El Paso-centric info and commentary from the Center of North America

Archive for May 26th, 2009

NPT Capitol: Carona blames Senate Republicans for House Voter ID mess

Sen John Carona, R-Dallas, said today that the behavior of House Democrats was “expected” in light of the Senate’s actions at the start of the session.

Earlier in the session, Senate Republicans banded together in order to suspend usual Senate practice when it came to bills dealing with Voter ID. Normally 2/3rds of Senators, (21) must agree to debate an issue, meaning contentious bills can be effectively blocked by as little as 10 Senators. (There are 12 Senate Democrats). Because of the rule change, which was preceded by much partisan rancor, the Voter ID bill, SB 362, passed the Senate swiftly and is now the chief cause of the parliamentary meltdown in the House.

“I think the (House’s) chubbing is an unfortunate distraction from the serious work the legislature still faces,” Carona said.”That said in my personal view, this type of behavior was to be expected given the manner in which the Voter ID bill first passed the Senate.”

Carona was the lone Republican who voted against the Senate’s suspending of the rules at the start of the session. The meltdown in the House has led to a scramble in the Senate as SB 362, is not the only bill that will die at midnight – a host of other Senate bills are destined for the chop also.

“Every member over here is trying to find a way to save their legislative agenda and they’re doing so by tacking on their bills to other bills of similar subject matter,” Carona said. “In my view, which is not consistent with the views of my Republican colleagues, we are indeed reaping what we have sown.”

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 26, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Media: In the News Trio: Shapleigh dogs state ed chair; Obama bids Lea goodbye; CNN profiles Lydia Patterson

Shapleigh voices opposition to Board of Education nominee

Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, who voted against the nomination, said McLeroy “has demonstrated he is not fit to lead the board of education.”

“He has used his position to impose his extreme views on the 4.7 million schoolchildren in Texas. He has tried to revise the curriculum in a way that is inconsistent with scientific standards, and he has obstructed reading standards on a regular basis,” Shapleigh said.

Texas Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy a step closer to retaining post, by Amy Chozick and Kelly Crow,, May 21, link


Tom Lea among White House artists whose works have risen in value

After George W. Bush displayed El Paso, Texas-born artist Tom Lea’s “Rio Grande,” a photorealistic view of a cactus set against gray clouds, in the Oval Office, the price of the artist’s paintings shot up roughly 300%, says Adair Margo, owner of an El Paso gallery that sells Mr. Lea’s work.

Changing the Art on the White House Walls, by Amy Chozick and Kelly Crow,, May 22, link


Lydia Patterson profiled in CNN

Marina Diaz knows each day could be her last when she leaves for school each morning.

But that doesn’t stop her from making the trip from her home on the dusty outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, a key battleground in Mexico’s drug wars, to El Paso, Texas, where she attends high school.

El Paso school a haven along violent border, by Emanuella Grinberg,, May 20, link

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 26, 2009 at 11:25 am

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT UPDATE: In tearful speech, valley Rep promises more delay

UPDATE: Straus, in a self confessed u-turn says Dunnam’s P.O.O. is not valid. Dunnam responds by telling press the outcome is “extremely disappointing” and accuses Straus of being in the pocket of the Republican establishment. Also, Rep. McCall says he has no regrets setting the Voter ID bill ahead of other issues on the Calendar, like TDI and TWIA. Chubbing continues….

UPDATE: House Republican Caucus leader, Larry Taylor accuses the Democrats of throwing a “hissy fit” and behaving like “kids.” He added that Republicans will not do any deals to speed up the Calendar.

State Rep Richard Pena Raymond, D-Laredo, just gave a tear-laden speech outlining why he, along with other Democrats, will continue to choke up the Calendar.

Democrats have been “chubbing” – talking at length in order to take up time – since Friday in order to kill Senate Bill 362 – the Voter ID bill, which must be heard by midnight tonight to be further considered this session.

