Monday, October 31, 2016

"Cataclysmic" Money: The Biggest Hidden Danger of Adler's "Corridor" Bond


"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7

At yesterday's rally, Roger Falk made an offhand comment about the 'redevelopment' scheme embedded in this bond that, having had a night to sleep on it, strikes us as unintentionally profound; we didn't record his exact words, but a rough paraphrase below:
The mayor's office is trying to portray the opposition as nostalga tinged old folks who don't want Austin to change, but nobody has any problem with organic change, we just think it's a terrible idea to inject all this 'redevelopment' money into a small geographic area all at once without meaningful public input.
This is a point we hadn't verbalized previously, but it encapsulates our biggest fear about the bond's impact on the "corridors."  Obviously, Austin needs 150,000 new units of housing and condos/apartments have to be a major part of that mix.  But there's a gigantic difference between new construction that comes from eliminating zoning restrictions and 'redevelopment' subsidies designed behind closed doors between the Mayor's office and rent-seeking real estate cronies.

In 1961, Jane Jacobs wrote:
[D]ensities should be raised -- and new buildings introduced for this purpose -- gradually rather than in some sudden, cataclysmic upheaval to be followed by nothing more for decades.
Beyond the obvious corruption, that's the biggest problem with the 'redevelopment' aspect of this bond:  Injecting this much money into this small of an area all at once will overwhelm everyone except the pre-existing big players.

Bottom Line: Between its cost, the city transportation department's inability to execute this complex of a project, and the shady process by which this package was developed there were already plenty of reasons to oppose this proposal; to further inject massive quantities of centrally-planned 'redevelopment' money into a small geographic area in a short period of time cannot lead to anything good.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Alder's "Corridor" Bond: Opposition holds Campaign Event


"Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth."
1 Samuel 17:49

South Lamar Blvd. -- This afternoon Ashley Schor, proprietor of Bead It at the corner of South Lamar and Oltorf, opened up her business to a rally and press conference for opponents of Mayor Adler's so-called "corridor" bond.  As a business owner on South Lamar, Schor would be sacrificed in pursuit of the Mayor's so-called "smart" corridors.  A variety of citizens, candidates, and elected officials spoke.

From our notes:

Jim Skaggs (Longtime taxpayer advocate):

  • Construction can drag out for months, or even years, at a time which will directly threaten the viability of every independent business in this bond's path.
Ora Houston (#ATXCouncil, D1 -- East Austin):
  • "Just because I do not support this bond does not make me a 'do nothing.' "
  • This bond would make traffic worse, not better.
  • We don't know the final cost.
    • Author's Note: $720 million is essentially what is known in business as a W.A.G.
  • Flawed process created flawed proposal.
    • "Corridor" plans were developed pre 10-1.
  • "Corridor" re-development threatens local businesses.
  • Bond ignores district 1.
Don Zimmerman (#ATXCouncil, D6 -- Far Northwest Austin):
  • City attorneys misled council behind closed doors; by excluding a provision related to tax impact on the ballot language, the city has given itself authority for unlimited taxation to repay bonds.
  • City transportation department could put district 6 projects on the back burner.
  • Floated 2018 proposal: Something 'less expensive' ($500 million ish) with council, instead of the city bureaucracy, directing the project.
Rob Walker (Candidate -- #ATXCouncil, 10 -- West Austin):
  • We certainly need to 'do something' but we don't need to do something stupid.
    • Author's Note: That will make the original problem worse.
Jerry Patterson (Austin Resident and former elected official):
  • There's a difference between 'doing something' and fixing the problem.
Ashley Schor (Business Owner):
  • Adler's scheme would destroy the character of the "corridors."
Bottom Line: We'd love to begin fixing traffic congestion, but step one is to halt this massive step in the wrong direction in it's tracks.

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Revelation 15 -- Prelude to the Seven Bowls....


Prelude to the Bowl Judgments:
"Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.

And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying:

“Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways,
O King of the saints![
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy.
For all nations shall come and worship before You,
For Your judgments have been manifested.”

