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At KSP, Perry lauds fiscal policies; protestors rally against ‘hateful’ immigration bills

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/2010/08/RickPerry_Thumb.jpg“Hey, hey, ho, ho our racist governor has got to go!” chanted demonstrators Monday night outside the grand opening of the new headquarters for Houston tea party group King Street Patriots (KSP). Inside, before attendees and Republican officeholders, Gov. Rick Perry celebrated his “pro-growth” policies steaming through the state Legislature in Austin.

The roughly 100 protestors, representing Texas-based social justice and immigration rights organizations, sought to send a message about keynote speaker Perry’s “hateful” anti-immigration policies proposed this Legislative session, as well as perceived fiscal irresponsibility.

“We want the governor to hear what we think and feel about his anti-immigration bills,” said Silvia Mintz, attorney and former 2010 Democratic candidate for Texas House District 132. Mintz pointed to Senate Bill 9, a measure requiring cities to adopt federal enforcement guidelines that channel identification information of arrested individuals to FBI and immigration databases to determine citizenship status, and House Bill 12, which bans so-called ‘sanctuary cities.’ Deemed “emergency legislation” by Perry, HB 12 prohibits local governments from disallowing law enforcement from inquiring about the immigration status of those who are detained or arrested. Some crowd members plan to lobby against the bill at the Capitol during a Senate committee hearing Wednesday.

“It’s silly how these Republicans who claim to be fiscally responsible are passing bills that are headed to the courthouse and will end up costing taxpayers millions,” she said, referring to similar legislation passed in Utah, recently met with a constitutional injunction by a federal judge. “These immigration bills divide families and add to the mistrust people already feel about law enforcement, as police are forced to act as immigration officers.”

Maria Jimenez of the Immigration Law Enforcement Monitoring Project (LEMP) said many in the crowd were upset with a perceived reversal by Perry on his position against bringing Arizona-style immigration laws to Texas.

“The governor lied to the many Hispanics that voted for him,” Jimenez said. “He said there would be no Arizona-type law in Texas then proposed a sanctuary cities bill, which is in some ways worse as it extends the power of local law enforcement.”

Protestors were part of Houston United, a coalition of 14 religious, labor, social justice, civil right/liberties and immigration rights groups as well as Houston Peace and Justice Center, LULAC Southwest, Code Pink Houston chapter, Working Families, area Democratic organizations and unions.

While the majority came out to protest immigration legislation, a number of demonstrators rallied in opposition to the state’s cuts to public education and health care. The chorus of objectors additionally chanted, “Save our schools, save our teachers, save our children,” and “Tax the wealthy.”

Electrical worker Turner Wright said Texas Republicans have created a two-class system– rich and poor – as struggling, working-class families are forced to foot the bill for a $27-billion state budget shortfall.

“Perry brags about the number of businesses that come here because of tax breaks and cheap labor instead of helping ensure Texans receive good, quality jobs,” said Wright, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local unit. “We are not prioritizing education, children or the future of our state.”

When a local news station camera appeared to document the protest, a KSP member appeared, extending a bowl of cookies to demonstrators.

“No cookies,” the protestors retorted. “We want justice!”

Inside the new KSP headquarters, a much different scene played out. Around 600 supporters joined together over wine and live piano music, applauding vigorously at mentions of the immigration bills and downplaying the protestors outside. The guest list included Republican officeholders such as Perry, U.S. Reps. Kevin Brady, Pete Olson and Ted Poe, state Sen. Dan Patrick, state Rep. Sarah Davis, and Railroad Commissioner David Porter, as well as Patricia Dewhurst, wife of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Conservative activist Hannah Giles (a self-described “journalist” who posed as a prostitute in undercover videos to show wrongdoing by ACORN) and Stephen Steinlight of the Center for Immigration Studies were also in attendance.

“Let me get something straight about wealth – there is nothing wrong with it,” said Perry, who touted his fiscal conservatism and “pro-growth” policies while dismissing the White House administration’s “liberal utopian fantasy,” and promoting states’ rights. Perry thanked the audience for having him join “regular folks that make the world go ‘round.”

“There are people up in Austin, Texas, today […] who are wearing out the Speaker; they are up there wearing out everybody. As a matter of fact, I think some of them are out there on the street right now,” he said of the protestors outside. Perry said:

“They want us to spend all the money; they want us to spend everything that’s in the Rainy Day Fund; they want us to see taxes go up. I am sure some in this state would like to see a personal income tax happen, because they say ‘we’ve got to have more money to have our public schools; we’ve got to have more money to have our police officers so we can stay safe; we’ve got to have more money so we can have the transportation infrastructure to move things around. I am not a political science major or economics Ph.D from Harvard. I am simply an animal sciences major from Texas A&M, but I get it when it comes to the principles of economics. If you do not create an environment where the entrepreneurs in your state feel comfortable to risk their capital and have a good chance to have a return on their investment, you’re not going to have the jobs created that in turn create the wealth that pay for the teachers, that pay for the health care.”

In an interview before the speeches were given, U.S. Rep. Poe also minimized the message of the protestors. “I’m glad they are here. They have a constitutional right to protest,” he said adding, “But they don’t stand for anything – they are just against King Street Patriots. They have no solutions to the problems they are protesting.”

Similarly, state Sen. Patrick said Texas conservatives were sending a message to the protestors on the street that they “can govern while living within our means and still fund our teachers and our nursing homes.”

The KSP event, a celebration of the group’s new offices just down the road from their previous northwest Houston location, aimed to generate donations – starting at a suggested $50 – from its guests. While KSP was lauded by politicians and activists during the event, it has also received criticism for its True the Vote project, aiming to recruit 1 million poll watchers to monitor the 2012 elections. The group is currently involved in legal battles with the Texas Democratic Party, voter registration group Houston Votes and campaign finance watchdog Texans for Public Justice.

Read the Texas Independent for more reporting on KSP/TTV.

“Some radical groups don’t like having honest elections. I can’t imagine anyone being opposed to honest elections,” said Poe of the litigation against KSP.

“Their cause keeps growing and growing, and there is such a need for it. This building, I believe, is a testament to perseverance and fighting for what’s right and exposing what’s wrong – I am just a big fan,” said Brady before the speeches took place.”

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