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2014/4/22 - Candidate Profile and Questionnaire: Tracy Scott Miller for LISD ...
2014/4/21 - Candidate Profile and Questionnaire: Kristi Hassett for LISD Boar...
2014/4/19 - Videos: Lewisville City Council Retreat - April 17th, 18th, 19th
2014/4/18 - Council Offering Donna Barron the City Manager Post
2014/4/17 - Video: Trustee Candidates at LTJ/Parents4LISD Student Voter Forum
2014/4/17 - Board Tours LISD Westside Aquatic Center
2014/4/13 - LTJ, Parents4LISD to Host Student Voter Forum April 15th
2014/4/13 - Sunday Morning Update - Almost Tax Day Edition
2014/4/11 - City-wide Spring Cleanup Set for Saturday, April 26th
2014/4/11 - Sheriff's Office Warns About Bogus Warrant Calls
2014/4/9 - Updated: FBI Announces Arrests in Child Sex Trafficking Cases
2014/4/7 - Lewisville Woman Wins Big on Price is Right 8,000th Episode
2014/4/7 - Lewisville Implements Year-Round Water Restrictions
2014/4/5 - Flower Mound to Use Social Media to Warn About Traffic Enforcement
2014/4/5 - Friends of the Library Host Book Sale Saturday and Sunday
2014/4/1 - Lewisville Buys Land Previously Proposed as Gas Drilling Site
2014/4/1 - Lewisville Resident Makes Splash in Neighborhood with Free Beer
2014/3/31 - Annual Charity Art Gala Scheduled for April 18th
2014/3/29 - Saturday Morning Update
2014/3/26 - Video: 35Express Project Holds Community Meeting in Lewisville
2014/3/24 - Old Town Resident Opens Little Free Library
2014/3/23 - LISD School Board Meeting Notes - March 17th, 2014
2014/3/18 - Economic Development Agreement Reached for Three Restaurants to Se...
2014/3/13 - Thursday Night Update
2014/3/8 - Dutch Oven Cookers Share Food, Fellowship, and Fun
Recent Reader Comments
2014/4/22 13:07 - Re: Council Offering Donna Barron the City Manager Post (kjudk1955)
2014/4/21 21:00 - Council offers Barron position effective May 1st (WhosPlayin)
2014/4/20 19:29 - Re: Videos: Lewisville City Council Retreat - April 17th,... (WhosPlayin)
2014/4/20 11:40 - Re: Videos: Lewisville City Council Retreat - April 17th,... (jbcglc)
2014/4/13 15:00 - Re: Sunday Morning Update - Almost Tax Day Edition (fvaughan)
2014/4/1 23:20 - Re: Lewisville Resident Makes Splash in Neighborhood with... (Anonymous)
2014/4/1 23:06 - Re: Time to Come Clean - April Fools! (Anonymous)
2014/4/1 22:42 - Re: Lewisville Resident Makes Splash in Neighborhood with... (WhosPlayin)
2014/4/1 22:19 - Re: Lewisville Resident Makes Splash in Neighborhood with... (WhosPlayin)
2014/4/1 21:43 - Re: Time to Come Clean - April Fools! (WhosPlayin)
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2014/4/1 21:32 - Time to Come Clean - April Fools! (WhosPlayin)
2014/4/1 21:10 - Re: Lewisville Resident Makes Splash in Neighborhood with... (WhosPlayin)
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2014/3/30 20:36 - Re: Mary Smith files for Place 6 on LISD Board (Anonymous)
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2014/3/29 23:20 - Re: Mary Smith files for Place 6 on LISD Board (Anonymous)
2014/3/26 6:18 - Cane Russo: $1,000 for a side of ranch dressing (WhosPlayin)
2014/3/26 4:07 - Re: Was Texas House Candidate Pat Fallon a Resident of De... (Anonymous)
2014/3/24 22:48 - Krista Stone for Place 6 (WhosPlayin)
2014/3/23 12:43 - Moving school board elections would be a terrible idea. (WhosPlayin)
2014/3/23 9:35 - Re: Economic Development Agreement Reached for Three Rest... (Anonymous)
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This topic is for links to relevant news, interesting websites, quick opinions and inane ponderings. Postings in this thread are considered "open-thread", meaning that anyone can post a comment on any of the articles, whether the comment relates to the post or not. If you have something random to say, this is the place.
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Random Thoughts on Saturday Morning

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/4/19 10:54:30 (1031 reads)

I found a cool website called halfbakery. Basically, people write in with their half-baked ideas for new inventions. Some are humorous, and some are humorous in trying to be serious.

