I am not a big fan of Paul Burka of Texas Monthly or his 10 Best and 10 Worst of the Texas Legislature. Generally speaking I usually ignore it because he favors process over substance and the financial interests of big business over those of average people.
I can’t ignore Burka this year however.
He put Representative Yvonne Davis (D-Dallas), chair of the House Urban Affairs Committee, on his 10 worst legislator list.
Burka is way off base.
I carefully watched or attended all of the Urban Affairs Committee hearings the session (something I’m sure Burka did not). Rep. Davis was a model chair. She got bills hearings promptly. She reported bills out efficiently. Most importantly, she approached the affordable housing issues that came before her committee with concern for the public interest and the interest of the poor instead of for the special interests that have for too long dominated discussions of affordable housing issues.
I am not saying this to suck up. I generally follow a rule when it comes to members of the Legislature to offer neither false public praise nor harsh public criticism (except for a few special members). If you praise one legislator they all expect it and everyone you criticize always remembers it and holds it against your interests.
The truth is that Rep. Davis consistently sought to act in the best interest of low income consumers in her role as chairwoman of the oversight committee on affordable housing.
Unfortunately, too few members of the Texas Legislature look out for the interests of the poor. Representative Senfronia Thompson, one of Burka’s picks for 10 Best Legislators (I agree with his choice BTW in this case), likes to remind members of the Legislature during floor debates that they occasionally need to do something besides coddling the interests of big lobbyists. She describes bills that help the poor as, “letting the little dog eat” as opposed to feeding the “big dog” special interests.
Urban Affairs Chairwoman Yvonne Davis spent her time in the Urban Affairs Committee this session looking after the little dogs — the poor, the homeless, the elderly and the disabled. In my view that makes her one of the best of the Texas Legislature.