Wednesday, September 28, 2005

TPMCafe || White House Praise For Tom DeLay

TPMCafe || White House Praise For Tom DeLay: "Bush has confidence:

THE PRESIDENT: I have confidence in Tom DeLay's leadership, and I have confidence in Tom DeLay. And I am -- we've worked closely with Tom DeLay and the leaders in the House to get a lot done during the last four years, and I'm looking forward to working with him to get a lot done during the next four years

Strongly as he ever has:

Q But how strongly is the President supporting him at this time in which he's embattled in this ethics dispute?

MR. McCLELLAN: As strongly as he ever has, which is strongly.

Tom's a friend:

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you've heard from the President, what he has said on the matter, that Majority Leader DeLay is someone the President considers a friend, and he is someone that he has worked closely with to get things done in Washington.

Tom delivers:

Tom DeLay can deliver the vote. (Applause.)"

Web pundits digest DeLay news | | CNET

Web pundits digest DeLay news | | CNET "Web soapboxing picked up with Wednesday's news that one of the most powerful Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives had been indicted on campaign finance conspiracy charges.

Texan Tom DeLay, who could face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if found guilty, said he'd temporarily step aside as majority leader.

Within hours of the announcements, his name snagged the No. 2 spot on site-tracker Technorati's most frequently searched terms. (New York Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd, whose content now requires a paid membership for access, led the pack.) A search on DeLay's first and last name returned more than 50,000 posts from the left, right and all shades between."

Blunt Picked to Replace DeLay as U.S. House Majority Leader Top Worldwide: "U.S. Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri was selected by Republican lawmakers to become majority leader, replacing Tom DeLay, who temporarily stepped aside after he was indicted today.

Blunt, 55, the majority whip, was elected to the new post by a vote of the 231-member Republican caucus at a meeting this afternoon in Washington.

DeLay, 58, said today that he will temporarily step aside from the No. 2 Republican post after he was indicted by a Texas grand jury on a charge of criminal conspiracy in connection with illegal corporate political donations. DeLay called the indictment a ``sham'' and said he has done nothing wrong."

The Raw Story | Slap: Democrat says DeLay claim he's done nothing wrong a "myth"

The Raw Story | Slap: Democrat says DeLay claim he's done nothing wrong a "myth": "The ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) issued a release titled 'FACT CHECK' late Wednesday afternoon, saying former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's claim that he'd done nothing wrong was a 'myth,' RAW STORY has learned.

MYTH -- says the release -- and prints DeLay's statement: 'I have done nothing wrong. I have violated no law, no regulation, no rule of the House. I have done nothing unlawful, unethical, or, I might add, unprecedented...'

FACT, it continues: 'Tom DeLay holds the dubious distinction of being the most admonished member of Congress ever.'

The 'fact' checks out. DeLay has received more admonishments than any other member of Congress in U.S. history. It's unclear, however, that DeLay was referring to previous ethical transgressions with his most recent statements."

The Indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay -- September 28, 2005

Online NewsHour: The Indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay -- September 28, 2005: "The combative House majority leader is certainly one of Gwen Ifill the Capitol's most powerful lawmakers. Today, he was forced to step aside from his leadership role after a three-year state investigation into Texas campaign fundraising yielded another in a series of indictments; this one of Mr. Delay himself. He's charged with participating in a criminal conspiracy to illegally steer corporate money to state legislative candidates in 2002.

For more on the impact of today's indictment, and what happens next, we turn to: Laylan Copelin of the Austin American-Statesman. He's been following the Delay investigation since it began; and longtime Congress watcher Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute." News | The indictment of Tom DeLay News | The indictment of Tom DeLay: "

The indictment of Tom DeLay
Read the text of the indictment charging the House majority leader with criminal conspiracy."

DeLay charged in probe

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News: "A Travis County grand jury charged U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and two political associates Wednesday with conspiracy to violate Texas election laws.

Mr. DeLay, R-Sugar Land, stepped aside as majority leader, as House Republican rules require.

The four-page indictment alleges that Mr. DeLay; Jim Ellis, the head of the majority leader's national political committee; and John Colyandro, who ran the Texas political committee known as TRMPAC conspired to get corporate money into the hands of Texas statehouse candidates. Corporate money is banned in Texas political races."


The Washington Monthly

Here's the AP dispatch on Tom DeLay's indictment:

DeLay attorney Steve Brittain said DeLay was accused of a criminal conspiracy along with two associates, John Colyandro, former executive director of a Texas political action committee formed by DeLay, and Jim Ellis, who heads DeLay's national political committee.

GOP congressional officials said the plan was for DeLay to temporarily relinquish his leadership post and Speaker Dennis Hastert will recommend that Rep. David Dreier of California step into those duties.

All we need now is a Plame indictment and we'd have the trifecta. Or the pentecta. Or whatever. I can barely keep track of the myriad ethical problems besetting the Republican leadership these days. | Conspiracy charge a possibility for DeLay | Conspiracy charge a possibility for DeLay: "U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's leadership post is on the line today as a Travis County grand jury is expected to consider indicting DeLay on conspiracy charges, several lawyers familiar with the investigation said.

The charges would stem from DeLay's role in using corporate money in the 2002 elections. State law generally bans corporate money from campaign activities.

'I wouldn't have expected this a year ago,' one Austin criminal defense lawyer said. 'It's quite a turnaround if it happens.'" - Grand jury to wrap up DeLay PAC probe - Grand jury to wrap up DeLay PAC probe: "The Texas grand jury investigating House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's state political organization was completing its term today after demonstrating a recent interest in conspiracy charges that could bring more indictments.

Lawyers with knowledge of the case said the DeLay defense team was concerned that the Travis County grand jury might consider counts of conspiracy to violate the state election code.

Their concern was triggered when similar charges were handed down two weeks ago in an expanded indictment against two DeLay political associates. The associates were accused of conspiring to violate the state election code by using corporate donations for illegal purposes."

Monday, September 26, 2005

News Hounds: Fox News Shills for Gov. Rick Perry - No "Lack of Preparedness" in Texas!

News Hounds: Fox News Shills for Gov. Rick Perry - No "Lack of Preparedness" in Texas!