Speaking of stupid ideas, have you heard of "TruckNutz"? Maybe you've seen these tacky fake scrotums (scrota?) hanging from the bottom of bubba's truck. Apparently the Florida state legislature saw fit to argue about banning the damn things.

So I came up with my own idea: The VaJJ (Va jay-jay)

What's with gas prices this week? Seems like they jacked up by 10 cents a day for a couple of days.

This girl needs professional help.

Did you see the naked bird?

It's been so windy lately. The wind has kicked up all kinds of junk, and we've been popping Zyrtec like it was candy. The boys have been coughing a lot, and I think I'm going to have to take them to the doctor.

Hat tip to lightseeker for finding this gem:

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Lewisville Uses CANNONS on "Pesky Migrants!"

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/4/16 12:00:00 (1101 reads)

They come into town and hang out at the park, causing bad smells and a general nuisance that keeps tourists away. Once they move in, and start having offspring, it's too late, and the Federal Government prohibits the town from disturbing them!

That's why the City of Lewisville has taken to scaring them off with CANNONS!

What did you think I was talking about? Lewisville isn't Farmers Branch! (yet)

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SNL Commercials

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/4/14 9:47:33 (1062 reads)

Just a few fake commercials as shown on Saturday Night Live:
Annuale birth control

Meatloaf Lover's Mercedes

Neutrogena's Coin Slot Creme

Taco Town

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New Democrats

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by grbtexan on 2008/4/12 16:58:49 (953 reads)

I am so excited to see so many new Democrats in Denton co. The turn out for the primary and the caucus was as many of you know a record not just in Denton Co. but in the state. And the turn our for the county convention was also very impressive with an estimated 3000 delegates and alternates in attendance. There are so many new voters, which is great to see. I wonder how do we keep these new voters involved. No matter who our next president is they will need our support. So I have a question for you, the reader. How does the party keep these new Democrats, and how do we keep them involved. If you are a first time voter your input would be great. What do we do to keep as much of this new strength as possible?

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Medical use not a backdoor!

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by grbtexan on 2008/4/11 16:42:10 (975 reads)

The Denton Democratic Party has among it some 75 resolutions put one forth in support of medical marijuana. Legalization of marijuana within the narrow confines of medical use is not a backdoor to decriminalization. While I certainly agree with the idea of medical use of THC. It’s beneficial uses are unarguable. Criminalization of marijuana has gone too far, and it is imperative that it be reversed. Prisons are filling up with people guilty of mere possession. I do believe that we are a land of laws, but I also believe when there is a bad law, the law and not the law breakers need to be removed. The research on marijuana has been done, and redone. The dangers involved with the use of marijuana are nominal and less than many legal drugs, including alcohol. We the people; do not have the right to legislate morality. What is needed is decriminalization of marijuana. Some states have taken it upon themselves to do this. By making it legal to posses certain amounts of marijuana, and certain numbers of plants. This kind of law leaves in place the ability of law enforcement to follow the kind of distribution that leads to drugs being sold to children. What it prevents is people being locked up for life for a third strike, because they had pot for personal use. Weather you are one that smokes marijuana or would if it was legal, drink alcohol, or never touch any of it does not matter. We must all stand up for our collective rights. And perhaps the idea of a right to get high or drunk seems silly or unnecessary to you. However when what we can do with our own bodies is not our choice, what rights to we have left? Medical marijuana must be available to those who need it, but just as important is that we stop jailing people for its use. If medical marijuana is made legal how hard will it be to go that last step to decriminalization. How many people will be jailed or imprisoned in the mean time? Support decriminalization.

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How teens "prevent" pregnancy.

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/4/3 7:58:19 (1246 reads)

"A recent survey that found some Florida teens believe drinking a cap of bleach will prevent HIV and a shot of Mountain Dew will stop pregnancy has prompted lawmakers to push for an overhaul of sex education in the state."

