Other website: http://SteveWalkerReport.blogspot.com

Friday, June 30, 2006

John Courage nets #2 in mapchangers


From John Courage's Website

You did it!

As the voting closed late last night here in Texas around 2 a.m., you helped John Courage SURGE to the #2 spot in the west, coming incredibly close to taking the first place slot in Mark Warner's
Mapchanger contest.

John will now be competing in the final round for a grand prize of a fundraiser in the district with Governor Warner.

By Glenn Smith

Texas' first president, Gen. Sam Houston, ordered Santa Anna, the foe he had just beaten at the Battle of San Jacinto, escorted (secretly) to Mexico City to begin repairing relations between the new Republic of Texas and the Mexican government.

What the hell does this have to do with
John Courage's courageous fight to oust Republican Lamar Smith from Congress in Texas CD 21? Everything. I've always thought Houston's courageous and pragmatic gesture represented something special about this place.

To make his young country safer and more secure, Gen. Houston released its biggest nemesis. It worked. We saw this special character in Sam Rayburn. We saw it in Lyndon Johnson when he fought for and signed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. This independence and courage is missing in the last two presidents from Texas. It is especially lacking in Lamar Smith.

I'm not going to detail Smith's record here. He was a leader of the House Ethics Committee rule change that sought to protect Tom DeLay. Enough said. The news today is that John Courage can beat Smith. In part because of Courage's character. In part because of Smith's. In part because Texas CD 21 is changing.

There's another reason. Courage has captured the imagination of the progressive netroots here. My friends at
BurntOrangeReport and the Agonist and Annatopia and their Texas colleagues are not an easy crowd. They're tough, and they're into this fight.

A few words about the political landscape in Texas and in CD 21. The GOP culture of corruption, the debacle in Iraq, deteriorating schools, job loss, a health care crisis, traffic -- all of these have taken a toll on Republicans here. In state House districts that look a lot like CD 21, Democrats are beating Republicans. That is, Democrats are winning in moderate districts that have historically voted Republican.

State Rep. Donna Howard, for instance, beat a well-financed Republican (in a special election earlier this year) in a district that gave Bush 65+ percent of the vote in 2000, and better than 55 percent in 2004. Notice a trend line? State Rep. Mark Strama beat a well-financed GOP incumbent in a similar district in 2004 for much the same reasons.

Think of the reasons as incompetence fatigue. Or deceit fatigue. The consequences of Republican policies are now felt across a broad swath of Texas, especially in places like CD 21.

I used to live in the heart of Texas 21, in a little town called Dripping Springs outside of Austin. Willie Nelson lived nearby. It was kinda redneck. The District runs north and south, sandwiched between IH 35 and U.S. Highway 281. Between the two highways runs a rugged geological feature called "The Devil's Backbone." You get the picture.

Once, I advised the backers of a new sewer system to go door to door and talk with the 650 registered voters rather than pay for advertising. At the first home they visited, they were locked in the House at gunpoint. The sewer system failed, but they escaped with their lives.

Dripping Springs is now a moderate place, full of teachers and nurses, high tech workers. They are pragmatic, family-oriented people. And by the way, the old-timers in Dripping are good people, too. Like I said, no one died in the sewer controversy. I LIKE the rural people of central and west Texas. They care about our land, they'll give you a beer when you're thirsty, they're honest. They've just been fooled by Republicans, but many have figured out just who it is that's been stealing their chickens.

A Democrat, state Rep. Patrick Rose, hails from Dripping Springs. I watched him grow up. He beat an incumbent Republican in 2002 when Democrats were wiped out across the state. There's even a documentary movie, "Last Man Standing," about Rose.

Rose has moved to the right on a few issues of late, but he was elected as a moderate Democrat.
Don't get me wrong, the district is conservative to moderate. About 19 percent of the district grabs some more conservative parts of San Antonio. But about 35 percent live in the Austin area.

A recent Lake Research Partners poll put Smith's re-elect at 31 percent. More than 60 percent were willing to consider someone else. Smith has a positive/negative of 37/40. Congress has a negative rating of 71 percent. Bush's positives are down to 44, better than he's doing in some places, but it's like he's fallen off the Devil's Backbone here.

I don't know John Courage personally. I hope I get to know him soon. He's a married father of four, a Air Force veteran, a teacher, an honest guy who had the courage to run against the odds, and now the odds are running in his favor.

John Courage is right on Social Security, health care, the environment. He's a teacher, and he's been hanging with the schoolkids while Bushco leaves them all behind. But it's his backbone, his Patriot's Backbone, not the Devil's, that attracts me to John. And that's what's going to make us all proud when he's in Congress.

Larry Noll, nominee for District Judge of the 408th

From Larry Noll's website

Larry has a history of participation in the community – professionally and civically. In addition to receiving personal gratification from serving in state, city and neighborhood leadership positions, Larry has been recognized by numerous organizations for his contributions.

During his tenure with his former firm, the Pro Bono Law Project recognized Bird & Noll as the Small Firm of the Year.

Hall of Fame Recognitions
Because of Larry's community involvement and service, he has been inducted into various halls of fame in the San Antonio community including the St. Mary’s Athletic Hall of Fame (1991), the Holy Cross High School Hall of Fame (1999) and more recently, the Archdiocese of San Antonio Catholic Schools Hall of Fame (2004). These recognitions underscore not only Larry’s community involvement but also his dedication and commitment to education.

Larry's most recent honor, the 2004 Catholic Schools Hall of Fame Award, was presented to him by Dale R. Hoyt, Superintendent of Catholic Schools. Hoyt stated that the award was presented to Larry because it was determined that he "represents the many individuals who have graduated from Catholic schools within the Archdiocese of San Antonio who have continued to support both Catholic education and the community at large.

"This recognition is just one way we can express our sincere gratitude for your generous contributions."

Larry was recognized, along with the other Outstanding Leaders of Catholic Education, at the Hall of Fame and Outstanding Leaders in Catholic Education Awards Dinner at the Omni Hotel in January 2004.

