Wednesday, September 30, 2015
"Therefore by their fruits you will know them."
Update: It's worth mentioning that, at the beginning of the summer, we were considering keeping a running tally of which Presidential candidates Texas legislators were supporting, but we decided against this because we thought something like this might happen.
Ted Cruz's Presidential campaign released a list of supporters from the Texas Legislature this morning. It's...an interesting list. It reveals the degree to which Ted Cruz defines politics in this state.
The overwhelming majority of solid conservatives in both chambers endorse Cruz. In the Texas Senate, all of the Senators who endorsed him are solid. In the Texas House, 15 out of the 19 Scott Turner supporters endorsed Cruz.
But this list gets interesting when you look at the Straus supporters who've endorsed Cruz.
While a few of the Straus supporters are middle-of-the-pack House members, the list also features some of the WORST RINO's in the Texas House.
Empower Texans compiles an index to measure legislators on economic issues. Texas Values has a similar index for Faith and Family issues. On that note, consider the following from the recently concluded legislative session:
Obviously, these folks think getting their name in a Ted Cruz Presidential press release (and the pictures that will inevitably follow) will obscure their mediocre and worse records in the legislature.
Bottom Line: Ted Cruz clearly attracts support from both conservatives and people who are scared to death of conservatives.
* - Dan Flynn led the Wallace Hall impeachment fiasco.
** - Larry Phillips helped illegally cock-block Constitutional Carry.
*** - Debbie Riddle almost killed a pro-Life bill in an obscure legislative committee.
**** - Wayne Smith killed the TESLA bill.
***** - John Zerwas is openly pro-Obamacare.
"The first one to plead his cause seems right,
Until his neighbor comes and examines him."
Pflugerville -- Last night, Texas Values hosted an event in Pflugerville to outline the state-of-play on religious liberty in Texas following the U.S. Supreme Court's lawless marriage ruling this past summer. It highlighted how Churches can protect themselves in the current climate and discussed the Pastor Protection law that the legislature passed last session. It was a solid start that needs to be build upon.
Jonathan Saenz (Texas Values):
- Several people have been fined and jailed over marriage.
- Houston 5 were attacked by Annise Parker.
- Dan Patrick: "No one should be compelled."
- Scott Sanford carried this bill in House.
- Pastor Protection law protects "religious ORGANIZATIONS."
- ACLU retracted their support for Federal RFRA after marriage decision.
- Pastor Protection Law covers religious hospitals.
- Plugs Ken Paxton -- Filed a pro-Religious Liberty brief at the Texas Supreme Court last week.
- "Religious liberty is broader than human sexuality."
- Define your mission in writing in your church documents.
- Detailed minutes of Church meetings CAN SAVE YOUR BACON in the event of a lawsuit.
- Learn more about protecting your Christian institution at ReligiousLibertyKits.com
- Put out his opinion re: County Clerks within hours of SCOTUS decision.
- People of Faith are essential to keeping American "free and prosperous."
- Religious liberty is the first freedom for a reason.
- When we lose our moral compass, things go bad in a hurry.
- "Discrimination against Christians, or other people of Faith, is entirely unacceptable."
- Our perilous times are different that First Century Christians or Christians in Syria.
- Pray for the Christians around the world.
- This isn't the hill the hard core leftists want to die on.
[Note: Danny Forshee is the Pastor of this Author's Church.]
- If Christians abdicate politics, the Devil is pleased to take over.
- When you put God in charge, He takes over.
- Joe Gonzales tells a story about praying with his personal state rep.
- Pastor Danny: "To disagree does not mean to discriminate."
- Pastor Mike: Just voting isn't good enough.
- The Church has abdicated it's position.
- We need to participate in the process.
- "Had the Devil known what he was doing, he wouldn't have raised the issue."
- The Church in Texas is coming together (tells the story about preaching in inner-city Kileen)
- Texas is going to be a haven for the gospel.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
"You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another."
Laura Pressley spoke at last night's Texans for Accountable Government meeting and gave an update on the status of her election challenge:
- Filed their appeal a couple weeks ago.
- Oral arguments in front of 3rd court of appeals sometime in November/December
- Judges for her appeal will be Melissa Goodwin, Bob Pemberton, and David Pureyear.
- Rosemary Lehmberg would have to file any criminal charges against relevant county officials, which ain't gonna happen.
- She's put $67k of her own money into this case.
- Court fined her lawyer $50k for taking the case.
- Greg Casar's lawyer: "We want to chill" any future election challenges.
In addition, Laura has released this one page summary of the facts behind her case:
"There is desirable treasure,
And oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man squanders it."
We spoke at last night's Texans for Accountable Government meeting about the current Travis County Courthouse bond proposal; it's a good summary of the absurdity of the current proposal and why it wouldn't be difficult to devise a better alternative:
- Election Day: Nov. 3. Early voting begins: October 19th. On the same ballot as the State of Texas constitutional amendments.
