Saturday, April 30, 2016

Patrick BURNS Taxpayer Funded Lobbyists!!!

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

Lt. Governor Patrick testified at a Senate hearing on Property taxes last week:


  • "You say you have police issues and court issues, how 'bout the people who live in your district who have lost their job?!?"
  • Real people have issues, judge, and they have to live within their means."
  • "There's a lot of confusion, members, some of it planted by consultants and lobbyists about what we're attempting to do."
  • "I've seen the e-mails' where taxpayer funded lobbyists are telling local officials no to compromise.
  • 84% of Texans approved property tax relief constitutional amendment last fall; imagine what we could do for more substantial reform.
  • "Ignore your consultants and your lobbyists, who make three and four and five hundred thousand dollars per year and do not have the best interest of your constituents at heart."
  • "If you take the position that says no, we're not going to negotiate, we're not going to compromise, then you will have missed the train that's already leaving the station and don't complain."

Friday, April 29, 2016

How Big Government is Driving Out Ridesharing

For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. 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

Texas Public Policy Foundation -- Yesterday afternoon, TPPF hosted a policy primer to discuss regulatory issues related to ridesharing.  Obviously, this is happening in the context of the upcoming Prop. 1 referendum.  Panelists were Senator Don Huffines, Councilmember Ellen Troxclair, Josiah Neely of the R Street institute, and Joe Deshotel of the Travis County Democrat Party.

Troxclair explained how the regulations council passed don't create a level playing field across the ride for hire industry.  To do so would require either forcing TNC's into the city's franchise system (*SHUDDER*) or eliminate the arbitrary cap on taxi's (which we'd love, but of which the Taxi companies are the strongest opponent).  She also pointed out it might be impossible to regulate TNCs and taxis the same way, just as it's impossible to regulate cell phones and landline or Netflix and Blockbuster in the same way.

Troxclair also made a very good point about why Uber and Lyft have leverage in the first place.  They only have leverage because the service is incredibly valuable.  Hundreds of people don't stay at a council meeting until the wee hours of the morning unless they care about the issue.  65,000 people don't sign a petition unless the feeling is widespread.  That's the response to the silly "Uber and Lyft are buying an election" narrative.

Senator Huffines discussed state level pre-emption.  He considered this in the context of local government accountability.  As Senator Huffines said, "local control is not a blank check" when municipalities infringe upon the liberties of their citizens.  His goal would be to pass a bill that "levels the playing field with no regulations."  This was the first time we'd heard him talk about this issue.  He brought up a really good point when he asked if we should also fingerprint passengers to prevent harm to the driver.  We pray he doesn't give anyone ideas.

Deshotel voiced concerns the Uber and Lyft would eventually become a monopoly.  The thought was that because the companies use investor capital to keep prices for consumers low, eventually they'll raise prices after they price the incumbent providers out of existence.  We don't share that concern.  We're old enough to remember when people said the same thing about Amazon fifteen years ago.  To this day, that still hasn't happened.

Deshotel correctly pointed out that this discussion will not end with Prop. 1.  We agree with that prediction but disagree as to what it means for Prop. 1.  We believe Prop. 1 passing is the only way to get the taxi companies to acquiesce to meaningful deregulation.

Regardless of what happens with Prop. 1, this debate is going to continue for awhile.  Yesterday's primer was a good discussion of the landscape moving forward.  Kudos to TPPF.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ken Paxton at NE Tarrant Tea Party

"Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
2 Timothy 3:12

Ken Paxton spoke at NE Tarrant Tea Party last weekend; it's the biggest update we've heard from him in awhile:

  • "If you are running statewide and you don't win Tarrant County, you don't get elected."
  • None of the newspapers supported his AG campaign, so it's not surprising they're attacking him now."
  • "Sometimes your biggest challenge is not the Democratic [sic] party, it's people in our own party."
  • "The reality is, when you go down to Austin and you're going to stick to your conservative principles, there are those in our own party oftentimes who find that too enlightening for them because they have their own path they want to take."
  • State bar is investigating his law license.
  • 4 issues on which AG's office is focusing:
    • Law enforcement.
    • Religious Liberty
    • Life
    • Tenth Amendment
  • HB 2 was successful at 5th Circuit.
  • Sued Obama admin. 9 times since taking office.
  • Amnesty - We won at the 5th circuity, so we win with a tie.
  • "If the Supreme Court tells us President Obama can change the law, Congress is irrelevant."
  • "If you're reading stuff about me in the paper, please don't believe it."

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

3rd Court of Appeals hears Laura Pressley

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

3rd Court of Appeals -- This afternoon, the 3rd Court of Appeals hear Laura Pressley's appeal of the summary judgement issued last year in her election contest against Greg Casar.  If Pressley's appeal is successful, it would remand the case back to the trial court for a full trial.  Most importantly, re-instating Pressley's lawsuit would resume the process of discovery that was aborted with the summary judgement.

Judge Melissa Goodwin voiced concerns about whether or not proceeding with Pressley's lawsuit would "disenfranchise voters."  Pressley's attorney, David Rogers, correctly pointed out that the voters were already disenfranchised when "Travis County dropped the ball."  Travis County disenfranchised the voters with their failure to follow Texas Election Code; holding Travis County accountable for their actions doesn't disenfranchise anything.

The case hinges on the difference between 'ballot images' and 'cast vote records.'  During the recount, Travis County was able to produce the latter but not the former.  Cast vote records are a tally sheet for total votes cast.  Ballot images are manuscripts of how individual voters voted.  Consider the difference:

Casar's lawyer claimed a "CVR is the same thing as a ballot image."  Obviously, that isn't true.  Pressley's lawyers explained that the whole point of the recount was to verify what the cast vote records were claiming.  That's why you need the ballot images.  That's why we're here.

