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Opinion: All Together...OUCH!
by Bill DeOre    Sat, Oct 15, 2005, 06:23 PM

Can't blame people of our city for becoming more cynical. 24% TXU rate increase. Gasoline prices through the roof. Skyrocketing property taxes. High crime rate and the highest inflation rate since 1980.

Can do city? Live large??...Think not!... But let's go ahead and get those much needed bridges built 'cause Lord knows we need 'em. All of this and we hold out that tomorrow will bring a brighter day.

Then, when you think it can't get any worse, you look at a city like New Orleans and 'presto' there goes all your bitching rights.

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COMMENTARY: THE ECONOMIC LANDSCAPE POST KATRINA By Carl Pellegrini
by Scott Bennett    Sat, Oct 15, 2005, 11:27 AM

The Economic Landscape Post Katrina

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Carl Pellegrini
The U. S. economy is currently experiencing a contraction in production that is due to a disruption of Supply. Economists always analyze fluctuations of Demand and assume that Supply is not a constraint. The hurricanes and the level of energy prices have acted to reduce available and effective Supply.

The airlines have announced cutbacks of flights due to fuel costs; individuals are cutting back on driving; the list goes on and on. This behavior means less eating out and less income for travel related business. The hurricanes destroyed the homes of workers along the coast; these workers need a place to live so to be able to work for the firms that sell outside the local trading area. Temporary housing is being obtained for these workers, but this process takes time, more time than going through the fast food drive in lane at McDonalds.

The current level of energy prices has severely disrupted the economics of many industries, fertilizer and transportation being the most obvious. Firms that did not have long term supply contracts for their energy supply must obtain their raw materials in the spot market. If contracts for delivery of product had already been entered into, embodying assumptions of lower cost, losses are incurred.

Customers have budgets, both consumer and business; if substitutes are not available for these impacted higher priced products, then consumption is reduced or funds are borrowed in order to maintain purchases until other plans are decided upon. Just look at yourself or ask your circle of friends how they are responding. Understanding human behavior is not rocket science; common sense is a reliable guide.

The financial consequences of this economic disruption are expected to feed upon the real world adjustments. Bad debts must be written off. All too many auto and home loans will not be repaid. The behavior of short term and long term lenders will determine the second installment of this shock to the system. Will they assume more, less, or the same amount of risk?

To the extent that people do not return to the New Orleans area, business decisions and new loans affecting that area will be slow being made. The desire to fund hurricane relief by cutting growth in existing Federal government programs means that decisions will be slow being made and a much wider circle of impacted firms is created. If your firm was assuming a given level of revenue related to growth of government spending, and now that growth is now in jeopardy, how do you respond?

Again, understanding human behavior is not rocket science; common sense is a reliable guide

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COMMENTARY: HARRIET MIERS AND THE CONSERVATIVE DIVIDE ByTara Ross
by Tara Ross    Fri, Oct 14, 2005, 11:36 PM
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Tara Ross
I suspect that many readers of this blog are not self-identified conservatives. Accordingly, perhaps you don’t think it matters too much why conservatives are divided over Harriet Miers.  Or maybe your primary response is great joy, rejoicing, and glee as you watch Republicans implode. I can’t say that I blame you. Perhaps I would do the same in your shoes. In reality, though, the reasons behind the conservative divide are vitally important, not merely to conservatives and the Republican Party, but to anyone who cares about the composition of our Supreme Court.

Let me see if I can explain why in a few short paragraphs. For ease of reference, let’s call the two main conservative camps “Side A” and “Side B.”

The arguments of Side A go something like this: We believe the President. The President says that he knows Miers’ heart, and he has promised us that she will be a reliable conservative vote on the Court. Moreover, Miers is an evangelical Christian. Her faith should weigh in her favor.

By contrast, Side B feels angry and betrayed. Its members don’t know whether to believe the President’s assertions about Miers, but they are nevertheless unimpressed with his arguments that she will vote “the right way.” Instead, Side B feels that the President should have appointed an experienced jurist with a proven track record as a fair, non-political arbiter of the law.

The collision between the arguments of Side A and Side B comes down to a simple question. Do Republicans really believe what they preach about the judiciary being the non-political branch, or does Republican diligence about avoiding a politicized judiciary surface only when the candidate in question is perceived as left-leaning?

Consider: Side A rests much of its support on the President’s promise that Miers will vote in a reliably conservative manner. Set aside the speculation regarding whether this promise can or cannot be trusted. What does such a promise mean, under the circumstances? Upon what information does it rest? Miers is a 60 year old woman with no significant constitutional law experience to speak of. Her career has not required significant periods of time wrestling with difficult constitutional questions and arriving at a well-established judicial philosophy. How can Miers hope to give the President more than superficial assurances about what her judicial philosophy will be in practice? The President’s confidence in Miers either rests upon insufficient information or it rests more upon her personal views than upon knowledge of her judicial philosophy.

The former makes her nomination an irresponsible one. The latter is exactly what conservatives have claimed to be combating in recent years.  Side B sees this. Side A does not.

