Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

July 28th, 2003:

Early coverage

Some of these are AP wire reports, but they’re all different, so here you go:

Morning News

More tomorrow.

Going, going…

The special session is ending a day early, with another to start almost immediately afterwards. However, it may be a moot point, for it appears that 11 Democratic Senators have left town.

One Democratic senator who asked not to be named, told the Chronicle in a phone interview that senators were apparently on their way out of town.

“I have no idea where we’re going. I just know in a little bit we will be out of pocket,” the senator said.

He would not say how many senators had left but called it an “adequate” number to break a quorum and keep the Senate from conducting business.

The Senate requires two-thirds, or 21 senators, to be present to conduct business, meaning the absence of 11 senators could break a quorum. There are 12 Democrats in the Senate.

The senator said the action was precipitated by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s decision to bypass a traditional Senate rule that requires a two-thirds vote to debate any bill.

That rule, which has been in effect during the current special session, has so far blocked redistricting in the Senate.

The senator said the Democrats fled because they feared Perry would immediately call a second special session and Dewhurst would lock down the Senate chambers and prevent members from leaving.

The first session was to end by midnight Tuesday, but the Senate adjourned at 2:30 p.m. and the House was expected to adjourn minutes later.

Dewhurst earlier had told reporters Perry was expected to call a second special session minutes after both houses adjourned.

Of the 12 Democratic senators, the only one to show up for a 2 p.m. session today was Ken Armbrister of Victoria.

According to the Quorum Report, the House Democrats have also vamoosed. This is going to get out of hand in short order.

What happens next? According to the Quorum Report, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst will “put out a call on missing Democrats”, which I’m guessing means an announcement that if they come back now, he’ll pretend nothing happened, and if they don’t, he’ll take whatever steps are at his disposal to bring them back. He only needs one, after all. Judge Charles Campbell is expected to rule shortly whether or not Dewhurst can use DPS to find them.

If Campbell rules that DPS is off limits, I can’t really see what Dewhurst can reasonably do. I doubt he’ll send out bounty hunters, though at this point I’m leery to make any unqualified remark. If DPS is in play, then I’d expect this to be over quickly, though the apparent re-disappearance of the House Dems greatly complicates things.

If at some point both houses have a quorum, then a bill still has to be passed in each chamber. The House bill from the first session was rejected by the Senate, and the Senate bills did not create separate districts for Midland and Lubbock, a point of contention for House Speaker Tom Craddick, who wants two different districts, and almost everyone in Lubbock and Abilene, who likes things as they are.

Man. And I thought May was a crazy month.

UPDATE: Byron reports at Polstate that the Dems are off to New Mexico, another state with a Democratic Governor and Attorney General. Fasten your seat belts…

UPDATE: According to the Quorum Report, the House Dems did not walk out, they just were scattered at 2 PM. It’s just the Senators that have gone missing.

UPDATE: According to Byron, the renegade Dems are in contact with the Republicans in Austin and will come back if there is a blocker bill. That would be a major victory for the Dems, though I expect they’d have to agree to rescind their “unalterable opposition” letter in order for this to be worth the GOP’s consideration.

UPDATE: Here’s a partial statement from the “Texas 11” as posted on the Quorum Report:

“Today, we 11 Democratic senators have availed ourselves of the tool granted to us under the Texas constitution to break the quorum of the Texas Senate.

“This is not about Democrats or Republicans; this is about democracy. It’s about civil rights.

“This is not an action we take lightly. There are not many issues that would rise to the level of importance as this one, but we do not take giving minority Texans a voice lightly, either.

“When the congressional districts of those Democrats targeted by Republicans are eliminated, over 1.4 million minority Texans will have no advocates because their homes will be drawn into districts in which they will have no voice in choosing their member of Congress.

“In these targeted districts, minority Texans know that the Democrats who represent them, elected with a coalition of minorities and Republicans, are the last advocates in Congress they will ever have if the Republican leadership has its way.

Confirming what Byron noted earlier, they say they’ll be on the “first flight bacK” if the 2/3 rule is restored.

Darned Good Questions Dept.

Stephen Bates, in the comments to this post, asks a couple of darned good questions about electronic voting machines:

[W]hat compelling argument can any corporation offer that its vote-counting software should be proprietary? What gives any nonpublic entity the right to count the votes without a close inspection of the means by which they do so, by any interested parties?

Anyone want to take a crack at them? Personally, I think he’s dead-on right.

Blogging: Not just for Dallas any more

You know that the Dallas Morning News has a Corner-style political blog written by its editorial board, but did you know that the Austin American-Statesman has an arts and entertainment blog written by its arts and entertainment staff? It made its debut on July 15. The good news: Actual archives (sort of) and a bio of each blog writer. The bad news: No permalinks on each entry, archives only for the days of that week and all of the previous week, no blogroll. The depends-on-your-perspective news: Each entry is a self-contained unit with its own subject, so no confusing references to previous entries that may have scrolled off the page and no “conversation”. I do predict that eventually they’ll figure out to add permalinks, if for no better reason so that they can refer to an earlier post.

That’s two major Texas dailies with blogs. What’s everyone else waiting for?

If you love something, set it free

On Saturday, I discovered Tiffany sitting at the computer, logged into a webpage called BookCrossing, which is some kind of crunchy-granola peer-to-peer book swapping network. (My first question to her: Does the RIAA know about this?) She was busily entering the ISBN’s of her soon-to-be-liberated paperbacks, applying BookCrossing stickers to them (they had arrived in the mail on Friday), and plotting where she’d set them free. We dropped off a couple at Rudyard’s later that night, she’s got jury duty today and will be depositing a couple others there, and so on. All of this was entered into the BookCrossing database – title, category, “release notes”, where released, etc. I’ve been greatly amused by the whole thing.

You never know what this sort of thing can bring, though. Tiffany has a fondness for trashy paperback romance novels (best recent title: Nerd in Shining Armor). BookCrossing allows you to search for books by category, and on Sunday she had received an email from a woman in Tehran who was very interested in getting her hands on any of these books. Apparently, trashy American romance novels are a rarity there (go figure), so having noticed Tiffany’s recent entries, this woman wanted to know if she’d reconsider her release strategy. As such, Tiffany has decided to mail some books to this woman instead. (My second question to her: Are you sure this won’t land us on some Ashcroftian blacklist?)

Anyway, if you’re overburdened with paperbacks and find this sort of thing appealing, read about BookCrossing and see if it’s for you. You never know where your books may wind up.


One of the effects of adding Sitemeter code to my archive pages was to move up by about a month the date on which my 100,000th Sitemeter hit would arrive. Counting the roughly 18,500 hits I got on my old Blogspot blog, that hit came this morning at 7:52 on a referral from Calpundit. That seems fitting, as it was a couple of links from Kevin that helped spike my traffic even more this month. With two different counters, two different blog locations, and a long stretch of not seeing search engine requests in my Sitemeter stats, this is of course a totally arbitrary event. But then so is most of blogging, so what the heck.

Thanks as always to everyone for reading and for coming back for more. Now on to seven digits! Just don’t ask me to estimate a date for it.