Good evening everyone!
As you’ve all no doubt come to know and expect at roughly this time every day, it is again my great honor (and, even more so, pleasure) to present to you the events, happenings, and hum-drums of today’s events, conveniently summarized into email format. Especially targeted towards the abnormally large number of people absent today, it is my greatest hope that you find these words as captivating, informative, and enthralling as I did. With that in mind… Enjoy!
MORNING: (P.S., I think I’m going to more or less permanently implement this segmented format from now on. It flows well)
This morning, we met not at our normal campaign building, but at the KLRU studios on Dean Keaton and Guadalupe. Why, you may happen to ponder? It was certainly NOT because of convenience of access or decent parking, both of which were to be found in typical downtown-Austin style. That is, to say, that they weren’t to be found at all. However, it was because today was a great opportunity to attend a very unique experience. You see, (if you are still perplexed), at 10:30 this morning, Evan Smith of Overheard was taping an interview with Michael Morton to be aired at a later date. And, being a public broadcasting network, naturally, the public was welcome to the taping as well. And it was an quite a distinct event to be in attendance, the likes of which have been paralleled only by none other than the state democratic convention itself. For those of you unfamiliar, Michael Morton made state and national headlines when he was exonerated via DNA evidence from prison after nearly 25 years, initially wrongly convicted of the 1987 murder of his wife. During the interview, Mr. Morton retold the events of his story from his perspective, from the day he discovered his wife had been murdered up to his feelings that he carries with him even today. What I personally found most surprising was his personal calmness and lack of bitterness towards anybody, especially the flawed justice system that cost him so much of his life. And I find that admirable amongst the highest of levels. Afterwards, he took a few questions from the audience off the record and we left the studio.
LUNCH: (Okay, so much for keeping the format the same. There’s always room for improvement.)
When we came back to the building, we were greeted by a sight akin to Christmas morning. In our main “conference room”, we walked in to find six computer systems set up and ready to use. Unfortunately, we did not utilize them today. It is not much of a stretch, however, to envision us using them sometime in the near future for VAN or data entry. But that’s not even the best of it. Right outside the door in the hallway, hung high on the wall near the ceiling, was something that is worth its weight in gold, oil, and diamonds. That’s right; a Wi-Fi router. A real, glorious, magnificent box of limitless potential, perched regally upon its mighty throne to bestow the knowledge of the world unto all who know its secrets. I don’t know about any of y’all, but I can’t wait to take advantage of a stable internet connection. It. Will. Be. Awesome.
But, back to a relevant topic now. That was merely my expression of my peerless infatuation with something that is, in my opinion, time to be properly exploited.
Anyway, today our featured lunch speaker was Mr. Michael Li, without a doubt the go-to man about anything pertaining to the Texas re-districting fiasco. Aside from operating a blog completely devoted to nothing but that topic, Mr. Li also works with Be One Texas, a group dedicated to coordinate political donors and groups in order to streamline the interaction process and promote greater effectiveness. From a business-political aspect, he had some interesting points to outline. He began with the problems with political organizing and major fundraising in Texas- the kinds of things Be One specializes in combating: Lack of coordination, lack of accountability, low voter turnout, and weak messaging. He elaborated lack of coordination as a problem between multiple groups; major political donors, unions, foundations, individuals, and others, causing not only a lack of efficiency but also a lack of progress. He also outlined one of the biggest problems with Texas- the fact that in 2010, we had the worst voter turnout out of all 50 states. And historically, among minority voters; young voters, African Americans, Latinos- the kind of people who need to vote the most- the turnout was dismally lowest with regard to all aspects. Another problem with Texas, according to him, is the fact that the state’s democratic party budget is pathetically minute, and while money alone does not win elections, it certainly helps. He did, however, outline a plan of sorts to bring funding into where it needs to go; bringing investors together, offering incentives and ideological benefits, and finally bringing the parties to the table to get to action. And lastly he stressed that grassroots campaigning works, despite how dismal things may seem at times, citing examples such as Colorado, Minnesota, and others. Mr. Li was without a doubt the one person that has spoken to us so far that really is in tune to the business-political connection.
After a brief interlude, he gave us another presentation about another of his areas of specialty, redistricting. He went more in-depth than previous lessons we have had on the topic, outlining legal regulations behind the process and particular areas of acute insight as to what proposed district maps courts have thrown out, and why. He explained the connection between redistricting and the voter rights act, and why certain parts of it are controversial and have been decried as potentially unconstitutional.
Our second speaker of the day was Mr. Chris Turner, state representative hopeful who is running in the newly created representative district 101, which includes parts of Arlington and Grand Prairie. He previously served as representative in District 96 from 2009-2011 until the redistricting fiasco and 2010 Democratic bloodbath shuffled around his position significantly. He spoke to us of his campaign stories, history, and strategy, showing us some examples of campaign literature that proves you can use negative campaigning while still staying on the positive side, all while retaining a sense of chivalry about it. Mr. Turner, the Travis County Democrats wish you the best of luck on your upcoming election. Keep working towards turning Texas blue, one district at a time!
After Mr. Turner spoke, we received comprehensive, in-depth training on the stereotypical accomplice of grassroots campaigning that is block-walking, from Stacy and Angeline from Matt Stillwell’s campaign. You may remember Mr. Stillwell form a few weeks back- he is running for state representative in an open seat in a newly created district in Williamson county. I have to admit, just from the training, I could already get a sense that blockwalking was not only fun and rewarding, but also extremely relevant! A few of us went out to walk parts of Matt’s district to spread the word about his campaign; unfortunately I was not amongst them, but to those handful who were, thank you for working towards the future of this Texas politics! For I am confident that Matt Stillwellis the future; in a few decades, he will be one of the people Texas politicos look back on as one of the early trailblazers who laid the path to returning Texas to what it truly is; a democratic state. Matt, I can assure you I’m not the only one who’s going to be blockwalking for you very soon!
REMINDERS, NOTES, AND ET CETERA:
-Tomorrow’s featured speaker will be Evan Smith, the host of Overheard from this morning. Christina will have the honor of introducing him.
-Wearing our Strama shirts today definitely threw off our planned schedule. We didn’t officially discuss this today, but since I know you’ll all be seeing this anyway, I’m going to declare a self-appointed executive order and say let’s flip-flop the schedule for Tuesday and Wednesday and wear our gray TCDP shirts tomorrow. There’s obviously going to be some confusion, so if some people get it wrong, no big deal.
Well folks I think that’s about it! Hopefully I’ve covered everything of relevant importance (and I’m confident I did), so with that in mind, I bid you all a relaxing rest of your evening and look forward to seeing you tomorrow!
Chief Correspondent, The Daily Brief
Hendrickson High School