Archive for December 4th, 2020

Last night, CNN’s Jake Tapper interviewed President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris.  It was a great interview.  Jake Tapper is good.  Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are ready.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler is being deservedly skewered for being a hypocrite.  Democrats expect better leadership during the pandemic.  Don’t let him off the hook.

Texas state government does a lousy job in a lot of areas.  Right up there or down there is the very low salary we provide state legislators.  It is good to see the Chron put this on the frontpage today.  Here is how it starts:

Alicia Caballero called in to the Sept. 15 meeting of the Texas Ethics Commission to ostensibly comment on a routine per diem adjustment for state legislators. But the 28-year-old mother of three really wanted to discuss something bigger.

“Our founders had a simple belief at the core of their ideology about governance: a government of the people, by the people, for the people,” she began. “These are words that the majority of us can recite by heart from a very young age. And yet, I would argue that our current legislative representation is a gross perversion of that ideal.”

“As it stands today, someone like me, an essential worker, even making more than double the minimum wage would most likely never have the opportunity to serve my fellow citizens through policymaking,” Caballero said. “No matter how much I may desire to, simple economics and archaic policies prevent it.”

She was talking about legislative pay.

For nearly five decades, elected officials in Texas have made the same paltry salary, $600 a month — hardly enough to sublet a room in Austin during the legislative session, let alone liveon. Few states pay their representatives less, and in Texas, where lawmakers meet for five months every other year, it has become both a prized symbol of small government and a roadblock for many would-be candidates.

“It’s impossible for a public school teacher to serve, or a firefighter, a nurse, a police officer — really anybody with a normal job,” said Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, a former teacher who now consults part time.

Caballero has been trying to change that. In September, she asked the Ethics Commission to raise legislative salaries to $36,000 a year, or a little less than what an average adult with a working partner and no children would need to survive financially, according to research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“By not providing a living wage for that position, we are irrefutably limiting the type and class of persons who can serve,” she told the commission. “It is the dreaded dot dot dot that has become so common in so many aspects of American life: serving fellow citizens in the halls of the Capitol is a noble pursuit … if you can afford it.”

The proposal has reignited an old debate about the merits of a pay increase and raised new questions about who would even have the authority to change it.

Legislative salaries are ultimately decided by voters, but the last time a constitutional amendment was put forth was 1975, more than a decade before the Ethics Commission was created. At the time, legislators made the recommendation themselves. That authority has since legally shifted to the commission.

“I’m pretty sure this has never happened,” Commissioner Steven Wolens said at the September meeting, referring to a salary proposal coming directly before the board. “So the way I see it is that you don’t even go to the Legislature. We would make a recommendation and somehow it shows up on a ballot.”

“That would be certainly something that I would be very interested in studying and considering,” Commissioner Pat Mizell said. “I don’t think we should do it today, but Ms. Caballero, it may be that you’ve set the impetus to get something done.”

Here is the entire article: She wanted to talk about how much Texas legislators make. It has reignited an old debate about inclusion – HoustonChronicle.com

Legislators are not going to get out front on this and we know why.  We pay a clown like the Ag Commissioner six figures for the year and Mrs. T $600 a month.  That’s stupid, dumb and backward.

We need to all get on board and provide our legislators with a decent salary.  By “We”, I mean the business community, both major political parties, special interests, local elected officials, editorial boards – everybody.  Other than the usual arseholes, who would be against this?

Commentary said this on Monday:

I was watching “What’s Your Point” yesterday and the 2022 election was brought up.  Rice University political scientist Mark Jones said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo would face an opponent in the Democratic Primary.  My friend Bill King went a bit further and said that Judge Hidalgo would face an African American or former H-Town Mayor Annise Parker in the primary.  Huh? 

Anyone can plop down the $1,250 filing fee to run.  I am not hearing among Democrats that Judge Hidalgo is doing a lousy job.  I think she is doing a pretty good job.  She’s promoting issues that Democrats like.  What is wrong with rental assistance and supporting small businesses during a pandemic. She would be tough to beat in the Democratic Party Primary if you ask me.

I wonder where Bill and Mark are getting their local Democratic Party intel.

Kuffer said this today:

I have no idea where Mark Jones may get his intel, but let me state for the record that I am extremely skeptical of the idea that Bill King is in any way plugged into the local Democratic scene. I strongly suspect that neither of them have heard real chatter from reliable sources, but instead are speculating based on three factors:

1. The 2018 “That could have been me” hangover. I noted this before. As we know, there was a lot of talk about who might have run for County Judge in 2018, with Judge Hidalgo ultimately being the only person to file. Lots of people didn’t want to run against then-Judge Emmett for a variety of reasons, with Annise Parker being the best known of them. It is possible that someone who now regrets not throwing their hat into the ring in 2018 is considering a 2022 run, now that the main challenge is in March and not in November. For what it’s worth, I’ve not heard anything to this effect, but I don’t claim to be especially plugged in at this time, either.

2. The business interests. I am very much in the “Judge Hidalgo has done a fine job” camp, and I agree that she has acted very much in ways that Democratic primary voters would approve. But there are groups that don’t like bail reform, and there are groups that don’t like putting extra regulations on development, and there are groups that likely feel like their influence has waned under Judge Hidalgo and the Democratic majority on Commissioners Court. If these folks now believe that Republicans are at a disadvantage running countywide, then one way to do something about that is to recruit and support a candidate for County Judge for the Democratic primary that will be more amenable to them and their concerns. It’s not the only thing they could do – I’m sure Commissioner Garcia will be targeted in November of 2022, though the Commissioners Court redistricting process may make that a less attractive option for them – but it’s on the menu. And let’s just say that I do believe Bill King is a reliable source of information for what the big capital crowd is thinking.

3. The real question is, can I win? Elections are funny things, and as we well know, the “best” candidate doesn’t always win. One question anyone who runs for office has to answer is who are my voters? Are there enough of them to get me past the finish line? I’m sure Bill King’s suggestion of a Black candidate running against Judge Hidalgo is based on the observation that there are a lot of Black voters in the Harris County Democratic primary, and that candidates often attempt to appeal to voters on affinity more than issues. Doesn’t mean such a person would be successful, or even a credible threat, but it’s a possibility.

All of this is my speculation about their speculation. We’re at the time in the calendar when people like to take early looks ahead to the next election, and no one ever keeps track of this sort of nattering, so why not put out a hot take or two. I’ve certainly indulged in this sort of thing before. It’s all fun and games until someone files a designation of Treasurer report. If there’s anything to any of this besides filling up some air time, we’ll know soon enough.

Nice take by Kuffer.

The other key factor is who shows up to vote in a Democratic Primary these days.  Latino candidates have been improving in their primary vote totals.

We will see.

Nothing to report from The Yard today.

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