have a full understanding of what the Governor's Office of Homeland Security entails," Black said. "It's not just about border security, but emergency management in the event of a disaster, drug interdiction and coordinating efforts to keep our citizens safe."
Noriega called the comments condescending, and said that he was raising legitimate questions about policies implemented or planned by the homeland security office that did not intend to minimize the need for a secure southern border.
He reaffirmed his statements that state officials are exaggerating the threat of terrorists gaining access to U.S. territory from Mexico's border with Texas. The more vulnerable targets, he said, are the nation's small airports, seaports and power plants.
"They are using the terrorism threat as an excuse for immigrant bashing," Noriega said.
Finally, Muse comments on the elephant in the room, and notes that Governor-For-a-Day Mario Gallegos made Noriega Director of Homeland Security for a day. If only!Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 07, 2007 to That's our Lege