Wednesday, October 31, 2018

How many Democrats are voting for Abbott?!?

"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
John 8:32

It's been noted throughout this cycle that Abbott's polling numbers have been consistently better than Cruz's.

RCP average for both:

Obviously, a lot has been written about Republicans crossing over for Bobby Francis.  In whatever "x" percentage they might be, those people do exist.  But we suspect they're only part of the story.

The only way these numbers make sense is if there are also a significant number of Democrats voting for Abbott.  Abbott's numbers are too high to explain any other way.  What else makes sense?!?

Case in point: Yesterday the Dallas CBS affiliate released a poll that had Cruz up by 10...and Abbott up by 26.  Cruz's +10 is fairly normal for a Republican in a statewide race.  Indeed, the rest of the Republican ticket had numbers within a similar range as Cruz.  But there's no way Abbott gets to +26 without significant cross-party support.

Bottom Line: There's a chance Cruz underperforms the rest of the Republican ticket, but there's an equal or greater chance that Abbott overperforms it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

#TXLEGE: We really need Speaker TERM LIMITS

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

Obviously, this Bonnen thing seems to be gaining momentum.  Beyond what we said yesterday, we don't know what to make of it.  Only time will tell.

But before we go any further, it's time to discuss something about which we've been thinking for several months: We need term limits on the speaker.

Regardless of the next speaker's identity, they should be limited to three sessions.

History shows that allowing speakers to continue past three terms is dangerous.  Joe Straus was never good on policy, but during the early days he kept the abusive lawlessness to a minimum.  Gib Lewis became mired in scandal during his fifth session.  Tom Craddick became known as "auto-Craddick" during his third.

Furthermore, the best time to push for this reform is during a vacancy.  Regardless of the next speaker's identity, there are going to be members disappointed by the outcome.  One would think they would like another shot in a few years.

Finally, term limits for the speaker could only help to decentralize power away from the speaker's office.

Bottom Line:  An open seat race is the best time to advance this process reform that should have been adopted a long time ago.

Monday, October 29, 2018

#TXLEGE: Bonnen would be less bad, but wouldn't be great

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

State Rep. John Zerwas, a Richmond Republican, has withdrawn from the race for speaker of the Texas House, he confirmed to The Texas Tribune on Sunday evening.

“I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to engage with the members of the House. The honest conversations are critical to the relationships I have, and I am honored to work with such principled leaders,” he said in a statement to the Tribune. “While I believe that I could lead the House through a successful 2019 session, it has come time for me to end my bid for Speaker and wholly focus on writing the budget for the 2020-2021 biennium.”

His departure comes amid an effort among roughly 40 GOP House members to draft state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, into the race. Bonnen did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Texas Tribune.

On Sunday night, that group of 40 members was scheduled to gather in Austin to discuss recruiting him for the job. Bonnen previously had told The Texas Tribune in May that he was not interested in running for the top slot in the lower chamber. The Tribune was told Sunday night that Bonnen was not at the meeting.
Here's the thing: Dennis Bonnen is a man of many, many, flaws.  But he would still represent a tangible upgrade over Joe Straus.  Amazing as it may sound, Dennis Bonnen had a higher Empower Texans score last session than any of the declared speaker candidates.  At a minimum, you probably get some kind of property tax reform out of a Bonnen-led house.

Obviously, Dennis Bonnen was the public face of killing property tax reform last session.  But, according to multiple Capitol sources, Bonnen wasn't happy about it.  Bonnen was basically placed in an impossible situation by Joe Straus, but he did his best to muddle through.  We've also heard rumors, though they are unconfirmed, that Bonnen was one of the major players in getting Joe Straus to finally step aside.

Bottom Line:  We can probably do better, but we can certainly do worse.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

#TXLEGE: Incompetent Superintendents costing Texas Taxpayers MILLIONS

"That they may successfully do evil with both hands—
The prince asks for gifts,
The judge seeks a bribe,
And the great man utters his evil desire;
So they scheme together."
Micah 7:3

Texas Monitor yesterday:
Four Texas school districts last year lost nearly $400,000 in state funding as a penalty for their generosity to departing superintendents, according to records obtained by Texas Monitor. It’s part of a pattern that’s been going on for than two decades.

Many of the districts that had their state funding reduced are small, rural districts with fewer than 5,000 students, leaving them with budget holes in addition to superintendent vacancies.

The penalties have been on the books since 1995, when an omnibus education bill passed that requires the state to withhold funds from a district that pays a settlement worth more than the superintendent’s annual compensation.

Districts have for years paid large sums to departing superintendents, either to help convince an unpopular official to leave or because the superintendent simply wanted to retire or had a better job offer.

In almost every case, the severance payment had been agreed to as part of the contract when the official was hired.
Bottom Line: If you're wondering why the legislature should set a threshold for (at least) 60% of education spending to go into the classroom, this would be a good place to start....

Friday, October 26, 2018

WillCo Democrats Import Hollywood Liberal

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

Yesterday, Jimmy Flannigan tweeted:

We had originally intended to rip on Jimmy for going to this event in the middle of the workday despite this ongoing water DEBACLE.  But clicking through the Statesman link, it doesn't appear that he was there.  So no harm, no foul, towards Jimmy (on this topic).

