Saturday, January 21, 2017

Seliger's Tuition Bills prove Miracles DO happen!!!

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:9

Yes, thank you:
Tuition should be frozen at all Texas colleges and universities for four years, or at least until they can prove they deserve the price hike, according to one of the state's top lawmakers.

Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee, proposed three bills Thursday that would dramatically alter the control universities have over how much they charge for a college education in Texas.

Two of the bills are top priorities of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and will probably pass in the Republican-dominated Senate. Senate Bill 19 would freeze all tuition and fees until 2022. Senate Bill 18 would repeal Texas' tuition set-aside program, which requires all public colleges and universities to reserve up to 20 percent of their tuition revenue to use as financial aid for needy students.
Lt. Governor Patrick released the following statement on SB 18 and 19:

U.T. Politburo pisses through ANOTHER $15 million (on pace for $100 million+)....

"There is desirable treasure,
And oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man squanders it."
Proverbs 21:20

But at this point, who's counting?!?  From this morning's Statesman:
The University of Texas ran up a $15 million deficit in its information technology unit by the end of August, and the red ink could grow to $25 million in the current budget year, the American-Statesman has learned.

Separately, a $100 million project to shift the university’s payroll, human resources and finances from a mainframe computer system to cloud-based operations is running behind schedule and over budget.

An internal audit report obtained by the Statesman through an open-records request said “financial mistakes and miscommunication by various parties,” coupled with budgets “well below what’s needed,” caused the Information Technology Services department to spend more than it had been allocated. Officials said the deficit would continue to grow until budget revisions and other reforms are fully in place.


UT has decided to abandon its plan to activate all elements of the cloud-based system in July and instead phase the system in starting sometime later. The university has spent $60 million on the project thus far, and although the delay is intended to assure a smoother rollout it will also raise the cost to an as-yet-undetermined sum above $100 million.

Darrell Bazzell, UT’s senior vice president and chief financial officer, is in charge of addressing these challenges, which he learned of after joining the university’s executive ranks in April. At the same time, he is presiding over a major reorganization that has more than tripled the number of people under his purview to 2,430, including employees in police, construction management and other operational units as well as the staff administering the university’s $2.9 billion budget.


The roots of the information technology deficit apparently date back a few years, when a newly created unit known as the Central Business Office took over certain financial responsibilities in an ill-fated effort to consolidate services and save money. The business office made budget decisions without consulting IT leaders, including Brad Englert, UT’s chief information officer and the chief operating officer of Information Technology Services, according to the internal review by Michael Vandervort, UT’s chief audit executive.

Various people oversaw the Central Business Office after it was established in 2010, Bazzell said. Regular reports of IT spending were created by the office but included funds that should not have been available, he said.

“As a result, the reports masked the fact that ITS was overspending their budget, and so managers and administrators were under the impression that they were within budget, when in fact they were overspending and committing to contracts in the future that were unfunded,” Bazzell said. “So, without a dedicated person watching the ITS books who was familiar with the norms for what the department should be spending, conditions were created that made such an oversight possible.”


Meanwhile, the $34 million allocated to the ITS unit for the current budget year is not enough to keep it from sinking deeper into the red because spending will exceed that sum despite a freeze on non-essential hiring, maintenance and equipment purchases.

The deficit “could grow to as much as $25 million in this fiscal year as we continue to address these issues,” Bazzell said. “The university has sufficient cash flow, given the size of its budget, to cover closely monitored IT spending while we develop a plan to bring the budget back into balance and retire the departmental debt,” Bazzell said.

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
But clearly the solution is to attempt to impeach the only regent who's ever asked difficult questions about all the money being spent; read the whole thing here.

Bottom Line: Even by UT standards, this is real money.

Friday, January 20, 2017

What Trump's Administration means for Austin Tech....

"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,"
1 Timothy 2:1-3

[Author's Note: The discussion starts at the 17:10 mark on the video; the period between 58:15 and 59:55 is the transition between the first speaker and the panel.]

