U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, defends giving his office staff $42,734.25 in bonuses ahead of the fiscal cliff last year, as reported by CNN."We have had our budget cut the past three years and have managed to cut costs without negatively effecting constituent services. I have asked my staff to sacrifice and to do more work with less help -- they rose to the challenge," he said. "We run a very tight fiscal ship and have returned money to the federal treasury every year that I've been in office."I have set up a review system, like many companies, that rewards employees based on their performance. My staff works very hard for the 6th District and I was proud to award them a modest one-time bonus for their efforts."Barton was the only lawmaker representing portions of Tarrant County to give the bonuses, according to the report.Democratic duelDemocrat Dick Abrams received support last week in his quest to become the next chairman of the Tarrant County Democratic Party.Abrams -- among those seeking to replace current Chairman Steve Maxwell, who has said he will step down in April -- picked up endorsements from local Democrats including U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth, state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, state Reps. Lon Burnam, Chris Turner and Nicole Collier, and Tarrant County Commissioner Roy C. Brooks."They are all outstanding public servants and I will work tirelessly to ensure every one of them is re-elected," said Abrams, a Democratic fundraiser. "The 2014 cycle gives us great opportunities in Tarrant County and I am ready to build upon our recent electoral gains to elect more mainstream Democrats to office up and down the ballot."But Judge Maryellen Hicks -- whose sister, Deborah Peoples, has been mentioned as a potential candidate -- issued a statement saying that she was disappointed in the endorsement and that officials didn't interview all candidates."I thought better of our Democratic elected officials," Hicks said. "What have we been fighting for if our Democratic elected officials perpetuate the same biases that we have been fighting to overcome, whether it is from Gender, Race, or Sexual Orientation."Among those who have been mentioned to replace Maxwell: Abrams; Peoples; Randy Daniels, a Democratic organizer; Lee Henderson, a former Fort Worth council candidate; Marshall Hobbs, a former Fort Worth council candidate; and Bishop Kenneth Spears.By the numbersIn case you're counting, Tarrant County lawmakers have filed 408 bills for the 2013 Legislature.The count for the 11 House members is 256. The four senators who represent parts of Tarrant County have filed 152.The most prolific bill filer, according to a state legislative website, is state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound. Nelson, who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee, has filed 58 bills, including 17 that won passage in the Senate.State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, has the largest total in the House, with 51.The deadline for filing bills was March 8.Beltway bashingGov. Rick Perry, who loves to bash Washington, couldn't resist an opportunity for a lighthearted jab during a visit to the nation's capital last week."I was actually a little surprised to step off the plane and see everybody was still here," he said in his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference. "From what I've been reading about sequestration, I figured President Obama had probably shut the place down and told everyone to just go home."Cowtown honors Fort Worth was one of seven cities honored recently by the City Cultural Diversity Awards for programs that "enhance and promote cultural diversity" in communities.The city was honored for "Movies That Matter," an initiative of the city's Human Relations Commission that is geared to "raise awareness and create acceptance of the diversity that exists in Fort Worth and around the world through the use of cinema."Commission officials have said using cinema to promote sometimes-divisive topics "is a nonconfrontational way to open the hearts and minds of individuals."