- At a BARE MINIMUM, they're telling us this proposal will cost $287 MILLION
- The Austonian, by contrast, only cost $250 million.
- For those keeping score at home, that means a 56 story luxury condo development cost less than this proposed 14 story building.
- Between interest and the inevitable cost overruns that ALWAYS accompany government construction projects such as this one, a final price tag between $400 and $600 million seems unfortunately plausible.
- The new Austin library, for example, has exceeded it's estimated cost by approximately 50%
- Being built on prime-real estate downtown, which would be a logistical nightmare that would put more cars on an already overburdened downtown road system.
- Making matters worse, because this is a government building, it means that people will be coming and going at 9AM and 5PM.
- Not only more cars, but more cars during the worst part of the rush hour bottleneck.
- Houston/Zimmerman alternative: Put the Courthouse on the East Side.
- Less expensive to build out than up.
- More parking, fewer cars downtown.
- Easier to reach for anyone in Travis County who isn't already downtown.
- Possible economic development value in the area.
- A lot of the solution to Austin's traffic problem could be to boot all the governmental facilities (state, county, city) over to the Eastern part of the county
Monday, September 28, 2015
"Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong."
1 Corinthians 16:13
Former Astros slugger Lance Berkman recently filmed a completely reasonable TV commercial in favor of repealing Annise Parker's bathroom ordinance:
Of course, the national sports media is, if anything, more liberal than the national news media, as these shrieking headlines suggest:
Bottom Line: Many conservative athletes keep their head down because they "don't want trouble." Lance Berkman, by contrast, was willing to take heat from the SJW lynch mob to make a completely reasonable point. Good for him.
"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
It's not a secret that the "leadership" of the Texas House of Representatives pretends to be conservative during election season, but Joe Straus' new campaign website is an impressive collection of half-truths, revisionist history, and taking credit for the accomplishments of others (primarily Rick Perry and Dan Patrick) even by their standards.
[Author's Note: You can read our report card for this past legislative session here.]
Economic Issues, what he claims:
Economic Issues, what really happened:
- Spending: The 2013 budget, which was the one over which Straus had greatest influence, was a disaster. The 2011 budget was "balanced" via gimmicks.. The 2015 budget was 100% due to Dan Patrick.
- Taxes: In 2015, Dan Patrick came into office with a mandate to reduce property taxes. In an attempt to derail property tax relief, Joe Straus and House "leadership" came up with a screwy plan to cut a sales tax no one is complaining about. Patrick held his ground and Straus caved.
- "The Spending Cap": The current 'spending cap' in the Texas budget is a joke. Under Straus, attempts to create a spending cap with teeth have died 3 sessions in a row. This claim is akin to a 6 year old bragging about a participation trophy.
- Rainy Day Fund: Most of the money that goes into the rainy day fund come from "severance taxes" that result from Oil and Natural Gas extraction. During the early part of this decade, Texas was blessed by a shale energy boom that filled state coffers. Straus, meanwhile, attempted to raid the rainy day fund several times and did so successfully on....
- Water: ...a "water infrastructure development bank" more accurately described as a slush fund. This was an idea originally proposed by Franklin Roosevelt and most recently championed by the former Democrat Governor of Pennsylvania Fast Eddie Rendell. Franklin Roosevelt and Fast Eddie Rendell aren't exactly conservative heroes.
Education Issues, what he claims:
Education Issues, what really happened:
- "Expanding School Choice": This claim is laughable, Joe Straus and his handpicked education committee chairman Jimmie Don Aycock are the primary obstacles to meaningful school choice.
- A through F grades for schools: Dan Patrick's idea that Straus couldn't stop.
- "Improving Higher Education": LOL, Joe Straus is one of the worst offenders in the abuses of power we've seen at U.T. Joe Straus drove the Wallace Hall impeachment. But at least he spent a lot of money and created a new slush fund for them last session.
Border Issues, what he claims:
Border Issues, what really happened:
- While none of Texas' "leaders" (except the outnumbered Dan Patrick) have covered themselves in glory on border issues, Straus has habitually been one of the worst offenders. In 2014, when Rick Perry belatedly sent DPS to the border, Straus dragged his feet. Straus later attempted to play games with the funding. The final 'border security' package that passed the #TXLEGE did little more than spend money.
- The interstate compact for border security passed the Texas Senate then died in the Texas House.
- Suffice to say, efforts to end subsidized tuition for illegal aliens and sanctuary cities went nowhere.
"Conservative Values," what he claims:
[Author's note: The fact that Straus links unrelated issues like Election Integrity, Life, and the Second Amendment under "Conservative Values" illustrates the disdain he has for all three.]
"Conservative Values," what really happened:
- Life: Whatever his shortcomings on other issues, Rick Perry was a warrior for life. In 2011, Perry made the Sonogram bill an emergency item. In 2013, Rick Perry called multiple special sessions to pass the bill that ultimately became HB 2. In 2015, absent Gubernatorial leadership, 8 pro-life bills died in the Texas House and the 2 that did pass felt like pulling teeth. The only reason the Texas House has done anything to protect innocent human life is because the politics of the issue have become so one-sided.