Gee... I wonder why Texas has such a high teen pregnancy rate?

Kids, please PLEASE do not drink bleach. I shouldn't have to tell you, but this is a dangerous myth. If you want to know how you can prevent pregnancy, read this.

Clorox Image

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My Convention Experience

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/3/31 13:00:21 (4137 reads)

All week last week, I worried about whether we would be able to pull off our Denton County Democratic Convention and keep the wheels from coming off. I’m proud to report that we did pretty well, I think.

{With photos by Amos)
I had requested, a couple of weeks ago, to volunteer in whatever capacity was needed, as long as I didn’t have to be in charge of anything. The reason was that I was over-committed on various things, and didn’t need one more thing to worry about. I ended up being the one to work up the robo-call that reminded people of the time and location, as well as working security on the night before and day of the convention.

Our convention was held outdoors in Quakertown park in Denton. It wasn’t the first choice, nor was it our 2nd through 8th choices, but it was what was available and affordable for such a crowd on such short notice. Since we had to have things delivered on Friday, someone had to stand watch that night to make sure nothing walked off.

It was somewhat relaxing to spend Friday night out in the park, with no wireless access and no way to do anything but my little guard duty. I had a good laugh at myself too, as “protector of the chairs” walking around with my flashlight and tin badge. (our party chairman – a lawyer, told me not to carry my nightstick) Thankfully, as I expected, there was no issue with security the night before. Other than a few giggling college students walking through the park on the way to the beer store, it was very quiet, and there was really nothing for myself or my other guard to do.

We had a few folks stop by to see where it was going to be, and get a lay of the land. One of my fellow bloggers stopped by and brought me a thermos full of coffee, and we sat around and talked for a couple of hours.

About 3:30 or 4 AM, I asked the other guard if he would mind if I took a little nap. He said sure, so I went back to the pop-up trailer and climbed in a sleeping bag. Around 5:30 AM on Saturday, the other volunteers started showing up, and it woke me from my light sleep. I looked over and saw that my other guard was asleep on the other bed. I was slightly horrified that our post had been unmanned. If this sort of thing had happened when I was in the Marine Corps, we both would have been hung. But all is well that ends well. Everything was fine outside.

It had rained a little in the early morning, so all the chairs were wet and the grass was wet.

I got out and helped the other volunteers set up the registration tables. Almost immediately, cars began to pull into the parking lot where we needed the vendors and sound truck to unload. Our convention producer had me stand in as parking-control until our parking chief showed up around 7 AM.

We soon realized that with such a large outdoor area, communication was going to be difficult. I gave one of my walkie talkies to the producer, and when our Chairman showed up, he got one too. Eventually several of our parking folks had them.

As the sign-in tables started up, (early, I might add) parking began to be an issue even earlier than I thought. I was dispatched to the Denton Senior Center to help them keep our convention attendees out of their lot. All of the spaces around the park filled up quickly, and it was difficult trying to turn people away. The next logical question they all had was “where do I park?” My answer was that I wasn’t sure. Eventually I got some answers on the radio, and we had people parking in various areas – probably up to a mile away.

What impressed me though, was that although I was bearing bad news to the drivers that came into this parking lot, they were all very calm, courteous, and appreciative, seeming to be glad to be there, and willing to endure what they had to in order to participate. I had volunteers eventually come over to help me. Once the senior center parking lot filled up with actual seniors (there for their weekly Dominoes and such) there was no need to stand guard, but I stuck around for a little while longer to help direct people and answer questions.

People came in wearing candidate t-shirts and buttons, and carrying signs for their candidate. I was honestly surprised at the number of Clinton supporters, and how vigorously they supported their candidate. I had known that Obama was the heavy favorite in Denton County. Most of the party volunteers avoided buttons and t-shirts – including myself. It’s not to knock anyone who did wear these things, but over the past couple of weeks, I came to realize that folks were paying close attention to who supported who, and using that as a basis to assume there were ulterior motives in every scenario.

I would have hated to have someone think that some decision or action I took was based on the candidate I favored. For instance, I had to turn a lot of people away from the parking lot. Every now and then, an elderly person would drive up, and I’d wave them through. How would it have looked if I were wearing my Obama button and waved a Clinton supporter off, then let someone else through? It could easily be construed as favoritism.

