Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Texas Notes—Clinton Robbed Of Texas Win, Lottery Sales Decline & Galveston Tax Break Racket

Here are some Texas notes & thoughts about events in the news—

State Democratic Party Convention.  

Party Chairman Boyd Richie won reelection to another term as Chair. I once saw Mr. Richie speak in Houston. He barely mentioned online activism.

Maybe Mr. Richie sees that a goal of some portion of blogger activism is about joning the already existing mainstream two-party infrastructure of political job seeking and consulting gigs. Why talk about something you can take for granted and that fits seamlessly into the structure as already formed?   

You have your mainstream political bloggers and others less-connected. Folks can easily co-exist as long as everybody is respected. It takes all kinds.

Texas blogger Perry Dorell at Brains & Eggs provided good coverage of the convention.

I have no idea if Mr. Richie is an effective chairman or not. Since he has been reelected, I hope he’s effective.  

The convention put off until 2010 any discussion of changing the so-called Texas two-step caucus system. This is a process that allows the allows the loser of the popular vote on primary day to gain more delegates than the winner. 

Some delegates are allocated by popular vote, and other delegates by a process that begins the night of the primary with caucuses at each of the voting precincts.  

In 2008, Hillary Clinton won the Texas primary, but won fewer Texas delegates than Barack Obama. The caucus system allows people not working at night and without childcare concerns to go and vote a second time. This can only favor more affluent and educated voters. 

Some say the caucuses get people together and strengthen the party. I say if folks are only getting together this one night, it is not much of a party.

In any case, the purpose of the primary is to see who the people want as the nominee—not a social outing.

Declining Texas Lottery Sales Hurt School Funding

Sales of lottery tickets are down 2% in Texas and this is hurting state-provided school funding.

Good. I hope lottery sales tank. Then maybe Texas will find a way to fund schools that does not exploit the desperation of poor people.

The lottery came to Texas when Democrats held power in Austin. The cancer of the lottery is just another token of appreciation for the never-ending years of minority support for Democratic candidates. 

One hopes when Democrats take power in Austin again, it will be a majority committed to all people in Texas and not beholden to Democrats who might as well be Republicans.

This will require strong minority turnout. Folks have to realize they’ll be left out if they don’t show up at the polls.  

Tax Break Racket In Galveston And Elsewhere In Texas

Here is a story that speaks for itself from the Galveston Daily News— 

Developers of residential and retail projects in special tax financing zones have sought at least $17 million in public money as reimbursement for improvements that are supposed to benefit the public.But there’s a blurry line between public improvement and private perk. Developers of affluent neighborhoods want reimbursement for building boccie ball and horseshoe courts, for hundreds of thousands of dollars in “administrative expenses,” for architectural fees and environmental mitigation that developers outside such zones pay for themselves. In some cases, it appears developers are seeking public funds to pay for pagers, cell phones, office overhead and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to lawyers and consultants, some charging $200 an hour.And developers have been reimbursed for work without providing standard documentation.

No one has been accused of doing anything improper. Such expenses are eligible for reimbursements under Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone agreements. The question, some elected officials say, is whether the reimbursements are appropriate. The issue isn’t isolated to the island. More than 70 such reinvestment zones are registered in Texas, and still more likely exist, officials say.

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June 10, 2008 - Posted by | Campaign 2008, Galveston, Politics, Texas | , , , , ,

9 Comments »

  1. I have a difficult time arguing for or against the “Texas Two-Step,” because I really do like the caucus system and the interaction with the party it provides. However, I concur that the system favors voters that can attend the evening caucus. Perhaps a system in which the caucuses have less of an effect on the outcome of the primaries would be better. I just tend to hesitate to abandon the caucuses completely.

    Comment by liberaltexan | June 10, 2008

  2. I too am looking forward to the end of the Texas lottery.

    Comment by Will | June 10, 2008

  3. liberaltexan—I just don’t see any point in mitigating the voice of primary voters.

    Will—yep.

    Thanks for both comments.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | June 10, 2008

  4. The Texas Two-Step is a needlessly convoluted mess that should be done away with. And I think that caucuses are okay for picking people to serve as delegates for the state conventions, but primaries should be used for allocating pledged delegates for the presidential election. Superdelegates shouldn’t be allowed to vote in the nominating process, either. That said, I don’t know if it’s fair to say that Hillary was “robbed” of anything. First, many of the people who voted for her in the primaries were “Limbaugh Democrats” who had no intention of voting for either Dem in the general, and may have been voting in the Dem primary to sow discord. Whether there were enough of these people to change the outcome of the vote is uncertain, but it’s a definite possibility. And these “Limbaugh Democrats” would have been a lot less likely to stay for the caucuses.

    Also, while caucuses do favor people who don’t work at night and don’t have children, that could arguably have worked against Obama’s base, and in favor of Clinton’s – older people are less likely to have night jobs or children to care for, while African-Americans are poorer and thus more likely to be working nights. And many students work night jobs to help pay their way through college. Ultimately, I think Clinton just got out-organized down here.

    Regarding the lottery: it’s a dumb way to raise revenue for the state, but if they got rid of it, they would just replace it with a higher sales tax rate. What we need to do is scrap both the sales tax and the lottery, and replace them with a progressive income tax. Fat chance of that ever happening in this state, but it’s still worth hoping for.

    Comment by Big Tex | June 11, 2008

  5. Big Tex—All reasonable views to take. Nothing I can add but to say we always have to keep as a bottom line goal an income tax for Texas.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | June 11, 2008

  6. I kinda enjoyed the caucuses actually and think they should be kept, if nothing else as a hedge against future “Limbaugh effects.” Plus they generated huge energy and enthusiasm for the general election, and got tons more people involved in the process. Good things all.

    Comment by DP | June 11, 2008

  7. Yes—Good things. But to me the bottom line is the will of the primary voters and any step away from that is a step away from the most inclusive process.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | June 12, 2008

  8. I have to disagree with you Neil. I like the “Texas Two-Step”. It doesn’t take away from primary voters – they get to have their say. But the caucus part of the system lets the party identify those willing to give more time and effort to the party, and rewards those willing to work for the party.
    Primary voters get to pick the bulk of the delegates, but it doesn’t hurt to let party workers pick a few delegates too.
    I like the system as it is, but if I had to do away with part of it, it would be the primary part. The caucus part is too valuable to the party’s organizing efforts.
    P.S. I don’t mind the lottery either.

    Comment by jobsanger | June 13, 2008

  9. Jobsanger–well…then I bet we can at least agree on bad tax breaks in Galveston!

    Comment by Neil Aquino | June 13, 2008


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