Wednesday, March 21, 2018

#TXLEGE: "Occupation Licencing" scourge means people in debt CAN'T WORK to pay off debt

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

"Occupation Licensing" laws are bad enough on the merits. They restrict competition and increase consumer prices, while doing nothing to promote the specious "public safety" grounds on which they are so frequently justified.  But the Trib reports on a detail of how those laws are enforced in Texas that boggles the mind:
Texas is among several states that bars teachers, dentists, nurses and other professional license holders from renewing their licenses if they are in default on their student loans.

The ban was designed to push people to pay off their debt — or face the consequences. But even in Texas, a state that holds more than $70 billion of the country’s $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loans, critics call the practice counterproductive since it can impede people's ability to work and make it even harder for them to pay back their debt.

There is no comprehensive source of data on how frequently this happens in Texas. Records from multiple organizations and agencies suggest more than 4,215 people in the state – including security guards, cosmetologists and pharmacists – were at risk of losing their license because of student loan default in 2017.

Since 2010, 530 nurses were unable to renew their licenses because they were in default on their student loans, according to information provided to The Texas Tribune through a public information request. And nearly 250 teachers, like Scott, had an application for a license renewal denied for this reason over the course of five years, data from the Texas Education Agency shows.
This is obscene (seriously, do read the whole Trib article to learn how this law has impacted several people).  Governor Abbott should call a special session to remedy this situation, and the relevant legislation should clear the two chambers 181-0.  That obviously won't happen, but this needs to be addressed next session.

Bottom Line: Texas really should eliminate occupation licensing entirely.  But, at a minimum, this 'enforcement mechanism' needs to go.  The idea that people who are behind on student loan debts can be prohibited from working to pay off those debts is bonkers.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Uresti fine illustrates Texas "Ethics" Commission's Mendacity

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

Via the indispensable Olivia Messer:
The Texas state senator who has refused to step down, despite 11 felony convictions and several groping allegations, has been fined just $500 in civil penalties by the Texas Ethics Commission.

Democratic State Sen. Carlos Uresti will be sentenced in June on the fraud and money-laundering charges after he was found guilty on all counts related to a Ponzi scheme involving now-defunct frac-sand company FourWinds Logistics. Uresti worked as general counsel for the company.

The Ethics Commission announced on Friday that it found credible evidence the lawmaker failed to appropriately report a $40,000 promissory note from FourWinds to his own personal-injury law firm.

At his federal trial, prosecutors successfully argued that Uresti “groomed” $900,000 of “blood money” out of a grieving mother and former client by manipulating her through a sexual relationship. He convinced her to invest nearly all of the money she won in her childrens’ wrongful-death suit in the company, losing almost the whole sum. (Uresti has repeatedly denied that he had any sexual relationship with the woman. His wife filed for divorce earlier this month.)
Isn't that typical.  You have an actual elected official, with an actual criminal conviction, and the Texas "Ethics" Commission slaps him on the wrist with a $500 fine.  Meanwhile, if a citizens group challenges the Capitol status quo, they're subjected to a four year legal nightmare.

Bottom Line: The treatment of Carlos Uresti, compared to the treatment of Empower Texans, tells you everything you need to know about the so-called Texas "Ethics" Commission.


Note: This is also why you don't want the TEC investigating sexual misconduct charges.

Monday, March 19, 2018

UT Makes Tuition Hike We Predicted Official

"I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him."
Deuteronomy 18:18

Not surprising, but still:
With few questions, the system’s Board of Regents voted unanimously Monday to up the cost of tuition and fees at each college they oversee by up to 8.5 percent for in-state undergraduates. Most schools will see increases in the 1 percent to 7 percent range – adding hundreds of additional dollars to students’ tuition bills each year.

The hikes range from 0.1 percent for in-state undergraduates at the University of Texas at San Antonio to 8.5 percent for students at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. The new rates will be in place for the fall 2018 semester, with another increase set to take effect the following academic year.

Asked why the Permian Basin campus' requested increases are higher than the other schools', President Sandra Woodley said the institution is "playing catch up" and currently has "really, really low" tuition costs. The raise is needed, she said, to help the campus achieve some "economies of scale."

Texan undergraduates at the system’s flagship UT-Austin campus would face a 2 percent tuition hike next fall under the proposed increase – equaling about $200 extra each year. Out-of-state students would pay about $700 more.
Obviously, this is exactly what we told the Texas Senate would happen if they approved the last round of regent nominees.  Then they approved the afore mentioned regents.  So here we are....

Furthermore, if you're wondering why they're keeping McRaven around until May, this was why.  It allows McRaven to be the fall guy for this tuition hike, while the incoming chancellor gets to blame the old administration next session.  It makes one wonder what other awful acts they have planned during the final 10 weeks of a lame duck chancellor.

That being said, on a certain level you do have to hand it to UT.  Not only did they wait until two weeks after the primary, but they also chose a day where Capitol watchers were preoccupied by the school finance commission, while the city has its hands full with the bombings.  LOL, such a UT thing to do.

Bottom Line: We told the Texas Senate so.  We told the Texas Senate so.  We told the Texas Senate so.

