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April 18, 2014      3:39 PM

PolitiFact Texas says Dewhurst's pants are ablaze over Patrick's name change

But, Selby's outfit does note Patrick changed his name in case he ever ran for public office

Gardner Selby over at PolitiFact Texas alerts us at Buzz Central to his fact-check of a claim made in a new ad being run by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst all over Texas.

In the 30 second TV spot, it is asserted that Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, changed his last name from Goeb to Patrick because he wanted to "hide from the debts." The Dewhurst campaign did not provide Selby with any evidence to back up that claim, the article says.

The article does note that one of the reasons Patrick gave for changing his name at the time he did it was because he wanted to be able to “present himself as Dan Patrick in any possible bid for elected office.

The entire fact-check is here.

April 18, 2014      3:08 PM

Newsclips will take Easter Sunday off

Back at it on Monday

April 18, 2014      2:47 PM

HK: Surprising twists in recent PPP poll

Democratic issues show strength but candidates remain weak

Public Policy Polling turned its attention to Texas this week with two eye-opening reports. 

The first half of the poll reported Wednesday knocked the wind out of Wendy Davis supporters suggesting that her numbers had dropped and, even worse, she was losing ground with women.  Ironically, the second half of the poll (released Thursday) reported that near to substantial majorities of Texans agree with Democratic positions on Medicaid expansion (49%), increasing the minimum wage (55%) and paycheck fairness (93%).

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Harvey Kronberg

April 18, 2014      10:52 AM

Houston Chronicle endorses Gordy Bunch for Williams Senate seat

Editorial board is quite unimpressed with Toth, Creighton, and Galloway

The other candidates in the race have legislative careers that are "not impressive" and the Houston Chronicle says "Almost by default," their endorsement goes to businessman and Woodlands Township Board member Gordy Bunch. Read the editorial here.

April 18, 2014      8:50 AM

Marketwatch: The hazards of Bitcoin

Subject to hacking, extremely volatile valuations

After the Abbott Campaign announced it would accept Bitcoin contributions, Buzz Central did a little research on the product. A recent Marketwatch story shed light on some of the potential hazards of the "asset".

They wrote:

"What’s not great? The bitcoin exchanges are vulnerable to hacking. Just look at Mt. Gox, which collapsed after it managed to lose some 650,000 bitcoins, or Vircurex, which halted withdrawals after a run on the bank, so to speak. And if something like that happens, good luck getting your money back: This isn’t like an FDIC-insured bank account. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or Finra, issued a warning recently that digital currencies are “more than a bit risky.”

"...It’s also volatile as heck, which, come to think of it, seems like a given when you’ve got a currency that isn’t controlled by any central bank. Bitcoin was recently trading around $448, according to the bitcoin price index by CoinDesk. A few months ago, it was more than $1,000. A year ago, it was barely pushing $100. Two years ago, it was about $5.

By Harvey Kronberg

April 17, 2014      5:34 PM

Dewhust blasts Patrick as anti-woman, anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic

Before a mainly Latino crowd, Dewhurst ripped Patrick in Spanish and English

Our sources in Houston tell Buzz Central on this Thursday afternoon that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst ripped into his challenger Dan Patrick in some of the harshest rhetoric the incumbent has used yet about the Houston senator.

Speaking to the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Luncheon – an event that drew about 2,000 people – Dewhurst spoke about Patrick in Spanish and English. "Mi oponente es anti-inmigrante, anti-Hispano, anti-mujer y yo no soy ningún de esas cosas,” he said, which means “My opponent is anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic, anti-woman and I'm not any of those things."

We’re told Dewhurst followed that with a variation on what is already a central attack on Patrick contained in television ads that started airing this week.

“I am the only statewide elected official among all 29 with business experience, and you can tell from my record that I am a successful businessman, unlike my opponent who isn’t and filed for bankruptcy,” Dewhurst said.

Patrick’s chief strategist Allen Blakemore has said Dewhurst’s campaign is “spewing raw sewage, and personally attacking Dan Patrick.”

By Scott Braddock

April 17, 2014      5:33 PM

Whitmire and others ask for investigation of sex offender housing plan

Dean of the Senate is “shocked by the decisions” of the Office of Violent Sexual Offender Management

Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, is asking the Travis County Public Integrity Unit, the State Auditor's office and the Office of the Attorney General to look into what has been reported as a "secret plan" to build a center for violent sex offenders east of Houston.