- Second Amendment: Considering his role in illegally squelching the debate over constitutional carry, this claim is particularly galling. No one denies that the Texas Legislature passed a watered down version of licensed open carry. Unfortunately, more meaningful pro-Second Amendment legislation languished.
- Voter ID: Another 2011 Rick Perry emergency item.
- Religious Liberty: Straus doesn't even discuss it, but it's worth mentioning that House leadership squelched numerous pro-Religious Liberty bills this past session.
Bottom Line: The fact that Joe Straus had to build his campaign website around half-truths, revisionist history, and taking credit for the accomplishments of others tells you everything you need to know about his record.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
|Mid Second Quarter|
"Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart."
You sit down to write a blog post following a football game and you don't know what to say. On the one hand, it would be easy to tear into the administrative politburo you justifiably hate and the coaching staff you're justifiably skeptical about. On the other hand, in a game where your favorite football team commits sixteen penalties for 128 yards, you should lose by A LOT more than a field goal.
Longhorn Football blew a winnable game tonight...but they also came close to winning a game they DESERVED to lose by 40 points.
Sixteen Penalties for 128 yards.
In our experience, when a team is bad, it's bad. When they commit sixteen penalties for 128 yards, the scoreboard should reflect that. Soo...how do you commit those many penalties for those many yards and only lose by a field goal unless you have genuine talent on the team?!?
No...seriously...can someone please explain this?!?
The easy way out would be to find a scapegoat. The punter, Charlie Strong, and Bill McRaven all deserve blame for tonight's debacle. But finding a scapegoat won't change the situation on the field.
You must acknowledge some facts:
- Longhorn Football is 7-10 (so far) under Charlie Strong.
- Leaving the blowouts aside, we've lost four games (so far) due to self-inflicted wounds: Baylor and Oklahoma last year and Cal and Ok. State this year.
- Absent the self-inflicted wounds in the self inflicted losses, Longhorn Football's record under Charlie Stong would be 11-6.
But then, you lookup something you wrote a year ago, and you realize it sounds identical to the post you're writing right now.
Legitimate potential combined with piss-poor execution.
Sixteen penalties for 128 yards.
This website understands that the officials have SUCKED the past two weeks. The blown facemask call last week speaks for itself. Then there was the personal penalty against Charlie Strong tonight.
But...still...Sixteen penalties for 128 yards.
Sixteen penalties for 128 yards.
Sixteen penalties for 128 yards.
Bottom Line: No matter how badly you want to attack the Senior Leadership of the organization, when the Football team gives up sixteen penalties for 128 yards, you can't blame anyone except the Head Coach of the Football team (Bill McRaven's suckitude continues for other reasons)....
Unfortunately, we didn't have film rolling during most of the exciting defensive plays today, but here's the one touchdown that happened on offense :
Sad Quote:"No penalty this time...right?!?"
"Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;"
Press Release from Ellen Troxclair:
AUSTIN, TX – This week, Austin City Councilmember Ellen Troxclair allocated $30,000 from her personal office budget to the city’s Parks Department, specifically for improvements to Dick Nichols Park.
“Our city parks are such an important part of the identity of Austin, where we share time with our families, enjoy nature, and exercise. I have worked since my inauguration to not only be fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars in our city wide spending, but also in running my own council office in order to accrue this savings. This money represents about 10% of my total office budget, and donating these unused dollars to the park is one way for me to provide a return on investment to my constituents.” Troxclair stated.
The money will be used to replace the decades old fitness stations at Dick Nichols Park, located in the heart of District 8. With roughly 152 acres, the park features a swimming pool, barbeque pits, basketball courts, picnic tables, playgrounds, tennis courts, and trails. Yet, years of wear and minimal repairs have left the park in need of attention. These funds from Councilmember Troxclair will be spent solely to improve the overall condition of the park trails, equipment, and amenities.
Rich DePalma, a South Austin resident and long-time public servant who co-founded local volunteer group Friends of Dick Nichols Park in 2007 and also serves as Vice-Chairman of the city's Parks and Recreation Board, responded to the news saying, “I am so excited about this project and am grateful to Councilmember Troxclair for making a personal sacrifice in her office budget in order to dedicate funds to our district parks. The broken 30 + year old trail fitness system at Dick Nichols Park has long been a thorn for the many Southwest Austin residents who routinely use the park. Replacing the system with a working, modern system will go a long way in helping all Southwest Austin residents stay fit and healthy while also providing a visible improvement to our well-loved district park.”
Councilmember Troxclair is also working on other ways to fund park improvements and maintenance. While individuals and organizations often pay to rent park facilities for events, some fees intended for maintenance are instead diverted to other uses in the general fund. She has advocated for addressing this issue and making sure that money for park use is spent on its intended purpose.