After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed."
Revelation 15

Pastor Danny Forshee.  Great Hills Baptist Church.  May 24, 2015:

Prelude To The Seven Bowls - Dr. Danny Forshee - May 24, 2015 from Great Hills Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Outline:

  1. The PRAISE of God (vv. 1-4)
    - Absolute, Sheer ASTONISHMENT
    - The GREAT Reversal
    - Exclamation
    - Declaration - You are just and true.
    - Question - Who shall not fear you?!?
  2. The Preparation for Judgement (vv. 5-8)
    -
    2 Chronicles 5:14
    - Hebrews 10:31
    - Temple, Tabernacle, Testimony
    - Holiest of Holies are open.
    - Jesus Christ is the TRUE High Priest.
Highlights:
  • Tranquility in Heaven amidst chaos on Earth.
    • God NEVER gets rattled.
    • He is the ALMIGHTY GOD who is in control!!!
  • God will right the wrongs done to his people: In Russia, today, there is a Church standing on the ground where Stalin used to hold executions.
  • Moses is only noted as the servant of God.
  • "VJ" day: Victory in Jesus day.
  • Everyone, whether in Heaven above or hell below, will have to bow their knee and confess the sovereignty of Jesus Christ; the action is pre-determined, your only choice is where you will be.
  • This text presupposes a detailed understanding of the Old Testament.
  • Know Jesus as your friend before, one day, you know Him as your judge.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Then again, at least WE BEAT BAYLOR!!!


"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you."
John 15:16

2016 Texas Longhorns Football can be characterized as brief flashes of brilliance intermingled with long stretches of bumbling ineptitude.  Tonight, the brilliance surpassed the ineptitude by the thinnest margin possible.  But we're not gonna lie: beating Baylor was REALLY frickin' sweet and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Once again, #SugarShane Buchele (#7) and D'Onta Foreman (#33) led the attack.  Unfortunately, they were accompanied by a non-existent run defense, too many penalties/turnovers, and some flat-out strange playcalling from Charlie Strong and Sterlin Gilbert on offense.  In the end, however, an offense that can put up yards and points in bunches covers a lot of sins.

The teams combined for 1200+ yards of offense.  Baylor quarterback Seth Russell consistently owned the middle of the field, rushing for 138 yards in 15 to 30 yard chunks.  On the Longhorn side, D'Onta Foreman's 250 yard performance made him the first Longhorn running back in a decade to rush for 1000 yards.

Otherwise, some notes:
  • This team has absolutely no run defense. Seth Russell has too much room to run all afternoon.  Even worse was the lack of adjustments once the issue became obvious.
  •  Cornerback P.J. Locke (#11) had a pick and made several big plays on defense.
  • Amanti Foreman (#3) and Tyrone Swoopes (#18) both had first half fumbles; while Foreman's goal line mishap was followed by a safety on the first defensive play, there was no way to know that would happen at the time.
  • Speaking of Swoopes, the way he was used today made no sense.  Strong/Gilbert kept lining him up at running back in situations where it wasn't appropriate.  Swoopes was visibly out of sorts all afternoon which led to him coming up short on a potential game-tying 2-point conversion late in the fourth quarter.
  • Fox End Breckyn Hager (#44) continues to impress.
  • Shane Buchele had a mostly strong performance, including a late touchdown to Andrew Beck (#47), but he had one hand-off in the second half where he literally handed the ball to the opposite side of the runner.
  • Malik Jefferson (#46) should have had a fumble recovery for a touchdown with about 14 seconds remaining, but he got hosed on the call.
Bottom Line: Charlie Strong will depart the forty acres with a winning record (2-1) against Baylor; file that away for some future bar trivia night.

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Longhhorns first Touchdown (Buchele to A. Foreman):



Longhorns Second Touchdown (D. Foreman long run):



Longhorns Third Touchdown (D. Foreman short run):



Longhorns fourth touchdown (Buchele to Beck):



Game winning field goal:



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Friday, October 28, 2016

Zimmerman delivers low-cost traffic congestion solution


"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
Ephesians 5:15-16

We've intended to comment upon this for several days, but Travis Tracker beat us to the punch:
Zimmerman arranged for not only an even distribution of Cap Metro "quarter-cent" fund dollars to each of the 10 city districts, but found a low-cost solution to using those dollars to alleviate a traffic snarl on eastbound Anderson Mill Road at Research Blvd. The original cost estimate was in the hundreds of thousands, but with a little ingenuity, Austin Transportation was able for a quarter of the cost to chisel away a few extra feet of roadway from the traffic island and paint a dedicated right-turn lane for vehicles wishing to exit Anderson Mill and turn onto the southbound 183 service road.
Read the whole thing here.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

UT Politburo: A Tale of Two Protests....