#TXLEGE: Tedious school finance commission slogs forward

"For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense,
But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it."
Ecclesiastes 7:12

We spent this morning at the hearing for the Texas Commission on Public School Finance.  The commission moved extremely slowly, to the point where they still had a couple of hours of invited testimony left when they broke for lunch.  We didn't feel like waiting around any longer, so will state our thoughts here.

The fundamental reality of education policy in Texas, at the moment, is stalemate.  The Texas house wants to pour more money into the status quo (while lying about the tax impact).  The Senate wants to empower parents and students by moving to a funding model where the money follows the student.

Neither side has the votes in the other chamber to pass what they really want to do.  But both sides have sufficient votes in their own chamber to block the other.  The recent primary results, while modestly favorable, don't change that fundamental dynamic.  Therefore: Stalemate.

Given this reality, it seems prudent to scale back our ambitions.  Nobody's going to get what they really want, but if people can set aside thier egos, we might be able to get something less bad than the status quo.  Thus we would suggest something along the lines of modest increases in state funding accompanied by structural reforms making the existing system less bureaucratic along with a "rate compression" for local taxpayers.

Increasing state funding while "compressing" local school tax rates would begin the transition from property taxes to a consumption based tax.  This would be a good first step towards the Republican Party of Texas' long-term goal to completely eliminate property taxes.  The key is that you must insist upon a dollar-for-dollar cut at the local level for every dollar of increased spending you have at the state level.  Furthermore, if the state were to increase it's share of the total tab, it could keep the ISD's (with all of their various misdeeds) on a shorter leash.

As for making the EXISTING system less bureaucratic, there are any number of ways that can be accomplished.  But it's non-negotiable.  Any potentinial increase in spending at the state level needs to go into the classroom, NOT the bureaucracy.

Bottom Line: Given the reality of current vote counts, this sort of scaled-down proposal is the only productive thing that can pass.  But a productive conversation requires a partner.  If the status quo crowd wants to help devise a less-bad system, great.  But if the stalemate continues, we intend to use next session to make them radioactive by the time 2020 rolls around.


Given the amount of illegal electioneering in which the ISD's engaged this past cycle, any school finance bill that the legislature might pass ought to include sanctions for that sort of activity; an automatic 20% cut in state funding for ISD's that engage in that sort of behavior would stop it REALLY quick.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Don't Blame Shaka for Fenves' Toxic Culture

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

Last night's loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament was incredibly disappointing.  That they blew a fourteen point lead made it that much worse.  Infuriating.

But here's the thing: The chronic underperformance in the athletic department is just a symptom.  The real problem is the toxic, money-worshipping, culture of the entire institution.  What's happening in the athletic department is a microcosm of the University of Texas as a whole.

Shaka's an easy scapegoat.  But he's being set-up to fail.  We know more than we can publish, but the buck stops with Greg Fenves and the Board of Regents.

A year and a half ago, during last Basketball season, we wrote: "the corrupt institutional mismanagement that has plagued the past decade has finally bled into the athletic department."  Last night was a continuation and acceleration of that trend.  And nothing is going to change as long as the corrupt, money-worshipping, UT Politburo remains in charge.

It's fascinating how arrogance is almost always accompanied by ineptitude.

Bottom Line: To attack symptoms, while leaving the underlying pathology intact, is pointless.  Throwing Shaka under the bus for the sake of a "new coach" dog-and-pony show is a waste of time and (especially) money.  The University of Texas needs a much deeper top-to-bottom housecleaning, and it needs to start in the President's office.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Latest Sexual Assault Allegations illustrate Just How Little Baylor has Learned

"Abstain from all appearance of evil."
1 Thessalonians 5:22 (kjv)

[Note: One of these days, we need to finish writing our review of the book "Violated: Exposing Rape at Baylor University amid College Football's Sexual Assault Crisis, but for now just know that the authors of that book are also the authors of the article quoted below and that they've been doing PHENOMENAL investigative work on this story for the past three years.]

We learned a couple weeks ago that there's a brand new (actually 5 months old at this point) investigation related to sexual assault by members of the Baylor University Football program.  The alleged incident occurred on Nov. 12, 2017, well after the new university president's mea culpa tour.  Without pre-determining the outcome of the investigation, what's astonishing is how much the optics of the situation continue to stink.

A note on format: Both block quotes are from Wednesday's ESPN report; we'll post thematically, while interspersing our own thoughts.

Baylor's FAILURE to inform the public:
The three players tied to the sexual assault investigation have been completely separated from the team since the allegations were first made in November, the spokesman said. Although their separation is related to the ongoing sexual assault investigation, the school has not indicated what their alleged role might have been in the reported assault.


It is unknown whether those three players also are among the four alleged suspects named in a police report regarding the alleged incident. According to a Baylor University Police Department incident report obtained by Outside the Lines, two female Baylor students told police that they were sexually assaulted at University Parks Apartments in Waco, Texas, during the early-morning hours of Nov. 12, only hours after Baylor lost to Texas Tech at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The two women reported the incident to Baylor police on Nov. 17, according to the report.
  • Baylor knew about the alleged incident on Nov. 17 yet, despite all of the horrifying things that occurred on their campus between 2011-2015, they failed to inform the public on their own.
  • Quietly suspending players who had been accused of sexual assault for "undisclosed violations of team rules" was a big part of the problem under the previous administration.
  • The public wasn't informed about the latest allegation until a press report FOUR MONTHS AFTER THE FACT.  Even then, it took Baylor ANOTHER MONTH before they discussed it publicly.  So, we're looking at five months between the alleged incident and it's first public discussion.
The Clueless Coach:
[Head Baylor Football Coach Matt] Rhule said he was confident the investigation was being handled properly and that he didn't know much about it.