Troxclair concluded, “I am thrilled to be able to save money in order to make this contribution to the park, and I hope you will join me in enjoying this new trail fitness system for years to come.”
Friday, September 25, 2015
"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
In the short run, it probably doesn't mean much; of course, in the short run, the Lege is out of session.
In the longer run, see the Bible verse quoted above.
As Erick Erickson explained, the major thing that changed during August was the voter anger Republican U.S. House members saw at home. While we didn't attend, we heard reports that several Republican U.S. House members in North Texas had raucous town hall meetings. That made Bohener's position untenable.
Meanwhile, Article 3, Section 24 of the Texas Constitution forced the Texas House to adjourn in May. Also, the Texas House rules make it a lot harder to depose a speaker mid-session than the U.S. House. So Straus can lay low (for now).
But the trend is identical.
[Sidenote: In a HILARIOUS display of irony, Joe Straus launched his new pretend to be a conservative campaign website while we were typing this post.]
As we wrote last December:
Election 2014 gave the American people a New Hope; if the Empire chooses to Strike Back in 2015, the Jedi WILL return in 2016.And that's just as true in Austin as it is in D.C.
Bottom Line: This is a perilous time for incumbent Republican "leaders." Voters are fed up with legacy Republicans colluding with Democrats to enact the crony agenda. Across all levels, we've seen this playbook. Bohener's demise proves seemingly safe "leaders" can collapse in a heartbeat. The timing is anyone's guess, but Mr. Straus' days are numbered.
"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Since learning about John Bohener's resignation, we've seen considerable chatter on social media about Jeb Hensarling as the replacement; it makes a lot of sense.
Kevin McCarthy is the consensus pick of the legacy R's. His record, to put it mildly, underwhelms. We deserve better.
On the other hand, getting one of the usual suspect conservative rabble-rousers (eg. Louie Gohmert), absent another round of elections, seems a long-shot.
Enter Jeb Hensarling.
Jeb Hensarling isn't exactly our cup of tea (pun intended), but he's been a warrior against corporate welfare. The Dallas Chamber hates him so much they leaked bogus accusations last month. The Texas Association of Business despises him.
The Dallas-Morning News wrote this morning:
WASHINGTON—With Speaker John Boehner set to resign his post as leader of the House of Representatives at the end of next month, speculation again will turn to whether Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas, will seek the post or the chamber’s number two spot should that become available.You can tell a lot about a man by the enemies he makes, and within Texas' political circles, Jeb Hensarling has all the right enemies.
Before running for Congress, Hensarling was on staff for former Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas, and has championed many of the same economic and banking ideas the outspoken Gramm championed. He arrived in Congress long before the Tea Party emerged, but he has been a leading figure in the intellectual wing of that movement seeking to rein in the size of government. He’s also been the point person in fights over the Fed, over Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms, and, most importantly in terms of Boehner’s predicament, over the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank.
He has attacked the so-called crony capitalism that he says the Bank, which helps finance exports by American firms, represents. His quiet rebellion has over the past two years grown into a major battle ground between more traditional (and business-friendly) Republicans and those closer to Tea Party populism.
He took over the House Financial Services Committee as chairman in early 2013 and immediately began seeking to overhaul America’s system of home financing, an ambitious effort that put him in conflict with some more traditional Republicans. The bill did not get a vote in the full house.
Hensarling has been mentioned before as a possible Speaker or Majority Leader, most recently when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was ousted by a Tea Party rival in the June 2014 Ohio primaries (*). At the time, Hensarling, repeated his position that he was happy as chairman of the influential House Financial Services Committee and did not make a public run for a higher post.
[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
(*) -- We can't believe the DMN editors missed this, but Cantor was from VIRGINIA, not Ohio.
Bottom Line: We'll refrain from making any commitments until we see how the race shapes up, but if Jeb Hensarling throws his hat in the ring, that could make a lot of sense.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
"But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness."
2 Timothy 2:16
One of the more obnoxious pieces of conventional wisdom around the Capitol is that Sarah Davis is the only Republican that can win her unfriendly district, but how did her district actually vote in 2014?!?
