Thursday, March 5, 2015

Zimmerman proposes Austin 'code compliance' put skin in the game


"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

Wow:
City Council Member Don Zimmerman has proposed a unique punishment for the city’s Code Compliance Department when it loses a case in Municipal Court: It will have to pay.
Zimmerman, who has made no secret of his disdain for the department’s involvement in minor matters, has distributed a resolution that calls on the city manager to reimburse attorney’s fees to any citizen who is found not guilty of a code compliance issue at Municipal Court. The resolution says the fees would be “deducted from the budget of the Code Compliance Department.”
Zimmerman said the intent of his resolution is to get the department to focus on important matters and stop enforcing minor regulations such as those related to the height or composition of fences.
Zimmerman is particularly angry about the case of Matthew Palmer, a District 4 resident who went through a long and convoluted argument with Code Compliance about a fence surrounding his RV. Palmer, whose fence was sometimes alleged to be illegal — and sometimes not — won a jury trial at Municipal Court last month.
Wait; it gets better:
Casar said he was not a sponsor of the resolution, but was in favor of influencing the department to focus on important matters. “My interest in code enforcement is I would like to make sure we direct our resources so landlords will keep up their complexes, so people live in safe and sanitary housing, (instead of on) the smaller cases. Also, it’s interesting what happens when a particular employee’s interpretation is incorrect.”
Casar added, “I know Palmer is frustrated, but I of course want to hear the city’s side before deciding any next step. Right now, I wouldn’t be supportive of this resolution. I’m more interested in structurally making sure the Code Compliance Department is working the way that District 4 residents want it to.
“I just want to understand … what ways we can make code compliance more effective.”
Bottom Line: Not only is Don Zimmerman blazing a new trail of accountability for the petty tyrants of central planning, he's also picked a battlefield where even Battleground Texas' 2014 consolation prize can't oppose him.

Pravda disobeys Politburo


"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
Matthew 10:28

Tuesday's Daily Texan:

Kroll report means prospective UT students aren't getting a fair chance



College applications can be a stressful topic for many high school seniors, including those who wish to attend this University. A potential Longhorn has to ensure that his or her GPA and extracurricular activities are impressive enough to merit an acceptance letter. Some students are guaranteed admission, but some are stuck in the “maybe” pile, in need of an impressive award or accomplishment that can push them over the top. However, as recent news has demonstrated, there is an unconventional asset that those “maybe” students can use to their advantage: political connections.

According to a report by Kroll Associates Inc., President William Powers Jr. granted undergraduate admissions to 73 students with poor academic records between 2009 and 2014. The Kroll report found that, in the cases of these students, their political or legacy connections likely played an oversized role in their acceptance.

....

It is an understatement to say that admitting students based on favorable connections is not a part of the “public representation” of the University. The UT website endorses the same standard admissions process used by many other universities. Applicants are encouraged to send in the usual items such as transcripts and SAT/ACT test scores. While the website does encourage students to send in recommendation letters, it says that they are only used to “provide more information about [an applicant’s] personal and academic achievements.” Nowhere on the website is it revealed that a recommendation letter or any other sort of endorsement from an impressive connection could help balance out a subpar transcript or test score.
 Read the whole thing here.

The Daily Texan's relationship to the Powers regime is akin to MSNBC's relationship with Obama; that they published such a scathing piece speaks volumes

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

BANNED BY KICKSTARTER: Pro-Life Texas launches Stolen Moments series....


“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:5

Remember Stolen Moments?!?  They were the second pro-Life film shut down by Kickstarter last year.  Having successfully raised the money necessary, they released their first film last week:



