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May 21st, 2007:

Byron Cook tells Craddick to resign

We may not get that motion to vacate today, but this is pretty stunning.

COOK: “I’m a Republican who has supported Speaker Craddick three times, but I cannot and will not support him again…I’ve been threatened…and I’ve been told as recently as Saturday and am told they are recruiting an opponent to run against me…so be it.”

“I will not yield to tyranny, bullying, or threats. This body will not realize its potential as long as [this] is to be tolerated.”

“The budget is being stopped…and exploited for political gain.”

[…]

“I regretfully tell you that your actions may force this House to take an historic action…I beg of you to step down.”

“Please don’t put this body through 18 months of Hell.”

“Release us and submit to the will of the House.”

“This is a battle worth fighting. For me, it may mean my political career, but it’s worth it.”

Wow.

Lawsuit against Roy Morales

Miya Shay reports:

Roy Morales, who is in the run-off race for City Council at large seat against Melissa Noriega, is being sued by a fellow Republican. And not just any Republican, he’s being sued by the Bush/Cheney sign guy! Michael Franks, who is a big time R party printer for a gaggle of politicos, printed $1,700 worth of signs for Roy’s LAST council campaign. A loss and a new election cycle later, Morales still hasn’t paid him! At least according to court documents. There’s a second suit filed as well, for alledged broken promise of giving Franks additional business.

Both suits are in small claims court – Miya has links to the case information for each. Both were filed last week – I’d heard rumors that there was legal action impending against Morales, so this is not a big surprise to me. Make of it what you will.

Oh, and one more thing:

You didn’t think I’d let the opportunity pass, did you? Early voting begins June 4 (that’s the Monday after Memorial Day) for the June 16 runoff. Your vote will likely count for 50 people this time around, so get ready.

And then there were three

Rep. Jim Pitts, who ran against Tom Craddick for Speaker in January, is once again a candidate.

Pitts, R-Waxahachie, said he filed for speaker “in case a motion to vacate would be successful.”

Pitts said he doesn’t plan to make the motion himself to vacate the speaker’s chair, and he doesn’t know if such a motion will be made tonight, as some speculate.

And Pitts starts his campaign off by complaining about Craddick’s tactics and the effect they’ve had on House business.

He claimed that Craddick, R-Midland, has been meeting with members one-on-one and offering them favorable treatment in the budget if they stick with his leadership.

“The budget is not finished because of the deals that are being made,” Pitts charged. “We’re going to pass the budget the last day with a lot of questions.”

Craddick could not be reached immediately for comment, but his press secretary denied the charge. “That is not happening,” said press secretary Alexis DeLee.

Pitts said lawmakers had informally agreed to set aside $3 billion to pay for school property tax cuts in the next biennium, 2009-2010, and is worried that much of it will be given away in connection with the speaker’s race.

You know, I almost can’t say that’s a bad thing. Almost.

Gardner Selby and Vince hear that a motion to vacate may be made tonight, but Harvey Kronberg is hearing later in the week, like Thursday. Karen Brooks says that Speaker Craddick has been keeping the House on a relaxed schedule in part to stave off that motion to vacate, while also working the room to firm up his position; Clay Robison notes the same thing. Burka thinks the insurgency is losing steam.

What next? Who knows? Whatever I type now will be obsolete by tomorrow anyway, the way things are going. At least now I know that I’m not the only one to have the Go-Gos in mind when blogging about this. So I’ve got that going for me.

The effect of SB785

SB785 is one of the save-my-job anti-abortion bills that the House will be debating today. It will require that statistics about judicial bypasses granted for underage women seeking abortions without parental notification be published on a county-by-county basis instead of statewide. This will have the practical effect of ensuring that the exact number of bypasses granted by some judges is public knowledge, since as this spreadsheet shows, many counties in Texas have only one or two district judges in them. This in turn would presumably subject these judges to political backlashes – or worse – unlike their big county brethren. I personally prefer that judges make their decisions based on the law and not external considerations such as these, but this will spell the end of that. But hey, maybe it’ll help Tom Craddick hang on as Speaker. And that’s what really counts, right?

Sen. Gallegos back in Austin

I’m in awe. After hearing the news that Sen. Mario Gallegos had to return to Houston last week due to his health, I thought for sure we’d see that stupid voter ID bill again. I’m absolutely flabbergasted at the level of commitment he’s shown in fighting it.

Ailing state Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, has a hospital bed set up in the sergeant’s office — about a 100 feet from Gallegos’ Senate chamber desk, Monday so that he could help block a contentious voter ID bill from debate.

“I’m hurting. I’m hurting,” Gallegos said a few minutes ago as the Senate went into session.

[…]

In the meantime, Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, is monitoring Gallegos’ health. Deuell is a physician.

Just amazing. And he’s committed to seeing it through to the end.