The other major issue was the fact that Travis County didn't print out 'zero tapes' during early voting.  Zero tapes are the daily election results for each polling location.  The Texas Election Code requires election judges to print zero tapes DAILY during early voting.  Casar's lawyer pointed out that the secretary of state had granted Travis County a waiver from this provision.  Of course, waiver or no, that doesn't change the fact that Travis County failed to follow Texas Election Code (Sidenote; That the Sec'y of State is advising counties to break the law is the subject for another day.)

The final issue concerned the financial sanctions the trial court placed on Pressley and her lawyer.  Rogers pointed out how most of the alleged  issues that led to the sanctions had never occurred.  Discussing these issues, Casar's attorney spoke in favor of the sanctions to prevent the "dangerous" precedent of candidates filing election challenges.

At the end of the day, victory would mean returning this case to the lower court to hold a full trial.  Most important, it would re-open the process of discovery that the summary judgement short-circuited.  The Court of Appeals should rule in about a month.

Texas Senate begins to act on Tuition

"Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord."
Colossians 3:20

Yesterday, Lt. Governor Patrick and Sen. Seliger held a press conference to discuss recent tuition hikes at Texas' public universities.  The press conference was followed by a hearing in the Higher education committee.  The combined press conference and hearing began to reveal details of the tuition related actions the Lt. Governor assured us were coming in our interview last fall.

The biggest takeaway is that tuition related bills will be priority legislation for the Texas Senate next session.  Lt. Governor Patrick assured the press conference that something addressing tuition "will have a low bill number."  The precise details are still in flux.  A redux of Sen. Schwertner's tuition bill might be the approach the Senate takes, but it also might not.  Nonetheless, Lt. Governor Patrick warned the universities: "it's safe to say, there's a new crew [in the Texas Senate]."

Lt. Governor Patrick spoke very favorably about ending tuition "set asides."  These set asides are a resdistributive tax through which one group of students subsidizes the tuition of a more politically favored group.  Senator Seliger bemoaned one university system that increased it's budget 5-fold in just nine years.  The Lt. Governor also voiced his displeasure at the obscene salary increases we've seen recently at public universities (UT, of course, is the worst offender, but none of the Universities' noses are clean here).  Most interestingly, the Lt. Governor assured that the next round of regental confirmation will have lots of questions about costs and tuition.  In what can only be seen as a de facto endorsement of Wallace Hall, Lt. Governor Patrick said "[The Board of Regents'] job is not to be a rubber stamp for our higher education."  Time will tell how much they listen.

Higher Education coordinating board chairman Raymund Paredes led of the hearing.  He made a lot of bureaucratic excuses about tuition in Texas being less out of control than other states.   This reminded us of Michael Quinn Sullivan's old quip about Texas being "the least drunk state at the bar."  Another shocking aspect to which Paredes testified is the financial illiteracy of students taking out loans.  There are, literally, students in Texas who don't know they've taken out loans until the repayment calls start.  Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp and Tech chancellor Bob Duncan testified next.  They made the difficult to believe claim that administrative costs were less than 7% of each system's respective budget.

Bill McRaven testified next.  Unfortunately, his testimony occurred at the same time as the Franklin Graham event, so we didn't witness it.  Apparently, the Senators tore him a new one over the tuition hike and the Houston expansion.

One interesting political note: to his credit, it appears (Higher Ed Chairman) Seliger is on board with the Senate's efforts.  This is notable, considering that Seliger has historically been one of the bad guys on Higher Ed.  We don't know if Seliger's motivation is genuine or political, but either way it's a very positive sign moving forward (and, we suspect, a tremendous credit to the Lt. Governor).

Bottom Line: For the Universities to raise tuition over the objections of the Texas Senate was the equivalent of poking a sleeping bear with a stick.  Yesterday, the bear began clearing the cobwebs.  This is going to be a really fun subplot next session.


Lt. Governor Patrick's statement:
AUSTIN - Today, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Senate Higher Education Committee Chair Kel Seliger held a press conference to address data collected related to skyrocketing university tuition, fee rates and student debt.

"The issue of rising tuition and rising student debt is of great public concern," said Patrick. "It is the responsibility of the legislature to respond and work with our higher education institutions to lower costs. After passing a budget that increased funding for higher education by 8.9 percent last session, universities quickly raised their tuition rates. Since 2002, university tuition and fees increased 147 percent while the median household income and consumer price index have only increased 32 percent. Costs have simply outpaced what families are earning and able to pay.

"Next session the Senate will look closely at a number of cost reforms, including performance-based funding, which brings increased accountability and affordability back by requiring education institutions to meet high performance targets before increasing tuition above inflation.

"The issue of rising tuition rates and student debt must end and I will do what it takes to bring relief to hard-working families across Texas," concluded Patrick.

To see the press conference on tuition rates and student debt from this morning click here:

TPPF's statement:

TPPF Statement on Rising Tuition and
Student Debt for Higher Education

AUSTIN – Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Higher Education Policy Analyst Trevor McGuire issued the following statement on Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s and Texas State Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Kel Seliger’s announcement to address high tuition costs and student debt:

            “The cost of tuition in Texas has increased 149 percent since tuition deregulation, almost five times the growth of the median income in Texas over the same period,” said McGuire. “We support the Lt. Governor and Senator Seliger’s plan for addressing the issues of tuition and student debt by considering performance-based funding, the elimination of tuition set-asides, and reining-in excessive administrative costs during the next legislative session. The Legislature should address these three issues, which primarily affect four-year institutions, while also providing sufficient attention and resources to Texas’s community and technical colleges – where both student debt and tuition are much lower than at four-year institutions.

            “While the most effective solutions to rising tuition costs and student debt will be those developed collaboratively between the Legislature, colleges and universities, and the Coordinating Board, we are encouraged by the Lt. Governor’s promise to hold university regents more accountable if suitable progress cannot be made toward making Texas higher education more affordable.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"While You're in Town": An Open Letter to Franklin Graham

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

[Author's Note: If readers are so inclined, they can tweet this post to @Franklin_Graham.]

