Far more interesting than the fact that Vice President Dick Cheney owed Texas Parks and Wildlife $7 for another hunting stamp (DMN headline) was the information revealed in the New York Times story this morning that hunting hostess Katharine Armstrong is a lobbyist. Oh yes, the daughter of one of Texas’ most notable Republican families, is also a public relations consultant. She’s the one who notified the Corpus Christi newspaper Sunday morning of the hunting accident that is now being depicted as a PR debacle in Washington.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan was peppered with questions at a Monday press conference about the delay in notification of the incident and why the news did not emanate from the vice president’s office.
Ms. Armstrong, who has been listed as the owner of the ranch made famous in political circles by her parents, Anne and Tobin Armstrong, is identified in Ray Sasser’s DMN story as a Dallas businesswoman but not identified in the page 1 story that leads with the hunting stamp. The Times, meanwhile, calls her a lobbyist and longtime friend of Mr. Cheney and says her lobbying clients include several that do business with the federal government. However, it reports, “she said she did not believe that she had ever lobbied Mr. Cheney.”
Ms. Armstrong declined to list her lobbying clients to The Times, but public documents showed that she registered in 2004 as a lobbyist for Parsons, an engineering and construction firm that has done extensive work in Iraq. The story also lists other Washington and Texas clients.
The Armstrong family is famous in Texas political circles for helping to grow the state GOP. The Armstrongs have been called second only to the Bush family in Texas Republican politics. Anne and Tobin Armstrong were Republican activists when historians say that Texas Republicans could meet in a telephone booth. In the early 1970s, Anne Armstrong -- "mommy" to Katharine -- was cochairman of the Republican National Committee and was appointed ambassador to the Court of St. James.
The late Mr. Armstrong served for free in the first administration (1978-1982) of former Gov. Bill Clements as appointments secretary. He was responsible for infusing Texas government with Republican activists after a century of Democrats in power, recommending the appointment of thousands of Texans to state boards and commissions -- which is one of the biggest powers of a Texas governor.
Over the years, the family has kept up with political friends and associates, as indicated by the weekend quail hunt. One participant, who President George W. Bush appointed ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Pamela Pitzer Willeford, is the wife of former Texas Republican State Chairman George Willeford.
Politics really is a small, small world, after all.
According to the Pew Research Center's Project on the American Life Cupid has a lot of targets but not many of them care if he shoots their direction or not. The survey says that while 43% of American adults of all ages are not married (83 million) only 16% are actively seeking to meet someone. And the odds aren't too good for those who are looking. It seems that while 23% of single men are actively looking only 9% of the women give a hoot. Apparently too many women have met that 23% of the men and they fall short. It seems that Cupid may have a seminar opportunity on shaping up.
There are 2006 Bond Program hearings tonight and almost every night this week, running into next week, but time is running out. These meetings will help shape, should the bond package pass in November, the size of the bond, how much it will affect your property taxes, and what it should be spent on.
DallasBlog will be there - will you? (Check out the time and places on our handy-dandy, super-nifty "BOND" button up there to your right, second row of dark green buttons.) Get your voice heard.
I don’t usually read the News editorials, but I made an exception today when I saw an editorial headline about the Mercantile tax deal.
Since our own columnist Rufus Shaw was writing a column today about the same deal, I wondered what the News had to say on the subject. The DMN essentially concludes that, while it was a very expensive deal, the city should stay the course now that the City Council has approved it. My question is: Do we have any other choice?
The Editorial doesn’t mention the lead role that Mayor Miller played negotiating that agreement. Mr. Shaw views it as a bad deal for the taxpayers. To get Rufus Shaw’s take on the Merc deal, click here.
I also had a reaction to the other two editorials in the News today. The News endorsed the education Establishment candidate Diane Patrick against the conservative, incumbent, Kent Grusendorf in the Republican primary race for State Representative in Arlington. No surprise here – the News typically favors the liberal Republican over the conservative Republican whenever the liberal has a chance of winning.