Mr. Gallegos plans to remain until at least noon on Wedesday, 12 hours before the deadline for all bills to be passed out of the Senate. “They should be able to filibuster it for 12 hours,” he said, referring to other Democratic opponents of the measure.

As Eye on Williamson says, David Dewhurst could put an end to this today and let Sen. Gallegos get back to Houston, where he can properly take care of himself. What really matters to you, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst?

In case you need a reminder, “voter fraud” is a scam, and “solutions” for it like HB218 have the real world effect of preventing eligible citizens from voting. Which, sadly, is the desired outcome for its proponents.

Finally, if you haven’t voted in the True Courage Awards yet, consider this a ringing endorsement for Sen. Gallegos in the Texas State Senate category.

Vacating, all I ever wanted

Burka says that a coup against House Speaker Tom Craddick “seems inevitable now”, and he ponders how it might play out.

Let’s assume that the process of vacating the chair has been set in motion by a resolution. Then what?

Rule 5, Section 36 says, “Questions of privilege shall have precedence over all other questions, except motions to adjourn.” Therefore, the only way to slow down the proceedings is for a pro-Craddick member to move to adjourn. This would have to be voted on by the House, and it would become to this speaker’s race what the Geren amendment was in January: a proxy vote.

[…]

Let’s assume that the motion to adjourn fails. (If it succeeds, Craddick has proven that he has the votes to defeat the insurgency.) The vote will smoke out the insurgents and both sides will know where every member stands. The Craddick forces will try to find a way to stall a vote on the resolution so they can turn around some votes. If that fails, I can think of only one play left: to break the quorum. Pro-Craddick members might start drifting off the floor. The irony of this development is apparent: Craddick would be employing the same strategy that the “Chicken D’s” (Craddick’s phrase) used against him during the redistricting battle of 2003.

You’re wondering if I have something in my archives about that, right? Of course I do, though interestingly it has to do with an attempt by the Dems to make a motion to adjourn sine die at an opportune moment during one of the special sessions on redistrcting, not with the Ardmore Exodus. I strongly suggest turning your personal Irony-o-Meters off for the next couple of days, lest they overload.

If the session shuts down without the House adopting a budget, there would have to be a special session, and Craddick would be back in the saddle as speaker.

The very last thing I want is a special session, because it would provide an opportunity for all kinds of mischief and malfeasance. Much as I want to see Craddick taken out, I fervently hope that those who think they might try are committed to seeing it through, which among other things making sure they have enough rebels to parry any parliamentary hijinx. I don’t know what’s coming next, but I feel a bit like I do in anticipation of the Lost season finale – everything is going to change, we just don’t know how yet. Stay tuned.

Ten years of camera phones

I have four things to say about this story about the ten-year anniversary of the invention of the camera phone:

“It’s had a massive impact because it’s just so convenient,” said Philippe Kahn, a tech industry maverick whose other pioneering efforts include the founding of software maker Borland, an early Microsoft Corp. antagonist.

“There’s always a way to capture memories and share it,” he said. “You go to a restaurant, and there’s a birthday and suddenly everyone is getting their camera phones out. It’s amazing.”

If Kahn feels a bit like a proud father when he sees people holding up their cell phones to snap pictures, there’s good reason: He jury-rigged the first camera phone while his wife was in labor with their daughter.

“We were going to have a baby and I wanted to share the pictures with family and friends,” Kahn said, “and there was no easy way to do it.”

So as he sat in a maternity ward, he wrote a crude program on his laptop and sent an assistant to a RadioShack store to get a soldering iron, capacitors and other supplies to wire his digital camera to his cell phone. When Sophie was born, he sent her photo over a cellular connection to acquaintances around the globe.

A decade later, 41 percent of American households own a camera phone “and you can hardly find a phone without a camera anymore,” said Michael Cai, an industry analyst at Parks Associates.

1. Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I worked for a company whose product worked with both Borland and Microsoft C (this was even before C++ was widely available for PCs). My first real exposure to computing religious wars was Borland versus Microsoft. And even back then, most people took the anti-Microsoft position. Not that it would help the value of your Borland stock today, of course.

2. I am in awe of someone who could jerryrig such a thing while in the maternity ward. I can only imagine what his wife thought of it.

3. I think I bought one of the last non-camera phones ever made.

Market researcher Gartner Inc. predicts that about 589 million cell phones will be sold with cameras in 2007, increasing to more than 1 billion worldwide by 2010.

Mix in the Internet’s vast reach and the growth of the YouTube generation, and the ubiquitous gadget’s influence only deepens and gets more complicated. So much so that the watchful eyes on all of us may no longer just be those of Big Brother.

“For the past decade, we’ve been under surveillance under these big black and white cameras on buildings and at 7-Eleven stores. But the candid camera is wielded by individuals now,” said Fred Turner, an assistant professor of communications at Stanford University who specializes in digital media and culture.