Side A also seems to take comfort in Miers’ status as an evangelical Christian. This position is silly on many levels.  First, no one can claim to know the inner workings of another’s heart. Isn’t it a bit risky to rely so heavily upon spiritual qualifications? Second, a person can be a good, sincere Christian and a really lousy Supreme Court Justice simultaneously. Did not Jimmy Carter accomplish an analogous feat in the Oval Office? Last, we should remember that affirmative action based upon religious preference is no more justifiable than affirmative action based upon gender, skin color, or ethnicity.

I have every confidence that Harriet Miers is a wonderful woman. I know that my position against her nomination may be unpopular in Dallas, where locals have an instinctive reaction to root for the home city girl. The country will be best served, however, if we quell this instinct. Miers is an accomplished woman, and she is doubtless qualified for many preeminent positions. She is not, however, qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.

The President erred terribly by making a nomination based upon political and personal considerations rather than legal and judicial ones. Side A should pause and consider the long-term ramifications of throwing their support behind this choice. After all, what’s good for this Republican goose will be good for a Democratic gander in future.

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INTERVIEW: JORDAN RECALLS ABA ABORTION BATTLE
by Scott Bennett    Fri, Oct 14, 2005, 06:13 PM

ABA BATTLE OVER ABORTION ISSUE REVISITED

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Darrell Jordan
The former President of the State Bar of Texas who led the fight to reverse the American Bar Association (ABA) support for abortion rights stated in an interview with DallasBlog.com that the dispute was not about the pro-life versus the pro-abortion rights’ views of its members, but about “the appropriateness of the ABA taking any position on the issue of abortion.”

Darrell E. Jordan is the managing partner of Godwin Gruber, a prominent Dallas law firm. He was the President of the State Bar of Texas back in 1990 when the ABA had just taken a position in support of abortion rights at its Los Angeles convention. According to Jordan , “the position was deeply divisive at the time. Members of the ABA were resigning, including my own law partners and even a number of federal judges. It put the ABA into the category of just another political group.”

When asked if this was a pro-life versus pro-abortion rights matter, Jordan responded: “Absolutely not. We had as many pro-choice supporters as pro-life supporters of the resolution to get the ABA to take a neutral stance on the abortion issue.”

Jordan persuaded the State Bar of Texas to bring forward a resolution at the annual ABA meeting in Chicago calling for the American Bar Association to return to its traditional neutrality on the abortion issue. Almost every attorney active in leadership positions in the Texas Bar at the time supported Jordan ’s position of neutrality on the abortion issue. That included Harriet Miers who would later go on to be the President of the State Bar of Texas herself. While Miers was supportive of his resolution, she wasn’t particularly active in that battle as best Jordan remembers.

Mr. Jordan was successful in getting the ABA to reverse its decision in support of abortion rights at the Chicago meeting, and that position of neutrality remained in place through the 1991 Atlanta national convention.

Soon thereafter, the tide turned against those who wanted the ABA to stay out of the highly charged abortion battle. Abortion rights supporters turned out in large numbers at the 1992 ABA convention, and the ABA adopted a position in favor of “abortion on demand”, a position that, in Jordan ’s words, is “even more liberal than Roe v. Wade.” The ABA has maintained its abortion rights ever since.

While Harriet Miers was not actively engaged in the heated debates over this issue in ABA circles in the early 1990s, she joined most of the Texas Bar Association officials in support of the Jordan position. Jordan strongly supports Harriet Miers’ nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court and has been asked to be available to testify on her behalf before the Senate Judiciary Committee when hearings begin.

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BUSH LIBRARY
by Carolyn Barta    Fri, Oct 14, 2005, 08:43 AM

The four finalists for the George W. Bush Library were announced Thursday and, as a member of the journalism faculty at SMU, of course I hope that SMU gets the nod.

Bets have long been placed on SMU as the final pick because it is his wife’s alma mater. Other valid reasons include: SMU has a topnotch political science department that produces excellent programming, has ample space for document storage (having bought the old Mrs. Baird’s Bread property) and has convenient access to public transportation at Mockingbird Station. Plus, SMU knows how to put on classy, special events.

The president has said he wants his library to draw scholars to study issues of particular importance to him – freedom and democracy, compassionate conservatives, broad reform and economic reform. SMU clearly fills the bill.

However, the disadvantage to the Hilltop is that it might reinforce the elitist, frat-boy image that Bush has long tried to shed. For symbolic reasons, he might prefer a Library on the banks of the Brazos at Baylor, which would reinforce his image as a faith-based president who is close to the earth and home, as Waco is easy distance from his Crawford ranch. Bush has partnered events with both campuses, visiting SMU for election-eve rallies and having events such as his Economic Summit at Baylor.

As for University of Dallas, the Catholic University also provides a faith-based connection. UD has access to property near the old Texas Stadium but would seem to lack the convenience, access and personal tie that SMU or Baylor/Waco would provide. Finally, Texas Tech, with its proximity to Midland, once home to both W. and Laura, is being kept in the mix for the time being. (Don Evans, Bush’s old friend from Midland, heads the selection committee.) That one, off in the boonies, would be the surprise pick.