"And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?"
Romans 2:3

[Update: It gets better, apparently Gregory Vincent makes $331,500 per year.]

[Update II: From Vincent's official bio, "Since Dr. Vincent’s appointment by President William Powers Jr. in 2005, the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement has grown to encompass a $50 million budget and more than 400 employees, 50 units, and 300 community partners."]

We deliberately ignored the "Cocks not Glocks" (CnG) protest earlier this year because it was stupid.  Nevertheless, yesterday's kerfuffle over YCT's 'affirmative action' bakesale got us thinking.  There's a contrast.

Dr. Gregory Vincent, Vice President of the Division of Diversity and Community engagement, yesterday:
On Wednesday, the UT chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) held a bake sale on the West Mall, where they sold goods to students at varying prices based on their race and gender. This is a repeat of a YCT bake sale held here on campus in September 2013. YCT joins a handful of student groups at other universities who over the years have used the same reductive tactic to garner the spotlight for their views on affirmative action.

Such methods are inflammatory and demeaning. Yet focusing our attention on the provocative nature of the YCT’s actions ignores a much more important issue: they create an environment of exclusion and disrespect among our students, faculty and staff. The West Mall is a place where free speech is exercised by all students, and rightly so, because it is meant to be an arena that inspires dialogue from diverse viewpoints. However, it is also meant to be a space where students exhibit respect for each other while holding those viewpoints. Although it is their right to do so, it is deplorable that a few students took advantage of this open forum to direct negative sentiment toward their peers.

In seeking an audience for their ideas, the YCT resorted to exercising one of the university’s core values to the detriment of others. Such actions are counterproductive to true dialogue on our campus, and it is unrepresentative of the ideals toward which our community strives.
During CnG Vincent said...bupkus.  Moving along, Greg Fenves also said...bupkus.  Eventually, we find this statement from Fenves' chief of staff in response to a press inquiry:
Thanks for writing President Fenves on the rally yesterday protesting the “Campus Carry” law. I am responding on his behalf.

As an institution committed to the creation of knowledge, UT Austin firmly supports free inquiry and robust discussion of issues. Political protests occur on campus regularly representing a wide spectrum of ideas and positions. The university has well established processes for reserving space, guaranteeing the free speech rights of members of our community and maintaining safety.

The university recognizes that many people may find protestors’ actions offensive. The First Amendment, however, protects expression no matter how offensive the content. UT Austin students are free to express themselves peacefully on all issues. The planned protests around campus carry appear to be examples of protected political speech. We ask students and others in the university community to maintain conversations around this issue in a civil manner, and we encourage students of all opinions to be a part of this and other discussions of public policy.
Bottom Line: It's not surprising, but still....

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

#HookEm: YCT's "Affirmative Action" Bake Sale draws MASSIVE Protest!!! :D


"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth."
John 17:17

[Update: Campus Reform has more here.]

From time to time, as the Fischer case has weaved it's way through the courts, the UT chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) has held affirmative action bake sales.  The premise is to set prices according to race, with whites and asians paying the highest prices and 'protected classes' paying less.  It's designed to smoke out the absurdity of the campus left.  They get offended by this sort of 'favoritism' but have no problem with race based admissions policies.

Anyway, YCT held another one this afternoon:



We didn't explicitly set out to attend the event, but unrelated business brought us to the campus area while it occurred.  We came upon UT's west mall at approximately 1pm (the event began at 11am).  The SJW crowd was fully assembled.


To the best of our knowledge, here's how things went down: About 45 minutes after the event began, a large crowd assembled and attempted to shout down the YCTers.  Shortly thereafter, someone stole the YCTers sign and cookies.  Chaos then reigned until everyone got bored around 1:30 pm.

A small sample:
















The Dallas Morning News has more here.

Bottom Line: HILARIOUS!!!

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One thing we would like to point out: This entire event was contained within a corner of the West Mall.  99% of campus was unaffected by this.  While it's certainly worthy of a laugh, we would caution against overreacting.