So, sometime close to 10 AM, I finally got signed in as an alternate.

The convention started off with the presentation of the Colors, by a local Boy Scout troop, then the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, delivered by a vocal group. I hate to admit it, but I’ve got to say that I became a little choked up during the national anthem. Though it was a bustling crowd, the vast majority of folks got to their feet and put their hands on their hearts. It was very moving to me to see so many fellow patriots gathered in the park that morning for a cause greater than themselves. And though there would be votes and decisions later in the day that would have some contention, I felt that this was a true expression of our ultimate unity.

After some go-fer-ing for the producer, the chair, and some other volunteers, I grabbed a jacket to cover up my uniform shirt, and I joined my Pct. 319 delegation.

Overall, it seemed that the crowd was pretty jubilant. Even though some were bored, and there was a lot of down time waiting on credentials rulings or rules interpretations, it seemed like people were making the most of it. Quite a few precincts had set up tents or circles of lawn chairs on the periphery, and a lot of people were involved in conversations. In my precinct, one of the Clinton delegates had brought a cooler full of drinks and sandwiches, which they shared with everyone. We sat and talked about issues local to our precinct in Lewisville. We shared strategies for how we would work together in the fall to get out our Democratic vote.

From our end, the procedural things went pretty smoothly, and quickly. The Chairman moved things along, and the body waived the rules several times to allow us to “get on with it” without reading many pages of things, such as the credentials reports. There were some points of order, some of which were sustained, some overruled, and some appealed and rejected by the body.

Certainly, there were precincts where not everyone was happy with the outcome. There were likely folks with legitimate concerns about whether we were properly following the rules. From what I saw, it appeared that all of the volunteers that put this convention on pretty much bent backwards to make sure every thing was fair. That being said, it felt like there were some people who felt it necessary to be disruptive, almost out of spite, because they disagreed with something. I’ve got no problem with the minority using parliamentary procedures to ensure fairness. I just get frustrated when I see it devolve into something emotional and divisive. I don’t want to over-emphasize that part though. Truthfully, though I wasn’t involved with Credentials or Nominations, it really seemed much more civil and cooperative than I had even imagined it would be.

When it was time to elect a permanent convention chair and secretary, we had folks run against our County Chair and Party Secretary. I can’t much judge their motives, but I think much of it was either in good fun, or naivety. I had a good laugh at some of the campaign speeches, for those positions, which I thought were intentionally funny – including “you can call me Jake”. Anyhow, my favorite moment was when our temporary secretary basically said that if someone wanted her job, they could take it. Even while the other nominees were giving their speeches, poor Kenna was up on stage busily scribbling her notes for the minutes! Eventually, our party Chairman, Neil Durrance was elected permanent chair, and Kenna Giffin was elected secretary. They both worked their tails off in preparation for all of this, and stayed way late that night. They probably still have a lot of paperwork to do. Most of the folks around us got a good laugh and had smiles on their faces though.

At around 4:30 or so in the afternoon, most of us had selected our delegates. My precinct was 10 Obama and 3 Clinton delegates, so we selected 1 Obama delegate to the State convention, and 1 Clinton alternate. They’ll hopefully carpool and paint Austin Blue while they’re in town. Thankfully I am not a delegate. If I go to the state convention, it will be to cover it for this blog. I need some time off from the worry, and I want people in my precinct to have those experiences.

When it was time to deal with resolutions, the majority of the crowd was too tired, and just wanted to wrap it up. A motion was brought to forward all resolutions to the State convention without recommendation, so that we wouldn’t have to read and vote on 45 resolutions. People spoke for and against this resolution, and honestly I could see both sides.

On the one hand, people had worked hard on these resolutions, and they deserved to be heard and voted on.

On the other hand, all the resolutions in the world that Denton Co. could pass don’t really mean anything unless we elect Democrats to implement them. Even if we had voted something down, some other county could still have sent the same one to the State convention.

I voted to have the resolutions read – at least the “resolved” parts. By voice vote, the chair ruled it was a tie, and called for a vote by division of the house. This was fun. Basically everyone had to get up and move to the right if they agreed, and to the left if they disagreed. My side lost, and the motion to forward them all to the state was approved. At that point, I went ahead and came on home after 25 hours or so of being on-site at the park.

