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Capacity Crowd at 5th Annual Epiphany Party for the Poor in Denton, TX

Get Involved! - Rise to Your Higher Self
Posted by Toni on 2009/1/7 18:50:00 (2609 reads)
Get Involved!  - Rise to Your Higher Self

The gymnasium at Immaculate Conception School was filled with families as they prepared to celebrate the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day. Traditionally, the Epiphany is celebrated on the 12th Day of Christmas (January 6th), commemorating the night that the Three Magi visited the infant Jesus, bringing gifts.

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Bill White for Senate

Get Involved! - Rise to Your Higher Self
Posted by Toni on 2008/12/17 18:00:00 (1646 reads)
Get Involved!  - Rise to Your Higher Self

I got a call from Houston this weekend--Mayor Bill White has decided to run for U.S. Senate! The seat will be open if/when Hutchison decides to run against Governor Goodhair.

I cannot tell you how excited I am about this. Mayor White is a class act, not afraid to tackle corruption, and willing to roll up his sleeves and WORK when the situation calls for it.

What I love most about the Mayor is his ability to attract Republican supporters--without ever selling out his principles. I truly believe he can win this race, against any Republican (or Democrat) who decides to run against him. But why hear it from me, let's hear it from the man himself:

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Public Hearing on I-35 Widening Through Lewisville

Get Involved! - Rise to Your Higher Self
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2008/11/11 21:12:13 (3387 reads)

One of the biggest issues facing Lewisville in the near future is the expansion of Interstate 35 E. through the city. The Lewisville Leader reports that TxDOT will be holding a public hearing THIS THURSDAY:

An open house public meeting to discuss the widening of Interstate 35E from Dallas to Denton through Lewisville is scheduled for 5-8 p.m. Thursday at the Municipal Annex at West Main Street and Civic Circle in Lewisville.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), which is sponsoring the meeting, plans to widen and improve I-35E in a 28-mile stretch from Interstate 635 in Dallas to U.S. Highway 380 in Denton, with plans to award a contract in 2010.

Mark Pettit, TxDOT public information officer, said the contract cannot be awarded until the federal government approves a FONSI (finding of no significant impact on the environment).

Plans are to widen I-35E to 10 main lanes with three frontage roads on each side, with two reversible HOV managed lanes.

The main area in Lewisville that will be affected by the project will be between Main Street and Business Highway 121.

Under the present TxDOT plan, some residences and commercial businesses on both the east and west sides of I-35 in Lewisville would be purchased by the state and eventually demolished or relocated.

Concerning the economic impact of the widening of I-35 on the city of Lewisville, TxDOT officials are emphasizing that both the short term and long term impacts should be considered.


Folks, when these businesses and residences are removed to make room for I-35, we will lose some of our retail, and some of our tax base. It needs to be done, but we need to know what the impacts are going to be, so that we can plan for them. If you can make this meeting, please go.

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Paper or Electronic Ballot—Which is Better?

Get Involved! - Rise to Your Higher Self
Posted by Toni on 2008/10/23 15:41:23 (9114 reads)

I have worked elections using paper, punch card, and electronic ballots. This is what I know about the differences between—and the pros and cons of--paper ballots vs. electronic ballots:

Paper Ballots provide a record of the vote as it was cast. In the event of a challenge, Elections Administrators can go back and manually recount the ballots. The problem with a paper ballot is that it is more likely to record "over votes" which end up being cast as no vote.

An over vote occurs when someone accidentally makes more than one mark on the ballot in a particular race. Since you cannot vote for more than one candidate, your selections do not count in that race. The rest of the marks you make on the ballot will be counted, as long as you only had one selection in each race. In the event that no choice is marked in a particular race, known as an “under vote”, no vote will be cast in that contest.

Besides the over vote problem, paper ballots can be lost, misplaced, or mutilated to the point that they cannot be read. Not to mention the potential problem of ballot box stuffing--people voting more than one ballot and casting more than one vote.

Electronic Ballotshave been the target of much discussion since the 2000 election. There is widespread mistrust of electronic balloting machines because they can be programmed by the manufacturer to record votes in a certain way (ex: for every 5th vote for George Washington, add 3 votes to the tally for John Adams) or, in some cases, can be hacked into by outsiders who want to manipulate the ballot tally.

Part of the distrust arose from a comment by the owner of Diebold in 2004 in which he said he would do everything in his power to "deliver the election" to George W. Bush. Talk about a conflict of interest! Diebold is the manufacturer of the machines used in Ohio.