Community LeadershipLeadership San Antonio (1985) Director, St. Mary's University Alumni Association (1978-1979) Vice-President, St. Mary's University Alumni Association (1979-1981)President-elect, St. Mary's University Alumni (1981-1982) President, St. Mary's University Alumni Association (1982-1983) Vice-President, St. Mary's University Athletic Association (1977-1984) President, St. Mary's Athletic Association (1987-1989)President, Holy Cross Center (a non-profit organization) (1984 to 1992) President, Holy Cross Community Services of Texas (1992-2000) Vice-President, Board of Trustees, Holy Cross High School (1984-1987)President, Board of Trustees, Holy Cross High School (1988-1992) Board of Directors, American Cancer Society (1983-1985) Board of Directors, Catholic Cable TV of San Antonio (1983-1984)Board of Directors, San Antonio Library Foundation (1984-1985)

Awards Distinguished Alumnus, St. Mary's University (2000) Holy Cross High School Hall of Fame (1999) St. Mary's University Athletic Hall of Fame (1991) Hall of Fame Award - Archdiocese of San Antonio (2004)West San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Doctoral Achievement Award (2004) Texas Monthly "Super Lawyer" in Family Law (2004)Current Magazine "Outstanding Lawyer" in Real Estate. (2005)

Larry Stallings runs for State Rep. District 122

From Larry Stallings website
Photo: Larry preparing a 24-hour filibuster in Austin on Education with David van Os.

Larry is a 58 year old father and grandfather. He was born and raised in Amarillo and graduated from Tascosa High School in 1966. Larry joined the Marine Corps immediately after graduation and served a total of 30 years in various military components, 20 of them as an Army Medical Service Corps officer.

Larry completed a Bachelor of Arts (Summa Cum Laude) degree, and a Master of Public Administration (Summa Cum Laude) degree while on military duty. He was awarded more than two dozen medals and citations, served on two combat deployments and was awarded a Bronze Star and Legion of Merit.

He is a credentialed community college instructor in Virginia and California, teaching business and management classes. Larry worked as a mental health case worker (QMHP) for two years and continues to be an advocate for mental health issues.

He is married to Diane and they have two children; Faith, married with two children, and Billy, who begins his freshman year at Harvard this Fall. They have a dog and cat; both rescued. Larry and Diane have been foster parents and hosted many international exchange students since 1981.

Larry is employed by a regional medical center, as the Director of Central Supply. And he is running against Frank Corte for State Representative in District 122.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Schedule for Texas Re-map

Breaking News - District Court Issues Schedule for Texas Re-map

The three-judge Federal District Court has issued an order and provided a schedule for determining a remedy in response to the recently released opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court on Texas redistricting.

The Schedule is below
July 14, 2006 - All parties (plaintiffs and defendants) required to file remedial proposals including briefs and proposed maps.
July 21, 2006 - responses to remedial proposals must be filed.
August 3, 2006 - 9:00 a.m. - Oral arguments on proposals before the three-judge panel in Austin, Texas

SDEC3 Dennis Teal speaks about Glen Maxey

By Dennis Teal
SDEC3

Friends:
I read Rep. Maxey's post and find myself in agreement with his conclusion. Ya Basta! Our election for Party Chair raised many issues of great importance to each Democrat and to the Party. To that end, it was a useful process within our Party.

Each of the major candidates: Glen Maxey, Boyd Richie and Charlie Jones are all honorable men who have served this Party well over a long period of time. Although, my support did not fall to Rep. Maxey, there should be no doubt that he has been of great benefit to this Party over the years. Each candidate conducted not only good campaigns but great campaigns. The fact is, the vote is over.

Even with great disappointment, Glen brought himself to the stage and reported for duty to help the Texas Democratic Party any way possible as did Charlie Jones. Glen will forever have my respect for yet another great moment he has given our Party.

I believe Rep. Maxey will do what he has always done, his best, for the Texas Democratic party. Irrespective which candidate each of you may have supported, the election isover.

Glen Maxey, Boyd Richie and Charlie Jones are my friends and they are a friend to each of you; we are all Democrats. Now, let's all work together to beat the Republicans. Ya Basta!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Peter Sakai-an award winning Judge


By the Democrat
It appears that Associate Judge Peter Sakai is quickly becoming the most highly awarded Democratic Judicial candidate of 2006 if the long list of awards is any indication.

The record shows that since Sakai’s campaign began with a symbolic train ride through landmark Brackenridge Park to jump start his “get on board,” whistle stop goal to be elected Judge for the 225th District Court, the awards and recognitions keep rolling in.

Since handily winning his primary race, Sakai has racked up honors to include:The City Year San Antonio with the Lifetime of Idealism Award, the Justice David Wellington Chew Achievement Award for Exceptional Professionalism and Professional Accomplishment from the Asian Pacific and the Interest Section of the State Bar of Texas honor.

He was recognized with The prestigious Molly Gerold Human Rights Award from the South Texas Counseling Association, and The Frederick Douglass Emancipator Award from the African-American Reflections organization for his "commitment to freeing children from the oppression and danger of child abuse and neglect."

Other awards and honors include: Child Advocates "Judge of the Year" Award,a "Peter Sakai Day, " designated by the San Antonio Bar Association & Bexar County Commissioners Court, and a US Congress "Angel in Adoption Award" in Washington, D.C. Sakai received the "Lone Star Proud for Kids Judge of the Year" at State CASA Conference in Dallas, Texas.

He also received the First Family "Advocate of the Year" by Methodist Health Care Ministries. The San Antonio Police Officers Association awarded him their "Angels of Texas," while the Bexar County Deputy Sheriff’s Association awarded him their “Guardian Angel” Award.

If that were not enough, he was singled out for The Girls and Boys Town "National Spirit of Youth Award" as well as the Milagritos “Amistad Award.

According to Mary Alice Cisneros, Sakai's Treasurer and strong suporter, “The awards reflect Peter Sakai¹s resolve to empower families, protect children and improve the system.”

Sakai credits the “out of the box think tank” spearheaded by his Advertising and Public Relations Coordinator, Alice Guerra, CEO of GTO Advertising as the driving force behind his campaign.