The plan, as uncovered by the Houston Chronicle, was part of an agreement between the Office of Violent Sexual Offender Management and a company in Houston that’s owned, in part, by a Houston police officer who was implicated in the theft of funds from the police union. The center has been planned for a site in Liberty County.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

April 17, 2014      1:10 PM

Abbott Campaign says bring on the Bitcoins

Although associated with secret transactions, campaign says full disclosures will be required of contributors

The Greg Abbott Campaign today announced that they would accept campaign contributions using Bitcoin, a digital currency.  Although the electronic currency is most frequently associated with confidential transactions because it sidesteps financial institutions, the Abbott team says it will require that campaign contributors using Bitcoin divulge information including name, address, employer and occupation – items required for Texas Ethics Commission campaign finance reports.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

April 17, 2014      1:07 PM

TER: Sitton will place company in blind trust and step down if elected to RRC

Full report in the Texas Energy Report

By Polly Ross Hughes

April 16, 2014      5:20 PM

Notes from the campaign trail

Momentum for Blanco in race against Chavez; “Boats ‘N Hoes PAC” is created

Following the revelation that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has decided to get aggressive in his campaign against challenger Sen. Dan Patrick during Holy Week, a couple other items of note crossed the Buzz Central desk on Wednesday afternoon.

First, QR has learned that the entire El Paso delegation, with the exception of Rep. Joe Pickett, will endorse Cesar Blanco over former Rep. Norma Chavez in the race for House District 76.

Sen. Jose Rodriguez and Reps. Marisa Marquez, Joe Moody and Mary Gonzalez, who are all Democrats, will gather for an event in El Paso tomorrow to make their endorsement official. What we're told is that none of them want to say anything negative about Chavez, but instead they feel Blanco, a former congressional aide to Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, will do a better job in the lower chamber.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

April 16, 2014      5:19 PM

Press Releases: A successful surgery for Davis, more reaction to the immigration debate and endorsements

April 16, 2014      3:52 PM

TLR PAC says Schofield leads Hodge 57-27 in HD132 RACE

Former Perry Asst General Counsel Mike Schofield leads Ann Hodge decisively says Baselice poll.

The TLR PAC press release can be found here.

April 16, 2014      11:06 AM

UPDATED: Dewhurst releases TV ad against Patrick: The Mother of all Debt

Lite Guv also keys on Julian Castro’s statement that Patrick is the D’s “meal ticket”; Patrick's camp says Dewhurst has gone "straight for the gutter"

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Wednesday released a scathing TV ad about his GOP challenger Sen. Dan Patrick in which the Tea Party-style candidate is criticized for his business practices as well as his name change. You can see the ad below. Per the Express News, Dewhurst has spent at least $445,000 on the broadcast buy and the number is expected to rise.

Meantime, in a fundraising email this morning, Dewhurst said it was “funny” that during last night’s immigration debate, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro called Patrick “the most anti-immigration Republican running for state-wide office.” That is humorous, Dewhurst said, “because when Patrick was racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes, he was also employing illegal immigrants.”

Dewhurst also pointed out that Castro said Patrick is the kind of Republican who represents the Democrats’ “meal ticket” for a win by the minority part in November.

The incumbent’s campaign also posted this fact-check about Patrick’s history on their anti-Patrick blog called “Real Dan Patrick.”   

Allen Blakemore, chief strategist for Patrick, said Dewhurst has gone “right for the gutter” with attack ad. “"Over the next seven days, he is spending over $1,000,000 polluting the airwaves, spewing raw sewage, and personally attacking Dan Patrick.  Mr. Dewhurst’s ad offers no excuse for his own record of failure to secure the border, failure to address property taxes that are driving people from their homes, and a failure to deliver a fiscally responsible budget," Blakemore said.

April 15, 2014      9:23 PM

SB: Patrick and Castro clash in heated immigration debate

Patrick: "I'm the only candidate the Democrats fear." Castro: "Actually you're our meal ticket back in."

In an hour-long exchange that shed nearly zero light on policy but did give both sides plenty of heat to try to exploit with various constituencies, Sen. Dan Patrick and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro talked past each other in perhaps the oddest debate we've seen since Patrick debated another elected official he wasn't running against. But, the two did earn plenty of applause from a small audience in Univision’s studios in the Alamo City.

