Monday, May 28, 2007


Like most warm-blooded patriotic Texans with an interest in state government, your man on the scene Billy Clyde has been stalking the doors of the Legislative Reference Library hoping that someone will come to work and GIVE ME A DAMN COPY OF YESTERDAY’S HOUSE JOURNAL.

Sorry for yelling. That was rude. My bad.

I did get a glimpse of the draft journal this morning when I went by to say howdy to the House’s newest parliamentary staff – the Honorable Jerry Yost and the Honorable Drew Nixon. This new high-powered team took over from Spiro Agnew – who turns out to be dead – and Mike Martin, who suffered yet another self-inflicted gunshot wound and is temporarily unavailable.

The following passage intrigued me:

Mr. Dunnam of McClennan: Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Turner of Harris (not Bob Turner from Voss), in the chair: For what purpose?

Mr. Dunnan: Parliamentary inquiry.

Mr. Turner: You’re not recognized. In fact, I can’t even see you. There’s just a giant vacantness in the area from which you supposedly speak, if in fact you exist. Is someone playing a boom box down at the back mic?

Mr. Dunnam: That isn’t funny. We’re talking about democracy here. About the ability of our constituents to have a voice in the government.

Mr. Turner: Will the Sergeants please turn off the boom box.”

Then that guy who took Arvis Jones’ seat – Haggerty, I think – sought recognition, according to the journal.

Mr. Haggerty of El Paso: Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Gattis, in the chair: For what purpose, Mr. Haggerty. And don’t think for a minute that this constitutes recognition.

Mr. Haggerty: I can name all 150 House members. Want to hear me do it?”

Mr. Gattis: Sit down right this very minute, Mr. Haggerty, or my old boss, John Bradley, will throw you in our secret Williamson County Tuff On Crime Jail and have mentally ill sadistic inmates gang rape you for the rest of your soon-to-be-short life.”

Mr. Haggerty: What?

Mr. Gattis: You are NOT recognized for a question!”

Then Representative Eiland tried to tear into the new Parliamentarians, Mr. Yost and Mr. Nixon, by bringing up totally unfounded ethics complaints.

Mr. Eiland: Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Geiswiedt in the chair: For what purpose?

Mr. Eiland: I object to the two new parliamentarians. They both have outstanding Ethics Commission fines. Mr. Yost owes $100 from his ill-advised race against Senator Ratliff,. Mr. Nixon owes $200 for using his Officeholder Account to secure prostitutes on South Congress.

Mr. Geiswiedt: The jury has reached a verdict. You die!

After a long conference down front, Governor Perry pardons Representative Eiland, sparing his life and allowing House proceedings to continue. Mr. Yost and Mr. Nixon are dumped and suddenly replaced by former Representatives Sam Hudson and Keith Valuigera.

In a strange turn of events, no one agrees to take the chair so Jim Dunnan’s eight-year-old daughter – who’s up there anyway and doesn’t have much to do – takes the gavel. She turns out to be the best House Speaker since Jimmy Turman in 1961.

The budget bill and the water bill and the electric bill all pass unanimously. Tommy Merritt is elected Governor For a Day. Leo Berman adopts a truckload of Mexican immigrants, then resigns to take the ACLU job. Linda Harper-Brown struts across the House floor in a string bikini and looks good. Lon Burnam declares the Bill Of Rights a “liberal piece of Communist shit.” Dick Weekly denounces tort reform and leads a march over to the TTLA building for a fajita party.

It’s in the journal.

Sunday, May 27, 2007



TO: The Dew


DATE: May 27, 2007

RE: Getting Back In The Game

You were totally correct in your tearful analysis last night. The lame attempt to put the spotlight back on the Senate (where it rightfully belongs) by having a cuss-fight on the floor and staging a week-long Senatorial death watch were, in hindsight, fairly pathetic.

(That being said, it should be noted – under the Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery Doctrine – that the House arranged a televised cuss-fight on its floor several days ago and a couple of House members are feeling pretty puny. What a bunch of copy cats!)

After careful reflection, I strongly urge you to abandon your plan to have Senators strip you of all powers and beat you silly with a riding crop in front of a large contingent of ethnically balanced schoolchildren. The visual would no doubt be powerful, but it could convey the message that you are not a “strong leader” or “in command,” two characteristics that your polling shows are important to the voters.

