Revealing briefs

MESQUITE — State Representative Thomas Latham, a Sunnyvale Republican, is an ardent foe of two measures on the November 6 ballot that would allow beer and wine to be sold in stores and alcohol to be sold by the drink without a club membership in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite. In fact, he’s even a strident supporter of Save Our Community, a group spearheading efforts against the two propositions.

All of that may seem a little ironic given that Latham recently accepted a $500 contribution from the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas’s political action committee.

However Latham, a retired Garland police commander, calls himself an “independent thinker” and, while he appreciates the beer distributors’ desire to help him with his campaign, doesn’t want the easier access to alcohol in his community.

Latham, incidentally, already has an opponent for next March’s GOP Primary: Mike Anderson … the popular, former, mayor … of Mesquite.


McALLEN — State House candidate Javier Villalobos (R-McAllen), claims to have raised more than $60,000 from a backyard barbecue fund-raiser at a friend’s home for his campaign to unseat State Rep. Veroniza Gonzales (D-McAllen) in Texas House District 41.

According to a press release about the event sent out by Legislative Media, Villalobos told attendees at the fundraiser that “the winds of change are coming.”

Those “winds of change” may be more of a puff of smoke, however. Gonzales, who won the seat following an upset victory over a longtime incumbent in 2004, has already raised nearly $100,000 for her campaign and has key endorsements from Sens. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) and Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville), as well as other legislators and Valley leaders.


It’s been only one year and two months since the Texas Legislature passed historic property-tax and school-finance reform and already the state’s public-school districts are butting against a glass ceiling set by the Texas Legislature.

According to the Dallas Morning News and, at least one in 10 school districts statewide (about 115 districts) are holding elections this fall to get permission from voters to raise property taxes.

Back in 2006, the Texas Legislature adopted the proposed reforms of the Texas Tax Reform Commission — chaired by none other than former Comptroller John Sharp (a buddy of Governor Rick Perry’s from college), and a lifelong Democrat. The reforms lowered the maximum tax rate from $1.50 per $100 valuation to $1 per $100 (exclusive of funds for debt service) by the 2007-08 school year.

Schools got some wiggle room, allowing them to raise the rate an additional four cents — without voter approval — something at least 90 percent of Texas school districts have done. Beyond those four pennies, districts may hold an election to get taxpayer approval to go as high as $1.17 per $100. 


BULVERDE — State Rep. Nathan Macias (R-Bulverde) officially kicked off his re-election campaign Saturday before a crowd of about 200 people — many wearing Macias ’08 shirts that read, “Heart for Service … Heart for Texas.”

Macias, who was funded almost entirely by San Antonio millionaire James Leinninger in last year’s GOP primary election, defeated incumbent Carter Casteel (R-New Braunfels). Now, he himself faces a challenger: former New Braunfels Mayor and Edwards Aquifer Authority Chairman Doug Miller.

As of July, Macias had raised only $11,469 for his re-election campaign—a far cry from the nearly $800,000 that flowed into his primary campaign last year.