I didn’t even know what the final delegate count was, (94-48 Obama) but I wasn’t too concerned. I was more happy that we had managed to pull this thing off without too much strife. As I understand it, business was conducted until about 11PM.

If you attended, I’m anxious to hear your thoughts and/or see your pictures. Post a comment or a photo!

Amos has some Great Photos of the Convention

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I Will Challenge your Credentials in a Dallas Minute

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by MexicoBob on 2008/3/24 18:33:57 (1155 reads)

Hear ye, hear ye! All Texas residents take heed and pay attention to the contents of your refrigerator, lest your Texas citizenship be revoked and your sorry ass be deported back North of the Red River for refusing to assimilate.

All native-born Texans must have at least eight (8) of the following items in their kitchen:

- Some form of Pace Picante Sauce. (Or home-made salsa)
- One or more Shiner brand beers
- Texas-made wine, such as St Genvieve, but the more obscure, the better.
- Pickled Okra, preferably "Taste-o-Texas" brand.
- Stubbs Barbecue Sauce (points subtracted for using Kraft or KC's)
- Limes or lime juice
- Corn tortilla chips NOT made by Frito-Lay
- Guacamole (Texans know that it's pronounced "wah-ka-MO-leh")
- Blue Bell Ice Cream (or at least an empty tub)
- Various bottles of red pepper sauce
- Multiple Chili recipes
- Ranch Style Beans (They're "Husband Pleasin'") (Black-eyed peas may be substituted from Dec 25 - Jan 2nd)
- Something with a Tom Thumb or H.E.B. label.
- A Sonic or Dairy Queen bag containing leftovers
- Big Red or Dr. Pepper soda, or a jug of sweet tea.

Foreigners and Yankees with at least ten (10) of these items may apply for asylum and permanent residency.

That is all.

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What Could Possibly Go Wrong? My 2008 Primary - Part I

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/3/17 21:22:36 (3669 reads)

This is the first of a series of posts with my experiences in the 2008 Democratic Primary, here in Lewisville

Sigh. The March 4th prima-caucus here in Texas was quite an experience, to say the least. I had fully intended to blog about my experience the next day – not because I thought anyone would really be interested, but because I wanted to preserve my memory of history in the making.

Of course, the next day was spent resting, recovering, and in damage control. And frankly, just thinking about my experience that day reminds me of how tired I was that night. And how strange is it to have the two simultaneous feelings of frustration and exhilaration?

A couple of years ago, when I became a Democratic precinct chairman, I learned what a precinct convention is. I had never attended one before, but I was told that you typically have no more than a handful of people show up. You do some paperwork, catch up with your neighbors, then go home and watch the returns.

And no matter how busy that it seems like I was in my description below, I could think of probably a dozen people who had it worse than I did.

Months Before the Primary

But as this primary approached, we began to see that it could be different. A couple of months beforehand, I realized that we had a lot of people more pumped up about this election than have probably been in past years. So, I thought that I would turn the precinct convention into a larger, more social event. With permission from my better half, I decided to host the precinct convention in my house. We would do our 5 minutes of paperwork, then have a party. After all, party rules allow the precinct convention to be moved. The precinct chair just has to post a sign at the polling location. I was really looking forward to having the company, and maybe meeting a new Democrat or two.

Keep in mind, this was months before the actual primary. There were still several candidates, but these contest are usually pretty much decided by the time they get to Texas. I was disappointed, but understanding when our party administrator recommended keeping my convention at the polling place. As it got closer to the election, I became more thankful for that input.

Weeks Before the Primary

When it became clear that Texas would be “in play” for the Democratic primary, I was thrilled, but a little scared that we needed to do a little more preparation to handle the dozens of people that I thought would turn out on caucus night. By this point, all of the locations had already been reserved and confirmed.

I posted all of the polling locations for Denton County on my blog, and wrote a bit about the process to try to help people understand how things would work.

I knew the classroom where our voting and caucus would be held would be cramped. It was about 1500 – 2000 square feet, most of which would be taken up with voting booths. I began to try to formulate how to get 10 precincts in there, and get set up for this while the tail-end of voting was going on. Little did I know that I was under-estimating by many orders of magnitude. In the days before early voting started, I actually made phone calls in my precinct to remind people to vote. How silly was that?

