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Chaos in the Texas House

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4837804.html May 26, 2007, 12:04AM THE LEGISLATURE Texas Legislature ignites with push to oust Craddick Speaker says
    Message 1 of 6 , May 25 10:15 PM
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      http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4837804.html

      May 26, 2007, 12:04AM
      THE LEGISLATURE
      Texas Legislature ignites with push to oust Craddick

      Speaker says he wouldn't have to recognize motion for
      ouster

      By R.G. RATCLIFFE and JANET ELLIOTT
      Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

      Texas Politics: Follow the Craddick controversy
      Complete coverage of the Texas Legislature

      AUSTIN — The Texas House fell into chaos Friday night
      as its parliamentarians resigned and Speaker Tom
      Craddick brought the chamber to a standstill, saying
      he does not have to recognize a member for a motion to
      throw him out of office.

      The Texas Eagle forum sent out an emergency message to
      members claiming a "coup d'etat" was taking place in
      the House and urged members to call Republican
      lawmakers to pledge loyalty to Craddick.

      Texas Department of Public Safety officers took
      positions outside the House to be ready if called upon
      to restore order.

      "This was a scene out of Lord of the Flies," said Rep.
      Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio.

      Craddick has been under fire from insurgent lawmakers
      who say he has been dictatorial in running the House.
      They also have complained that Craddick makes rulings
      from the chair that do not follow House rules.

      His sudden decision to shut down the House for 2 1/2
      hours publicly reinforced that view.

      Craddick brought the House back into session at 11
      p.m., urging them to work on bills that still were
      pending. He said it was important to pass a
      supplemental appropriations bill by midnight.

      Opponents said the bill could easily be passed later
      by a vote to suspend House rules. The opposition
      continued to press Craddick about how he might be
      unseated.

      When Craddick tried to ignore Democratic Caucus
      Chairman Jim Dunnam, the Waco lawmaker said: "Does
      anyone in this chamber's voice matter but yours?"

      "We're going to follow the House rules," Craddick
      replied.

      "When?" Dunnam said, followed by whoops and applause
      from the packed gallery.

      What had started as a plodding day of legislating in
      the House suddenly turned electric as insurgents began
      asking Craddick how he would rule on allowing a member
      to make a motion to remove him as presiding officer.

      Craddick said he didn't have to do it. And when
      insurgents tried to press him for answers about
      whether he was lying on what advice he had received
      from parliamentarians, Craddick gaveled the House to
      stand at ease for 2 1/2 hours.

      Legislators charged toward the dais shouting, ''No!
      No! No!'' as Craddick walked off toward his office
      behind the House chamber.

      Rep. Rick Noriega, D-Houston, attempted to get to the
      microphone on the dais, he said, to continue the rules
      discussion, but was blocked by House sergeants.

      Parliamentarian Denise Davis promptly resigned, as did
      Deputy Parliamentarian Chris Greisel. Craddick
      immediately replaced them with former state Reps. Ron
      Wilson, D-Houston, and Terry Keel, R-Austin.

      Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, objected to the new
      parliamentarians, saying they had been lobbying
      members this week to stay loyal to Craddick.

      "I know of no lobbying that's been going on," Craddick
      said.

      During the break, some legislators said Craddick's
      heavy-handed recess was an insult to the House that
      would cost him his position.

      "There's no way he can lead this house after tonight
      because people don't trust him," Castro said.

      Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, said, "It is clearly an
      abuse of power in an office."

      Longtime Craddick loyalist Rep. Gary Elkins,
      R-Houston, said he had spent the past few days
      wrestling with whether to split with Craddick.
      Craddick's behavior on Friday left him more torn than
      ever.

      "It's gut-wrenching," Elkins said.

      Freshman Rep. John Zerwas, R-Houston, said Craddick
      had been good to him, rewarding him with a seat on the
      committee that writes the state budget.

      "If the ship goes down, I go down with it. As a
      freshman, I've got nothing to lose," Zerwas said.

      Earlier in the evening, Craddick told the members he
      had the right to ignore any member who wanted to make
      a motion, and he said there is no such thing in House
      rules as a motion to vacate the chair. Craddick also
      said members have no right to appeal the ruling of the
      presiding officer in such situations by a vote of the
      full House.

      Dunnam then produced proof that during the Sharpstown
      scandal in 1971, Craddick voted to overrule Speaker
      Gus Mutscher when he refused to recognize then-Rep.
      Frances Farenthold, D-Houston, for a similar
      privileged motion.

      Smith then asked Craddick whether he had ignored Davis
      in making his rulings that would preserve his job as
      speaker.

      ''I don't know if she agreed or disagreed with it,''
      Craddick said.

      Smith pressed hard for an answer. Insurgent members
      said they had run the questions past the
      parliamentarian before asking Craddick and had gotten
      completely different answers.