Her staff includes: Partner Michelle Reynolds, Michael Garcia, an award winning Art Director, and Guerra’s assistant and creative writer, Carlos Pena. The trio is responsible for shaping Sakai’s aggressive message that observers say is effective.

For more information on Judge Sakai, go to his website at: www.judgepetersakai.com

Hispanic Voters vindicated in LULAC vs Perry Texas Redistricting case

LULAC Press Release

Washington, DC – Today’s decision by the US Supreme Court in the LULAC vs Perry Texas Redistricting Case has vindicated our position that the plan drawn up by the Texas legislature eroded minority voting strength in Texas and is therefore illegal and unconstitutional. We demand immediate relief based upon the Supreme Court’s findings and we call upon the lower court to adopt a plan that is fair for all Texans not just those favored by former Congressman Tom DeLay.

Every ten years the Hispanic community of Texas has had to go to the courts for relief as a result of unconstitutional redistricting that eroded minority voting strength. Last year, we were compelled to once again go to court and once again we have been vindicated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the LULAC vs. Perry decision that was released this morning.

LULAC expects immediate relief for the constitutional violations well before the November 2006 elections. We are prepared to go to court as early as next week to present our plan so that the district court can begin the process of considering the various plans. We have and continue to assert that the Congressional District lines in existence prior to the redistricting are the appropriate lines to be considered by the court. Anything less than that will be unacceptable. The old lines are the only sure way of ensuring that every citizen’s vote will be given its true equal weight.

From the beginning the prime focus of our case focused on district 23 because of the fracturing of a cohesive latino population in Laredo, Webb County, Texas (over 90% Latino) where the state's redistricting plan split the City in half placing half in Congressional District 23 and the other half in district 25th and the 28th. The plan also moved an equal amount of the conservative population from the Texas hill country into district 23 thereby reducing the Latino voting strength from substantially over 50% citizen voting age population to less than 50% citizen voting age population.

The case will be remanded back to the District Court and they will need to provide a plan that is constitutional. In relief we want the 23 district to go back to original lines as it was before redistricting. Obviously this will create a ripple effect throughout the surrounding districts.

Our victory in this case underscores the continued need for the prompt reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. The foundation of our Democracy is based upon the right of all citizens to equal participation in the voting process.
The League of the United Latin American Citizen (www.lulac.org) advances the economic conditions, educational attainment, political influence, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide.
###

Supreme Court overturns part of Texas redistricting

Most of the Texas congressional map redistricted with the help of former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, Sugarland, has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Only a small fraction of the map was thrown out, acknowledging that some of the new boundaries failed to protect minority voting rights.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy, pointed out that Hispanics do not have a chance to elect a candidate of their choosing under the current plan.

Boundaries will have to be adjusted to address the courts concerns.

Foes of the current plan argued that that was an unconstitutional, racial, gerrymander under the Voting Acts Rights.

Democratic nominee for Governor Chris Bell
responds to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn part of the redistricting suit.


“The Supreme Court’s decision clearly shows that Rick Perry and Tom DeLay’s actions were blatant violations of the Voting Rights Act and politically motivated power grabs against the Hispanic voting population in South Texas. Instead of fixing schools and health care in Texas, Rick Perry’s only accomplishment as Governor was to give Tom DeLay more power in Washington.

“The Court’s decision highlights the need for new leadership in Texas to bring communities together rather than drive them apart. We must protect the Voting Rights Act in Texas and the thousands of Hispanic voters in South Texas specifically targeted by Rick Perry and Tom DeLay’s redistricting plan.

"I strongly encourage Congress to renew the Voting Rights Act. It is imperative to protect the voting rights of all Americans against such unethical power grabs.”

More response from Dan Graney, former Stonewall Democrats Chair.

By Dan Graney
The long-awaited U.S. Supreme Court decision on the DeLay Redistricted Texas Congressional Map was finally issued today. Although the Court's decision leaves most of the DeLay-engineered map intact, it did throw out the redrawing of the District 23 boundaries (Henry Bonilla's district) because it violated the Voting Rights Act.

This most likely affect other districts adjoining District 23. The boundaries must be redrawn before the November elections and it will be up to afederal judge to do so. This is the good part of the decision. The bad part is that the Supremes said it was OK to redraw districts mid-decade, which means that we could have political chaos in the future when political party control of state legislatures shifts.

This was a 5-4 decision - majority opinion written by Anthony Kennedy.Stay tuned for how this will all be worked out – Ciro may have the chance to be the "comeback kid" after all! This will also boost Rick Bolanos' chances against Bonilla.


More response to the Redistricting controversy from around the state

J. Gerald Hebert, executive director of the Campaign Legal Center & Counsel for the Texas Congressional Democrats in the Texas Redistricting Lawsuits said, “Today’s decision show this was a challenge worth bringing.”

He went on to say, “this case was never about officeholders or incumbents, it wasn’t even about Democrats or Republicans. It was about protecting the voting rights of all Texans, particularly minority voters.

Former Congressman Martin Frost added, “It has been an important fight, and I am proud of the Texans who were willing to standup to Tom Delay, Rick Perry and the partisan Justice Department to protect voting rights.”

State Senator Leticia van de Putte said, “But the fight is not over. History shows that those who stop fighting for their rights lose them.” She also says, “There are those who want to chip away at our absolute right to vote, and if we stop fighting for it, they will prevail.”

State Rep. Jim Dunnam, stated, “It is immoral for Republicans to push a partisan agenda in violation of the Voting Rights Act, and the District Court should act immediately to ensure each and every Texan’s vote is counted this Fall.”

AUSTIN - Governor Rick Perry today issued the following statement on the Supreme Court’s decision on Texas congressional redistricting:
“Today is a clear victory for our state as the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Texas’ redrawing of a gerrymandered map, and preserved the vast majority of the redrawn districts.

“The Supreme Court has ordered the three-judge panel to address the one district requiring further action, and we expect the panel to hold a hearing in the near future to address the timeline for the process. I will work with Attorney General Abbott in our state’s efforts to resolve this legal issue.”

Bexar County Democrats host Dr. Richard Gambitta


Bexar County Tejano Democrats invite all Democrats to attend the Tejano Democrats monthly meeting, Saturday, July 8th at 9:30 a.m. at Tito’s Restaurant, 955 S. Alamo. (across from Mad Hatters in King William)

Guest Speaker will by Dr. Richard Gambitta, Professor of Political Science at UTSA, who will present “The Minority Majority Report at the State Democratic Convention” recently held in Fort Worth. His topic is entitled, “The Future of the Democratic Party in Texas.”

According to Charlie Urbina Jones, Tejano Democrats Chair, “we have an opportunity to move forward and elect more Democrats at the state level and locally in November.”

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Madeleine comments on President Eisenhower











By Madeleine Dewar SDEC26

I sent the following response to Joe Solis, Editor of the South Texas Republican Newsletter in response to an article he wrote about Dwight D. Eisenhower.

I appreciated the insert from Ike. Dwight Eisenhower was and is one of my heroes. The first political campaign I ever participated in was in 1952 when at 11 years of age I was honored with the job of presenting Mamie Eisenhower a bouquet of roses at the train station when Ike and Mamie came through Buffalo, NY on their whistle stop campaign tour.

In January 1957 I attended Ike’s second inaugural with my mother and father. My mother was a very active member of the Republican Party in Erie County, New York and served on Eisenhower’s staff during WWII in Europe as a WAAC and a WAC.

I look at his picture on your newsletter and can only think that, like myself, there is no way this man could have continued to associate himself with the Republican Party today. In my day, and in Eisenhower’s day, the Republican Party was fiscally conservative and socially responsible.

The Republican Party today is neither. It is the party of big government for the sake of cronies and large corporations. It is spending our grandchildren’s futures with the deficit they will have to pay, environmental destruction, lack of educational achievement, world opinion and class disparity. It is a nation that is not compassionately conservative, but mercilessly malicious about those who might be less fortunate or even totally helpless.

I will leave you with this quote from President Eisenhower:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1952

Boyd Richie, Chris Bell & Glenn Maxey united


From Chris Bell's website
From L to R: Boyd Richie, State Party Chair, Chris Bell, Democratic nominee for Governor, and former State Rep. Glen Maxey

Team Bell is announcing today the addition of Mr. Glen Maxey to the campaign, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

Glen will be our statewide field director in charge of grassroots efforts around the state, and there is absolutely no one better for the job.

With over thirty five years’ experience in Texas politics, six successful terms as a State Representative, and having been instrumental in a very long list of Democratic campaigns that includes those of Gov. Ann Richards, ’04 Presidential candidate Howard Dean, State Reps. Donna Howard, Patrick Rose, and Eddie Rodriguez, as well as most recently his own bid for state party chairman

Monday, June 26, 2006

Coordinated Campaign meeting draws large turnout


From L to R: 4th Court of Appeals Justice Alma Lopez and Gina Montemayor, and Connie DeLuna, Chair of the Democratic Leadership Council.

The Bexar County Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign Committee met at Grady’s Barbecue on San Pedro, Monday, June 26th to jumpstart the campaigns of all Democrats on the ballot in November.

According to Carla Vela, Bexar County Democratic Party Chair, “In the early stages of the planning process, we must discuss and debate the most effective ways to successfully organize the campaign and execute the plan to get Democrats elected in November.”

One of the central themes that emerged from the meeting was to divide the County into quadrants and enlist all the Democratic organizations to actively block walk the precincts, hand out candidates materials, and phone bank their designated areas of the County.

It was pointed out for example that the Northwest Democrats enjoyed a long history of block walking and handing out material for their candidates. It was noted that the Northwest group distributed over 10-thousands packets in their neighborhoods in the last election cycle.

Numerous Elected Officials, those up for re-election and candidates attended the meeting added their perspective. Those officials and candidates included: Congressional candidates for the 21st and 23rd Congressional Districts; John Courage and Rick Bolanos, respectively. Also on hand were District Judge Andy Mireles and Justice Alma Lopez of the 4th court of Appeals, both not up for re-election.

Judicial candidate Ray Olivarri, Judge Karen Crouch, Judge Monica Guererro, Probate Judicial candidate Barbie Scharf-Zeldes, Judicial candidate Katherine Torres-Stahl, Judical candidate Ina Castillo and District Judge Barbara Nellermoe, all on the November ballot, also attended.

State Rep. District 118th, candidate Joe Farias and Balcones Heights Councilman Steve Walker were in the audience along with Precinct 1 &4 Chairmen; Rick Puente and Vincent Garcia, respectively.

Vice Chair of the Northwest Democrats; Jacob Middleton, Bexar County Democratic Women Chair; Sally Bolster, Northeast Democrats Chair; Ian Strauss, Tejano Chair; Charlie Jones, Committee Woman for SDEC26, 25, and 19 were represented by Madeleine DeWar, Zada True-Courage and Jo McCall; respectively.

Chris Bell likes his chances to win 5-way race


Posted on Chris Bell's website

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Bell was a few minutes late to the podium of the Texas State Association of Electrical Workers meeting Saturday morning because conferees stopped him along the way to talk and hand him personal checks.

"There is a strange dynamic in this five-way race," he told the packed room. "But we need to preach to the choir because they aren't singing loudly enough."
The state Democratic Party's and AFL-CIO's grass-roots groups are critical, he said later, and they must be united and energized — and convinced that Bell can win — to get the vote out.

"We have an incredible opportunity, and I did not get into this race just to be the Democratic nominee," he told the group. "I will win because George (W.) Bush can't come into Texas on a white horse two weeks before and change the results of this election."
"I will win because George (W.) Bush can't come into Texas on a white horse two weeks before and change the results of this election."

In 27 minutes, Bell chimed in — ahem — on school and health-insurance reforms, and government that helps people instead of stymieing them.
"High-stakes testing has gutted public school curriculum and contributed to our having the (nation's) highest dropout rate," he said. "If we're going to prepare kids for life and work in the 21st century, we need to teach them more than how to take another standardized test."

He isn't opposed to standardized tests, he said, but Texas schools have gone from "teaching to the test to teaching the test," and when he asked one McAllen student how much time they spent drilling for TAKS, he replied: "All the time."

