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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Six Key Races in Texas

    These six races are increadibly important for Texas and yet they get so little attention. Because they are so poorly covered, most people don't pay any attention to them at all. That means your efforts and your vote can go a long way in these three races. Please do what you can for these candidates.

    Texas Board of Education District 3 - Dr. Michael Soto.

    Michael was born in Corpus Christi and raised in McAllen and Brownsville, where he attended public schools throughout his youth. He received a B.A. degree from Stanford University and a Ph.D. degree from Harvard University. Since 1999 he has served on the faculty at Trinity University in San Antonio. The author of three books and numerous articles, his research and teaching focus on twentieth-century American literature and cultural history.

    To learn more, go to Michael Soto's website.

    Texas Board of Education District 10 - Dr. Judy Jennings.

    Teaching Texans, Or Why I Support our State Board of Education Candidates

    Dr. Judy Jennings is running for the State Board of Education, District 10, a far-reaching district spanning from Austin to the Houston suburbs.

    Dr. Jennings and her husband, Hal, have two children who attended Round Rock schools and two grandsons who are currently in preschool. Her daughter is a public school teacher in Williamson County and her son just returned from teaching English in South Korea.

    Dr. Jennings is currently the Director of Curriculum and Assessment at Resources for Learning, where she works to support teachers and schools. She has worked both for the Texas Education Agency and in the private sector on accountability and assessment issues.

    Dr. Jennings has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and has worked in the field of education for almost 15 years.

    Judy understands that Texans depend on our education system to provide students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in a 21st century economy. She knows that it is the State Board of Education’s job to provide educational leadership for our schools, through strong curriculum standards and factual textbooks that are free of extremist ideology.

    “As a board member, I’ll listen to parents and teachers and work with them to improve our public schools. I will serve on the board as an educator, not a partisan, because partisanship has no place in the classrooms of our neighborhood schools. I will work hard to develop a public school system worthy of our great state.”

    Your donation through ActBlue. will help Judy build a strong presence on the web and reach out to like-minded friends across Texas and across the country.

    Judy Jennings is an expert in education policy and assessment, has worked at the Texas Education Agency, and is committed to educating Texas students for the 21st Century.

    You can contribute to Judy Jennings' campaign through ActBlue.

    Texas Board of Education District 5 - Dr. Rebecca Bell-Metereau

    Dr. Rebecca Bell-Metereau is an award-winning educator at Texas State University. She has always served her community, both locally and globally. She taught English and American studies in the Peace Corps and served as a French interpreter for U.S. Air Force relief flights in Chad, one of the ten poorest countries in the world. She was a Fulbright scholar and teacher in Senegal.

    What better person to have on the Texas School Board?

    The State Board of Education sets policy for Texas public schools. But Republican extremists, such as Ken Mercer, would rather fight culture-war battles such as undermining the teaching of evolution.

    Democrat Rebecca Bell-Metereau is a professor at Texas State University, where she has been recognized for teaching excellence. She is the recipient of Fulbright, Ford Foundation and N.E.H. grants. Rebecca and her husband have two grown daughters who graduated from public schools in San Marcos, Texas. In addition to being an academic leader, Rebecca is a leader in her community, having served on the San Marcos Planning Commission.

    What better person to have on the Texas School Board?

    Your donation through ActBlue will help Rebecca build a strong presence on the web and reach out to like-minded friends across Texas and across the country.
    Please support Dr. Rebecca Bell-Metereau for State Board of Education ... and help us get Texas public schools out of the hands of the extremists and back on track.

    Republicans duck debates in the fight for our children's education: Texas State Board of Education and the Debate Debate

    You can support Rebecca through ActBlue.

    Bill White (TX-Gov)

    Bill White has been endorsed by Democracy for America:

    Bill White knows how to get stuff done. As mayor of Houston, the area led the nation in job growth -- adding more jobs than 34 states combined -- and helped thousands of New Orleans residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina resettle in Houston.

    George W. Bush and Rick Perry have been leading Texas to nowhere for 16 years. Texas needs a Governor who will work for Texans, a Governor who can lead the state out of the Bush-Perry recession and into the future. Bill White is the only candidate in the race with the experience and vision to do that.