“We’ll continue to [stall/chub/talk] today until midnight,” Raymond said calling SB 362 a “voter suppression bill.”

Raymond dismissed the notion that the Democrats tactics were partisan: “On this issue I don’t give a wit about the Democratic party.” Instead, Raymond said it was about the right to vote and told several stories about how as a young child he had witnessed voter suppression and how his father had had to pay poll tax – which he believed was a deliberate ploy to discourage minorities from voting.

Raymond’s eyes welled up when he reference Sonia Sotomayor’s recent nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Barack Obama.

The chubbing has begun again, the Dems continuing to use the Local and Consent Calendar as a de facto blocker bill. However state Rep Jim Dunnam, D-Waco believes that he has a legitimate point of order against SB 362 – if so, the bill would be ineligible for consideration.

Dunnam just came over to the press gallery and said that if Straus were to rule in favor of the Point of Order, “then we’re done” – ie the chubbing will cease and the House can get back to business.

–Ben Wright

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 26, 2009 at 10:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: El Paso teacher honored in the Texas House

Candelario Barragan, a math teacher from El Dorado High school, was honored this morning in the Texas House with HR 2369

State Rep Joe Moody praised him for earning the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award – the an “Oscar” in the world of teaching.

“In a time when we talk too much about tests, has focused on the whole child,” Moody said.

Read the whole resolution after the jump.

–Ben Wright Read the rest of this entry »

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 26, 2009 at 9:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized

NPT Capitol: Stormwater bills on the way to the Gov

In case you missed it two bills, dealing with exemptions from Stormwater fees for County property and School Districts, passed and are on their way to the Governor. The bills, authored by Shapleigh and sponsored by entire El Paso House delegation, were the source of some controversy earlier in the session.

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 26, 2009 at 9:40 am

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NPT UPDATE: Quintanilla, Marquez vote against changing college “Top10%” rule

Update: SB 175 just passed on 3rd reading 123-20.

Update: Marquez makes a statement: “HB 175 in its final form does not resolve the issues affecting our students. This bill says that instead of investing in our local universities and bringing them up to Tier One status, we are going to turn away some of our best and brightest students. These are students in our community who have done everything right and worked tirelessly to put themselves in a position to advance. I cannot let those students down and say that that hard work is not enough.

SB 175, which will allow UT Austin more discretion in how it picks its freshman class, passed overwhelmingly on 2nd reading last night in the Texas House. But two El Paso state reps, Quintanilla and Marquez, were among the 24 “no” votes.

“I cannot in good conscience support a bill that may deny any students in my district who achieved the highest honors her right to attend UT. This bill is harmful to students from the Segundo barrio in central El Paso; harmful to students from the colonias throughout El Paso county; harmful to students from agricultural rural communities; harmful to inner city students who live in communities populated by minorities. The University of Texas at Austin Board of Regents has the resources to solve this problem if it so desired without asking the legislature to their hard work for them,” said Quintanilla in a press release.

Currently, any student who graduates within the top ten percent of their high school class is automatically entitled to entry to UT Austin. However, UT argue that means they have increasingly little discretion in whom they let in as freshman. (81% of last years autumn enrollment were top ten percent students.) But many rural and minority state Reps argued last night that students in their districts benefit from the rule and would lose out without it.

(Here’s the unspoken logic behind the position: If you let UT decide who they let in, they’ll go for the posh Dallas/Houston kids who are likely to cut bigger checks as alumni, not the rural and/or minority students who might also ask for help with paying for textbooks or something equally as heinous.)

Back in March, Sen. Shapleigh voted against the bill also, as it left the Senate bound for the House.

“Top Ten Percent works well. At UT-Austin, 93 percent of all El Paso students who were admitted there in 2008 were admitted under Top Ten. Why change what works?” he said in a press release, March 25th.

Read Quintanilla’s press release after the jump. Shapliegh’s back from March follows on afterward. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by newspapertreeelpaso

May 26, 2009 at 8:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized