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Username: Karl-Thomas Musselman
PersonId: 2
Created: Wed Jan 18, 2006 at 07:22 PM CST
Karl-Thomas Musselman's RSS Feed
Web Page: http://twitter.com/karltm
Email: karltm@gmail.com

I am a 29 year old Govt graduate of UT-Austin. I became politically active due to Howard Dean. I've worked with statewide, countywide, and local campaigns for candidates and issues primarily in Texas.  

Celebrating My 10th (and Final) Anniversary of Blogging at Burnt Orange Report

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 10:21 PM CDT

I've always felt that life is guided by a certain sort of symmetry, so it is fitting that today, 10 years to the day after my first official post as part of the Burnt Orange Report Family, I offer my last.

I came into politics in Austin at what seemed like a unique moment in time. It was 2003, Texas mid-decade redistricting had gripped the state and national conversation. Tom DeLay, Tom Craddick, Rick Perry, David Dewhurst, and a host of statewide GOP officials set the tone for what became a decade of minimally rotated incumbency. The roots of Texas politics today stem from shifts in the nature of politics that began then. Wendy Davis's Gubernatorial campaign and resulting contest in SD-10 highlights the unfortunate success of this power grab from the voters- less than 5% of ALL Texas State Senate, House, and Congressional, SBOE, and Court of Appeals seats could charitably be labeled competitive.

That happened.

Of course, a lot of stuff has happened, but the degree to which Texas has exported candidates, tactics, and celebrity to the national scene probably makes it the most important one to reflect on.

I was 19 when my first words appeared here. A lot of different stuff mattered then. This week I turned 29. And yeah, different stuff matters now. But it is frustrating to turn to politics and see so little having changed during that time. Especially because I really do have a passion for politics, the numbers, and what our democratic processes tell us about the nature and mood of the people who are supposed to be in charge of steering the Republic- voters.

This stagnation in our process, from the state level right on down to the local level in Austin, concerns me. Writing about it does not engender one to those who have the power to change the status quo. Low turnout, incumbency, and a variety of established interests have worked together to create a ruling class that is less about partisanship than it is about power and control over voters- voters who don't necessarily share the opinions of the the even larger nonvoting public.

Believe me, I've wanted to step away entirely. Politics can be sickening. Working in politics is often worse and probably requires its own Obamacare plan. It's just that the work is that important. Unfortunately, that work can no longer be done by offering an excess of free analysis (aka- free advice). Financially, it would be impossible. While it is an off-off year, I've made maybe ~$10,000 so far (a minor fraction of that from BOR). I do place a premium on politics but for what I need to do professionally, blogging doesn't make the ends meet and I don't see that changing in the foreseeable future. And practically speaking, BOR's new direction does not necessitate my maintaining co-ownership or involvement in PAC activities.

So in the coming days, whenever the appropriate forms of government are not shutdown or closed, I'll be officially "formerly of" Burnt Orange Report after a solid decade of what has been an incredible, wild ride with National Progressives, Texas bloggers, Austin Insiders, UT Student Government, and the University Democrats. Together you make up a string of history, which I hope will be preserved for a long time to come.

For the questions about "What Next?"- Don't worry, because I'll be just as, if not more, involved as a result. My voice will still be out there as it always finds a place. I'm just ready to approach politics, just as I have life, from a different perspective.

-KTinTX (DK UID: 3763, BOR UID: 2)

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Texas Returns to Netroots Nation for #NN13 in San Jose, CA

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:00 AM CDT

By the time this is posted I'll be mid-air on my way to California to attend the 8th annual gathering of "The Netroots" and everything that has evolved around it over the past decade. More Texans are coming in the following days including half a dozen I'm proud to say from the Burnt Orange Report staff itself. We'll be large enough to field our own Pub Quiz trivia team and there are Texans on panels and fundraisers already planned with a Texas focus.

Below is a list of the Texas-related events, programs, and panels we're aware of so far. Texans attending the conference have a facebook group as well. Details on the multitude of awesome sessions available can be found here on the NN13 online schedule. We'll be reporting back all week with staff updates and interviews so look forward to that as well.

Organizing Beyond Elections: Judicial Vacancies are the Keys to a Generation of Change

Starts: Thursday, Jun. 20 at 10:30 AM-11:45 AM
Room: 210 BF
Click for more info.

Former BOR Editor Matt Glazer is a panelist!

Battleground Caucus: Texas

Starts: Thursday, Jun. 20 at 2:00 PM-2:45 PM
Room: 210 CG
Click here for more info.

This is the Texas Caucus- come join us!

You Get Paid to Do This? Tips for Supporting Your Blog through Advertising and Fundraising

Starts: Thursday, Jun. 20 at 3:00 PM-4:15 PM
Room: 210 DH
Click here for more info.

This panel is moderated by BOR Editor Katherine Haenschen!

Make It Pop: Using Data Visualisation To Understand What You've Done, are Doing and Should Do

Starts: Friday, Jun. 21 at 4:30 PM-5:45 PM
Room: Marriott Ballroom 5/6
Click here for more info.

One of the trainers, Dheeraj Chand, lives in Austin!

Fundraiser for Battleground Texas

Starts: Friday, Jun. 21 at 4:30 PM
Where: Azucar Latin Bistro & Mojito Bar, 71 E San Fernando St, San Jose, California 95113
Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

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House and Senate Redistricting Hearings Set for Around Texas

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 02:30 PM CDT

The House and Senate Select Committees on Redistricting have set public hearings (on short notice) around Texas. Mark your calendar if you happen to live in one of these cities. Details to come on what actions you can take. Hearing begin as soon as tomorrow.


Thursday, June 6th, 2:00pm
DART Headquarters
1401 Pacific Ave, Dallas TX 75202

Monday, June 10th, 2:00pm
VIA Metro Center, Terry Eskridge Community Room
1021 San Pedro Ave, San Antonio TX 78212

Wednesday, June 12th, 2:00pm
University of Houston - Main Campus
Michael J. Cemo Hall, Room 100D
4800 Calhoun Rd, Houston TX 77004


Thursday, June 6th 9am
Texas State Capitol
Capitol Extension, Room E 1.036 (Finance)
Austin, TX

Friday, June 7th, 5pm
Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi
HRI Conference Center
6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78412

Saturday, June 8th 11am
University of Houston - Main Campus
Michael J. Cemo Hall
4800 Calhoun Rd, Houston, TX 77004

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The Anonymous Pink Flyer Attacking Ron Nirenberg in District 8 Runoff

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Wed Jun 05, 2013 at 01:00 PM CDT

Given the interest in yesterday's report on the anti-gay activities of San Antonio runoff candidate Rolando Briones, this post serves as a follow up. Below is the anonymous pink flyer that was mailed to some voters in San Antonio District 8 (with no disclaimer or reply-address).

If this did come from Briones camp, it certainly would fit a pattern of behavior. It's hard to look at this and not see gay-baiting at work. Of course, that's just one of a multitude of over-the-top associations (Bill Ayers!) and accusations.  But those really play a supporting role- all intended to make you wonder if Ron Nirenberg might just be too good looking, you know, because we all know what *that* means... to older voters in northwest San Antonio likely to vote in a June runoff.

Haven't we outgrown this in campaigns, yet?

The Express-News has endorsed Nirenberg. Early voting continues through next Tuesday, June 11 at these locations. Election Day is Saturday, June 15th.

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Anti-Gay Activity in San Antonio District 8 Runoff Election

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Tue Jun 04, 2013 at 01:00 PM CDT

Update: We have posted a copy of the anonymous pink campaign mailer in this follow-up post.

Early Voting began yesterday in San Antonio as (few) voters headed to the polls to determine runoff elections in Districts 5 and 8. In the District 8 race to replace Councilman Reed Williams in northwest San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg is the apparent front-runner having nearly winning 50% outright last month. Opposing Nirenberg, is Rolando Briones who is supported by the outgoing incumbent. But in an attempt to skew to the right for the low turnout runoff, Briones seems to be engaging in some questionable gay-baiting behavior.

Since coming in second to Nirenberg in May, Briones has joined with anti-gay religious and conservative voices in opposing Mayor Castor's call to approve LGBT protections in the city's non-discrimination ordinances. As reported on QSanAntonio.com...

Rolando Briones (pictured at far left), candidate in the runoff election for City Council District 8, has aligned himself with Pastor Gerald Ripley and his followers in opposing the inclusion of LGBT protections in the city's non-discrimination ordinances.

Ripley, who represents Voices of Marriage, along with representatives of the Texas Leadership Coalition, the San Antonio Family Association and the Responsible Government Coalition held a press conference on the steps of City Hall on May 22.

The groups not only oppose the ordinance changes but they also want to roll back the domestic partnership benefits that were granted to the same-sex partners of city employees in 2011. Additionally, they are against Mayor Castro's appointment of a liaison to the LGBT community.

Briones was at the press conference but did not speak from the podium. Instead, a statement was read on his behalf by David Rosa, who last year ran for the 20th District Congressional seat against Joaquin Castro who won the race handily.

Rose prefaced reading Briones statement saying he "practices his Catholic faith, is the father of three daughters and an independent businessman." Briones statement, which was not made available upon request, included opposition to the LGBT protections because they impose "values that San Antonio does not want." Previous speakers, representing the sponsoring organizations, warned about San Antonio becoming "San Francisco on the River" and how LGBT-related benefits and ordinances "destroy" families if that gives you a sense of the lot Briones was throwing himself in with that day.

Fast forward to this past weekend when some voters in District 8 received an anonymous attack mailer directed at Briones's opponent Ron Nirenberg. Click here continue reading for more details.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 292 words in story)

Equality Texas Releases House Report Card for 83rd Session

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Thu May 30, 2013 at 06:05 PM CDT

It's refreshing to say that it was a good session for Equality Texas.  They tracked a record 31 bills in their Legislative Agenda, including multiple pieces of legislation that were filed for the first time ever, bills that advanced out of committee for the first time, and two bills that have been sent to the Governor for signature. They also saw the successful defeat of five bad bills, including an amendment that would have defunded gender & sexuality centers, legislation targeting school districts that offer competitive insurance benefits, and an amendment allowing student organizations to ignore campus nondiscrimination policies.

As such, there was plenty of data on which to score legislators, admittedly, a complex process. Here's the explanation given by Equality Texas.

Rankings of legislators are always tricky. It's difficult to include all the little things that happen behind the scenes, the influence of members on each other, or the true motivations or beliefs of individual members. That said, it's important to acknowledge the public actions of the people elected to represent us. In compiling this score card we considered public votes, authorship of pro- and anti-LGBT legislation, filing of resolutions acknowledging the LGBT community and committee votes on issues affecting the LGBT community. Behind the scenes work and advocacy was not included.

We've given each member of the Texas House a letter grade. The best lawmakers got an "A+," the worst an "F-" (that's how bad they are, we had to invent a grade).

Click below the fold to see the Top 10 Best & Worst members of the Texas House.  

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 256 words in story)

Krause Amendment (Finally) Dies in Conference

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Wed May 29, 2013 at 01:00 PM CDT

What started as HB 360, died, and was brought back to life in the form of 78-67 vote to amend SB 215 finally died a final death in conference. On Saturday, May 25th, the Senate adopted the Conference Committee Report on a 31-0 vote, and on Sunday, May 26th, the House adopted the Conference Committee Report on a 135-5 vote.

Bad legislation highlights the sausage making (and unmaking) in the legislature's processes.

Click below the fold to see the actual page from the conference report which killed Rep. Matt Krause's bill to allow student organizations to ignore university non-discrimination policies.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 12 words in story)

Boy Scout Delegates Vote 61-38 to Allow Gay Scouts (But Not Adults)

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Thu May 23, 2013 at 06:20 PM CDT

Just hours ago, the approximately 1400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council adopted a change in policy that would allow gay scouts to be members by a margin of 61%-38%. Gay adults would still be ineligible to serve, leaving BSA exposed to criticism from both conservative and LGBT advocates as well as opening itself up to new legal vulnerabilities according to some.

The policy will become effective January 1, 2014. The National Committee additionally noted that because of the expansive process involved, it has "no plans to further review this matter."

"Based on growing input from within the Scouting family, the BSA leadership chose to conduct an additional review of the organization's long-standing membership policy and its impact on Scouting's mission. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change.

"Today, following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote.

Read the full statement from BSA.

The public at large has been polled about this outcome.  

In the new poll, 63 percent of Americans support allowing gay scouts to join, and the public opposes the plan to continue to ban gay adults from Boy Scout leadership by a 56 to 39 percent margin. The results contrast with a USA Today/Gallup poll last year, where only 42 percent said openly gay adults should be able to serve as leaders.
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Tom DeLay's Lawyer James Bopp Drafts Response to Boy Scout Policy on Homosexuality

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Thu May 23, 2013 at 04:05 PM CDT

Maybe best known as being Tom DeLay's lawyer, James "Jim" Bopp recently drafted a letter to the Boy Scouts of America regarding potential legal exposure from the proposed "split-decision" solution to the organizations ban on gay scouts. With delegates having voted just hours ago and the results still unknown as of this writing, reading his review could be prescient or merely an entertaining footnote.

Still, a good read either way. Check it out below the fold.  

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 9 words in story)

Texas House Votes to Allow Student Organizations to Ignore University Non-Discrimination Policies

by: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Thu May 16, 2013 at 09:30 AM CDT

What was supposed to have been dead when HB 360 ended its journey last week has been revived and approved as an amendment to SB 215. By a vote of 78-67, the House approved Rep. Matt Krause's bill as an amendment, though it should be noted the opposition was bipartisan with 13 Republicans voting no. The support consisted of all Republicans and one Democrat, Ryan Guillen.

The amendment would prohibit Texas universities from requiring student organizations to follow university-wide non-discrimination policies. In the name of freedom of speech, association, and to "promote diversity of thought and the marketplace of ideas" on college campuses, the Krause Amendment effectively nullifies non-discrimination policies-- policies intended in part to create a safe learning environment where everyone's ideas are allowed to be shared in the first place.

If the law to which this amendment is attached becomes law, campus organizations will be able to discriminate based on race, religion, veteran status, HIV/AIDS status, gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, and they will be able to use taxpayer resources to do it.

This issue has been a pet project of Rep. Krause who two years ago defended 14-year-old Dakota Ary, who remarks about homosexuality resulted in a suspension and investigation into the teacher who was cleared as the target of the student's harassment. It's the sort of typical "reverse discrimination" legislative reaction one might expect from Republicans, but maybe not a majority in the Texas House.

Equality Texas is actively monitoring the legislation and released the following via email.

The Krause amendment was one of 15 amendments added by the House to Senate Bill 215. It is likely that a conference committee will be needed to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of SB 215. Equality Texas will be actively engaged throughout that process working to strip the Krause amendment from the bill's final version.

We will keep you apprised of this process as it unfolds.

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