      Craddick then defensively said, ''It's a privileged
      conversation between the two of us.''

      Speaker candidate Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, then
      went on the offensive: ''Who employs the
      parliamentarian?''

      ''The speaker does. He or she is an officer of the
      House,'' Craddick said. Craddick then called for a
      10-minute break to meet with advisers.

      Davis refused to answer questions from reporters
      during the break.

      After he had not reappeared in 30 minutes, some House
      members began shouting: ''Work! Work!''

      Craddick finally appeared and attempted to bring up
      some bills, but members continued to press him on the
      rules.

      That's when the speaker declared a recess until 11
      p.m.

      Shortly after, Alexis DeLee, Craddick's press
      secretary, released a statement on Davis' resignation.

      "In the last few weeks, the speaker has received a
      number of informal inquiries on intricate and
      complicated constitutional issues,'' it read.
      ''Consequently, he has canvassed a wide range of legal
      opinions, and in some cases has put a higher premium
      on that counsel.

      ''As a result, Denise has resigned and has asked to be
      transferred. The speaker will be complying with her
      wishes."

      Craddick has been under fire this session because of
      what is perceived as his autocratic and punitive
      style.

      Opponents want to unseat Craddickwith a motion to
      vacate the chair before the session ends Monday.
      Craddick has said he will seek another term as speaker
      in 2009, but there has been speculation that the
      insurgency could get him to step aside.

      The rebellion has swirled around four announced
      speaker candidates, all Republicans — Pitts, Brian
      McCall of Plano, Fred Hill of Richardson and Jim
      Keffer of Eastland.

      Two more candidates joined the race on Friday: state
      Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, and Rep. Delwin
      Jones, R-Lubbock.

      Reporters Clay Robison, Peggy Fikac and Lisa Sandberg
      contributed to this story

      r.g.ratcliffe@...

      janet.elliott@...
    • THOMAS JOHNSON
      As unlikely as it may seem, sanity may be re-asserting itself into Texas politics... Tom ... http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4837804.html ... ===
      Message 2 of 6 , May 25 11:49 PM
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        As unlikely as it may seem, sanity may be re-asserting
        itself into Texas politics...

        Tom


        --- Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...> wrote:

        >
        http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4837804.html
        >
        > May 26, 2007, 12:04AM
        > THE LEGISLATURE
        > Texas Legislature ignites with push to oust Craddick
        >
        > Speaker says he wouldn't have to recognize motion
        > for
        > ouster
        >
        > By R.G. RATCLIFFE and JANET ELLIOTT
        > Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
        >
        > Texas Politics: Follow the Craddick controversy
        > Complete coverage of the Texas Legislature
        >
        > AUSTIN — The Texas House fell into chaos Friday
        > night
        > as its parliamentarians resigned and Speaker Tom
        > Craddick brought the chamber to a standstill, saying
        > he does not have to recognize a member for a motion
        > to
        > throw him out of office.
        >
        > The Texas Eagle forum sent out an emergency message
        > to
        > members claiming a "coup d'etat" was taking place in
        > the House and urged members to call Republican
        > lawmakers to pledge loyalty to Craddick.
        >
        > Texas Department of Public Safety officers took
        > positions outside the House to be ready if called
        > upon
        > to restore order.
        >
        > "This was a scene out of Lord of the Flies," said
        > Rep.
        > Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio.
        >
        > Craddick has been under fire from insurgent
        > lawmakers
        > who say he has been dictatorial in running the
        > House.
        > They also have complained that Craddick makes
        > rulings
        > from the chair that do not follow House rules.
        >
        > His sudden decision to shut down the House for 2 1/2
        > hours publicly reinforced that view.
        >
        > Craddick brought the House back into session at 11
        > p.m., urging them to work on bills that still were
        > pending. He said it was important to pass a
        > supplemental appropriations bill by midnight.
        >
        > Opponents said the bill could easily be passed later
        > by a vote to suspend House rules. The opposition
        > continued to press Craddick about how he might be
        > unseated.
        >
        > When Craddick tried to ignore Democratic Caucus
        > Chairman Jim Dunnam, the Waco lawmaker said: "Does
        > anyone in this chamber's voice matter but yours?"
        >
        > "We're going to follow the House rules," Craddick
        > replied.
        >
        > "When?" Dunnam said, followed by whoops and applause
        > from the packed gallery.
        >
        > What had started as a plodding day of legislating in
        > the House suddenly turned electric as insurgents
        > began
        > asking Craddick how he would rule on allowing a
        > member
        > to make a motion to remove him as presiding officer.
        >
        > Craddick said he didn't have to do it. And when
        > insurgents tried to press him for answers about
        > whether he was lying on what advice he had received
        > from parliamentarians, Craddick gaveled the House to
        > stand at ease for 2 1/2 hours.
        >
        > Legislators charged toward the dais shouting, ''No!
        > No! No!'' as Craddick walked off toward his office
        > behind the House chamber.
        >
        > Rep. Rick Noriega, D-Houston, attempted to get to
        > the
        > microphone on the dais, he said, to continue the
        > rules
        > discussion, but was blocked by House sergeants.
        >
        > Parliamentarian Denise Davis promptly resigned, as
        > did
        > Deputy Parliamentarian Chris Greisel. Craddick
        > immediately replaced them with former state Reps.
        > Ron
        > Wilson, D-Houston, and Terry Keel, R-Austin.
        >
        > Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, objected to the
        > new
        > parliamentarians, saying they had been lobbying
        > members this week to stay loyal to Craddick.
        >
        > "I know of no lobbying that's been going on,"
        > Craddick
        > said.
        >
        > During the break, some legislators said Craddick's
        > heavy-handed recess was an insult to the House that
        > would cost him his position.
        >
        > "There's no way he can lead this house after tonight
        > because people don't trust him," Castro said.
        >
        > Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, said, "It is clearly an
        > abuse of power in an office."
        >
        > Longtime Craddick loyalist Rep. Gary Elkins,
        > R-Houston, said he had spent the past few days
        > wrestling with whether to split with Craddick.
        > Craddick's behavior on Friday left him more torn
        > than
        > ever.
        >
        > "It's gut-wrenching," Elkins said.
        >
        > Freshman Rep. John Zerwas, R-Houston, said Craddick
        > had been good to him, rewarding him with a seat on
        > the
        > committee that writes the state budget.
        >
        > "If the ship goes down, I go down with it. As a
        > freshman, I've got nothing to lose," Zerwas said.
        >
        > Earlier in the evening, Craddick told the members he
        > had the right to ignore any member who wanted to
        > make
        > a motion, and he said there is no such thing in
        > House
        > rules as a motion to vacate the chair. Craddick also
        > said members have no right to appeal the ruling of
        > the
        > presiding officer in such situations by a vote of
        > the
        > full House.
        >
        > Dunnam then produced proof that during the
        > Sharpstown
        > scandal in 1971, Craddick voted to overrule Speaker
        > Gus Mutscher when he refused to recognize then-Rep.
        > Frances Farenthold, D-Houston, for a similar
        > privileged motion.
        >
        > Smith then asked Craddick whether he had ignored
        > Davis
        > in making his rulings that would preserve his job as
        > speaker.
        >
        > ''I don't know if she agreed or disagreed with it,''
        > Craddick said.
        >
        > Smith pressed hard for an answer. Insurgent members
        > said they had run the questions past the
        > parliamentarian before asking Craddick and had
        > gotten
        > completely different answers.
        >
        > Craddick then defensively said, ''It's a privileged
        > conversation between the two of us.''
        >
        > Speaker candidate Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, then
        > went on the offensive: ''Who employs the
        > parliamentarian?''
        >
        > ''The speaker does. He or she is an officer of the
        > House,'' Craddick said. Craddick then called for a
        > 10-minute break to meet with advisers.
        >
        > Davis refused to answer questions from reporters
        > during the break.
        >
        > After he had not reappeared in 30 minutes, some
        > House
        > members began shouting: ''Work! Work!''
        >
        > Craddick finally appeared and attempted to bring up
        > some bills, but members continued to press him on
        > the
        > rules.
        >
        > That's when the speaker declared a recess until 11
        > p.m.
        >
        > Shortly after, Alexis DeLee, Craddick's press
        > secretary, released a statement on Davis'
        > resignation.
        >
        > "In the last few weeks, the speaker has received a
        > number of informal inquiries on intricate and
        >
        === message truncated ===
      • greg
        God forbid! Do you think they actually have a chance of ousting Craddick this term? And would he have a chance at all in January 2009? Also, there is precedent
        Message 3 of 6 , May 26 6:15 PM
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          God forbid!

          Do you think they actually have a chance of ousting Craddick this
          term? And would he have a chance at all in January 2009?

          Also, there is precedent for all this- a Republican speaker was ousted
          by a Republican majority in 1871 (in 1872 the Republicans lost the
          legislature and didn't regain it of course until 2002):

          http://texaslegislature.beloblog.com/archives/2007/05/house_no_precedent_then_what_w.html

          --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, THOMAS JOHNSON <AVRCRDNG@...>
          wrote:
          >
          > As unlikely as it may seem, sanity may be re-asserting
          > itself into Texas politics...
          >
          > Tom
        • THOMAS JOHNSON
          Great historical perspective, Greg... Craddick is acting like a petty third world dictator.. Well, strike that. My apologies to any third world dictators that
          Message 4 of 6 , May 27 12:17 AM
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            Great historical perspective, Greg... Craddick is
            acting like a petty third world dictator.. Well,
            strike that. My apologies to any third world dictators
            that might be reading this for the unflattering
            comparison.

