Page 20


trees were a’Fiarkin\(, -, lot 1 C ph” The future can be taller. Quieter. And filled with green places. Invest in tomorrow today. Domini iti SOCIAL INVESTMENTS* Investing For Good’ 1-800-530-5321. www. domini. corn You should consider the Domini Funds’ investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. Please obtain a copy of the Funds’ current prospectus for more complete information on these and other topics by calling 1-800-530-5321 or online at . Please read it carefully before investing or sending money. DSIL Investment Services LLC, Distributor. 04/05 ship a taste of its own medicine. Geren’s amendment would remove the Dallas and Fort Worth school districts from the proposed voucher pilot program and replace them with Arlington and Irving. The choices aren’t random. Arlington is Education Chairman and chief voucher cheerleader Kent Grusendorf’s district. Irving is home to Republican Linda Harper-Brown, who also sponsored the voucher proposal. If vouchers are such a great idea, let’s try it in Grusendorf’s and HarperBrown’s districts, argues Geren. He’s already surveyed a swath of pro-voucher Republicans, who told him they don’t object to the idea. Geren also knows that the Arlington and Irving school districts bleed into the districts of Republicans Ray Allen and Toby Goodman, both of whom may vote against the voucher plan if it will take money from their schools. “All I did was swap the districts so the authors of the bill could participate in the bill,” Geren says from the front microphone. Grusendorf opposes the amendment, and moves to table it. Five pro-voucher Republicans flip to support Geren’s amendment. Grusendorf’s motion fails by a relatively resounding 76-67. An excited buzz rings through the House. It’s a huge defeat for the leadership. A team of lawmakers gathers in front of the dais to deliberate with Craddick about what to do. After five minutes, the conference breaks up, and Grusendorf announces he will accept Geren’s amendment. It goes into the bill without a vote. But the damage to Craddick’s cause has been done. As luck would have it, the next amendment is another by Geren. \(Geren and Casteel would later note that the order It would still allow school choice, Geren explains to his colleagues, but students could choose only among public schools. “It just takes private out,” Geren says, his eyes twinkling. “It still creates this competition which seems so important… still maintains choice!’ Grusendorf is plain in his opposition; a vote for Geren’s amendment will kill vouchers this session. When Geren returns to the microphone to urge passage, he quotes from the state GOP platform: “[Vouchers] can only be considered upon passage of a state constitutional amendment that prohibits imposition of state regulation on private and parochial schools. “Ladies and gentlemen, this [bill] isn’t anything about a constitutional amendment!’ The vote begins. The House floor is silent as everyone stares at the even number of green and red lights springing to life on the giant boards. Craddick looks glum. A columnist from the Waco Herald Tribune will later describe the speaker appearing as if he “had swallowed a cobra.” “There being 74 ayes and 70 nays, the amendment is adopted,” Craddick says flatly. Vouchers are out. Just as Geren thought, Ray Allen and Toby Goodman vote to gut vouchers from the bill rather than have it include their school districts. But the leadership makes one final, desperate play. Grusendorf walks to the front microphone and moves to pull the bill down. There is still time to twist a few more arms and bring the bill back up. Before he can finish, Houston Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson darts to the front of the podium and snatches the microphone away. As she bends it back toward her, Thompson shouts, “Mr. Speaker! I call a point of order against this bill.” Craddick overrules her point of ordera procedural weapon to kill bills on technicalitiesthat in this case would have killed the entire calendar of bills. But it’s over. Four minutes later, Craddick sustains another point of order, raised hours ago, that he had yet to rule on. It sinks SB 422 and vouchers with it. In GOP circles, there’s little doubt that some of the rural Republicans who defied their leadership will find themselves fending off primary opponents funded by Leininger. Rural Republicans who voted with the leadership in defiance of their constituents might also find opposition in the primary from their public school community. Sixteen of these weak-willed Republicans lamely tried to explain away their pro-voucher votes with a statement placed in the House journal the next day. They wrote about an amendmentnever offered that would have ensured that no funds from rural school districts would be spent on the voucher pilot program. Their constituents might fall for this argument in 2006, but on May 23, Rep. Casteel and the other fighting moderates didn’t. “If you think there are two or three pots of money up here I want you to show them to me,” she scolded her fel , low Republicans. JUNE 10, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17