Archive for September, 2010

Greater Houston Partnership Reacts To NASA Funding Bill
September 30, 2010

(news release from GHP)

Houston – The leadership at the Greater Houston Partnership today expressed its enthusiasm over the passage of a Congressional funding bill for NASA. If signed by President Barack Obama, the bill could impact the Houston region by potentially preserving thousands of jobs that appeared to be lost.

“We are pleased at the passage of this bipartisan plan that will help maintain a strong NASA footprint in the Houston region,” said Jeff Moseley, GHP President and CEO. “We look forward to President Obama signing this spending bill so that NASA can get back to its mandate of human space exploration.”

The spending bill enjoyed bipartisan support in the Senate, with that legislative body unanimously approving it this past August. Through some 11th-hour efforts, the House was able to pass and reconcile its own version of the bill last night before Congress convened for the fall election cycle this Friday.

 

Moseley thanked the local congressional delegation for their continued efforts ensuring the passage of the legislation.

 

“We applaud our local leadership in Congress, specifically Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rep. Pete Olson, who worked so diligently over this past year to get this done,” Moseley said. “They are a testament to Texas’ ‘can do’ spirit, and their strong belief that this spending bill is right for Texas and right for America.”

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Sen. Hutchison Lauds Passage of Bill to Preserve America’s Future in Space
September 30, 2010

Late Wednesday, the House of  Representatives passed legislation negotiated by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) securing NASA’s $19 Billion  2011 fiscal budget.

It is designed to safeguard America’s human spaceflight capabilities, according to supporters, while balancing commercial space investment with a robust mission for NASA.

The bill now lands on President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.

 “I am extremely pleased that the Houston delegation, including Reps. Pete Olson, Gene Green, John Culberson, Kevin Brady, Al Green, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Ted Poe, pulled together to gain approval of the Congressional initiative to preserve America’s future in space and protect our proud heritage of exploration,” said Sen. Hutchison.  “This bill represents months and months of hard work and reflects a complex compromise that forged a strong balance between investment in new technology and the evolution of the commercial space market with a continued robust mission for NASA.”  

“Six months ago we were faced with an Administration proposal that would have ended the era of U.S. dominance in space exploration, threatened our utilization of and investment in the International Space Station, and jeopardized America’s leadership in manned space flight.  

“This bill provides needed direction to NASA that will preserve many of the jobs and critical skills the agency would continue to lose amid budgetary uncertainty.  Preserving these skills and applying them directly to the new launch capability and other programs will allow our nation to continue to be the global leader in space,” Sen. Hutchison added. 

The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 addresses the following areas: 

International Space Station (ISS)

The bill would extend full utilization of the ISS through at least 2020 and promote safe and effective operation, maintenance, and maximum utilization of the space station by ensuring that replacement or spare parts are available for delivery and installation to assure sustained operations.  The bill also reserves research space for private entities to encourage a broader range of scientific research.

 Space Shuttle Retirement and Transition

The bill would authorize and direct NASA to fly the space shuttle Launch on Need (LON) flight pending results of a required assessment of safe means of return for astronauts if the shuttle is damaged or unable to return.  The bill also would preserve space shuttle capabilities through 2011 to complete the current manifest of scheduled flights.

 Commercial Crew and Cargo Transportation Capabilities

The bill would direct NASA to continue the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Program (COTS) in support of providing cargo services to the ISS and would establish requirements for the definition of milestones and minimum performance objectives to be achieved before procurement authority is granted for commercially developed crew transportation capability. 

Expansion of Human Space Flight Beyond the International Space Station and Low-Earth Orbit

The bill would direct NASA to initiate development of a government-owned, NASA-designed and operated “Space Launch System” (SLS) – a heavy lift launch capability –  as soon as practicable and would establish the end of 2016 as the goal for initial capability to deliver crew and cargo to the ISS.  To facilitate that schedule, the bill allows modification and/or extension of existing contracts.  The bill would require NASA to develop a multi-purpose crew transportation vehicle based on Orion for use with the Space Launch System.  

Rescoping and Revitalizing Institutional Capabilities

The bill would require a study to identify an approach for the most efficient use and maintenance of NASA facilities and infrastructure, paying specific attention to eliminating unneeded duplication of infrastructure.  It would also prohibit NASA from making any movement or termination of contractors or civil servants or any reorganization or Reduction in Force for reasons other than cause, until Congress receives the required reports and grants legislative authority to make such changes.

City Leaders Speak Against Prop. 1
September 29, 2010

Several members of  Houston city council stood in solidarity on the steps of city hall Wednesday morning to say they could not support Prop. 1, the  plan to collect a monthly fee to fix the city’s flooding and drainage problems.

