Chad’s Morning Brief: San Antonio City Council in the Spotlight, The Latest on US Involvement in Syria, and More
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of September 5, 2013. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.
1. San Antonio City Council in the Spotlight (link)
The San Antonio City Council could pass a controversial ordinance today that some argue would ban Christians from serving or doing business with the City Council.
But in San Antonio, conservatives are pushing back against one proposed stride — an ordinance that's virtually identical to measures adopted in every other major Texas city.
The San Antonio City Council is expected to vote Thursday on the ordinance that is drawing top-line Republican opposition from such heavyweights as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
The ordinance would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Nearly 180 cities nationwide have adopted similar protections, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
San Antonio is the nation's seventh-largest city, and Democratic Mayor Julian Castro is a rising star who delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention last year. Yet the conservative backlash in his backyard is a weed in Castro's narrative that San Antonio already embraces the political values that will spread statewide and turn Texas blue.
For Republicans, who hold every statewide office in Texas and mock predictions that a Democratic resurgence is on the horizon, the San Antonio proposal has rallied supporters and become an early stakeout ahead of the 2014 primaries.
Hundreds of congregants from black and Latino churches have also rallied against the ordinance on the steps of City Hall.
"I consider this an attempt to impose a liberal value system over the objection of millions of Texans," said Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who as a state Senator sponsored a constitutional amendment that defined marriage in Texas as between one man and one woman. "It actually discriminates against those with deeply held religious views by pushing this agenda to the extreme."
Staples is running for lieutenant governor next year. One of his primary opponents, state Sen. Dan Patrick, called the ordinance "runs counter to the Holy Bible and the United States Constitution." Cruz said he was encouraged to see "Texans standing up to defend their religious freedoms."
Castro said the opposition to what he called an "overdue" amendment was disappointing.
"These days, unfortunately, it's campaign season," Castro said. "What else would you expect?"
Attention surrounding the ordinance spread far beyond San Antonio last month when City Councilwoman Elisa Chan was caught on tape calling homosexuality "disgusting" and arguing that gays should not be allowed to adopt. The comments were surreptitiously recorded during a staff meeting by a former aide, who then shared the audio with the San Antonio Express-News.
Chan has defended her comments and has vowed to stand for freedom of speech and right to privacy. During a packed hearing about the ordinance last week, Chan received several standing ovations.
She has called for voters to decide the issue with a ballot referendum rather than put it in the hands of the council.
Chuck Smith, executive director of the advocacy group Equality Texas, said claims that the ordinance would result in religious infringement are untrue.
"In the context of public accommodation, you can say, 'I think you're disgusting, I think you're going to go to hell — would you like baked potatoes or fries with that order?'" Smith said. "It does not suppress any expression of their beliefs, religious or otherwise."
It wouldn't surprise me at all to see San Antonio pass this ordinance.
2. Syria (link)
Liberals accused President Bush of rushing to war against Iraq even though he spent two years building a case and coalition. Those same liberals though aren't saying a word about what Democrats and President Obama are doing now.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee narrowly approved a modified war resolution Wednesday afternoon by vote of 10-7 with one member, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), voting present. The committee's action allows Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to bring the measure to the floor as early as Monday, following a break for the Jewish holidays. That would allow a vote by the full Senate as soon as Wednesday, giving the Senate a chance to pass a war resolution before the House has a chance to craft and pass a resolution of its own.
But some GOP Senate offices are upset with what they see as a rush by Democratic leadership to pass the war authorization outside the rules that govern how legislation goes through the committee process.
“This is a rush to war behind closed doors,” one senior GOP Senate aide said. “We were told there was a need to have a thoughtful and public debate about how this nation goes to war, but this seems to be about simply getting a resolution done to cover the president.”
According to Senate rules, hearings should be notified seven days in advance, business meetings should be notified at least three days in advance, and members should have 24 hours to consider legislative text before having to vote on it. A spokesman for Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) pointed out that the chairman and ranking member of the committee have the discretion to call a business meeting earlier if they both agree.