When early voting began, and daily vote totals started to come in, I discovered that early voting turnout was running about 1300% above 2004 levels. Had I multiplied that 1300% by the 2 -3 convention goers per precinct, I should have expected 260 – 390 caucus-goers. But I thought I may have 200 by this point. Even that was scaring me, because of the size of the room.

The week before the primaries, I worked hard to try to help find volunteers to help us at the caucuses. Although my location had a hundred parking spots, others had only dozens. I tried to find people to help park cars. I tried to find poll workers. And although I wasn’t scheduled to work the polls this time, I decided to go ahead and schedule off from work, just in case.

Days Before the Primary

I visited my voting location a few days prior to the election, and decided to see if I could go ahead and rent an extra classroom there. My location was a local recreation center, which had three classrooms and a gymnasium. I was informed that the other classroom had a yoga class going on that night, but they would be done by 7pm, and that likely nobody else would take it. The staff said they would work with me to get additional space in the other classroom if I needed it.

I talked to the presiding Election Judge on the weekend before, and we both agreed that things could get hectic. He also went and talked to the city staff in charge of the location. By this point, I began to hear that both the Clinton campaign and the Obama campaign were directing voters to show up early to the caucuses. Both campaigns had been training their supporters on how to run a precinct convention if they had to, and that comforted me a bit, since half of the 10 precincts at my location did not have precinct chairs.

What bothered me though was that I heard the rumor that the Clinton campaign was asking their supporters to show up first and “grab the packet”. This packet was the materials needed to take over as temporary convention chair and begin the convention. In normal years, whoever shows up gets things rolling. There’s no real advantage to it, since the numbers are what the numbers are. No candidate benefits – in theory. Nobody knows because the conventions had never come to this before that I knew of.

I wasn’t concerned that Clinton supporters would somehow try to “steal” the caucus. (I’m an Obama supporter) What I didn’t like was that I figured we would be trying to get our last voters processed, and we would have a bunch of people from each side trying to come in and bother us for packets. I was also concerned that the precinct chairs who had been trained to run these things would be usurped by novices from either campaign who could screw things up. To me, the biggest threat was losing the opportunity to engage a bunch of newly energized voters from each side.

We knew by this point that parking would be a major issue and several of our polling locations. We began to try to spread the word in every way we knew how. It went out on several email lists, both for local Democrats, and to the campaign lists I knew of. I knew how to contact the Obama groups, but I had no contact for the Clinton campaign or any local supporters. I visited the Clinton website, and tried to find groups near me, but the website kept timing out. I asked around to other Democrats, but got no help in finding the Clinton people.

Primary Eve

On the day before the primary, I was running around like crazy trying to get things done. I had invitations to a Democratic party fundraiser that I wanted to get printed up. I also had written a letter that I wanted to distribute to my precinct, and other attendees to explain why I was going to make them wait outside until after voting was done. I had anticipated that caucus goers might unintentionally mix with voters, and violate electioneering laws.

It snowed several inches that night, but my wife and I were both scheduled to work the polls the next day by now, and we went across town to get caucus training to make sure we knew what we would be doing. I also had made up a dozen picket signs announcing the polling location, and I had planned to put them out by the polling location so that new voters would know where to turn in. I had spent hours painting these signs by hand.

The television was non-stop with campaign commercials from both campaigns. TV and email both were stressing the importance of voting twice in the “Texas Two-step.” I began to panic just a little.

Primary Day Voting

My wife got up really early and was out to help one of our friends at the City Hall voting location. She was out there by 6:30 or so. I had to take the kids to school that morning, so I got them out with me early, and we put signs out by the polling location around 7:00, after a quick stop at McDonalds for breakfast and coffee.

At 7:30, when the school opened, I dropped off the kids, telling them to meet me down the street at the rec center after school.

Though I had a bunch of materials with me in my van to take in to the rec center, I went ahead and left them in the van, preferring instead to go in and see how much room I would have.

