Thursday, May 5, 2016

Troxclair's Guide to Prop. 1


"Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”
Acts 19:24-27

From an e-mail:
Here's a quick review.  In 2014 the previous City Council adopted regulations regarding ridesharing services.  All ridesharing companies have been operating under those rules since that time.  Recently, in December of 2015, the new City Council voted 9-2 to dramatically increase regulations on ridesharing companies, despite the fact that Austin residents have been overwhelmingly supportive of the services these companies provide.

I voted against these additional regulations.  And just 3 weeks later, I witnessed the delivery of a petition with 65,103 signatures to City Hall, the result of a citywide outcry against these restrictions. Because the Council chose not to adopt the petition, the city was required to set a special election to vote on the future of ridesharing in Austin.  In case you missed it, here is a KXAN story that outlines just a few of my concerns.
AUSTIN (KXAN) – Fifty-three drivers who failed background checks to become Uber drivers have been issued chauffeur’s licenses by the City of Austin, according to an internal Uber audit.
Uber Audit
  • 163: City-permitted taxi drivers completed Uber’s background check
  • 53 of 163: Failed Uber’s background check
  • 19 of 53: Had a serious offense (including felony assault, DWI, and hit and run)
**From list of individuals who were granted a chauffeur’s permit from COA from 2012-15

Uber’s Safety Process

  • Uber drivers typically display their name, photo, license plate number and photo of their vehicle in their profile
  • Every trip is GPS tracked
  • Riders can ping those waiting for them their exact location in real time and time of arrival
  • Drivers and riders can rate each other after each trip
  • Uber coordinates with law enforcement where needed
See the whole story here.


3 Things You Should Know Before Voting

I wanted to share with you why I continue to support Prop 1, which continues a reasonable regulatory environment for ridesharing, and why I think this is such a critical issue for our city.

1. Taxpayers could be on the hook to pay if Prop 1 fails.  Ridesharing companies have previously paid for the comprehensive background checks of all drivers.  If Prop. 1 fails, the city will take over - and be responsible for paying for - the entire process.  Although the city will collect fees from ridesharing companies either way, it remains to be known how this city run program will be implemented or how much it will cost.  Regardless of whether or not you use ridesharing services, taxpayers will have to foot the bill for any additional costs.

2. Ridesharing drivers already have extensive background checks. Uber and Lyft already do an extensive, multipoint background check on all drivers, which will continue if Prop 1 passes.  Using data including an applicant's name, social security number, driver’s license number, birth date, past and current addresses, etc., ridesharing companies carefully screen each applicant before hiring. In fact the background check process used by TNCs is the exact same process used by Cap Metro to screen bus drivers here in Austin.

3. The additional regulations do not "level the playing field."  There are still countless differences in the way taxi and transportation networking companies are regulated. Just a few examples: TNCs do not have specified “taxi zones” for pickups, while taxis have their rates set by council and are limited by the number of permits they are granted.  In order to play by the same rules, you either have to make TNCs apply for a taxi franchise, or you must deregulate the taxi industry.  The new Council regulations do neither of these things. They simply cherry pick the few regulations that competing business interests want, while leaving a vast list of countless other differences on the books.  We should create a fair and limited regulatory environment that allow both models to thrive and adapt to consumer demand, not over-regulate to make business as difficult as possible for everyone.
Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

HD 128 Runoff: Property Rights and "High Speed" Rail


"Moreover the prince shall not take any of the people’s inheritance by evicting them from their property; he shall provide an inheritance for his sons from his own property, so that none of My people may be scattered from his property."
Ezekiel 46:18

Wayne Smith is an obnoxious Straus lieutenant.  He's in a runoff against conservative champion Briscoe Cain.  They recently discussed "High Speed" Rail (Author's Note: Which is MASSIVELY controversial in that part of the state.) in a candidate forum:



Highlights:

  • Smith praises "high speed" rail in Europe and Japan.
  • Smith: "I like 'high speed' rail."
  • Cain: "High speed rail is a neat thing in a country that doesn't have a constitution but here, in the United States, we have a constitution that doesn't allow the government to take property just whenever it feels like it for private entities; that's what they want to do right now."