Remember the post-Katrina ranting and raving about the "lack of preparedness" by the governor of Louisiana and the mayor of New Orleans, both of whom are Democrats? Have you noticed that we are witnessing, live on television today, another example of a "lack of preparedness," this time on the part of Texas officials? Have you seen the live feeds of the miles-long, gridlocked freeways heading north out of Houston? Have you heard the reports about people running out of gas as they sit in stop-and-go traffic, in 90+ degree heat with their air conditioners off to conserve fuel? Have you heard about gas trucks driving out to rescue stranded drivers?

Shortly after 4:00 p.m. EDT today (September 22, 2005), during Your World w/Neil Cavuto, the mayor of Houston and some of his officials held a news conference to update the media on the state of the evacuation and preparations for Hurricane Rita. The presser grew contentious when several reporters asked about the jammed freeways. The mayor and his group became quite defensive and concluded by saying the traffic jams weren't, "part of the plan."

Interestingly, and uncharacteristically, Fox did not carry the presser. The mayor of Houston is a Democrat but the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, is a Republican. I think Fox decided not to carry the presser because it didn't want to draw attention to the, "lack of preparedness" in Texas.

UPDATE - 9:22 p.m. EDT: Over live video of the continuing gridlock, Sean Hannity just said this is a "very orderly" evacuation! Yeah, right. Tell that to the people sitting in those cars. Point made. Thanks Sean.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bus in blast was on road because of Perry waiver

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News

The bus that caught fire, killing 24 nursing home residents fleeing Hurricane Rita, had been out of service after its registration expired in July, Texas Department of Transportation officials said Saturday.

The bus was able to operate in Texas after Gov. Rick Perry signed a waiver Wednesday suspending some registration and other requirements as part of an effort to get more commercial vehicles involved in the evacuation, said TxDot spokeswoman Judy Curtis.

Mr. Perry signed a similar waiver on Friday to facilitate the return of evacuees.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Kansas City Star | 09/24/2005 | Troubling question emerges in gridlock

Kansas City Star | 09/24/2005 | Troubling question emerges in gridlock: "It was envisioned as the anti-Katrina plan: Texas officials sketched a staggered, orderly evacuation plan for Hurricane Rita and urged people to get out days ahead of time.

But tangles arrived even before the storm’s first bands. Panicked drivers ran out of gas, a deadly bus fire clogged traffic, and freeways were red rivers of taillights that stretched to the horizon."

Frist, DeLay Fend Off Probes Into Ethics

Frist, DeLay Fend Off Probes Into Ethics: "Heading into a midterm election year, Republicans find themselves with not one, but two congressional leaders — Bill Frist in the Senate and Tom DeLay in the House — fending off questions of ethical improprieties.

The news that federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into Frist's sale of stock in HCA Inc., the hospital operating company founded by his family, comes as a criminal investigation continues of Jack Abramoff, a high-powered Republican lobbyist, and his ties to DeLay of Texas.

Less than a week ago, a former White House official was arrested in the Abramoff investigation.

For Republicans, the timing couldn't be worse."

SitNews - Tom DeLay and Don Young Named Co-Porkers of the Month

SitNews - Tom DeLay and Don Young Named Co-Porkers of the Month: "Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) Co-Porkers of the Month for their response to requests to offset the costs of Hurricane Katrina relief.

According to a Sept. 14 Washington Times article, Rep. DeLay declared an 'ongoing victory' in the effort to cut spending, and that the Republicans had 'pared (the government) down pretty good.' While claiming to be receptive to proposed offsets, DeLay said that 'nobody has been able to come up with any yet.' He added that cutting the 6,000 earmarks in the recently-passed $295 billion Transportation Equity Act - A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU) would adversely affect 'important infrastructure' and the economy, and it would be 'right' to borrow the money to pay for Katrina relief.

Rep. Young had a much more curt response when asked by a Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reporter about redirecting the combined $450 million earmarked for the Gravina Island and Knik Arm (renamed Don Young's Way) bridges to hurricane victims: 'They can kiss my ear.' He then called such a request the 'dumbest thing I've ever heard.'"

Herald Sun: Rita wreaks havoc on oil town [25sep05]

Herald Sun: Rita wreaks havoc on oil town [25sep05]: "HURRICANE Rita cut a path of destruction through the major oil refinery and chemical processing town of Port Arthur overnight, downing trees and ripping off roofs as it smashed into the US Gulf Coast.

As dawn broke, much of town was cut off by waist-high flood water and downed powerlines, cars lay smashed beneath uprooted trees and the main refinery, a major employer for the town's 56,000 people, was out of reach.

Port Arthur lay almost dead centre in the path of the storm's swirling eye as it made landfall on the Texas/Louisiana border at 3:39 am local time, between the major cities of Houston and New Orleans."

Friday, September 23, 2005

Evacuation's scale challenging

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News: "Gulf Coast residents on Friday were running out of time and hope, their two-day flight to safe harbor still plagued by snarled traffic and gas shortages as Hurricane Rita continued on its deadly path.

'I feared the hurricane,' said Ruby Barber, a 52-year-old Beaumont social worker, waiting in a two-block-long line for gasoline in Jasper. 'But I fear more being on the side of the road with no gas.' In Rita's cross-hairs: the upper Texas Gulf Coast - particularly the oil and petrochemical centers of Beaumont and Port Arthur - and southwest Louisiana, where millions of residents were ordered to evacuate, including some as far north as Jasper County, Texas."

24 dead in I-45 bus explosion

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News: "A bus exploded early Friday on traffic-packed Interstate 45 in Wilmer, killing at least 24 elderly nursing home patients being evacuated from Houston in one of the deadliest accidents in state history.

'It caught fire and pulled over, and it was just a difficult to get all these cases out,' said Capt. Jesse Garcia of Dallas Fire-Rescue. 'We were literally dragging them out.'"

Frist, DeLay Fend Off Probes Into Ethics

Frist, DeLay Fend Off Probes Into Ethics: "Heading into a midterm election year, Republicans find themselves with not one, but two congressional leaders — Bill Frist in the Senate and Tom DeLay in the House — fending off questions of ethical improprieties.

The news that federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into Frist's sale of stock in HCA Inc., the hospital operating company founded by his family, comes as a criminal investigation continues of Jack Abramoff, a high-powered Republican lobbyist, and his ties to DeLay of Texas.

Less than a week ago, a former White House official was arrested in the Abramoff investigation.

For Republicans, the timing couldn't be worse.

'The last thing you needed was a Martha Stewart problem,' Marshall Wittman, a one-time conservative activist who now works for the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, said of Frist. 'He doesn't even have a good clothing line or a popular television show.'"

