The QueQue - January 12, 2011

We’re going to count San Antonio’s Joe Straus vaulting of competing (further-) right-wingers for the Speaker’s throne a victory (Ken Paxton? Puleeze!). We gotta take ’em where we find ’em these days. Likewise, the three-year jail sentence for former House Speaker Tom “dirty tricks” DeLay for money laundering this week isn’t going down too hard, either. What with the unfunded state commission on “low-level” radioactive waste voting up provisions that could make Andrews County the nation’s new nuclear waste dump, coming across-the-board state budget cuts that will hit the poor and students the hardest, and backpedaling on years-old promises to install pollution-reducing scrubbers on SA’s coal plants, satisfying chuckles are becoming rare, indeed.

Dem dysfunction

So where do we go for relief? Not to the Bexar County Democrats. Last week’s meeting of the Party’s County Executive Committee provided only a lesson in dysfunction. And, yeah, if you’re a Republican, Tuesday’s meeting was a pretty good night … as long as you don’t mind your party name being used as a pejorative put-down of the other guys across the room.

Without a majority quorum, controversial Party Chair Dan Ramos sought to suspend the rules to swear in a new slate of precinct chairs. Precinct Chair Dante Basilios Small objected, saying the law must be followed. “We followed the law under Carla Vela and look what happened,” a nonplussed Ramos responded. Some of you Dem watchers likely remember that Vela had been running the party when more than $200,000 went missing from the group’s bank accounts last year. Former party treasurer Dwayne Adams is awaiting trial in the case.

Ramos was beat back handily, 46-26, sending a smartly appointed Bexar County Commissioner Paul Elizondo home without the satisfaction of administering any oaths. While basic housekeeping items could have been performed without a full quorum, Ramos instead chose to shut down the meeting early. A proposed resolution to censure Ramos and Treasurer Joseph Nazaroff is just one measure that will now have to wait ’till February.

Jacob Nammar, who attended the meeting to be sworn in as a new precinct chair, admitted he didn’t know the history behind the animosity on display, but said: “They don’t know which road to take. I’d rather sit at home and watch the Spurs play. They’re making a mockery of the whole thing.”

While the state party has refused to intervene in the festering division between pro- and anti-Ramos factions, the two sides have requested mediation from 379th District Judge Ron Rangel. Calls to Ramos were not returned by press deadline ... we’re getting used to it.

Grousing about greenhouse

Texas’ states-rights stand on federal regulation of greenhouse gases now being rolled into practice in 49 states may be stalling more than 150 construction projects around the Lone Star State, environmentalists said on a teleconference call Tuesday.

Led by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s war on the EPA, the state has refused to regulate greenhouse gases blamed for destabilizing the global climate. Spokespersons for several environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, said state regulators have identified 167 construction projects that would require greenhouse permitting in 2011. However, so far no companies have applied for greenhouse-emission permits from the EPA, which stepped in to regulate major new construction projects in the state after Texas refused to take action on the regulations that went into effect on January 2. Rules for existing industry have not been released yet.

EPA officials told the Current this week they expect the courts to rule on the case by early next week. “It’s unfortunate that Texas politicians continue to fight EPA’s efforts to ensure that Clean Air Act permits in Texas can be applied for and issued in a timely way,” said Region 6 EPA spokesperson Joe Hubbard.

Unsurprisingly, Abbott’s position has found support in the new Republican-led Congress, where lawmakers like East Texas’ Ted Poe, who represents refinery-heavy Beaumont and Port Arthur, have been hurriedly filing bills to shut the new regulations down. So, while the EPA may have past Supreme Court support (the court has ruled greenhouse gases are pollutants under the terms of the Clean Air Act) and the moral authority that comes with the necessity of protecting the planet’s human and non-human populations from industry-caused warming, sea-level rise, and the spread of tropical diseases, that may not be enough to trump partisan politics at the end of the day.

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