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January 17th, 2005:

Reflections from Tulia

The Rev. Alan Bean files his last dispatch from the Lubbock County courtroom in which Tom Coleman was convicted of perjury. I’ll say it again – if this man started a blog, I’d not only read it every day, I’d badger other people to read it until I drove them crazy. Read and enjoy. Grits also provides a one-stop archive of all things Coleman trial-related. May this sordid chapter in our history be buried, but never forgotten.

Spector in State House race?

Via Byron, former State Supreme Court Justice Rose Spector is mulling a run at the newly open HD121 seat.

Spector, one of the last Democrats to hold statewide office in Texas, is the second potential Democratic contestant for the special race in a district that is stacked with Republican voters. Melissa Kazen, the wife of a county court-at-law judge, is also weighing a possible bid in the special election for HD 121.

[…]

Democratic strategists do not want more than one candidate in the special state House campaign. The Democrats’ hopes will hinge on getting a candidate into a runoff and then trying to beat the top Republican vote-getter in a one-on-one match. That won’t be easy – considering that almost 70 percent of the voters in HD 121 backed the GOP’s statewide ticket in 2002. The district contains the old-money enclaves of Alamo Heights, Terrell Hills and Olmos Park – all Republican bastions – along with suburbs that have more GOP voters than Democrats in the northeast part of Bexar County.

But Democrats see Spector as a potential dream candidate for that particular district. She was a highly-respected Texas Supreme Court member for six years until falling victim to the Republican statewide avalanche in 1998. She was a state district judge for a dozen years before winning a seat on the state’s highest court and a Bexar County court-at-law judge for five years before that. Spector, whose children attended Alamo Heights schools, fared better than all other Democratic statewide candidates except John Sharp and Paul Hobby when she lost to Republican Supreme Court Justice Harriet O’Neill in the general election six years ago.

Spector got 46.47% overall in 1998 (remember, Governor George Bush won reelection that year with 68%) and more importantly carried Bexar County with 56.89% of the vote. She had to have done pretty well in this part of town to collect that kind of number, so the question is whether or not she’d maintain that level of support and if she can get enough people to the polls for that day-before-the-Super-Bowl election. Picking up a seat like this would be a steal and a major feather in the cap for those involved. Stay tuned, I expect there will be more soon.

“Desperate Housewives” felony count

I’m a fan of Desperate Housewives. I enjoy the show, I’m glad they won some awards last night, and I like seeing feature articles on various cast members.

But man, is it just me, or could we see a nationwide drop in crime if the feds simply swooped into Wisteria Lane and busted everyone in sight? Let’s go to the video tape here. I’ll put the rest of this entry beneath the More link for those who may still be catching up on the show.

(more…)

One year of light rail

So we’ve had one year of light rail, and there’s some development along the line but not as much as maybe there could have been. And rail ridership is great on a per-mile basis though it’s still a small number in absolute terms, and rail critics aren’t satisfied because, well, they were never going to be in the first place. I think that about sums up those two articles.

Personally, I’ve been happy with the light rail line when I’ve taken it. I just wish there were more opportunities for me to take it. I do a lot of my driving inside the Loop. I know that the Powers That Be spend a lot of time thinking about how to build more roads so as to move more people into and out of the inner city each day, but I have to tell you, as someone who’s here all the time, moving around once you’re off the freeways and on the main drags is a growing pain. Have you driven Kirby or Shepherd anywhere north of Holcombe lately? How about Bissonet, Richmond, or Westheimer? I can’t quantify it (though I’m sure someone can), but it wasn’t nearly this bad ten or even five years ago, before the inner-Loop renassaince took off. What are we doing about this?

What we need to do is give us city dwellers some options for navigating our daily tasks that don’t require driving everywhere. I’ve already harped on a Rice Village shuttle, which would expand the area served by the existing light rail line. The point to remember here is that unlike the outlying freeways, you can’t just pour more concrete to widen main roads like Kirby and Richmond, at least not without buying up and condemning a whole lot of pricey residential and commercial property. The only realistic option is to reduce the number of cars back to a level the route can bear. Unfortunately, the same space constraint means you can’t easily lay down rail tracks along those roads, either (though adding a line along the Southwest Freeway from downtown into the Galleria, which has been part of the Metro design and should be feasible, would go a long way towards alleviating the east-west thoroughfares). So what’s the plan? It ain’t the RTP 2025, that’s for sure. What will there be for people like me?

“Unforgivable Blackness”

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, the story of Jack Johnson, the first black man to win the heavyweight boxing title, and the man who has made it his crusade to get Johnson’s hometown of Galveston to honor him. A Ken Burns documentary runs tonight on PBS at 8 PM CST.

By the way, you can hear an MP3 of MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech here. The words on paper are plenty powerful, but hearing the man himself say them is something you just have to experience. Via Julia.