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Pelosi willing to give up S.F. funds for recovery

Pelosi willing to give up S.F. funds for recovery: "House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco said Tuesday she was willing to return to the federal Treasury $70 million designated for San Francisco projects in the new highway and transportation bill and use the money to help pay for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

Her counterpart, House Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said that while he would consider cutting all other domestic discretionary spending to raise the tens of billions of dollars needed for Katrina relief, it was a bad idea to take money from transportation projects.

His suburban Houston district is slated to get $64.4 million under the bill, and DeLay has said that he brought home an additional $50 million for freeway projects in the metropolitan area. He also helped secure $324 million in funding credits for Houston's light rail construction."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Opinion: Viewpoints

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Opinion: Viewpoints: "Donna Brazile: In tragedy, Bush unites a divided country"

New Orleans is my hometown. It is the place where I grew up, where my family still lives. For me, it is a place of comfort and memories. It is home.

Now my home needs your help and the help of every American. Much of my city is still underwater. Its historical buildings have been wrecked, its famous streets turned to rivers, and, worst of all, so many of its wonderful people – including members of my family and my neighbors – have lost everything.

On Thursday night, President Bush spoke to the nation from my city. I am not a Republican. I did not vote for Mr. Bush – in fact, I worked pretty hard against him in 2000 and 2004. But on Thursday, after watching him speak from the heart, I could not have been prouder of the president and the plan he outlined to empower those who lost everything and to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

He called on every American to stand up and support the rebuilding of the region. He told us that New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast would rise from the ruins stronger than before. He enunciated something that we all need to remember: This is America. We are not immune to tragedy here, but we are strong because of our industriousness, our ingenuity and, most important, because of our compassion for one another. We are a nation of rebuilders and givers. We do not give up in the face of tragedy; we stand up, and we reach out to help those who cannot stand up on their own.

I agree with Donna. If Bush keeps his word. I have doubts.

Perry's school spending limit proposal meets with opposition

KRISTV.COM - Corpus Christi, TX - Perry's school spending limit proposal meets with opposition: "Gov. Rick Perry's order that Texas schools spend at least 65 percent of their budgets on classroom costs has met with overwhelming public opposition, according to correspondence obtained by The Associated Press.

Hundreds of angry parents, librarians, counselors, nurses and bus drivers who fear their services will be cut under the order wrote to Perry's office during August, according to e-mails and letters obtained by the AP under the Texas Public Information Act.

'I will be sure to explain to the teachers who ask to collaborate with me ... the students who request my help with book selection, research or library resources, the classes who are scheduled in the library ... that I don't do direct instruction,' wrote Margaret Durack, a librarian at San Antonio's William Hobby Middle School."

The Telegraph Online

The Telegraph Online

Here’s a good idea: Consumer groups and progressive congressfolks have joined in an effort to stop hundreds of thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina from being further harmed by the new Bankruptcy Act, scheduled to take effect Oct. 17.

This law was notoriously written of, by and for the consumer credit industry, and is particularly onerous for the poor.

The bill was passed with massive support from the Republican leadership in Congress and from a disgusting number of sellout Democrats.

While it was being considered in committee earlier this year, Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee offered an amendment to protect victims of natural disasters. It was defeated, without debate, on a party-line vote.

Now, Congress has a chance to rethink some of the most punitive parts of the bill. Katrina victims who were planning to file before the new law goes into effect are stranded – where they gonna find a lawyer, let alone an open courthouse?

Under the new law, anyone whose income is over the state median must file under Chapter 13, a more restrictive category that requires some repayment of debt.

The new law grants no exemption for natural disaster, even though it’s going to be a little tough for some citizen sitting in the Astrodome who no longer has a home to come up with tax statements, pay stubs, and six months of income and expense data. Let’s see if Congress can manage to open its marble heart on this issue.

Meanwhile, it’s an ill wind that blows no one good, so we should not be surprised to learn the first winner out of the gate on Katrina is none other than the Halliburton Co., whose deserving subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root has already been granted a $29.8 million contract for cleanup work in the wake of Katrina.

Talk turning to how to pay for Katrina relief, states reimbursements | News for Denton, Texas | AP: Texas

In their third week of dealing with Hurricane Katrina's devastation, lawmakers turned their attention on ways to cut spending to help pay for the deadly storm.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, said dumping some projects in the highway bill that President Bush has signed, including some for his district, was a possibility. But he also said he was reluctant to open the new law.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said getting money to reimburse Texas for the costs associated with accepting thousands of sheltering thousands of evacuees is going more slowly than she thought and has kept her scrambling for days.

"I'm trying to slap this horse on the back and make to go faster and it's about to buck me off," she said. "I hope that people realize that one state should not have to foot the bill for the whole country."

As costs for responding to Katrina mount, Republicans — pushed by conservative members — have begun looking for ways to offset the costs, essentially by cutting spending in other programs.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she's willing to give up spending on some highway projects for her home state California to help pay for the cost of Katrina.

DeLay was asked at an afternoon round-table with reporters whether he'd do the same.

"I'd look at it," he said. But he added that highway projects he helped get funded for his district in Texas "are pretty important to building an economy in that region."

Delay is credited with securing $114 million in highway bill projects, according to the tally of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a group that tracks the spending. That amount included $50 million for the Interstate 69 highway corridor and $64.4 million for local projects in his district.

DeLay also helped get a provision in a provision for Houston's public transit agency, crediting it for state and local funds already spent on its rail line. The provision is valued at $324 million, the taxpayer group said.

Citizens Against Government Waste Names Reps. Tom DeLay and Don Young Co-Porkers of the Month

U.S. Newswire : Releases : "Citizens Against Government Waste Names Reps. Tom...": "Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) Co-Porkers of the Month for their response to requests to offset the costs of Hurricane Katrina relief. According to a Sept. 14 Washington Times article, Rep. DeLay declared an 'ongoing victory' in the effort to cut spending, and that the Republicans had 'pared (the government) down pretty good.' While claiming to be receptive to proposed offsets, DeLay said that 'nobody has been able to come up with any yet.' He added that cutting the 6,000 earmarks in the recently-passed $295 billion Transportation Equity Act - A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU) would adversely affect 'important infrastructure' and the economy, and it would be 'right' to borrow the money to pay for Katrina relief."