Council members Wanda Adams, Jolanda “Jo” Jones, C.O. “Brad” Bradford and Jarvis Johnson say they have critical concerns which must be addressed in an implementation ordinance.

“As public officials, we have a responsibility to let our constituents know what they are voting on. To date, we cannot answer those questions because the information has not been provided,” said Adams.

Mayor Annise Parker is expected to outline the potential implementation of  Proposition No. 1 at this mornings city council meeting.

“We want to ensure that the oldest and  most-in need neighborhoods’  street and drainage projects are completed first; that all Houston businesses have equal opportunity to participate in contracting opportunities, and that Houstonians get hired first,” said Adams.  “Likewise if the drainage fee is collected on citizen’s water bills, then renters are held responsible for the legal obligation of a property owner yet are excluded from much-needed infrastructure work. Churches, colleges and other organizations need to know how much they have to pay.”

Why Are Houston Firefighters Endorsing Perry Over White?
September 28, 2010

Governor Rick Perry will travel to Houston on Wednesday to pick up a big endorsement from the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association – Local 341.

President Jeff Caynon confirmed that his group will back Perry over former Houston Mayor Bill White in the race for Governor of  Texas.

“Governor Perry has consistently supported fire fighter’s causes,” said Caynon in response to my text message asking why the 3,800 member association is supporting Perry.

When I asked if  firefighters had any problems with former Mayor White,  Caynon responded, “On balance, White’s administration was good for firefighters. We got a long well for the most part and successfully negotiated two collective bargaining agreements.”

At this point I think it’s worth noting that many groups that endorse in political races have a  “friendly incumbent” rule.

That means the group will endorse an incumbent who shares the basic philosophy and supports its causes, even if  the opponent also supports the group’s issues. 

How will this endorsement play in the larger context of  a statewide campaign?

I’m sure folks in East and West Texas will wonder why Houston firefighters chose Governor Perry over the city’s former mayor.

As long as the union doesn’t slam White’s record on public safety , White can minimize the damage.

However, Perry’s campaign would be smart to tout the endorsement from the country’s fourth largest firefighter’s union located in his opponent’s hometown.

Democrats go after Gov. Perry in Texas
September 28, 2010

I’m posting this election story from the Washington Post, which like  KPRC Channel 2,  is owned by the Washington Post Company. 

It’s about the Democratic  Governor’s Association’s decision to spend money targeting Governor Rick Perry’s bid for relection against democrat Bill White.

Perry’s campaign has also responded to the article, and I’ve posted the statement after the article.

Dan Balz Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, September 27, 2010; 11:07 PM

In a surprise move, the Democratic Governors Association has decided to up the ante in Texas, with plans to launch an attack ad against Gov. Rick Perry (R ) that assails him as a career politician who has lost touch with the people of the Lone Star State. The audacious action comes in a state that has been a Republican stronghold for more than a decade. But Democrats have concluded that, even in a year that tilts strongly toward Republicans, Perry is more vulnerable than he has appeared in his race against Democrat Bill White, the former mayor of Houston. The DGA has already contributed $2 million to White’s campaign. The new ad buy, which is scheduled to begin running in the Dallas area Tuesday, represents an independent expenditure on behalf of White.

A Democratic strategist said the DGA would spend about $650,000 to $700,000 a week on its ad campaign. The latest poll in Texas, conducted by Blum & Weprin Associates for a consortium of Texas newspapers, gave Perry a seven-percentage-point lead, 46 percent to 39 percent. The poll was published on Sunday. Perry’s lead was consistent with other surveys taken in September. The public poll showed White and Perry running about even in the Houston area, where White is well known. But Perry held a solid lead in the Dallas area.

The DGA hopes its ad campaign will cut into that margin there, which could be the key to White’s hopes of winning. Perry became governor in December 2000 after then-governor George W. Bush resigned to become president. He has been reelected twice to four-year terms and is now the longest-serving governor in the state’s history. In a year in which incumbents of both parties have found themselves on the defensive, Democrats hope to turn Perry’s long tenure against him. The ad concludes by saying, “Twenty-five years as a politician has changed Rick Perry alright – for the worse.” A copy of the ad was made available to the Post before it went on the air. The ad attacks Perry on several fronts. Among them are ordering 11- and 12-year-old girls to be vaccinated against a virus that causes cervical cancer and proposing a mammoth Trans-Texas highway corridor that would have taken land from many private property owners. Both proposals eventually were blocked, but Republicans and Democrats have continued to criticize Perry for his actions. Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R ) included both in her primary challenge to Perry last spring but fell far short in her bid to unseat him. Democrats face substantial losses in governors’ races this fall, with Republicans looking to finish the elections with at least 30 of the 50 governor’s mansions. But Democrats are running competitively in three of the nation’s most populous states, all of which elected Republicans governors four years ago.

