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June 27th, 2008:

TMA unendorses Cornyn

Interesting.

The political action committee of the Texas Medical Association, furious about a Thursday night vote on a Medicare-funding bill, is going to rescind its endorsement of Sen. John Cornyn’s reelection bid, association spokesman Brent Annear said.

Cornyn and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison voted to stall a bill that would have prevented a 10 percent cut in Medicare funding for physicians, prompting an unusually harsh reaction from the medical association, which has 43,000 members and is one of the most powerful trade groups in Texas politics.

The two Republican senators say they wanted a 30-day extension that would have prevented the cuts, which are scheduled to take effect July 1.

Background here. The TMA’s unendorsement of Cornyn does not equate to an endorsement of Rick Noriega, though of course you can’t have the latter without first getting the former. BOR has more.

UPDATE: Meant to include Noriega’s statement on Cornyn’s vote – it’s beneath the fold.

(more…)

Deputies for Garcia

This is a pretty remarkable letter to the editor in today’s Chron.

The type of sheriff we need

Regarding Tuesday’s Page One article “Sheriff aims to polish his star / Thomas takes the heat for mistakes but blames ‘politics’ for some criticism”: In response to Sgt. Richard Newby’s comment, he is either quite misinformed or totally out of touch with his membership. While it is true that the Harris County Deputies Organization has mailed letters to the membership requesting their choice in the upcoming sheriff’s election, Newby incorrectly stated that our deputies are siding slightly with Adrian Garcia. The truth is, the members of the union are picking Garcia 3 to 1 over Thomas.

There are many reasons the deputies want a change at the top. However, the main one is they have lost faith in Tommy Thomas to lead the third-largest sheriff’s department in the nation. They, along with a large number of the public, realize that Thomas cannot lead from the rear. We need a sheriff who will stand up for not only us but the public and lead from the front!

ED CHRISTENSEN
former president, Harris County Deputies Organization, Houston

Emphasis added. I confess, when I started reading this letter and got to the preceeding sentences, I thought it was going to say that the deputies were standing behind their Sheriff. Needless to say, this was a very pleasant surprise.

Meanwhile, Wayne Dolcefino has been poking through the Sheriff’s department’s emails, and finds a bunch of racist crap. And he makes a point that I am sure will come up again:

They are harmless jokes to some and racism to others. The sheriff’s department prohibits inappropriate emails. Something that even top commanders seem to ignore. Of course we wouldn’t have known that if the sheriff’s office had gotten away with destroying them.

[…]

And the sheriff remains silent.

“It is very much a concern in the community that he is silent on this,” said Houston councilmember MJ Khan.

Friday, top commanders, racist and anti-Muslim slurs may be just the beginning. And why the email trail will lead to major new investigations of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

I’m thinking the Sheriff won’t be coming out of his bunker for more press appearances any time soon.

“I got a leather from my Fred”

Ever wonder just what the heck Joe Cocker is singing when he covers the Beatles’ A Little Help From My Friends? Well, wonder no more:

Just as you always suspected, right? Me too. And a better anti-drug PSA you’re unlikely to find. Thanks to Julia and Avedon for the link.

TexBlog PAC event a big success

The TexBlog PAC fundraiser last night was a big success, drawing in a crowd of over 50 people and raising more than $7000 to help take back the Texas House. You can see photos from the event, taken by Patty Pinkley, here. A couple of highlights from the event: One was the speech by State Rep. Garnet Coleman, in which he thanked the TexBlog PAC for its efforts and pledged his own support to them. Paraphrasing from memory, Rep. Coleman spoke about how the Democratic caucus showed up in 2003 as the minority party for the first time ever, and there was a lot of pressure on them to go along and get along. He noted that since committee assignments are made by the Speaker and the members themselves via seniority privileges, unlike the US House where there’s a Majority Leader and Minority Leader and each side makes its own assignments, there isn’t any leverage for imposing party discipline. Getting support from visible sources like us bloggers, who were very much in line with an agenda of opposing the Perry/Craddick regime, made it easier for them to do so because it demonstrated that this is what Democratic voters wanted. He also noted that by supporting challengers, the TexBlog PAC made it easier for other groups like the HDCC to protect the gains the Democrats have made in narrowing the gap in the House from 88-62 to 79-71, especially since many of those gains – think State Reps. Juan Garcia and Dan Barrett for two prime examples – came in fairly strong Republican areas.