From her district profile on the Texas House's website. With one exception (which we'll discuss below), the Republican candidate won every statewide race in her district. A small sample:
Abbott - R 27,200 50.4%Attorney General:
Davis - D 26,030 48.2%
Glass - L 613 1.1%
Parmer - G 150 0.3%
Pavitt - W 1 0.0%
Paxton - R 27,059 50.7%Comptroller:
Houston - D 24,715 46.3%
Balagia - L 1,155 2.2%
Osborne - G 397 0.7%
Hegar - R 27,025 51.5%Ag. Commissioner:
Collier - D 23,743 45.2%
Sanders - L 1,216 2.3%
Shafto - G 517 1.0 %
Miller - R 29,268 56.4%Tx. Supreme Court, Chief Justice:
Hogan - D 20,319 39.1%
Palmquist - L 1,276 2.5%
Kendrick - G 1,055 2.0 %
Hecht - R 30,677 58.3 %The only exception was the lite guv race, where van de Putz won a PLURALITY over Dan Patrick. Even there, however, van de Putz failed to crack 50%. Furthermore, the result in this race was partially due to the fact that the Libertarian candidate out-performed the rest of his ticket:
Moody - D 20,604 39.2 %
Oxford - L 1,336 2.5 %
Patrick - R 24,880 46.5%While Abortion Barbie and van de Putz had nearly identical vote totals, about 3000 Abbott voters didn't vote for Patrick (though they DID vote for Paxton, which means it's not a conservative thing). This means a chunk of them voted for the Libertarian while another chunk under-voted. The most likely explanation is that this is a Harris County based district, Dan Patrick is from Harris County, and there's a small segment of Harris County Republicans who can't stand Dan Patrick.
Van De Putte - D 26,615 49.8%
Butler - L 1,536 2.9%
Courtney - G 423 0.8%
[Author's note: Emphasis added.]
Bottom Line: If "only a moderate" could win HD-134, Republican candidates wouldn't have won nearly every top-ticket race in the district.
"So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward."
Texas Values released their scorecard for Faith and Family issues during the 84th Texas Legislature. It was very similar to previously released scorecards from Empower Texans and Mark Jones. In that sense, it reflects what we already knew.
It confirms the link between fiscal and social conservatism. Strong social conservatives overwhelmingly tend to be strong fiscal conservatives. By contrast, fiscal RINO's are usually social RINO's as well.
Other trends worth noting:
- All 19 House members who voted for Scott Turner were named "Faith and Family Champions" (which required scoring 90 or higher).
- Of the House members who voted for Straus, the following were named "Faith and Family Champions": James White, Will Metcalf, Dennis Paul, Dan Flynn, Andrew Murr, Brooks Landgraf, Allen Fletcher, and Dwanye Bohac.
- John Cyrier and Tom Craddick were also named "Faith and Family Champions" despite having not been present on the day of the speaker vote (Cyrier hadn't been elected yet, Craddick was out with medical issues).
- If 29 members can earn the title "Faith and Family Champion," that means it's not difficult.
- On that note, Jodie Laubenberg, Rick Miller, and Debbie Riddle all failed to earn the "Faith and Family Champion" designation. This is notable because those three like to hang out at SoCon events and tout their SoCon bonafides. If these three can't get the SoCon stuff right, they've honestly got nothing.
- Likewise, Cecil Bell only scored a 78.
- Otherwise, the rest of the low scoring House Republicans were the usual suspects closely aligned with leadership.
- On the Senate side, the results were mostly predictable, though Konni Burton scored a surprisingly low 82.
- Pro-Life Democrat Senator Eddie Lucio scored a 73; the following Republicans scored lower: Joan Huffman, Kel Seliger, Todd Hunter, Phil Stephenson, Gilbert Pena, Dan Huberty, Myra Crownover, Susan King, Gary van Deaver, John Otto, Marsha Farney, John Zerwas, Larry Gonzales, Trent Ashby, John Fruillo, Jim Murphy, Travis Clardy, Kyle Kacal, Ed Thompson, J.M. Lozano, Jimmie Don Aycock, Drew Darby, Doug Miller, Four Price, Jason Villalba, Rick Galindo, Lyle Larson, Patricia Harless, Wayne Smith, Ken King, Kenneth Sheets, Morgan Meyer, Linda Koop, John Raney, John Kuempel, Byron Cook, Jim Keffer, J.D. Sheffield.
- Author's Note: A similar, though not as pronounced, trend existed on the fiscal side.
- While she could be included on the list above, Sarah Davis' 14 is worth noting on it's own.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
|Left to Right: Council members Pio Renteria, Ellen Troxclair, Kathy Tovo, Leslie Pool, Don Zimmerman, and Ora Houston|
And oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man squanders it.
Austin City Hall -- In a disappointing development, Austin City Council member Ellen Troxclair (Southwest Austin) was unable to obtain a second in today's hearing in the Audit and Finance committee to forward an alternative County courthouse proposal to the full Council.
[Author's Note: Our testimony begins at the 7 minute mark.]
The proposal, by Council members Don Zimmerman (Far Northwest Austin) and Ora Houston (East Austin), would have directed the City Manager to find an alternative location from city owned property in East Austin.
Council member Houston discussed the potential for an alternative courthouse location to spur economic development in her district. She advocated creating "alternative population centers" beyond downtown. Going back to 2013, residents in Houston's district have asked why major governmental development needs to take place in a downtown area that is already severely congested. Also, the cost of downtown parking is a serious hurdle her district's residents when they use the current courthouse. Zimmerman explained common financial objections to the current proposal and mentioned that the city could collect $87 million in property tax revenue over the next 40 years from a mixed-use development on the current proposed courthouse location.