DeLay: GOP looking for Katrina offsets

DeLay: GOP looking for Katrina offsets - Industrial, Diversified - Industrial Products & Services - Economy - Bond Market

DeLay, R-Texas, said he had been quoted out of context last week when he told reporters that 11 years of GOP majority rule in the House had resulted in an "ongoing victory" over government waste.

"What I said was fiscal restraint -- and I said it inartfully, I know -- was an ongoing victory. 'Ongoing' is the operative word. We are always involved in fiscal restraint and fiscal responsibility, ever since we have been in the majority," he added.

A number of House and Senate Republicans, as well as GOP-aligned think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation, have pressed for a range of proposals in the past week to trim federal spending.

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., on Sunday urged delaying the full implementation of the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, which is due to take place in 2006. That also has been suggested by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

In addition, there have been calls to reopen the recently passed, $284 billion federal highway bill signed into law this summer to remove a range of "pork-barrel" spending projects in individual members' districts.

Democrats, meanwhile, and some Republicans have suggested delaying or scrapping the proposed extension of Bush's first-term tax cuts, all of which are scheduled to expire by 2010.

Earlier, news reports said that Treasury Secretary John Snow, in a speech to the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, warned that Katrina relief efforts could force the administration to delay the push for some of its economic proposals.

Galveston braces for Rita

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News

Determined not to repeat the mistakes of Katrina, Texas prepared for Hurricane Rita on Tuesday by ordering the state's first mandatory evacuation, declaring the state a disaster area and moving supplies to inland cities in anticipation of evacuees.

Using a law passed this year, Galveston County officials ordered a mandatory evacuation of its coastal communities beginning Wednesday night. Elderly residents living in nursing homes and assisted living centers were to be evacuated by bus before dawn to shelters about 100 miles north in Huntsville.

Monday, September 19, 2005 - Some taking Kinky's run for governor seriously - Some taking Kinky's run for governor seriously: "With an unlit stogie in his mouth and a Sharpie in his left hand, independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman eagerly signed T-shirts and posters for fans and hoped-for voters with 'Love, the Gov!'

And the unconventional candidate known as 'The Kinkster' has been feeling the love across Texas ever since the Legislature's failure to pass public school reform this summer.

As Friedman tries to prove his run for governor is more than a lark, people have been turning out for his events by the dozens in places such as Lufkin and by the hundreds in places such as Tyler."

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Cornyn supports families in religious expression case

The Bryan-College Station Eagle > Texas & Region: "U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has filed a court brief in support of families who sued a North Texas school district claiming religious censorship.

The case started when a third-grader in the Plano Independent School District was prohibited from handing out candy cane pens with a religious message attached at a class 'winter party' in 2003.

Cornyn charged in his brief, filed Friday in federal court in Sherman, that the Plano district 'has gone to great lengths to outlaw Christmas and any of its vestiges from its schools.'"

Star-Telegram | 09/18/2005 | Citizen patrol coming to Texas

Star-Telegram | 09/18/2005 | Citizen patrol coming to Texas: "In late September 2004, retired CPA Jim Gilchrist was stopped at a red light in California traffic when the idea struck him: a force of citizen volunteers named after the Revolutionary-era Minutemen. Only instead of fighting British redcoats, these modern-day volunteers would be arrayed along the border to fight illegal immigration.

Gilchrist teamed with Chris Simcox, a newspaper publisher in Tucson, Ariz., to form the controversial Minuteman project, which drew nearly 900 volunteers to Arizona in April.

Now their effort is going national. In October, thousands of Minutemen will form a vigil stretching across much of the northern and southern borders, including Texas."

Who spent how much in Austin — and what it bought - Robison: Who spent how much in Austin — and what it bought: "WHEN it comes to Texas politics, money is only slightly less subtle than Hurricane Katrina's recent assault on the Gulf Coast. The state capitol is awash in cash, and many of the special interests doling it out are getting handsome returns.

This observation isn't blockbuster news, but a new report offers still another reminder of how decisions are made in Austin and why restructuring the state's outmoded tax system and overhauling school finance remain so difficult.

The report by Texans for Public Justice, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics, concludes that political action committees in Texas spent $69 million during the 2004 election cycle, a record for a campaign season in which the governor and most statewide offices weren't on the ballot.

The money included contributions to judicial candidates, political parties and various causes. Much, however, was spent on races for the Texas Legislature. And, guess what?

Business as usual, not that there was any doubt, is alive and well. Many of the top contributors were among the biggest winners during this year's legislative sessions."

When Texas politics begin to smell, open window

When Texas politics begin to smell, open window: "More than 750 taxpayers received $461 million in tax credits and refunds from state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's office within a year of her receiving a campaign contribution from them or a related entity, according to a recent report from the state auditor. Their campaign contributions, made within that year, totaled $2 million.

Strayhorn says she did no tax favors for contributors, and the auditor's report said it was 'not implying any wrongdoing' by any taxpayers, their representatives or the comptroller.

Nevertheless, the findings smell bad."

Tourists told to flee Fla. Keys as storm nears

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News: "Long-term forecasts show the system heading generally toward the west in the Gulf of Mexico toward Texas or Mexico later in the week, but such forecasts are subject to large errors. That means that areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina could potentially be in the storm's path."

Friday, September 16, 2005

Programs expand along southern border

AP Wire | 09/15/2005 | Programs expand along southern border: "More U.S. Border Patrol agents and expanded authority for officials to deport certain illegal immigrants in a more timely manner will help ease pressures along the southern border, congressional representatives from New Mexico and Texas said.

Expedited removal authority will be expanded from three Border Patrol sectors to the entire U.S.-Mexico border. Expedited removal allows trained agents to speed up the repatriation of adult illegal immigrants who are caught within 100 miles of the Southwest border and who have been in the United States less than 14 days."

Staples declares candidacy for agriculture commissioner

KRISTV.COM - Corpus Christi, TX - Staples declares candidacy for agriculture commissioner: "As expected, state Sen. Todd Staples has formally announced plans to run for Texas agriculture commissioner.

Staples, a Palestine Republican, said he will focus on issues such as water supplies, alternative fuels, nutrition and private property rights. He announced his candidacy Thursday at the Texas Cattle Raisers Museum.

'Agriculture is the second-largest industry in Texas,' said the 42-year-old Staples, who has spent nearly 12 years in the Legislature. 'We must develop policies which look to the future of agriculture communities.'"