The video was accompanied by this press release:
Banned Pro-Life Kickstarter Video Releases First In Series
Stolen Moments Gives Face To Aborted
Lewisville, Texas: Today, February 24rd,Pro-Life Texas released the first short video in their Stolen Moments series. The series was created to give a face to “the lives ended by abortion” according to producer Jason Vaughn.
I wanted something different that made people think of those aborted as not just blobs of tissue or distorted faces on a sonogram. These were people that had a life and future taken from them and from the world,” said writer Andrew Koch.
Koch had written the original script as a young teenager and after working with Vaughn at the “Let Texas Speak” rally during the abortion bill debate in the summer of 2013 he passed it on Vaughn.
We spent a few months going back and forth getting it right. I kept cutting off as many words as possible to get it under a minute, but Andrew's vision lead the way for it,” Vaughn said.
After finally getting the script done the pair went to launch on crowd-funding site Kickstarter, but were rejected. Since they seemed to have followed the sites rules and the site had abortion advocacy films they couldn't figure out the problem.
The rejection came came days after a film on convicted serial-killer/abortionist Kermit Gosnell was also rejected though several abortion advocacy were funded on Kickstarter. Both the Gosnell Movie and Stolen Moments gained national attention for the seeming discrepancies in Kickstarter policies. The projects moved to Indiegogo and were fully funded.
Kickstarter Founder, Yancey Silver, did reach out and apologize to the Stolen Moments crew and even gave a small donation to back another creative project the producer funded on Kickstarter.
We were thrilled to work with Indiegogo to raise the funds needed to start our campaign. Crowd-funding has been huge to help creative messages on both sides of the spectrum to get out and promote open and free speech. It allowed a bunch of people with $25 donations get involved as much as those with several thousands. Every donation mattered to getting this series off the ground,” said Vaughn.
Just under 100 people donated to the Stolen Moments Campaign on Indiegogo.
This was the pairs first film and said after receiving the funding they started on finding the crew, actors, and post-production crew.
It's such a short project, but we wanted to get this first one right so we didn't rush. Also, Andrew and I were both every involved in different elections and dedicated much of our time to that until November,” Vaughn said.
The video goes through five different characters telling about the lives they might have had and ends with one little girl asking the audience to “fight for me” as she fades away.
While this first commercial has a serious tone Vaughn said he hopes that future shorts will be lighter and even funny.
It's a serious topic, but we want to take some risks and see if we can get people to think about those humorous moments we've missed out on with one third of my generation due to abortion. If we can't get to funny, maybe we can create that bittersweet memory that resonates,” Vaughn said.
The Stolen Moments video is available on YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook at TXPro-Life.org. Koch and Vaughn hope the audience will share it online, and at church or group meetings.
If it makes one person think about their options and what may be lost if they get an abortion then it's a success beyond measure and well worth the efforts of all involved,” Vaughn concluded.
Vaughn and Koch will be sending out their first video online and hope to raise the funds to continue the series and look into documentaries as well as submitting it to a number of film festivals.
About Pro-Life Texas: Pro-Life Texas was created in the summer of 2013 to inform people about the pro-life omnibus bill in the Texas legislature. Founder, Jason Vaughn, created the “Let Texas Speak” rally with other pro-life organizations around the state. Today, the goal of Pro-Life Texas is to train pro-life political activists in conservative groups and churches, endorse “Life and Liberty” candidates, and create “out of the box” pro-life media and events. For information or to get involved e-mail ProLifeTexas@Gmail.com
Texas Right to Life has more here.

Your Pro-Life Video Update Week #7


“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:5

Texas Right to Life is back to discuss Faith and Family day, new bills, and the opposition:



Highlights:

  • Faith and Family Day.
  • Reception.
  • Bad Bill Alert: HB 1210 (Howard).
    • Makes compliance with pro-life laws optional.
  • Opposition has rally.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Texas Senate unveils Education Agenda


"The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge,
And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge."
Proverbs 18:15

Texas State Capitol -- This morning, the Texas Senate laid out the first part of it's education agenda.  Focused on reforming the government school systems, it was a decidedly mixed bag.  There will be another event dedicated specifically to school choice in the coming weeks:



Highlights:
  • "Reforming education is more than a single shot."
  • "There is no one-size-fits-all."
  • Make sure every student can read by 4th grade.
  • Larry Taylor -- "Educaiton is not a partisan issue.
      • Author's Note: Since when?!?
    • Blah, blah, blah "innovative" school districts.
    • Giving letter grades to individual campuses.
      • Author's Note: Not a terrible idea.
    • Common Core buzzwords: "Workforce development," "College and Career ready," "21st century education."
    • Lowering the "parent trigger" threshold to allow parental takeover of a school.
      • Author's Note: Easily the best idea presented today.
    • Removing artificial barriers to online courses.
    • "You can't spend money and expect great things without accountability."
While we weren't particularly impressed, apparently the government school bureaucrats had a conniption fit:
“None of the proposals offered by Sen. Taylor and the lieutenant governor would give teachers and students the time and resources they need to improve teaching and learning,” said Texas State Teachers Association President Noel Candelaria. “The Taylor-Patrick agenda fails to meet the needs of five million public school students whose schools have been inadequately funded by the very legislators who are eager to declare schools a failure based on standardized test scores.”

