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October 26th, 2012:

Friday random ten: For the ladies, part 3

Still more songs with ladies’ names for titles.

1. Emily – Elana James
2. Emily de Muse – The Buddhacrush
3. Erin – Jiggernaut
4. Evangeline – Los Lobos
5. Fanny – Asylum Street Spankers
6. Ginger Faye – Eddie From Ohio
7. Gloria – Patti Smith
8. Gloria – Santa Esmerelda
9. Gloria – U2
10. Gloria – Van Morrison

I suppose “Erin” could be about Ireland rather than a woman. I hadn’t thought about it till just now. Oh, well. The U2 “Gloria” is not the same as the other three. Of course, those other three, while nominally the same song, are about as different from each other as it is possible to be. Maybe they’re about different Glorias. In any event, one cannot discuss the song “Gloria” without noting the time Bruce Springsteen played lead guitar for Dave Barry’s band on a rendition of “Gloria”. Sadly, I do not own this version of the song.

More early voting

Early voting continues to go gangbusters in Harris County – here’s my updated spreadsheet for your perusal. The numbers are certainly impressive, but to keep things in perspective, it’s an increase of about 20% over 2008, whereas 2008 was more than double the turnout of 2004 through Day Four.

Year Day 4 total =================== 2004 95,849 2008 208,010 2012 252,752

Note also that Day 4 today was slightly down from Days 2 and 3. What all that says to me is that this is consistent with a hypothesis of behavior shifting, and not some massive turnout increase. Remember, for all the hype about the explosive growth in early voting in 2008, final turnout was 1,188,793 in 2008, and 1,088,731 in 2004, not that much of an increase. Stan Stanart predicted a final turnout for this year of 1.22 million based on the first day of early voting, and that would barely be a change in turnout percent from 2008. Until and unless we see evidence that there’s something different about who is showing up to vote – a big jump in new voters, for example – I’d remain calm about What It All Means. To put it another way, here’s a quote Ed Kilgore pulled from this story about how early voting is going around the country, from the perspective of an Obama campaign official:

Said one senior official: “[T]he most important thing about early vote is one thing and one thing only: are you getting your sporadic voters to vote? Because if it’s just chasing people who are going to vote anyway than it’s just… a zero sum game.”

This is where the campaign pros make their money. See what Greg has to say about translating the daily roster of who voted into guesses about who’s winning and by how much. I’ll do another check on turnout Monday, after we’ve had seven full days of early voting, and we’ll see where we stand then.

Overview of the Keller-Hampton race

This story covers a lot of familiar ground, but it’s worth going over again.

Three judges on Texas’ highest criminal court are seeking re-election in November, including Presiding Judge Sharon Keller, who’s been a lightning rod for controversy since her last test of voters in 2006.

Elected to Texas’ Court of Criminal Appeals in 1994, she is the only incumbent on the court with major-party opposition, facing a Democrat and Libertarian.

In 2007, Keller, 59, of Austin, gained national attention for refusing to keep the court open past 5 p.m. to accept a last-minute appeal of a death row inmate who was executed hours later. Charges were filed by the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct, but it ruled that she did not violate any laws or warrant punishment “beyond the public humiliation she has surely suffered,” according to court records.

In 2010, Keller received the largest fine ever levied by the Texas Ethics Commission — $100,000 — for breaking finance disclosure law by failing to report $2.4 million in personal assets. Keller did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

[…]

Keller’s opponents are Democrat Keith Hampton and Libertarian Lance Stott.

Hampton, a defense attorney in Austin, ran unsuccessfully for the court’s Place 6 in 2010. He said he hopes Keller’s missteps will boost him to become the first Democrat elected to statewide office since 1994.

“We have a judge on the court who has been found to be unethical by every agency in government that can make that determination,” Hampton said. “Her actions have given (the Texas judicial system) a black eye.”

Hampton, 51, Austin, drafted the original proposal of Senate Bill 112 in 2009, which established veterans courts in Texas, and he advocated for a law passed in 2007 that established state prisoners’ right to petition a court to have DNA evidence tested. He counseled against former state Solicitor General and U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz and then won in 2007 in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Panetti vs. Quarterman, which spared from execution a schizophrenic murderer from Fredericksburg.

Hampton said GOP straight-ticket voters should “spend an extra few seconds” to vote for him instead of Keller.

“It’s not a matter of Republican or Democrat, or left and right,” Hampton said. “It’s a matter of right and wrong.”

Like I said, this is familiar ground if you’ve read any of the endorsement editorials for Hampton. But these things can’t be said enough, because we only get one chance every six years to do something about it. Sharon Keller has demonstrated over and over again that she is not fit to be on the bench. It’s time to send her back to private practice.

Children continue to be our future

The mother of all school finance lawsuits, which commenced on Monday, will take many weeks to conclude. I don’t expect to follow it every day since there’s just so much else going on, but I wanted to point out a couple of things from the Chron story of the trial’s opening day.

Dr. Steve Murdock

By 2050, Texas will be home for 12 million non-Hispanic whites and 31 million Hispanics, Murdock said. Hispanic children will make up nearly two-thirds of the state’s public school enrollment while the percentage of white children, now about 30 percent, will have dropped to 15.5 percent, said [Steve] Murdock, Texas’ first official state demographer.

[…]

About 8 percent of Texas’ non-Hispanic whites have less than a high school education compared with 40.4 percent among Hispanics, Murdock said.

Education remains the best single indicator for economic success, he emphasized. In 2010, one of every 10 Texas whites lived in poverty compared with more than one in 4 among Hispanics, Murdock said.

The state’s future depends on Hispanics since they will make up most of the population growth in the coming decades, he said.

“Their need is our need in the sense that how well minority population groups do in Texas is how well Texas will do,” Murdock said.

