The Texas Progressive Alliance announced on Wednesday the annual list of “Gold Star Texans” for 2009: Ramey Ko, Calvin Tillman, State Representative Elliott Naishtat, Texas Watchdog, and Hank Gilbert. This recognition is voted on annually by the members of the Texas Progressive Alliance, the largest state-level organization of bloggers, blogs, and netroots activists in the United States.
Ramey Ko is an attorney and activist in Austin. He should be best known for his work in Asian Americans for Obama, but Republican stupidity assured us he will be best known as “the guy who held his cool while on the receiving end of a massive dose of both ignorance and racism from Betty Brown.” With extreme professionalism, he tried to help Brown understand why it would behoove her and all Texans that voting rights for Asian Texans and all Texans not fall prey to bureaucratic errors creating name mismatches. Brown's ignorance/racism and Ko's cool reasonableness drew worldwide media attention. Watch the video of their exchange.
Calvin is mayor of a tiny town at the epicenter of the Barnett Shale. Several industry giants seized DISH land and installed a several huge compressor stations and processing plants right next to neighborhoods. They built a crisscross of pipelines all through the town and on private property. He has taken a hard line with industry, crafting a strategy to get the most bang for his press releases.
Calvin and the DISH City Council spent @ 10% of their yearly budget for a private ambient air study. This is the first such study where the results were made public so that all citizens in the Barnett Shale area might benefit. The levels of toxins were amazingly high and many DISH residents are seriously ill but they are poor and do not have health insurance. Calvin worked with TDSHS and finally got them to agree to test DISH residents. This is the first time a state agency has tested residents for drilling toxins. Calvin travels to other areas and speaks about these issues. He has offered to speak and assist others and refuses any compensation for travel or time.
Calvin is largely responsible for TCEQ's changed policy, announced today, in responses to Barnett Shale air emissions. Also, he is a blogger.
State Rep. Elliott Naishtat and his Capitol Staff
While he may not be a native Texan, the work that Representative Naishtat has done for the State of Texas earns him a spot on the Texans of the Year List for 2009. Even with Voter ID putting a choke-hold on progress, Naishtat and his Capitol staff worked diligently to pass more legislation than any other member of the House during the 81st session. The Representative from Queens, who just completed his 10th session, has consistently proven himself to be an advocate for the sick and elderly, passing legislation that will create the Legislative Committee on Aging and ensuring Texas receives $15.2 million in Violence Against Women Act grants. We would be remiss in acknowledging Elliott Naishtat — as the Representative is always quick to remind people — without also recognizing his longtime staffers (Dorothy Browne, Nancy Walker and Judy Dale) who work tirelessly behind the scenes to help make Texas a better, safer place to live.
Texas Watchdog had a role in breaking stories in the just-completed Houston city elections. Though their work can, at times, be controversial, we welcome another online news organization to the Texas media landscape with our nomination of the group.
For his continuing work to defeat infrastructure privatization schemes and working with Democrats and more than a few Republicans, he helped put a stop to CDA's this past session and handed Governor Perry and Commissioner Todd Staples a rare defeat.