"The people that do this for a living, they handle the investigation," he said. "... I don't know much about the case, and I think that's really a good thing, because I probably really shouldn't know much about it as the football coach."


"These are the issues everywhere. This isn't a Baylor thing. This is an 'our world' thing. And so I willingly answer those questions," he said. "...These are major issues, and so I don't think any of us should run away from them ...This is what we all need, should be talking about."

A reporter referenced two members of Rhule's staff who were fired near the start of his tenure. One was a coach arrested in connection with a prostitution sting and another was a staff member who reportedly sent inappropriate text messages to a teenager. The reporter asked, "Are you worried at all about the culture of the program?"

"No, not at all," Rhule said without hesitation. "Things happen all the time, everywhere. You can either hide from it and try to hide it from all you guys so it looks like everything is great, and you end up not doing the right thing. Or you can be very transparent about things, knowing that you open yourself up for criticism."

"As you look at the scandals and things that have happened other places, it's always been when people are afraid to handle what's happened," he said, adding that the incidents with his former staff and players do not indicate a cultural problem and that they were quickly and properly addressed.


"People are going to say things, and I get all that, but that doesn't mean there's a bad culture," Rhule said. "There's a bad culture when kids do things and grown-ups hide them. And nobody's hiding anything here. And so that's why I know that we're doing things right."
  • This has to be one of the most astonishingly un-self aware, head in the sand, statements we've ever read in our life.
  • If you are a university with Baylor's history, and another alleged incident occurs, one would think that the head coach would be receiving regular updates on the investigation.
    • While we're on the subject, why wasn't anyone from the Title IX office present at that press conference?!?
  • "And nobody's hiding anything here"... see our comment above about it taking five months between the alleged incident and the first public discussion.
Bottom Line: For an institution that squandered every last bit of benefit of the doubt several years ago, Baylor's got some explaining to do.  And, right now, they ain't doing it.  Considering Baylor's recent track record, "trust us" doesn't cut it.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Wayne Christian's GLORIOUS response to Schwarzenegger's anti-Oil and Gas Lawsuit

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 1:28

By now, we assume you've heard about Arnold Schwarzenegger's dumb lawsuit against the energy industry; well, Wayne Christian's response is pretty epic....
A Hypocritical “Hero”
By Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian

Arnold Schwarzenegger is undoubtedly best known for his legendary heroics on the silver screen. Covered in mud, he survives the Predator – killing it by exploiting its one weakness. As the Terminator, he protects John Connor from a homicidal shape-shifting machine to save humanity. An unhappy construction worker, he can’t remember who he is, but finally recalls and with his last breath saves thousands of lives by releasing air into the Martian atmosphere.

Like the character he played in Total Recall, Mr. Schwarzenegger must be having a tough time remembering who he is – a former Republican Governor.

In Austin for the South by Southwest festival, he revealed he has hired a team of California lawyers to sue oil and gas companies for “first degree murder” by “knowingly killing people all over the world.” Instead of acting like a Republican, Mr. Schwarzenegger must be trying to play the hero again. The only problem is this isn’t the movies, this is real life, and there is nothing to “save” us from.

Like many of us, Mr. Schwarzenegger had a long commute to work. After he was elected Governor of California, he decided not to move to the Governor’s Mansion at the state capitol in Sacramento, but instead traveled more than 100 miles for seven years from his mansion in Brentwood, Calif.. The only difference: he took a private jet, which cost around $30,000 a roundtrip and impacts the environment about the same amount as a small car does in three years. And when he’s not taking a private jet to work, he’s driving around in a five-ton,12-mile to the gallon Mercedes or going to lunch in a military-grade Hummer.

But now, according to the Governator it’s “absolutely irresponsible” for oil and gas companies to sell their products because they “know [their] product is killing people.” Wait a minute, here. So, it’s okay for oil and gas companies to sell their products to Mr. Schwarzenegger when he needs to fill up his private jet or Hummer, but it’s not okay for them to sell their products to regular folks so they can drive their vehicles to work? This kind of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do hypocrisy is repulsive and offensive. Mr. Schwarzenegger is not a hero, he’s just another elitist Hollywood hypocrite telling you and me how to best live our lives.

The real heroes are the oil and gas workers – the landman, the roughneck, the petroleum engineer – who wake up every day and go to work to support their families and our way of life. Together, these workers produce around 10 million barrels of oil and 96 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day that fuel our cars, light our homes, and make plastics and many other items we use every day. The industry doesn’t just provide the raw materials to make the things we need – it creates jobs and grows our economy. In 2015, the oil and gas industry supported more than 10 million jobs in the United States with an average salary over $100,000 and contributes more than $1 trillion to our economy every year.

Despite what Mr. Schwarzenegger may think, the story of energy before oil and gas was simple – most work was done by human or animal muscle. This caused the vast majority of the population to live short lives of hard labor in extreme poverty. Before oil and gas were used to power the industrial revolution, the global average life expectancy was only 25 years old with 30 percent of children dying before age 15. During the 1800s, 80 to 90 percent of the population of the United States worked in agriculture and spent 74 percent of family income on food, clothing and shelter. Today, the average person lives more than three times longer than the average person in 1800. This is partly because climate-related deaths, such as starvation or hypothermia, have decreased 98 percent in the United States since the use of oil and gas became widespread at the beginning of the 20th Century.