Dear Reverend Graham,

Welcome to Austin.  I'm a blogger here in town.  My most famous piece of work came in 2013, when I released video of pro-Abortion protesters at the Capitol chanting "Hail Satan."

I'm writing to discuss a frequently overlooked issue on which the Church can be salt and light in the political arena.  Furthermore, salt and light on this issue will disproportionately cleanse the rot at the heart of our political system.  I'm talking about financial righteousness and unwavering opposition to the wicked, unbiblical, practice of economic protectionism.

It doesn't take a genius to see that big business is not our friend.  You live in North Carolina, so you're probably following the corporate bullying closer than me.  Here in Texas, the corrupt merchants at the Texas Association of Business have launched a similar economically fraudulent campaign against religious liberty.  Big business is carrying water for the big government social agenda.  But the solution isn't boycotts.  The solution is competition.  That's why the Church in America needs to support policies and ministries that encourage entrepreneurship and startup culture.

There is a a strong Biblical case for what I propose.  A major theme of Proverbs is the condemnation of unjust accumulation and praise for honest industry.  Whenever a corporation jacks a regulation in its favor or gets a bailout, that's an unjust weight and measure.  The riot at Ephesus was about Economic Protectionism.  For every Bible verse about sex, there are approximately ten about money.

Obviously, the Bible discusses debt and taxes at length.  America is rapidly becoming enslaved to our lenders, and this includes our state and local governments.  Every penny of debt we allow Caesar to impose strengthens this wicked system.  Here in Austin, we've defeated three bonds in the last three years.  While Jesus commands us to pay taxes, He also commands tax collectors to not abuse citizens.  High taxes also played an important role in splitting the ancient kingdom.  Legally cutting off Caesar's lifeblood, from our local communities on up, will pay dividends on numerous other issues.

Here in Austin, we have an example of this approach's success.  One of our local city council members, Don Zimmerman, is a strong Christian who originally developed a reputation as a champion for taxpayers.  His opponent was president of the local gay and lesbian chamber of commerce.  Obviously, the gay and lesbian part demonstrates his support for that agenda.  But, due to the Chamber of Commerce part, he was also on record supporting unpopular "economic development" subsidies for Apple.  Don's opposition to that Apple deal helped get him across the finish line in a very close race.  You read that right: opposition to special interest tax-subsidies helped defeat the rainbow flag!

I do not propose this course of action instead of focusing on the issues in which we are now engaged.  What I'm saying is that a commitment to financial righteousness and opposition to economic protectionism will weaken the forces of the status quo.  Weakening this wicked status quo will give us the space we need to successfully pursue our agenda on life, marriage, and religious liberty.  With every tax abatement, every jacked up regulation, and every subsidy this wicked status quo gains strength.  Every penny of government spending we cut, and restriction upon economic liberty we repeal, weakens it.  Economic protectionism is the unguarded underbelly of the status quo, and there's a strong Biblical case for going after it.  As you travel the country and encourage Christians to engage the political process, I ask you to keep this issue in mind.

Adam Cahn
Austin, TX
April 26, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016


"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
Ephesians 6:12

Amen to all of this:

Voters Beware: Iceberg Ahead!
Posted by Read King on Monday, April 25, 2016


  • There's a lot that happens in the legislature that the voters don't see; a lot of discussion happens "off the floor."
  • We need more flashlights in dark corners.
  • Doesn't want to spend decades in elected office.
  • Calls BS on the notion "you can't be effective" on day 1.
  • "We don't need to have someone who's there forever."

Austin Code Compliance's Latest ABOMINATION....

"If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them."
Ecclesiastes 5:8

Your tax dollars at work.  This is like some horrific hybrid of Parks and Recreation and the Trailer Park Boys.  Check out the degree to which they portray the citizens with whom they interact as blithering idiots while the code compliance bureaucrats are benevolently protecting those idiots from themselves:

No comment necessary; these speak for themselves.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Revelation 3:148-22 -- The LUKEWARM Church (Part 2)

"I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”
Revelation 3:18-22

Pastor Danny Forshee.  Great Hills Baptist Church.  July 27, 2014:

The Lukewarm Church, Part 2 - Dr. Danny Forshee - July 27, 2014 from Great Hills Baptist Church on Vimeo.

  1. Exhortation (vv. 18-19)

    Jesus' actions
         i. He Counsels
              - Purchase genuine Gold (comes through refinement/difficulty)
         ii. He Loves
         iii. He Rebukes
         iv. He Chastens

    The Church's Actions
         i. Be Zealous
         ii. Repent
  2. Invitation (v. 20)
  3. Exhaltation (v. 21)
  • The Lord is knocking on the door of His own Church, asking to be let in.
  • Sometimes, we just have to go through the fire.
  • Life is too short for Jesus not to be in His Church.
  • There's nothing wrong with wealth; the problem comes when we allow wealth to usurp the place of God in our lives.
  • "The Church at Laodecia...had removed themselves from difficulty."
    • When you're serving the Lord, you WILL have difficulty.
  • There was a missionary couple in Chad during a SEVERE drought.  After all the islamic and pagan prayers had failed, the couple went around to the farmers and asked if they could pray in Jesus' name.  Only three said yes, and "only [those] three received water and they produced a miraculous crop."
  • The Insanity of Obedience: Everything God did in the Bible, He's still doing today.
  • The Church in America got from where it was in the 1950's and 60's to where it is today though a series of incremental compromises.
  • The Devil is patient....
  • If there is a void, eventually it's going to be filled by either God or the Devil.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Zimmerman smokes out Council's anti-Christian Bigotry

"who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."
Romans 1:25

[Author's Note: It gets better, read the Austin Chronicle's conniption fit here.]