Furthermore, if you needed any proof that God is in control and that He knows everything that's going on, this guy was preaching the Gospel about 5 feet away from this event the entire time:


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While we were writing this report, YCT-UT sent out the following press release:
YCT-UT Starts Dialogue on Affirmative Action

Austin, TX - Today, Young Conservatives of Texas at UT (YCT-UT) held an 'Affirmative Action Bake Sale' on campus to bring attention to the absurdity of giving preferential treatment to individuals based on race, ethnicity or gender.

Affirmative action for university admissions was banned in Texas in 1996 (Hopwood v. Texas) but then overturned over by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 (Gratz v. Bollinger) stating that race, gender, and ethnicity can again be used as a factor in admissions as long as a quota or point system is not used.

"Our protest was designed to highlight the insanity of assigning our lives value based on our race and ethnicity, rather than our talents, work ethic, and intelligence," said YCT-UT Chairman, Vidal Casta├▒eda. "It is insane that institutional racism, such as affirmative action, continues to allow for universities to judge me by the color of my skin rather than my actions."

The event was streamed by Yerim Ashley Choi, a University of Texas spokesman for the Gender and Sexuality Center at the university. Choi titled the video: "Racists are live at UT Austin."

"The First Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees our organization freedom of speech and expression," continued Casta├▒eda. "YCT-UT will not be deterred by liberal elites that would love nothing more than to silence conservative, common sense voices on campus. We will continue to speak out against policies that are harmful or give preferential treatment based on nothing more than immutable characteristics."

Young Conservatives of Texas is a non-partisan organization that has promoted conservatism at universities across the Lone Star State for over three decades. The State’s most active political youth organization, YCT is composed of hundreds of members and alumni who participate in the full spectrum of politics. YCT issues the most respected ratings of the Texas legislature and is the only conservative group to have done so without interruption over the past 21 legislative sessions. For more information about YCT, please visit www.YCT.org.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Notes on Corporate Welfare programs in Texas....


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

[Author's Note: For background on the '313' program, see here.]

This afternoon, we attended the UT Center for Politics and Governance's event "Inside the Insider Economy: Cronyism in America Today.'  Most of the discussion revolved around national issues.  During his remarks, however, Professor Nathan Jensen shared some eye-opening observations about various 'economic development' programs in Texas.

Jensen's academic work examines the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of various 'economic development' programs; his Texas-specific observations:

  • Over 95% of the companies in Texas that got '313's' were going to expand anyway.
  •  No correlation between campaign contributions and "Texas enterprise fund" grants.
    • Author's Note: So Rick Perry dodges that bullet.
  • There is, however, a correlation between the size of the company and the grants received.
    • ie. The payouts went to Big Businesses.
  • The only thing that swings voters against 'economic development' incentives is discussion of the opportunity cost.
Jensen plans to examine 'economic development' programs across Texas and intends to begin publishing his research next spring.   Obviously, that's going to be smack dab in the middle of the legislative session.  Could get interesting....

#ATXCouncil's "proposal" for 85th #TXLEGE Lobby Budget....


"No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!"
1 Corinthians 6:8

A source e-mails:



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Fun Fact: Several years back, "Focused Advocacy" was involved in a lawsuit that aired a lot of the Austin lobby's dirty laundry; read the Trib's write up from the time here.

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Bottom Line: This is a textbook example of why Texas needs to ban taxpayer funded lobbying.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Adler's "Corridor" Bond: Opposition launches TV Campaign!!!


"He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will be destroyed."
Proverbs 13:20

This is great:



Highlights:

  • More Congestion.
  • $720 million in new debt.
    • Author's Note: Probably closer to a Billion and a half once you factor in interest and cost overruns.
  • Fewer Lanes.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Revelation 14:14-20 -- The Time HAS Come


Reaping the Earth’s Harvest
Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.  And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”  So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.

Reaping the Grapes of Wrath
Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.

