Saturday, February 14, 2004

Massett Calls Redistricting "Fair"---WhatEVER. 

The following is by Royal Massett and was included in the Texas Conservative Review. I'll make no further comment on it other than that anyone can make statistics do their lying for them. BUT, if these districts are so nicely shaped and compact, why the hell do they stretch so far across the map that they've paired communities with virtually no common interests whatsoever?
___________Massett's Piece________

Contrary to everything you have read or heard, the Redistricting Congressional plan for Texas adopted by the legislature in 2003 is a very fair plan. And that isn't a matter of my personal opinion. It is objective fact.

Gerrymandering occurs when legislators make weird shaped districts in order to guarantee election outcomes. Through the years mathematicians have developed an objective measure of gerrymandering: The Perimeter to Area Ratio.

This is the "compactness" ratio of the area of a circle with the same perimeter as the district perimeter to the area of the district. A perfectly compact district would be a circle with a ratio of 1.

The idea is that the longer the length of the perimeter of a district, relative to its area, the more objective evidence we have that boundaries were purposely skewed to capture certain voters and get rid of other voters. A district with smooth lines will have a much lower compactness number than one whose lines are saw toothed, with tentacles reaching out to capture desired voters and deep holes where undesired voters are packed into other districts.

The evidence is clear; the compactness ratios shows that the Republican drawn 2003 Congressional redistricting was relatively compact. It had a ratio of 6.3. By itself this figure is meaningless. When you compare it to the Democrat Congressional redistricting plan of 1991, which had a compactness ratio of 21.3, you realize that there is a major difference in these two plans.

Perimeter to Area Compactness Ratio & Average Deviation from 2001 Plan:

2003 Republican Plan - 6.4 & 1.3;

2001 Federal Judges Plan - 5.1;

1996 Federal Judges Plan - 8.2 & 3.1;

1991 Democrat Plan - 21.3 & 16.2

Most observers agree that the 1991 Democrat Redistricting plan was the worst gerrymandering in the nation. The compactness ratio proves it. Think about it, the boundaries of the districts drawn by Democrats in 1991 were about three times longer than the districts drawn by Republicans in 2003. Where was the media outrage in 1991?

In 1996 Federal Judges redrew the 1991 lines and still would up with a compactness ratio of 8.2. In 2001 Federal Judges drew a new plan with a 5.1 compactness ratio. The reason the compactness ratio is so low here is because, after incumbent protection, compactness was their main goal. It can be reasonably argued that this 5.1 compactness ratio, created by a nonpartisan tribunal, represents about the best that can be done, especially when it is considered that the Voting Rights Act requires the drawing of long convoluted districts to protect minority voting rights.

In light of this it can be seen that the recent 2003 plan's compactness of 6.4 is incredibly close to the optimal compactness of the 2001 plan at 5.1. The Democrat 1991 plan was 12 times as far from the optimal compactness ratio as the 2003 plan.

If you hate numbers, go to gis1.tlc.state.tx.us and simply look at the different Congressional maps. The districts Republicans drew are fair and compact. No flying elephants or Roschach ink blots. Every convoluted district was drawn because of the Voting Rights Act. The Republicans drew a fair plan.

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Monday, February 09, 2004

Perry Fibs About Jobs Created & More... 

Texas Governor Rick Perry's at it again. Only this time, instead of education, it' economic development.

"Gov. Goodhair" and his staff now stand accused of misrepresenting the amount of economic growth and jobs created using a $295-million legislative appropriation that has, apparrently, become more of a slush fund than anything else, according to Yellow Dog Blog's Scandal: Perry Misled Texans About Job Creation. The Houston Chronicle sums up the story pretty well, though, as does Political State Report.
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Sunday, February 08, 2004

What Can You Expect From A Pig Bug A Grunt? 

From The Yellow Dog Blog

Republicans are at it again, attacking teachers when its special-interest oriented politicians that are to blame for our failing education system. Kent Grusendorf, a Repug State Rep from Arlington and chair of the House Education Committee went one step further, saying that,

He called the $3,000 across-the-board pay raise for teachers in 1999 one of the "dumbest things" the Legislature has done.

The largest teacher pay raise in Texas history was "one of the dumbest things" the Legislature has ever done? Not tort reform or re-redistricting or cutting 169,000 kids off their health care? Not passing the "Woman's Right to Know Act" which lies to Texas women exercising their right to choose? Not harboring terrorists by rejecting an amendment to the tort reform bill which would have allowed victims of their attacks to still sue terrorist sponsors? Grusendorf obviously hasn't been paying attention and perhaps he ought to consider going back to school. Things are a lot better now than when he was there- thanks to the Democrat-controlled Legislature in 1999 our teachers are paid better for the work they do for our kids.
Well, as one person commenting noted, "what can you expect from a pig but a grunt?"

This is an excellent instance of a Republican saying what other Republicans truly think about the public education system.

