Gov. Ann RichardsFormer Gov. Ann Richards has cancer of the esophagus and will undergo treatment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She will be treated at the MD Anderson Tumor Institute in Houston. The cancer is considered highly treatable.
The faction on the State Board of Education that includes conservatives David Bradley (R-Beaumont) and Terri Leo (R-Spring) has picked up one and maybe two seats. Cynthia Dunbar has won a vigorously contested race against Tony Dale for the seat of the retiring Cynthia Thornton (R-Round Top). In the other contested primary, former Rep. Ken Mercer is leading incumbent Dan Montgomery (R-Fredricksburg) but is hovering just below the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Dunbar and Mercer are affiliated with the Bradley/Leo faction. If Mercer wins, that would give the faction seven of the 15 seats on the board, effective in Jan. 2007.
Robert NovakHere is what Robert Novak says today about a major rift between the Bush Administration and the Republicans in Congress:
"All the evidence suggests that the Bush Administration now has an all-out rebellion on its hands from the GOP Congress. This is not isolated in any single issue, such as the ports deal, but in fact extends to that and numerous other issues as well. Republican congressmen are tired of being bullied and ignored by a heavy-handed executive, and they are playing hardball with their President. Given his unpopularity, many of them find it useful to distance themselves from Bush anyway."
"In short, Bush has little leverage left within his own party, and his transformation to lame-duck status is all but complete. On all sides, conservative Republicans are working against him. The biggest visible difference between their conduct and that of a Democratic Congress is that they have not begun impeachment proceedings."
It's going to be a long day. The Dallas City Council won't be talking the Wright Amendment until after 3 p.m. Word from insiders is they will indeed set June 1 as the deadline for Mayor Laura Miller and Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief to come to a meeting of minds.
City Walk at Akard, a residence for low- and no-income people at 511 N. Akard, got the go-ahead from the city council despite a late (i.e. today) change on the agenda so that the developer could meet an April 1 Texas Department of Housing deadline.
The vote does not mean the city has committed to funding $1.75 million the developer is asking for the project, and Councilman Mitch Rasansky is vowing to fight the deal as it is written.
As we've told you, Central Dallas Community Development Corp. is saying it is coming up short for its $19.1 million City Walk at Akard project, and it wants the city to foot $1.75 million of the shortfall from its homeless bond funds.
The plan is to transform 511 N. Akard into a 15-story, 209-unit single-room only project for low and no-income residents. The project would include one floor of limited retail and two floors of office space. Rents would range from $384 at the low end to a few units leasing at market rates, about $1,050 per month. About 100 units of the 209 will be set aside for homeless tenants.
Central Dallas Community Development Corp. proposes acquiring 511 N. Akard for a little more than $5 million, or about two and a half times the most recent appraisal of the property by the Dallas Central Appraisal District, which pegs the property at $2 million.
Central Dallas CDC's proposed development fee for the project is $2.2 million, and they are only putting in around $300,000 to $400,000 of their own equity into the project.
Unless the legislature changes the way we fund pubic education in Texas, the DISD will be the latest school district to see its local property taxes transferred elsewhere under the "Robin Hood" school finance scheme which redistributes local property taxes from so-called rich districts to property-poor districts. DISD is scheduled to lose $43 million in local revenues in 2007 unless the legislature acts before then to change the way we fund public education in Texas. "Robin Hood" has grown from a $400 million redistribution plan when Gov. Richards and the Texas Legislature put this funding system in place in the early 90s to a $1.2 billion redistribution system today.
The Sharp Commission is considering alternatives to the current system of funding public education in Texas and is expected to have its recommendations ready for consideration by the legislature prior to the upcoming special session.
The Republican primary for Dallas District Attorney ended with optimism and positive words from the two leading candidates late Tuesday night.
Toby Shook won with 54 percent of the total vote count to Vic Cunningham’s 38 percent. A third candidate, Judge Dan Wyde, pulled in 8 percent.