"And how can you assure accountability if we get rid of the TAKS test?" the former Houston congressman asked. "What accountability is being insured now?"
Texas has outrageously high dropout rates, he said, and Texas students score abysmally low on the SAT. And many who do go to college need remedial classes to bring them up to par.

"Many who watched the special session were appalled," Bell said. "It was supposed to be about public school finance, but public schools got left out until the last minute, when a few more Band-Aids were taken out of the box and little more window dressing was added to the final legislation."

He excoriated Gov. Rick Perry for "completely misrepresenting the truth" in TV ads claiming that homeowners would realize tax savings of $2,000 when the real reductions — all of which will be replaced with higher taxes collected elsewhere — will be, at best, $500, he said.

But the real reason Bell was "preaching to the choir" is that he needs to convince his base that he can win, which is why he noted that, "experts predict that between 38 and 42 percent of the vote will carry the day," and "during these bleak last 12 years when we haven't won statewide elections, Democrats running statewide have gotten 38 to 42 percent of the vote; that's our baseline vote.

"If we stick together, united, we can have a Democratic governor in January," he said, "and it's important for us to learn to win again because Texas needs us to lead again because we are in last place in an astounding number of categories.

"We will continue to remind people that Rick Perry and Carole (Keeton) Strayhorn are two sleeves in the same empty suit," he said later.

Asked about his next stop, he said a chiropractors' association had invited him "and of course, I, ahem, adjusted my schedule because I want their backing."

Van Os campaigns in Montgomery County

By Nancy Flake
Courier Staff

With all the fire of a "come to Jesus" revival, two Democratic candidates for state office presented their gospel of how they will change things during a whistle stop tour appearance at the Montgomery County Courthouse Wednesday afternoon.

David Van Os, candidate for Texas Attorney General, and Hank Gilbert, running for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, gave their views to a like-minded audience of close to 70 people during the event, the 70th in a planned series of stops at all 254 county courthouses in Texas by Van Os.

As storm clouds rolled overhead and thunder rumbled in the distance, Van Os, an attorney and former state Supreme Court candidate, gave a fiery speech denouncing corruption in corporations, specifically oil and insurance companies.

Talking about ExxonMobil's recent record profits, he said, "The amount of money going into corporate coffers is so vast, our minds cannot comprehend it. Yet, people have to pay $2.90 a gallon at the pump. Something is way, way, way out of whack."

His campaign slogan is "Notice to Big Oil: I'm Coming After You," and Van Os emphasized that's exactly what he will do if he wins the election against incumbent Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican.

"Texas is entitled to an attorney general who will use the tools of the office to make sure government understands the first three words of the Constitution - 'We the people,'" he said to cheers. "Help me take it back."Gilbert, a rancher and former agriculture teacher, is running against state Sen. Todd Staples, whose district includes the northern half of Montgomery County.

"My opponent is being groomed by his party to be the next state leader and a national leader," he said. "It's important we beat him and beat him soundly. You'll see this state go from red to blue in November."God sent his son here to cover all our sins, and right now he's having a hard time covering all the sins of the Republicans."

Noting Montgomery County's heavily Republican voter base, Van Os didn't think his stop Thursday was simply a chance to preach to the choir."I think the choir is all the people," he said. "We're all in it together."

He is not planning a television advertising campaign because he doesn't believe in it, he said. He has paid for four billboards, one in Dallas and three in Northeast Texas, with plans for more.

Wednesday's turnout was the largest for Van Os so far during the whistle stop tour, according to Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairwoman Wendy Melton."We'll make these Republicans nervous yet," she said.

For Clarence Lewis Jr., of Conroe, the event was a sign of a resurgence of the Democratic Party in the county. "I feel new blood is going to revitalize the party," he said. "I think these candidates have a fair chance."A lifelong Democrat, he enjoyed the enthusiastic response of the crowd to Van Os and Gilbert."It's nice to find out they're (Republicans) not the only ones here," Lewis said.

Nobody was available for comment Thursday evening at Todd Staples' campaign office in Palestine, and Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Dr. Walter Wilkerson could not be reached for comment.Nancy Flake can be reached at nflake@hcnonline.com.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tom DeChant remembered on KSAT-12 News

Longtime activist Tom DeChant was remembered on the 10 p.m. newscast, Sunday, June 25th. According to the report, DeChant died of Legionaires Disease after being diagnosed with pneumonia last week. Reporter Gina Galaviz showcased his legacy. His obituary is posted on the BCDPNews in an earlier story.

Kinky Friedman's photo makes cover of Texas Monthly, Chris Bell makes Express-News interview

Independent candidate for Texas Governor, Kinky Friedman's photo is on the front cover of this month's "Texas Monthly," while Democrat Chris Bell is interviewed by Carlos Guerra of the Express-News.


By Carlos Guerra
San Antonio Express-News Columnist

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Bell was a few minutes late to the podium of the Texas State Association of Electrical Workers meeting Saturday morning because conferees stopped him along the way to talk and hand him personal checks.

"There is a strange dynamic in this five-way race," he told the packed room. "But we need to preach to the choir because they aren't singing loudly enough."

The state Democratic Party's and AFL-CIO's grass-roots groups are critical, he said later, and they must be united and energized — and convinced that Bell can win — to get the vote out.

"We have an incredible opportunity, and I did not get into this race just to be the Democratic nominee," he told the group. "I will win because George (W.) Bush can't come into Texas on a white horse two weeks before and change the results of this election."

"I will win because George (W.) Bush can't come into Texas on a white horse two weeks before and change the results of this election."

In 27 minutes, Bell chimed in — ahem — on school and health-insurance reforms, and government that helps people instead of stymieing them.

"High-stakes testing has gutted public school curriculum and contributed to our having the (nation's) highest dropout rate," he said. "If we're going to prepare kids for life and work in the 21st century, we need to teach them more than how to take another standardized test."

He isn't opposed to standardized tests, he said, but Texas schools have gone from "teaching to the test to teaching the test," and when he asked one McAllen student how much time they spent drilling for TAKS, he replied: "All the time."

