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June 27th, 2010:

Weekend link dump for June 27

Summertime, summertime, sum sum summertime…

Reform the credit card industry.

An ode to Frito pie.

Apparently, muting commercials makes you some kind of commie. Guess we TiVo owners are really in the soup.

Do you ever find yourself at the gas pump thinking that what you really needed right then was to hear some show tunes? Well, your wait will soon be over.

The case for the EPA to battle climate change.

Why not bring those huddled masses yearning to be free to Detroit?

Among his many other fine qualities, The Slacktivist writes a hell of an obituary, in this case for Manute Bol, who deserves every word of it.

The Florida Tea Party and the Texas Green Party ought to compare notes.

“Beetle Bailey” comics you won’t see in the newspaper.

I suppose I have to link to that.

One house for sale, hold the zombies.

It’s good practice to maintain a low opinion of Republicans, because then you won’t be as disappointed when they inevitably back away from whatever decent thing they may have done.

They never have this at Central Market, anyway.

Poor Karl. And may he stay that way.

It’s always good to be rich.

RIP, Edith Shain. You may not know her name, but you have definitely seen her photo.

You have archaeopteryx questions, HMNS has answers.

RIP, Sputnik. No, not the satellite.

Young people, risky behavior, and the Internet.

Ew. Joe Barton’s oily fingers.

Being lectured about stupidity by Louie Gohmert is like being lectured about promiscuity by Hugh Hefner.

I’m old enough to remember when Republicans supported cap and trade, too.

So who did smear Dave Weigel?

Richie re-elected as TDP Chair, Two-Step survives

The first, Boyd Ritchie’s re-election as TDP Chair, was expected. The second was more unexpected.

Texas Democrats this afternoon overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to scrap the Texas Two-Step system of awarding presidential delegates through both a primary and caucuses.

Those pushing for change lost a preliminary fight in a rules committee meeting earlier today. But they had enough support to bring the matter to debate on the convention floor.

Some background is here, the Trib has a detailed writeup, and Bob Moser has more.

Also of interest yesterday was the new media panel (aside to Abby Rapoport – it’s Martha Griffin, not Grimes) and the speeches by downballot candidates. Stace, among others, has the prepared remarks of Lite Guv candidate Linda Chavez-Thompson; I have the speech given by Rep. Senfronia Thompson on behalf of Hank Gilbert, whose mother passed away on Thursday, beneath the fold. Martha, PDiddie and PDiddie again, The Texas Blue, John Coby, and Texas Politics have more.

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Sugar Land stadium site selected

The location for the Sugar Land baseball stadium has been chosen.

Sugar Land City Council has chosen an area near the northeast corner of Hwy. 6 and U.S. Hwy. 90A as their preferred site for a minor league baseball stadium.

The preferred location is part of the Imperial Redevelopment/Tract 3 site proposed by Johnson Development Corporation, Cherokee Sugar Land LP and the Texas General Land Office.

The city will now begin a detailed process to confirm the site’s development capabilities and suitability prior to a final decision by City Council that’s expected by the end of the summer.

Here’s an aerial map of the location, courtesy of Hair Balls. I’ll be very interested to see what the vision is for the stadium and the development that is expected to be built around it. Given that the locals are hoping for this to be a regional attraction that will draw in folks from elsewhere, one way to go with this is to mimic an urban downtown stadium setting, with shared parking for all establishments and pedestrian access between them. They could have something really cool if they think outside the box a bit. Or they could go the standard suburban islands-in-a-sea-of-parking-lots route, which would be boring but familiar. We’ll see how it goes. Muse has more, and you can learn about job opportunities at the new stadium here.

Elections administrator proposal will get a study

Like it or not, Commissioners Court is going to consider the possibility of creating an appointed elections administrator position.

The Court orders studies as preludes to formally adopting a public policy change. Dick Raycraft, director of management services, was charged with delivering his conclusion to the Court in September, at which time the Court could create the office.

It cannot name its occupant. State law calls for the elections administrator to be appointed by a five-member board — the county judge, county clerk, tax assessor and Democratic and Republican party chairs. [County Judge Ed] Emmett has pledged not to appoint an administrator until early next year.

You know my concerns about this. I just hope that if this goes forward in September, there will be some real opportunities for the public to engage and give its feedback.

Smoke-Free San Antonio update

As we know, the city of San Antonio is working on updating its ordinance that restricts smoking. The first draft of that has emerged from committee, and it’s got some teeth to it.

The strengthened recommendations, which will be considered in August by the Quality of Life Committee before heading to the full council later in the month, now include banning smoking in several public spaces, including the San Antonio Zoo, the River Walk, Alamo and Main plazas, parks and outdoor stadiums.

That’s in addition to extending the city’s smoking ban to bars, pool halls, comedy clubs, restaurants and bingo halls, as introduced in April.

I don’t recall if Houston’s updated ordinance mentions parks or other outdoor locations like that. I do know that the Houston Zoo is smoke-free, and I’m rather surprised that isn’t already the case for the San Antonio zoo. The rest is more or less the same as what we now have. That includes some of the arguments against it:

Restaurateur Louis Barrios, an outspoken opponent of a stronger smoking ban, said he wasn’t surprised to learn that the proposed ordinance had strengthened.

“It’s being framed as a health issue, but the reality is that it’s not a health issue because it’s not statewide,” he said.

Opponents of the proposal have said they would support a statewide smoking ban because it would offer a level playing field. They argue that if San Antonio enacts a smoke-free ordinance, then the market would shift to nearby municipalities and business would suffer.

[Mayor Julian] Castro says he doesn’t buy that argument.

“I’d just say the overwhelming evidence indicates that the smoking ban is either neutral or beneficial to bars and restaurants in terms of revenue,” he said. “More people will frequent non-smoking establishments.”

The Lege has tried and failed to pass a statewide smoking ban in each of the last two sessions. I continue to believe that such a thing will eventually pass, but who knows how long that could take. As for the allegations about city businesses losing out to those in the surrounding unincorporated county areas, all I can say is that I haven’t seen any evidence of that here. Doesn’t mean there isn’t any – maybe it’s just a greatly under-reported story – but it at least suggests that the concern is overblown. We’ll see how this plays out. More on the story here and here.