This is great:
Council Member Ann Kitchen brought forth a resolution authorizing the city to get involved in the "Compassionate Communities Campaign." It's something other major cities have done. Kitchen says it's just meant to encourage everyone in town to practice compassion -- not that we don't already.

Council Member Don Zimmerman took issue with this earlier in the week at the work session, saying the resolution had religious if council is bringing religion to the table why not extend that "compassion" to unborn children?

Fast forward to Thursday's City Council discussion on the resolution.

Zimmerman had drafted 3 amendments. One of them focused on Jesus and another instructing Council to set a time for "Serve the Lord Week"' It was a "no-go" on those two but to Zimmerman's surprise, Kitchen accepted his first amendment.

The first paragraph of the amendment was language from the "Compassion Charter." The second paragraph, according to Zimmerman, was made up of language similar to that of the compassion charter:

"WHEREAS, One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason; One's body is inviolable, subject to one's own will alone; the spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word."

But then, Zimmerman let the cat out of the bag about where that language actually came from.

"Those 3 sentences that I added came from the satanic temple website. Most of my constituents in District 6 all believe in Jesus, that he's the resurrected Messiah and he's their Savior. But I probably do have a handful of satanists in an area of 80,000 people," Zimmerman said.


Zimmerman tells Fox 7 he was making a point that Council rejected the Christian amendments but seemed ok with the satanic language before they knew what it really was.
Read the whole thing here.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Maura Phelan updates state of the Travis County DA race

"The righteous is delivered from trouble,
And it comes to the wicked instead."
Proverbs 11:8

Maura Phelan spoke to the Central Texas Republican Assembly last night about the the DA's race:


  • Travis county DA has civil divisions that handle mental health and child removal situations.
    • "Those two divisions in our DA's office are completely underserved."
    • 1 prosecutor for 10,000 cases.
  • 30% of our jail population is mental health issues.
    • "This is very expensive."
  • "Our District Attorney's office has no standards for plea bargains."
    • "This is why we have a huge disparity in sentences for people with the same offense and the same background....THAT'S GOTTA CHANGE!"
  • "I'm getting a lot of support from...the East side."
  • "A lot of support from formerly incarcerated persons who can vote and who want to help because they want to see this change."
  • It's been 30 years since the D candidate has been in courtroom.
  • "The last time she represented the state in a felony offense...was when I wan in junior high and the last last time she was a misdemeanor prosecutor when she was county attorney was when I was an undergrad."

Thursday, April 21, 2016

RUNOFF ENDORSEMENT: Dawn Buckingham for SD-24!!!

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

In SD-24, we supported Brent Mayes in the first round.  Obviously, that didn't pan out.  Backing Dawn Buckingham in the runoff is an easy choice.

On Primary election day we worked the same polling location as Dawn.  Over the course of a ten hour day, we had an extended opportunity to get to know her.  We discussed the ups and downs of the campaign, and the state of both Texas and the world.  It was a very reassuring conversation.  While we don't have permission to reveal the details, suffice to say Dawn Buckingham's views on the Federal Reserve system warm our heart.

But let's address the 800 pound gorilla in the room: TMA.  There's no denying that Dawn Buckingham has a long history with the Texas Medical Association.  That history was our dealbreaker issue in the first round.  As part of that history, she's also made campaign donations to several bad elected officials.  We've asked her about it several times, and that history was a major topic during the primary day conversation we mentioned above.  Dawn has always stated that, as a conservative, she thought she could be more effective working to change TMA from the inside than throwing rocks from the outside.  We don't particularly agree with that logic, but we understand it and accept it in this one case.

That being said, no discussion of the Texas Medical Association and the SD-24 race would be complete without discussing Dawn's opponent: Susan King.  While Dawn has certainly worked with TMA over the years, Susan King's husband ran TMA during the last legislative session.  In addition, Susan King is a well documented liberal who currently serves as a Joe Straus committee chair in the Texas House.  In other words, both candidates in this race have ties to TMA, but one is a Joe Straus lieutenant while the other has a pretty big liberty streak.

Speaking of Dawn Buckingham's liberty streak, earlier today she appeared at a Texas Tribune event.  At that event, she gave strong answers on religious liberty and the second amendment.  On religious liberty, she spoke in support of protections similar to those recently passed in North Carolina.  She also told us after the event that she doesn't buy this silly notion that protecting religious liberty is bad for business.  On the second amendment, she turned a gotcha question into an unprompted opportunity to voice her support for constitutional carry!!!

On education, Dawn voiced support for school choice while Susan King has been endorsed by Jimmie Don Aycock; we will also point out that we have Dawn on record as being willing to vote against the next round of bad UT regents.

Considering the candidates, this one's an easy choice: Dawn Buckingham for SD 24!!!


Watch Dawn's TribTalk below:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

David Simpson and the Educrats: Strike Two

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

First he gets into bed with the Ratliff family, now this:
Seventeen East Texas school superintendents have endorsed David Simpson for Senate District 1 in the May 24 runoff, including Longview ISD Superintendent James Wilcox.

Simpson faces state Rep. Bryan Hughes in the GOP runoff.

"I feel Rep. Simpson was responsive when he represented the district in the House," Wilcox said Friday. "The No. 1 reason I am endorsing Simpson is that I don't think David will be influenced by outside groups or interests. When you have an elected official that is controlled by interests in his home district, he has no representation at all. I think he will be his own man and will not be pressured by outside groups or individuals."

White Oak ISD Superintendent Michael Gilbert said he has met and worked in past legislative sessions with Simpson and Hughes.

"(Simpson) will be a strong voice for all students in the Senate district, despite the efforts of our lieutenant governor to divert taxpayer funds to finance private schools," Gilbert said in a statement.

Simpson said he looks ahead to public school funding in the next legislative session.

"As we enter the next legislative session, funding battles for our public schools will be the greatest challenge faced by our elected officials," Simpson said in a statement.