But this does beg another question: What the heck are the WillCo Democrats thinking?!?

It's not a secret that people can't stand being lectured about politics by celebrities.  Yet that's how WillCo D's choose to present themselves.  If you're wondering why John Carter will (probably) survive the midterm, this is a good example of why.

Y'all do realize this district includes Bell County, right?!?

Bottom Line: This is a good way to confirm every stereotype about Democrats in existence....

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Adler to seek State/Federal **BAILOUT** for HIS Failures in Water Debacle

"For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers."
Matthew 23:4

Is this a joke?!?
"Reimbursement" and "Procurement."

In other words, taxpayers elsewhere in Texas and the United States are going to be expected to pick up the tab for this 100% local failure.  This is coming from the same Mayor who has prioritized regulating Uber to death, inventing municipal entitlements, and boondoggle soccer stadiums over basic infrastructure.  But now Steve Adler wants the state of Texas and the Feds to pick of the cost of this debacle.

To the extent that they can do so legally, both Greg Abbott and Donald Trump should tell Adler to pound sand.

Some might grouse that this is unfair to local taxpayers.  Nonsense; local Austin voters are the ones who've been electing this joke of a municipal government.  It's perfectly appropriate for them to bear the full cost of getting out from this mess.  [Note: That being said, vote for Prop. K.]

Bottom Line: This one's on us.  This failure's 100% local.  The state and the feds owe us nothing.


On a lighthearted note, this Twitter user said it perfectly:

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

UT's RIDICULOUS Contract to "Investigate" Schwertner Accusation

"You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness."
Exodus 23:1

From yesterday's DMN:
AUSTIN — The University of Texas investigation into whether state Sen. Charles Schwertner sent sexually explicit text messages to a graduate student could last as long as 11 months and cost the school as much as $50,000, according to a contract between the university and the outside counsel hired to investigate.

The University of Texas signed a contract with former federal prosecutor Johnny Sutton beginning Sept. 24 with an end date of Aug. 31, 2019. However, the contract could be terminated earlier or amended to be extended.
Is this a joke?!?

Nothing in this allegation requires an ELEVEN MONTH investigation.  All they have to do is determine of the alleged photo actually comes from a phone of which Charles Schwertner ever had possession.  Frankly, there's no reason this investigation should have already been completed.

On the other hand, if UT's objective was to launch a fishing expedition (complete with curiously timed press leaks) that would last through next session against a Senator who's historically been a thorn in their side, well....

Bottom Line: Last month, we proposed a cynical hypothesis about this accusation; you be the judge....

Roy growing increasingly articulate on Campaign Trail

"The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."
Philippians 4:9

During both the primary, and the runoff, this website criticized Chip Roy's messaging.  He wasn't necessarily doing anything wrong, but his rhetoric was cliched and stale.  That has changed.

A Politico interview and a Trib appearance yesterday illustrate Roy's growth.  Most important, Roy is finally connecting abstract conservative principles with people's day-to-day lives.  We'll focus on the Trib appearance because there's video (and because we're partial to in-state media).

Health Care is the issue where Roy's growth is most evident.  He's now promoting "health care freedom" instead of "repealing Obamacare."  That's important because fixing the health care system will galvanize the public in a way that returning to the pre-2010 status quo won't.

Roy explains: "If you're going to own something, you have to solve the problem."  The uninspiring 2017 health care bills didn't do so.  Furthermore, "if you don't cause costs to go down, it's not going to work."  The primary way to accomplish this objective is to remove bureaucrats while increasing Doctors and other medical professionals.  Policy details can follow, but the problem is (finally) properly defined.  To his credit, Roy also calls BS on the so-called 'pre-existing condition' ruse.  Specifically, Roy explained yesterday government created that problem.

Roy refuses to be bullied about the national debt.  Specifically, when asked about it, Roy blames FEDERAL SPENDING not insufficient taxation.  Roy also has the political courage to explain that you can't address the national debt without addressing Medicare and Social Security.  On immigration/border issues, Roy is now discussing them with the complexity they deserve, rather than earlier platitudes about "opposing amnesty."

Bottom Line: It's an impressive, and welcome, level of growth....

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

#TXLEGE: The Legislature needs to take a SERIOUS look at Austin Water

"He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord,
But he who is perverse in his ways despises Him."
Proverbs 14:2


In fairness to the city, in response to the backlash they're now claiming it will only take a "handful" of days.  Of course, the beautiful thing about the word "handful" is that it's so vague it can mean anything.  As one commenter on Twitter explained:

Here's the thing: Municipal Utilities are 100% within the jurisdiction of the legislature.

We're not sure what they should do.  Several possibilities exist.  They should start with basic financial accountability.

Another issue worth considering: There were drinking water related issues during Harvey.  Obviously, Harvey was a much bigger storm, and a much better reason for drinking water issues to exist.  But, aside from accountability for Austin Water's DEBACLE, there might also be a case to act of the grounds of emergency preparedness.

