Political Obit: Burt Solomons
Wed November 30, 2011 12:52 pm

Solomons is something of a tragic figure, because he had considerable ability but, in nine terms, he never figured out how to put it to use. He was one of the eleven insurgents who led the successful revolt against Tom Craddick in the winter of 2008-09, and one of the "cardinals" who constituted the Straus inner circle in the 81st Legislature. During the Straus speakership, he knew more about the rules than anyone else in the House, and he was at his best in informal rules meetings with his colleagues, when he was collaborative rather than combative. Solomons always seemed to be spoiling for a fight, whether it was with Phil King, in their marathon battles over the Public Utility Commission during the Craddick speakership, or with lobbyists involved in negotiating homeowners' association issues. He was among the first members to break with Craddick after the 2008 election and filed papers to run for speaker, but it was a doomed exercise; for all his legislative skill, he didn't have the trust of his colleagues, and at times this was evident, as when Sylvester Turner amended the rules resolution in 2009--the issue was the jurisdiction of committees that Solomons was interested in, including State Affairs--and Solomons' motion to table failed. Even in absentia, Solomons remains a central figure, as his House redistricting map is now the subject of judicial scrutiny. His map provided only one Hispanic opportunity district, and that was a stretch, since the district was already represented by Lon Burnam. Solomons' failing was that he was too combative, and he picked fights he didn't need to be in, as when he moved to table the bipartisan Oliveira/Huberty amendment to the sanctuary cities bill last session that would have given school districts protection that the bill offered to hospital districts and other special districts. Nobody likes to lose, but Solomons brought most of his problems on himself. The lesson here is that talent alone isn't enough. You have to play nice with others.

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