Halliburton is in Katrina's trough

2005-09-16-ivins.html: "It’s an ill wind that blows no one good, so we should not be surprised to learn the first winner out of the gate on Hurricane Katrina is none other than the Halliburton Co., whose deserving subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root has already been granted a $29.8 million contract for cleanup work in the wake of Katrina.

Of course, no one would suggest Halliburton and its subsidiaries get government contracts (more than $9 billion for reconstruction work in Iraq, with Pentagon audits thus far showing $1.03 billion in “questioned” costs and $422 million in “unsupported costs”) just because Vice President Dick Cheney is still on the payroll. Heavens no. The veep continues to receive deferred pay from the company he formerly headed — $194,852 last year.

But Cheney has nothing to do with the Halliburton contracts — that, friends, goes through none other than the noted lobbyist and former head of — of all things — the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Since Joe Allbaugh, who was President Bush’s campaign manger in 2000, left FEMA in December 2002, he has been busy making sure reconstruction contracts in Iraq go to companies that give generously to the Republican Party.

Politics sullies disaster aid Editorials: "A mix-up has sullied an otherwise admirable effort on the part of Texas officials to help Hurricane Katrina survivors.

Gov. Rick Perry called up the Texas State Guard to aid the disaster relief, but officials forgot an important part of the equation — the pay for the units.

The Guard members have been working since Aug. 28 without pay, although it is not clear where the error originated.

Both Perry and Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the state comptroller, say the pay issue will be resolved, an issue that would affect the 110 members serving at KellyUSA.

While officials figure out how the bureaucracy failed the Guard, the issue illustrates a more disturbing trend — the willingness to exploit the disaster for political gain."

DeLay's budget vision more a hallucination Editorials: "DeLay's budget vision more a hallucination"

The effects of Hurricane Katrina are being felt far beyond the Gulf Coast. In Washington, they have changed the legislative priorities of President Bush and some Republican congressional leaders.

Congress has already approved $62 billion in disaster relief aid. The White House is likely to request another $50 billion in coming weeks.

These costs are being piled onto the federal deficit, which is expected to reach $331 billion this year.

As an aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told the Wall Street Journal, "Events have consequences."

The administration had hoped to push through an extension of the tax cut on dividends and capital gains. It also aimed to reduce the rapidly expanding Medicaid program by $10 billion over five years.

In Katrina's wake, a tax cut that largely benefits the wealthy and a reduction in health-care benefits that largely affects the poor are, for the moment, nonstarters.

What's a conservative budget hawk to do in this difficult situation?

If you are House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, you declare victory. DeLay, reported the Washington Times, said Republicans have done such a good job paring down wasteful spending and making the government run efficiently that there simply isn't any fat left to trim.

Evidently, he wasn't paying attention when Congress passed a new highway bill before departing for August recess. It contained more than 6,000 pork-barrel earmarks at a cost of $24 billion.

That's almost 21/2 times the reduction sought in Medicaid. Or, as columnist George Will noted, that's more than 10 times the amount required to build a hurricane-safe levee for New Orleans. And that's only one larded-over bill.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

news - Senator Cornyn Plays Politics at Roberts Hearings

news - Senator Cornyn Plays Politics at Roberts Hearings: "Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese made the following statement as Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, used gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues as a scare tactic at today’s Senate hearings to confirm John Roberts.

“Senator Cornyn only wants the Constitution to live and breathe when the court comes down on his side of the issue,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “His logic is flawed and he’s playing politics with the lives of Americans. If he doesn’t believe the court should change with the times, I wonder what he thinks of historic cases that have ensured equal rights for millions of Americans throughout the decades.”

Cornyn said:

“When, in its 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, the court overruled a 1986 decision on the constitutionality of state laws based in part on collective moral judgments about permissible sexual activity, what changed in the intervening time? The Constitution? Clearly not. The members of the court? Yes, but should that determine a different meaning of the Constitution? Are some judges merely imposing on all Americans their personal preferences under the guise of interpreting the Constitution? Indeed, it was this same 2003 decision that formed the cornerstone of the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s decision holding that state laws limiting marriage to a man and a woman are illegal discrimination.”" - Local News - 09/15/2005 - Seliger has 'doubts' Legislature will OK school finance reform | - Local News - 09/15/2005 - Seliger has 'doubts' Legislature will OK school finance reform |: "State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, Wednesday predicted the Texas Supreme Court's imminent ruling on public school finance reform won't specify guidelines and the state will still be without a new system when the next regular legislative session convenes in January 2007.

Having nettled lawmakers through two regular sessions and three special sessions in two years, the problem engages every tax paying interest in the state and thereby generates a terrific hubbub, he told a Midland County Republican Women's luncheon at the Petroleum Club.

When asked if legislators will be able to act after a Supreme Court ruling in about two weeks, Seliger said, 'I have my doubts.

'I don't think they'll say, 'This must be done.' They will probably cite the shortcomings and tell the Legislature to do its work.'

Saying it might well be 2007 before the conundrum is finally unknotted, Seliger said, 'It's not easy and it's not going to be done quickly.'

State District Judge John Dietz of Austin in September 2004 ruled the current 'Robin Hood' system unconstitutional and gave legislators until Oct. 1 this year to devise a system providing equal opportunities for the state's 4.3 million students.

Known as Shirley Neeley et al vs. West Orange Consolidated ISD et al, the case was appealed from Dietz' 250th District Court and argued by dozens of attorneys July 6 before the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson told the Reporter-Telegram last Friday in Austin the court will adhere to Dietz' deadline. 'I can't say it will be definitive,' he said.

'There will be a ruling from the court and the Legislature will do what it does.'" - Dollars for green space: Board should OK funding for state park system - Dollars for green space: Board should OK funding for state park system: "Last month's aborted sale of a chunk of Big Bend Ranch State Park to a private developer provided a wake-up call for Texas park users: The state's inadequate park system is experiencing a financial crisis. Unless remedial action is taken soon, the situation will quickly grow worse."

Bush endorses base-closure list Metro | State: "President Bush today endorsed a list of base closures that would shutter 22 major military installations — including three in Texas — and realign 33 others for a savings of $35.5 billion.

Bush accepted the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission's recommendations in a letter to Congress, which now has 45 days to reject the proposals or allow them to become law.

Under the proposal, San Antonio would see the Air Force leave Brooks City-Base and a major realignment at Lackland AFB, including the closure of Wilford Hall Medical Center."