Here are a few ideas I encourage you to consider:

*Ninja Stars – Expertly throw a ninja star at any Senator who dares to seek recognition. This would be MUCH more dramatic that the Speaker’s decision to simply ignore House members. (NOTE: Spend some time practicing your ninja star throwing skills down at Pease Park this morning. This could backfire on you if your aim is less than true.)

*Keel & Wilson – Hire Terry Keel and Ron Wilson to be your pimps. Shed your Wonder Bread image and go totally West Coast Gangster Rap. Never say anything that doesn’t rhyme. (Why do you rise. Up into the skies? We don’t need your lies. Do that baby cries?)

*Marry Lindsay Lohan – Though she may be a little old for you ... have Lindsay make a cameo on the Senate floor this afternoon and marry her on the spot. This moves you beyond the City-State section and gets you into the cool parts of the newspapers and magazines. Also Entertainment Tonight (aka: the REAL news).

*Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em – Invite Pitts, McCall, Keffer, et al onto the Senate floor and recognize the hell out of them Let ‘em move this and that and talk all they want. Then we’ll see which chamber is getting the most attention!

*Film Fest – Old Austin hippies have been packing the House gallery in recent days, generating yet more unwarranted attention on that heathen legislative body. Turn off the lights in the Senate, provide free beer, and hold screenings of Dazed and Confused, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Five Easy Pieces. It will be like the House doesn’t even exist.

*Slip & Slide – Why is there a huge aisle in the middle of the Senate chamber? Seems like wasted space. Install a giant slip and slide and let’s have some summer fun.

*Accent – Immediately start speaking in an heavy, exaggerated cockney British accent. Announce that you are no longer the Lieutenant Governor of Texas; you are the Minister of Silly Walks. Stop reading “the following message from the Governor” and instead say, “little Chippy sent us another love letter.”

These are the only proposals that have been successfully polled and vetted through our standard focus group process. Your idea to assassinate John Sharp has proved to be wildly unpopular with test audiences and should be shelved for the time being. Also, please don’t do anything cruel to puppies; it’s a real non-starter, politically.

I look forward to your feedback. The ninja stars will be on the dais no later than 1:00 p.m.

Saturday, May 26, 2007



I got up this morning and fetched the newspaper from the front yard. At the very top of the front page was a story that accurately reflected what I thought was just a bad dream. Either the Austin American-Statesman is playing a nasty psycho-terrorist mind game on Billy Clyde, or else your Texas House of Representatives has devolved into a state of utter dysfunction.

In any event, not exactly a win-win deal.

BC is one of those fellows who knows a very little bit about a whole lot. Not an expert in anything, really. But fairly conversant about a buncha stuff – most of it, frankly, pretty useless.

But BC was schooled in parliamentary procedure by none other than Robert E. (Big Daddy, Bevo) Johnson. It’s not a cliche to say he wrote the rules, because, uh, he actually wrote the rules.

For reasons that still elude me, Bob Johnson probably spent more time with me during the last five to seven years of his life than he did with his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his peers, etc. Looking back, it was kinda strange. I was 30 years his junior, not really in his class intellectually or professionally ... but he not only let me hang around, he actually seemed to want me around. Go figure.

Louis B pointed out something to me one day that should have been self evident were I more observant, to wit: Big Daddy would sit in his office playing computer solitaire for hours on end and never saying a word or interacting with us in any way; yet when we tried to leave, he would be offended. “Don’t run off mad,” he would say, whatever that meant. I think what it meant that he enjoyed our company; as goofy as it sounds, I take pride in knowing that Big Daddy enjoyed my company.

The point of this rambling nonsense is that (1) the House would not find itself in this situation if Big Daddy were still around; and (2) while Billy Clyde is generally a dumbass, he knows a little something about the House rules (so I got that going for me).

We can argue all day till we’re blue in the face about whether the Speaker’s absolute right of recognition supercedes any privilege contained in the underlying motion the seeker of recognition wishes to offer. Blah blah blah.

The real question is this: Just because, technically, you can do something or other, does that inherently make it right?


Billy Clyde is one of the few dudes around the Capitol these days who will freely say that he thinks Tom Craddick is a really good guy. He’s contributed a lot to the state and his community and is worthy of any and all accolades we can throw his way. Speaker Craddick is the sort of guy you ALWAYS want on your team.