Finally, in endorsing a Democrat in House District 108 by the name of Tom Malin, the reason given is that this district "deserves ready-to-rock leadership". Will someone please explain to me what that means?
Terri LeoState Board of Education member Terri Leo criticized Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Sunday for what she called "an ill disguised legislative attempt to assume control and management of the $20 Billion Permanent School Fund (PSF)".
Dewhurst recently asked the Senate Education Committee to review the legislative oversight of the Permanent School Fund.
Leo fears that Dewhurst wants to pressure the elected State Board of Education to increase the payout of the Permanent School Fund which she believes would deplete the principal and adversely affect the availability of PSF for future generations of Texas schoolchildren. Leo claimed that, without the oversight of the State Board, "the PSF would not be a $20 billion fund generating over $800 million a year." She pointed out that the "School Fund" almost went bankrupt when it was managed by the Texas legislature from 1854 to 1876 until management and control of the fund was placed in the hands of the State Board of Education.
Dewhurst is not the first Lt. Governor to make a run at trying to get more control of the PSF. As Will Lutz notes, "Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock tried to pressure the elected State Board of Education to increase the payout of the Permanent School Fund." Other SBOE members, including Chairwoman Geraldine Miller from Dallas and Don McLeroy from Bryan have called these new efforts of Dewhurst and others a "raid" on the fund.
WOAI AM 1200 is reporting that one person (not the Vice President) is in custody after a sniper opened fire on troops this morning at Ft. Hood, the country's largest military instillation. Base Public Affairs Officer Delena Kanaus says the shots were fired at morning troop formation of the 13th Corps Support Command.
Democratic party officials and local Democratic candidates are saying that a number of factors could combine to turn Dallas County into a Democratic-controlled county come November. Among those factors, they claim, are voter concerns over failures in the current county administration.
“We’ve had so many problems with the Commissioner’s Court,” said Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Darlene Ewing.
Ewing cited lawsuits, contractors walking off jobs, and issues with jail certification as being among the problems with the current Commissioners Court. When asked about the most important local issue facing voters in the county, Ewing said it was “accountability to the citizens of Dallas County”.
Several Democratic primary races are particularly contentious this year. Ewing mentioned Democratic primaries for the Dallas District Attorney and the County Clerk as two examples of highly contested primaries. She also said that large numbers of primary candidates usually translates into increased voter turnout.
“We have more options, more contested races, and a spirited DA’s race,” said Ewing.
Three candidates are running in the Democratic primary for Dallas District Attorney and four are running in the primary for County Clerk.
One of the hottest races of the year is for District Attorney.
“On the Republican side, you’re guaranteed a runoff. On the Democratic side, you can’t really tell what’s going to happen,” said Attorney Craig Watkins, who almost beat Bill Hill four years ago and is running again for DA this fall.
Democratic party leader Ewing said that current Dallas District Attorney Bill Hill’s decision to not seek reelection helps the chances of a Democrat winning the District Attorney’s race, but she also said that demographics in Dallas County are now on the side of the Democrats. According to Ewing, as long as Democrats can get out their vote, it shouldn’t matter which Republican was running for what countywide office. She believes Democrats will sweep the county this fall.
Republicans disagree. According to local GOP Chairman Kenn George, certain factors that helped Democrats in 2004 are absent from the 2006 election year. Martin Frost, who was very effective at turning out the Democratic base vote, is not on the ballot this year. Nor is there a Presidential race. According to George, this will make it harder for Democrats to turn out their vote in Dallas County.
“They don’t even have a Democrat running for Governor that can get on the radar screen,” said George.
Toby Shook, a Republican candidate for District Attorney, said that one of the factors that brought out the Democratic vote in 2002 would not be a factor in 2006. “Ron Kirk running for the U.S. Senate brought out the Democratic vote in Dallas County. Some Republicans voted for Kirk,” said Shook, referring to the U.S. Senate race that Kirk lost in 2002.
