Friday, August 26, 2016

The city of Austin's "Chief Equity Officer"

"Professing to be wise, they became fools,"
Romans 1:22

Cutting to the chase for busy readers:

From this morning's statesman:
Austin residents got their first look at the person who will be the city’s first-ever Chief Equity Officer during a town hall event Thursday night at the Palmer Events Center.

The chief equity officer, a position newly created by the City Council, will head an office focused on identifying gaps and disparities in services and programs in the city, as well as help create ways for city departments to address those needs. The position will also help community groups work with the city to ensure equal access to city programs and services.

At the event attended by about 100 people, including Council Members Delia Garza and Kathie Tovo, the three finalists for the position were given 10 minutes to make opening remarks to the audience and then answered questions for 15 minutes. The city initially announced four finalists for the position, but one candidate, Parisa Fatehi-Weeks, withdrew her application before the town hall, the city said.

The three finalists are: Veronica BriseƱo Lara, director of the small minority business resources department at the City of Austin; Brion Oaks, vice president of health equity at the Southwest Affiliate of the American Heart Association; and Kazique Prince, a senior policy advisor and education coordinator for Mayor Steve Adler.
It gets better:
The event was the first time the community at large heard from the candidates, though the consulting group that helped the city with recruiting for the position had sought out community input during earlier stages in the search.

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
We don't remember the source, but we vaguely recall hearing scuttlebutt that the fix is in and that Adler's guy is going to get the position.  That would render this entire 'search process' an expensive smokescreen.  Obviously, that would be consistent with Adler's m.o.

Equally obvious: Whatever disparities may or may not exist in Austin's municipal government won't be solved by adding another layer of bureaucracy at a six figure annual salary.

Bottom Line: Sheesh....


Read the recruiting brochure below:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

More STONEWALLING in Byron Cook's #TXLEGE District....

"You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another."
Leviticus 19:11

Despite a report from Hill County’s electronic voting machine vendor identifying errors in the county’s March 1st Republican Primary, the activist who originally identified the problem is saying there are still more questions than answers. Worse, county officials have become uncooperative.

Aaron Harris, an activist out of Tarrant County affiliated with Direct Action Texas, filed a complaint with the Secretary of State in July pointing out that Hill County reported in excess of 1700 more votes than voters in the March primary. The complaint was immediately referred to the Attorney General’s office for a criminal investigation that is ongoing.

Last week, Hill County’s electronic voting machine vendor, ES&S, released a memo identifying two major errors that contributed to the additional votes. The vendor reported that a hard drive was not cleared before votes were tallied and this caused absentee ballots and early voting paper ballots to be double or triple counted.


Voters should continue to focus on Hill County GOP Chairman Will Orr, who certified the election despite massive discrepancies. It was Orr’s responsibility to review the results and certify their accuracy.

It is shocking that he appears to have missed a nearly 2000 vote discrepancy. Orr must be held accountable for his actions. His resignation would be a step in the right direction.

The Attorney General’s investigation will continue, and any person who is found guilty of voter fraud should be punished to the maximum extent of the law.

But even if the Hill County result is merely due to incompetence and a failure of various election officials to do their duty, the cause of these problems must be identified and Texans must be supplied with accurate results. To not clear up these errors simply invites voter fraud in future elections.
Read the whole thing here; contact the Hill County GOP here or here.


On a related note, we sent our own open records request related to this case about a week ago; you can read the Hill County attorney's response below:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

UT's Horizon Fund updates Board of Regents

"So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom."
Psalm 90:12

Sigmund Freud is rumored to have once said "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."  We thought of that alleged quote during this morning's meeting of the UT Board of Regents' technology committee.  No matter how corrupt the other financial activities of the institution in question, sometimes an effort to commercialize research performed on university campuses is just an effort to commercialize research performed on a university campus.

The UT Horizon fund is a $50 million appropriation designed to provide seed funding to bring to market initiatives developed at UT System institutions.  We've documented their expenditures here.  As we explained last week, we also have a separate open records request related to the Horizon fund working it's way through the Attorney General process.

During this morning's update, Technology committee chairman Wallace Hall called the Horizon fund a "cost-effective" way to bring technological developments developed at system institutions to market.  It's actually not a crazy point to make.  If $100 to $200k of seed funding from the university can get a development away from the university bureaucrats and into the private sector, that's a small price to pay.

Here's the thing: This activity sounds an awful lot like having a governmental entity pick winners and losers.  In a way, it reminds us of Rick Perry's infamous Texas Enterprise Fund.  Obviously, that's not something one should support.

But here's the other thing: The difference with the Texas Enterprise Fund is that, technically, the money going in 'belongs' to the university, not the state.  If the university were to cease this activity, the university still gets to keep the money.  And we'd rather have them investing in something that could be useful than hiring a bunch of 'diversity' related bureaucrats.