But this battle isn’t about Tom Craddick. It’s about the House, as an institution and as a symbol of the people’s voice in state government. Far be it to me to suggest what path the Speaker should take – he was elected to the House before I entered first grade, for crying out loud – but Billy Clyde believes that mapping out an exit strategy or dignified departure (whether executed or not) only makes good sense.

We all do that kind of stuff every day. I don’t want to die, but I have life insurance.

Here’s the handwriting on the wall, as BC sees it. The Speaker’s floor leaders are people like Jodie Laubenberg, Bill Zedler, Linda Harper-Brown, Larry Taylor, Leo Burnam and Geanie Morrison. The opposing team has Brian McCall, Jim Keffer, Robert Talton, Jim Dunnam, Jim Pitts, Mike Krusse, Charlie Geren, Pete Gallego, Marc Veasey, Pat Haggerty, Senfronia Thompson, Todd Smith, Craig Eiland, Edmund Kuempel, Patrick Rose ... well, you get the point. Not a fair fight.

If there’s going to be a change in leadership this weekend, let’s not make it a zero-sum game. Spirit beats spite every time. When the end result is the same, what glory is there in rubbing someone’s nose in the rubbish?

There is no good reason to end a brilliant career in public service by throwing Speaker Craddick out on his ear in a painful fit of revenge and hate.

By the same token, there is no good reason – and this pains me to say – for Tom Craddick to stay in office.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Someone with lots of time on his/her hands wrote this. I don't understand it at all. But some folks think it's funny, and it allows Billy Clyde to once again post without thinking.

SESSION! The Musical

Rough Outline:

Act One

1. A Quorum is Present (Opening Day)

2. Freshman Blues (Where is My Office and How Do I Get a Key?)

3. Workin' Monday Through Wednesday (Let's Adjourn for Four Days)

4. I'm Glad You Won a Softball Game (The Resolutions Song)

5. She's 18, Right? (That Sergeant With the Ponytail)

6. Committee Assignment Montage

7. Lovin' the Lobbyists 'Til the Lobbyists Leave You

8. "Riders" on the Storm (The Appropriations Song)

9. Layin' It All Out (My First Bill in Committee)

10. Can I Get A Witness?

11. Calendar's Calypso

12. Major State (Welcome to the Floor)

13. Workin' Monday Through Wednesday (Reprise)

Intermission for Easter

Act Two

1. The Floor (Clerk Will Ring The Bell)

2. Who Works on Friday?

3. I Miss The Sun

4. L&C Is Just Alright With Me

5. It's Just a Simple Bill

6. A-C-L-U Spells Trouble

7. Point Of Order (Where Do We Go Now?)

8. Committing to Recommit

9. Everyone Needs a Companion (Will You Sponsor My Bill?)

10. Time Stands Still (Members, We're Waiting On An Amendment)

11. 10 Angry Men (See You at the Conference Table)

12. Sine Die, Sine Da, Life Goes On

13. Workin' January Through May of Every Odd-Numbered Year (Finale Reprise of "Monday Through Wednesday")

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


My childhood friend, Tom Sawyer, taught me how to get neighborhood kids to do chores for you through trickery, flattery and reverse psychology. I didn't really understand these concepts, but you can bet your sweet ass that I never painted a fence.

Anyway, I figured I'd use this skill to post something this afternoon without having to have an original thought. Some House aide wrote this parody, and it was passed on to me today by a fellow who, because he works for a non-profit association representing elected officials, wishes to remain nameless (Shannon Edmonds). Enjoy.

Yet another Real Men of Genius Parody:

Today we salute you, Mr. Member Who Does a Resolution For Everything Guy.

Singer: Mr. Member Who Does a Resolution For Everything Guy!

Someone from your district saved a cat in a tree, had their 300th birthday, tied their shoe, or pooped on the toilet for the first time by themselves.

Singer: “I’m a big-boy now!”

Was a stop-light finally fixed at your county-seat’s only intersection? Well, by GOD I’d like to add all members' names.

Choir Singers: “Please suspend the rules.”

You only authored 7 bills this session, none of which received a hearing, but you DID pass a resolution honoring every member of your Lion’s Club Bowling League.

Singer: “Steeerike!”

You probably won’t be back next session, which means the resolutions department will have to lay-off 15 full-time equivalent employees. But let the record reflect: your constituent’s chili recipe is now the OFFICIAL chili recipe of Texas, Mr. Member Who Does a Resolution For Everything Guy.