When I showed up in the voting room at about 7:45, I saw that it was already approaching chaos. The room was full with people lined nearly out the door. The polling book had been split into 4 chunks and four lines were already going. The election judge was busy stamping voter cards by the exit door. I dropped my junk and signed in to help. I asked the judge how he needed me, and he immediately put me to work stamping “Democratic” on voter cards and providing proof of voting to voters that didn’t have their cards with them.

Problem #1: Early voting clerks did not stamp voter cards consistently.
We knew from early voting reports that some people did not have their voter cards properly stamped, and that some didn’t receive proof of voting. We knew it would be a problem at caucus, so the party made special efforts to make sure that each election judge knew to make sure cards got stamped.

But, when you get swamped, all plans go out the window.

Problem #2: Lack of “Democratic” stamps on election day.
Normally, when a voter signs in on the poll book for a primary, you stamp their card immediately with the “Democratic” stamp. This prevents them from going to the Republican location and voting there also. It also serves as proof that you voted. However, our kit only had one stamp and stamp pad. We had four lines of voters going, and it would have been impossible to service the line efficiently and pass a stamp around.

Thus, I got stuck stamping voter cards by the exit. Every few minutes throughout the day, I would announce to the crowd that I needed to stamp their cards or provide them with a card to prove that they voted.

Problem #3: Too many folks did not have voter ID cards.
In January of even-numbered years, the county elections office is supposed to mail out voter cards. I received mine, but I heard from several people that they did not receive theirs. On election day, there were tons of folks who voted with their drivers licenses. For these folks, I had to fill out a little chit that required me to fill in the county, precinct, date, and voter name, and stamp it with our “Democratic” stamp.

My handwriting is awful and slow anyway, but by the end of the day, it was barely legible. In addition, many of the voters who voted with their drivers licenses failed to note which precinct they were in. This meant that I had to try to find out, or instruct the voter to go find out and write it on their card before they showed up for caucus.

Problem #4: Widespread confusion on how the caucus worked.
Throughout the day, I was the one that would end up explaining how the caucus worked, why we had it, and what you needed to do to participate. I think this is because everyone else was so busy processing regular and provisional voters.

We had several main questions:
• What time is the caucus? Correct answer: 7:15 PM or after the last voter has voted, whichever is latest. But, this answer caused more followup questions that caused my line to back up. I started telling folks to try to get there by 7:00 PM, and to try to carpool, since it began to look like parking even at my location was going to be scarce.
• How long does it last? / When does it end? It did not occur to me until later in the day that some voters may have thought that the caucus was a come-and-go event. I started to tell people that they needed to be there by the time sign-in began, but that they could sign in and leave if they were in a hurry and did not care to vote on delegates. Of course, this never failed to raise questions about what “delegates” meant.
• Why do we have to vote twice? / Will my vote still count if I don’t show up? I tried to briefly explain that roughly 1/3rd of the delegate count from Texas depended on caucus turnout, and that if the voter would show up, it helps their candidate. Many folks were under the mistaken impression that if they failed to show up, then their primary vote would not count. I think one of the campaigns (not sure which) must have told their folks that they had to vote twice. I tried to explain in the most brief and neutral way I could that it was optional, and that their primary vote would indeed count regardless of their attendance. After all, the primary is secret ballot. Even if we wanted to, there would be no way to find someone’s ballot and invalidate it.

Problem #5: Extreme Turnout.
I had hoped – perhaps naively that the early voting turnout was an indication that most people had simply voted early, and that our election day results would be lighter. That was most certainly not the case. We had huge numbers of voters. And it seemed to me that 80% of them intended to caucus, as they indicated to me by requesting their cards stamped, asking for a chit, or asking questions about the caucus.

By early in the day – maybe 9:00 AM, I began to estimate that we could easily have over 1000 caucus attendees. Luckily, the city staff had pro-actively cancelled all non-election-related activities there at the rec. center, and had reserved the gymnasium for us. I was still very concerned though. We already had the parking lot full, and all the driveways were fire lanes. The line was going out the door. We were getting so swamped that it was all we could do to keep up with our jobs, much less handle exceptions like these:

• Republicans showing up and waiting in line, getting a ballot and going into the booth before realizing they were at the wrong location. (Despite us having Democratic Primary signs everywhere)
• People who had been to other polling locations and been wrongly told they needed to vote at our location.
• People who needed assistance.