Is the City of Austin prepared for Fingerprint Background Checks?!?


"how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts."
Jude 1:18

[H/T: Travis Tracker.]

Last week, the Austin Transportation department was subject of a devastating audit:
The audit team identifies shortcomings in communication between city agencies and external partners, such as the Texas Department of Transportation and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority. Characterizing the dynamic as a “‘silo’ approach,” the report points out that CTRMA will soon add a third traffic management center in addition to two others already separately operated by the Austin Transportation Department and TxDOT.

....

The report also raps the city’s knuckles for having what it describes as a largely reactive approach to transportation problems. It notes that the department’s “work is largely driven by requests received, mostly through the City’s 311 system.”

....

It goes on to criticize city agencies for not fully using crash data to implement actionable safety programs. It points out that traffic deaths on Austin roads have been trending upward, including a record number of fatal crashes in 2015.
The audit led Ellen Troxclair to ask several follow-up questions:


Bottom Line: Yet another reason to oppose having the city take over TNC background checks; vote FOR Prop. 1!!!

Monday, May 2, 2016

You'll never guess how much McRaven's making....


"He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife,
But he who trusts in the Lord will be prospered."
Proverbs 28:25

From the Trib:
With tuition costs growing, Texas university presidents and chancellors have strived to make clear that they’re working hard to keep expenses down.

But there’s at least one area where spending has spiked in recent years: The salaries of chancellors and presidents.

In the past four years, total pay has grown 70 percent for the leaders of Texas’ six university systems and presidents of those systems’ namesake schools — the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, the University of North Texas, the University of Houston and Texas State University. In 2012, their average compensation was $565,000. In 2016, it’s $955,000, according to data from the Legislative Budget Board.

The growth comes from increased salaries, plus plentiful retention bonuses, benefits and incentive payments. And when all that compensation is accounted for, there are now four top-level public university administrators making more than $1 million per year. (That doesn’t count athletics coaches, administrators overseeing medical schools or endowment investors.) In 2012, no presidents or chancellors were making seven figures.

....

Bill McRaven became chancellor of the UT System in 2015 and earns a $1.2 million salary. The system reported his total compensation to the state as $1.9 million for the 2016 fiscal year, an amount that included $400,000 worth of deferred compensation that is subject to a vesting period. His predecessor, Francisco Cigarroa, had a $750,000 salary in his final full year in office, according to reports the university system submitted to the state’s Legislative Budget Board.

"We believe Chancellor McRaven is worth the investment and that the people of Texas will benefit from his time at the UT System for generations to come," said Paul Foster, chairman of the UT System board.

[Author's Note: Emphasis Added.]
That being said, one UT official unexpectedly chose to buck the trend;
At least one university president appeared to foresee that argument. When Greg Fenves was hired as president of UT-Austin in 2015, regents offered him a $1 million annual salary. He turned it down, a decision first reported last year by the Austin American-Statesman. His base pay is now $750,000, which is about $125,000 more than his predecessor.

“With many issues and concerns about administrative costs, affordability and tuition, such a [million-dollar] salary will affect the ability of the president to work with the Texas Legislature on matters important to the university,” Fenves wrote Pedro Reyes, the UT System’s executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, according to the Statesman.
Read the whole thing here.

Paxton continues DOING AWESOME STUFF despite Persecution


"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Galatians 6:8

This is great:
AUSTIN — Attorney General Ken Paxton's office has declined to represent the Texas Ethics Commission in a lawsuit challenging a state law that bars the use of archived House and Senate footage in political ads.

The move is uncommon, ethics experts said, since the primary job of the attorney general's team of lawyers is to defend state laws and agencies in court. But the attorney general's office has the authority to deny legal representation to an agency and has done so before.

In this case, Briscoe Cain, a Texas House candidate in a runoff with state Rep. Wayne Smith, R-Baytown, is suing the state in an attempt to nix a law put in place in 1987. The measure prohibits "a person from using in political advertising any audio or visual materials produced by or under the direction of the legislature or of a house, committee, or agency of the legislature."