Republicans Seek Strategy to Abandon Social Security Overhaul U.S.: "Prospects that the U.S. Congress will pass an overhaul of Social Security this year have vanished, leaving Republicans to debate how best to walk away from the centerpiece of President George W. Bush's second-term domestic agenda.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate said a comprehensive proposal had no chance of being acted on this year, even though Republican leaders such as House Speaker Dennis Hastert, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Representative Roy Blunt haven't publicly abandoned the effort.

``It certainly doesn't appear to me it's going to happen,'' said Representative Jim Kolbe, an Arizona Republican and a supporter of Bush's proposal to create private investment accounts using Social Security funds.

Bush's proposal has been hobbled by flagging support from the public and near-universal opposition from Democrats. Hurricane Katrina, which struck Aug. 29 and may cost as much as $200 billion, has made it even more difficult to proceed with a comprehensive Social Security measure this year, said Representative Clay Shaw, a Florida Republican who sits on the Ways and Means Committee.

``With what's going on with Katrina, it's going to be a huge deficit,'' Shaw said. The Congressional Budget Office estimated Bush's Social Security proposal may contribute as much as $2 trillion to the deficit over 10 years."

| Conservatives Rejoice: There is no fat left to cut in the budget | Conservatives Rejoice: There is no fat left to cut in the budget: "House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an 'ongoing victory,' and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget.

Mr. DeLay was defending Republicans' choice to borrow money and add to this year's expected $331 billion deficit to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief. Some Republicans have said Congress should make cuts in other areas, but Mr. DeLay said that doesn't seem possible.

'My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet,' the Texas Republican told reporters at his weekly briefing.

Asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, 'Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good.'"

Texarkana Gazette: News and Classifieds From Texarkana, Texas/Arkansas

Texarkana Gazette: News and Classifieds From Texarkana, Texas/Arkansas: "When the Texas High School foreign language textbooks were published, cell phones were not widely used, having an e-mail address was uncommon and students were using cassette tapes in class rather than CDs.

'Since then, a lot of technological advances have increased in vocabulary,' said Maryann Frick, department chair for foreign language at Texas High School.

But schools in Texarkana and throughout Texas are having to rely on these old textbooks, most of them outdated by at least seven years, until the new ones arrive. The new books were ordered just a week before school began-after the second special session of the Texas Legislature ended without a funding formula and Gov. Rick Perry called for a budget executive order to purchase $295 million in foreign language, fine arts and health textbooks.

After book orders are processed, it usually takes two or three weeks for some school districts to receive new textbooks, said Jerry Black, spokesman for Liberty-Eylau Independent School District."

State court nears school-finance decision - State court nears school-finance decision: "The Texas Supreme Court is trying to decide a legal challenge to the state's school finance system by the end of this month, a spokesman said.

'We're not making any promises, but that's the hope,' Osler McCarthy said.

State District Judge John Dietz in the fall declared the funding system unconstitutional and inadequate and gave the state until Oct. 1 to replace it, which the Legislature failed to do during three sessions this year.

Attorney General Greg Abbott appealed Dietz's ruling to the high court, which heard lawyers' arguments July 6. Although it often takes the Supreme Court longer to decide cases, McCarthy said justices are 'working diligently to get something out by the end of September.'"

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

DPS balks at releasing House videos, cites safety

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Texas Legislature: "Attorney General Greg Abbott's office says the Department of Public Safety must release security camera videos taken during the House's fierce debates over school vouchers last May.

DPS says disclosure of the tapes could jeopardize security at the Capitol. It filed a lawsuit this month to block their disclosure."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

DeLay associates indicted in investigation

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News: "Two associates of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay were indicted Tuesday on additional felony charges of violating Texas election law and criminal conspiracy to violate election law for their role in the 2002 legislative races.

The indictment was the latest from a grand jury investigating the use of corporate money in the campaigns that gave Republicans control of the Texas House.

In Texas, state law prohibits using corporate contributions to advocate the election or defeat of state candidates.

The two men indicted Tuesday, Jim Ellis, who heads Americans for a Republican Majority, and John Colyandro, former executive director of Texans for a Republican Majority, already faced charges of money laundering in the case. Colyandro also faces 13 counts of unlawful acceptance of a corporate political contribution.

The money laundering charges stem from $190,000 in corporate funds that were sent to the Republican National Party, which then spent the same amount on seven candidates for the Texas Legislature.

Joe Turner, representing Colyandro, said attorneys for the Republican National Committee examined and cleared all the questioned transactions.

“We don't believe a crime was ever committed,” Turner said.

Once DeLay helped Republicans win control of the state Legislature in 2002, the majority leader engineered a Republican redistricting plan that gave the state's U.S. House delegation a 21-11 majority in the current Congress."

Sunday, September 11, 2005 - Storm left NASA Gulf Coast facilities 'beaten up' - Storm left NASA Gulf Coast facilities 'beaten up': "NASA on Thursday estimated the cost of restoring two Gulf Coast facilities in Hurricane Katrina's path at $1.1 billion and said it was assessing whether the agency can resume shuttle missions within a year.

The storm swept across the agency's Michoud Assembly Facility in east New Orleans, where shuttle fuel tanks are produced, and the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., where rocket engines are tested.

Many of the 7,000 workers at the two facilities are homeless, and it is uncertain when they can report for duty. High winds and water damaged some buildings. Electricity was cut off, and transportation routes were flooded."

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Rove story costs S.A. lawyer her state job Metro | State: "A state agency lawyer quoted in a nationally-circulated news story as questioning Karl Rove's eligibility to vote in Kerr County is out of a job and feeling twice burned.

Elizabeth Reyes said she was fired Tuesday as an attorney in the elections division of the Texas secretary of state's office because she appeared in a Washington Post story Saturday about the presidential adviser.

The article, which was reprinted in papers across the country, quoted Reyes as saying Rove's ownership of Kerr County property may not qualify him to vote there.

Reyes, a 30-year-old San Antonio native, is seeking reinstatement to the job she'd held since May.

She said she was dismissed on grounds of violating an agency policy that allows staff to respond to routine questions but directs them to refer controversial, sensitive or legal inquiries to their supervisors or a press officer."

Schools with old texts adapting to new year

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News: "Schools with old texts adapting to new year"

The Dynasty television references in the old textbooks are lost on Ty Gilbert's French students. Same with the nods to Surya Bonaly, a formerly famous French figure skater.

"The kids are going, 'Who?' " said Mr. Gilbert, who teaches at Molina High School in the Dallas Independent School District.