During public testimony, this author stuck to the logistical nightmare the current proposal entails. As a governmental building where people come and go at 9AM and 5PM, a new courthouse 1.5 blocks from City Hall would deposit more cars on already gridlocked downtown streets during the worst of rush hour. A mixed-use facility, by contrast, would have people coming and going throughout the day and wouldn't worsen the rush hour bottleneck. We also pointed out that people who do business at the courthouse but don't have office space downtown hate the logistical nightmare of doing so. Finally, we mentioned that if bus service to that part of town was insufficient, it was far easier to add bus service to East Austin than it would be to surmount the logistical nightmare the current proposal worsens.
A representative from the pro-Courthouse side spoke next. She outlined the litany of complaints about the current courthouse that no one disputes. Calling East Austin "the middle of nowhere," she said "the people's business belongs centrally [sic]." She mentioned Gerald Daugherty, the Republican county commissioner whose support for this proposal has landed him in hot water. Finally, the pro-courthouse representative appealed to bureaucratic solidarity with "a sister body," your "fellow governmental entity."
Council Member Houston took offense at the characterization of East Austin as "the middle of nowhere." She chastised the pro-Courthouse representative: "thank you for telling us what's best for us." She also said that Travis County had yet to respond to request she'd made for information on the current proposal. Council member Houston got the pro-Courthouse representative to admit between one-third and 40% of the parking at the new facility would go to Courthouse staff. Finally, Council member Houston cited this author's point about the ease of redesigning bus routes favorably.
At this point, Council member Zimmerman pointed out that by building "out" instead of "up," an East Austin courthouse would cost between one-third and half of the downtown proposal.
Local activist David King closed public testimony by calling the alternative proposal a "GREAT" idea: "if we're serious about equity, this is our opportunity."
In response to public testimony, Council Member Pio Renteria (Southeast Austin) said he couldn't support the alternative proposal unless the county were to move all the county offices along with the Courthouse. Council members Kathy Tovo (Central Austin) and Leslie Pool (North Central Austin) echoed the pro-Courthouse representative's bureaucratic solidarity argument. When Council member Troxclair attempted to forward the resolution to the full council, she couldn't find a second.
Bottom Line: While the resolution was unsuccessful, today's hearing highlighted public interest in a better alternative to the current proposal. Rather than a playground for rich downtown lawyers on prime real estate, Travis County needs a courthouse for everyone. Public demand exists.
Highlighting the logistical nightmare of the current proposal, within two minutes and half-a-block of City Hall, we saw this:
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
“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.”
Planned Parenthood South Austin -- Tonight, the Central Texas Coalition for Life launched the Fall 2015 campaign outside the Planned Parenthood facility in South Austin. Dozens of people showed up to pray for an end to abortion in our city. Executive director Heather Gardner emceed the event.
40 Days for Life is a uniquely effective pro-life ministry. It began in College Station (credit where due to the Aggies...gig 'em) in 2007 and since gone global. Among its accomplishments:
Over 579 cities in all 50 states and have conducted a 40 day prayer vigil at the local abortion facility At least 30 different countries have conducted a 40 day prayer vigil including: England, Northern Ireland, Brazil, Peru, Canada, Australia, Denmark, and Spain Over 10,330 women haven chosen life for children they were going to abort – because of the peaceful presence of people in front of the abortion facilities at least 118 workers in abortion facilities have had conversions and at least 60 abortion facilities have closed their doors and shut down for good Thousands upon thousands of men and women with abortions in their past have finally found healing
They've also seen miracles locally:
213 women have chosen life for 216 babies that were going to be aborted (three women were pregnant with twins) 7 workers have had conversions and left the abortion industry for good! Over 3,000 people have brought prayer to the streets of Austin in front of these abortion facilities People from more than ONE HUNDRED churches have united arm-in-arm at the local 40 Days for Life prayer vigils Thousands of women have been redirected tofor help through their pregnancy and beyond Many men and women with Local newspapers, radio stations and magazines have featured the local 40 Days for Life helping to spread awareness about the injustice we stand against
Gardner also discussed 40 Churches for 40 Days, whereby an individual Church can commit to covering one days' worth of prayer shifts during the campaign.
Bottom Line: 40 Days for Life is one of the most effective pro-life ministries in existence; learn more and sign up here.
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them."
Dallas Morning-News, Letter to the Editor:
Keep in mind, this was written before we knew the full story about the "clock" or the father.MacArthur’s exemplary recordI am writing this in response to the recent case of Ahmed Mohamed. I am an American-born Muslim and resident of Irving since 1994. Both my siblings and, recently, my niece have all graduated from MacArthur. Since January 2015, my son has also attended the school.Never through any one of my family members’ experiences have I heard of an act of prejudice or racism against them from MacArthur staff. In my own experience with staff, from Principal Daniel Cummings to the front office, counselors and math and science teachers, I have only been treated with kindness and respect.The concerned public should be aware of the recent shootings on Aug. 29 in southern Irving by two students attending other high schools in Irving. It is no wonder that teachers and staff are on high alert. In this day and age, can we take any safety for granted?I implore the concerned public not to judge MacArthur and its staff so quickly. Just as America-loving Muslims hope that we may not be judged as terrorists, we must also not be quick to judge this school as being racist. There is always more to the story than meets the eye.Fatema Biviji, South Irving
Monday, September 21, 2015
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled."