And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.  And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.
Revelation 14:14-20

Pastor Danny Forshee.  Great Hills Baptist Church.  May 17, 2015:

The Time Has Come - Dr. Danny Forshee - May 17, 2015 from Great Hills Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Outline:
  1. The Grain Harvest (vv. 14-16)
    -  Daniel 7:13-14
    - Joel 3:13
    - John 10:17-18
    - Philippians 2:7-8
  2. The Grape Harvest (vv. 17-20)
Highlights:
  • I am just so excited about the Lord's return.
  • When Jesus comes, it is going to be a day of reckoning.
  • You see the wrath of God poured out on sinful man.
  • We are past needing Judgement but God continues extending GRACE.
  • Whenever you come across a text like this you have two choices: Believe it or don't believe it.
  • The Jesus of the Gospels is the same Jesus as the Jesus of the apocalypse.
  • I know you don't want to hear it but, in Jesus' name, listen to me...either you repent or you go to hell and you will have no one to blame except yourself.
  • 70 to 80% of men in the Church watch pornography.
  • Either your sins will be paid by Jesus on the cross or by yourself in hell.
    • "I don't want to go to hell, I want to go to Jesus."
    • The person behind all of this is God.
    • "It's not that He's not speaking, it's that we're not listening...and we have only ourselves to blame."
    • "Just come, Lord Jesus, come."
      • "I hope that you know Him."
    • "God, please forgive us."
    • "God, come what may...help us endure afflictions."
    • "Some of our people, Lord, need to get right with you."

    Saturday, October 22, 2016

    Patrick refuses to rubber stamp university hiring....


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

    This is GREAT:



    Bottom Line: There's a lot of inside baseball and "capitol speak" in Patrick's letter, but the most important takeaway is that the Senate will no longer rubber stamp this category of university expenditures.

    Friday, October 21, 2016

    Jeremy Story's pro-Student, pro-Taxpayer, agenda for Austin Community College...


    "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."
    1 Peter 5:8

    [Author's Note: We didn't record the specific sources Jeremy cited for his factual claims in our notes.  That being said, they all came from various governmental entities.  That being said, you can contact the campaign for more specific information here.]

    We finally had an opportunity to hear Jeremy Story speak last night.  He's running for the Austin Community College board of trustees, place 9.  He's running to promote better student outcomes and greater fiscal accountability for taxpayers.

    ACC ranks near the bottom of community college systems in Texas in terms of positive student outcomes.  Positive outcomes are defined as completion of an associates degree, transferring to a four year college, or obtaining a trade certification.  We were astonished to learn that only 4% of ACC students transfer to a four year school.

    Story wants to focus on core functions of students success.  He wants to increase the number of academic advisers to shepherd students through the bureaucracy, especially the first 15 hours.  Currently, there are 700 students for every adviser, so it shouldn't surprise us that there's a high dropout rate.  He also wants to increase the number of dual credit courses in local high schools.  He wants to streamline the online registration process, which we've heard described as a "nightmare" from various quarters over the years.  Finally, he wants to increase the focus on certification for skilled trades.  These are all things a community college should, by definition, be doing.

    On the pro-taxpayer side, Jeremy Story is the only candidate running for any ACC trustee position who supports a moratorium on tax hikes.  Considering the gigantic tax hike ACC passed last month, this is important.  Considering that ACC recently ran a $9 million surplus, there's plenty of money available as long as the organization focuses on core responsibilities.

    As an example of core responsibilities, he discussed a recent proposal to expand CapMetro service to the various campuses.  Whatever the merits of such an idea it is, at best, a long term solution.  To paraphrase Story: "It may or may not make sense to make it easier for a student in Austin to attend a class in Round Rock, but in the meantime why don't we make it possible for that same student to take that course online from their living room?!?"

    Also, he's a YCTer from the UT chapter; to put it mildly, that speaks well of him.

    Bottom Line: Anyone who gives the Austin Chronicle a conniption fit is off to a good start, but it was good to flesh out specifics.

    Thursday, October 20, 2016

    TPPF defends landowners from Feds with Guns....


    "If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed, and lets loose his animal, and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard."
    Exodus 22:5

    New developments in the Red River case:

    TPPF Defends Red River Landowners
    From Armed Searches

    AUSTIN – The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) today filed a response to the Bureau of Land Managements motion to compel access to property owned by TPPF’s clients in Aderholt, et al. v. Bureau of Land Management, et. al. TPPF’s Center for the American Future represents individual property owners, the counties of Wichita, Clay, and Wilbarger, and the Clay County Sheriff in the lawsuit challenging the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) unconstitutional and arbitrary seizure of thousands of acres of private property along the Red River in Texas.