QR readers will remember that Sen. Patrick similarly debated State Board of Education Vice Chairman Thomas Ratliff in Tyler about an issue that, like immigration, had inflamed some on the right: The CSCOPE lesson plans that had been criticized as “un-American” by some but that educators have said are a necessary tool. That, of course, is a fringe issue compared to immigration and border security, which will shape the state's economy and political reality for decades to come.

In Tuesday night’s debate in San Antonio, Sen. Patrick started off by saying he is compassionate and added that it should concern Democrats like Castro to see women being raped by those engaged in human smuggling and to likewise see communities savaged by those in the drug trade.

"You can get emotional about this and political about this, but your job is to protect the safety of the city," Patrick said. The frontrunner for the GOP Lite Guv nomination faulted members of both parties in Washington for not acting on immigration reform. He said that if legal immigration was expanded and the border was secured, “illegal immigration would stop.”

"Texas is not being invaded by Mexico," Castro said and pointed out that the US Senate has already passed a bipartisan bill to address both border security as well as create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who earn it.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

April 15, 2014      5:52 PM

Dan Patrick and Julian Castro square off in San Antonio on immigration this hour

The link to watch live right at 6pm via the Houston Chronicle is here.

April 15, 2014      5:32 PM

Press Releases: Everyone's calling out everyone it seems, tax returns released, a neck surgery and more

April 15, 2014      1:19 PM

New PPP poll says no change: Abbott-51%, Davis 37% with her negatives increasing

Patrick leads Van de Putte by 16

The summary for Public Policy Polling can be found here.

April 14, 2014      5:21 PM

Battleground Texas blasts the RPT for voter outreach and Republicans fire back

Battleground says they knocked over 55,000 doors; RPT chair says it’s not possible and irrelevant

The head of Battleground Texas and the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas each had harsh words for the other about their respective voter outreach efforts on Monday.

There has, of course, been a lot of chatter about how much difference it will make in the governor’s race between Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis and Republican AG Greg Abbott to have Battleground here working to create Democratic political infrastructure, which has been on par with water and transportation infrastructure in Afghanistan. For now, they seem to be making some inroads.

In an email to supporters, Battleground’s executive director Jenn Brown said the RPT had promised to knock on 60,000 doors in March, but ended up doing 10,000 instead. "They fell 50,000 doors short," Brown said. "While enthusiasm is waning for Republicans, it's never been higher for us. That same week, we set a goal of 100,000 phone calls for Wendy -- and made 145,287."

Brown said "the GOP is no longer the only game in Texas. We're proving every day that our grassroots volunteers are a force to be reckoned with." Battleground volunteers set out with the goal of knocking on 48,000 doors this past weekend and ended up with a total of over 55,000, Brown said.

The head of the majority party dismissed Brown’s claim out of hand.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

April 14, 2014      4:40 PM

Press releases: Christi Craddick to chair GOP Victory; Davis ethical lapses, Ratcliffe endorsed by Senate Conservatives fund and more

April 14, 2014      4:25 PM

TER: House energy chief Jim Keffer sees Ryan Sitton facing conflicts at RRC

In Texas Energy Report: House Energy Resources chair says candidate holding onto energy interests ‘opens up this whole can of worms’

April 14, 2014      3:23 PM

Senate candidate Gordy Bunch releases TV spot: "Change Austin"

Some have called Bunch the "dark horse" candidate in the race to succeed former Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands

April 14, 2014      3:05 PM

Wallace Hall report officially referred to Travis County prosecutors

On another track, Coalition notes possible impeachable offenses, calls for Hall to resign

The report reviewing the conduct of UT Regent Wallace Hall prepared by attorney Rusty Hardin for the Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations has been formally referred to Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg and County Attorney David Escamilla, QR has learned.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Harvey Kronberg

April 14, 2014      1:50 PM

HK: How many special sessions to pass the next budget?

Finding a governing coalition after previous budget maneuvers could be tough

Whether true or not, the endorsement of Dan Patrick by both incumbent Senator Bob Deuell and Texans for Lawsuit Reform have been taken by many in the capitol community as  the last word on the viability of a Dewhurst re-election.  Given the even longer-shot nature of the Democrats’ winning the Lt. Governor’s race, war-gaming for next session has already begun

The only thing the Legislature must do is pass a budget.  Call it armchair speculation, but even more than a year away, it is not unreasonable to speculate that it will take multiple special sessions to hammer out a budget.  Senator Patrick’s performance on state budgets has been erratic and while Tea Party interests may dominate a mid-term primary election runoff, they are minor players in the state’s trillion dollar economy and twenty-five million residents.