First Amendment Tuesday: Week 7


"and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel,"
Ephesians 6:19

Life, Liberty, and Property coalition held First Amendment Tuesday this morning:

Emily Kebodeaux (Texas Right to Life) (Partial):



Highlights:
  • Points of Order.



Highlights:
  • Their lege guide is now available.
  • Best way to communicate with legislators is in person.
  • Good idea to call in advance (but if you're making a last minute trip, don't worry about it and just stop in).
  • There's a desk outside the House chamber that you can use to contact your member when they're on the House floor.
  • "Government goes to those who show up."
  • Religous Liberty Amendment: SJR 10, HJR 55.
  • HB 623 (Bell): Marriage Preservation Act.
  • HB 1556 (Miller): Smacking down local "Non-Discrimination" ordinances.



Highlights:
  • SB 276 (Campbell) -- Taxpayer Savings Grants.
  • All currently enrolled Texas public school students are eligible for enrollment.
  • Private schools in Texas are not under the authority of the State.
  • Oversight under the Comptroller, not T.E.A.



Highlights:
  • Tebow bill is primarily for rural areas.
  • Parental rights restoration act.



Highlights:
  • Text message alerts: Text "pro-Life strong" to 23559.

Tax Relief gives taxpayer funded lobbyists FITS!!!


"But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God."
Nehemiah 5:15

Hilarious:
AUSTIN - An effort to rein in local property taxes was delayed Monday as city and county officials pressed lawmakers to kill the measure, saying it would keep them from meeting local needs.

“We see it as a big win because of all the pushback the cities are putting on their senators,” said Shanna Igo of the Texas Muncipal League. “It delays it another week, two weeks, three weeks, which always helps.”

But Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, said he asked to postpone the Senate Finance Committee’s consideration of his bill only to get information from the state comptroller’s office. The comptroller initially said its effect on cities and counties couldn’t be determined, which would be a bill-killer, Bettencourt said.

“I just got out of the lieutenant governor’s office … everybody is gung-ho about it,” Bettencourt said of his Senate Bill 182, which would reduce the threshold at which increases in property tax revenue trigger a rollback election.

....

Igo had predicted a couple of hundred local officials would show up to testify against the measure on Wednesday, when the Finance Committee is taking public testimony. Now that SB182 has been delayed, they will wait for it to be rescheduled.

Jeff Coyle, director of San Antonio’s intergovernmental relations department, said the city’s average increase was 2.61 percent over the last 10 years. But in some of those years, he said, it has been at or nearer the 8 percent limit to meet the needs of a growing population.

If Bettencourt’s bill had been in effect, Coyle said, it would have cost the city $212 million over the past decade. Savings to taxpayers would have been $4.24 a month in 2015, he said.

“At the end of the day, what is that? A cup of coffee at Starbucks that a homeowner would save per month, while at the same time it’s costing the city hundreds of millions of dollars in our inability to provide services,” Coyle said.

The general fund budget supported by property taxes is about $1 billion this year, Coyle said. Two-thirds of the general fund pays for public safety, he said.

“We’re making sure every one of our senators knows how much of a problem this is for us,” he said.

Janice Evans, chief policy officer and director of communications for Houston Mayor Annise Parker, cited a meeting by big-city mayors two weeks ago to discuss a number of issues being considered in Austin that would “remove local control.”

“They believe these are issues that should be addressed at home rather than at the state capital. Houston already has a revenue cap that constrains how much property taxes we can collect each year. This measure was approved by Houston voters. The city had to lower its tax rate last fall in order to comply with the restriction. We anticipate having to do the same this year,” Evans said.
 Read the whole thing here; Empower Texans has more here.