            Tom


            --- greg <gregcannon1@...> wrote:

            > God forbid!
            >
            > Do you think they actually have a chance of ousting
            > Craddick this
            > term? And would he have a chance at all in January
            > 2009?
            >
            > Also, there is precedent for all this- a Republican
            > speaker was ousted
            > by a Republican majority in 1871 (in 1872 the
            > Republicans lost the
            > legislature and didn't regain it of course until
            > 2002):
            >
            >
            http://texaslegislature.beloblog.com/archives/2007/05/house_no_precedent_then_what_w.html
            >
            > --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, THOMAS
            > JOHNSON <AVRCRDNG@...>
            > wrote:
            > >
            > > As unlikely as it may seem, sanity may be
            > re-asserting
            > > itself into Texas politics...
            > >
            > > Tom
            >
            >
            >
          • greg
            I fear this may not be of general interest to the rest of the group, but, Tom, I guess you ve heard about the walkout in the Texas House last night? I m
            Message 5 of 6 , May 28 10:45 AM
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              I fear this may not be of general interest to the rest of the group,
              but, Tom, I guess you've heard about the walkout in the Texas House
              last night? I'm feeling proud that it was led by my representative.

              http://elpasotimes.typepad.com/capitol/2007/05/haggerty_leads_.html

              --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, THOMAS JOHNSON <AVRCRDNG@...>
              wrote:
              >
              > Great historical perspective, Greg... Craddick is
              > acting like a petty third world dictator.. Well,
              > strike that. My apologies to any third world dictators
              > that might be reading this for the unflattering
              > comparison.
              >
              > Tom
              >
              >
              > --- greg <gregcannon1@...> wrote:
              >
              > > God forbid!
              > >
              > > Do you think they actually have a chance of ousting
              > > Craddick this
              > > term? And would he have a chance at all in January
              > > 2009?
              > >
              > > Also, there is precedent for all this- a Republican
              > > speaker was ousted
              > > by a Republican majority in 1871 (in 1872 the
              > > Republicans lost the
              > > legislature and didn't regain it of course until
              > > 2002):
              > >
              > >
              >
              http://texaslegislature.beloblog.com/archives/2007/05/house_no_precedent_then_what_w.html
              > >
              > > --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, THOMAS
              > > JOHNSON <AVRCRDNG@>
              > > wrote:
              > > >
              > > > As unlikely as it may seem, sanity may be
              > > re-asserting
              > > > itself into Texas politics...
              > > >
              > > > Tom
              > >
              > >
              > >
              >
            • THOMAS JOHNSON
              I am proud of your congressman and pleased that he is a Republican. Apparently he s a man who will put principle before party.. Tom ...
              Message 6 of 6 , May 29 9:56 PM
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                I am proud of your congressman and pleased that he is
                a Republican. Apparently he's a man who will put
                principle before party..

                Tom


                --- greg <gregcannon1@...> wrote:

                > I fear this may not be of general interest to the
                > rest of the group,
                > but, Tom, I guess you've heard about the walkout in
                > the Texas House
                > last night? I'm feeling proud that it was led by my
                > representative.
                >
                >
                http://elpasotimes.typepad.com/capitol/2007/05/haggerty_leads_.html
                >
                > --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, THOMAS
                > JOHNSON <AVRCRDNG@...>
                > wrote:
                > >
                > > Great historical perspective, Greg... Craddick is
                > > acting like a petty third world dictator.. Well,
                > > strike that. My apologies to any third world
                > dictators
                > > that might be reading this for the unflattering
                > > comparison.
                > >
                > > Tom
                > >
                > >
                > > --- greg <gregcannon1@...> wrote:
                > >
                > > > God forbid!
                > > >
                > > > Do you think they actually have a chance of
                > ousting
                > > > Craddick this
                > > > term? And would he have a chance at all in
                > January
                > > > 2009?
                > > >
                > > > Also, there is precedent for all this- a
                > Republican
                > > > speaker was ousted
                > > > by a Republican majority in 1871 (in 1872 the
                > > > Republicans lost the
                > > > legislature and didn't regain it of course until
                > > > 2002):
                > > >
                > > >
                > >
                >
                http://texaslegislature.beloblog.com/archives/2007/05/house_no_precedent_then_what_w.html
                > > >
                > > > --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, THOMAS
                > > > JOHNSON <AVRCRDNG@>
                > > > wrote:
                > > > >
                > > > > As unlikely as it may seem, sanity may be
                > > > re-asserting
                > > > > itself into Texas politics...
                > > > >
                > > > > Tom
                > > >
                > > >
                > > >
                > >
                >
                >
                >
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