We did not attend this event, and we certainly do not agree with everything that was said, but nevertheless the discussion is all sorts of interesting:

  • Matthew Dowd:
    • Founded four companies.
    • Presidential Election: "Unprecedented but predictable."
      • Shifting of cultural, economic, political tectonic plates.
    • Doesn't use the phrase, but explains the Kondratiev wave pretty much perfectly.
    • Acceleration of everything.
    • Last 15 years = Third industrial revolution.
    • In less than a decade, we've completely redefined marriage and sexuality.
    • Technological change is a double edged sword.
    • Growth in knowledge accompanied by a decrease in wisdom.
    • Social media has increased tribalism; confirmation bias.
    • Bernie Sanders and Trump: "Were basically independents."
    • Entrepreneurs have tremendous opportunity in an environment with this much uncertainty.
    • Government is the last place in the U.S. that has resisted innovation.
    • Founding fathers were entrepreneurs; early U.S. was a startup.
    • "To get to the promised land, it's going to be on the backs of entrepreneurs."
    • No matter what else you think of him, Trump has revealed brokenness of status quo.
    • Trump will neither destroy nor fix the U.S.; either one of those actions can only come about by the actions of its citizens.
    • Author's Note: We fully support Ted Cruz's re-election to the United States Senate and would VIGOROUSLY oppose a potential Dowd candidacy, but we nevertheless found his discussion of the opportunities available to entrepreneurs in the current climate illuminating.
  • Panel:
    • Basically a bunch of SJW's constructing straw man arguments via half-truths.
    • Unpredictability is the only thing you can predict.
    • Blah, blah "climate change."
      • Stupid comparison between 'green' energy and fast internet; compares Oil and Gas to dial-up.
      • Neglects to mention that windmills are 14th century technology.
      • Green energy will miss Obama's "vision" (ie. crony subsidies)
    • The chick talking about immigration willfully misrepresents executive orders and regulations as laws passed by Congress on multiple occasions.
      • Author's Note: This is a textbook example of why so many Americans felt like no one was listening to them in the first place...which created the climate that ultimately allowed Trump to be successful.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Austin ISD facilities plan, 'new' Travis County Courthouse, proves value of defeating bonds....

"So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God."
Romans 14:12

About a month ago, we had some modestly positive comments to make about Austin ISD's new facilities plan; they recently announced the next step in the process:
We need your input as we continue to plan for our #AISDFuture with the Facility Master Plan (FMP). During these meetings, AISD will present the Facilities and Bond Planning Advisory Committee’s (FABPAC) FMP update, including updates on preliminary options, and receive feedback from the public. Each meeting will focus on a different vertical team, though anyone can attend any meeting.

Email us:
Call direct: 512-414-9595
Upcoming Meeting Locations:
* January 24 McCallum HS – Cafeteria, (6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.) | Vertical Teams: McCallum & Special Campuses
* January 25 Crockett HS – Cafeteria, (6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.) | Vertical Teams:Akins & Crockett
* January 26 Garcia YMLA – Cafeteria, (6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.) | Vertical Teams: LBJ & Reagan
* January 31 Martin MS - Cafeteria, (6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.) | Vertical Teams: Eastside Memorial & Travis
* February 1 Burnet MS - Cafeteria, (6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.) | Vertical Teams: Anderson & Lanier
* February 2 Gorzycki MS - Cafeteria, (6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.) | Vertical Teams: Austin & Bowie

More information online at

During Community Engagement Series #3, AISD will present the FABPAC's FMP update, including updates on preliminary options, and receive feedback from the public. The FABPAC will review and use public input as they continue to work with consultants to refine the FMP draft and eventually formulate recommendations to modernize our district over the next 20-25 years.
But while we're on the subject of fallout from the bonds we've helped defeat over the years, check out the latest on the Travis County Courthouse front:
The federal government has approved Travis County’s application to utilize the old U.S. courthouse for its probate court offices.

Travis County commissioners were handed the deed to 200 W. 8th Street on Thursday morning. The courthouse – built in 1936 – has been vacant since the new federal courthouse on West 5th opened in 2012. The U.S. General Services Administration declared the building surplus, and the county applied to take ownership of the property.