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
Read the whole thing here.

Austin Code Compliance FAILS TO COMPLY with it's own standards

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

As if code compliance wasn't bad enough:
The city of Austin has created its own version of a swarm of officers, though unlike King George’s swarm, they apparently don’t require training.
A draft report from the city of Austin titled “Consistency of Austin Code Investigations and Resolutions Audit” finds that “25 out of 70 (or 36 percent) of field and division management staff do not meet the current, more stringent, minimum qualifications now required by the department.” Further, the audit found that of 306 code complaints examined, there were shortcomings found in about 77 percent.
Recall that among the city of Austin’s burgeoning code enforcement officer duties are enforcing rules for short-term rentals, garage conversions, hauler for hire (regulations over taking windstorm debris out of someone’s backyard for pay) as well as more mundane health and safety issues. Thing is, the audit found that the city of Austin was itself a threat to its citizens, as noted on Page 7: “Finding 2: Investigation and resolution practices relating to city-owned properties often differed from established Austin Code policies and procedures, which may allow violations on city-owned property to persist and negatively affect citizen safety.” The audit further found delayed investigations when city property was the focus, along with “less extensive (investigations of city property) than the requirements prescribed in policy.”
Translated from auditese, the city’s official policy could be summed up as, “Do as we say, not as we do.”
The auditors even found a lack of protections against self-dealing among the code corps such that field staff could be called upon to investigate their own property. (Nothing to see here citizen, move along. …)
This raises questions about Austin, home to some of Texas’ highest taxes. High taxes levied on a healthy tax base allow for a large government footprint. This allows for all kinds of things for government to get involved in, from seemingly endless attempts to build or expand urban rail systems to maintaining a staff of inadequately trained code inspectors empowered to harass the population.
The city of Austin would do well to do less and do it better.
Read the whole thing here.

Straus greasing the skids for SPENDING SPREE....

"Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished,
But he who gathers by labor will increase."
Proverbs 13:11

[Update: Empower Texans has more here.]

The contrast couldn't be stronger.  Yesterday, we reported on the Texas Senate's moving towards zero-based budgeting.  Joe Straus' reaction:
AUSTIN — House Speaker Joe Straus warned lawmakers Tuesday that, with revenue tightening and an urgent need to selectively boost spending on protecting children and pensioners, writing a Texas budget next year will be “a significant challenge.”


Straus also noted that the Texas Supreme Court, in yet another school finance lawsuit, may soon rule against the state. That could “potentially require a significant infusion of additional state funds,” he said.

The Teacher Retirement System’s health insurance program continues to be underfunded, even after lawmakers gave it more money last year, Straus said.

“A sustainable, long-term solution is still needed,” he said.

While lawmakers want to keep Texas’ reputation intact as a low-tax state, Straus urged House members to look for creative solutions to its fiscal challenges — and keep an eye on places where it needs to spend more.

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
Translation: In the event of an unfavorable school finance ruling, hang onto your wallets; we would not be surprised to see the House advocate for either a tax increase or a major raid on the rainy day fund.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Texas Senate moving towards Zero-Based budgeting!!!

"The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing;
But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich."
Proverbs 13:4

Press release from Konni Burton this morning:

Bottom Line: It'll probably take a few sessions to implement this policy across the board.  But you have to start somewhere.  Kudos to Lt. Gov. Patrick and Sens. Nelson and Burton for getting the ball rolling.

Cruz Radio Ad DISEMBOWELS DeBlasio....

saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”
Luke 4:34



  • DeBlasio's socialist policies are tearing this city apart.
  • Murder's up nearly 10%; he treats cops like criminals and criminals like freedom fighters.
  • Now he's meddling in the Republican primary, campaigning against Cruz, because when Cruz is President, DeBlasio's done.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Digging deeper into the Obama administration's case against Ken Paxton

"Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
2 Timothy 3:12

Looks like Julie McCarty uncovered some very interesting information:

Let's see if you can follow this -- I'm pretty sure you'll connect the dots as easily as I did. Here are the facts...
***TX Atty Gen Ken Paxton has sued the Obama administration 9 times since taking office 2 years ago.
***The SEC has been investigating Paxton for almost 2 years now. He has cooperated fully in that investigation, turned over all requested documents and even testified under oath.
***Only now, after 2 years of investigating, and ONE WEEK before Paxton argues before the US Supreme Court regarding Obama's executive orders on immigration, the SEC brings charges against Paxton.
***The head guy at the SEC office who brought the CIVIL charges, Mr. Shipchandler, is a donor to Obama and other liberal Democrats. In fact, in 2014 he made 2 contributions to the democrat candidate for US Senate in Maine, Shenna Bellows, the Executive Director of the ACLU (Maine chapter).
Bottom Line: We're sure it's all one giant coincidence....

Politifact's LAME HATCHET JOB on Ellen Troxclair....

"having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed."
1 Peter 3:16

Politifact is trying to call Ellen Troxclair over something she said at a Prop. 1 forum a little over a week ago; at best, proved she cited a statistic that was incomplete.

At issue was Troxclair's claim that "When you look at the number of taxi drivers and the number of TNC drivers and the number of complaints that APD...has received over that time, you are about nine times more likely to be assaulted by a taxi driver."  They then compared Troxclair's interpretation of the data with the opinion of a couple local statistics professors.  All of which leads them to shriek "Pants on Fire!"

[Sidenote: Both sides are throwing out doomsday claims about sexual assault related to Taxis vs. TNC's.  We realized while writing this post that there are very few claims against either one.  However you feel about the underlying substance, your odds of being assaulted by either a Taxi driver or a TNC driver are minuscule.]

Troxclair aide Michael Searle explained the statistic to Politifact:
To our request for Troxclair's backup information, her aide Michael Searle emailed a document he said Troxclair received from the Austin Police Department listing all reported complaints to the police about assaults in taxi cabs or ride-hailed vehicles since 2014.


