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June 14th, 2009:

Chron opines on Ed Johnson

The Chron follows up its story on Ed Johnson, the local GOP’s ace in the hole in the Tax Assessor’s office, with an editorial that recaps the story and gently chides Tax Assessor Leo Vasquez.

Given the recent history of his office, perhaps it’s not surprising that Vasquez would see nothing amiss in having a staffer responsible for voter registration involved in partisan campaign work on the side.

When the tax assessor stands for re-election next year, voters will have the opportunity to express their own views of such activities. In the meantime, Vasquez should order Johnson to choose between his public and private gigs and eliminate the appearance of a conflict of interest.

I think the Tax Assessor’s office deserves no benefit of the doubt, and as such Johnson should be let go, but making him choose between one job and the other would be minimally acceptable. For sure, the current setup cannot continue. It’s up to you, Leo – do you want to run a clean office or not?

Weekend link dump for June 14

You’re a grand old flag, you’re a high-flying flag, and forever in peace may you wave…

ATM malware. Just what we need.

Get yer photography license over here.

Congratulations to Melissa Zamora of Bloggin’ All Things Brownsville for her election to the Brownsville City Commission (via).

Senator Seventeen-Year-Old.

Wait, Mary Jo Rapini from “Big Medicine” has a blog now?

Hey, if Sarah Palin says we’re headin’ towards socialism, then by golly it must be true.

Of course, given how malleable the definition of “socialism” is these days, perhaps I shouldn’t scoff.

The Republican Party of Texas doesn’t understand the state’s budget.

Nader loses again. Now please go away, Ralph.

Congrats to The Bloggess for becoming a “Nimitz Tailhooker”. It’s way better than it sounds.

OK, I admit to now feeling some sympathy for Nick the Brick.

Ike and Ikea.

I don’t think even Salvador Dali could have imagined Michele Bachmann.

Apparently, Miss California-ing is hard work.

Mandatory censorware fail.

I confess, as someone who has been an umpire, this sounds appealing. I bet other umps have thought about it, too.

Will Perry bow to Berman?

State Rep. Leo Berman, who’s been threatening to run for Governor so he can personally deport anyone who looks like an undocumented immigrant, is now offering a deal to Governor Perry where he’d drop out and endorse the Governor in return for everything he’s ever wanted.

Berman said he told Perry over lunch that he wanted the incumbent governor to agree to support four issues Berman felt passionately about.

“He’s going to let me know and if he can agree with the four issues and he can actually accept them as his own, then I’ll step out of the race and endorse him for reelection as governor,” Berman said.

Berman, a former Arlington city council member, said he asked Perry to:

–agree to have Texas join a consortium of states that challenge any federal legislation that violates a states’ 10th amendment rights.

–sign on, as governor, to a federal lawsuit Berman said he expects the state of Montana to file challenging the federal government’s regulation of intrastate commerce, such as guns that are manufactured in a state and only sold to residents of that state.

–order all state agencies to remove illegal residents from any state benefit programs

–arrange for the department of homeland security to train some state law enforcement workers so that they are legally able to enforce immigration law.

Berman said he might accept Perry declining to support one of the four requests if Perry convinces him that one of the requests is unconstitutional.

“He’s got the money and I don’t have the money,” Berman said. “I’ve got a lot of grassroots support but he’s got pretty good name recognition.”

“Nice little campaign you’ve got there, Governor. Be a shame if something were to happen to it.” I can’t wait to hear what Perry tells him. Harold Cook has more.

How about that CCA’s reputation for fairness?

This is just precious.

The longest serving Judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Lawrence “Larry” Meyers, has announced he is seeking re-election in 2010. The Court has been called a national laughingstock by one of its other members because of the actions of Sharon Keller and that was years before Keller made it even more of a laughingstock by closing the court in 2007 and refusing to accept a legal appeal from a person about to be executed.


Despite the poor reputation of the Court of Criminal Appeals, Meyers said in his press release, “I am seeking re-election to the Court to continue to be an objective voice and ensure that we maintain our reputation for delivering fair and just opinions,” said Meyers in announcing his candidacy for re-election.

Yes, the CCA’s well-known reputation for fairness and justice, which is somewhat like Wall Street’s reputation for transparency and honest accounting. As Michael Landauer suggests, it is to laugh.

Link via Grits, who notes that Justices Michael Keasler and and Cheryl Johnson will also be on the ballot next year. Only Keasler had a Democratic opponent in 2004, and that was JR Molina, so it really doesn’t count. Last year, the Dems left on CCA judge unchallenged, ran Molina against another, and a good candidate in Susan Strawn against the third. Strawn lost by six points 51.64 to 45.53, in the best showing for a Democratic CCA candidate since then-incumbent Charlie Baird lost with 46.03% in 1998. The Dems have been slowly but steadily gaining ground in these statewide judicial races – Supreme Court candidate Sam Houston did even better last year, getting 45.88% and losing by five points – and it’s not unreasonable to think that some good quality CCA candidates next year could score an upset or two. They’ll have Sharon Keller as an issue whether or not the State Commission on Judicial Conduct boots her off the bench. Grits has suggested before that judicial races will be the spearhead of a Democratic renaissance in statewide elections, and while I don’t necessarily agree with that – I think any reasonably well-funded Dem will have a fighter’s chance in the Governor’s race if Rick Perry survives the primary – I certainly do think that these races are vital and must be taken seriously. The last time the Dems ran three non-Molina candidates for the CCA was 1996. That can’t happen again.

Falkenberg on HB770

Lisa Falkenberg hops on the HB770 train, both in her column and her blog, with video of Rep. Wayne Christian at work. I don’t really have anything to add to that, but I will note that there’s another reason to dislike this bill, beyond Christian’s self-dealing. An amendment by Sen. Mike Jackson, added before the conference committee, basically grants an exemption to paying property taxes for chambers of commerce. What that has to do with the original intent of the bill, never mind why that would be considered good public policy, is a question I can’t answer. But if I didn’t already think this bill should be vetoed, this would give me a considerable shove in that direction. And hey, if we must have a special session, Governor Perry can add “granting homestead exemptions to Hurricane Ike victims” to the call so a non-polluted version of HB770 can be passed. Seems like a no-brainer to me.