On the bright side, Harris County (where I used to live) and Denton County both use the eSlate which is manufactured by Hart Intercivic. To my knowledge, the owners of Hart Intercivic have not made inflammatory statements about their loyalty to one party or the other. My experience with Hart Intercivic employees has always been positive and they appear to be completely unbiased and truly caring about recording election results according to the will of the people.

Because the program will not allow a voter to make more than one choice in each race, the over vote problem is a non-issue. Under votes—a voter making no choice in a particular race (either intentionally or accidentally)—will be recorded as no vote in that race.

The major problem with the electronic ballots, according to their most vocal opponents, is the lack of a “voter verifiable paper trail.” Once the votes have been recorded by the machine, there is no way to tell whether the voter actually cast their ballot the way it was recorded in the machine’s memory (unlike paper ballots). The eSlate can be configured to provide a voter verifiable paper trail (a receipt); however, the units being used in Harris and Denton Counties do NOT provide that option.

Ballot stuffing, on the other hand, is more difficult, as there can only be as many ballots cast as there were voters who signed in to that particular polling location. The use of the eScan (the paper ballot optical scanner) in Denton County appears to address the issue of ballot box stuffing as the number of votes recorded on the eScan must match up with the number of voters who signed in at the polling location.

My biggest concern with Electronic Ballots is that many of these machines are not user friendly--this is especially troublesome for older voters, low income voters (who are not comfortable using a computer), and voters with disabilities (either physical or learning). For that reason, I was happy to see that Denton County offers voters a choice between paper and electronic ballots. I did notice, however, that after the paper ballots were filled out, there was a line at the optical scanner and many folks had trouble feeding the paper into the scanner in the right direction. Regardless of which type of ballot you choose, at some point you will have to deal with a machine!

Ben and I voted Monday on electronic ballots. Mom voted by mail on a paper ballot. Benny voted by mail in NM on a paper ballot. So our household is split between the two styles.

Your choice, between paper or electronic, should be based on your understanding of the systems and your personal comfort level with each type of ballot. Denton County offers online training for both the eSlate and the eScan on their website.

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Precincts 417, 419 and 422 host Democratic Early Vote Rally

Get Involved! - Rise to Your Higher Self
Posted by Toni on 2008/10/22 15:55:42 (1976 reads)

Democrats in South Denton County gathered last night at Cristina’s Mexican Restaurant (1171 at Shiloh Rd.) for an early vote rally and dinner. Susan Johnson, Precinct 417 Chair, welcomed the overflow crowd on Cristina’s patio and commented that this was the second time in recent history when Democratic turnout exceeded expectations. The first such gathering was held at the Double Oak Town Hall on September 10th. News Story... (pdf)

As Precinct 419 Chair, I reminded everyone about the importance of early voting and voting a STRAIGHT DEMOCRATIC TICKET. Sample Ballots for the three precincts and Early Vote information cards were made available to guests. I was also able to discuss the difference between--and the pros and cons of--the paper ballot versus the electronic ballot with voters who were concerned about either format. [I will post a separate blog entry about the merits and problems of each format tomorrow.]

Mary Infante, Precinct 422 Chair, reminded everyone about election protocol. Voters cannot bring political paraphernalia into the voting area—this is considered electioneering under the Texas Election Code and can only be displayed outside the 100 foot marker. Before you go vote, be sure to remove your buttons, pins, t-shirts, etc. and stash any informational material in a pocket or purse, out of plain view.

Ian Cleghorn, our media liaison, covered the basics of submitting letters to the editor to the major D/FW media outlets, as well as our neighborhood papers. Cleghorn emphasized the importance of news cycles and the temporal relevance of most letters. He explained that sometimes the best letters will not get published, because the public’s attention has moved on to a new story. He also stressed the importance of brevity and humor. A short, funny, relevant letter has the best chance of display on the editorial pages.

After the initial presentation, guests enjoyed delicious Mexican dinners, prepared in Cristina’s expert kitchen. Obama/Biden yard signs and Democratic paraphernalia served as door prizes throughout the evening.

Precincts 417, 419, and 422 intend to continue these periodic precinct meetings after the November 4th election with dinner meetings, book discussions, and movie nights. Our goal is to make Democratic activism a full time effort--not just spurts of frantic activity during election cycles. If Denton County is going to turn blue in 2010, it will require a concerted effort throughout 2009.

When photos become available, I will post them

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