    To read the response to defendant’s motion to compel access to individual plaintiffs’ lands, please visit:http://txpo.li/2dScJQU

    “The Department of Justice and Bureau of Land Management’s demand to enter upon our Clients’ properties with armed federal law enforcement officers is outrageous,” said Robert Henneke, General Counsel and Director of the Center for the American Future at TPPF. “The individual landowners, like Ken Aderholt, simply want to be left alone and have their private property rights respected. Now, without any legitimate justification, the federal government insists that armed guards accompany federal surveyors onto our Clients’ properties. Our Clients have not broken the law, and BLM’s demand violates their Constitutional rights. On behalf of our Clients, the Center for the American Future has filed strong objections with the federal district court and will fiercely defend our Clients’ private property rights before the Court.”
    Read the whole thing here.

    Independent Businesses along "Corridors" wise up to Adler's Bond


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

    Take this story, multiply it at least 1000 times over (esp. on Burnet rd. and South Lamar), and you begin to gain a picture of the devastation this bond will cause if it passes:
    More Austin business owners are getting upset as they learn what effect passage of Proposition One will have on their livelihoods. Ashley Schor is the owner of "Bead-It", a jewelry supply store that's been on South Lamar near Oltorf. She says the corridor plans for Lamar would likely cut her income in half during construction. "It's going to change the landscape of this whole entire strip of businesses. So it will make Austin look like wall-to-wall condos."

    Schor has lived in Austin all her life and has been in business here for fifteen years. She says the corridor plans aligned with Proposition One mean her store and old oak trees on the land could be endangered, to make way for the city's preferred streetscapes. "And it will also destroy all these old houses that are just floating, barely hanging on by a thread. It will just knock us all out, one by one by one by one."

    Schor says she is considering repainting the outside of her store to protest Proposition One.
    Read the whole thing here.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2016

    Will Pool's spiteful NIMBYism derail new housing?!?


    "And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[a] There is no other commandment greater than these."
    Mark 12:31

    [Author's Note: Read the first linked Austin Monitor article here, and the second one here.]

    We first discussed the Grove three weeks ago; some new developments:
    ARG Bull Creek Ltd. is ratcheting up pressure on City Council members to approve the Grove at Shoal Creek, a massive planned unit development it hopes to build on a 75-acre lot at the corner of Bull Creek Road and 45th Street.

    In a letter addressed yesterday to Mayor Steve Adler and all 10 members of Council, Jeff Howard, an attorney for the developer, states that the company will abandon its plans for a planned unit development if Council adopts a number of changes to the project offered by Council Member Leslie Pool, the leading opponent of ARG’s proposed project.

    If ARG ditches the PUD application and instead pursues conventional zoning, the developer warns, the resulting project will be a group of expensive single-family homes rather than a mixed-use development that includes affordable housing, office space, retail and more parkland than would be required under conventional zoning.

    Among the many amendments Pool has proposed, the one the developers view as the most unworkable would reduce the number of daily vehicle trips the project is allowed to generate by 25 percent, from roughly 24,000 to roughly 18,000.

    That limit, argues Howard in the letter, would result in a nearly 50 percent reduction in office space, a 33 percent reduction in retail development and a 25 percent reduction in residential units.

    Pool and the Bull Creek Road Coalition, a neighborhood coalition that Pool used to lead and that opposes the current Grove proposal, have said they do not object to the amount of housing proposed for the site. Instead, they want less commercial space on the site.

    ARG has countered, however, that if it reduced vehicle trip counts only by reducing commercial space, the commercial development allowed would be too small to create the necessary “critical mass” of retail.
    In other words, rather than taking a meaningful step to address Austin's housing shortage, Pool wants to continue business as usual.

    Also, the notion that the opponents only object to the commercial space is nothing more than a disingenuous stall tactic.

    Then this happened:
    Mayor Steve Adler hopes to start the process of approving the Grove at Shoal Creek, a controversial planned unit development in Central Austin, at City Council’s next meeting on Thursday.

