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July 3rd, 2009:

Friday random ten: In the good old summer time

OK, maybe “good” isn’t a word most people use to describe the summers around here, especially this one so far. But let’s not let that stop us from reviewing a fine selection of summer-themed songs:

1. Summertime Blues – The Who
2. Fourth of July, Asbury Park – Bruce Springsteen
3. Summer Song – Joe Satriani
4. Surf’s Up – The Beach Boys
5. A Summer Thing – Zoot Sims
6. Heat Wave – Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
7. Centerfield – John Fogerty
8. Fifth of July – Eddie from Ohio
9. Summer – War
10. You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) – Meat Loaf

I think I may need a cold drink now. What’s heating up your playlist this holiday weekend?

Texas Lege app for your iPhone

Have an iPhone? Want to have facts and contact information about your Texas Legislature at your fingertips? Then take a look at MyTexasLege, now available for download. From their press release:

mytexaslegeplus1Created by a former Texas House staffer, My Texas Lege provides all the important information needed to contact your member of the Legislature including staff contacts.

“Contacting your elected officials and their staff should never be a difficult endeavor. We have created two versions, a paid version (Plus) and a free version (Lite), so that everyone with an iPhone can find their elected officials in seconds,” stated Mynor Rodriguez, designer and developer of My Texas Lege.

Utilizing the new powerful iPhone OS 3.0, My Texas Lege Plus allows you to direct dial the members’ offices, use Google ™ Maps to find district offices, and email the member and their staff from your phone. It will be regularly updated to reflect office staff changes.

Starting in Fall 2009, My Texas Lege Plus will include 2010 Texas Campaigns Expansion Pack providing information all the state races.

“Over the past year, we have seen the dramatic changes innovative use of technology can bring to government. My Texas Lege is one more tool that can make government work for you.”

mytexaslegeplus2Mynor is a blogging colleague of mine – he used to have a blog called The Red State, which is no longer active, and he’s still a member in good standing of the Texas Progressive Alliance. There are a couple of other ways you can get Lege info on your iPhone. One is via the Texas Legislature Online, the official state site, which has a page that’s optimized for PDAs. The MyTexasLege app has some advantages over the TLO site – most of MTL’s data is stored on your smartphone, so it’s accessible even when you have no connectivity, and it has details about things like staff names and email addresses, more biographical info, and better search capabilities. There’s also an app called Pocket Patriot, which can be found here, put out by a lobbyist firm called The Patriot Group. They’re a Republican shop, with clients like Texans for Rick Perry, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, Texas Public Policy Foundation, and Bob Perry, so needless to say I would not recommend their application. They also don’t have a free version, for what it’s worth. Anyway, the Lege may be out of session again, but Austin and district offices are staffed year-round, and the campaign season will soon be upon us. If you like having that information handy on your iPhone, you should check out MyTexasLege and see what you think.

Earle is running for something

Well, he’s taken the first step towards running for something, anyway.

Democrat Ronnie Earle today filed paperwork with the Texas Ethics Commission to run for office in 2010 but did not specify which office he will seek.

The former Travis County district attorney has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor.

He filled out a one-page, hand-written form designating a campaign treasurer, which is required for candidates to start serious fundrasing. He listed himself as treasurer.

As Gardner Selby notes, there’s already some activity around Earle’s potential bid.

Earle’s action also comes after separate online efforts to draft State Sen. Kirk Watson and/or Earle to run for governor next year. Both Facebook pages surfaced recently; neither prospect spoke up for or against the pitches, though Watson has said he’s going to mull his political options probably until the end of the summer.

In some Democratic circles, there’s just that much unease at possibly ending up with former Fort Worth Rep. Tom Schieffer as the likely nominee; some are uncomfortable that his career has been entwined with the successes of George W. Bush. Another hopeful is Mark Thompson, the party’s nominee for the Texas Railroad Commission last year, while Kinky Friedman, who ran as an Independent in 2006, is considering a try as a Democrat.

Peek at the draft-Watson site here. See the draft-Earle site here.

The pro-Earle site, hatched this week by pro-Democratic blogger Vince Leibowitz of Tyler, lists 45 members including Democratic consultant Jason Stanford, who managed Democrat Chris Bell’s 2006 campaign.

The pro-Watson site, which surfaced about 10 days ago, was created by Katie Naranjo, an Austin Democratic activist. The site lists 448 members including Democratic super-bloggers Karl-Thomas Musselman and Matt Glazer, who also are site administrators, Philip Martin and Charles Kuffner.

I haven’t joined the Draft Ronnie Facebook group mostly out of laziness. I’d be perfectly happy to have Earle as the nominee, and I’ll certainly support him in the primary if Watson goes elsewhere. Who knows, maybe I’ll even change my mind if the two square off. A ticket with Earle for Gov and Watson for Lite Gov would be exciting, if it came to that. That’s rather Austin-centric, though, which is why I’m still kind of hoping Earle gives the Attorney General race a good long look. A Watson/Royce West/Earle teamup would be pretty cool.

