Thursday, April 28, 2011

Texas House Approves A Redistricting Plan

House Districts in Denton, Collin,
Tarrant, Dallas and Rockwall Co.
Click to go to District Viewer map.
  1. From the “Select Plans” drop
    down – select “Base Plans”
  2. Scroll down to find and click
    on “PlanH276”
The GOP-led Texas House approved a redistricting plan early Thursday that would all but guarantee a continued Republican majority — albeit a smaller one than the party has now.

With so many seats to protect, GOP leaders couldn’t draw enough safe House districts to protect all their incumbents in the next election, in 2012.

The map was approved on a 92-52 vote after a marathon debate that dragged into the wee morning hours Thursday.

Republicans rode a conservative wave in the 2010 elections to a lopsided 101-49 majority in the 150-member House -- a super majority so big that they can conduct business even if Democrats don’t show up.

That didn’t stop Democratic lawmakers from trying to derail the map Wednesday on procedural grounds, to no avail.

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie released the statement on the passage of the State House redistricting map bill, HB 150:
The House redistricting plan is neither fair nor legal because it denies representation for Latinos, African Americans and Asian Americans who were responsible for 89% of Texas population growth in the past decade. This blatantly partisan Republican map actually reduced the number of districts that provide minority voters the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice while shredding communities for partisan gain.

The same Republican majority that insists on a state budget that will cut educational opportunity, force seniors from nursing homes and eliminate over 300,000 Texas jobs drew districts that would deny voters the opportunity to elect representatives who will stand up for our priorities. Texas Democrats and our Democratic elected officials will demand a fair and legal map that provides representation for all Texans, and we will take whatever actions necessary to ensure that any redistricting plan ultimately enacted complies with the Voting Rights Act.
More details:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Trump Leading The GOP In Race-Baiting Fear-Mongering

Donald Trump, the rich kid turned real estate tycoon turned bankrupt failure turned TV reality show host, spent several weeks trumpeting to anyone who would listen—including a surprising number of corporate media outlets—that President Barack Obama had failed to answer questions about his citizenship.

And when Trump started talking, Fox News was there to amplify him. The network vastly increased its coverage of birther rumors, devoting nearly two and a half hours to the nonsense, in recent weeks. On other networks Trump's "birther" claims, like those made in an interview with "Today" co-host Meredith Vieira, went largely unchallenged. CNN's Anderson Cooper, refuted Trump on-air during a two-day invalidation of the "birther" myth, but CNN White House correspondent Ed Henry asked about Obama's birth certificate during Tuesday's press briefing. Whether giving Trump a pass or disputing his claims, the corporate media willingly kept the story alive by frequently giving Trump their air time and press space.

Today President Obama responded by releasing his long-form birth certificate making a short statement - at left.

Donald Trump answered President Obama's long-form birth certificate release from New Hampshire today by claiming credit for forcing Obama to release his "long form" birth certificate, and declared that the President should "get off his basketball court" and focus on gas prices.

Trump then repeated his new claim that Obama was an underachieving unqualified student who was admitted to the Ivy League universities only through affirmative action. Trump offered no proof for his claim but said he would continue to press the matter as he has the legitimacy of the president's birth certificate.

In GOP politics, attacking racial minorities as the underachieving beneficiaries of affirmative action is a very old move. Sen. Jesse Helms produced the most notorious example, an ad against his black opponent, Harvey Grant, which blasted affirmative action for taking jobs from deserving white people and giving them to minorities.

Let's not pretend for a moment that questioning President Obama's birth certificate or qualifications to attend Ivy League universities isn't steeped in racism. The New Yorker's editor-in-chief and the author of an acclaimed book about Obama's background, published an unusually blunt critique of Trump's "race-baiting" on Wednesday afternoon:

The New Yorker: The one radical thing about Barack Obama is his race, his name. Of course, there is nothing innately radical about being black or having Hussein as middle name; what is radical is that he has those attributes and is sitting in the Oval Office. And even now, more than two years after the fact, this is deeply disturbing to many people, and, at the same time, the easiest way to arouse visceral opposition to him.

Let’s be even plainer: to do what Trump has done (and he is only the latest and loudest and most spectacularly hirsute) is a conscious form of race-baiting, of fear-mongering. And if that makes Donald Trump proud, then what does that say for him?

