A new Rasmussen poll released yesterday shows that just 17% of Americans believe that Dubai Ports World should be allowed to purchase operating right to several US ports. Rasmussen also found that just 39% of all Americans realize that those same ports are currently operated by a foreign government. The worse news for President Bush and the GOP, however, is that while 41% trust the President on national security issues, 43% trust congressional Democrats. In a poll released today Rasmussen found that 44% of the US public has a favorable overall opinion of the job President Bush is doing while 54% hold an unfavorable opinion. Rasmussen was the most accurate predictor of the last Presidential election.
Mother Baird's Bakery has been speculated as a likely site for the Bush Presidential Library, if SMU gets the go-ahead, but the old Mrs. Baird's property at Central and Mockingbird isn't big enough unless planners are thinking high-rise library, underground parking. More likely as the site: The University Gardens property at Central north of Mockingbird, plus what is now student housing in the aging Binkley Apartments and other land SMU owns up to Yale.
University officials are keeping any plans close to the vest, but campus scuttlebutt is that the Mrs. Baird's property might be used for parking. Other parking lot possibilities would include land the university owns on the east side of Central alongside Yale, which used to house a favorite student watering hole, Jack's Pub. Parking already is a problem on campus, and planners need to head off any more congestion that would be created by additional car, van and tour bus traffic -- which a more removed parking lot site east of Central would do.
Ingress and egress to the site off of Central also has to be a consideration. One wonders if the university is thinking of providing shuttle service from detached parking?
Today's DMN story about SMU's property acquisitions since the 90s can be found at dallasnews.com/localnews/ under Park Cities.
It has been three years since the monumental battle in the Texas legislature to redistrict Texas to produce a solid GOP Congressional district. That battle shifted six Democratic seats to the GOP’s side of the isle and provide a Texas President the votes in needed on a dozen key issues. The full consequences of the redistricting battle are far from playing out and this Wednesday a new chapter will begin: The US Supreme Court will hear arguments from plaintiffs seeking to overturn the plan. The outcome is anyone’s guess.
There are several plaintiffs challenging the Congressional map. The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) says the census numbers used to draw the map are outdated. Another Mexican American group, the GI Forum argues that the city of Laredo was split in violation of the Federal civil rights laws. Travis County argues that splitting it among three districts denied a clear community of interest its due representation.
The most interesting challenge, however, comes from current and former Democratic members of Congress who claim the sole point of the map is partisan advantage. The Supreme Court has never struck down a redistricting map based on partisan prejudice and the move would call into question virtually every map of every state in the country.
There is uniqueness to the case. The Texas Legislature, then sporting a Democratic majority in the Texas House and a Republican majority in the Senate, failed to draw a map as constitutionally required. The courts wound up drawing the map and for the most part protected all incumbents and preserved a Democratic majority. In 2003, with majorities in both houses, the GOP in a called special session drew a map that ended the careers of six incumbent Democrats. The effort was masterminded by then Congressional Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
Did the legislature have the right to draw new district lines after it failed to do so at the constitutionally mandated time? That is one issue the high court must determine.
The Supreme Court has a range of options. It could affirm the map. It could toss the map in whole and either substitute its own map or order a lower court to do so. It could order the Texas legislature to take another crack at the job. Or it could make minor adjustments affecting only one or two districts. Democrats would particularly like to insure DeLay’s defeat and would also like to defeat Hispanic Republican Henry Bonilla of San Antonio.
Most observers believe that fact that the high court took the case indicates some bias against the plan. They also believe that whatever course it is likely that any new plan will be put into effect for this fall.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is defending the plan for the state. A ruling is expected in late spring or early summer.
Star Telegram BuildingThe Fort Worth Star Telegram turned 100 years old this month and today's copy of that venerable paper has a well written history of the paper's beginning and evolution. In 1906 Fort Worth was about the size Corsicana is today and a very rough tough West Texas oil and cattle town. Today, it is a city of over 600,000 and the 19th largest city in America. For perspective Fort Worth proper is larger than Milwaukee, Seattle, Boston and Denver proper. The Star Telegram has been Fort Worth's most powerful community resource for all its 100 years. Congratulations.
Dallas needs more cops, no doubt. And pay is part of the problem, at least when it comes to losing cops to the suburbs.
But it turns out that when you put it in national perspective, Dallas cops are actually some of the highest paid in the country compared to the cost of living, ranking just inside the top 20 highest paid forces in the United States.