    At a Council work session on Tuesday, Adler explained to Council colleagues that he supports approving a draft plan of the PUD on “first reading” at their next meeting. He noted, however, that whatever is approved on the first reading (of the required three) will simply be a “placeholder” draft that he will be open to changing after further talks with city staff, neighborhood groups and the developers pushing the project.

    Adler suggested that the “placeholder” ordinance largely mirror the recommendation made by the Zoning and Platting Commission in July but incorporate some of the amendments proposed by Council Member Leslie Pool that would reduce the amount of retail and commercial space allowed on the now-vacant 75-acre field at the corner of Bull Creek Road and 45th Street.
    So...Pool's stalling has gotten us to a situation where Adler's office is trying to "broker a compromise."  Great.  That usually works out swimmingly.

    We honestly don't know what to say.  We have no idea what will happen.  We find ourselves tempted to use language inconsistent with a family friendly website, but will suffice to say that this is a textbook example of 'governance' under Austin's old guard.

    Bottom Line: We live in a city with a chronic housing shortage.  Someone wants to build LOTS of housing.  How is this even controversial?!?

    Tuesday, October 18, 2016

    Paxton helps TPPF protect local Austin taxpayers!!!


    "By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted,
    But it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked."
    Proverbs 11:11

    This is great:

    Texas Attorney General Intervenes in TPPF & Goldwater Institute Lawsuit to Halt Taxpayer-Funded Union Employees Agreement

    AUSTIN – The Texas Attorney General today filed a plea in intervention in Pulliam, et. al. v. City of Austin, et. al., a lawsuit filed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) and Goldwater Institute challenging the City’s labor agreement with Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975. The lawsuit, filed last month, seeks  to halt the practice of “release time” also known as “association business leave,” and “union leave,” which assigns city employees to work for the union at taxpayer expense. The agreement violates the Texas Constitution “gift clause” provision that prohibits government from giving taxpayer funds to private entities without a public purpose.

                TPPF General Counsel and Director of the Center for the American Future Robert Henneke said, “The City of Austin’s illegal release time agreement with the firefighters’ union hurts all citizens. By choosing to fund private political activities, the City diverts these resources from public safety services for Austin residents. As this practice negatively impacts the public as a whole, Plaintiffs applaud the Attorney General to intervene in order to represent the interests of all Texans.”
    Read the whole thing here.

    Monday, October 17, 2016

    Zimmerman gives Unconstitutional Bureaucracy HECK!!!


    "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,"
    Romans 1:18

    This is great:
    The outspoken conservative possibly broke city campaign rules, the commission decided Wednesday, when he failed to include the following disclaimer on a mailer he sent to voters in his Northwest Austin district: “This campaign has not agreed to comply with the contribution and expenditure limits of the Austin Fair Campaign Chapter.”

    The disclaimer is required of candidates who do not agree to strict spending limits ($75,000 during the general election campaign and $50,000 in a runoff). Candidates who do agree to spending limits are rewarded with campaign money from the city’s fair campaign fund, which is funded by lobbyist registration fees.

    In recent years, few candidates have taken advantage of that option; the only current Council members who signed the fair campaign contract during the last campaign were Pio Renteria and Leslie Pool. Those two, along with candidate Susana Almanza, received roughly $28,000 from the city – or a third of the $83,000 in the fair campaign fund at the time.

    Zimmerman also opted not to sign the fair campaign contract. And in an ostensible attempt to express his contempt for the rule, he added a couple of extra words, along with some strategic punctuation, to the required disclaimer: “This campaign has not agreed to comply with the contribution and expenditure limits of the so-called “Fair” Campaign Chapter.”

    ....

    In a short statement, Zimmerman vigorously rejected Morgan’s claim. He had “substantially complied” with the ordinance by including a disclaimer that included all of the key information required by the rule, he argued.

    But just as important, he said, the disclaimer requirement is unconstitutional since it “compelled” him to engage in speech that he disagrees with. His first oath is to the U.S. Constitution, he said, not city ordinances.

    ....

    As he did in hearings over two ethics complaints last year – one against Zimmerman and one against Arif Panju, Zimmerman’s appointee to the Historic Landmark Commission – Commissioner Brian Thompson barely concealed his contempt for the respondent and his defense. He criticized Zimmerman’s claim that the ordinance was unconstitutional, pointing out that the commission’s own legal counsel had said that courts had upheld similar laws throughout the country.
    Read the whole thing here.