The document lists 37 reported incidents from Feb. 26, 2014, through Jan. 21, 2016, breaking out to 14 complaints about cabs, 21 complaints tied to vehicles driven for Uber or Lyft and two complaints related to "independent" ride-hailed vehicles. Each date-and-time entry indicates a crime ranging from assault "sexual nature" to sexual assault to rape.


Searle wrote: "If the estimate is that there are 15,000 TNC drivers, subject to name-based background checks, and there are 913 cab permits, subject to fingerprint background check, then you are 9 times more likely to be assaulted by a cab driver than a TNC driver in Austin."


Searle said Troxclair reached her "nine times" conclusion by dividing the 14 cab-connected complaints since June 2014 by the 913 cab permits (getting 0.015) and comparing that to what you get from juxtaposing the 23 ride-hail complaints versus 15,000 ride-hail drivers in Austin (or 0.0015) -- which actually suggests a 10-fold difference.
Given that taxi drivers and TNC drivers are subject to different screening procedures, it would be helpful to know how many assaults are committed by drivers subject to each.  Considering that the whole point of the anti-TNC ordinance was to mandate one of those procedures for everyone, it's actually very useful to know.  This isn't controversial.

But local statistics professors took issue with Ellen's characterization:
Rachelle Wilkinson, an adjunct professor of statistics at Austin Community College, said the calculations offered by Troxclair aren’t valid ways to gauge the relative incidences of sexual assaults. It’s "comparing apples to oranges (number of sexual assault reports to number of drivers)," Wilkinson said by email. "A much more valid way to look at the data would be to compare the sexual assault reports to the number of rides given---NOT the number of drivers. Taxi drivers tend to drive as their profession or job whereas ride-hailing drivers often do it on the side."

That is, the number of rides "given by taxi drivers is likely much higher (per driver) than the number of rides given by ride-hailing drivers (per driver)," Wilkinson wrote, adding that ride counts didn’t appear to be part of Troxclair’s backup. Also, Wilkinson suggested, the probability of such assaults appears to be extremely small whether riding in a taxi or a ride-hailed car, she wrote.

Carol Gee, a math professor at Austin’s St. Edward’s University, similarly said by email that from the perspective of a passenger seeking a safe ride, "it is likely more appropriate to measure safety by the number of incidents per trip, rather than the number of incidents per driver."

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
We don't disagree.  From the perspective of a passenger, assaults per trip are a more important consideration.  But the passenger's perspective isn't the only one relevant; in a discussion of whether or not to fingerprint drivers, the number of assaults per driver is very relevant.

So, at worst, you can cite Troxclair for making an incomplete argument, but that's not good enough for politifact:
Troxclair said statistics show "you are about nine times more likely to be assaulted by a taxi driver" in Austin than a driver for a ride-hailing service.

This claim shakes out to dividing oranges into apples and getting grapefruits--a ridiculous notion. Vital data, at the least about the number and length of trips by taxi cabs or ride-hailed vehicles, remains to be seen, making it impossible to definitively say which type of driver or ride more likely risks an assault. It's also worth mention that the chances of assault in either seems very low.

This leaves the "nine times" statement incorrect and ridiculous. Pants on Fire!
Not exactly Politifact; as we explained above:

  • Assaults per driver is a very relevant piece of data when examining the efficacy of fingerprint based background checks.
  • Assaults per trip is what's relevant to a passenger.
  • Your odds of being assaulted in either a taxi or a TNC driver are minuscule.
Bottom Line: Why give your readers a complete picture of the issue when there's a lazy narrative to push?!?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Revelation 3:14-17 -- The LUKEWARM Church (Part 1)

And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—"
Revelation 3:14-17

Pastor Danny Forshee.  Great Hills Baptist Church.  July, 20 2014:

The Lukewarm Church, Part 1 - Dr. Danny Forshee - July 20, 2014 from Great Hills Baptist Church on Vimeo.


  1. Identification (v. 14):
    A/ The Church at Laodecia
    B. The City of Laodecia
         i. Very, Very Wealthy.
    C. Jesus
         i. The Amen
           Isaiah 65:16
         ii. The Faithful and True Witness
           John 17:18-19
           John 20:21
         iii. The beginning of the creation of God.
           Colossians 1:15-16
  2. Examination (vv. 15-17):
  • The Bible says there will come a time when Russia is strong and Israel is in their homeland and it certainly looks like things are moving in that direction today.
  • Atheists always seems to hate the God they say they don't believe in.
  • Jesus wins and He wins through Love.
    • "If I were you, I'd get to know Him quick."
  • The Church at Laodecia is like a lot of American Churches.
    • Jesus wants to vomit them out of His mouth.
  • Apatheism -- You don't care if God exists or not.
  • Jesus Christ did not die on a cross and rise from the dead to fill heaven with a bunch of wimps.
  • "I don't want to burn out, I don't want to rust out, I want to max out."
  • "When the man of God, filled with the spirit of God preaches with the authority of God; God does something!"
  • Whatever you do, do not be lukewarm.
    • Church at Laodecia was comfortable where they were.
  • Jesus is Eternal; there has never been a time when Jesus didn't exist.\
  • A hardened, cold-hearted, atheist will often be more open tot he Gospel than a lukewarm psuedo-Christian who thinks he's ok."
  • No one is harder to reach for Christ than a psuedo-Christian.
  • "I've yet to see someone lose their zeal who shares their faith."

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Buchele Leads EMERGENT LONGHORNS in Spring Game

"To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:"
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Darryl K. Royal Memorial Stadium -- If you need one takeaway from today's Longhorn spring game, take this: Shane Buchele passed for two touchdowns while Tyrone Swoopes threw two picks.  Buchele would have threw for two more if his receivers had stayed in bounds.  Swoopes still has a role to play in short yardage situations, but after three years the time has come for the Longhorns to accept that Tyrone Swoopes simply isn't an accurate passer.