    Here are some videos supporting Bill White:

    Texas Voices: Richard Wiles, El Paso County Sheriff:

    Houstonians from across the political spectrum describe how Bill White brought people from all backgrounds together to get results as Houston's mayor -- and he'll do the same as governor:

    Texas Voices: Violet on Fiscal Responsibility, Republicans for Bill White:

    Texas Voices: Lucy Billingsley on Texas' $18 Billion Budget Deficit :

    Here is Bill White's statement to Democracy for America:


    Bill White fights for the people he represents, and brings people together to get things done. That's why as Houston's Mayor, he's been re-elected twice with margins of 86% and 91%. During his time as mayor, the Houston area led the nation's cities in job growth, adding more jobs than thirty-four states combined.
    Bill White made Houston more efficient by reforming municipal pensions, reducing traffic delays, and cutting energy consumption even as the city grew. During his time as mayor, the government has provided more services -- including parks, libraries, and health clinics -- while consistently cutting the property tax rate and raising exemptions for seniors and disabled citizens.
    The results of his strong leadership were noticed nationally in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Bill "mobilized more than 100,000 Houstonians in the public, private business and faith-based communities to help evacuees rebuild their lives with independence and dignity," said the John F. Kennedy Foundation in presenting him the Profiles in Courage Award, "in recognition of his political courage in leading a compassionate and effective government response to the disaster."


    I am running for Governor because I want Texas to be a great state of opportunity for all people. Public education is the primary responsibility of state government, and I will focus on improving our system to ensure that Texans are prepared with the education, skills and technology they need to compete for good jobs. I will also work for increased access to healthcare, as Texas ranks first in the percentage of uninsured residents; a diversified energy portfolio with significant investment in renewables and cleaner energy; a transportation system that helps people get to and from their homes and jobs; and more affordable homeowners' insurance and electricity rates.


    Public education
    Jobs and the economy
    Access to healthcare
    Please see our website for details on these and other issues

    Grassroots Support:

    We have opened campaign offices in 10 cities because we have thousands of volunteers across the state who are supportive of our campaign, and we wanted to be able to work closely with them and provide staff support and work space.
    We rely heavily on grassroots organizations around the state to help us develop our issues and get out our message.

    DFA Values:

    This is the core of our campaign--Bill is traveling the state, almost daily, meeting with large and small groups of people from all walks of life. Since his first campaign for Mayor of Houston, Bill has relied heavily on the voices of ordinary people, in civic clubs, issue groups, churches, etc. to shape his agenda.

    Hank Gilbert, Democrat for Commissioner of Agriculture

    Democracy for America has endorsed Hank Gilbert for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture. Here is Gilbert's statement to DFA:


    Rancher and Small Businessman Hank Gilbert is a father of two with his wife of 25 years, Karla. He has spent his entire professional life in Agriculture and has fought hard to protect small farmers and ranchers from eminent domain abuse and to stop infrastructure privatization in Texas. He is a traditional grassroots candidate who is rallying Democrats all over Texas.


    Real Eminent Domain Reform and a Stop to Selling Our Roads

    Protecting private property rights has always been a priority for me. We will stop eminent domain abuse with real reform and I’ll continue to lead the fight against selling our roads to the highest bidder, burdening us with toll taxes.

    Real Food Safety

    Do you really know where our food comes from? I’ll fight for country of origin labeling for all food products and increase the number of inspectors at TDA to ensure that the food we all consume is safe and clean.

    Real Weights & Measures Oversight

    The TDA controls accuracy certifications of everything in Texas that scans, measures or weighs, whether it’s checking U.P.C scanners at the grocery store or the pumps where you buy your gasoline. As your Commissioner of Agriculture, I will make sure that inspections are increased and those who would cheat Texans are prosecuted.

    Real Texas Agriculture Marketing and Promotion

    Agriculture is the second largest industry in Texas. I will fight to open new opportunities to sell Texas agriculture products in Texas, throughout the US, and internationally in markets where it makes sense. I won’t pander to the large agribusinesses as Todd Staples does, I’ll work for all Texans who want to market their agricultural products.

    Working to Bring Bioenergy Jobs to Texas

    There is absolutely no excuse for the lack of support from the TDA for bioenergy production in this state. As Commissioner of Agriculture, I will be a tireless advocate for building a real, strong and stable bioenergy sector in this state.


    Food safety, consumer protection and leading a shift to biofuels.