Bush has said he wants to be actively involved with his Library, which points toward Baylor or SMU.

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COMMENTARY: SOUTH OF THE TRINITY By Rufus Shaw
by Scott Bennett    Fri, Oct 14, 2005, 08:00 AM

From South Of The Trinity - By Rufus Shaw

Friday, October 7th, the Dallas Morning News ran a front page story outlining some of the activities of South of the Trinity Councilman Leo Chaney, Jr. and his relationship with Southwest Housing. Both Councilman Chaney and the owner of Southwest Housing are being investigated by the FBI. As a matter of fact, all of the African-American council members have had information regarding their activities at city hall subpoenaed. I can only speculate as to the reason for this serious expose-looking piece which was supposed to expose a corrupt link between Chaney and Southwest Housing. Instead of convincing the Black community that Councilman Chaney has surely done something wrong, the Morning News article raised even more questions about its coverage of this unprecedented FBI probe of city hall and why Mayor Miller has somehow escaped the attention of federal investigators.

The Morning News story documented several actions of Councilman Chaney and Southwest Housing regarding Chaney’s fundraising activities and Southwest Housing’s non-profit donations. None of what I read involved any kind of criminal or unethical behavior on the part of Chaney or Southwest Housing. After burning up miles of ink trying to infer a “pay for vote scheme”, involving Chaney and Southwest Housing, the Morning News succeeded in only documenting activities that Mayor Miller has frequently been accused of doing.

According to the Mayor’s campaign records, Southwest Housing and its owner are some of Mayor Miller’s biggest campaign donors. Mayor Miller has also championed virtually all of Southwest Housing’s projects when they have come before the council even those now controversial projects south of the Trinity that the Black council members are being queried about. What is a mystery to the African-American community is why the Dallas Morning News has never done a comparison linking Southwest Housing’ campaign donations to Mayor Miller’s own vote and advocacy for Southwest Housing. This is exactly what the paper did in attempting to explain Leo Chaney’s relationship with Southwest Housing.

Councilman Leo Chaney, Jr. got donations from Southwest Housing for a non-profit organization he supports in South Dallas. Mayor Laura Miller’s own fundraising efforts for the Blackwood Strong Mayor proposal is no less troubling. Even though the Dallas City Attorney ruled the Mayor nor any city council person or board and commission member could raise money for or against the soundly defeated Blackwood Strong Mayor Proposal, it was an open secret that Mayor Miller worked the phones calling donors to donate to the group promoting passage of the Blackwood Strong Mayor proposal. One of the contributors to the Blackwood Strong Mayor proposal was none other then Brian Potahasnik, owner of Southwest Housing. South of the Trinity, we think these coincidences deserve the scrutiny of a concerned press and the attention of federal investigators.

If the lack of coverage of the Mayor’s role in the city hall scandal is not enough, the Mayor who lost the Dallas Cowboys is now trying to convince us that she really wants to keep the Texas/OU game. In truth the question of if the Texas/OU game goes or stays has been on the table at city hall since I was on the Park Board in 1992. One might recall during Mayor Steve Bartlett’s tenure, we floated a ½ cent sales tax referendum to the voters. If it had passed, the Fair Park and the Cotton Bowl would have received much needed improvements. But the measure failed at the ballot box because white North Dallas voters voted overwhelmingly against it. Which makes those of us South of the Trinity wonder if white North Dallas voters are really interested in investing millions of dollars in southern sector institutions so that Texas and OU alums can come see one football game The Dallas Zoo, located south of the Trinity, has had similar problems attracting money to make it more viable.

Those of us South of the Trinity cannot quite understand how Mayor Miller can continue to not be a subject in the FBI probe of city hall. We cannot understand how a Mayor who lost the Dallas Cowboys can possibly have credibility trying to keep the Texas/OU football game. I mean, from what I understand, she did not even go to the game! And she has free good seats and a parking pass! Those alone maybe reason enough for the Texas/OU people to move on. We certainly cannot understand why voters in North Dallas want to see this mayor with more power. That’s what it looks like from South of the Trinity.

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Total Recall
by Bill DeOre    Wed, Oct 12, 2005, 05:18 PM

Carolyn's right in her assessment of Mayor Miller's "weird" stance on Ray Hunt's bid to build a new downtown headquarters.

Let's jump back in time and recall then writer Miller's stint at the 'Observer'. She routinely drug Hunt through the dirt in her column citing his "shady business tactics".  Do we smell an agenda here...and what could it be?

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DeLAY and DEGUERIN ON OFFENSE
by Scott Bennett    Wed, Oct 12, 2005, 04:02 PM

Tom DeLay's lawyer is wasting no time trying to discredit Travis County DA Ronnie Earle as a partisan public official who is biased in the extreme and abusing his power.  He has issued a subpoena for Earle insuring that it is the DA who will be first in the dock and the defensive.  Deguerin has 12 questions he wants answered.  They make interesting reading (You must have Adobe 6.0 to open these files):

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