But that's not to minimize the case for holding Austin Water accountable for this breakdown.

Bottom Line: Accountability for municipal utilities needs to be a big part of the conversation next session....

Monday, October 22, 2018

Austin Water DEBACLE a textbook example of Why we need an Audit

"Therefore, putting away lying, 'Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,' for we are members of one another."
Ephesians 4:25

UPDATE: We haven't discussed this topic with Ellen Troxlair, but apparently great minds think alike....


The City of Austin's water utility has issued a citywide boil-water notice as it struggles with the impact of debris from flooding on its water treatment capabilities. Austin Water advises customers to boil water for three minutes before consuming it and says that water filtration systems alone will not remove harmful bacteria.

The utility says there have been no positive tests for "bacterial infiltration" of the water system so far, but emphasizes that there is still a risk. Austin Water has also prohibited the use of water to irrigate lawns or foundations, fill pools, run fountains or ponds, and wash vehicles, pavement or other surfaces.


Restaurants have closed for the day because of water concerns and bottled water has sold out at grocery stores across the city.

"The high level of debris, silt and mud requires extended filtration that slows the process of getting treated water into the system," Austin Water said in a press release. "To provide necessary water pressure for fire protection, plants must distribute water at treatment levels not typical of the utility’s high standards for consumption."


Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said last week's flooding washed untold volumes of soil, silt and debris into the river system. Austin Water says all three of its water treatment plants are currently running at a third to a quarter of the capacity they would normally run.

Normally, Austin Water is able to treat more than 300 million gallons a day, but the utility has been only able to process only a little more than 100 million gallons of water for the last two days.

"It's been a real struggle," Meszaros said. "We haven't had a violation yet but we believe one is probable, and we wanted to issue this boil-water notice ahead of all of that."
What a PATHETIC failure.

Newsflash: This is Central Texas.  Heavy rainfall happens from time to time.  Nothing that has happened in the past week is out of the ordinary.

But the real outrage is that Austin Water has a Billion dollar annual budget.  Yet they can't plan for heavy rain?!?  What are they doing?!?

Apparently, nothing good:

Seriously, that "artist in residence" character sound like a real winner.

Bottom Line: When you're getting over a Billion dollars a year and you fail to plan for an obvious and predictable occurrence, it might be time to let an outsider take a look at your books....

Saturday, October 20, 2018

#TXLEGE: Patrick outlines path to Decent Speaker

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

On Thursday, Dan Patrick released his endorsements in house races:

That Patrick was willing to wade into house races is, itself, noteworthy.

But what's really interesting is who Patrick endorsed.  There are some pretty prominent names that were left off that list.  If the people on this list can stick together, the Republican conference will be able to elect an "ok" speaker.

That being said, from a speaker's race perspective, some of Patrick's endorsements are screwy.  Why on Earth would you endorse John Zerwas but NOT Phil King or Craig Goldman?!?  Also, the Jim Murphy endorsement can only be classified as very, very disappointing.

Overall, however, it's a reasonably solid list.

Bottom Line: If the names on this list can stick together, you're well on your way to meaningful change....

Friday, October 19, 2018

Southwest Texas' ASTONISHING shift to the Right

"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

One week ago:
History was made today in the Texas Senate chamber as Pete Flores, a retired game warden from South Texas, was sworn in as the state’s first Hispanic Republican State Senator.

Flores won the seat in a special election last month in a surprise victory that surprised political onlookers statewide. Many had written off Flores’ hopes of winning the seat. However, Flores ran an aggressive campaign matched by a surge of grassroots energy in the district. Add to that the support of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and Flores ultimately carried the day.

Previously occupied by Democrat State Sen. Carlos Uresti—who was forced to resign from office after being convicted of several federal crimes and sentenced to prison—Senate District 19 had not been held by a Republican since Reconstruction.

These are both astonishing.

The Texas Observer notices:
The 23rd Congressional District is Texas’ one true swing district. It forms a claw that holds on to the heart of San Antonio and then stretches west all along the border to El Paso County. It’s a gigantic district, encompassing two time zones as well as about two-thirds of the Texas-Mexico border, and it’s more than 70 percent Latino.

If a backlash to Trump — the president who demonizes Mexican Americans, separates children from their parents at the border and obsesses about building a border wall — were to materialize anywhere, you would think it would be here.

But in Texas, perennial concerns about low Latino turnout are again rearing their head. “If you were banking on the Bexar County Democratic Party to carry a heavy share of the load [in the 23rd], you probably want to rethink your plan,” Mark Jones, a Rice University political science professor, warned.
It's quite something.

A few observations:
  •  Strong Border Security positions help in November -- While Hurd is a sometimes squish, Flores isn't.  That this is happening at the same time as Trump is doing what he's doing (and the legislature is, however reluctantly, doing what they're doing) tells you everything you need to know.  If the GOP's immigration position were "toxic,' they wouldn't be winning in Southwest Texas.
  • The Failure to address Carlos Uresti has cost Democrats DEARLY -- Another observation we've made previously.  But all they had to do was do the right thing when either the financial or the sexual stuff came out.  But they didn't....
  • Southwest Texas REALLY isn't into Bobby Francis -- These are the same counties that he lost in his primary disaster.
Bottom Line: This is VERY bad news for the Democrats....