In California, Democratic attorney general and former governor Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown Jr. holds a narrow lead over Republican Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay. In Florida, Democrat Alex Sink, the state comptroller, is running even with businessman Rick Scott, who was the upset winner or the GOP primary in August. An upset in Texas could provide an improbable sweep of the big Sunbelt states, although defeating Perry is seen as the most difficult of the three. Democratic officials believe it is worth an additional investment in White’s candidacy to see how vulnerable the incumbent may be.

FROM THE RICK PERRY CAMPAIGN:

Obama Bailing Out Bill White’s Failing Desperate Campaign

After wasting $2 million with direct contributions to White, the Obama attack machine now taking over campaign and creating own negative attack ads

With Gov. Perry holding a commanding 30-point lead over Bill White in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, according to a recent newspaper poll, President Barack Obama and his Washington Democrat attack machine are hoping to bail out Bill White’s failing campaign by funding negative attack ads in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

The Washington Post is reporting: “In a surprise move, the Democratic Governors Association has decided to up the ante in Texas, with plans to launch an attack ad against Gov. Rick Perry (R) that assails him as a career politician who has lost touch with the people of the Lone Star State.  … The DGA has already contributed $2 million to White’s campaign. The new ad buy, which is scheduled to begin running in the Dallas area Tuesday, represents an independent expenditure on behalf of White. A Democratic strategist said the DGA would spend about $650,000 to $700,000 a week on its ad campaign.” [1]

“After wasting $2 million on Bill White’s anemic campaign, the Obama attack machine is now taking matters into its own hands,” said Texans for Rick Perry spokesman Mark Miner. “Considering Bill White and President Obama share the same liberal philosophy, it’s not surprising that the president’s political team would step in and take over Bill White’s campaign. Governor Perry will continue talking about creating jobs, the economy, border security and other issues that truly matter to Texans.”

Following the release of a recent poll commissioned by Texas newspapers, the Associated Press reported, “According to the survey, Perry leads by more than 30 percentage points in Dallas-Fort Worth.” [2]

President Obama has raised at least $500,000 for the DGA this election cycle. [3]

Last week, the Dallas Morning News reported, “Texas trial lawyers have given $1 million to White through the Democratic Governors Association.” [4]

In August, President Obama headlined a fundraiser in Austin whose invitation said, “Some of the proceeds will remain in Texas to help elect Democrats in Texas, including Bill White as our next governor.” [5]

Bill White is also employing many of the same campaign handlers that President Obama uses: The Strategy Group (direct mail), Revolution Messaging (communications), The Tyson Organization (grassroots), Blue State Digital (internet), and Benenson Strategy Group (polling). [6]

SOURCING

Campaign Turns Ugly and Personal In 18th Congressional District
September 27, 2010

If   you have listened recently to local radio you have probably heard a political ad paid for by John Faulk, the republican candidate for the 18th Congressional District.

Faulk is trying to link incumbent  democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee to a scandal plaguing the Congressional Black Congress.   

U.S. Rep. Bernice Johnson of  Dallas has admitted that she awarded college scholarships worth thousands of  dollars to family members and family members of  friends.

There is no evidence that Congresswoman Jackson Lee has done anything wrong. 

However, in the radio spot you hear  a woman’s voice raising doubt about SJL’s  record and questioning if  she has any connection to the controversy.

The Congresswoman’s campaign released this statement: 

LOW DOWN DIRTY POLITICS @ PLAY BY REPUBLICAN OPPONENT 

(Houston, TX)…..As the upcoming November 2nd General Election approaches, it appears to be business as usual for Republican candidate John Faulk who is attempting to smear the incumbent representative of the 18th Congressional District, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, with his latest advertising tactic.  Faulk, a candidate with no record, is using “lies and misrepresentation” to smear his opponent who continues to run on her record of service and ability to bring millions of dollars back to the constituents within her district.

Faulk’s latest radio ad, which has a racist undertone and is attempting to confuse and mislead the voters with a commercial with an African American female voice, refers to the alleged actions of another congressional representative and attempts to smear Jackson Lee and question her credibility. This unfortunately is the usual “low down, dirty political tactics” of many Republicans.  The voters are astute enough to see beyond this type of negative campaigning.