According to the lawsuit, Cain wants to use in campaign ads archived livestream footage from the House floor of Smith during the 2013 and 2015 legislative sessions. But Cain, who claims his free speech has been limited, is worried about running afoul of the law and getting fined by the ethics commission, which enforces the statute.

....

In a letter Wednesday, the attorney general's office did not cite a reason for denying the commission's request for representation, but said the agency can ask for approval to hire outside lawyers for the case.

"The Office of the Attorney General has determined it is not appropriate to make an appearance on behalf of the Texas Ethics Commission in this matter," wrote Associate Deputy Attorney General Shelly Dahlberg.

Paxton's office did not return a request for comment.
 Meanwhile, Empower Texans details the legal case:
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is the latest conservative to be indicted for doing nothing wrong. The crony establishment has gone after Tom Delay, Rick Perry and others, using Texas’ notoriously flawed criminal court system to criminalize their political opposition.

A disgraced district judge, Chris Oldner, improperly harangued a grand jury into indicting Paxton on the word of State Rep. Byron Cook, a wealthy ally of House Speaker Joe Straus and the Democratic caucus. (Cook has long pushed to create state documents for illegal aliens, protect labor unions, and oppose pro-life activists.)

Think people are innocent until proven guilty? Not in our flawed criminal justice system. Once someone is indicted in Texas, even improperly, even illegally, they must fight to prove themselves innocent. And doubly so when the liberal media perpetuates lies about their case.

In the latest turn of events, the disgraced Collin County criminal judge arranged to have two liberal trial lawyers from Houston appointed to prosecute Paxton. Despite Oldner himself now being under investigation for judicial misconduct, a new judge is forcing Collin County taxpayers to not only pay for these ”special prosecutors”… but to pay more than state law or court rules appear to allow.

Texas law limits how much special prosecutors can be paid to the amount normally afforded for indigent defense, but visiting Judge George Gallagher of Fort Worth has ordered Collin County to exceed those limits and pay the special prosecutors hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Given how conservative Collin County is, one would expect the county’s chief administrator, Keith Self, and his fellow commissioners to stand up against judicial tyranny.

Moreover, it is judicial tyranny coming from a visiting Fort Worth judge for whom Collin County taxpayers have never voted, and will never have a chance to hold accountable.

Self and the commissioner’s court are not standing up for taxpayers. While two commissioners initially voted against Gallagher’s order-to-pay, Self and the other two commissioners buckled. In public statements, Self has said he hates the order, but is afraid to be found in contempt of court.

But the court is itself in contempt of our constitutional separation of powers. Neither Judge Gallagher, nor any judge, has the power to reach into the treasury. Court rulings can only be enforced by willing parties. And in this case Self and the commissioners court are willing to go along with orders that appear to violate the law. (Only commissioner Susan Fletcher has consistently opposed the illegal orders of Judge Gallagher.)

....

District judges are seeing that even in Texas’ most conservative county they are free to exceed legislative limits, and reach deeply into the executive’s purse, to fund illegal orders in untenable politically-motivated cases.
Bottom Line: It's no wonder why the business as usual crowd sees Paxton as such a threat.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Revelation 4:1-6a -- HEAVENLY Worship!!! (Part 1)


After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.  And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.  Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.
Revelation 4:1-6

Pastor Danny Forshee.  Great Hills Baptist Church.  August, 3 2014:

Heavenly Worship, Part 1 - Dr. Danny Forshee - August 3, 2014 from Great Hills Baptist Church on Vimeo.


Outline:


  1. Around the Throne (vv. 3-4)
        - 2 Timothy 4:8
        -
    24 = 12 Tribes of Israel + 12 Apostles = Redeemed Humanity
  2. From the Throne (v. 5)
  3. Before the Throne (vv. 5-6a)
Highlights:
  • 13 references to the Throne of God in ch 4; the Throne connotes the Power and Judgement of God.
  • Worship is a lifestyle.
  • John pulls back the curtain and allows us to see God's throne room.
  • "If you preach the Bible as the Bible is, you are going to be grossly hated by many."
  • "We supplant God and His laws and we call that 'freedom'."
  • "We are concerned about offending everyone except God."
  • Whether you like it or not, God's on the Throne and He's gonna send Judgement.
  • "God is a God of Justice."