Thursday, October 18, 2018

#atxcouncil Inverts First Amendment

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

Council adopted the "city of Austin's" taxpayer-funded legislative agenda for next session.  Substantively, it's predictably terrible.  But the bigger affront is how the city is taxing all to subsidize the political views of some.

We explained as much:


  • "At the state convention, three months ago, in late June, the Republican Party of Texas adopted as one of it's top five legislative priorities the abolition of all forms of taxpayer funded lobbying."
  • "Item #15 on today's Austin City Council agenda is a textbook example of why."
  • "Taxpayer funded lobbying is an inversion of the First amendment."
  • "The first amendment is designed to protect private citizens from the government; it doesn't work in the other direction."
  • "Taxpayer funded lobbying is compelled speech, it's tyranny of the majority, and it tramples on individual liberty."
  • That this author doesn't agree with the substance of the agenda being adopted is an annoyance, but it's not the real issue.
  • "If we were in a different part of Texas, and there were a left-wing citizen whose local government was about to use their tax dollars to [lobby for]...the bathroom bill, that would be just as wrong."
  • "It would still be compelled speech, it would still by tyranny of the majority, and it would still be an affront to individual liberty."
  • On a practical level, the specific agenda council is adopting "will do nothing good" on various affordability issues.
  • "When this comes up during the next legislative session, just remember that item #15 is a textbook example of why."

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

#TXSen, #TexasDebate: Three Missed Opportunities for Cruz

"He who despises the word will be destroyed,
But he who fears the commandment will be rewarded."
Proverbs 13:13

Last night's debate was a bad sequel.   Both candidates regressed to stale talking points.  Following a solid opening act, the (likely) final debate was a depressing example of two people talking past each other.  Both get a "C."

Of course, a debate where the candidates hold serve benefits the status quo.  Obviously, Cruz is winning.  In that sense, Cruz accomplished everything he had to accomplish.

Still, Cruz missed several opportunities to turn this race into a blowout:
  • Debt -- Perhaps the funniest part of the debate was Bobby Francis pretending to care about the national debt.  Apparently, for Bobby Francis, the national debt justifies an inefficient tax code.  Bobby Francis repeatedly cited the national debt as a reason to oppose the modest tax code streamlining that Congress passed last year.

    Cruz responded by talking about the relationship between economic growth and federal revenue.  Specifically, he discussed how a more efficient tax code leads to more revenue.  He's not wrong.  But it's still a complicated argument the average voter doesn't understand.

    Imagine, instead, if Cruz said the following: "The reason we have a $21 Trillion debt is not because the American people are taxed too little.  The reason we have a $21 Trillion national debt is because the Federal Government SPENDS TOO MUCH.  As a United States Senator, NOBODY has fought to curtail federal spending harder than I have.  Unfortunately, too many of my colleagues (in both parties) see it differently.  While that is an unfortunate reality, nothing good can come from turning a United States Senate seat over to a Congressman who never met a spending bill he didn't like."

    From a policy perspective, such an answer would also account for the fact that government spending stifles economic growth.
  • Health Care -- Cruz did an acceptable job pointing out the shortcomings of Bobby Francis' positions, but he continues to underperform on this issue.

    Bobby Francis supports government run health care.  Cruz correctly discussed the cost and inevitable rationing of such folly.  Cruz even, correctly, brought up the British National Health Service.  But imagine what could have happened if Cruz had forced Bobby Francis to defend what the British NHS did to Baby Alfie.

    Finally, Cruz would have been wise to contrast the opportunities offered by free-market health care vs. Bobby Francis' socialist nightmare.
  • #MeToo -- How many times do we have to repeat it?!?  BOBBY.  FRANCIS.  O'ROURKE.  HELD.  A.  CAMPAIGN.  EVENT.  WITHBORRISMILES.

    Yes, this Borris Miles.

    Imagine if, in addition to the answer he gave, Cruz had contrasted how the Texas GOP dealt with Barton/Farenthold with how the D's (incl. Bobby Francis) dealt with Miles/Uresti.  Cruz's answer was fine, but this could have been a knockout blow.  Missed opportunity.

    The worst part is that he was asked a direct question.
Bottom Line: It was fine, but it could have been much more.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Curious Case of Sarah Martinez Tucker

"For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light."
Luke 8:17

How very strange:
The head of the University of Texas System's governing board, Sara Martinez Tucker, has told high-ranking UT officials she plans to step down as a regent on Jan. 15, 2019.

No reason was immediately given for her sudden departure. The announcement was confirmed to The Texas Tribune by two sources.
It's impossible to know what to make of this development.  Tucker has been board chair for barely a year.  She got the position when Governor Abbott forced out her predecessor.  Tucker has always been thought of as close to Abbott.