With Buchele under center, the Longhorns consistently moved the football in the medium yardage situations that killed the offense last season.  In addition to John Burt and Amanti Foreman, Buchele worked several new receivers into the mix.  Given the Longhorns strength in short yardage situations and their ability to break big plays,the offense could be really good if 4 to 7 yard situations are no longer a dead zone.

The best part for the offense is that the quarterback and the passing game don't have to be spectacular.  They just have to keep the defense honest.  The Longhorn running game didn't skip a beat from last season.  D'Onta Foreman and Chris Warren both scored touchdowns in dominant performances.  Junior Roderick Bernard didn't look bad either.

The defense was solid though not spectacular.  Obviously, they allowed the offense plays described above, but they also collected the two picks off of Swoopes.  While Malik Jefferson looked terrific as usual, but no one else stood out in either a positive or negative way.  The pass rush was strong while the run defense remains a work in progress.

We were surprised how many people showed up for an exhibition scrimmage in the middle of the rain that ended up being called at halftime.  The entire lower deck on the home side of the home side of the stadium was full and most of the middle sections on the visiting side were as well.  There were at least 15,000 people there though the number could have been as high as 20,000:

One personal note: Our co-worker Austin Willis walked on to the team as a tight end; even though he didn't play, it was a trip to see him in uniform:

Bottom Line: While the lionization of Shane Buchele we've seen in the press is wildly premature, he had a Strong performance (pun intended).  He climbed at least one place on the depth chart and set up a very interesting training camp competition with Jerrod Heard.  The holes that existed in last year, primarily the dead zone on offense between 4 and 7 yards, look like they've been addressed.  The running game remains dominant.  The pass rush is strong though the run defense remains a work in progress.  We expect the Longhorns to be significantly better this season, though how much better is anyone's guess.  For the first time in several years, there is real talent coming through this program.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Sanford calls Corporate America's Bluff

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
Ephesians 6:12

From Texas Values:
Texas State Representative Scott Sanford, author of the Pastor Protection law, joined by over 100 state legislators from across the country, sent an open letter to the NFL Commissioner, the Big 12 Commissioner, the CEO of the NCAA, the CEO of Marvel, and the CEO of Disney, requesting that the corporations reconsider their threats against states passing religious freedom bills.


The letter states in part:

“We write to you today because you recently issued statements against religious liberty legislation in various states around the country. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, we understand that you may have been misinformed and misguided into a position of condoning and promoting government use of the force of law against people of faith in America….

Freedom of conscience and freedom exercise of religion can include nothing less than the way a person lives all aspects of his or her life. As a nation, our laws must encourage and support, not penalize, citizens who seek to adhere to their moral convictions.

Government, unelected Justices, and big businesses should not be in the business of forcing individuals and entities to act in a manner that contradicts their conscience. The Obergefell decision, the United States Supreme Court’s effort to redefine marriage throughout America, has left private schools, charities, businesses, churches or individuals that disagree unprotected. We need laws protecting their right to live their faith, thus the reason for the recent bill in Georgia.


[I]f you were to remove your events and other economic activities from every state that already has significant religious liberty legislation or state court decisions with the same effect, you will find yourselves operating in an increasingly shrinking pool of states. As of now, 32 states contain these, and others are in the process of adoption.

Please ask yourselves this question: “Do we really want to live in a society where our government may, under the penalty of law, force its citizens to engage in the promotion or solemnization of an act that they find contrary to their conscience and their religious beliefs?” Your efforts are indeed forging a path that contradicts and undermines the principles and concepts that our Founders incorporated as the building blocks of this Constitutional Republic.
Read the whole thing here.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bills begin coming due for Team Straus' WILLFUL ECONOMIC SABOTAGE

"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Proverbs 29:1

Four years ago, we called Joe Straus an Obstacle to Prosperity; alongside Empower Texans, we made the following observation:
House Speaker Joe Straus refuses to make any commitments towards reducing spending, opposing new taxes, or preserving a strong Rainy Day Fund. He's sent out many signals since the end of the 82nd session indicating the state should instead look for more revenue....Joe Straus' spendthrift leadership is an obstacle to prosperity Texas cannot afford.
That was late 2012.  Since then, we've had the DISASTROUS 83rd session and the mediocre 84th.  While the 84th provided a small amount of tax relief (and a watered down gold bill), every other structural economic reform (eg. constitutional spending limits, restrictions on local debt, property tax APPRAISAL reform) has died.

And with those actions come predictable consequences:
Texas’ national economic rating has declined this year, according to a study conducted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). High property taxes, a local debt crisis, unfunded public pensions, and a large government workforce drove the downgrade.

Although Texas doesn’t have a state income tax for individuals, it relies on locally-levied property taxes creating a heavy burden on homeowners and businesses, ranking 14th most oppressive in the nation.

The 84th legislature did little to address this problem, while the Straus-appointed House conferees gutted the Senate’s tax relief proposal that ultimately passed, diminishing its long-term benefit to taxpayers.

The total debt service owed by Texans ranks 2nd highest in the nation, and originates primarily from cities, school districts, and counties. For example, local school districts hold a collective $117 billion in debt, spending ten cents of every educational dollar on interest expense annually.
 Bottom Line: We hate to say we told you so....

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Another round of BULLSHIT against Ken Paxton

"Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution."
2 Timothy 3:12

On Monday, the Obama administration filed a civil lawsuit against Ken Paxton; there's nothing new in their case except another legal bill for Ken and Angela.

The facts of the case haven't changed since last summer when Watchdog explained:
The two charges of fraud against Paxton don’t involve misrepresentation on Paxton’s part, or any other violation of a clear principle. Rather, the prosecutors think Paxton should have volunteered more information about his own investments in the course of selling stock in a company, and that his not doing so amounts to fraud.