Two interesting stories in the ayem paper: Phoenix pitching Southwest Airlines on moving its headquarters there and Lubbock's effort to snag the Bush Presidential Library. Dallas' loss of either of these institutions -- the one it already has and the one it hopes to get -- would be a blow. Southwest has agreed to hear a proposal from Phoenix to lure the carrier's hq from Dallas. And Lubbock hopes to capitalize on the legal dispute between SMU and the University Gardens condos to encourage a closer look at its library bid.
If Southwest were to move its headquarters, Dallas would lose its fifth largest taxpayer, which would hamper the city's efforts to grow its business tax base. At a recent town hall meeting, Mayor Laura Miller bemoaned the fact that Dallas now relies more on its residential property tax base. "Twenty-five years ago business paid the bulk of taxes. Now it's the homeowner," she said. Southwest says it didn't request the meeting with Phoenix but would agree to meet with the city "as a courtesy."
As for the Bush Library, the Lubbock bid spokesman is touting West Texas as the non-confrontational site because it, apparently, has no library-related property disputes. The local assumption is that SMU will get the library because Laura Bush is an alumna (along with Harriet Miers and Karen Hughes, two other women close to Bush), because the Bush family lived here before moving to the governor's mansion, and it's a big-city transportation hub.
A big brouhaha over property is not what SMU, which is being tight-lipped about the matter, wants. While SMU remains the favorite, West Texas has its attraction. Don Evans, Bush's best friend from Midland, is head of the selection committee. The president has often said that, if you want to understand him, look at Midland, where he entered the oil business and where he and Laura grew up. The West Texas proposal would include a literacy center named for her in Midland. And for the library itself, the Lubbock area still has plenty of what SMU is trying to acquire...land, lotsa land, under starry skies above.
Two Republican opponents are approaching a primary race from very different angles. They are running for the chance to beat Democratic Congresswomen Eddie Bernice Johnson in the U.S. District 30 congressional race. The candidates faced off at a candidate’s forum held by the Dallas County Council of Republican Women on Thursday.
In total, there are three Republicans running in the District 30 Republican primary. They include local businessman Amir Omar, commercial litigation attorney Wilson Aurbach, and Fred Wood. Wood was not present at the forum, and Omar and Aurbach are considered by most observers to be the leading contenders in the primary race.
The main difference between Aurbach and Omar was their approaches to Representative Johnson’s record. Johnson was first elected to congress in 1992.
According to Aurbach, Johnson is too radical. “She has refused to speak out against partial-birth abortion,” said Aurbach. “She has compromised U.S. sovereignty by advocating that the UN oversee U.S. elections, and she is also in favor of shutting down the biggest employer in the district.”
Aurbach also came out heavily against what he believes is Johnson’s history or pork barreling. “My congressional career will not be about bringing pork to this area,” said Aurbach. “Our incumbent Eddie Bernice Johnson is actually not that bad at it.”
Omar, however, was less concerned with talking about Johnson’s politics or her record, and said that, if elected, he will focus on what he “brings to the table”.
“I will not attack Eddie Bernice. I will actually go out there with a positive message,” said Omar. “I’m about what I bring to the table. I’m not about what the opponent’s doing.”
Aurbach didn’t limit his criticism to Johnson. He also heavily criticized Omar’s lack of past political activity, including his record of voting in Dallas County. “Despite the fact that he signed up for this race on behalf of several thousand people, he has never once been to the polls in the nine and a half years he claims to have lived in this county,” said Aurbach. “This lack of voting record is a big issue for Republican voters. I believe this could be highlighted by the Democrats in the fall.”
“I’m definitely late to politics,” responded Omar. “I make no excuses about it. It’s not the right thing. It just happens to be the way it is.”
Omar also suggested that he might not be running if some former party officials did not think he was a strong candidate. Among Omar’s endorsements are Dallas County Commissioner Ken Mayfield and former Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Bob Driegert.
“I actually realized, that there are those who believe that it might be a bad thing for the down ballot candidates to actually have someone running in the congressional race against Eddie Bernice,” said Omar. “The fact of the matter is many are afraid that she is going to bring out a whole lot of voters when she sees a strong person running against her.”
Omar suggested that his crossover appeal will bring over votes from the other side of the aisle and that his ability to give 12 hours a day to campaigning would enable him to make more community contacts than his opponent.
Aurbach also emphasized the need to reach out to all segments of the community, and in particular, conservative Christian voters. “The key to winning is not only going to be energizing the Republican base but also reaching out to communities that do not traditionally vote for Republican candidates,” said Aurbach. “A key component of this effort will be bringing my conservative Christian message to conservative Christians that historically vote for Democrats.”
Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt has suggested that surveillance cameras be placed "in apartment complexes, downtown streets, shopping malls and even private homes...If you're not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?"