The simplest explanation would be that a new personal or professional development precludes Tucker from finishing her term.  If Tucker has a new job or a sick relative, that could explain a lot.  However, if that were the case, one would think such an explanation would accompany the announcement.  It's not a secret that the University has been embroiled in controversy, but Tucker seems like a strange head to roll (at least without others).

Regardless of why, this is an opportunity.  Governor Abbott now has to appoint four new regents next spring.  For citizens and legislators concerned with the direction of higher education, this is the point of maximum leverage.

Bottom Line:  Weird....

Monday, October 15, 2018

#TXLEGE: Burton's opponent pledges to defend Protectionism and Corporate Favoritism

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

Beverly Powell is Konni Burton's Democrat general election opponent; the things you learn scrolling through Twitter:
Seriously...Chapter 312?!?

Powell goes further in her linked op-ed:
As a starting point, Chapter 312 of the Texas Tax Code, which authorizes cities and counties to temporarily abate property taxes for economic development projects, will expire on September 1, 2019, unless the legislature extends it. Thanks to the tools available in Chapter 312, thousands of jobs have been created or retained in Fort Worth and General Motors has expanded its operations and created hundreds of new jobs in Arlington.

Considering that Texas has some of the highest property taxes in the nation and most states offer similar economic development incentives, it is imperative that the legislature extends Chapter 312 authority in the next session.
Apparently, Powell's solution for high property taxes is to make it easier for people who can hire lobbyists to pass their tax burden onto the rest of us.  Tax abatements are great for politicians who want to get photo ops.  But they're wretched policy.  The phrase "opportunity cost" comes to mind.

Chapter 312 is a textbook case of collusion between big business and big government at the expense of everyone else.

It's also worth noting the degree to which Konni Burton has been a champion on this issue.

Bottom Line: Special privileges for the rich and powerful is a strange premise around which to base a campaign....

More on Chapter 312:

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Major League Soccer saves #atxcouncil from itself

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,"
Ephesians 2:8

Some good news:
Austin’s bid to land its first major-league pro sports franchise went into extra time Friday when Major League Soccer announced plans to bring a team here — but not the team the city was expecting.

MLS said it is working on an agreement that would keep the Columbus Crew in Ohio and allow a new franchise — complete with a yet-to-be determined roster — to play in Austin.

A group led by Jimmy and Dee Haslam, who own the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, is negotiating a deal with MLS to keep the Crew in Columbus, the league announced.

The deal caps a year of drama that has played out in the capitals of Ohio and Texas. Austin spent months negotiating a deal for a privately financed stadium on city-owned land to be built by the current owner of the Crew. Now, that team appears set to stay in Columbus, where it was a charter member of the MLS, while Austin starts fresh with a new team.
Phew; it's worth pointing out that our two biggest objections are no longer relevant:
  • We're no longer trying to reach a March 2019 deadline that is no longer realistic (and hasn't been for awhile).

The debacle has been averted (for now).

Moving forward, any potential stadium agreement needs to be a good deal for taxpayers.  The team needs to pay for the land.  They also need to pay property taxes.


If that happens, this may yet be a win for the city.

Only time will tell.

Bottom Line: Disaster has been averted, it'll be interesting to see what the final deal looks like.

Friday, October 12, 2018

#TXSEN: Campaign Vendors continue Fleecing Gullible Liberals

"Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom,
Since he has no heart for it?"
Proverbs 17:16

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, raised $38.1 million for his U.S. Senate campaign in the third quarter, a new record for the largest fundraising quarter ever in a U.S. Senate race, according to his campaign.

The haul more than tripled Republican incumbent Ted Cruz's fundraising for the past three months, which Cruz has said was over $12 million. O'Rourke has consistently raised more than Cruz in the race, but this is the widest gap yet. The $38.1 million is by far the largest amount raised in a quarter by a Senate candidate, surpassing Republican Rick Lazio's record of $22 million in 2000 for his bid against Democrat Hillary Clinton in New York.
Soo...Bobby Francis is shattering fundraising records.  That's not new.  But what can he show for it?!?

For starters, he has no field operation.  We live in East Austin.  This is exactly the type of neighborhood where D's have to maximize turnout (high likelihood to vote D/low likelihood to vote in the first place) if they're to have any chance statewide.  The Texas Observer has observed a similar phenomenon in similar neighborhoods in South Texas.

Back in July, we took a deeper look at Bobby Francis' campaign expenditures.    The obvious conclusion is the the overwhelming majority of it was going to out of state vendors.  We haven't had time to parse the latest numbers but, given the recent trajectory of the campaign, it seems likely that the previously observed trend continues.