4. When I was a kid, there was an invisible-to-me army of people who knew my parents or grandparents and could recognize my face. Never knowing for sure at any given time that I was not being watched helped keep my behavior more or less in line. As such, I’m as prepared for the world of ubiquitous cell phone cameras as anyone can be.

Selling out

Point.

Well, as I watch Elvis Costello hawk Lexuses (Lexi?) on TV, I wave goodbye to one of the last holdouts from the pre-80’s era. It’s now assumed that if you were a rock star with any integrity from this era, you now have no problem using your song about “social revolution” to sell jeans, trucks and Carnival cruises. The Who, Dylan, The Clash, Iggy Pop, Mellencamp, Sting…the list is long and depressing. The only holdouts remain Neil Young and Bruuuce, who turned down $12 million to use Born in the USA for Chevy.

Counterpoint.

In this kind of environment, the idea that a musician who works at all with a major label or sells a CD through a store like Tower or had concerts with middleman ticket sellers who charge exorbiant fees could somehow remain pure from “selling out” by refusing money to have her music in commercials became utterly silly. Shilling for Coca-Cola is a minor sin compared to any of these other practices, where you’re working with the industry to bilk fans of their hard-earned cash directly. In addition, a lot of indie rock types have been openly sympathetic to the fan complaints about pricing, and have sought alternate avenues to distribute their music that are a lot more affordable. In that situation, selling a song to Target for their commercials is seen not as selling out to the man, but a way to earn money through your music so you don’t have to sell out to the real villains in the music industry. Hearing the Go! Team on a Honda commercial doesn’t affect me in the way that paying $20 for a CD would, and furthermore, I know that the money they earned from the commercial gives the band leverage against their record company in terms of deciding how to tour and distribute their music, which results in cheaper ticket prices for me, if nothing else.

Put me in Amanda’s camp, with a lean towards Atrios. What do you think?

You got yours, now we get ours

John Lopez lays out an argument that I’m sure we’ll hear more of regarding a possible downtown stadium for the Houston Dynamo.

The unwritten message in the letter of agreement with the city:

The predominantly white fan base that follows the Astros got theirs. The largely white and black fan base of the Rockets got theirs, too.

What about Dynamo fans? What about the fan base that has been estimated at roughly 45 percent Hispanic, 45 percent white and 10 percent Asian?

Interesting that he skipped over the Texans, who were the first to “get theirs”. I’m not even sure what to make of that, other than perhaps it didn’t fit into his narrative.

The appearance of this argument doesn’t surprise me. It was certainly used by the Astros and the Rockets, in various forms. Putting the racial aspect aside, I’m not sure how well it would work for a team that’s been here for all of a year, and which draws a smaller crowd to its games. On the other hand, they wouldn’t be asking for as much, so maybe that mitigates it to an extent. Certainly, the more AEG puts up in the deal, the better that will look.

I want to see what the parameters of a deal with the city are. I don’t want to spend public money on this project, but maybe there’s a way of doing this that could persuade me to change my mind. I don’t think so, but I won’t know for sure till I see what’s being offered.

As the session winds down

The Chron talks about how the 80th Lege has been in many ways an aimless session, one that (like the 79th) will not provide much for Republican incumbents to campaign on. While I generally agree with the piece, there are a couple of points to make:

Freshman Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said [Lt. Gov. David] Dewhurst has been harmed this session by the appearance of being a 2010 candidate for governor.

“That has impacted our process and colored his decisions on a number of occasions. I can’t imagine what 2009 is going to be like,” Patrick said.

While that is certainly true, it’s also true that the 2010 GOP primary candidate that Dewhurst has (supposedly, at least) been preparing for is none other than Sen. Dan Patrick himself. As such, letting him have his say here without at least acknowledging that is rather like having James Carville pontificate on the state of the Democratic Presidential primary without disclosing who he supports.

I should note that while the common wisdom is that Patrick wants to run for Governor in 2010, Paul Burka thinks he’s positioning himself to run for Dewhurst’s spot instead. There’s a lot of sense in that, though I think Danno is the type who’d rather be in the top spot. Still, worth keeping in mind. Democrats better be prepared for that possibility.

Craddick fended off a re-election challenge in January. In an effort to calm ill will toward him, he became a nicer Tom Craddick. This emboldened his opponents and freed some of his allies. The result was that bills carried by his top lieutenants died on the House floor or had major amendments put on them.

I dunno about the “nicer” Craddick. Maybe he’s twisted fewer arms in support of bad bills, but he’s still completely marginalized his opponents, both in terms of committee assignments and bills on the calendar, he’s been as capricious and arbitrary with point of order rulings as ever, and I at least can’t think of a single example of Craddick doing something “nice” that he didn’t have to do. Maybe the relative lack of arm-twisting makes it look like he’s nicer, but I say the weight of evidence is against him.

Two more days to pass legislation in the House (where we still have this to deal with), three more in the Senate (I’d originally said two, but it’s three). Hold on to your hats.