Since a major segment of the current legislature's GOP majority was elected with the help of funds from people like Dr. James Linninger and PACs that support vouchers and other measures that would destroy Texas' public schools, what else should we expect from these people so beholden to these donors and PACs, and whose views are so far out of the mainstream?
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Eltife Flip-Flops 

Well, Well, Well. Kevin Eltife may be showing that he's beholden to the GOP Pimps like Perry and Linninger, too... Here is a post from the Yellow Dog Blog followed by my coments.

Eltife Sets New Record for Fastest Flip Flop

Kevin Eltife, the ultra right wing special interest handmaiden running for Bill Ratliff's State Senate seat against Paul Sadler gave many Northeast Texans whiplash today with his 180 degree flip flop on an important education issue this morning. In the course of two hours he publicly held two completely opposite opinions on the same issue. From a Sadler press release (sorry, no link):

At 8:00 AM today, Sadler and Eltife participated in a Q&A session with the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce. At the forum, the candidates were asked their position on the downward expansion of Texas A&M-Texarkana, which would allow the university to offer freshman and sophomore level courses.

Mr. Sadler answered first. He said that he supported the university's expansion because it will improve opportunities in this region. He pointed out that in 1928, our region's income level was 30% below the state average. Today, our region continues to lag behind the rest of the state by 30% (...)

After Sadler finished his response, Eltife concurred. Without offering any additional information, he said that he too believed that the university should be allowed to expand.

Two hours later, the two candidates participated in a forum at Texarkana College. When Mr. Eltife was asked whether the University should be permitted to offer lower division courses, he hesitated and finally answered: "No."

Okay so here's the score for those of you keeping track at home:

8:00 AM- Eltife thinks Texas A&M- Texarkana should offer freshman and sophomore classes

10:00 AM- Eltife thinks Texas A&M- Texarkana should not offer freshman and sophomore classes

So which time was he lying? Which time was he so inept and uninformed he said the exact opposite of his actual position? Or does he simply not care what happens to Northeast Texas college students and so he'll just say whatever whenever? Either way, there's no reason why this man should be in the Texas State Senate.

Given that he is a former member of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, one would would assume he'd be a little smarter than this.
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Monday, February 02, 2004

We'll Try To Live Up To Their Expectations... 

Wow. We're less than 24 hours old and we've already been noticed.

Over at "Half The Sins of Mankind," They noted the following about Texas' Favorite Prostitutes:

"'Texas' Favorite Prostitutes' promises to provide 'commentary on the activities of Texas Republicans & the Radical Republican Religious Right,' but hasn't quite started doing so yet. We await their remarks bemusedly."

Wow, guys. Thanks! We'll do our best to live up to your expectations. Hope our first "real" post was beyond your wildest dreams.
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The GOP Prostitutes Favorite John Speaks Out On Class Size 

If Rick Perry, Dr. James Linninger and a few others could be called the "pimps" of Texas' favorite prostitutes, then I guess we could call Bill Hammond one of their favorite "johns."

The Austin American Statesman notes in an editorial:

"But then there's Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business. He thinks one way to make public education more cost-efficient is to increase class size, which is now 22 students per teacher for kindergarten through fourth-grade classes. If there's anything academics, teachers and parents agree on, it's that smaller class sizes are directly related to better education. "

Thank you, Bill--one of the johns behind the Republicans' 2002 takeover of the House via millions spent on election propaganda that's resulted in lawsuits and criminal investigations--for putting cost efficiency above Texas schoolchildren.

Sure, it'd be more cost'efficient to increase class sizes. Hell, why not just hire one teacher for every grade and stick everyone in that grade in that class? This could save millions that could be spent on such worthwhile projects as redistricting.

Hell, why not get rid of all teachers except for one in every Texas school district, and go back to "one room" schools. We could eleminate those costly sports programs and hold classes in football stadiums or gymnasiums. This could save billions that could be spent on more tort reform, redistricting, and a slew of other Republican pet projects.

Wow, Bill, I can't believe no one in Texas has thought of that yet!

On a more serious note, everyone knows that smaller class sizes mean more individual attention for students. This promotes learning, class discipline, etc. Hammond's idea is just plain stupid. Texas has worked hard to get where it is with regard to class sizes, so why go back? Anyway, there are several ways Texas school districts can get around the 22-1 restriction as waivers can be obtained from the Texas Education Agency. But, since Bill's been so busy defending TAB from Ronnie Earl, he probably forgot about that.

The Statesman also notes:

"The governor, at least, has moved beyond his previous stance that he wouldn't even consider additional money for public education. But he still has no consensus on what to do about public education funding, and he has said he won't call a special session without one. The search for Shangri-La continues."

Ah, yes...the search for Shangra-La. Well, with all the Grand Old Prostitutes up on Congress Avenue, (the Texas Legislature has bigger boobs than Janet Jackson) Shangra-La may be six or seven special sessions away.
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