It’s sad – but Mr. Schwarzenegger has gone from superstar hero to Hollywood hypocrite. On the one hand he routinely uses gas-guzzling jets and cars while on the other he sues oil and gas companies. Given this stunning hypocrisy, I have a question. If oil and gas companies are murderers for selling their ­­­­product, does that make Mr. Schwarzenegger an accessory for being such a good customer?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

#atxcouncil: Guy who attempted to BAN BBQ "BBQ Shames" Another City....

"The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor,
But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered."
Proverbs 11:9


Obviously, Brooklyn attempting to compete with Texas over BBQ was dumb.  That would be like Texas attempting to compete with Brooklyn over Pizza.  Just not happening.

But, allow us to suggest that Mayor Adler might not be the best messenger to deliver that message.

Austin City Council Agenda, April 2, 2015:

You can learn more about that particularly "glorious" incident in the Austin City Council's recent history here.

Bottom Line: We don't begrudge any Texas politician who wants to have fun at Brooklyn's expense over this BBQ kerfuffle...except the four members of the Austin City Council who co-sponsored the 'ban BBQ' resolution less than three years ago.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

#TROXROX: Due to DOGGED Effort of ONE Council Member, #atxcouncil CUTS water rate (for first time in 30 years)!!!

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Galatians 6:9

Fantastic News:


From the Article:
Austin leaders reached a deal with their largest water customers Thursday evening that will reduce water costs across rate classes — for residents and businesses alike.

Additionally, the utility will keep rates flat for the next two years, its staff said. It won’t be able to raise rates again without the input of an independent hearing examiner, after the City Council agreed to an amendment from Council Member Ellen Troxclair.

The average homeowner will see a $2.40 drop in the monthly water bill, Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said. That will be effective May 1.

“This recommendation brings all of our customer classes to cost-of-service,” Meszaros said. “We haven’t always had that, so this is a positive step.”

City staffers said no one can remember a time Austin Water has lowered water rates in at least the last 30 years.


The council approved the rate reductions 9-0, with Council Members Delia Garza and Greg Casar away from the dais. Troxclair’s amendment to require a hearing examiner for any future rate increases passed 7-2, with Council Members Kathie Tovo and Sabino “Pio” Renteria opposed.


The city said it was able to find the savings through a management plan that uses developer connection fees to pay down the utility’s debt. Those fees have increased for builders connecting new projects to city pipes, and the revenue has grown from $8 million in 2013 to a projected $30 million this year.
Excellent.  In a city with a municipal utility, your water bill is essentially a hidden tax.  Thus, last week's actions are a tax cut!

[Note: What we really need is choice and competition for water instead of a government monopoly.  But that's a discussion to have on the campaign trail (aka. you'd need 5 additional votes on the dias).  Given the status quo, this is good.]

Also, as a resident of district 3, we have to add: Seriously Pio?!?

But kudos to Ellen Troxclair.  She's been working Austin Water for years and it's finally paying off.  Her diligence is amazing.

[Note II: It's also funny how, whenever Troxclair outmaneuvers the rest of the council, they always vote unanimously when they cave to passively-aggressively attempt to deny her a victory.]

Bottom Line: This was a long time in coming.  And well deserved.  #TROXROX.

How DECENTRALIZATION and PROPERTY RIGHTS (not Cronyism and Regulation) will fulfill Texas' Water needs

"Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”
And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Exodus 17:6

"Water policy" is one of the quieter, ongoing, acts of larceny in which the Texas Legislature engages.  During our first session, in 2013, when the Legislature created an absurd slush fund to allegedly aid "water infrastructure development."  Last year, TPPF released a guide on how to permanently fix the problems, which we finally had an opportunity to read this afternoon.

Water policy in Texas is guided by a 1997 law known as SB 1 (75(R)).  The law attempted to use "planning" to reach a "comprehensive solution" to Texas' water needs.  There is a lot that could be said about SB 1, but suffice to say that it was devised by Karl Rove (Dubya was Governor) working alongside a Democrat Lt. Gov (Bob Bullock) and a Democrat Speaker (Pete Laney).

20 years later, TPPF explains the result of the SB 1 process:
[T]he face that the overwhelming majority of water management strategies in the [State Water Plan] remain to be executed points to problems with its centralized natureOnly 14 percent of the over 3,000 water supply strategies in the 2012 [state water plan] have reported any progress over the last five years.  They remain simply strategies on paper.

The 2017 [State Water Plan] continues to rely on a significant number of new large surface reservoirs without acknowledging the costly, lengthy, and potentially insumountable federal and state permitting procedures to build these reservoirs. (6)

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
[A] variety of provisions in SB 1, which were intended to facilitate voluntary water transfers in a competitive market, have been interpreted and applied in a way that obstructs water markets. (8) 
SB 1,  followed by a number of other lousy pieces of legislation, have muddled property rights related to water.  This makes it impossible to profitably develop water resources (of particular note are so-called "groundwater conservation districts").  Essentially, they're taking a problem caused by too much government intervention, and they're trying to solve it with even more government intervention.