    Gilbert has also been endorsed by the Bryan-College Station Eagle, Houston Chronicle, Texas AFL-CIO’s COPE, the Austin Progressive Coalition, Austin Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News.

    And here is a Tejanos endorsement video:

    Please volunteer with Hank Gilbert's campaign. Or if you can't do that, please contribute.

    Diane Trautman (TX - Harris County Tax Assessor)

    Diane Trautman is also endorsed by Democracy for America:

    Diane Trautman is a fighter. Nearly toppling an entrenched incumbent in 2008, she's running for office again, determined to return public trust to an office that has been plagued by scandal.

    Diane is working to bring more open, honest leadership to Harris County and to protect the voting rights after thousands were dropped from voting rolls and thousands more provisional ballots weren't counted in a timely manner. Diane is the sort of reform candidate Harris County needs.

    RED, WHITE & BLUE Show 914: Don Sumners & Diane Trautman:

    You can help Diane win by helping phone bank. Please email here to help: kathryn.a.freeman@gmail.com

    Here is her statement to Democracy for America:


    I have a Bachelors degree in English and a Masters degree in Education from the University of Houston as well as a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Sam Houston State University. I have over 30 years combined administrative and leadership experience in banking and education. Not only have I led large organizations, I teach others to do the same as a professor of education at Stephen F. Austin State University. As an active member of several chambers of commerce, community organizations, and Democratic clubs, I stay in touch with the needs of the community. I am proud to be wife to a very understanding husband, mother of three outstanding children, and grandmother of an adorable grandchild who all support me in my desire to bring ethical leadership to the Harris County Tax Office.


    In 2008, I was proud to be the Democratic nominee for Harris County Tax Assessor, proud to receive over half a million votes, and proud to be endorsed by the Houston Chronicle twice, once for the general election and once for the appointment after my opponent decided to quit 3 weeks after he was elected. The appointed interim tax assessor has had 2 lawsuits filed against him and now has a pending Department of Justice investigation on voter registration irregularities in that office.

    As a result I feel that public trust in this office is at an all time low. So at the urging of family, friends, and supporters, I made the decision to run again for HCTA in 2010 to restore public trust and improve customer service in that office. As a professor of education, I teach my graduate students to be ethical leaders and the importance of earning their customers trust. I intend to do the same as Harris County Tax Assessor.


    1. Due to my 2008 opponent resigning under a shroud of suspicion and lawsuits filed against the current tax assessor,one of the biggest issues constituents face is a lack of trust in the tax office. I will address this by running a more transparent office and modeling ethical and appropriate office holder behavior.
    2. Another issue for constituents is lack of customer service, specifically in the area of voter registration. Last year, thousands of voters were dropped from the rolls and thousands of provisional ballots were not counted in a timely manner. I will address this by developing a voter registration system that is fair, inclusive and works for all Harris County citizens and will promote community outreach and voter education throughout the county year round.
    3. Adequate staffing and training is a big problem in the Harris County Tax office. The past two tax assessors have cut staff in vitally important parts of the office and have had several department heads who have been accused of conflict of interest by using their position to influence voters. I would do a needs assessment for staffing all parts of the office immediately upon taking office, implement employee training programs for ethical behavior, and get rid of all political appointee department heads who know nothing about running the tax office.

    Grassroots Support:

    1. My staff has a great number of volunteer made up of friends, family, and supporters from local Democratic clubs and neighborhood groups. We are an inclusive group where all ideas are shared and all voices are heard.
    2. My staff and I reach out to voters across Harris County, the third most populous county in the nation, through a chain of "Meet and Greets" where the host puts on the coffee pot and I get to talk to people about their experiences with the tax office and how we can improve it. At each of these events, we encourage others to host a Meet and Greet in their home thereby reaching more and more people.

    DFA Values:

    I am a social progressive who believes in protecting the right to vote for every Harris County citizen. I believe in providing a quality customer service experience for all who visit the Harris County Tax Office and in running an efficient and transparent office. I am fiscally responsible because I believe that our political leaders must be accountable to the public especially where financial issues are concerned. Finally, I will work hard to increase the number of registered voters instead of decreasing our voter rolls through community outreach and cross training personnel to be voter registrars. By ensuring that more of our citizens are registered to vote, we can have a more effective and representative government where all of our citizens are participating and none are discriminated against.

    Please support these great candidates. They will help move Texas and America into the future against those forces who want to mire us in the Bush-America past.


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