Singer: Mr. Member Who Does a Resolution For Everything Guy.

By real world standards ... not that funny. Compared to the coal bill and the water bill and the cancer bill and the radiation bill ... full belly-laugh hilarious.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Yeah yeah yeah.

Billy Clyde knows he promised to post something over the weekend. But I'm just too excited about tonight's meeting of the House Committee on Calendars. Plus he's making pot roast.

Give me a day or so and maybe I'll try (unlikely). In the meantime, you may find this national political story interesting.

P.S. We should be seeing a LOCO AND DISSENT Calendar any day. Feel free to leave your suggestion in the comments section and BC will pass it on.

Saturday, May 5, 2007


Blame it on Bill Clyde being a hypersensitive New Millennium kind of feller, I guess. But he detects that there’s been entirely too much personal intra-chamber bickering in your Texas House this whole dadgum session.

I had me one of my world-renowned deep-thinkin’ spells this morning while in line at the dry cleaners (absent an abnormally high number of spilled food or exploding Diet Coke accidents, I now have plenty of shirts to carry me through to sine die). The BC noggin was racing with innovative ideas to bring more respectful behavior to House proceedings.

Some proposals Billy Clyde took off the table because they were simply not practical at this late date. For example, House rules could permit each non-chairman to pick two committees on which to serve as Chairman of the Day. A very inclusive idea, based loosely on the Pastor of the Day and Doctor of the Day (a.k.a. known as my roving primary care physician) programs that have served Texans so well for so long. Again, a little late for this go-round. But this reform initiative just screams "Interim Study Committee."

The only really solid, meaningful idea I came up with that could easily be put into place this session and actually make a difference is so simple yet makes so much sense that Billy Clyde can’t believe that it hasn’t been around as long as the institution itself.

Mandatory Nicknames.

Here’s kind my rough-draft thinking on the deal:

1) Every member would fill out a confidential Nickname Preference Card. In cases in which two or more members select the same nickname, the Speaker’s office shall immediately notify the members, who can negotiate amongst themselves. If the members cannot reach an accommodation, the member with the most Willie Nelson albums (tapes and CDs not permitted to avoid cheating) wins and that person’s chosen nickname will be placed on the Nickname Confirmation List. A new Nickname Preference Card(c) shall immediately be given to the loser(s).

2) The Chief Clerk or, in the event the Chief Clerk is a poor typist, the Chief Clerk’s designee, shall compile the Nickname Confirmation List and affix a very official-looking House stamp on the list and Xerox one hundred and fifty (150) copies and place the list in each member’s box. Upon delivery to the members’ boxes, the Speaker shall announce to the House, if in session, or immediately upon all members registering on the next calendar day, the following: “Members, listen up now. The Nickname Confirmation Lists are in your boxes.”

3) Nickname Confirmation Lists would have to lay out for 12 hours after the announcement. Except we all know that members (not to mention Billy Clyde) won’t be able to wait that long, so this rule is just automatically suspended. No motion necessary. The Nickname Confirmation List shall immediately be placed on the Emergency of Epic Proportion Calendar and take precedence over any and all other matters before the House.

4) Before proceeding to action on the Nickname Confirmation List, the House shall observe a three-minute, uh, whatever the opposite of “moment of silence” is. During this period, members may sing, make funny noises, bark, yell “YOU THE MAN!,” or otherwise express themselves in accordance with Section 8 of the Texas Constitution’s Bill of Rights. On motion of the Chair or any one member, time may be extended an additional three minutes – then the games must begin.

5) The House would proceed to the Nickname Confirmation List. The Speaker shall recognize members for motions to sever by stating, “Hey, y’all be quiet, and bring your motions to sever down front.”

6) A member who moves to sever shall be given two minutes to explain the reasons for the motion, For example: “I move to sever on the grounds that he didn’t give this any thought whatsoever, it lacks the slightest hint of imagination, and the literary reference upon which the nickname is based is so obscure as to render the nickname meaningless.

4) A member whose nickname is challenged has 20 seconds to move to table the motion or to leave the nickname to the Will Of The House. If a majority of members present and voting decides to sever or reject a nickname, the Chair shall accept substitute nicknames from the floor from the first five members who hustle down front.