Bottom Line: During the Obama era, especially in his second term, there were a proliferation of so-called "scam PAC's."  These were entities that raised large sums for their staffs and vendors, but spent little of the money on actual political activity.  Bobby Francis' campaign looks to be something similar for the Trump era.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

#TXSEN: How Bobby Francis Appeases anti-Semites

"I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
Genesis 12:3

We've previously discussed the anti-Semites funding Bobby Francis' campaign; the Times of Israel documents what he's already given them:
Rep. O’Rourke has voted AGAINST overwhelmingly bipartisan pro-Israel positions on,
  • Emergency Iron Dome Supplemental Funding during the Gaza War of 2014 (Protective Edge);
  • the House Resolution of Disapproval on the Iran Nuclear Agreement,
  • the House Resolution Condemning UNSCR 2334 (the Anti-Israel UNSC Resolution), and
  • several Iran sanctions legislation.
To put this into context, out of 435 Members of the House of Representatives, he was:
  • one of only 8 to vote against the emergency funding of Iron Dome,
  • one of only 20 to vote against the Royce/Engel Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013,
  • one of only 80 to vote against condemning the UNSCR 2334,
  • one of only 162 to vote against the consensus pro-Israel position on the Iran Nuclear Agreement, and
  • one of only 48 members of Congress to boycott the address of the Prime Minister of Israel to a joint session of Congress.
You can learn more about the well documented anti-Semitism of the Iranian government here.

Bottom Line: Texas was one of the first states in the nation to take in holocaust refugees so, well, good luck with that....

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

#TXLEGE: The School Spending ## the Trib Neglected to Mention

"and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
2 Thessalonians 2:10

Ross Ramsey has an "analysis" column this morning about school finance:

Ramsey goes on to make standard arguments about the state "shifting the burden" of school finance onto local taxpayers.

He's not necessarily wrong.

However, there's another chart Ramsey doesn't show:

In other words, while it's true that local property taxes account for a higher percentage of total education spending, that spending is not being used to benefit children.  Instead, the local ISD's are using local property taxes to hire bureaucrats.  That's where all the money is going.

TPPF has more:
In the 2015-16 school year, for example, Texans spent $12,257 per student, with a standard classroom of 20 students receiving roughly $245,000. But teachers – the biggest factor in the quality of education – received only 21 percent of that per-classroom expenditure. The average teacher salary was $51,891.

Where did the money go? In large part, it went to administration.

Since 1993, the number of students in Texas has increased by 48 percent, while the number of staff has increased by 61 percent. Yet the number of administrators and other staff employees, not including teachers, has increased by 66 percent. Our public schools grew rapidly, but their administrations grew more rapidly still.

One study shows that if school districts had kept the growth of non-teaching staff to the same rate as the increase in students, Texas' public education system could have saved $2.2 billion annually or increased each teacher's benefits by $6,318.
[Note: Obviously, there's a discrepancy between the numbers in the two sources we cited.  We're not sure why.  Regardless, they point in the same direction and reveal the same phenomenon.]

Of course, that's also why we recently discussed necessary pre-conditions for any increase in state level education funding.

Bottom Line: "Shifting the burden" of education spending back to the state might make sense.  But the money needs to go to the classroom.  It would be nice if the Trib could make that distinction.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

#atxcouncil: The Soccer Stadium DEBACLE Gets WORSE

"Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge,
And he sins who hastens with his feet."
Proverbs 19:2

From yesterday's Statesman:
A date that could have marked the end for Major League Soccer coming to Austin will come and go without much commotion.

Lawyers from Precourt Sports Ventures and the city of Austin are still drafting the final lease and development contract for a Major League Soccer stadium at McKalla Place. The terms sheet approved by the Austin City Council in August specified Oct. 9 as a day when either side could terminate the deal if a final agreement had not been reached. Although signatures are still likely months away, representatives from both sides told the American-Statesman that they have no intentions of backing out.

"It was there as a failsafe, just in case there were any substantial roadblocks and things just weren't coming together," David Green, a spokesman for the city, told the Statesman. "It would allow either party to back out, but wasn't meant as a hard deadline. We're coming up on Oct. 9, and right now we've made very good progress. There isn't any reason for either party to consider invoking that clause of the terms sheet at this time."

MLS lobbyist Richard Suttle, who works for PSV, declined to comment other than to say he agrees with the city about Oct. 9.


"We always said it would take 90 to 120 days," Green said. "We're still confident in that as a good window. November, December timeframe, probably more likely to be December as both sides go through multiple reviews from their lawyers to make sure everything is above board before anybody signs anything."

While both sides agree things are moving smoothly, there are still several potential stumbling blocks, starting with the lingering uncertainty surrounding the possible relocation of Columbus Crew SC. Team investor-operator Anthony Precourt, who started exploring a move in October 2017, intended to finalize a move for the 2019 season, but MLS has yet to sign off. A lawsuit hangs over proceedings in Ohio, and appears unlikely to be resolved by the end of the 2018 season.


MLS normally releases its schedule for the coming year in early January, with the first games kicking off in early March. PSV had a brand reveal for a potential MLS team, to be called Austin FC, but other specifics for a possible 2019 launch (season tickets, temporary stadium, etc.) are on hold.


There's also the matter of local opposition from political action committee IndyAustin, which is circulating a petition challenging the stadium deal.

[Note: Emphasis added.]

To recap:

  • They're aiming for a final contract in December...but they're expecting to be able to play games in March?!?