The report lists a number of other regulatory impediments to a functional water market, highlights include:
  • "Surface water in Texas, as in most western states, is a public good...." (10)
    • aka. If everybody owns it, nobody does.
    • To the degree to which you can determine rights to use and development...the process is very complicated and very expensive.
  • "[R]egulatory impediments in the water market hinder both buyers and sellers from gaining a better understanding and expectation of prices for water transfers.  The lack of pricing information and other regulatory impediments may stop agricultural users from shifting to lower water-use crops or from investing in more efficient irrigation practices." (10)
    • aka. This is why we grow cotton in the middle of the desert.
  • "[T]he reliability of existing water is weakened by inconsistent responses from regulatory agents."  (10)
TPPF then catalogs the difference in how groundwater and surface water are regulated.  Neither one is good.  The result is unclear property rights, higher costs, and supply shortages.

As far as policy recommendations, highlights include:
  • Force "groundwater conservation districts" to reconognize private property rights.
    • Note: Or you could, you know, ABOLISH "groundwater conservation districts."
  • Clarify the law so that water rights more closely resemble oil and gas rights.
  • Amend the law to explicitly allow for the type of property rights in surface water that we (at least technically) have in ground water.
  • Streamline Permitting
Bottom Line: There's no problem related to water policy in Texas that can't be solved via. clearer property rights and smaller government.  But that would alleviate the artificial shortages and reduce opportunities for the politically directed allocation of capital. And what fun would that be for the average member of the Texas legislature?!?

Monday, March 12, 2018

Congressional Races continue offering significant upgrade opportunities

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Galatians 6:9

While last weeks results for state legislative races were a mixed bag, the congressional races went very well.

Some thoughts on the six open seat Republican district:

  • CD 2 - Neither run-off candidate stands out in a good way, but Kevin Roberts was such a lousy state rep that it suggests one should support the other guy by default.
  • CD 3 - Van Taylor wins without a runoff.
  • CD 5 - Bunni Pounds is rapidly consolidating conservative support. We've never met the woman, but numerous sources we trust have nothing but good things to say about her.  We just wish she had a different name.
  • CD 6 - Ron Wright qualifies for runoff while finishing 24 points in front of closest rival.
  • CD 21 - Matt McCall and Chip Roy are both solid conservatives.  We've known them both for many years and the differences are due to personality and style, but the philosophical underpinnings are identical.  Either one would be a significant upgrade over the current 32 year incumbent.
  • CD 27 - Michael Cloud scores a surprisingly strong second place finish while the widely expected front runner underperforms for a front runner.
Bottom Line: Obviously, you need to win the run-offs, but we should be very satisfied with the primary results in Congressional races.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Resolutions we're carrying Today

The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.”
And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.”
Acts 22:28

We'll be heading to our precinct convention shortly, we intend to introduce the following three resolutions:



Sexual Misconduct:

Friday, March 9, 2018

Abbott needs less bluster, more follow through....

"The end of a thing is better than its beginning;
The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit."
Ecclesiastes 7:8

To those who wanted to know why we asked Sarah Davis a softball question at the Trib event three weeks ago: Does it make sense now?!?

While Tuesday's results were a mixed bag for lege watchers from across the ideological spectrum, there was one GIGANTIC loser: Greg Abbott, specifically his SPECTACULAR FAILURE against Sarah Davis.

It's been obvious for months that Sarah Davis was going to win that primary.  Abbott's ridiculous, over-the-top (and easily disprovable), attack against Davis related to Hurricane Harvey was bound to backfire.

The way you go after Sarah Davis, in that district, is on property taxes.  Furthermore, (if you want to go there) there are several 'open secrets' at the Capitol related to Sarah Davis' personal conduct.  But Abbott chose to go off on some dumb tangent about Hurricane Harvey and the results speak for themselves.

But this isn't new: Greg Abbott talks a big game [Note: That's why Fox News LOVES him], but Abbott's results are consistently underwhelming.

As a pro-property rights, pro-taxpayer advocate who is active at the local level in Austin, few things drive this author crazier than Greg Abbott using our local officials as rhetorical punching bags but then failing to ensure that the bill in question reaches his desk.  Every single time that happens, this author is the one who bears the local backlash to Abbott's words.  That would be a worthwhile trade-off if the bills in question were passing, but so far that hasn't happened.

Bottom Line: Greg Abbott's ratio of cattle to hat could stand some improvement....

Thursday, March 8, 2018

#TXLEGE: Incoherent Electorate Re-Affirms Status Quo

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort"
2 Corinthians 1:3

Lotta spin coming out of Tuesday night.

Empower Texas is giving one set of absurd spin that Tuesday night was some allegedly great conservative victory.  On the other hand, the Austin lobby is giving another set of equally absurd spin that Tuesday night was some allegedly great victory for crony capitalism and good ol' boy politics.  Honestly, they're both full

While conservatives did enjoy a few modest gains (especially in congressional races), the truth is that the 2018 primary was basically a draw.