The other big highlight of the event was the announcement of our third endorsed candidate, Sherrie Matula, right here in Harris County’s HD129. We’ll have a more formal announcement of this on Monday, but since everyone there knows about it I figured I’d go ahead and share it now. Sherrie ran a great race in 2006 on a shoestring budget, and she’s been running hard for this November ever since. She’s got a large and active volunteer base, the Apple Corps, and her campaign has been gaining a lot of traction. HD129 is in a very strategic location, being completely within CD22, SD11, and SBOE district 7, as well as Harris County, so having a great candidate running a strong race there serves many good purposes. It was my pleasure to introduce Sherrie as the third TexBlog PAC candidate, and she received a very warm reception from the attendees.

With the success of this event, the PAC is in a position to announce more endorsees shortly. We’ve got an event coming up in San Antonio next month, and we’ll be doing some stuff at Netroots Nation, so look for more announcements soon. We can’t do what we do without the support of many people, and on behalf of the Board I want to give our profuse thanks to all of the sponsors of last night’s event, all of the attendees, and everyone who has given us support of any kind throughout our campaign. With your help, we’re going to elect a Democratic majority to the State House, and send Tom Craddick to the sidelines where he belongs. Thank you all very much.

Reminder: Houston Votes Zydeco event

Just a reminder about this:

See you there!

The z-word and the airports

Looks like Houston is going to get some form of zoning after all.

Zoning around Houston’s three airports came a step closer to reality on Wednesday, as City Council approved the creation of an Airport Commission to finalize the affected areas and impose building restrictions on them.

The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered the city to control development around its airports or risk losing future federal funding.

“These are provisional conditions for development, but compatible development,” said Councilman Mike Sullivan, whose District E includes Kingwood and Clear Lake. “In short, land use that makes sense near an airport.”

Airport officials have been careful not to use the word “zoning,” preferring the phrase “land use regulations.”

To-may-to, to-mah-to.

The Airport Commission will convene this summer and hold public hearings. But city planners already have sketched out preliminary boundaries for the three concentric “tiers” of land around each airport: George Bush Intercontinental, Hobby and Ellington Field.

The innermost Tier 1 would be closed to new construction of homes, hospitals, schools, movie theaters and other noise-sensitive uses. Warehouses and other commercial uses would be OK.

Existing homes in Tier 1 could be renovated or enlarged if owners install soundproofing, at their own expense.

[…]

Tier 2, somewhat farther from airport runways, would allow new construction of many different sorts, if it includes soundproofing.

Tier 3 would encompass a large swath of land — a total of 141 square miles around all three airports — but officials say they are planning no restrictions on that land now. They will inform property owners or potential buyers, however, that the Tier 3 land is subject to the city’s regulatory reach.

Well, okay. I’m not really sure what the purpose is, but whatever. I just hope someone is already planning to do some kind of study on the long-term effects of these “land use regulations”, to see how the affected areas compare to the rest of Houston. Maybe it won’t be as bad as it’s always been claimed to be, and maybe it will be. At least now we’ll have a way to try to settle that argument.

National Night Out, the local option

You have to admit, this makes a lot of sense.

For 24 long years, Houstonians swatted mosquitoes for law and order. They sweated for community solidarity. They turned out by the tens of thousands in the hottest part of the summer to join their fellow Americans in the crime-fighting National Night Out.

This year they’re putting it all on ice. Sort of.

City police officials have announced that this year Houston and all of Texas will observe National Night Out on Oct. 7 — two months after the rest of the nation.

“You’ve been out at night in August, and you know what that’s like,” said police spokesman Jesse Martinez. “And you’ve been out at night in October, and you know what that’s like, too.”

[…]

Matt Peskin, executive director of the National Association of Town Watch, the Night Out sponsor, said his group agreed to experimentally reschedule Texas events after it received complaints about the heat from law enforcement agencies in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“There are two trains of thought on this,” he said. “It could be great, or it could be a total flop.”

Well, yeah, those are your two main options. As I recall, NNO originated in the North, so it made sense for it to be a summer evening. I personally was never bothered by it being in August down here, but I’m a bit of a mutant when it comes to heat tolerance, so I can certainly understand the objection. Let’s hope it turns out to be great.