    That seems...ambitious!
  • The lawsuit in Columbus remains unresolved, and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.
  • Speaking of lawsuits, there's one coming in Austin the deal is finalized.  The only reason it hasn't happened yet is because you need a final signed contract before a plaintiff has standing.  Does anyone doubt the 3rd Court of Appeals will issue a temporary injunction?!?
  • They have to get through the petition campaign.

    [Note: They won't; Soccer fans don't vote.]
  • They don't even have a temporary stadium agreement!!!  Yet they want to play games in MARCH of next year.  NEWSFLASH: It's already mid-October!!!
  • It's long been rumored that the team wants to use UT's facilities as a temporary stadium.  It's not a secret that UT isn't particularly interested.  Given everything we know about how the University of Texas does business, just IMAGINE what UT would end up charging Precourt in a situation where they have THIS much leverage.
The best part, however, is that this is exactly what we warned Council would happen:

Oh well, they're the ones who chose not to listen.

Bottom Line: This is going down exactly how we predicted, and it's only going to get worse (for Adler and Precourt)....

Monday, October 8, 2018

Carter is probably safe (for the midterm)

"Because of the transgression of a land, many are its princes;
But by a man of understanding and knowledge
Right will be prolonged."
Proverbs 28:2

The New York Times (of all places) just released a poll on the closer than expected Congressional race in Williamson county:

Carter looks likely to survive this year.  But these numbers are still soft.  And there's other polling that suggests the race is much closer.

As we've discussed previously, anyone who doesn't see a gigantic liability in a Presidential year is fooling themselves.

The geographic vote distribution tells the story. Round Rock and Cedar Park are bad.  Georgetown is still red, though not as red as it used to be.  Bell County looks solid (but it's not the major population center).

Bottom Line: Carter's number's are fine for this year.  In a Presidential year, however, we're spooked.  Consider yourselves warned.

Government Official Bullies Private Citizen Exercising Their Free Speech Right

"My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent."
Proverbs 1:10

A campaign sign in Central Texas this week drew the scorn of an elected state official — and then it was confiscated by police.

At issue in the small community of Hamilton was a homemade yard sign featuring an elephant decorated in red, white and blue with its trunk up the skirt of a female saying the word “Help.” The sign said “Your vote matters.”

Other signs promoting Democrats from U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke to Agriculture Commissioner candidate Kim Olson were in the background.

This “is supposed to be Judge Kavanaugh’s young daughter,” Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller posted along with the photos on Facebook this week. “The Democrat sleaze knows NO bounds!”


Miller’s Facebook post drew attention to Stanford and her sign, prompting countless reactions, including those that called for her to be arrested.

Police did show up at her home.

Some say she was told to remove the sign or it would be confiscated. City officials said police visited Stanford’s home and she asked them to take the sign, the Dallas Morning News reported.


Miller posted again on Facebook that he’s happy with the result.

“I’m glad that I called out this offensive campaign sign and am pleased that hundreds of others did so as well,” he said. “It’s vulgar and just plain wrong and it had no place in someone’s yard visible from the street.

[Note: Emphasis added.]
 Miller's Original Facebook post:

Obviously, we don't agree with her characterization.  The Republican Party of Texas has the best record of any state-level party in the country at dealing with this garbage.  Ms. Stanford might want to research the fate of former Congressman Blake Farenthold and soon-to-be former Congressman Joe Barton.  She also might want to contrast RPT's record with how the Texas Democrats have handled Carlos Uresti and Borris Miles.

But, that being said, Ms. Stanford is a private citizen.  Sid Miller is a statewide elected official.  This is an obvious, clear-cut, case of constitutionally protected free speech.

To review, Sid Miller:

  • Posted a picture of a private citizen's yard to a Facebook page with over 700k followers.
  • Lied about the content in the picture.
  • Ginned up an angry mob against a private citizen; said mob subsequently called cops on a afore mentioned private citizen.
  • Tried to dictate what kind of political speech private citizens can display on private property.
    • [Note: Do you even property rights, Sid Miller?!?]
This is outrageous.  It's no different than what Maxine Waters and Sheila Jackson Lee are doing nationally.  If anything, it's worse because Miller is calling for the mob to go after a private citizen.

We didn't vote for him in March and, after this, we doubt we're voting for him in November.

Bottom Line: Private citizens have free speech rights.  Private citizens also have private property rights.  Sid Miller doesn't get to direct how those rights are exercised.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Sam Ehlinger is a LEGIT Heisman Contender

"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

What a game!!!

It almost goes without saying, but Sam Ehlinger is the primary reason the Longhorns won today's game.  Three rushing touchdowns, along with two from the air, speak for themselves.  Again, what a game!

But here's the thing: He's been doing this all year.  Under Sam Ehlinger's leadership, the Longhorn offense has become elite.  It starts with the guy under center.

The beautiful thing about this Longhorn offense is its balance.  From the receiving corps, to the backs, to the tight ends, this offense has many ways to beat opponents.  It's impossible to cover them all.  But for this sort of an offense to work, you need a quarterback who makes good decisions and who has the physical skills to execute.  Sam Ehlinger is showing both in spades.