But worse than outdated cultural references, his students will be stuck with textbooks that are torn, missing pages and written on for another year. He'll be forced to teach without the new workbooks, videos and audiocassettes available with the new books approved by the state for use this year.

Distribution of millions of new textbooks for Texas foreign language, health, art and music classes were held up this summer because of legislative disputes about funding them. The state promised funding for new books only last month. Delivery from publishers can take longer than a month, leaving many districts with tough decisions about what materials to use in the classroom, several weeks into the school year.

Some teachers, including Mr. Gilbert, won't be able to put the new materials to use at all this year for consistency's sake, or because curriculum and tests corresponding to the new books couldn't be prepared in time.

"Look what it's done to us," he said of the delay.

Teachers don't have the tools they need, he said. "That's the shame. We were looking forward to everything, and we got nothing."

The problem is exacerbated in growing districts, where there aren't enough old books to keep up with growing populations. Many schools report that they've been unable to give students books to take home. Instead, books are left in class and shared by students.

Hear that sound? It's the echo of Sharpstown

Star-Telegram | 09/10/2005 | Hear that sound? It's the echo of Sharpstown: "We have known for years that an antiquated, inadequate and unfair tax system was eroding public education in Texas. But when a state court confirmed that last November by declaring the current system unconstitutional, we could no longer avoid the issue.

The result was a regular session and three special sessions in which absolutely nothing was accomplished.

The stunning failure of the Legislature to address the issue has exposed lawmakers to a barrage of richly deserved public criticism.

Legislators blame teachers and superintendents. Democrats blame Republicans. The House blames the Senate. Speaker Tom Craddick, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Gov. Rick Perry blame one another.

Now it will be left to the state Supreme Court to rule on the appeal of the lower ruling. (Then they can all blame it on 'activist judges' . . . But I digress.)

As we await that decision, the public is left with another important question: How should we, as voters, respond to the demonstrated incompetence of our elected officials?"

Friday, September 09, 2005

Evacuees can scramble political landscape

Evacuees can scramble political landscape - Opinion: "The idea that the New Orleans tragedy could change the nation's political landscape wrongly focuses on President Bush's popularity. The true significance could be the long-term effect on voting by potential hurricane-related population shifts.

If large numbers of residents don't return to New Orleans, election returns in Louisiana and the region -- perhaps even the country -- could change substantially.

At first glance, that would seem to be bad news for Louisiana Democrats, although it's not clear whether a diaspora would help the party in states to which the migrants move."

Read the rest.

Two groups indicted in alleged scheme to tip 2002 elections Metro | State: "Two groups heavily involved in 2002 Texas politics were indicted Thursday on charges of misusing corporate money to illegally influence the outcome of that year's elections, which gave Republicans control of the state Capitol for the first time in modern history.

A Travis County grand jury issued four multiple-count indictments against the Texas Association of Business, or TAB, and one indictment against Texans for a Republican Majority, a political action committee formed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to wrest control of the Texas House of Representatives from Democrats."

DomeBlog: DeLay to evacuees: 'Is this kind of fun?'

DomeBlog: DeLay to evacuees: 'Is this kind of fun?'

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's visit to Reliant Park this morning offered him a glimpse of what it's like to be living in shelter.

While on the tour with top administration officials from Washington, including U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots.

The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?"

They nodded yes, but looked perplexed.

Yes, Massa, this is much more fun than life back on the plantation. Could Delay be any more of an idiot.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Texas grand jury indicts political action committee connected to House Majority Leader DeLay > News > Politics -- Texas grand jury indicts political action committee connected to House Majority Leader DeLay: "A grand jury has indicted a political action committee formed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and a Texas business group in connection with 2002 legislative campaign contributions.

The five felony indictments against the two groups were made public Thursday. Neither DeLay nor any individuals with the business group has been charged with any wrongdoing."

Perry tops Strayhorn in poll of Republican voters | News for Denton, Texas | Texas/Southwest: "Gov. Rick Perry holds a double-digit lead over Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn in a GOP primary race, although Republican voters say both candidates are doing a good job, according to a new poll.

At the same time, the Scripps Howard Texas Poll indicates that Mr. Perry has not locked up a majority of Republican primary voters and that the governor's job-approval ratings continue to slide among all Texans.

If the 2006 primary were held today, 46 percent of Republican voters would support Mr. Perry, compared with 28 percent for Mrs. Strayhorn. Nearly one-quarter are undecided. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Analysts said the numbers indicate that although Mrs. Strayhorn faces an uphill battle in trying to oust the incumbent, the task is not impossible."

Perry criticized for pushing his own charity

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Katrina's Aftermath

Gov. Rick Perry, in hurricane relief tours around the state, in news releases and on his official state Web site, has urged Texans to contribute to three groups: the Red Cross, Salvation Army and the OneStar Foundation.

The last of those is a volunteer-coordinating effort founded by Mr. Perry. His prominent promotion of his own foundation has prompted some to question whether the governor is trying to benefit politically from the outpouring of sympathy and good works in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"One thing about politicians, you can never overestimate their shamelessness," said Fred Lewis, director of Campaigns for People, a group that favors greater disclosure of political donations and limits on the influence of large donors.

Star-Telegram | 09/08/2005 | Ratings of Bush, others on downswing in state

Star-Telegram | 09/08/2005 | Ratings of Bush, others on downswing in state: "Texans have grown increasingly disenchanted with their government leaders, with politicians from the president on down suffering some of their lowest approval ratings ever, according to a new poll.

Released Wednesday by the Scripps Howard News Service, the poll of 1,000 adult Texans shows that 52 percent believe that President Bush is doing an excellent or good job, while 43 percent believe that he's doing a fair or poor one.

By contrast, Bush had the support of 87 percent of Texans shortly after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, with just 1 percent saying he was doing a fair or poor job.

His ratings have consistently declined and are now within the statistical margin of error for his lowest ever, according to Scripps Howard."

Texas officials look for reimbursement for hurricane aid

AP Wire | 09/07/2005 | Texas officials look for reimbursement for hurricane aid: "State officials asked for help Wednesday in the face of mounting costs to Texas for aiding Hurricane Katrina survivors.

Gov. Rick Perry asked U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt for full reimbursement for the cost of providing Medicaid and other health services for refugees housed in Texas, claiming the aid would otherwise cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

According to figures compiled by Perry's office, more than 200,000 evacuees are staying in shelters, hotels and other locations across Texas."