The Good:
  • Patrick BLOWS OUT opponent - For as much as the Austin lobby hates Dan Patrick's guts, they also know they can't lay a finger on him.
  • Freedom Caucus all win - Likewise, for as much as the Austin lobby hates their guts, they can't lay a finger on them.
  • Cruz cruises - Seriously, he won more votes than all three Democrat candidates combined.
  • Congressional Races - From Bunni Pounds in CD 5, to Ron Wright in CD 6, to either candidate in CD 21, to Michael Cloud in CD 23 solid people qualified for runoffs.  Van Taylor won outright.  In ALL of those districts, the possibility exist for significant upgrades.
    • If you'll give us a second, we'd like to brag on CD-21: Between Chip Roy and Matt McCall, you have two fabulous people in the runoff.  While they have very different personalities, they're virtually identical on issues.  Either one will be a tremendous upgrade over the lousy incumbent they're replacing.
  • Bob Hall wins - This was supposed to be the great "message" that the Austin lobby was going to send to Dan Patrick, and it failed spectacularly.
  • Angela Paxton wins - The negative campaign backfired.
  • Christi Craddick wins - Speaking of negative campaigns backfiring. #ijs
  • Fallon defeats Estes - This will make getting to 19 votes on any particular issue immeasurably easier (also, you know, this).
  • Cruz and Patrick have long coattails (longer than Abbott) - Every Senate candidate Patrick endorsed won; the overwhelming majority of candidates Cruz endorsed either won or qualified for runoffs.
    • Note: Did we mention the contrast with Abbott?!?
  • Jason Villalba loses - It's better to have an additional vote than to not have one, but it's hard to take joy in beating up the retarded kid.
  • Jonathan Boos wins - Solid pickup.
    • Note: This seat is NOT a gimme in the general election.
  • Steve Toth returns - PARTY!!!
  • Mayes Middleton wins - He worked his tail off and won this campaign on his own; endorsements he received were irrelevant.
  • Dawnna Dukes gets popped.
  • Local election in Montgomery County - Some very corrupt people got popped.
The Bad:
  • George P. Bush survives - Lots of money and 100% name ID.  Jerry Patterson got in too late and didn't raise enough money.  None of the challengers made effective use of earned or social media.
  • Too many AWFUL house incumbents survive - In some cases, they successfully lied about their record.  In other cases, the challengers didn't put in the necessary work.  In other cases, combined with the Senate and Congressional races in the same geographic area, the results are incoherent and don't make sense.
  • Too many AWFUL house incumbents weren't challenged in the first place - Drew Darby, Todd Hunter, Gary van Deaver, Jay Dean, John Wray, Kyle Kacal, John Zerwas, Geanie Morrision, Justin Holland, John Keumpel, Doc Anderson, Trent Ashby, Tan Parker, Drew Springer, and Angie Chen Button to name just a few.
  • Empower Texans and Texas Right to Life inexplicably failed to return reporters' phone calls - We don't know that the "West Texas billionaires" line or the contretemps with the Catholic Bishops was necessarily fatal.  But when reporters are writing stories about those subjects, and you fail to return their phone calls, it makes it look like you've got something to hide.  Stupid self-inflicted wound.
  • Seliger survives - We're not sure that this is a particularly big deal.  Seliger moved both of the bills in his committee that we cared about last session.  Next session, Seliger will have to choose between being a thorn in Dan Patrick's side or passing his local bills.
    • Note: There's a reason why we didn't pick any fights with Seliger this cycle.
The Ugly:
  • Greg Abbott looks FOOLISH - The guy picks a fight with three incumbent state reps and loses two of them.  And, in the third campaign, the candidate who won didn't need the Governor's help.  Meanwhile, there's no reason to believe that the candidates he endorsed who helped stymie his agenda will do anything different.
    • Note: There's a reason why we asked Sarah Davis a softball question at the Trib event a couple weeks ago.
    • Note II: Again, see our comment above about the contrast between Abbott's coattails vs. Patrick & Cruz.
  • DEMOCRAT.  TURNOUT.  FAIL - It was up, but it still wasn't anything special.
  • "Beto's" Debacle - LOL.
  • Ferdinand Frank "Trey Martinez" Fischer - Because if there's one thing the Texas house needs, it's another race baiting Democrat.
  • Hays county - What a mess.
  • Philip Huffines - Sad.
It looks like the voters are incoherent.  Sure, they re-affirmed the good ol' boy status quo in the house.  But they also re-affirmed the conservative status quo in the Senate (to say nothing of the congressional races).

What does it mean?!?

We don't know, but to understand the incoherence of the results, consider the results in house district 2 and Senate district 2 (which have significant geographic overlap):

There is no way those results happen unless a significant portion of the electorate that voted for both Dan Flynn and Bob Hall.  People who vote for Bob Hall in one race, then vote for Dan Flynn immediately down ballot are sending "mixed messages" at best.  It might be a pro-incumbant message, but it's not philosophically coherent.

Bottom Line: The grassroots and the Austin lobby remain locked in a stalemate.  The Democrats remain irrelevant, except to the degree they pull the Austin lobby to the left.  We know that we've been saying for years that the status quo isn't sustainable, but maybe it is....

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

O'Rourke repeats Davis' South Texas Primary DISASTER

"As a dog returns to his own vomit,
So a fool repeats his folly."
Proverbs 26:11

Beto O'Rourke last night:

[Note: Also worth mentioning Cruz won more total votes than all three Democrats combined.]