Officials have been looking for remedies to the overcrowding at the Heman Marion Sweatt Courthouse since voters in 2015 narrowly rejected a $287 million bond that would have paid for a new civil courthouse. The county said they will need to renovate and restore the building before they will occupy it in 2020.
These solutions might not be perfect, but they're both light years better than what the respective governmental entities were proposing in 2013 and 2015.

Indeed, as much as it kills us to admit this, Mayor Adler's "corridor" bond that passed last year was (for all its flaws) still substantially less terrible than the rail bond that was defeated in 2014.

Bottom Line: It's amazing how often Plan B costs less while doing a better job accomplishing the task the governmental entity in question says they want to accomplish.

Kolkhorst fires warning shot at University "Faculty"....

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
2 Thessalonians 3:10

This is just all sorts of fantastic:

Bottom Line: In addition to all their other misdeeds, another outrage from the higher-education industrial complex is the degree to which tenured faculty are allowed to sit around doing nothing while the bulk of the actual teaching is done by graduate student 'teacher's assistants.' IF that sounds like a form of indentured servitude, that's because it is. This is fantastic...but time will tell if Kel Seliger gives it a hearing (let alone moves it out of committee).

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Joe Straus' local ISD superintendent is current president of Texas Association of School Administrators....

Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
1 Corinthians 15:33

For those who've never heard of them, the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) are a taxpayer-funded lobbying group for the socialized education bureaucracy.  A few years ago, they were involved in some very serious shenanigans.  In the process of examining their priorities for the current legislative session, we noticed something very interesting on their "Note from Our President" page:

LOL, Alamo Heights.  Now who, pray tell, is the state representative from Alamo Heights?!?  O.K. fine, we tipped it off in the headline, but still:
In addition to serving as Speaker, he represents Texas House District 121, which includes the Bexar County communities of Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, Terrell Hills, and northeast San Antonio.

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
The funniest part is that, while HD-121 includes parts of 5 ISD's, Alamo Heights ISD is where Joe actually lives.

Bottom Line: With school choice receiving an unprecedented push this session, this has to be one of the most flagrant acts of political sucking up we've ever seen (it's also a sign of fear).

#TXLEGE minimum wage theatrics lays foundation for late session shenanigans....

"Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil,
But counselors of peace have joy."
Proverbs 12:20

Good grief; they do this EVERY session.

Last week, the Democrats in the House (ie. Joe Straus' base) held a press conference alongside organized labor to agitate in favor of a higher minimum wage:
“The minimum wage needs to rise significantly. Raising the minimum wage will give more Texas families a fair shot at realizing their dreams. On the other hand, paying full-time workers a wage that keeps them mired in poverty is wrong and should not be the Texas way,” Patrick said at a news conference that included workers earning poverty wages and lawmakers seeking to raise the wage.

“We are asking the Legislature to act now. To help them, we are also asking Texans who agree that the minimum wage needs to rise to sign our petition at and let lawmakers know that Texans believe a full day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”


“The state labor federation comes here every two years asking for fundamental decency for the hundreds of thousands of Texans at or near the minimum wage level,” Patrick said. “We are in good company, but not only with the working people, lawmakers and allies in this room. The people of Texas have expressed strongly in polling that they want the Legislature to raise the minimum wage.”

[Author's Note: The Patrick to which this press release refers is the Texas AFL-CIO president, not the Lieutenant Governor.]
Of course, this isn't about the minimum wage (it never is); it's about the clock.

Every session, the House Democrats make a push on the minimum wage.  Every session, under Joe Straus' leadership, this push moves "farther than expected."  Then, all of a sudden, we just 'happen' to find ourselves discussing the minimum wage as the clock runs out in May.

Last session, former Rep. Ferdinand "Trey Martinez" Fischer carried HJR 26: "Proposing a constitutional amendment establishing an increased minimum wage."  The bill eventually died in a party line floor vote, but not until they wasted 3 hours on the final day to pass bills debating the minimum wage.  Indeed, the fact this made it to the floor in the first place is revealing.

[Author's Note: The fact that they did this as a constitutional amendment (ie. where you need 100 votes) instead of as a regular bill (ie. where you need 76 votes) further illustrates the degree to which this was only ever intended as a time wasting measure.]

Bottom Line: And the more things change....