In the end, as long as all the races get covered by respectable candidates, I’m perfectly happy for there to be some contested primaries. As I’ve said before, I think the fact that there’s this much interest among Democratic candidates for statewide runs next year suggests to me that there’s a real belief that we can win some of these things, a quality that was in distinctly short supply in 2006. Let there be multiple candidates up and down the ballot – maybe we can capture some of the leftover energy from last year, and put a few of those new-to-the-process folks to work. Every little bit is going to help, and if we show enough signs of life at the local and grassroots level, maybe that will convince the national folks that Texas needs to be part of the plan for 2012.

Anyway. Here’s Vince’s post that announced the Draft Ronnie website. It’s drawn support so far from Faith Chatham, McBlogger, and Eye on Williamson, which can credibly claim to have been on the bandwagon before it was cool.

UPDATE: Burka, who was generally favorable to the idea of a Watson candidacy, thinks Earle can’t win.

Lawrence looking at Commissioners Court

Something I’d realized recently is that almost everyone in city government who is or would have been term-limited out is running or has run for another office. Mayor White is running for Senate. City Controller Annise Parker is running for Mayor. Council members Ronald Green, Pam Holm, and MJ Khan are running for City Controller. Former member Adrian Gonzalez was in his last term when he got elected Sheriff last year. The odd one out was Toni Lawrence, but that may not be the case any more.

So we hear current City Council Member Toni Lawrence is eying her next move, possibly toward County Commissioner. Multiple people have told me that Lawrence is seriously considering running for Commissioner Jerry Eversole’s seat, whenever that becomes available. She has already begun privately gauging support. Contacted last night, Lawrence said it was definitely something she is looking at. This apparently, after another formidable female elected official decided to take a pass at the seat… again, whenever it becomes available, which of course, it’s currently NOT.

Perhaps the FBI will step in and make CM Lawrence’s decision easier for her, though given that she just moved into the precinct, barely in time to be qualified for the ballot, perhaps she’s already decided. In any event, an open County Commissioners Court seat is one of the ultimate prizes in our government, and if Eversole jumps or gets pushed out of the race you can be sure it’ll be a free-for-all to replace him. I’m confident there will be some Democrats in that mix as well; I know there are recruitment efforts going on now. Certainly, as a challenge to an incumbent, even one like Eversole, it’s a steep climb. I don’t recall the exact numbers offhand, but CC Precinct 4 is redder than Precinct 3 – it’s slightly on the Republican side of 60/40, so any Dem would be a heavy underdog, even in an open seat. Still, you can’t pass something like this up, and if the stars line up and you hit the jackpot, it’s huge.

Oh, anyone have a clue who the “formidable female elected official” that declined to run might be? Leave a comment and let me know.

UPDATE: Stace has more, and his post suggests former City Council member Addie Wiseman as a potential candidate.

UPDATE: I’ve received some feedback that that the “formidable female elected official” in question is State Rep. Patricia Harless, who was in line to be appointed to the seat in the event that Eversole resigned. The word now is that Eversole will stay till the end of his term, and Harless will run for re-election to the State House.

Hog hell

Shannon Tompkins gives us an update on the feral hog situation.

Feral hogs seem to be everywhere. At least they are in Texas, where we are cursed with the nation’s largest population (an estimated 1.5-2 million animals and growing) of the amazingly destructive, prolific and adaptable non-native wild swine.

Yes, feral hogs are challenging to hunt and outstanding on the plate. But those are their only positive attributes. They cause more than $50 million a year in losses to Texas agricultural interests, what with their rooting and wallowing and appetites. They probably do that much or more damage to rural and suburban lawns and gardens and other property.

Feral hogs compete with native wildlife for food and space, even eating their neighbors. Biologists call feral swine “opportunistic omnivores,” meaning they’ll eat just about anything they can grab or root from the ground. They are tough on amphibians and reptiles — lizards, frogs, snakes and such — and will devastate turtle nests, as folks along the Atlantic Coast discovered when they found feral hogs plundering egg-laden nests of endangered sea turtles.


With [so many] negatives associated with feral hogs, its no wonder states that are not yet infested with the animals or have small
populations are taking drastic measures to prevent the pigs from establishing or spreading.

North Dakota is the latest state to pass a law making it illegal to import, transport or possess a feral swine; hunt or trap them; sponsor, promote or assist in hunting or trapping feral swine; or profit from the release, hunting or trapping of a feral hog.

A person convicted of violating those prohibitions faces a fine of as much as $5,000 per violation.

North Dakota’s ban on hunting, killing, transporting or releasing feral hogs or profiting in any way from those activities is meant to address the main way feral hogs are expanding their range. People are trapping, hauling and releasing feral hogs to establish populations that can be hunted, and from which money can be made.

Such releases are blamed for the much of the viral-like spread of feral hogs over the past two decades.

By removing economic incentives of establishing a feral hog population (landowners can’t legally charge hunters to hunt the animals; guides can’t charge to take people hog hunting) and even criminalizing possession of the animals, North Dakota hopes to prevent introduction of the destructive swine into their state.

Amazing how much destruction people can cause when they don’t care about the negative effects of their actions on others. Makes it a little easier to understand why we needed legislation to restrict carbon emissions, doesn’t it?