Will PryorBy unofficial count, 93 Dallas County Democrats filed for county offices by the 6 p.m. deadline on January 2. This is the largest number of Democratic candidates to file in Dallas County in recent memory, perhaps the most in history. When Democrats last dominated the county, there were fewer offices on the ballot.
The mood was more-than-upbeat at a standing-room-only, post-deadline party at Poor David’s Pub on Lamar—the largest in 20 years or more. Judges Sally Montgomery and Dennise Garcia were present as the first countywide Democrats to seek re-election since Judge Ron Chapman.
Democrats will have contested primaries in some 15 races , including those for District Attorney (Larry Jarrett, Craig Watkins, B.D. Howard), County Clerk (Greg Albright, John Warren, Darryl Brigham, Harry Trujillo), Commissioner District 4 (Scott Chase, Rose Renfroe), House District 107 (Andy Smith, Allen Vaught), House District 100 (incumbent Dr. Jesse Jones, Barbara Mallory Caraway), House District 109 (incumbent Helen Giddings and Cedric Davis, Sr.), and a number of countywide judicial ra ces .
Charlie ThompsonRepublican Pete Sessions will be challenged by well-known Dallas lawyer Will Pryor in Congressional District 32 and Charlie Thompson will challenge Jeb Hensarling in CD 5. All but two state house districts are contested by the Democrats. Among those, Phil Shinoda will take on Will Harnett in state house district 114, Harriet Miller will try again in House District 102 against Tony Goolsby, and Katy Hubener will again seek House District 106, which she narrowly lost to Ray Allen (who did not seek re-election) in the last election. She will face the winner of the Republican primary, in which two candidates have filed. (Look for this district, followed by District 107, as potential Republican losses in Dallas County , with the wild card being HD 102 for a potential third.)
Jack AbramoffIndicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abromoff symbolizes the worst of what our nation's capitol, Washington, D.C., has become. In the words of Andrew Stephen of the New Statesman, "the U.S. capitol is swarming with lobbyists who are paid absurd sums to do shady deals with elected politicians." Abramoff and his associates reportedly pocketed $82.5 million in lobbying fees from Indian tribes to influence casino gambling decisions by the federal, as well as state governments, and that's just the take from one category of Abramoff's clients.
By the time the investigations into the activities of Abramoff and his associates are completed, it is anticipated that a slew of prominent Republicans as well as some Democrats will be implicated in what former Sen. Alan Simpson calls the worst scandal since the Abscam FBI sting. Good riddance to a bunch of corrupt lobbyists and politicians for whom money and power replaced any committment to principles and ethical behavior.
Geroge W. Bush. He's the guy: your man of the year whether you like, merely tolerate, or -- as is often the case -- deplore and despise him. Because who, other than our president, sat closer to the malestrom of events in 2005? Iraq, Cindy What's-Her-Name, Katrina, the Social Security debacle, Supreme Court nominations, taxes, deficit spending -- if you looked, there was Bush: not always covering himself with glory, more than occasionally stumbling but not really messing up, save in his failure to fight federal spending and in his cave-in to John McCain on the "torture" measure.
To my own way of thinking, Bush's achievement, in a rather bad year, especially in PR terms, consisted in his sheer endurance. Which is naturally what the media hated him for. The media wanted him to put on sack cloth and ashes and announce his newly discovered consonance with the philosophical positions of Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd. Of course had he done so, the media then would have skewered him for intellectual inconsistency if not political treason.
The media, my longtime profession, was absolutely, grotesquely awful in 2005: these various decaying specimens of the '60s and '70s looking up from their yogurt and fava beans just long enough to aim another kick at a Texas cowboy. Were Bush as bad as his press notices, we'd probably have to impeach him, then hang him from the nearest live oak in Crawford. Fortunately that won't be necessary.
What was overlooked this year, amid the monotonous drone from the Eastern seaboard, was that Bush
1. Stayed steady in pursuit of an Iraqi settlement advantageous both to Americans and Iraqis;
2. Named John Roberts chief justice;
3. Nominated Samuel Alito to succeed Sandra O'Connor;
4. Tapped Ben Bernanke for the Fed;
5. Spoke Truth to Irresponsibility as he sought Social Security reform;
6. Hung in with John Bolton for U.N. ambassador;
7. Presssed hard, if not artfully, for tax cut extensions;
8. Brought a useful (i.e., centrist) immigration reform proposal to the table;
9. Kept his cool;
10. Didn't whine.
Not half-bad, given the obstacles to such a performance.
I think and hope I am not widely celebrated as a Bush (or Karl Rove) apologist. Nevertheless, I think we owe the guy a little more appreciation has been his lot during a year we almost can't help but improve on.
Supreme Court Justice, Nathan HechtIt’s the one public policy problem the legislature would not solve – the Robin Hood system of public school finance. No one could broker consensus among lawmakers on this issue. Not George W. Bush. Not Rick Perry. Not Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Not Carole Keeton Strayhorn. Not countless special committees. Not the press. And certainly not the educator lobby.
Only a Texas Supreme Court order and an impending school shutdown could force the legislature to act.
That’s why Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht deserves Man of the Year honors. He wrote the opinion that will force the legislature to redo school finance.
Equally important, however, is how Hecht came to the conclusion the school finance system did not pass constitutional muster. The educator lobby wanted the court to order the legislature to fork over billions of tax dollars ($11 billion or so) to public school bureaucrats. It’s a legal concept often called "adequacy."
But in Hecht’s ruling he cautioned "While the end-product of public education is related to the resources available for its use, the relationship is neither simple nor direct; public education can and often does improve with greater resources, just as it struggles when resources are withheld, but more money does not guarantee better schools or more educated students." He ordered the legislature to fix a broken system by declaring Robin Hood a statewide property tax but did not hand a blank check to school districts in the process.
The Texas Supreme Court has experienced substantial turnover in the past few years. Hecht is now the court’s longest-serving member, first elected in 1988. In his time on the bench, he has established himself as a voice for conservative values and judicial restraint. Because of Hecht’s tenure and record, he speaks with degree of stature that few Texas jurists can match.
Texas government in 2005 was characterized by inaction. Hecht took action, making him the obvious choice for Man of the Year.
The Katrina disaster was not only the news story of the year for me but the disaster and the political ramifications of its aftermath makes this story the most significant story regarding race relations in America since the 60's. At a time when many thought our racial woes were behind us, the sight of African-Americans stranded homeless in a ruined city that is majority Black and the fact that many felt race as much as Mother Nature contributed to the magnitude of the disaster showed the world that America has a lot more work to do to insure that all of our citizens are treated equally.