Texas coast shows no ill effects of Katrina - Pike: Texas coast shows no ill effects of Katrina: "The chaos of a major storm such as Hurricane Katrina moves mountains of water and tons of marine life as it nears a coast but has only minor effect outside that primary impact zone.

Most Texas-based offshore fishing boats were unaffected by Katrina despite sloppy, wind-chopped waves that towered to 50-plus feet where she made landfall. Over this way, the hurricane's pulse was more gentle and presented itself in measured, rolling swells. As the boats got back to fishing, action picked up nearly where it left off."

Mexican troops enter Texas with aid - Mexican troops enter Texas with aid: "Laden with humanitarian aid for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, a Mexican military unit crossed into U.S. territory today for the first time in more than 150 years.

Carrying nearly 200 unarmed soldiers, doctors, nurses and engineers, the convoy of dozens of trucks entered Texas at Laredo this morning with mobile kitchens, water treatment plants, bottled water, blankets and canned food for people displaced by Katrina.

Officials at the Mexican Consulate in Houston said the convoy was headed toward San Antonio. But it remained unclear where the trucks would ultimately end up.

'We are sending the help wherever the U.S. authorities request us to,' said Carlos Gonzalez, Mexico's consul general in Houston."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Stadium 'heaven' to new residents

Stadium 'heaven' to new residents - The Daily Texan - Top Stories: "Eating macaroni and meatballs with a slice of white bread, Desiree Singleton, a Hurricane Katrina evacuee, stopped between bites and recalled the hellish conditions she said she experienced at the Superdome. For the first time, someone was listening to what she was saying instead of pushing her away like she said the guards did during her four days at New Orleans' massive temporary hurricane shelter.

She called the air-conditioned and orderly Astrodome 'heaven' - the tight security a drastic contrast from the pandemonium in the Superdome. Refugees' memories of the New Orleans shelter are dominated by stories of rape, gunshots and robbery.

About 500 Houston law enforcement officials roamed the grounds of the Astrodome in three shifts. Officials reported on Saturday that only six minor arrests involving evacuees had occured the night before in the entire city of Houston, and no major on-site incidents were reported. "

Some relief efforts work; some bound in red tape - Some relief efforts work; some bound in red tape: "However, a curious move over the weekend seemed to indicate that perhaps Texas officials, now accommodating 240,000 evacuees, felt their concerns weren't being addressed by Washington.

Last Saturday, Perry put the federal government on notice that Texas was reaching its limit after taking in an estimated 240,000 evacuees.

When the evacuees kept coming, Perry's office took a different tactic. He notified the White House on Sunday he planned to order the airlift of evacuees to other states that had offered to take them in.

Airlift effort stalled

Within hours of the public announcement, FEMA contacted Perry's office to say that it would be taking over the airlift. But by late Monday, no planes had left. 'When they took over they put it in a holding pattern,' said Ted Royer, a spokesman for Perry.

A call to a FEMA spokeswoman in Washington for comment, was not returned Monday to the Houston Chronicle.

The Texas governor's office maintained public safety for the evacuees was the ultimate concern in organizing the airlift."

Hurricane's lesson: Everyday politics matter

The Telegraph Online: "Like many of you who love New Orleans, I find myself taking short mental walks there today, turning a familiar corner, glimpsing a favorite scene, square or vista. And worrying about the beloved friends and the city, and how they are now.

To use a fine Southern word, it’s tacky to start playing the blame game before the dead are even counted.

It is not too soon, however, to make a point that needs to be hammered home again and again, and that is that government policies have real consequences in people’s lives.

This is not “just politics” or blaming for political advantage. This is about the real consequences of what governments do and do not do about their responsibilities. And about who winds up paying the price for those policies."

Tom DeLay: No support to roll back gas tax

Politics News Article | "House Republican Leader Tom DeLay said on Tuesday there was no support for rolling back the federal gasoline tax to offset higher prices.

'Absolutely not,' he told reporters after a meeting with President George W. Bush on issues related to Hurricane Katrina.

'Now more than ever you're going to need ... that infrastructure, those highway trust funds, to rebuild the bridges that were destroyed, rebuild the railroads that were destroyed. You have to have the infrastructure or you can't have a recovery,' DeLay, of Texas, said."

So Delay finally met a tax he likes. Wouldn't want to jeopardize all of those Highway Bill pork projects.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Flow of evacuees into Texas begins to slow - Flow of evacuees into Texas begins to slow: "Federal officials have taken over the Texas airlift of Hurricane Katrina refugees to other states, but the tide of the evacuation into Texas has slowed down and no planes had left by early today.

No buses or planes with the official evacuation effort had come into the state since Sunday night, Perry's office said today.

'That's not to say it won't happen, but for the first time in days there were not any buses,' said Perry spokesman Robert Black. More refugees could still be coming in by other means, he said.

Perry announced the airlift Sunday to ease the pressure nearly a quarter million refugees had placed on Texas shelters reaching their limit.

Originally set up under the Texas National Guard, Perry's office said the Federal Emergency Management Agency took over the operation Sunday night.

The airlift plans were still in place and could be executed if needed, Black said." | 09/04/2005 | Strain on Texas to come | 09/04/2005 | Strain on Texas to come: "The clustering of Katrina victims in shelters in Texas urban areas will place a tremendous strain on schools and public health systems, and the hardships will increase as the weeks wear on, experts say.

The challenge to Texas will be to maintain a steady flow of resources to the families who have already suffered so much, while dealing with the state's own difficulties in education and health care.

But many see that Texas-size commitment as an expression of patriotism and faith."

Saturday, September 03, 2005

What does Texas do with their own poor?

Gulf Times Newspaper - Qatar, Gulf and World News - Americas: "Perry asked the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to identify all vacant low-income housing units that can be used by refugees. Some 7,000 units have already been identified, according to the statement."

Why weren't these 7000 units being occupied by low income Texans?

Texas to take in 75,000 refugees

Gulf Times Newspaper - Qatar, Gulf and World News - Americas: "Texas, which has already taken in thousands of people left homeless by flooding in the neighbouring state of Louisiana, is offering to provide shelter to another 50,000 people, Governor Rick Perry said late on Thursday.
That would bring the number of refugees in Texas to 75,000, after the city of Houston agreed to take in 25,000 refugees in its old Astrodome stadium and several surrounding buildings."
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