"And how can you assure accountability if we get rid of the TAKS test?" the former Houston congressman asked. "What accountability is being insured now?"

Texas has outrageously high dropout rates, he said, and Texas students score abysmally low on the SAT. And many who do go to college need remedial classes to bring them up to par.

"Many who watched the special session were appalled," Bell said. "It was supposed to be about public school finance, but public schools got left out until the last minute, when a few more Band-Aids were taken out of the box and little more window dressing was added to the final legislation."

He excoriated Gov. Rick Perry for "completely misrepresenting the truth" in TV ads claiming that homeowners would realize tax savings of $2,000 when the real reductions — all of which will be replaced with higher taxes collected elsewhere — will be, at best, $500, he said.

But the real reason Bell was "preaching to the choir" is that he needs to convince his base that he can win, which is why he noted that, "experts predict that between 38 and 42 percent of the vote will carry the day," and "during these bleak last 12 years when we haven't won statewide elections, Democrats running statewide have gotten 38 to 42 percent of the vote; that's our baseline vote.

"If we stick together, united, we can have a Democratic governor in January," he said, "and it's important for us to learn to win again because Texas needs us to lead again because we are in last place in an astounding number of categories.

"We will continue to remind people that Rick Perry and Carole (Keeton) Strayhorn are two sleeves in the same empty suit," he said later.

Asked about his next stop, he said a chiropractors' association had invited him "and of course, I, ahem, adjusted my schedule because I want their backing."

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Kinky & Grandma are added to the Governor's race


Independent candidates Kinky Friedman, & Carol "Grandma" Strayhorn have been added on the ballot in November


By the Democrat

Independent gubernatorial candidates Kinky Friedman and Carole “Grandma” Strayhorn are officially approved for the November ballot.

Friedman was certified for 1377,154 signatures and Grandma was certified for 108,512. Now the show begins. The two independent candidates only needed 45,540 to get their name placed on the ballot. Their names will be added to the list that includes Democratic nominee Chris Bell, Republican Governor Rick Perry and Libertarian James Werner.

Friedman was quoted as saying, The people of Texas have spoken-they are ready or a change,” while Grandma said, “Let the race begin.”

Secretary of State Roger Williams' office conducted the laborious count that in the end allowed the two independents on the ballot. The criteria for signing either one of the two petitions was that the registered voter had not voted in either Republican or Democratic Primary. Signers could only sign one petition, not both.

Author and country western singer Friedman said that Texans are fed up with Republicans and Democrats. "This tells us what we've long suspected: the two-party system has failed our state."
Democratic nominee Chris Bell is mired in the mix, along with Strayhorn and Friedman in the 20 percentile while the Governor retains a lead somewhere in the mid to high 30 percentile.

Farias headquarters opening draws large crowd














By the Democrat
a.k.a. Steve Walker (pictured in red shirt)
Joe Farias reads to children

A large Southside crowd attended the grand opening of the campaign headquarters for Joe Farias, Democratic candidate for State Rep. District 18th, The 10 a.m. event was held Saturday, June 24th at 2804 Pleasanton, directly across from Carroll Bell Elementary School.

The open house attracted numerous elected officials, candidates and former elected officials to the Southside. Elected officials who attended included: State Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, Judges Michael Mery and Barbara Nellermoe, Balcones Heights Councilman Steve Walker, San Antonio City Councilman District 3, Roland Guterriez and Harlandale board members Michael Tejeda and David Abundis.

Other elected and former elected officials included: Constable Ruben Tejeda, DemVets Chairman Larry Romo, and former Harlandale board members Gracie Acuna and Connie Sonnen. Democratic Candidates included: JP candidate Ricardo Martinez, Probate Court Judicial candidate Barbie Scharf-Zeldes and District Judge candidate Peter Sakai.

Farias addressed the crowd on educational issues and pointed out that the Republican led state legislature did nothing but “compress taxes.” He reminded the crowd that the state dropped the ball and dumped the responsibility of raising local property taxes to local school districts.

A former member of the Harlandale Board of Trustees himself, Farias, a Viet Nam veteran, is also a member of VFW Post 9186. Farias’s wife of 35 years, Angie, and three of their four sons: Gabe, Joey and Jaime were on hand for the event.

In other Farias related news

The former Harlandale School Trustee is leading his Republican opponent George Antuna in campaign contributions going into the November election.

Records show that during the special session of the Legislature. Farias received more than $15-thousand dollars in campaign contributions, while Antuna raised nearly 13-thousand dollars during the same time period.

While Antuna reported the second highest amount for a Republican and tenth overall, former Harlandale school trustee Joe Farias, was sixth overall in contributions this spring. The seat is currently being held by Carlos Uresti who will be promoted to the State Senate in January.
Antuna was one of several Republican contenders who received $3,000 contributions from the Associated Republicans of Texas.

Gail Beagle, former Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez’s chief of staff hosted another fundraiser for Farias this past week. No details of how much money was raised, is currently available.

A message from John McConnell, Pct. Chair 3047

By John McConnell

I listened to Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, as Bill Moyers interviewed him recently. If I understood Rushdie correctly, (He was talking fast with great eloquence) he said that democratic freedom requires the right to argue any subject and to decide what to do about it.

To those who say we shouldn't talk about some subjects, e.g., politics, religion, sex, --anything controversial--I think Rushdie would ask, "What are you afraid of?" They are afraid that the flaws in their argument would be exposed.

Since argument can easily get out of hand when beliefs are strong and resources limited, we Democrats have chosen rules under which the argument is to be conducted and resolved--in our case, Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised. The Chair is somewhat like a referee in a boxing match--but the contestants themselves must ultimately decide the outcome. Democracy demands no less.

As in any sport, the setting and facilities for our meetings (contests) must be as nearly ideal as possible or participant's rights will be infringed on. We Democrats are sometimes careless about such things as notification, location, seating, sound systems, etc. All these things are of vital importance to the outcome of our meetings.

Every participant must have an equal opportunity to hear, be heard, and to vote. It is the responsibility of all to see that that is the case. There are those who seek advantage for themselves and their point of view. We must question their commitment to the democratic process.