“You’re the next District Attorney and I want to be the first one to congratulate you,” said Vic Cunningham. Cunningham’s words came when he went to the room where Toby Shook’s campaign was celebrating at the Radison Hotel.
“He’s a warrior,” said Shook, when he responded to Cunningham’s concession. “We’re going to work as a team and act as a team. If I can get Vic Cunningham behind me, I can’t lose in the fall.”
When asked by the Dallasblog about how his campaign will approach the general election against Craig Watkins, who by then was the apparent winner in the Democratic DA primary, Shook was confident. “I look forward to debating them in the fall,” said Shook. “We’re going to run on experience (and) we’re going to talk about criminal justice issues. We’ve got a lot of momentum going.”
Cunningham said that he was “100 percent behind Shook, and that he thought (Shook) was going to win big.”
Dallas County GOP Chairman Kenn George was equally positive and said that the grassroots involvement was the key to Shook’s victory in the primary and would help carry him through the general election. “Shook is going to win big,” said George. “Look at the grassroots effort that Toby Shook was able to put together in a three man district primary. He came in with zero name ID and was able to win it without a runoff. That shows that their organization was able to win with the grassroots.”
Shook’s campaign had as many as 70 volunteers when he was last interviewed by the Dallasblog in early February. The number rose as more prosecutors from the DA’s office volunteered for Shook’s campaign.
In the Democratic primary for Dallas District Attorney, Craig Watkins had 55 percent of the vote to Larry Jarrett’s 32 percent, with B.D. Howard running in third with 12 percent. This will be Watkins second crack at the District Attorney's office. His first was in 2002, when he lost to current District Attorney Bill Hill.
When asked for comment on other Republican primary battles in Dallas County, George said that in the county clerk’s race, voters responded to Cynthia Figueroa’s performance at the county clerk’s office. About the primary for Congressional District 30, George said that, despite the district being heavily democratic, it “was worth a good fight” and that they have “two good candidates running.” The District 30 primary will go into a runoff in April since the two leading candidates, Wilson Aurbach and Amir Omar, pulled in 44 and 36 percent of the vote respectively. Fred Wood unexpectedly received 19 percent of the vote.
“Does anybody think that it’s going to be easy? No,” said George, about District 30. “But it’s an opportunity for voters to express their displeasure.” George also said that the race in the fall was an opportunity to build up a Republican base in the district and to get some precinct chairman elected.
The Dallas City Council is expected to vote today to set a June 1st deadline for Mayor Miller to come with a compromise on the Wright Amendment with her Fort Worth counterpart Mike Moncrief. The Fort Worth City Council yesterday voted to ask Congress for a moratorium on all Wright related activity until August 1st. Earlier the North Texas Congressional delegation had agreed to hold off until October 1st in a meeting hosted by Sen. Kay Hutchison. However, Southwest Airlines says that it will not participate in any negotiations with a deadline beyond 30-days.
Overall in yesterday's election only five incumbents were defeated. They included three Republicans and two Democrats.
San Antonio physician and public school voucher advocate Jim Leininger became something of an issue in several Texas House races as he poured hundreds of thousands of dollars through various PACs in an effort to unseat five GOP incumbent legislators that had opposed vouchers. At least four of the five have won reelection: Pete Geren of Fort Worth 54%, longtime incumbent Delwin Jones of Lubbock 60%, and Tommy Merritt of Longview 57%. A late night count left uncertainty in a Nacogdoches race but incumbent Roy Blake of Nacogdoches was defeated by former state rep Wayne Christian 56% to 43%. In the Texas Hill Country targeted incumbent Carter Casteel was narrowly lost to Nathan Macias by about 40 votes.
In Dallas GOP incumbent Elvira Reyna was among only five incumbents to lose a race. She lost to Thomas Latham 53% to 47%. On the Democratic side Dallas incumbent Jesse Jones lost to former Dallas City councilwoman Barbara Mallory Caraway by 51% to 49%. State Senator Frank Madla was defeated by Carlos Uristi 57% to 43% with about 2% of the vote still out.