Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dan Patrick Looking Out For His Good Buddy Tom DeLay

Oh my.

I must have been looking the other way when Danny Boy slipped this little nugget in.

Conservative talk show host cum State Senator Dan Patrick recently introduced into the Senate a package of bills that he dubbed “reform bills”

Among them are a bill and a joint resolution. HB 630 and SJR 26. SJR 26 is a joint resolution calling for Texas voters to vote on a constitutional amendment in November. What constitutional amendment would that be? Read it and weep.

“A. Article IV, Texas Constitution, is amended by adding Section 22a to read as follows:
Sec. 22a. To the extent provided by general law, the attorney general may represent the state in the district and inferior courts in the prosecution of criminal and civil offenses classified by law as offenses against public administration, including ethics offenses, or as offenses involving insurance fraud.”

It’s a little insidious if you look at the companion bill that Patrick has filed. HB 630.

Scroll on down to line 26 to 27. You will see that HB 630 takes away the purview of the Travis County District Attorney, currently Ronnie Earle, to oversee criminal prosecutions of state officials, and gives it to a new “public integrity unit” that functions under the state Attorney General.

It’s like putting the wolf in charge of the hen house.

This is clearly an ill-disguised way to take prosecutorial power away from one of the most liberal counties in Red Texas, and place it in the hands of one of the most pliant and obsequious offices in the state. Greg Abbott prosecutes Tom DeLay for money laundering? Greg Abbot brings Tom DeLay to trial for conspiring to turn $190,000 of TRMPAC money over to the campaign funds of state representatives and senators?

Don’t be ridiculous.

And finally, to top the whole thing off, to call for a constitutional amendment vote in an odd-numbered year is to request for voters to vote in a bad amendment that works against the interest of the people. Remember Proposition 2 in 2005? It was a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as “the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage.”

I remember standing in a long line to vote on that day. Everyone, and I mean everyone in line knew each other.

They all went to the same church.

It varies by state, but in general the percentage of people who are in favor of (or just don’t care about) gay marriage to those who oppose it is generally a 50:50 split. In Texas, I suspect it’s more like 40:60. Do you wonder what the statewide vote tally was on Proposition 2? From the Secretary of State's election results website:
Prop. 2 Same sex marriage denied legal status
IN FAVOR 1,723,782 76.25%
AGAINST 536,913 23.74%

So let’s get another bad amendment voted for in an off-year election in numbers that do not reflect in any way, shape or form, the consensus of Texas voter opinion.

It’s Democracy with a capital T.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, thanks for the info: I'm a little puzzled about the goals of this legislation. In a functioning, democratically founded legal system there is little concern over "liberal counties...[having] oversight over...conservative states": isn't justice independent of what is "liberal and what is "conservative"? Also, if not, then doesn't giving power to bring ethics/corruption charges to the state majority party open the door to political prosecution at the state level? Btw, what's up w/Earle's suit? And, I'll soon be visiting RedTexas: what radio channel is AirAmerica on in Houston?
Thanks, CF from California

John Coby said...

"Scroll on down to line 26 to 27. You will see that HB 630 takes away the purview of the Travis County District Attorney, currently Ronnie Earle, to oversee criminal prosecutions of state officials, and gives it to a new “public integrity unit” that functions under the state Attorney General."

WOW! Nice catch!!!!!

Hal said...

Welcome to Texas politics anon.

We draft laws to fit the political situation of the moment. And when the moment changes, we draft laws to reflect the change.

Like you, it took something of an adjustment for me to acclimatize myself to this kind of system.

No, here in Texas justice is political. Nowhere else have I been that judges run for office under a party banner. Insane, I know.

And yes, that is what I meant by making the wolf in charge of the henhouse. Political prosecution will be, by its very nature, partisan. That's Texas.

Earle's suit? Not a clue. We are all waiting.

You want to listen to Air America whilst in Texas? Texas is Clear Channel country. Bring your XM.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Hal--
I have to admit, I had my tongue loosely planted in cheek with my sincere queries; sort of a half-glass-full mentality has overcome me in the waning days of the empire. Frankly, I'm weary, weary, weary of it all. But I just can't stop checking up on the facts. It's so tiring. Alas, the best I'll be able to do whilst in H-town is Olbermann's show (no XM, no Internet in Binglewood).
Thanks for the time.
CF in Cal