A message from Barbie Scharf-Zeldes




By Barbie Scharf-Zeldes
Candidate for Probate Court #2

Over the next few months, I want to elevate the level of constructive debate about Probate Court #2 and engage you like never before about why we need a competent judge who works for our families.

It has been my honor to represent the members and families of the San Antonio Firefighters and Police Officers in probate court and I will continue to protect your rights and your families when elected to Probate Court #2 as I have done for hundreds of families in Bexar County. We can't wait any longer.

My task over the course of this campaign will be to engage everyone who will listen about why this election is so very important to generations of families and our neighborhoods. My role will be to give a fresh perspective to issues affecting everyday working men and working women, as well as the families that they are a part of. My goal will be to build coalitions across racial, religious and ethnic lines and gain from you a deeper understanding of what you want to see in Probate Court #2.

Public service is a calling that is greater than oneself. The moment a politician loses sight of that, it is time for them to go. But you are the ones who control the destiny of our families. It is your community, your choice, and your future. I can’t be bought, I won’t be intimidated and I don’t know how to quit.

I’m not looking for fame, to get wealthy off of tax payers by collecting a big pension, and I have no need to be validated. I want to go to Probate Court #2 to make a real difference on behalf of the people of Bexar County. And so it is with great pride and deep humility that I ask for your vote to restore competence, integrity, and bring a spirit of public service that puts our families first. Please tell your friends and families about this vision, and our website. And please consider the many ways that you can support a competent judge who works for our families.”

Courage wins Progressive Patriot award


By John Courage
Congressional candidate
21st Congressional District


I am so proud to have won the support of DFA and the first Grassroots All-Star Endorsement for the 2006 Election Season. My campaign has very strong grassroots, and they were essential in winning this endorsement.


This endorsement in TX-21 is sending a strong national message to the GOP congressional "leadership" that in 2006 they can run, but they can't hide - even in Texas.All of us should be proud of the way the poll was run, the way the candidates were all presented and the way Democrats around the country were given the opportunity to let their voices be heard.

It was great to know that 60 Congressional candidates applied for DFA's endorsement! It is through participation like this, that we will win back the House of Representatives.This endorsement has special meaning for me because my wife and I have been DFA meetup hosts and activists for the past 2 years.


I know that receiving the support of DFA is important because I've seen the grassroots strength first-hand.There's been an overwhelming response in Central Texas to my call for reining in the budget deficit, developing an exit-strategy for Iraq, restoring ethics to Congress and supporting policies that meet the needs of mainstream working families, not just millionaires and Tom DeLay.

The local excitement about a change in Congress helped produce a DFA victory this week and will carry me to victory next November.Help us amplify the power of your endorsement and make a contribution to our campaign. I expect to run a race funded by the many small-dollar donations of ordinary people and any amount is appreciated.


Please consider making the most of your contribution by selecting an automatically recurring monthly gift -- knowing that we can count on your ongoing support will be priceless for the campaign!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

S.A. Top Cop addresses Stonewall Democrats

San Antonio’s new Police Chief, William McManus, spoke before a standing room only crowd of GLBT citizens attending the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio meeting on June 19. Arriving at the meeting dressed like he just came off the jogging track in a pair of shorts, a tee shirt and baseball cap, it was clear that Chief McManus was not one to stand on ceremony. McManus’ speech was equally informal.

His initial anecdote described his days on the Washington, DC police force where he served as the department’s GLBT liaison. Through a series of chance meetings he became a friend of gay football player Dave Kopay and the two were eventually linked romantically in the local press. Even after he got married, newspapers continued to suggest that McManus was gay.

The Chief recounted the story in good humor and seemed very comfortable with his audience.The goal of McManus’ talk was to get his audience to get to know him. The Philadelphia native described his 23 years on the Washington, DC police force, his time as Police Chief in Dayton, Ohio and his two years as Chief in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Throughout his talk, it was clear that the Chief’s point of view was very different from the one that existed in the San Antonio Police force before his recent appointment.

He told the audience wanted to change the culture of the department where "lack of input" and "lack of action" are endemic.McManus addressed the most important concerns of the GLBT community during the question and answer session.

He told the audience that he did not endorse gay witch-hunts or the entrapment of gay men by undercover police. He was supportive of having GLBT speakers address police cadets during training and endorsed letting gay and lesbian police officers form a GLBT police association if they so desired. The Chief even offered his email address (wmcmanus@sa.gov).

"I’m out and about in the community and accessible," he told the group.One older gentleman in the audience rose to tell the Chief a heartbreaking story of how he no longer walks his dog down his street every evening because a neighbor has verbally abused him and repeatedly threatened to shoot him dead because he is gay.

Making matters worse, the police officers responding at the scene told him that it might be best if he stay inside his home to remain safe. The man said that it took seven months for the Police Department to respond to his formal complaint about the lack of action on his case.
McManus met with the man after the meeting and promised to look into the matter.All-in-all Police Chief McManus seemed to leave the Stonewall audience with a good impression, receiving a standing ovation at the end of his talk.

Bryan Gerard, the meeting’s moderator and co-chairman of the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio, described the situation best when he told the group, "We’ve listened to what Chief McManus has had to say. It’s up to us to hold him to his word."

Reprinted with persmission from QSan Antonio Website hosted by Sam Sanchez.

Van de Putte named Grand Marshall for Gay Parade

State Senator Leticia van de Putte will serve as the Grand Marshall for the 2006, July 2nd San Antonio Gay Pride Parade.
According to Dan Graney, former Stonewall Democrats Chairman, “We are thrilled to have the State Senator leading our parade.” The annual parade will begin at 1010 North Main Street and travel north to Dewey Street.
A Pharmacist for more than 26 years, Van de Putte is a former five term state representative and currently a three term state senator for District 26. Currently serving as the Chair of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus, she was also named the Chair of the Senate Hispanic Caucus in 2002.
A Kellogg Fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1993, she received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Texas at Austin, College of Pharmacy. She is also a 1973 Thomas Jefferson High School graduate in San Antonio. She lives in San Antonio with Pete, her husband of 28 years, and has six children.