    Texas continues funding Planned Parenthood....


    "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness."
    Matthew 23:27

    Rah, rah Texas GOP; from the Trib:
    But after an initial feint at cutting off the money, the state has little to show for it. Abbott, who generated national media attention and launched fundraising emails over the issue, still expects “the appropriate authorities to move forward in eliminating taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood,” his spokeswoman said.

    Meanwhile, Texas Health and Human Services Inspector General Stuart Bowen, an Abbott appointee and the state official who led the move to defund the women’s health organization, faces an uncertain future as the state’s top fraud investigator, as his appointment expired in February. A spokesman for the governor declined to say this week if Bowen would be reappointed.

    Planned Parenthood is by and large keeping its head down, continuing to provide services as the initial political hullabaloo has faded.

    ....

    In the Medicaid fight, the governor’s public relations campaign began the same day last year that state inspectors delivered a notice of intent to boot Planned Parenthood from the public insurance program. A press release that day from the governor’s office boasted the headline: “Texas Eliminates Taxpayer Funding To Planned Parenthood Providers.” The next day, Abbott was interviewed about it on Fox News.

    Texas gave Planned Parenthood 30 days to respond its notice and request an “informal resolution meeting” with health commission attorneys. If the organization did not act, the state said it would issue a “final notice of termination,” formally ending Planned Parenthood’s participation in Medicaid. That order would have gone into effect 15 days after the organization received it.

    But the state has never issued the final notice.

    ....

    It appears the inspector general’s delay in issuing the final termination of Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid contract is out of line with the agency’s previous practices, according to a Tribune analysis of similar notices sent to other Medicaid providers.
    Read the whole thing here.

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    For the most part, we think the Trib story speaks for itself.  We also, for the most part, draw the obvious conclusion.  That being said, we can't overlook an alternative hypothesis that reflects certain realities of how government operates that might be more charitable to Abbott.

    One unfortunate reality of large government bureaucracies is that the bureaucrats frequently do whatever the heck they wish while ignoring the elected representatives of the people.

    So, while we still think the obvious conclusion from the Trib article is also the most likely one, we can't overlook the possibility that Abbott is doing everything he can given the current system and that the bureaucrats are blowing him off (*).

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    * -- Of course, if this is the case, the real solution is to take a much deeper ax to the agency's budget than anyone at the capitol would be willing.

    Sunday, October 16, 2016

    #SugarShane, Foreman bail out WOEFULLY SLOPPY Longhorns....


    "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us."
    1 John 1:10

    [Author's Note: We started working on this post late last night and put it down due to the late hour; we've decided to finish it as a necessary correction to the fanboyesque narrative that the press is trying to spin about last night's game.]

    The short version: During the second half, Shane Buchele and D'Onta Foreman lifted the rest of the team onto their shoulders to salvage a disaster in the making against one of the worst teams in the country.  The sloppy, self-inflicted, wounds got worse.  We suppose a win is better than the alternative, but we weren't impressed.

    That being said, a few specific thoughts:
    • On both offense and defense, this team seems to commit a drive killing penalty with every single possible opportunity.  Like clockwork, every time they get a big play, they follow it up a play or two later with a really stupid penalty.  And it's not understandable mistakes like holding calls, it's BS like facemasks or unsportsmanlike conduct.
    • Speaking of penalties, Kris Boyd needs to stop committing them or he needs to be kept on the sideline where he can't commit them.
    • Charlie made several inexplicable calls related to special teams.  He declined to go for it on 4th and short a few times and had Buchele attempt a screen pass on another drive.  The point of the 18-wheeler is to use it in short yardage situations.
    • Here's the weird thing about the defense: They get killed on the line of scrimmage during run plays, but the pass rush is actually pretty good.
    • Jerrod Heard continues to look great as a receiver; it's a shame they don't get him the ball more often.
    • D'Onta Foreman is a workhorse.
    • Where would this team be without Shane Buchele?!?
    Bottom Line: How many stupid penalties can one team commit in a game?!?

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    Shane Buchele second touchdown to Devin Duvernay:



    D'Onta Foreman run for third touchdown:



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