Ewing, though, thinks that Democrats in Dallas County could gain from the crossover vote. She mentioned that concerns on a number of national issues could influence more Republicans to vote for Democrats this year than in recent election years.
“I don’t think they want to be conned anymore by the Republican Administration,” said Ewing. Ewing mentioned Iraq and medical care spiraling out of control as national issues that could affect Republican turnout.
“Moderate, reasonable Republicans are offended by the direction that the party has taken. They don’t like being called disloyal because they have a difference of opinion,” Ewing added.
George disagrees. “How does that affect offices like Family Law Judge, County Judge, and the Commissioners Court?,” said George, referring to Democratic claims that President Bush’s approval rating and the GOP’s image will affect local races.
“Republicans are offended by the way the Democrats demagogued at the Roberts and Alito hearings,” added George.
A housewife accused of fatally chopping off her 10-month-old daughter's arms with a large kitchen knife pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Monday as her capital murder trial opened.
Dena Schlosser, 37, said nothing and stared straight ahead, sometimes gently rocking back and forth, as her attorney entered the plea.
Testimony was to begin Monday afternoon after opening statements to the Collin County jury in state district court.
During the opening, Schlosser's attorney said his client clearly did not know right from wrong during the November 2004 slaying of Margaret Schlosser.
"This is the real thing. This is somebody who at the time was not capable of knowing what she was doing was wrong," defense attorney William Schultz. "She didn't see it coming. ... Normally Dena is a sweet woman. She cares; she has compassion."
Schultz said Schlosser had several screaming and growling outbursts before the attack, which he called clear evidence of criminal insanity.
Assistant District Attorney Curtis Howard disagreed, saying that while Schlosser obviously had mental problems she did know right from wrong when she killed her daughter.
"At some point that morning, Dena Schlosser put Maggie Schlosser down on the bed and cut off her arms," he said.
A jury of seven women and five men was selected Friday to hear the case. Prosecutors have said they will not seek the death penalty, so a capital murder conviction would mean an automatic life sentence.
Schlosser was arrested in her Plano home in 2004 after telling a 911 operator she had hacked off the arms of her daughter. Police found the dying baby in her crib and Schlosser in the living room, covered in blood, holding a knife and listening to a church hymn.
Schlosser had reportedly stabbed herself deep in the left shoulder.
Doctors diagnosed Schlosser as manic depressive after her arrest and hospitalized her.
In February 2005, a jury deliberated only a few minutes before deciding Schlosser was mentally incompetent to stand trial. A court-appointed psychiatrist had testified that Schlosser suffered from bipolar disorder and depression and was a severe suicide risk.
She was committed to North Texas State Hospital in Vernon. In May, a judge decided Schlosser was competent to stand trial after doctors at the psychiatric hospital determined she was ready.
Schlosser's two other daughters, then ages 6 and 9, were placed in foster care and then returned to their father's custody a year ago.
Schlosser attempted suicide shortly after Margaret's birth in January 2004. After the child's death, she told a psychiatrist she wouldn't be bothered if she were convicted and sentenced to death.
Child protective authorities said Schlosser had a history of postpartum depression. They investigated her for neglect shortly after the baby's birth, but deemed Schlosser a fit parent following a regimen of psychiatric counseling and medication.
The day before the baby's death, Schlosser had told her husband she wanted to give her child to God.
The cost of U.S. traffic delays is, conservatively, $63.1 billion a year, based on 2003 figures, the Texas Transportation Institute says. And it's not getting any better.
By the Texas Transportation Institute's reckoning, the cities having the worst traffic problems are:
1. Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Ana, Calif.
2. San Francisco, Oakland, Calif.
3. Washington, D.C.
6. Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Tex.
9. Riverside, San Bernardino, Calif.
9. Orlando, Fla.
11. San Jose, Calif.
12. San Diego