The state’s budget is perhaps the most daunting task facing any Legislature.  It requires good faith negotiation and buy-in from myriad constituencies. The appropriators have to negotiate competing interests – those both on camera and off.  

In his freshman session, Patrick angered his colleagues by handing out several pages of proposed cuts he claimed the Finance Committee could have made…as the bill was coming to the floor.  The anger was generated not because it threatened passage of a session’s worth of work but because it was seen as an effort to capture the narrative.   Civilians outside the Capitol would see the proposed cuts and remain clueless that they were introduced too late to be considered or had already been rejected. 

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Harvey Kronberg

April 14, 2014      12:49 PM

Concerns about standardized tests are aired at Senate Education hearing

Despite deep cuts in standardized testing, senators still worry about standards and the amount of testing

A greater percentage of Texas high school students are on track to graduate under the STAAR testing system than had been under the TAKS, members of the Senate Education Committee were told on Monday. But lawmakers on the panel – about a third of whom are seeking statewide office this year – are still concerned that teachers are teaching to a test and that standards for passing it are low enough that they leave kids ill-equipped for college or a career.

For about an hour, senators grilled the Texas Education Agency’s Associate Commissioner of Assessment & Accountability Criss Cloudt. She told the panel that 76 percent of students in the class of 2015 have successfully completed 4 of the 5 tests they’ll need to graduate. It is the first class that has to pass the 5 assessments required under reforms to standardized testing.

Under questioning by senators, Cloudt said that when the state used the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, 28 percent were not on track to graduate because of their test scores. That number has fallen to 24 percent under the end-of-course exams called the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR. However, it is not really an apples-to-apples comparison, Cloudt said, mainly because these are very different tests.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

April 11, 2014      5:19 PM

School superintendent promises a reasoned approach in his first session as a House member - With extended audio interview

"We have to able to negotiate in some areas and compromise on some things.”

TYLER – The longtime educator who defeated two-term incumbent Rep. George Lavender, R-Texarkana, said this week he’s going to bring the ability to compromise with those he might not necessarily agree with in order to get things done in the Texas House. Gary VanDeaver is the Superintendent of the New Boston Independent School District and said that he’s going to take a reasoned approach to governing in Austin. He won 54 to 46.

When Quorum Report caught up with VanDeaver at an education conference at the University of Texas at Tyler this week, he was visiting with other superintendents and school board members about the challenges ahead for public schools in the 2015 session. "We have to able to negotiate in some areas and compromise on some things," he said. "Maybe we don't get everything we want but maybe we get some of what we need."

His experience working on a school district’s budget will help guide him in how he thinks about school finance after the courts weigh in, VanDeaver said. He and other observers expect The Legislature to be under court order to address how schools are financed. "The suit is going to dictate where we go as far as finance," he said.

VanDeaver also expects there to be much scrutiny of House Bill 5 when it comes to both the amount of standardized testing required by law and the multiple pathways that were created for a high school diploma. “That was a huge piece of legislation and as we implement it we're going to see some things that are going to need some attention," he said.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

April 11, 2014      5:18 PM

Check the Press Releases: Abbott presses the White House for details of Davis meeting and more pre-k attacks

April 11, 2014      4:31 PM

Texas Monthly to sue New York Times over hiring editor Jake Silverstein

Times calls decision inexplicable; says they had an understanding with Emmis Communications

Texas Monthly editor Jake Silverstein was hired to become editor of the New York Times Sunday Magazine..

The New York Times post about the lawsuit can be found here.

April 11, 2014      11:06 AM

Bresnen urges Ethics Commission to adopt proposed dark money rule

Longtime lobbyist and lawyer argues the new rule is constitutional, will not affect pending litigation, and the TEC has the authority to adopt it.

The man behind the sworn complaints against Michael Quinn Sullivan and Empower Texans says the Ethics Commission should make a move on a proposed rule for "dark money" in Texas and further argues he can see no reason why they should not. It's an issue that, as you know, was acted on by The Legislature last year but the bill to address it was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Perry.

In written comments to the TEC this week, lobbyist Steve Bresnen argues that the rule he's proposed is constitutional, the agency has the authority to adopt it, and it would not affect any pending litigation. That last one has been a concern of a couple commissioners.

The rest of the story, subscribers only