Monday, September 19, 2011

Texas news breaks out all over the place

Yes, like a bad rash (but some of it is good and all of it is juicy). Let's begin with ...

-- The Texas Perrymander got crushed under the boot heel of the US Department of Justice today. The Texas Senate's redistricted maps passed VRA muster but the Texas House and Congressional maps failed. A 3-federal-judge panel will eventually settle the matter. That's because Greg Abbott and the Perrymanderers ...

... chose to skip the cheaper pre-clearance process, which would have put the decision in the hands of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. A hearing is set for Wednesday.

-- Two unrelated resignations happened today; first, Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole has run out of money to pay his lawyers to defend him against ongoing federal corruption charges, so he's quitting his low-paying job. I'm sure that in this economy he wouldn't be doing that without a better one to go to ...

Our sources and common sense both tell us this resignation may be connected to a possible plea deal in the criminal case. We're told this has been in the works for weeks. Eversole is facing a bribery re-trial in a little more than a month, and now it appears most of those charges have been dropped.


Eversole said for a long time he had no interest in resigning and planned to fight. But campaign records show Eversole's ability to pay for what had become a very pricy legal defense was pretty limited.

Eversole was using campaign funds, legal under Texas law, but after spending more than a million dollars on legal fees, Eversole had just $50,000 left to spend, according to his last report. The math was not in his favor.

The math, the money, public opinion, his own assmunchery ... the list of tolerances exceeded is long.

“I ran for this job to try to solve problems and then I looked in the mirror one day and I was the problem, so that’s the main reason I’ve resigned,” Eversole said. ...

A mistrial was declared in the commissioner’s corruption trial earlier this year. Jury selection is scheduled to begin in the second round of that trial in late October.

The Department of Justice’s four-count indictment alleges that Eversole, 68, took nearly $100,000 in cash and gifts from longtime friend Michael Surface in exchange for steering millions of dollars in county contracts to companies in which Surface had an interest.

Eversole won his sixth term on the court last fall, running unopposed.

County Judge Ed Emmett will appoint his successor to complete the remaining five three-plus years on his term. Update: Unless the redistricting matters compel a special election in 2012.

What local GOP toadie has earned a big favor? Toni Lawrence, perhaps?

-- ... and also state Sen. Florence Shapiro has pulled the plug, saying that, at 63, it's "time for her to grow up." I have no idea what the hell that means, either.

Shapiro, a former mayor and city council member in Plano and head of the Texas Municipal League, came to the Senate in 1993, defeating incumbent Democrat Ted Lyon of Mesquite. She chairs the Senate Education committee, is a longtime member of the budget-writing Senate Finance Committee, and also chaired the State Affairs committee earlier in her tenure.

FloShap was in the running to challenge for Kay Bailey's chair in the US Senate as recently as a year ago. Apparently she needs to go make some big money, too.

State Rep. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, who sought to topple House Speaker Joe Straus at the start of the 2011 legislative session, starts as a strong replacement candidate ...

Great. Another Dan Patrick clone in the Senate. Just what we've been waiting for.

-- More on redistricting: It turns out that Aaron Peña is a big fat liar. What a revelation. NewsTaco ...

Republican State Rep. Aaron Peña allegedly lied about his involvement in redistricting along the Rio Grande Valley (the border for non-Texans), according to a report from the Texas Democratic Party. Here’s an excerpt from the report:

In April, during floor debate on the state house redistricting proposal, Republican State Representative and member of the House Committee on Redistricting Aaron Pena emphatically and repeatedly stated that he had no role in drawing the actual lines for the controversial district that was created for him in Hidalgo County.

During last week’s redistricting trial, Ryan Downton, the House Redistricting Committee Counsel, testified in open court that he worked with Representative Pena on the district lines after the first draft of the map was released. He then went on to say that Pena would identify specific neighborhoods that he believed were favorable to him so that Downton would include those in his district.

If you recall, Peña switched parties late last year, giving Republicans in Texas just the edge they needed to be able to take ideological issues like abortion and voter ID to the legislature and pop out some harsh new laws.

NewsTaco has much more, including profiles of the three judges who comprise the committee that will determine the maps' boundaries.

-- The Texas Tea Party is demanding Rick Perry take some kind of action to deal with the non-existent problem of sanctuary cities.They held a protest at the state Capitol building today.

Tea Party leaders confronted Rick Perry in his own back yard Monday, calling on him to use his power as Texas governor to crack down on illegal immigration.

The activists, representing Tea Party groups from around the state, want Perry to either sign an executive order or call the Legislature back into a special session to enact a ban on so-called sanctuary cities. They also want him to eliminate a  policy that they say discourages the state police from enforcing federal immigraiton laws.

After holding a press conference about it at the Capitol, the group delivered petitions from more than 3,000 Texans who want the governor to act now.

"Gov. Perry needs to clarify his position on illegal immigration, and he needs to come back to Texas and to finish the people's unfinished business," said JoAnn Fleming, chair of the Tea Party Caucus Advisory Committee of the Texas Legislature. "The ball is in Gov. Perry's court. He needs to make a decision. He's running out of time."

In mocking tones, Fleming threw Perry's signature phrase "fed up" — the title of his Washington-bashing book — right back at the governor.

"We're fed up, too, Gov. Perry, and we're ready for you to take care of this issue," she said.

There's a video of an angry, well-fed white female bigot at the link.

Do the Texas TeaBags really think they're more powerful than Bob Perry and Bo Pilgrim? Truthfully though, these people might be the biggest cockleburr under the governor's saddle blanket in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination.

Isn't that sad?

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