Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Behind the Scenes In The Legislature: May 25th 2007

You really have to wonder how many individuals there are out there who are poring over the Texas House archived video from the night of May 25th starting around 7:30 or so. This is archived footage, but as I watch it again, there is so much traffic downloading this bit of history, that the viewing of these events of last month is fraught with pauses in the action as the Realplayer struggles to receive the streaming video.

Why go over this again? I was reading Laylan Copelin’s Sunday rehash of that fateful evening's brouhaha in the House as Tom Craddick struggled to stay in power. It really is an interesting read and really fills in some of the gaps that you can’t see in the video.

Gaps like filling in the fact that Rep. Harold Dutton Jr., (D-Houston) was sitting just off camera to Craddick’s right, rule book in hand. Here is an excerpt from Copelin’s article.

“Dutton, a Craddick supporter, said later that he was there to ask Craddick's advice on how to resurrect one bill and the timing of others. Instead, Dutton may have unwittingly played a role in the resignation of the parliamentarians.”

“Under scrutiny from Dunnam, Craddick can be seen on the House video, first turning to his right, toward Dutton, and to his left, toward Davis, as if looking for an answer.Dutton said he just volunteered — out loud — that a speaker didn't have to recognize a member for a motion to remove him."

"He said he hadn't been part of Craddick's inner circle and didn't consider himself conferring with Craddick — or usurping the parliamentarian as Craddick's adviser on the podium."

“In hindsight, Dutton said, ‘You can read that into it. But why would Craddick be taking advice from me?’"

“Dutton said he had researched the same question about recognition years ago when then-Speaker Gib Lewis refused to recognize him. He learned, he said, that the title ‘speaker’ comes from being the only member who can speak without being recognized.”

“When Dutton popped off an answer to a second question from Dunnam, Craddick seemed to hesitate, and Dunnam shot back, "Do I need to ask Mr. Dutton?"

With that, Dutton said, he slipped off the podium, but not before Davis stood, turning to her deputy, and said, 'Can you believe that!'"

There is no doubt that the video segments from the night of May 25th 2007 will be viewed over and over again by consultants, legislature members and staffers, and people like me, for months to come.

Airing segments of the streaming video in political adds in 2008, however, is unlikely due to rules in the legislature that forbid use of the video in political commercials. And that, is really too bad.

Too bad, because no one will ever believe what actually went on without viewing the actual video.

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