Last week, there was significant social media buzz as Governor Abbott commented about the case with Ahmed Mohammed in Irving, TX. We don't want to comment on that case or the Governor. But it did re-enforce something we already knew about the media.
Abbott didn't discuss "Ahmed" on his own. Neither was he asked about it by anyone attending the event. He was asked about it by the press.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Governor had no jurisdiction over this case.
By contrast, consider the lawless Texas Racing Commission.
A little less than a month ago, the Texas Racing Commission engaged in a staggering act of bureaucratic Chutzpah. They did so in direct opposition to the Texas Senate. It's a classic case of governmental malfeasance.
The kicker: Governor Abbott has direct authority in this case.
Bottom Line: For the press to ask the Governor about a click-baitey, sensationalized national story (that he can't do anything about) instead of the lawless actions of a rogue state agency (where he has direct authority), tells you everything you need to know about the press.
"So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."
We didn't attend Greg Fenves' Texas Tribune appearance this morning, but we did watch the livestream. While it didn't inspire, it wasn't as actively terrible as it could have been . We suppose going from bad to uninteresting represents modest progress.
Fenves discussed a number of topics, we'll discuss them by level of interest rather than chronologically:
- Public Information -- By far, the most stimulating moment of the discussion came during the Q&A when a former employee of the organization asked about the open records process. Apparently, she's been trying to get her personnel files from the University and has been stonewalled. Fenves predictably deflected the question but it was still fun to watch him squirm.
- "Research" -- Fenves spoke about "tying research and classroom education" closer together. He also gave some vague edu-babble about "research" being some sort of cornerstone of academic "excellence." Obviously, academic research can be a meritorious pursuit, but "research" is frequently a euphemism U.T. uses to dump their teaching load off on low-paid teaching assistants.
- Tuition -- Fenves refused to rule out a tuition hike. That being said, he didn't appear eager to kick that hornet's nest. Fenves also laughably referred to University operations as "efficient."
- Admissions -- Fenves gave the standard "everyone does it" company line. According to Greg Fenves: "I think Bill Powers had done what other Presidents have done" and was "consistent with past practices." Of course, not everyone allows the progeny of powerful legislators to attend law school despite having scored a 155 on his LSAT's.
- Athletics -- Fenves predictably gave the optimistic case for the Football team. For the first time in several years, this website actually believes the optimistic case might have merit. Without making a specific commitment, he suggested the process to replace Steve Patterson would heat up after the NCAA basketball tournament.
- Campus Carry -- Fenves correctly pointed out that the bill that passed earlier this year wouldn't change much. He discussed how firearms are already permitted on the outdoor areas of campus and that the new law merely meant they were allowed indoors as well. Still, his position was light years better than the one Bill McRaven took earlier this year.
- Fischer Case -- Expect oral arguments to me made sometime in March and a decision no later than June.
Bottom Line: The Greg Fenves era might not be marked by great reform, but it could be a time when we stop actively making matters worse. Time will tell. Besides, Wallace Hall seems to like him....
Saturday, September 19, 2015
"There is desirable treasure,
And oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man squanders it."
We were reading an article about the $250 million in public subsides that Presidential candidate Scott Walker has committed to building a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks when we realized something.
The $250 million that Scott Walker has committed to that project is still less money than the $287 million (plus interest) Travis County is asking voters to approve for the new courthouse.
And at least Milwaukee's getting an arena out of the deal; while we certainly don't approve of those types of public subsidies, at least they're building something a decent percentage of the population will use.
By contrast, no one's going to use this courthouse except a small cadre of rich downtown lawyers.
Bottom Line: For Travis County to be spending more money on this courthouse than AN ENTIRE STATE is spending on a slightly more useful boondoggle illustrates the absurdity of this proposal.
Friday, September 18, 2015
"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Texas Land and Cattle -- At last night's Central Texas Republican Assembly meeting, three SD-24 candidates committed to vote against Governor Abbott's next round of U.T. Regent nominees if they resemble his last round; a fourth candidate expressed similar sentiments when asked over Facebook.
Jon Cobb was the first to speak. He spoke at length about how Gubernatorial appointments are too powerful. He compared the recent round of subpar U.T. Regent appointments to similarly subpar appointments to the Lower Colorado River Authority.
Brent Mayes said "absolutely, there's no question" he would vote against Abbott's next round of nominees if the resemble the last round, he added "I would go against Dan Patrick if I had to."