"This has been an open process under a shortened timeline where senators' views from across the spectrum have been solicited and welcomed. With an agreement between the chairman and ranking member to proceed after hours of hearings, briefings, and meetings, the committee pursuant to the rules is proceeding with the business meeting," said Spokesman Adam Sharon.
The committee had announced it would debate and vote at 11:30 Wednesday morning on a resolution to authorize Obama to strike Syria. The resolution, the result of a last-minute compromise between Menendez and committee ranking Republican Bob Corker (R-TN), was given to senators the previous evening. Amendments were due at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, before the classified briefing for members with Secretary of State John Kerry and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had ended.
The committee’s meeting was delayed after Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) wrote to Menendez requesting the Syria resolution be taken off the agenda. Johnson later withdrew that request, two Senate aides said. Around that time, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced he could not support the resolution in its current form, endangering the resolution’s passage if it came up for a vote.
That set off two and a half hours of furious backroom negotiations before the hearing finally commenced just after 2 p.m. During those behind-the-scenes discussions, McCain and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) teamed up to craft an amendment that would add language stating the policy of the United States to pursue a reversal of the momentum on the ground in Syria as a means to encourage a political solution between the regime and the opposition.
Following the vote, there remained resentment among some Republican Senate offices who feel the leadership rushed the process to meet an arbitrary deadline.
“On an issue of this much importance you would hope the rules and procedures would be followed to ensure a full and robust debate,” the GOP senate aide said.
3. Voter ID (link)
Democrats are pretty upset that nothing bad has happened in Edinburg with their election and Voter ID. However now Democrats are claiming we won't see the real effects of Voter ID until the state-wide elections.
The true test of how voter ID will affect voters — and whether it will sway elections — won’t come next month after a special election in Edinburg.
And it might not even come this year.
That’s the assessment of at least one opposition leader, Chad Dunn, an attorney with Houston-based Brazil and Dunn who represents plaintiffs in a current lawsuit seeking to block the law. It requires voters to furnish one of several specified forms of ID before casting a ballot, the most common being a state-issued driver’s license or ID card.
It’s hard to determine the effect before next year's state elections, Dunn added, because turnout for local elections is paltry. Elections have been held in Galveston and are ongoing in the Rio Grande Valley, but the true test will be a statewide or heavily contested election in a toss-up or majority-minority district.
“I don’t expect the law to be enjoined by the primary in March, or whenever it gets moved back because of redistricting,” Dunn said, linking voter ID and another volatile issue, the Legislature’s redistricting efforts, which are also tied up in litigation. The court battle makes it possible the primary elections could be delayed.
Former state Rep. Aaron Peña, an Edinburg native who switched parties in 2011 and championed ballot-box integrity after becoming a Republican, said turnout here is a legitimate test to gauge the effects of the law.
“I know my town, I grew up here. It’s not as big an issue as has been portrayed by the left,” he said. “I am curious to see if there is anyone who does statistics on this election. If there’s a sizeable issue, I am going to be one of the first to say something.”
Peña said he could support is expanding the pool of allowed credentials to include student IDs. But for now, he added, the system is working.
Also at play is how election officials handle complaints or missteps, Dunn said. In Bexar County, he said, officials are likely to resolve issues quickly regardless of political allegiance, race or any other factor. In others, not so much.
“In counties like Harris, which is completely on the voter suppression bandwagon, whatever problems there are, aren’t getting worked out,” he said.
There is also a new twist with respect to the state’s free IDs, the election identification certificates. Those documents can be used only in an election and are given to voters who furnish proof of eligibility, like a birth certificate. Opponents of voter ID say that although the ID itself is free, the costs associated with obtaining the underlying documents needed to get one is the same as a modern-day “poll tax.”
The state is considering waiving the $22 it charges to obtain a new birth certificate, provided applicants show they need it to get the free ID to vote.
Only idiots compare Voter ID to a poll tax. We have seen in other states that Voter ID is fine. The Democrats here hate it, but that is the truth.
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These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of The Chad Hasty Show. Tune in mornings 8:30-11am on News/Talk 790 KFYO, streaming online at kfyo.com, and now on your iPhone and Android device with the radioPup App. All guest interviews can be heard online in our podcast section after the show at kfyo.com.