Thursday, June 14, 2012

Speakers, Mayors, and Hatters

I'm scratching my head over this plank in the Texas GOP platform, recently adopted at the state GOP convention.
Texas House Leadership Caucus -- We call for the Republican members of the Texas House of Representatives to convene in caucus after each November general election to determine by secret ballot their candidate for Speaker of the House, and that rules be instituted to ensure the integrity and security of the secret ballot so that members may vote without risk of retribution by the prevailing party. We also call for the Republican members of the Texas House to vote as a unified body for their selected speaker candidate when the Legislature convenes in regular session and a vote for speaker is called on the House Floor.
After the jump, what I find curious.

I'm pretty sure the GOP is conservative. I'm also pretty sure the Texas GOP is even more so. Finally, I'm also pretty certain that having legislators choose the Speaker of the House by *secret* ballot is not what most conservatives would consider to be open and transparent government. How would we ever know for sure whether our own legislator voted our interest?

Maybe more important to open government, why aren't conservatives calling for direct election of the Speaker of the House by popular vote of the electorate in Texas?

Do you see where I'm going with this?

The City of Richardson is in the midst of a potentially divisive effort to amend the city charter to make the position of mayor a popularly elected one. The advocates of this see it as a pretty simple matter. How can anyone be against giving the people a say? These advocates are outraged over Richardson's current system of having the incoming council choose their own presiding officer, and doing it after a closed executive session at that.

In short, at the state level the critics want to make the process even more secret from the public. At the city level, the critics hate secrecy and want to open up the process, turning it over to the voters. I'm pretty sure some of the critics are one and the same in both instances.

Madness, huh? Politics is like that. Logic is not on the program. Resistance is futile. Best just sit back and enjoy the party.
It's the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life!
Source: Alice in Wonderland.


dc-tm said...

Seems like you are not just making a leap with this argument, but instead doing some pole-vaulting. Good advice though, it will be fun to watch the show. It already is fun.

Nathan Morgan said...

The Republican Party of Texas is not the government. They are an advocacy group, not unlike countless others in today's society.

The big difference here is that neither the Republican or Democrat party leaders are bound by FOIA or the Texas Open Meetings Act, just like all other private entities.

When you cross over into the Public sector, well that's where you and others seem to have a problem with transparency.

Don't go complaining about this business of transparency in public enterprise until you get the Chamber of Commerce to turn over records of their private dealings with City Hall.

Mark Steger said...

Nathan, thanks for pointing out that the Republican Party is distinct from the government. You are correct.

You might also want to point out how the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA) doesn't apply to the Texas House or Senate. They carved out an exception for themselves. If it did apply, then the GOP's supermajority would constitute a quorum and private meetings of the GOP members of the House would violate the TOMA. Conservatives know this. I'm puzzled why it's a big issue at the municipal level, but not at the state level.

glbeach said...

Well, plainly someone feels like they are not getting their 'fair share' of the spoils - where 'fair share is a bit oxymoronic. IMHO, it is simply a matter of someone trying to find leverage - and it is hard to gain traction or generate leverage unless you are doing something . . . different. Even if, as you point out, this leaves you on both sides of an argument. Of course, that may come in handy to - allowing a smarmy-mouthed politician to claim they were 'for' or 'against' the topic depending on the audience being addressed.

Nathan Morgan said...

I would submit that the people consider it to be just as important on all levels of government. With the exception of certain national interest issues, the rest of the work of government belongs to the people who should be somewhat guiding the actions of the public servants.

When government runs a-rye, the people suffer. God bless those who challenge the piety of Richardson's ruling junta.