It’s not that we didn’t try. We did. It’s just that everyone there had two or three people tapping them on the shoulder at once.

I tried to be proactive by changing my announcements to include “This is the DEMOCRATIC primary location ONLY. If you’re here for another party, you are in the wrong location”.

At various points, supplies ran low, including my proof-of-voting chits. There were a few that I sent out as post-it notes. Luckily, there were runners who brought us supplies here and there.

Problem #6: Security and Parking Assistance
Early in the day, when I first stepped out and saw the parking situation, and I saw the long lines forming, I became worried that we may need some police help to maintain order. It wasn’t that I expected Democrats to raise hell. It’s just that you get belligerent people in every crowd. With a lack of parking, and the need to keep voters separate from caucus-goers later in the day, I worried that it may just turn into chaos without some peacekeepers on hand.

On the other hand, I know that in the past, police have served to intimidate voters and suppress certain turnout, so I didn’t take it lightly. I spoke with our election judge about it and we decided to inquire with the city about whether we could get police at our location.

I got busy and couldn’t call the city right away, but we did have a uniformed officer come in to vote that day. I spoke to him about it, and he told me I should call and ask.

I eventually was able to get word to the City Secretary about our situation, and heard back something about needing to pay for the police overtime. Knowing that we didn’t have a lot of money for this, I deferred making that decision for awhile, and eventually called the party chairman to ask whether we could swing it.

When he told me we didn’t have the money, I asked if I could pay for it. What I didn’t realize was that the city secretary was extremely busy at city hall helping voters over there who needed to find their precincts. She and I never spoke again that day, because we were both just way too busy. But I did put the word out to other people to see if they could help us.

At one point, I had a young female Army corporal in uniform come by to ask some questions about the caucus. We quickly determined that she would be ineligible to participate due to her out-of-state voter registration in Florida, but I did pitch to her the idea of showing up around 6:30 to help direct traffic and get people parked. I think I pitched that idea to several others. In fact, there were various people that we commandeered to help us throughout the day. It truly was all-hands-on-deck for this.

I am told – though I didn’t witness it – that there were indeed some volunteers helping with parking. The rec. center has a huge grassy open field across from it. Though it was soggy from the previous day’s now-melted snow, it would have to work.

Cars got stuck. There were volunteers who brought tow chains. Someone called a tow truck, that would eventually help some people. Unfortunately later during the caucus, the sight of a tow truck caused a scare when people said they were towing cars.

Problem #7: E-Scan machine messed up
The voting in my precinct was primarily on paper ballots - with only one DAO for electronic access for the disabled. The paper ballots were to be scanned in and read electronically in the E-Scan machine. At some point - I think it was early afternoon, but it was all a blur - the machine got "hung" and refused to accept any more ballots. The line of voters turning them in backed up quickly. Having experienced this in November, 2007, I unlocked the cabinet and opened up the emergency access slot on the side. This is where instead of scanning ballots in, the voter puts the ballot in a slot, and they stack up in a seperate tub from the previously scanned ballots. I turned around the slot and instructed voters to put the ballots in the slot.

I got on the phone and after a couple of busy signals, finally got in touch with someone and after 15 minutes or so, the machine was back online and ready to accept ballots. Voters started inserting them.

Here's the tricky part that to a casual observer may have looked fishy. When the line eased up, I had to get the emergency slot closed, and bring out the emergency tub to get those ballots scanned, and down with the other ballots where they belonged. So, I stood there, tub of ballots in hand - trying not to look at them or handle them too much. The election judge was a few feet away dealing with other voters. It was nothing under-the-table, but just probably looked funny to have someone running dozens of ballots through in-between voters.

I'll try to post Part II in the next few days. Part II will describe the caucus process

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Political Plagiarism, the sincerest form of flattery?

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/3/16 12:10:00 (3055 reads)

Last week, it was brought to my attention that one of our Lewisville City Council candidates, lifted a lot of the text on his website from another candidate here in Denton County in a completely different race.

To be fair, in politics, it's common to lift a particularly effective line from a political ally, and use it in one's own material. If someone has found the best way to express something, why re-invent the wheel, right?

Well, in this case, Gorena basically lifted an entire web page without permission, leaving paragraphs in the same order, and most of the wording the same: (click the image to view a larger version)

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