Texas Leads Nation In Households Ditching Their Landline Phones

In a contest between the traditional landline and the cellphone the cellphone is winning nationwide. People in the US are ditching their landlines to save money and/or because those phones are becoming superfluous. By June of 2010 Texas had the third highest rate (32.5%) in the nation of households ditching their landline phones in favor of a mobile-only lifestyle. Texas also leads in the adoption of smart phones and mobile Internet access. In some metro areas of Texas, such as Dallas County, up to 62% of households can be reached only by calling a mobile phone.

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) last week released its latest state by state breakdown on the "Wireless Substitution" trend. As of June, 2010 26.6% of US households were wireless only, meaning there was no landline in the house. In some states the numbers were higher than the average and some lower.

Rhode Island and New Jersey had the lowest rates of wireless substitution households at 12.8 percent, while Arkansas had the highest at 35.2 percent and Texas had the third highest household rate at 32.5 percent. The data suggest that economics are the primary driver of the decision to abandon the landline - lower income areas are going cell-only faster than more affluent areas.

CDC wireless surveys are also finding increasing percentages of so-called "cellphone-mostly" households. Cellphone-mostly households are households that do have a land line, but that line is used for FAX, security systems or other and it is rarely or never used to receive incoming calls. The January-June 2010 CDC survey found that 16% of households nationwide that do have a landline receive all or nearly all of their calls on a cellphone. This means that in order to reach 43 per cent of U.S. households as of June 2010, the only practical way to call their cellphone. If this additional statistic is added the number of cell-only households jumps dramatically in some states.

In Texas, 32.5% of all households are wireless only. But the "wireless mostly" number is 20.3% according to the CDC. Combine those numbers and almost 53% of Texas households rely primarily or exclusively on mobile phones. In several states the combined figure approaches or exceeds 50% of the population:
  • Texas: 52.8%
  • Arkansas: 50.9%
  • Mississippi: 49.8%
  • Arizona: 48.1%
  • Nebraska: 47.3%
Metro areas often have even higher cell-only adoption rates than the state as a whole. In Texas, 43.2% of households in Dallas County are wireless only. But the "wireless mostly" number is 17.7% according to the CDC. Combine those numbers and almost 61% of Dallas County households rely primarily or exclusively on mobile phones. The combined figure approaches or exceeds 50% of the population in most metro areas of Texas:
  • Dallas County: Cell-Only (43.2%) + Cell-Mostly (17.7%) = 61.9%
  • Bexar County: Cell-Only (29.1%) + Cell-Mostly (17.7%) = 46.8%
  • El Paso County: Cell-Only (32.8%) + Cell-Mostly (14.8%) = 47.6%
  • Harris County: Cell-Only (32.4%) + Cell-Mostly (22.1%) = 54.5%

The increasing prevalence of cell phone coverage in the U.S., and the consequent increase in the number of people who use their cell phone in place of a landline, makes it difficult to reach target populations by phone for pollsters, political organizations or political candidates.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Plano ISD Council of PTAs Starts Education Funding Petition

The Plano ISD Council of PTAs is circulating an education funding petition for signatures. The Council plans to hand deliver the signed petition to the local offices of Representatives Van Taylor, Jerry Madden and Jodie Laubenberg next Thursday. Annette Maule, Legislative Chair for Plano ISD Council of PTAs, says the Council is extending an open invitation to all who would like to join in the hand delivery of the petition. Click here to sign the petition. (Annette Maule can be contacted at

To The Honorable Members of the Texas House of Representatives:

We, the voters of Texas, strongly believe that the future of our great state depends on the investment we make today in education. We call on our elected officials in the House of Representatives to take the following urgent actions in support of Texas public education:

  1. Support new revenue source dedicated to education spending.
  2. Close business tax loopholes to finance education as promised in Spring 2006 Special Session.
  3. Find permanent solution to education funding.
  4. Use Economic Stabilization Fund to fully fund education at current biennium level.

We urge you to support the efforts Texas Senate has made to finance public education by actively sourcing new revenues. Education is the most important investment the great state of Texas will ever make, now and forever.


The Voters of Texas

Click here to sign the petition.