Tuesday, August 30, 2005



One of the most enjoyable things on my trip to Austin, after visiting Cindy in Crawford, was meeting some really great folks there. I saw my old friend Nancy, who formerly kept Warner Bros Records running-- look what happened after she left-- and is now a rancher in the Texas hill country and I made some fantastic new friends like Deece and Joy from People For the American Way and Deena, an attorney who does a lot of work for progressive non-profits, and Casey, the Director of the Texas Music Office, to name just a few. One you'll be reading more about on this blog is Mark Strama, a dynamic and charismatic young state legislator from just outside Austin. Last year Mark defeated a reactionary Republican incumbent, Jack Stick. After graduating from Brown, he worked on Ann Richards' successful gubernatorial campaign in 1990, then became chief of staff for much-admired Senator Rodney Ellis, and later headed up Texas' Rock the Vote. Taking on Stick was a tough proposition and even after Mark won the election Stick refused to give up the seat he felt was his by some kind of right-wing entitlement. Among other things Stick filed a petition in court to overturn the will of the voters of his (former) district by saying: "Contestant alleges the registration of 2,300 voters on the last possible registration date, and 8,000 voters within the 90 days prior to the election, is so implausible that it represents violations of [...] the Texas Election Code and is part of a pattern of conduct designed to alter the outcome of the election."

Doesn't that sound just like what the GOP is all about? How dare these people register to vote and where do they get the temerity to vote against ME??? Of course, in one way Stick was completely correct. As Mark said "You bet it was part of a pattern of conduct to alter the outcome of the election! But there's nothing illegal about getting new people to the polls – it's the right thing to do, and it made the difference in this election. Those of you who worked so hard in our grassroots effort to turn out the vote in this election should consider Stick's protest the highest compliment! Stick also alleged that the high number of straight-ticket voters indicated some sort of fraud. He failed to check that in House District 50, there were actually hundreds more Republican straight-ticket voters than Democratic straight-ticket voters! As hard as it may be for him to believe, Stick lost because voters wanted a state representative who would focus on the issues that are important to the people, rather than on partisan political power struggles-- like last session's redistricting fiasco. And instead of absorbing that lesson and moving on, Stick launched yet another partisan power play."

The other Texas legislator I discovered in Texas is someone, mercifully, I didn't meet. His story though was so compelling that I want to share it with y'all. The name of this particular posterchild for Republicrook corruption and hypocrisy is Ray Allen and he's the long time State Representative of a suburban Dallas area that takes in part of Irving and part of Grand Prairie. The 55 year old Allen, who claims to have a degree in "Bible Studies," more-or-less has a wife, Debbie, 5 children (with her) and 9 grandchildren. Until the last electoral cycle Allen was best known for using state resources for his private business interests and crossing the line between public and private work he assigned state-paid employees. And a weird little habit of showing his high tech prowess by sending Instant Messages to female employees with the question "What color panties are you wearing?" Well, you can't shoot a man for that in Texas-- even if he does claim to have a degree in "Bible Studies" and even if he was a co-sponsor of the Texas Constitutional Amendment to "Protect the Sanctity of Marriage."

But then a peculiar thing happened to Mr. Sanctity of Marriage. In the final weeks of the election his daughter, Melissa Christian, endorsed his opponent and denounced her father claiming he had "gone against his Christian values and has resorted to lying about his personal life, his ethical violations" and the woman running against him. She seemed particularly upset that her father had supported measures to wreck Texas' public school system and that he had helped deprive 150,000 formerly eligible school children of health insurance-- including her own. "My children were among the thousands in this community who lost their coverage under the Children's Health Insurance Program when my father -- their grandfather -- decided it was more important to serve his party leaders than his own constituents," Christian said. But was that really what turned her against her father so strongly? Wonderers wondered. Suddenly people started talking about how Allen was conducting an affair with a female staffer younger than his own children, something few in Austin could deny. What was denied, however-- and vehemently-- was that the young staffer was pregnant and that Allen was about to become a father again. He went bonkers and, of course, blamed the Democrats, screaming his head off that it was all a partisan lie. His wife of 23 years, Debbie didn't think so and she kicked him out. Now wonderers are wondering if dirty old Ray Allen will be campaigning with his brand new infant in arms. (He hasn't apologized to the voters for lying about the whole thing but, of course, what Republican hypocrite ever does? And why should he? Ray Allen was given the "Christian of the Year" award during last year's Texas Republican Party state convention. Right on!) But every single person I actually met in Texas was really nice and just like an American.


Post a Comment

<< Home