Tuesday, November 20, 2018

#TXLEGE: Campbrell and Watson outline the 86th


"A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
But a faithful ambassador brings health."
Proverbs 13:17

We attended this afternoon's Trib event with Donna Campbell and Kirk Watson.

The TL,DR version is that untying the school finance/property tax knot is going to be the primary focus this next session.

Watson correctly pointed out that state formulas have pushed education funding down the local level in recent years, while Campbell correctly pointed out that any increase in state funding needs to be tied to performance metrics.

The recent election and health care were also discussed.



Highlights:

  • Bonnen's a St. Ed's alum.
  • Watson cites school finance and infrastructure as longstanding challenges.
    • Public wants "better priorities."
    • Note: Kirk Watson isn't wrong that these are longstanding challenges the public wants addressed, but Kirk Watson's preferred solution (pouring more money into the status quo) won't fix them,
  • Watson: More "early childhood translation education in traditional public schools."
    • Cynical interpretation: Brainwashing them younger and younger
    • Non-cyncial interpretation: Misguided idea that history has shown to be ineffective at promoting lasting academic gains.
  • Campbell: "Depends what we're going to do with it" re: More state-level education funding.
    • Have a conversation about "funding good performance."
  • 30 minutes in before Evan brings up rollback.
Bottom Line: School finance needs to be dealt with eventually.  Now is as good a time as any.  It'll be interesting to see how conservatives approach what is shaping up to be a "must pass" bill....

Monday, November 19, 2018

Rick Perry does what Rick Perry does


"Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots?
Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil."
Jeremiah 13:23

San Antonio Express News over the weekend:
AUSTIN — U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry left the Texas governor’s mansion four years ago. But he is still tapping his Texas campaign account to fly wife Anita Perry around the globe for nuclear talks and to speak at international energy meetings, records show.

In Paris last year, Anita Perry spoke at a women in energy event. She also appeared alongside her husband in South Africa on a panel about natural gas, social media accounts show.

Most recently, the campaign paid $17,000 to fly Anita Perry to and from London last March for Saudi nuclear meetings, finance reports show. It’s not clear what role Anita Perry — a nurse — played at the closed-door talks, though campaign finance reports said she went for government related activities.

....

Rick Perry is one of several Trump cabinet members who have come under fire for racking up expensive bills on chartered jets and first-class flights.

When Anita Perry has accompanied her husband on international trips, the Department of Energy says taxpayers aren’t paying the bill. State campaign finance records show that Texans for Rick Perry — the campaign account that bankrolled the Republican’s runs for governor — has picked up the tab for at least $60,000 worth of her flight costs.

....

During 2017, the campaign paid roughly $50,000 to cover her travel to Vienna, Cape Town, Rome and Paris for events including Africa Oil Week, a G7 meeting and an International Atomic Energy Agency conference, records show.

Anita Perry traveled to Rome in April 2017 for a G7 energy ministers meeting as part of the official U.S. delegation. There, she spoke at a side event called “Africa 2030: Empowering the continent through innovation, green tech solutions and capacity building,” according to Politico.

In Paris last year, Anita Perry delivered a speech at a Women in Clean Energy event, where she was listed on the program as the former first lady of Texas and a “health, women and economic development advocate.”

Anita Perry flew to Cape Town in October 2017 as part of the department’s official delegation to Africa Oil Week, according to trade publication E&E News. Rick Perry’s campaign account reimbursed the U.S. Department of Energy for the cost of her flights, campaign finance reports said.

....

Texas candidates who leave office with leftover campaign money can give it away to charity and political campaigns or use the money to cover officeholder expenses. In past opinions, the Texas Ethics Commission has said the money can cover those costs when a candidate moves to federal office. Spending on a spouse is OK, so long as it’s in connection with the officeholder’s duties, the commission has said.
Of course, this should surprise precisely nobody who has observed Rick Perry over the years.

But it's still funny.

Bottom Line: Don't ever change Rick Perry....

Sunday, November 18, 2018

#DKR500, #HookEm: A Senior Night to Remember


"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

Confession: It was the first time we've ever cried on Senior night.

Kris Boyd, Charles Omenihu, Davante Davis, P.J. Locke, Jerrod Heard, Patrick Vahe and, of course, Breckyn Hegar (in pigtails, no less!).

We've always had a soft spot for Charlie Strong's 2015 recruiting class. That was the year talent began to return to the forty acres after the drop-off in the late Mack Brown years. It's had to believe they've played their last home game at DKR.