5) Certain nicknames shall be prohibited. “Daniel” cannot be “Dan” or “Michael” be “Mike” or “Osama” be “Sam” or ... well, you get the idea. Also, members with pre-existing well-established nicknames (Charles “Doc” Anderson” or O.H. “Ike” Harris) must choose a new nickname for purposes of conducting legislative business.

6) Once the final Nickname Confirmation List is finalized and approved by the House, the following terms may not be used for the duration of the session: Mr. Speaker or Speaker XYZ; Mr. Chairman or Chairman XYZ; Representative or Representative XYZ; or any variety of Mister, Missus, Ms, or anything remotely close. Remember, nicknames only.

Imagine, if you will, the comity and sense of goodwill created by dialogue like:


“Snoopy, for what purpose?”

“Will Rerun yield for a question?”

“Rerun, do you yield?

“I do.”

“Rerun yields, Snoopy.”

“Thank you, Mudcat.
Rerun, is this the same proposal that Uncle Duke, Jailbreak, and Spanky brought before Agent 99's committee earlier this session?”

“No, Snoopy, this applies to the valuation of rolling stock statewide and was unanimously reported from Peach Fuzz’s panel. It covers every county.”

“Thanks Rerun. You have a good amendment.”

“Rerun sends up an amendment, King Tut moves to table.
Homeys, vote aye, vote no. It’s a record vote. Disco can ring the beeeeell, ring the bell.”

Billy Clyde would eat this up faster than Tadpole polishes off Wavy Gravy’s homemade chicken fried steaks.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


Folks with normally good sense for some reason (let’s hope it can be blamed on deskmates) voted for House Bill 489 today. Billy Clyde finds it difficult to believe that people like Robby Cook, Todd Smith and John Smithee knowingly voted for Leo Burman’s silly-ass traffic bill, which actually passed on second reading yesterday cuz no one was paying attention before dying today.

When I told some folks about this vote in the cafeteria this afternoon, they didn’t believe me at first. Fortunately, I had my laptop and we looked it up, and they examined my hard evidence – actually TLS’s hard evidence – and said, “Damn!”

Here’s a list of House members whose deskmates misvoted them:

Allen, Alma(D); Anderson®; Berman®; Callegari®; Christian®; Cohen(D); Cook, Robby(D); Corte®; Crabb®; Crownover®; Darby®; Delisi®; Driver®; Eissler®; Farias(D); Garcia(D); Goolsby®; Hartnett®; Herrero(D); Hilderbran(R); Jackson, Jim®; Jones, Delwin®; King, Phil®; King, Susan®; Latham®; Leibowitz(D); Macias(R); Miller(R); Parker(R); Riddle(R); Smith, Todd(R); Smithee(R); Solomons(R); Swinford(R); Vaught(D); West, Buddy®; Woolley®; Zedler®

Representative Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles, who is smart and fairly hot, and Representative Harold V. Dutton Jr, who is kinda smart but is definitely not hot, offered up a third reading amendment to exempt kids, senior citizens, and crazy people. (Not A Joke. See But that mitigating amendment was not enough to get Leo 40 votes on final passage (he garnered 38). This bill had Century Club written all over it.

Can someone please explain to me why (1) this bill found its way on the General State Calendar during the beginning of crunch time and (2) people think Representative Berman is a conservative when all he wants to do in the Legislature is have the government regulate and monitor and nanny regular ordinary citizens?

As a very, very conservative right-wing rural red-neck, about the only House member who makes sense to me these days is Donna Howard, an Austin progressive. But please don’t take that out on Representative Howard. (Editors Note: Donna Howard and Charlie Howard are NOT married.) We live in a Capitol World in which Kip Averitt and Steve Ogden are considered big liberals, so go figure. I can’t.

The bill itself was not that important and was unlikely to affect you. But just the notion of setting up all this new Big Brother BS seems peculiar to me. The Republicans gained a majority in the House and Senate. So last week, on the exact same day, the House legalized marijuana and the Senate, not to be outdone, passed a free needle exchange bill for intravenous drug users. If thought about properly, Billy Clyde – true conservative that he is – could probably agree to a drug legalization deal. But never would he imagine that Jerry Madden and Bob Deuell would be leading the charge.

BC has about three more weeks in his lobby career. So be nice. This system has gotten so convoluted that I have a major brain ache.