Wendy Davis, 2014 Democrat Primary:

Obviously, Democrat turnout was up, so O'Rourke did capture more total votes than Davis.  But this continues the mutli-cycle trend of the nationally hyped Democrat candidate losing South Texas to a an underfunded candidate with a Hispanic surname.  Also, O'Rourke's 62% is a significant decline from Davis' 74%.

Also, as mentioned above, Cruz still won more total votes than all Democrat candidates combined.

Bottom Line: Maybe, before the national media starts overhyping, the ought to look at how the candidate performs in his own backyard in his own party primary....

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

How We Voted

"Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens."
Exodus 18:21

Early this cycle, we made a specific decision to forgo endorsements or direct advocacy on behalf of specific candidates.  This was for a number of reasons.  But, at this point, we suppose we can let the cat out of the bag.

[Note: A couple of these will surprise some folks.  WE ARE NOT INTERESTED IN DISCUSSING THEM.  DO NOT send us Facebook messages.]

  • U.S. Senate: Ted Cruz
  • Governor: Barbara Kreueger
  • Lt. Gov: Dan Patrick
  • Atty. Gen: Ken Paxton
  • Comptroller: Glenn Hegar
  • Land Commissioner: Davey Edwards
  • Ag. Commissioner: Trey Blocker
  • Railroad Commission: Christi Craddick
  • Court of Criminal Appeals: David Bridges, Michelle Slaughter
  • 3rd Court of Appeals: Michael Toth
  • CD-35: The guy with the beard.
  • RPT Ballot propositions: No on 4.  Abstain on 2.  Yes on all the others.

Monday, March 5, 2018

#TXLEGE: Arrogant Flynn illegally uses state office to promote campaign

"The fear of the Lord is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverse mouth I hate."
Proverbs 8:13

From Bryan Slaton campaign e-mail last week:

It is with much concern that I share with you that my opponent has been using ourtaxpayer dollars to promote his own re-election campaign.

Over the last 7 days, Dan Flynn has released 6 different videos promoting his campaign that appear to have been filmed in his district office, which is paid for by the taxpayers of House District 2. If this is the case, not only is this unethical behavior, but it is also a clear violation of the law.

Mr. Flynn would be flaunting Texas law which clearly states that no taxpayer-funded resources may be used for election purposes as outlined in:


The taxpayers have a right to know. Has Mr. Flynn betrayed the public trust once again by using taxpayer-funded resources for his own personal benefit?

I'm calling upon Mr. Flynn to publicly clarify whether or not he is using his taxpayer-funded district office for his campaign videos. If so, then he must immediately apologize for breaking the law and take down his videos.

- Bryan
That's pretty bad; given the way frivolous criminal complaints have been thrown around this cycle, somebody really ought to file one against Flynn (and we might just file a complaint with the Texas "Ethics" Commission).

By beyond Flynn's immediate action, there's also a broader lesson: Arrogance.

It doesn't take a genius to see how using your taxpayer funded office for a political ad would backfire.  It's an obvious no-no.  But Flynn did it.

Over the past several years, as he's gotten closer to Joe Straus, Dan Flynn has grown increasingly arrogant.  It's been obvious since the early days of the Wallace Hall impeachment fiasco, and it's grown more obvious over time.  Now, Flynn reaps what his arrogance has sown.

[Note: Imagine the reaction if Jonathan Stickland had done the same thing.]

Bottom Line:  Dan Flynn is the ultimate case for term limits.  He was a pretty decent legislator in the early years, but this incident symbolizes how far he's fallen.  Eight terms in public office over nearly two decades rots your brain.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Is Tim Dunn BATMAN?!?

"but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal."
Matthew 6:20

Dallas Morning News yesterday:
There has recently been a campaign deploring the influence of "outside groups" in elections. It is important for taxpayers and voters to understand that the primary outside group the insiders fear is us -- the educated and motivated voters.

For years, insider incumbents have relied on financially dominating their political opponents in order to win over voters and avoid scrutiny of their voting record. Yet efforts by "outsiders" to shine a light on what really happens inside our state capitol is causing a fundamental shift in the status quo.

This can be demonstrated with a few numbers, beginning with 1.5 percent. That's the approximate percentage of all campaign spending attributed to the Empower Texans PAC (ETPAC), the main outside group identified by the insiders as their political bogeyman. If you presume most of the other 98.5 percent of funds support insiders, the disproportional fear of ETPAC shows its efforts clearly pose a threat to insiders.

As of the end of February, $113.5 million had been spent on Texas legislative and statewide campaigns during this campaign cycle. Of that, $1.6 million was spent by ETPAC. That is a lot of money, but a small portion of the total. So why the fuss?

Because the distinction insiders make is that ETPAC is an outsider. That means ETPAC is willing to take the often unpopular stance of backing challengers against insider incumbent politicians. It also means that what the insiders loathe is having their voting record exposed in primary elections.
Bottom Line:  Tim Dunn is a Billionaire who fights criminals and hates corruption...where have we seen that profile before?!?

Friday, March 2, 2018

#TXLEGE: Activists apologize for previous support of Capriglione

"He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy."
Proverbs 28:13

These are great!!!

Julie McCarty:

  • "I'm sorry that I ever helped lead the way for Giovanni Capriglione to ever become a state representative."
  • "Gio campaigned as a conservative; we all believed his promises, myself included."
  • Had a decent record his first session, and it's been steadily downhill ever since.
  • It's not just about the speaker vote two sessions ago; Giovanni's turned his back on a lot of other things as well.
  • "We have learned a lot over the past 6 to 8 years about vetting candidates.
  • Vote Armin Mizani.