Then there's his running ability.  Sam Ehlinger forces the defense to keep an extra defender near the line of scrimmage to defend against QB keepers.  That's a defender that can no longer drop back into pass coverage.  That creates opportunities.

Last season, Sam Ehlinger became very predictable.  That's no longer the case.  Now, the only time Sam's predictable is when you know he's going to run the ball.  But he's still successful almost every time!

Bottom Line: We're not necessarily saying he should win.  But he should be in the conversation.  And, if Sam Ehlinger keeps playing the way he has been, he will be.

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Long Term Solution to our George P. Bush problem

"Woe to those who devise iniquity,
And work out evil on their beds!
At morning light they practice it,
Because it is in the power of their hand."
Micah 2:1

Confession: Over the past couple weeks, since George P. Bush started mucking around with the land offices' school finance obligations, this author has had quiet discussions about putting together a group effort to torpedo his candidacy in November.  But that won't happen.  Post-Kavanaugh, people are simply too mad at the Democrats to do them this sort of a favor.

But the George P. problem isn't going away.

There is, however, a solution (even if he gets a second term): Impeachment.

According to Article 15 of the Texas Constitution, the power of impeachment lies with the legislature.  The house has the authority to impeach statewide officers for pretty much any reason they want [Note: This power was abused a few years back].  If a simple majority in the house votes to impeach, it goes to trial in the Senate.  If two-thirds of the Senators vote to convict, the office-holder is removed.

Obviously, this would be a drastic step.  But it might be a necessary one.  He's not backing down on this Alamo nonsense.  And what he's doing with school finance is a gigantic threat to property tax reform/relief.

That being said, George P. should not be impeached over transgressions committed during his first term.  The voters had a chance to weigh in on that one back in March.  They'll get another opportunity next month.  Bush survived the first and is likely to survive the second.  So his first term has been settled.  But any new offenses that occur after he's sworn in for the second term are fair game.  Does anyone those offenses will inevitably occur?!?

Bottom Line: George P. Bush is going to get re-elected.  But there are still ways to hold him accountable in a second term.  They might just have to be used....

Thursday, October 4, 2018

#atxcouncil: There's no good reason to oppose an Independent Audit (aka. Prop K)

"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them."
Ephesians 5:11

Last night, TPPF hosted a discussion about Prop. K, the independent audit on this fall's ballot.

Art Martinez de Vara, the former mayor of Von Ormey, TX, spoke of his time in government.  He explained how budgets are typically written by department head, not elected officials.  Too often, bureaucrats control the budget process.

Fred Lews, a well-know Austin activist with whom we have both agreed and disagreed over the years, supports an audit.  Lewis spoke about how, in dealing with the city over the years, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the city is poorly run.  It can do better.  As someone on the left, Lewis explained that "the government has to be effective" if it is to have public credibility.

Speaking in opposition was council candidate Bobby Levinski.  He's a former staffer to three council members and has an insider's insider resume.  Levinski made the standard arguments about how an outside audit is redundant because the city has in-house auditors.  He also literally accused audit supporters of wanting to kill puppies (through animal control) to beliittle the idea of government efficiency.

Even if Levinski's argument were valid [Note: It's not, internal and external audits measure different things], it doesn't change the fact that sometimes having a fresh set of eyes take a look helps.  People who aren't invested in a situation sometimes see things more clearly.  As Martinez de Vara explained: "It's very difficult to audit yourself."

To further this point, we asked Levinski a question premised a cynical hypothesis.  Based on our observations, we cynically hypothesize the real reason Mayor Adler opposes this with such vehemence is because his friends and cronies are getting rich off of city government (*).  We asked Levinski, point blank, if he could come up with any less cynical objection to a fresh set of eyes.  Levinski dodged the question with the same talking points about an independent audit being "redundant."

Bottom Line: Whether your goal is lower taxes OR more city services, an independent efficiency audit has something for everyone.  That's why it's widely supported across the political spectrum.  That opposition only seems to come from those with a financial interest in the status quo is becoming increasingly difficult to overlook.


* - We have no specific evidence, but we have A LOT of unresolved questions about the 2016 "transportation" bond, the 2017 "downtown puzzle," and the recently passed soccer stadium that an independent audit could help answer.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

#TXLEGE: Will Abbott do anything after ANOTHER Higher Ed incident?!?

"Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."
James 2:17

By now, you've heard:

Obviously, this isn't good.  There's a lot that can be said.  We've said a lot of it before.

But it comes down to this: Abbott has jurisdiction.  He's not using it.  Nothing else matters.

Last year, we predicted the situation would eventually get so bad that Fox News would notice.  Well, Fox News picked this one up.  And we all know how Greg Abbott feels about Fox News....

In fairness to Abbott, he's been telegraphing for awhile that he's getting sick of UT's nonsense.  He forced out the Chairman of the Board last fall.  But none of that has changed anything.

Instead, there's this:

Bottom Line: Abbott has jurisdiction.  He's not using it.  Nothing will change until he does....


Governor Greg Abbott:

Phone - (512) 378-0285

Twitter - @GregAbbott_TX