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January 21st, 2012:

Saturday video break: A New England

Song #85 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “A New England”, originally by Billy Bragg and covered by Kirsty MacColl. Here’s the original:

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of one-dude-with-a-guitar music, but Bragg has a sound that stands out from that crowd. Here’s MacColl:

Speaking of things that are distinctive, there’s no mistaking what decade that was made in, right? I like it, and I like the way the perspective changes with the gender of the singer, as the Popdose commentary notes. And since such a thing exists, here’s Bragg singing it with MacColl:

According to MacColl’s Wikipedia page, Bragg now includes the verses MacColl added to the song since her tragic death in 2000. Which is your favorite?

Lampson on the DCCC’s list

It’s just like old times again.

Nick Lampson

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, launching its bid to win back the House majority, has unveiled its list of top 2012 recruits.

DCCC Chairman Steve Israel announced 18 candidates on Wednesday who are being inducted into the House Democratic campaign arm’s “Red to Blue” program, which aims to provide support to top candidates across the country.


The program includes three former members: former Ohio Rep. Charlie Wilson and former New York Rep. Dan Maffei, both of whom lost their seats in 2010, and former Texas Rep. Nick Lampson, who lost his seat in 2008. There are also three Democrats who waged bids in 2010 but fell short: California physician Ami Bera, former Washington state House Majority Leader Denny Heck and New Hampshire attorney Ann McLane Kuster.

It’s almost not an election without the DCCC teaming up with Lampson in a hot race – it’s happened in 2004, 2006, 2008, and now 2012. Lampson has the virtues of being a known commodity and a proven fundraiser in a district that is unlikely to change much if at all by the SCOTUS-ordered do-over – the CD14 drawn by the Lege and the CD14 drawn by the San Antonio court are very similar geographically and in partisan makeup. I expect the DCCC to get involved in CD23 eventually, once there’s a nominee and a final (for now) district, and in a happy world they’ll have the resources and the inclination to help out in CD10, but we’re getting way ahead of ourselves. For now, we have the DCCC and Nick Lampson, together again.

We’re #9!

Number Nine on The Street’s list of “10 Cities Poised For Greatness In 2012”. Which places us one behind Austin, and one ahead of…Rochester, NY? Whatever. Here’s what they say about our fair city.

We move too fast for the naked eye to see


Throughout the economic crisis, Houston has been the buttoned-down older brother to Austin’s hippie slacker.

While college-boy Austin coasts by on education and arts, Houston shrugs off the cool kids, goes to work every day with its buddies in the energy industry and does what it can to keep unemployment below 8%. Unlike Austin, though, Houston doesn’t have to drop its home prices to draw new blood.

Home prices in Houston have remained level since 2010 and are among the few in America that have risen since 2008. ConocoPhilips(COP_), Marathon Oil(MRO_) and Halliburton(HAL_) all help provide a solid employment base and, though the Houston Texans’ run to the NFL playoffs may be Houston’s major one-off event of the year, there’s economic life to the city that’s only improving as the year goes on.

Boy, if that doesn’t get your blood pumping, I don’t know what would. Better jump on this while you can, GHCVB.

Single member Council district dispute in Boerne

It's pronounced "Bernie"

I’ve noted several stories about single member Council districts in various Texas cities over the years. They often involve litigation, so these battles can have implications beyond the borders of the locality in question, but I just find the questions about why a given city should or should not change from an at large system to a district system to be fascinating. Anyway, for all those reasons when I came across this story about such a court fight going on in Boerne, which if you’re not familiar with it is a town of just over 10,000 people about 40 miles northwest of San Antonio, I had to click on it. In doing so, I found that it involved a couple of familiar names.

Although a recent court mandate has undone Boerne’s shift in 2010 to electing city council members by districts, city officials are resisting a return to cumulative voting — with the candidate filing period for the May election just weeks away.

“We’re pushing for single-member districts,” City Attorney Kirsten Cohoon said Wednesday after a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio.

Boerne resident Mike Morton, who filed the suit over the change, argues that any deviation from the at-large election system mandated by the city charter must be approved by voters.

The City Council voted in late 2009 to enact voting from five districts by modifying a lawsuit settlement it struck in 1996 with the League of United Latin American Citizens.

LULAC had sued the city, claiming the at-large voting system disadvantaged minority voters.

The original lawsuit settlement in 1997 called for adoption of cumulative voting, which allows residents to cast as many votes as there are seats to be filled.


Garcia asked whether a charter amendment to enact single-member district voting could be put on the May ballot in Boerne.

Although Morton said he would drop his suit if such a vote occurred, LULAC attorney Jose Garza indicated his clients would sue if voters defeated such a measure and cumulative voting continued in use.

Yes, that’s Judge Orlando Garcia of the three-judge panel that drew the now-disallowed maps for Congress, State Senate, and State House, and Jose Garza, who just argued the plaintiffs’ case before the Supreme Court. I daresay it’s been a busy few months for both of these gentlemen. Boerne is the first city I’ve heard of to use cumulative voting. I’m wondering how you might run a campaign differently under those conditions. Anyway, the reason for the agreed change that’s now being litigated is that in the 14 years they had cumulative voting, only one Latino candidate was ever elected to anything. For what it’s worth, according to the Wikipedia entry, persons of Hispanic or Latino origin of any race were 19.44% of the population. You can see the proposed single member district map here – it’s one of the least gerrymandered maps you’ll ever see. Whether it would further LULAC’s goals or not I couldn’t say, but as I generally favor single member districts I’m rooting for them.