As for the game itself, it was the most dominant performance the Longhorns have turned in all season.  Following Oklahoma State's upset over West Virginia, Texas controlled its own fate.  They responded accordingly.

Sam Ehlinger continues to play like a monster.  He passed for one touchdown and ran for another.  His early game rhythm with Colin Johnson was a sight to behold.  Unfortunately, he sat out the second half due to injury.

But Shane Buchele didn't miss a beat.  He literally didn't have an incomplete pass the entire night.  Where Sam connected with Colin, Shane connected with Lil'Jordan Humphrey (including for one touchdown and several other impressive plays).

Speaking of Lil'Jordan, that guy's a superstar.  He needs to come back for senior year.  Right now, he's probably a mid-round draft pick, but a monster senior season would catapult him into the first or second round.  He should learn from Malik's mistake, wait a year, and make real money.

Tre Watson and Keontay Ingram deserve credit.  They've become a phenomenal duo.  Having a pair of backs who can bust 25 yards on any given play does wonders for your passing game.

Also, Breckyn totally had a sack in the second quarter.

Beyond the game was the atmosphere at DKR.  Electric doesn't cover it.  Unreal might be the place to start.

During the fourth quarter, they played "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.  Beginning with the student section, everybody used the flashlights on their phones to light up DKR.  Unfortunately, we were too busy enjoying the moment to capture video.  To understand what it was like, check out this author's twitter feed and watch any video we retweeted with the phrase "chills."

Bottom Line: This season has had its ups and downs.  But it's had a lot more ups, and a lot fewer downs, than any recent season.  With one game to go, we're masters of our own fate.  And it feels good.

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Westlake High's Finest: Breckyn and Sam embrace
 following their final home game as teammates.



























Saturday, November 17, 2018

Early Season Promise


"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

Yeah, we get it. You're supposed to blow out the Citadel in an early season non-conference home game. Well, guess what?!? These are exactly the type of games that have given the Longhorns fits in recent years.

Last night's blowout win came from a level of team play we haven't seen in ages.  In addition, there's a level of depth that allows the team to compete regardless of who's on the floor.  There's a world of difference between a seven man rotation and a ten man rotation.

The biggest change is that there now appears to be a legit inside presence on offense.  In addition to last season's breakout star Dylan Osetkowski, Jerico Sims and freshman Jaxon Hayes are stepping up.  And having a real inside game frees things up at the perimeter.

Speaking of the perimeter: What a night for Snoop Roach.  In addition to scoring his 1000th point in Burnt Orange, his second half dunk was the final momentum shift in the Longhorns favor.  Could be on his way to a monster senior season.

Elsewhere in the backcourt, sophomore Matt Coleman continued his solid play from last season.  Sophomore Jase Febres' scoring ability continues to improve.  That being said, Junior transfer Elijah Mitrou-Long (#55) might be this season's breakout star.

Obviously, Shaka Smart's tenure has been inconsistent (at best).  Still, his recruits are now sophomores and juniors.  The team chemistry that emerged down the stretch last season appears to have grown.  It'll be interesting to see where Shaka can take it.

Bottom Line:  You still need to play the games.  But there are no obvious red flags.  That's more than we can say about other recent seasons.



Snoop Roach's dunk up-close 


Dylan Osetkowski dunk


Friday, November 16, 2018

#TXLEGE, #atxcouncil: Appeals Court Buys Time on "Sick Leave" Entitlements


"Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?"
Matthew 20:15

From TPPF:
AUSTIN—Today, the Texas Third District Court of Appeals rendered its judgment in the paid sick leave case brought against the City of Austin by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. 
The judgment holds that the City’s paid sick leave ordinance violates the Texas Constitution because it is preempted by the Texas Minimum Wage Act and orders a temporary injunction to be put into effect immediately by the lower court. 
“Today’s ruling by the Texas Third Court of Appeals is cause for celebration,” said TPPF’s General Counsel Rob Henneke. “The ruling is an unequivocal win for our clients, whose rights were violated by the City’s ordinance. With today’s ruling, the case is remanded to the district court, who is ordered to enter a temporary injunction preventing the ordinance from becoming effective.”
This is a positive step.  That being said, we shouldn't kid ourselves.  Last week's election has made this lawsuit's path significantly more challenging.