  • In his first campaign, Capriglione explained the psychological games the lobby plays with new conservative members. 
  • "He did exactly what he described, what he was warning about."
  • "That's why I'm out working for Armin today."

  • "I'm sorry that our state representative, Giovanni Capriglione, has been less than truthful to the people who put him into office six years ago."
  • Voted for granny tax.
  • Voted to preserve corporate welfare for Hollywood.

[Note: We're not going to post a "highlight" list for this final video because the visuals only work if you watch the whole thing from start to finish.  It's only four minutes.  Well worth it.]

Bottom Line: Giovanni Capriglione's political trajectory reminds us of Arnold Schwarzenegger's as Governor of California.  Lots of big talk on the campaign trail, followed by a little action in the first year, followed by falling off a cliff.  Ultimately, Schwarzenegger made the problems he originally campaigned on fixing much, much, worse.  It's not a good comparison.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

#TXLEGE: Team Geren attempting to further milk false CPS report

"While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage."
2 Peter 2:19

This is absolutely disgraceful; from the Inbox:
Bo French Eviscerates Geren and his Democrat Allies’ Release of False CPS Report
“You know they are desperate when their only hope is to use CPS one more time to allege child abuse”

(Fort Worth, TX) On Wednesday the CPS report on the French family was leaked to the media in an attempt to, yet again, weaponize CPS and allege child abuse. The Quorum Report, an online blog, released the documents and noted that the conclusion was that the French family posed a “moderate risk” for child abuse. Left out, likely due to lack of research, was the fact that all families that don’t cooperate with CPS are noted as “moderate risk”.

French laid out significant details stating, “This is again a new low for Charlie Geren. You know they are desperate when their only hope is to use CPS one more time to allege child abuse.

Let me point out some facts: 

1. CPS will classify ANY parents who refuse to cooperate with a CPS investigation as presenting a “moderate risk” (as distinct from “low risk” or “high risk”) of future child abuse.  The basis for the “moderate risk” classification is the failure to cooperate, but that logic is entirely circular; we declined to cooperate precisely because we don’t abuse or neglect our children, and we therefore don’t want them exposed to an invasive and humiliating CPS interview and exam. The report shows we knew it was a political attack from day one.

2.  CPS did NOT find any actual child abuse or neglect in 2016. Obviously, there was none, as our pediatrician confirmed in his examination of all four of our children the Saturday morning after the Friday night CPS visit.  All CPS “concluded” in 2016 was, based on a default administrative assumption, was that there was a “moderate” risk of child abuse in the FUTURE.  We are now living in the future; it’s 2018 and there have NOT been any additional reports of child abuse or neglect in our home, despite the fact that our four children are around “mandatory reporters” (teachers, doctors, nurses, coaches, etc.) all the time.  Why no more reports or CPS visits since the 2016 election? Because, obviously, we do not abuse or neglect our children, and the one report ever made was politically motivated.  

3. Now let’s go back to the actual deposition; it’s clear to anyone who reviews Mr. Sorensen’s sworn testimony that he filed the false CPS report.  But he did so with NO PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE about the health or welfare of our children.  Sorensen testified that he has never met our children, never seen them in person, never been to our home, never been in the same room as our children, and he admitted under oath that he knows nothing about how we parent our kids. Stated another way, the Geren operative who phoned in the false CPS report admitted under oath that he knew nothing about the health or welfare of our kids.  And, to be clear, this Geren campaign worker was NOT a mandatory reporter to CPS of any sort.  

4. The Geren aid who phoned in the false CPS report had NO REASONABLE BASIS for doing so.  He admitted under oath that his ONLY knowledge of the welfare or health of my children was a snippet of conversation that he eavesdropped on, as he overheard me talking to my 2016 campaign manager about the purported injury to our youngest son’s ribs.  

5. Even as testified to by Sorensen, no child abuse could have occurred here because he acknowledged that we took our youngest son to a chiropractor, who is: (a) perfectly capable of diagnosing a broken bone; and (b) a mandatory reporter of suspected child abuse to CPS.  

6. Sorensen’s motivation was transparently political. He made the call the Friday before the Tuesday election.  He “very badly” wanted to see Mr. Geren win. He had worked 60-70 hours per week, 6 or 7 days per week, for Geren’s campaign from June 2015 to March 1, 2016.  Democrat Sorensen knocked on over 10,000 doors for Geren.  He was heavily invested in Geren winning, and he “went the extra mile” to make that happen by calling CPS.  

8. Bottom line: Geren surrogates’ focus on the “moderate risk” of future abuse classification that CPS assigned to my family because we would not cooperate with the CPS investigation is as cynical as it is desperate.  Geren’s staff created this CPS mess by making a completely false and baseless CPS report for transparently political purposes.  

9. Geren’s staff must be held accountable for weaponizing CPS is the 2016 race.  It defies all decency that they are attempting to weaponized it again in the 2018 campaign.”
Bottom Line: Please Ft. Worth, for the love of all that is righteous, show this false CPS report filing, lobbyist fornicating, sexual predator enabling sociopath the door next Tuesday....