Dawn Buckingham said "I have a bright orange 'Save Wallace Hall' T-Shirt at home". She offered to text this author a picture of the T-Shirt. After the meeting, she told us about a conversation she had with former Governor Perry in 2013 where he was conspicuously irritated by the jihad against Wallace Hall.
Upon returning home, we reached out to C.J. Grisham over Facebook: "This is a no brainer. The regents have still not answered for the admissions scandal. It would seem that Governor Abbott is rewarding bad behavior. I would be a no vote....I'm fed up with the establishment acceptance of sweeping scandal under the carpet. At some point we need to stop allowing this lack of transparency in virtually every department of government to go unchecked."
Konni Burton, Bob Hall, and Charles Schwertner were the only Senators to vote against Abbott's last round of U.T. nominees.
Bottom Line: The outgoing Senator in SD-24 was a rubber stamp for the U.T. politburo; any of the four candidates with whom we discussed this issue last night would be a GIGANTIC improvement.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
"He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor,
But a man of understanding holds his peace."
Last night's AWFUL G.O.P. Presidential "debate" reminded this website of the early-2000's television show "Elimidate."
The premise of the show was to have either 4 men competing over one woman or vice versa.
Whenever 4 men would compete over one woman, the results were predictable. During the opening round, the overwhelming majority of the guys would act cartoonishly hyper-masculine in a lame attempt to "out-alpha" each other. Meanwhile, the quietly confident guy ALWAYS made it to the second round.
In the awful "debate" last night, the overwhelming majority of the field tried too hard to impress and jockey for position. In doing so, they seemed desperate and pathetic. Position in the polls did not matter. Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina were just as terrible as Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee. Against this backdrop, the only candidate with the good sense to keep his mouth shut was Ted Cruz.
As Neil Strauss explained in his 2005 book "The Game":
Where the other guys on the show tried to suck up to Allison, Grimble leaned back and acted as if he were the prize. Where the other guys bragged about how successful they were, Grimble took the advice of his new guru and claimed to be a disposable lighter repairman. He made it past the first elimination.One of the most challenging tasks in politics is to avoid a rigged debate. Last night, CNN successfully provoked a "GOP Wrestlemania" among the overwhelming majority of the candidates. Ted Cruz was the only candidate who didn't play along.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."
While 10th amendment lawsuits and opinions on controversial topics generate more headlines, one of the most important day-to-day functions of the Texas Attorney General is to collect and disburse child support; in Ken Paxton's first year on the job, the A.G's office has SMASHED the previous record:
Bottom Line: It's a shame there are enough families breaking up and out of wedlock births to put us anywhere close to record setting territory, but given that reality it's heartening to see our state agencies achieving maximum results on this important issue with minimal overhead.
Texas Attorney General’s Child Support Division Sets Record by Collecting $3.9 Billion in Child Support for Texas ChildrenMonday, September 14, 2015 – Austin, Texas
"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
From Texas Values:
5 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Houston's November “HERO” Vote
On Tuesday, November 3rd, Houston voters will finally have a chance to vote for or against the controversial LGBT “Equal Rights” Bathroom Ordinance (or HERO), known as Proposition 1 on the ballot. The election is already drawing national attention as it will have a tremendous impact on future religious freedom battles across the country. All eyes will be on Houston.
The vote comes after a more than yearlong campaign by Houston Mayor Annise Parker toillegally disenfranchise voters and intimidate opponents, including efforts to silence Houston pastors by attempting to subpoena their sermonsand private church communications. A unanimous Texas Supreme Court ruled against the Mayor in July, ordering the Council to stop enforcement of the ordinance and “comply with its duties” to allow Houstonians to vote on the issue.
With Election Day closing in, a thorough analysis reveals the ordinance is about giving local government new power to force private individuals and businesses to affirm homosexual conduct and actual or perceived “gender identity” under threat of serious criminal penalties. Openly lesbian Mayor Parker admitted as much during the original debate over the ordinance in 2014, when she said in her own words ‘This [ordinance] is about me.’
Here are five key points about the ordinance that all Houston voters should consider:
- The ordinance will allow men access to women’s bathrooms, shower rooms, and locker rooms (any “place of public accommodation”).
- The ordinance would force employers and private business owners to violate their religious and moral convictions.
- The ordinance promotes government-backed discrimination by seeking to criminalize opposition to homosexual and transgender behavior.
- The ordinance equates race with sexual conduct.
- The ordinance increases government interference in the private sector by mandating employment of homosexual and transgendered persons.
CLICK HERE to view our full analysis of the ordinance.
Early voting begins on October 19th and the last day to register to vote is October 5th. Houston voters will also have a chance to vote for Mayor and City Council in the election. Our friends at the Houston Area Pastor Council are hosting a Candidate Forum this Thursday, September 17 at Houston’s First Baptist Church (more details here).
We encourage all Houstonians to ensure they are registered and prepared to vote in the November 3rd election. Click here to visit the Harris County voter registration page.