Paxton isn’t being accused of telling a lie, which is a factual question. He’s being accused of the much more subjective charge of misleading investors by failing to state a material fact. Actually, the indictments just allege the failure to state a fact; they don’t explain how anyone was misled.


According to court records filed by the SEC, the kernel of truth to those claims was that Freescale had agreed to test the servers in mid-2012, and at the end of the year, an Amazon employee expressed interest in testing out one of Servergy’s servers for his personal use.

In early 2013, Mapp apparently emailed Paxton, among other people who solicited investors, bragging that he was about to ship his first order from Amazon.

One might assume Paxton then went and told investors about a pending Amazon contract that would send the stock value through the roof, only one would be wrong.

The two fraud indictments against Paxton are over solicitations made in July 2011, long before Mapp got the idea to talk up Freescale or Amazon.

Paxton’s name shows up once in the middle of a 143-page court filing in an otherwise obscure case, leading savvy observers to recognize that an operator somewhere put that item out. That, and the involvement of Cook, who’s closely allied with Speaker Joe Straus, a Paxton antagonist, is one of the factors suggesting forces at work behind the scenes.

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
The Obama administration's lawsuit against Ken doesn't contain any new accusations.  It merely rehashes the same nonsense we've already heard.  Unfortunately, it also entails another legal bill.

That being said, there is a certain synergy seeing the Obama administration follow Team Straus' theory of this case, considering how Team Straus has pressured the Texas "Ethics" Commission to follow the lead of Obama's IRS pursuing vendettas against conservative activists.

Oh, and the SCOTUS argument over Obama's executive amnesty just HAPPENS to be next week....

Bottom Line: There's NOTHING new in this latest accusation.  There's nothing new in seeing the Obama administration and Team Straus pursue similar strategies against outspoken conservatives.  The only thing new in this case is the additional legal bill Ken and Angela will now have to pay.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Random Thoughts about Texas' School Finance MORASS

"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,"
Ephesians 5:15

TPPF recently released a report and held a policy primer on the ongoing mess that is school finance.  We read the former and attended the latter.  We offer the following thoughts in no particular order except how they appear in our notes:

  • Between local property taxes (47%), state spending (43%), and federal spending (11%) Texas spends a total of $61 BILLION per year on 'education.' (1, 21)
  • There's a difference between 'equity' for school districts and 'equity' for individual students. (1)
  • "Public free schools" means open to everyone, not that the government has to have government employees explicitly provide the service.
    • "In other words, the Legislature is free to craft the means by which the public is educated, as long as its solution meets the requirements of the Texas Constitution." (6)
  • Efficiency = Little waste (6).
  • Current system was originally designed in 1949; as a matter of perspective, the first credit cards were introduced a decade later. (7)
    • Obviously, the legislature and the courts have mucked around with that system since then.
  • The "Permanent School Fund" is a $30 Billion entity split between the General Land Office and the State Board of Education; IT LOOKS LIKE A GIGANTIC BOONDOGGLE!!! (9)
    • We have a GIGANTIC fund sitting there that's barely touched.
    • Interestingly enough, it predates the civil war.
  • "Permanent School Fund" is also used to guarantee school district debt. (9)
    • What could POSSIBLY go wrong?!?
    • Currently guaranteeing "2,869 school district bonds, which have an outstanding principal balance of $58.1 billion" that becomes $96 billion when you factor in interest.
    • "In the event of default, the PSF pays the principal and interest of the overdue bond or loan." (10)
  • How much bureaucracy is involved in this process?!?
    • "The [Foundation School Fund] is an account within the General Revenue Fund that is used for funding public education.  As Figure 4 illustrates, the FSF serves as a pipeline connecting General Revenue and Dedicated Taxes to schools.  The amount of money deposited into the FSF is determined primarily by the legislative appropriations process and is appropriated to the Texas Education Agency (TEA), which manages day-to-day administration of the fund.  The Legislature establishes funding formulas that determine how FSF money is divided among districts, and those formulas form the basis for estimating how much the Legislature should spend each biennium on education.  After estimated revenue from statutorily dedicated taxes is determined, the outstanding balance is filled from General Revenue." (13)
  • "Property taxes collected by school districts contribute the largest share of revenue to Texas public education." (17)
  • Everytime one of these reform efforts bubbles up, they always want to tinker with the funding formulas but they never try to decrease spending.
  • There's something called the "cost of education index" that's supposed to remedy "geographic variation"; looks like another scam. (25)
  • "Texas students are -- by law -- funded unequally." (28)
  • Once again, how much bureaucracy?!?
    • "Each school district must establish a committee for each special education student, the members of which are: the student and his parents and teachers; a school district representative; and a representative of the agency that will pay for the student services." (31)
  • Speaking of bureaucracy:
    • "Transportation is provided through four programs" (33)
  • "Practically speaking, the [Guaranteed Yield Program] acts as an incentive to increase local property tax rates to maximize state funding." (40)
  • "Total debt in 1992 was $9.8 billion; by 2014 it was $68.4 billion in real 1992 dollars" (41)
  • Despite all this, we still "don't know how much it costs to educate a student." (49)
  • "An efficient system would produce results with prices that limit waste and free parents to maximize their child's educational benefits." (52)
  • "The current funding systemtn has been cobbled together over the years based solely on what works politically." (52)
  • School district payrolls and debt service are both going up.
  • A government monopoly is, by definition, inefficient.
  • An 'equitable' system could save the state a billion dollars a year without any other underlying reforms.
  • At today's policy primer, Dan Huberty said the school districts were right to sue the state.
  • Again at today's primer, when Jeff Judson compared the current school finance system to giving government run grocery stores the money to run the food stamp program, Huberty got all butthurt and refused to answer what he called Judson's "loaded" question.