Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

June 5th, 2008:

Blogger caucus tonight!

You know the drill by now, right?

The Texas Progressive Alliance
Proudly Presents
The Third Biennial Blogger’s Caucus
Thursday, June 5, 2008
8:30 p.m. – Midnight

The Cedar Door
2nd and Brazos
Austin, Texas

If you’ve ever wanted to know what my capacity for beer drinking is, well, you should have known me in college when I was much better at it. But if you want to know what the older me looks like when quaffing a few, this is your best chance. See you there!

Hillary Clinton to suspend her Presidential campaign

I think everyone knew this was coming, but it was still a bit of a surprise to actually hear.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to end her historic bid to become the first female president while leaving her options open to retain her delegates and promote her issues, including a signature call for universal health care.

Hours after Sen. Barack Obama sealed the nomination, Democrats coalesced around his candidacy, sending a strong signal to Clinton that it was time to bow out.

The former first lady told House Democrats during a private conference call Wednesday that she will express support for Obama’s candidacy and congratulate him for gathering the necessary delegates to be the party’s nominee.

“Senator Clinton will be hosting an event in Washington, D.C., to thank her supporters and express her support for Senator Obama and party unity. This event will be held on Saturday to accommodate more of Senator Clinton’s supporters who want to attend,” her communications director Howard Wolfson said.

Also in the speech, Clinton will urge once-warring Democrats to focus on the general election and defeating Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain.

I voted for Barack Obama in March, and have considered myself a supporter of his since February, but I thought long and hard about supporting Hillary Clinton. She was very strong on many issues, she clearly inspired millions of people, she fought valiantly, often against a frequently disgusting wave of sexism and misogyny, and whatever I may have thought about some aspects of her campaign or some of its less-admirable advisers, I never doubted that Hillary Clinton would have made an outstanding President, one that I would have been proud to vote for in November. She made history, and the fact that she has fallen short of her goal does not diminish what she has accomplished in doing so. She deserves our thanks, and so I say “Thank you, Hillary Clinton, for your service, your ideas, and your dedication.” May there be many more like Hillary Clinton in the future.

Interview with Tom Gray of the AWEA

To cap off Wind Energy Week here, I’ve got an interview with Tom Gray, the Communications Director for the American Wind Energy Association for your listening pleasure. We covered a wide range of topics such as the need for transmission lines, the question of public input on wind projects, the effect of wind farms on birds, and the future of renewable energy in general. The interview is here, as always in MP3 format. Give it a spin and let me know what you think.

(Note to David S. – I did not as the question about HB1200, because Tom Gray was not in a position to answer it, as he is a national guy and not a Texas guy.)

Finally, here’s the Day 4 newsletter from the WindPower 2008 conference, which has wrapped up its business for this year. If you prefer more visual stuff, try their Flickr or YouTube pages. They’ll be in Minneapolis next year, for anyone reading this who may be living out that way.

No Galveston jail for Harris County

The Galveston option for housing excess inmates is off the table.

Harris County officials effectively have ruled out the idea of leasing a vacant jail in Galveston to reduce the number of inmates sent to Louisiana, saying it would be too hard to staff the facility and bring it up to current jail standards.

Instead, the Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved one-year contracts with three Louisiana parishes to house up to 1,000 inmates at a cost of up to $15 million. The county already pays a private facility in northeast Louisiana to hold up to 730 prisoners.

County Judge Ed Emmett floated the idea of leasing the Galveston jail last month when the Sheriff’s Office first asked for permission to send more inmates out of state. He said he worried about how hard it was for families and attorneys to visit prisoners hundreds of miles away from Harris County.

On Tuesday, however, Emmett said the idea was well-nigh dead.

“We were hopeful that, maybe, the Commission on Jail Standards would say it was a wonderful place, but I have a feeling that that’s not really the case,” he said after the Commissioners Court meeting.

No surprise there. I figured the need to provide jailers would be a stumbling block.

County leaders will discuss options for permanently easing jail overcrowding at a meeting on capital improvement projects later this month and at its mid-year budget review in September, Budget Officer Dick Raycraft said.

There’s been plenty of discussion about this already, so there’s no excuse for Commissioners Court to not be cognizant of their options. (If they need a refresher anyway, Grits is happy to provide one.) It’s just a matter of how committed they will be to actually solving this problem. Will they take the tried-and-true “form a committee and study it in hopes everyone eventually forgets about it” approach, or will they take real action? I make the former a slight favorite, but I’ll be happy to be wrong about that.

Fill Rick’s boots

While we’re enjoying the Democratic convention in Austin this weekend, Rick Noriega is doing his annual two week duty with the National Guard. While he’s busy with that, he could use a little help. From an email sent out from the campaign by his wife, Houston City Council Member Melissa Noriega:

This week and the next, my husband Rick Noriega will take leave of his campaign to perform mandatory National Guard Annual Training (AT).

During this time, I will be joined by several prominent Texans in the effort to “Fill Rick’s Boots” on the campaign trail.

Each of us has agreed to give several hours of our time to raise funds for Rick’s campaign while he is away. I’m honored to fill in for my husband. And I am hoping you will join me and help us “Fill Rick’s Boots.”

We’ve set an ambitious $50,000 online fundraising goal for the 2 weeks that he’s gone, and there are 2 ways you can help right now:

1) Make a donation — every dollar counts in a race as competitive and in a state as big as ours. Rick may not be able to make phone calls or hold campaign events, but we can fill in for him while he’s on duty so that he has the resources he needs to take on John Cornyn. Click here to contribute towards our $50,000 fundraising goal today!

2) Take just a few minutes to sign up as a Fill Rick’s Boots Fundraiser and put up your own online fundraising page for our campaign. Then invite your friends and family to donate on your page. You’ll be able to track your fundraising progress online. Not only will you be helping raise the funds we need to take on John Cornyn this fall, but you’ll also play a key role in spreading the word about Rick Noriega. Creating your own page is easy — just click here to get started!

Please help if you can. Thanks very much.

The impending bike shortage

Is this a sign of things to come?

High gas prices are causing spot shortages of bikes in New York City, as commuters turn to pedal power.

Many of these new cyclists are from areas not commonly associated with the “Bike Belt” — neighborhoods such as the Upper West Side and Williamsburg in Brooklyn — but are instead from Queens and other places where driving to work has long been common and affordable. With gas costing nearly $4 a gallon, these commuters are switching to bikes, leaving some stores short on fashionable brands and preferred colors.

The owner of Dixon’s Bicycle Shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn, David Dixon, said that over Memorial Day weekend, his store sold all 25 of its Jamis hybrid bikes — a cross between a racing bike and a mountain bike that sells for between $285 and $335 and is favored among commuters. Early this week, Mr. Dixon called Jamis to order about 50 more bikes and was told that a shipment wouldn’t arrive until the end of the week. “They’re all gone. It’s wicked,” Mr. Dixon said. “This isn’t usual at all. The price of gas is affecting everyone.”

“We ended up selling very heavily,” the owner of Bicycle Habitat in SoHo, Charles McCorkell, said. “I thought there would be a shortage.”

Peter Wang, please pick up the white courtesy phone…

OK, I don’t actually think that Houstonians are going to make a run on the local bike shops. But if gas prices are leading to an increase in transit usage, it’s not crazy to think that more people will consider even cheaper alternatives. Link via Yglesias.