Murdock has been singing this song for well over a decade now, but especially in the last legislative session it was clear that no one who had any power to do something about it was paying attention. Here’s an interview I did with Dr. Murdock last year – if you ever get the chance to talk to him or to hear him speak, I highly recommend it – and you can browse my archives for more of his greatest hits. I feel certain that someday there will be broad consensus that he was right all along. i just hope it isn’t too late to do something about it by then.

White non-Hispanic children made up 75 percent of Humble ISD’s school enrollment 12 years ago. Today, white children are a minority at 46 percent and the percentage of low-income children has increased from 15.9 percent to 35 percent.

“Virtually everything (Murdock’s) data showed is the experience we have had in our community,” Humble ISD Superintendent Guy Sconzo said.

[…]

Humble ISD taxpayers approved a maximum school operations tax rate of $1.17 for the 2008-09 school year that generated an extra $17.9 million per year – but the district then lost $24.2 million when state lawmakers cut $5.4 billion from public education last year.

“In one fell swoop that (local tax) revenue went away,” Sconzo said.

As the Trib noted in its look back at a decade of Republican control of Texas, the GOP has largely attempted to control costs in the state budget by pushing them down to the local level. Sconzo’s words attest to that reality. I keep thinking that a day of reckoning will come when places like Humble to which people fled in order to have access to better schools for their kids can no longer provide the kind of education experience these people expected. It hasn’t happened yet on a wide scale, though there have been isolated victories and there are signs this year of it as some Republicans who voted for the vicious cuts to public education now try to run away from them, but I still believe it’s inevitable, and that the 2013 legislative session may hasten it for 2014. Put simply, the course we’re on is unsustainable. Something has to give.

Endorsement watch: The Parent PAC November slate

For your approval.

Texas Parent PAC is delighted to endorse the following candidates in the general election.  They are men and women of integrity, open and responsive to parents, actively involved in their communities, and committed to investing in public education to achieve economic prosperity in Texas.

Please vote for these endorsed candidates and encourage your friends and family to vote as well!  Early Voting is October 22 – November 2 and Election Day is Tuesday, November 6.

Read about the endorsement process here.  To find out your district number for State Senator and State Representative, look on your voter registration card or enter your address on the “Who Represents Me?” section at the Capitol web site.

Texas Parent PAC is a bipartisan political action committee.  In the 2012 Texas primary and general elections, the PAC has endorsed 28 Republicans and 25 Democrats.

Texas Senate
S.D. 10: Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth  www.wendydavisforsenate.com
S.D. 25: John Courage, D-San Antonio www.couragefortexassenate.org
S.D. 29: Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso www.senatorjoserodriguez.com

Texas House of Representatives
H.D. 23: Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston  www.craigeiland.net
H.D. 24: Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood  www.drgregbonnen.com
H.D. 29: Ed Thompson, R-Pearland  www.electedthompson.com
H.D. 34: Abel Herrero, D-Robstown  www.abelherrero.com
H.D. 41: Bobby Guerra, D-McAllen  www.voteguerra.com
H.D. 43: Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles, D-Alice  www.voteyvonne.com
H.D. 45: John Adams, D-Dripping Springs  www.votedonna.com
H.D. 54: Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen   www.jdaycock.com
H.D. 59: J. D. Sheffield, R-Gatesville  www.jdfortexas.com
H.D. 74: Poncho  Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass  www.ponchonevarez.com
H.D. 78: Joe Moody, D-El Paso  www.moodyforelpaso.com
H.D. 85: Dora Olivo, D-Richmond  www.doraolivo.com
H.D. 94: Rep. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington  www.dianepatrick.org
H.D. 95: Nicole Collier, D-Fort Worth  www.votenicolecollier.com
H.D. 101: Chris Turner, D-Arlington  www.votechristurner.com
H.D. 102: Rich Hancock, D-Richardson   www.hancockfortexas.com
H.D. 105: Dr. Rosemary Robbins, D-Irving   www.voterosemaryrobbins.com
H.D. 107: Robert Miklos, D-Dallas  www.robertmiklos.com
H.D. 115: Bennett Ratliff, R-Coppell  www.bennettratliff.com
H.D. 117: Philip Cortez, D-San Antonio   www.philipcortez.com
H.D. 118: Rep. Joe Farias, D-San Antonio  www.joefarias.com
H.D. 125: Justin Rodriguez, D-San Antonio  www.justin125.com
H.D. 134: Ann Johnson, D-Houston  www.voteannjohnson.com, TV spot
H.D. 136: Matt Stillwell, D-Cedar Park  www.mattstillwell.com
H.D. 137: Gene Wu, D-Houston  www.genefortexas.com
H.D. 144: Mary Ann Perez, D-Pasadena   www.votemaryannperez.com
H.D. 149: Rep. Hubert Vo, D-Houston   www.hubertvo.com

Here was their slate from the primaries, and an accounting of who won among those candidates. You may notice that there are four candidates that were endorsed in the GOP primary that are not on this list – Cecil Bell (HD02), Chris Peddie (HD09), Trent Ashby (HD57), and Jason Villalba (HD114). The first three have no Democratic opponents and are therefore for all intents and purposes already elected. As for Villalba, I asked Carolyn Boyle about that race, and received this response:

From the beginning, Jason was a “primary only endorsement” because Texas Parent PAC had endorsed Carol Kent in the past and she is great. Jason agreed that once the primary was over he would delete any reference to the Parent PAC endorsement for the primary, and the PAC did as well. It was important to defeat Bill Keffer in the primary, and Jason is a supporter of public education. We are staying out of the general election with Jason vs. Carol…let the voters decide, as both will advocate for public education.

So there you have it. As I did with the primary, I’ll check the scoreboard for Parent PAC after the election is over.