On the Lege
Whither After Whitmire?
Edited By Michael King, Fri., Sept. 12, 2003
Like nearly everything associated with the Lege this year, the latest reversal has its comic aspects. For example, just what will the Republican senators do about the fines and other sanctions they imposed on the Democrats for playing hooky during the second-called session? In theory, Whitmire delivers a quorum -- but will they try to make him pay $57,000 for the privilege of doing their dirty work? And should they decide not to fine Whitmire, how will they justify maintaining the fines against the others? On Friday, Whitmire dismissed the question out of hand, saying, "I've always considered [the fines] just play money, and I don't expect anybody will ever have to pay them." Having been banned from the pressroom, Whitmire spoke on the Senate floor, prompting reporters to tease Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Carleton Turner about the curious inconsistencies of the Senate "sanctions." Turner sighed, "I don't make the rules, I just do as I'm told."
Some of the exiles journeyed to D.C. last week to make their case to Congress and the national news media, and over the weekend, according to the Quorum Report, both Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, and Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, slipped home briefly to see their families. They made no public appearances and said they remained watchful for an instant session call by Perry and any attempt to arrest them. Now that the session has been called, the Dems presumably face no arrest risk today in Laredo, when their Voting Rights Act lawsuit is heard before a three-judge federal panel. A related lawsuit was heard Monday by the Colorado Supreme Court over that state's (already accomplished) congressional re-redistricting.
Whitmire said his reading of the transcript of the initial hearing before Judge George Kazen convinced him that the Democrats have little chance of success in Laredo; he also said that "the courts are going to settle this matter" and that he's returning to the Senate in part to get that process started. QR also reported that Whitmire was seen dining with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst Friday night in downtown Austin, prompting Shapleigh to comment, "That bottle of wine came at a high cost to his integrity. I feel very sorry for John. He has lost whatever values he had, whatever party he had, whatever constituency he had, and whatever future he had. I am confident that the masters he now serves will reward him."