Obviously, higher education funding is deeply messed up.  Equally obvious, the University of Texas system has too much money.  In the event that higher ed/UT funding undergoes deeper structural reforms, activities like the Horizon fund should be on the table.  Furthermore, the Horizon fund could be a piece of leverage to make the university negotiate in good faith over tuition next session.  But as long as the current system remains in place, there are far worse ways to spend the money.

Bottom Line: UT's endowment is somewhere around $25 billion.  The Horizon fund is a max of $50 million.  If the university wants to use one tenth of one percent of its resources in an attempt to accomplish something useful, we have bigger fish to fry.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Patrick, Kolkhorst, and the Texas Senate Transportation Committee chair....

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

We received the following text message from NE Tarrant Tea Party yesterday:

We had no idea they were pushing for this, but sign us up!

Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) is the best transportation group in the state; according to their 2015 scorecard, Kolkhorst got an A+ on transportation issues last session while Nichols got an F.

We're not super familiar with Kolkhorst's record on all transportation issues, but we know she's really good on toll roads (and those are the biggest scam of the whole lot).

This could also only help any potential Uber/Lyft legislation that might emerge.

Yes, thank you!!!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Phony, anti-Zimmerman, "Outrage": The latest fallout....

"For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there."
James 3:16

At last Thursday's council meeting, Don Zimmerman made a completely reasonable comment.  That didn't stop the phony outrage machine.  The Travis County Democrat politburo even used it to fundraise!!!

That being said, there were a couple of interesting developments over the weekend.

First, Don's office released a video comparing his remarks last Thursday to other remarks he's made previously that generated no such reaction:


That being said, we think THIS is the most interesting reaction:

You can learn more about Celia Israel and the issue in question here.


Finally, one personal note: We didn't think about it until we started writing this post, but we actually first heard Don say something along these lines back in 2013 during the school bond campaign.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Revelation 11:1-14 -- A Temple and Two Witnesses (Part 2)

The Two Witnesses
"Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there. But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”

These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.

The Witnesses Killed
When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

The Witnesses Resurrected
Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.

The second woe is past. Behold, the third woe is coming quickly."
Revelation 11:1-14

Pastor Danny Forshee.  Great Hills Baptist Church.  February 8, 2015:

A Temple and Two Witnesses, Part 2 - Dr, Danny Forshee - February 8, 2015 from Great Hills Baptist Church on Vimeo.

  1. The Temple (vv. 1-2)
  2. The Two Witnesses (vv. 3-14)
    A. Their Ministry (vv. 3-6)
          Zechariah 4:14
          Luke 4:25

    B. Their Death (vv. 7-10)

    C. Their Resurrection and Ascension (vv. 11-14)
  • Prophecy = Both Foretell and Forthtell
  • The prophets are hated because of their message.
  • God will protect you, He will spare you, until He's finished with you; [properly understood] when you're walking with God, you're invincible.
  • John presupposes thorough understanding of the Old Testament.
  • Don't mess with these prophets of God.
  • First introduction to the antichrist.
  • "Whenever the Bible calls you Sodom, that is NOT a compliment."

Saturday, August 20, 2016

#TroxRox; aiming at Adler/Ott budget MONSTROSITY....

"An inheritance gained hastily at the beginning
Will not be blessed at the end."
Proverbs 20:21

Amen, from this morning's Statesman:
When voters sent the new 10-1 council to City Hall, they did so with a clear mandate to address the rapidly rising cost of living in Austin in order to slow gentrification, address economic segregation, keep long time Austinites in their homes, and protect seniors — and the rest of us, too — from losing their quality of life. Yet, as we enter our second budget cycle, “affordability” seems to be slipping further and further away.

In these next few weeks leading up to budget adoption, critical decisions about property taxes, utility bills and city programs will be made. This is when the difficult choices are supposed to happen. But the proposed budget takes the easy road at every turn.

It includes an increase to all utility bills and every major fee in the city, and it proposes adopting the maximum tax rate allowable under state law. General Fund spending is increasing a whopping $58 million, and an additional 437 new city employees are being added to the payroll.


The growth is certainly already contributing the city’s coffers. Property tax revenue from new construction is expected to increase by $10.2 million. Sales tax for the city is expected to increase by $8.5 million. Hotel occupancy taxes could rise by $11.2 million. Licensing, permitting, and inspection revenues could increase by $9.1 million. Charges for services other than utilities could increase by $2.4 million. Parking revenue could go up by $900,000. Other taxes, which includes alcohol tax is expected at $1.7 million.

This means that the city is already bringing in well over $40 million in additional revenue this year, and is still going to turn to you for more money.

The city must learn to live within reasonable means, set goals that have measurable outcomes, and scrutinize every program in order to become relentlessly efficient with taxpayer dollars.


Beyond that, the city could choose not to add any new positions until the over 1,000 existing vacant — but fully funded — positions are filled. Save the money allocated to these vacant positions as a credit to the next year’s budget. The city could limit the surprisingly large marketing budgets and significant transfers to other departments from Austin Energy, Austin Water, and Austin Resource Recovery.
Read the whole thing here.