Monday, June 19, 2006

San Antonio hosts the 2006 PrideFest

By The Democrat
The 25th Annual PrideFest is now over. According to organizers estimates, the event attracted four to five thousand attendees. Held t HemisFair Park on Saturday, June 17th, the weather was hot and humid. According to Dan Graney, former president of the Stonewall Democrats, the event was upbeat and festive.

It was reported that some attendees cooled off on the shady lawn while listening to the singers from the Pride Idol Contest. Controversy erupted last week when Radio Talk show Host Adam McManus condemned H-E-B for contributing $300 as a sponsor for the Pride Fest. McManus, along with numerous protesters, picketed the H-E-B store at the corner of 281 and 1604. His followers held signs that read, “H-E-B, read your Bible,” and Homosexuality is a sin."

According to Graney, “the Gay Community responded by e-mailing and phoning thank you messages to H-E-B customer relations offices all day Friday and into Saturday."
Graney pointed out, “to H-E-B’s credit, they refused to pull its sponsorship and issued a statement supporting diversity.”


Stonewall Democrats hosted a booth that registered 40 new voters in
Bexar County. The San Antonio Young Democrats shared a booth with the Bexar County Democratic Party.

The Faces of PrideFest 2006, Hemisfair Park, June 17

Photos posted on Q San Antonio Website hosted by Sam Sanchez. Top photo from left to right: Cliff Walker, Cassandra Pena, Dee Villarubio, & Chris Garcia representing the Young Democrats.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" movie premieres

ByThe Democrat

The recently released environmental movie produced by former Vice President Al Gore entitled, “An Inconvenient Truth,” has made its debut here in the Alamo City.

Premiering at the Crossroads Mall, Bijou Theatre, Democrats are flocking in record numbers to catch a glimpse of Gore’s movie. Opening night was a sellout crowd.

According to Zada True-Courage, a member of SAAPAC, “if you haven’t seen this movie yet, please go see it.” True-Courage points out that, “Gore is able to boil down the science and give a good explanation about global warming and he doesn’t just leave you in despair, but he tells you what we can do.”

The movie is narrated by Gore himself. Using high technology, Gore offers his power point presentation, backed up by research scientists and cold hard facts. Filmed all over the world, Gore uses graphs, charts and photos showing the deterioration of our planet. He offers dire predictions of catastrophes to come in the next fifty years.

True-Courage noted that last week, President Bush declared a 1400 mile area in the Pacific Ocean, a marine sanctuary. She also pointed out that the marine sanctuary was actually the idea of Bruce Babbitt who served in the cabinet of President Bill Clinton’s administration.

“I have to ask why and what does that mean? Will we now be sending park rangers out to protect this remote ocean space?” True-Courage reflected. “As I drove my 93-year-old dad (who has spent years studying this subject) home from the movie, we discussed global warming,” True-Courage pointed out.

“He said we can't just fix things with patches. We're in serious trouble and we need a serious overall plan to deal with it. It is going to be painful, and cost money, but it will also create jobs and make our planet earth livable for the next generations to come.”

True-Courage concluded, “I want to thank all the environmentalist activists out there, who everyday are telling us we need to do something about elevating this Global Warming problem front and center.

All Democrats are encouraged to attend, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Friday, June 16, 2006

2006 Democratic State Convention draws crowd

The 2006 Democratic State Convention is history.

The bi-annual event drew a strong contingent of Bexar County delegates to Fort Worth, says Vincent Garcia, Bexar County, Precinct 4 Deputy Chair. According to Garcia, “A lot was accomplished, although there is so much more to be done before the November election cycle.”

John McConnell, Precinct Chair noted, “Many individuals worked hard and did their best, although the ball was dropped here and there. Still, the Convention was a great improvement over those of the recent past.” McConnell also pointed out that he was informed that the Thursday evening dinner “was a fine affair,” and noted that the registration process took some time.

Bexar County delegate Zada True-Courage served as the San Antonio Delegation Chair. According to True-Courage, “everyone really did a great job of representing San Antonio.” True-Courage was re-elected to another term as committee woman for the 25th Senatorial District. True-Courage’s husband, John, is the Democratic nominee for the 21st Congressional race.

True-Courage said, “Besides our statewide candidates, we are lucky to have great candidates running throughout our Senatorial District. It's also great to have candidate Kathi Thomas running for State Senator.”

According to True-Courage, “we finally have a Democrat who is brave and energetic enough to run that is also smart, articulate and full of good ideas.” Thomas’s slogan for her State Senatorial campaign is, “Imagine a Better Texas.” Former Attorney General Jim Maddox served as the 25th Senatorial District delegation chair.

Bexar County delegates Nancy Russell served on Resolutions Committee, Larry Meads served on the Rules Committee and Roberto Flores served on the Credentials Committee. Bexar County Democratic Chair, Carla Vela served on the counting team for Bexar County’s candidate for State Party Chair, attorney Charlie Urbina Jones.

Although Jones came in third in the balloting, those in attendance from Bexar County said he spoke articulately on his vision for the future of the Party. Local delegate Melanie Cervantes noted that “Charlie inspired the delegates, excited them about being a Democrat, and offered a rousing populist speech to the convention.” Nancy Russell served as a seconding speech for Jones.

Newly elected State Democratic Party Chair Boyd Richie said, “I am so proud be a Democrat and to have participated in our State Convention in Fort Worth last weekend. “Texas Democrats from all corners of the state and from all backgrounds joined together for a common purpose - to support our Party, our candidates and our shared commitment to Moving Texas Forward to a better future.”

Speakers for the Saturday finale included: Barbara Radnofsky, candidate for U.S. Senator for Texas, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Congressman Chet Edwards.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

BCDP News Blog


Welcome to BCDPNews.blogspot.com - THE news source for the Bexar County Democratic Party.

Following the initiative of the BCDP Communications Committee, this newsblog has been created to keep you up to date on what is happening in the Party and in our broader political community. The intent is to post a weekly news round-up. Please return to find the news being posted.

Your editors will be:
Stephen Walker (Pct. 3002)
Richard Barber (Pct. 4089)
Monica Lopez

If you have an article that you would like to be considered for this news blog, please email to news@bexardemocrats.org