Still, today's ruling buys time for either the legislature or SCOTX to act.

Bottom Line: We're not out of the woods yet, but today's ruling is a significant step in the right direction.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

"More Sarah Davis" is NOT the solution for Texas Republicans


"having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!"
2 Timothy 3:5

The Resurgent has a piece this morning about the GOP's national challenges this past election revealed.  We agree with a lot of what the author had to say.  But it gets bizarre when the author turns to Texas:
Let’s look at a few success stories of moderate Republicans surviving in blue country.

1) Sarah Davis, a Texas state representative in Houston’s inner suburbs, survived 2018 even as the Republican Congressman went down to defeat:
Meanwhile, Culberson’s most problematic precincts relative to 2016 also fell inside House District 134, where Republican state Rep. Sarah Davis staved off Harris County’s blue wave to win re-election by almost seven points.
While Davis was winning by seven, Culberson lost by 5. She did that with a record of good governance while chairing the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health & Human Services as well as the General Investigating & Ethics Committee.

Notably, Davis doesn’t thrill many GOP activists, including as she:
was on this year’s list of Texas Monthly’s best legislators (not for any partisan or ideological reason, but because she was an effective lawmaker). Davis has called herself a “rational Republican,” and if you look at Rice University political scientist Mark Jones’ Texas House liberal/conservative ranking, you’ll find that there is no Democrat to the right of Davis and no Republican to her left. She is the very definition of purple in the Texas House. [emphasis added in original]
She’s clearly no Trump Republican. Governor Greg Abbott helped lead an effort defeat her in her primary, including because of her Investigations & Ethics work. He failed.

​What’s more notable perhaps in her win amidst a tide of suburban blue was her platform:
“I have been a leading champion in the Texas House for women’s health, including providing more funding for cancer screening and preventive care,” said Davis. “I passed bills to make government more transparent and accountable to taxpayers, and supported a balanced budget that improves our roads and schools, invested a record amount in border security, and set aside $11 billion in the state’s ‘Rainy Day Fund’ in the event of a fiscal emergency.”
Notably not on the agenda: immigration, tax cuts, culture war issues, or even a hint of Trumpiness.

Not only did it work electorally, Davis survived in a district that the Houston Chronicle noted in its endorsement of her:
[she] fits well with her wealthy, highly educated constituents, who have a habit of voting for candidates instead of parties. In 2012 the district went for Mitt Romney by 15 points. In 2016 Hillary Clinton won by 15 points — and Davis did about as well.
Davis might not be at the critical mass of the Republican party under Trump, but she’s exactly the kind of suburban Republican the party needs nationally to retain a governing majority in Congress.
Moreover, there’s something to be said for running on a platform that appeals broadly to your constituents, not just the base…let alone a Trumpy one.
Yeah, not so much.

First things first: It's cute to hear Sarah Davis of all people bragging about protecting the Rainy Day Fund when she led the charge to raid it last session.

It's absolutely true that Republicans have to do a better job talking about immigration.  It's also true that, while they should oppose excesses of PC/woke culture, Texas Republicans have fallen into an intellectually lazy rut over culture war issues.  But Sarah Davis is the answer for neither of those issues.

Sarah Davis claims to be "fiscally conservative/socially moderate."  But she's not.  Property taxes are a gigantic issue in Harris County.   And Sarah Davis has never lifted a finger to address them.

Technically, Sarah Davis has filed a few CYA bills related to property taxes.  But those bills never go anywhere (because of the leadership Sarah Davis has supported).  We didn't even know Davis had filed those bills until we checked while writing this blog post.

Beyond property taxes, Sarah Davis consistently supports:
Sarah Davis is a GIGANTIC phony; gigantic phonies are no foundations upon which to build a movement.

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The only reason Davis won as comfortably as she did was because Abbott botched the primary as badly as he did.

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Bottom Line: There are definitely things that need to be done differently in suburban areas; turning a blind eye to property taxes while promoting more government involvement in health care are not those things....

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

#TXLEGE: Patrick, Bonnen, start off with Kumbaya


"Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,"
2 Corinthians 5:18

OK, THIS is different:



Wow; you certainly never had Joe Straus and Dan Patrick issuing these sorts of statements heading into a session.

Bottom Line: It's still going to be a long, challenging, session. But at least it looks like Dennis Bonnen is prepared to negotiate in good faith with Dan Patrick. That's more than we can say about Dennis Bonnen's predecessor.