Jackson Lee has continually represented and brought resources back to Texas and the 18th Congressional District for 15 years including: she has brought $6 billion in stimulus money and 269,000 jobs to Houston and Texas as a part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act; she has brought $1.7 billion for improvement of school and schools and colleges; she has brought $374.5 million for transit improvements; she has brought $120.4 million for public housing projects; she has brought $147.2 million to enhance public safety within our communities; she has brought 1 million dollars to Riverside General Hospital for its TRICARE Participant designation to treat military personnel for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders; $15 million to the Houston Ship Channel; $300,000 to the Texas Southern University’s Mickey Leland Center for archival preservation; $1 million for Harris County Flood Control District; $500,000 for a minority cancer control program at the University of Texas; $200,000 for both the City of Houston and FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation along with funding for many other worthwhile projects. 

Jackson Lee, a lifelong Democrat, has a committed and demonstrated track record of service to her district, community and nation.  Republican John Faulk has no record within the district and as a result is attempting to use smear tactics instead of focusing on the issues that affect the constituents of the district.  What is Faulk planning to do for the constituents in addressing the issues of the 18th Congressional District is the real question?

RNC Chair Michael Steele Visits Houston – Not Everyone Enjoys The Experience
September 27, 2010

Somehow I missed the bus.

This past Saturday, I tried to get the Harris County Republican Party Headquarters on Richmond Avenue to take a few pictures of  RNC Chair Michael Steele as he rolled into town on the “Fire Nancy Pelosi” bus tour.

I arrived just in time to see the bus leaving town.

I did notice there was a small enthusiastic crowd snapping pictures of the bus, and I assume pictures of  Steele, before it departed for the next scheduled stop.

The bus tour didn’t get much local media coverage. 

Someone did send me a link to a report filed by local republican blogger, Big Jolly.

http://www.bigjolly.com/sections/national/448-fire-pelosi-bus-tour-republican-thugs-try-to-intimidate-blogger.html

He writes about an encounter he had with on-site security. He says they threatened him for standing on the sidewalk while waiting to take pictures.

While Big Jolly is upset with how he was allegedly treated,  I’m sort of disturbed by his use of the words “black dude and black thug” 

No one else at the event is described by color or size.

Anyway, as I reported in the announcement about Steele’s plans to visit Houston, the “Fire Pelosi” bus tour is making its way cross-country. 

The message to republicans  and tea party members is – go vote in the midterm elections  and help the party regain control of  the U.S. Congress.

DNC Chair To Headline Local Dinner/Fundraiser
September 26, 2010

With early voting scheduled to begin in a few weeks  some local democrats say they are optimistic about turning Harris County blue this election year.  

While the D’s  made some gains in 2008 thanks to Barack Obama’s successful presidential campaign,   opinions are divided over whether the party  can sweep the countywide seats up for grabs in 2010.

That’s where former Virginia Governor and DNC Chair Tim Kaine steps in.  Kaine is flying in on Friday, October 8th,  to headline the party’s annual Johnson-Rayburn-Richards dinner. 

The event is a political fundraiser with individual tickets ranging from the minimum $140 to a high of   $10,000 to be a “cornerstone of success member.”

The theme of  Kaine’s speech will be “Building our Future.” 

No doubt Kaine’s presence in Harris County will help pump up the party faithful  and energize those who are not as enthusiastic about voting on election day.

News Anchor Barbie Reporting Live From The Scene…..
September 25, 2010

We’ve all heard the jokes about TV stations hiring anchors who resemble  “Ken and Barbie”  dolls  to read the news.   

Thanks to toy company Mattel for finally designing a real “News Anchor Barbie” doll. 

Rage_barbie

News Anchor Barbie  

Rather than be offended, most of  my female colleagues in
the news media are anxiously awaiting her debut. 

Sure, news anchor Barbie doesn’t look or dress like me, and

I’ll never achieve her perfect  body proportions,

but I am thrilled to hear that Mattel is releasing an African-American

version of   the doll.

(Guess who will buy one for herself, her niece and few friends 🙂

Barbie has been an astronaut, doctor and engineer.

Why shouldn’t she be a news anchor? 

After all, we’re all about saving the world and trying to look

good while doing it!

According to the Mattel news release, News Anchor Barbie has ”

a flair for journalism and power pink”  and she will carry

her own microphone,

camera and a pink reporter’s notepad.

Women Leaders Show Their Political Clout
September 24, 2010

With less than 40 days until the election and the final day of the latest campaign reporting period, most political candidates were scrambling to raise cash by the Thursday, September 23, midnight deadline. 

That included democrat and judicial candidate Brandon Dudley, who is running for  Judge of the 182nd Criminal District Court against the incumbent republican, Judge Jeannine Barr.

Dudley was feted at a  fundraiser hosted by several prominent women political and community leaders.

The Honorable Sissy Farenthold. NAACP President Carolyn Scantebury and many  others opened their pocketbooks  and promised to campaign for his election. 

The Houston Chronicle recently printed a Q & A with Dudley. You can learn more about him here: http://www.brandondudley.com/news_media.php