Thursday, October 31, 2019

#TXLEGE: Lt. Dan continues campaign against scourge of...Mild Relaxation by teenagers

"The wise shall inherit glory,
But shame shall be the legacy of fools."
Proverbs 3:35

Dan Patrick dropped several interim charges yesterday.

[Note: Two hours before Game 7 of the World Series...CLASSY.]

In fairness to Patrick, most of them are fine.  A few of them are relatively good.  Most are fairly minor.

There was, however, this:
Keeping Vaping Devices/E-Cigarettes Out of the Hands of Children: Consider the emerging public safety concerns from the rise in “vaping” and ecigarette use by minors. Study whether current criminal penalties are sufficient to deter individuals from selling these devices and substances used to fill these devices to minors.
Keep in mind, this is the same Texas Senate that thought raising the tobacco age to 21 was a worthwhile endeavor.

Furthermore, we stand by our suspicion that somebody's getting paid.

Bottom Line: Vaping by teenagers might not be good.  But come on.  No, seriously, come on.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Hindman > Sessions

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

Wasn't expecting this:
The race to replace retiring U.S. Congressman Bill Flores (R–Bryan) got a lot more interesting on Tuesday, with the entrance of rocket scientist George Hindman.

A Pflugerville resident and an aerospace engineer and business owner by trade, Hindman says he believes his background uniquely qualifies him to represent Congressional District 17, a central Texas district that encompasses Waco and the Bryan-College Station area, with a portion dipping down into Travis County and Austin.

“As a committed conservative Republican who wants our nation on the right path, I can’t watch from the sidelines while our liberties and values are under attack,” Hindman said in a release on Tuesday. “It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to fix our national problems. But Washington D.C. is so broken, a rocket scientist might be what we need.”

“Not only am I an aerospace engineer and pilot who has taught astronauts, I’m a successful inventor and entrepreneur. Most importantly, I’m a Christian conservative husband and father who is genuinely concerned with the direction of our nation. Let’s defend our country’s bedrock principles and stand strong for our conservative Republican values,” he added.

This website stopped endorsing politicians several cycles ago.  But we endorsed against Pete Sessions in both 2014 and 2016.  By 2018, we knew his corruption would drag him down.  We've already said our piece about 2020.

We've actually known George Hindman for...a whole bunch of years.  Mild-mannered dude.  Definitely a solid conservative.  While we no longer 'vouch' for politicians, Hindman's the type of guy who's more likely to resist the temptations of office.

Hindman is kind of a "fun with gerrymandering" candidacy.  As a Travis County resident, he's previously been the token Republican candidate in several safe Democrat seats.  But, due to how U.S. House districts are drawn, CD-17 is a safe Republican seat.  That being said, for a Waco-based district, we certainly understand if voters choose a Waco candidate.

Bottom Line: The final candidate lineup remains to be seen, but a one-on-one race between George Hindman and Pete Sessions is an easy call.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

#atxcouncil: Homelessness and the FASCINATING Political Geography of Abbott's Jurisdiction

"[R]edeeming the time, because the days are evil."
Ephesians 5:16

We've obviously said our piece about Greg Abbott and Austin homelessness.  We think Abbott's talked a lot more than he's acted.  Furthermore, the modest actions coming this week don't really solve anything.

Last night, however, we we discussing all of the above with a friend who lives in North Austin.  We explained why we think there's less to Abbott's announcements than meets the eye.  This person didn't disagree, but then said something we hadn't considered:
You're probably right...but if all Abbott does is use TxDOT to clean out the area under highway overpasses, it'll take care of everywhere [the homeless] congregate in my neighborhood.

[Note: Emphasis added.]
Not a bad point.

The primary place the State of Texas (and thus Abbott) has jurisdiction is highways.
Given that, consider how highways intersect Austin city council districts.  Specifically in North Austin:

  • MoPac is entirely within district 10 and the most conservative parts of district 7.
  • US-183 snakes through districts 7, 10, and 6.
  • Even I-35 gets in on the act in district 7.
Districts 6 and 10 have elected Republicans in recent memory.  District 7 has never been seriously contested.  In the current climate, however, it really ought to be (*).

None of this, of course, is to say that TxDOT moving homeless individuals away from highway overpasses really solves the problem.

But it is to say that it could make a visible difference in the lives of the type of people who are swing voters in local elections.

Maybe even enough to change turnout models...especially for December runoffs.

Bottom Line: Given where everything's located, even underwhelming changes could have an oversize impact.


* - By Republicans AND sane Democrats.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Is Expanding the Scope of CPS really a good thing?!?

"Understand, you senseless among the people;
And you fools, when will you be wise?"
Psalm 94:8

We'd yet to fully articulate it, but were (kinda, sorta) thinking the same thing:

These points are fantastic.  Unintended consequences are a very real possibility.  Doesn't take a genius to see how.

CPS in Texas has been highly problematic.  The governor just gave them a new area of jurisdiction.  That expanded jurisdiction will stick around long after this specific case is resolved.

Does anyone think Abbott will monitor CPS over the long run?!?

Bottom Line: The phrase "cure might be worse than the disease" comes to mind.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

"The Texan" proves its chops

"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:"
Ezekiel 3:17

In the past few days, we've seen movement in both the Prado Family CPS case and the "Save James Younger" case.  Both remain works in progress.  But the past week has been less than completely terrible.  Considering that we're discussing government...that's progress.

That we're even aware of such cases, however, is a testament to one news outlet: The Texan.

Over the past several months, they've covered each story at a time when others lacked either a) bandwidth or b) interest.

This isn't necessarily bashing the traditional media.  They do some things well.  For all of their flaws, we're better off with them than we would be without them.  But it is to say important stories fall through the cracks.

For a media ecosystem to thrive, we need lots of outlets.  Competition and all that.  Right now, there's a void in Texas.  This past week demonstrates that the Texan can fill a rather significant chunk of that void.

Subscribe here.

Bottom Line: Without them, this past week could have looked very different....

Friday, October 25, 2019

#TXLEGE: "Save James" case proves longstanding hypothesis about Governor FoxNews

"And He answered and said to them, 'Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’"
Matthew 19:4

[Note: We've been discussing this case with Capitol sources all day.  There's a lot that we can't publish.  Suffice to say, the so-called "Big 3" are a bunch of frickin' tyrants.]

Well, well, well:

So nice of you to show up.

Late > never etc.

This case has been in the public domain since January.  Since then, any number of folks have worked it doggedly.  Recollections vary, but Abbott's staff was told no later than the second week of February.  Almost immediately, they stopped returning phone calls.

It's impossible to know if Greg Abbott was personally informed.  But the boss sets the organizational tone.  If Greg Abbott's staff kept this information from Greg Abbott personally, it's because they knew Greg Abbott didn't want to hear it.

So the case festered until the verdict earlier this week (aka. seven months later).  Luckily, the verdict happened to go viral.  And the verdict happened to go viral on a slow news day for national conservative media.

  • Steve Deace - A Texas jury just told a father he cannot prevent his son from being mutilated. It is past time for Christians to act.
  • Matt Walsh - Court Rules That A Mom Can ‘Transition’ Son Into Girl Against His Dad’s Wishes. This Is Evil, Insane Child Abuse.
Finally, because this is Greg Abbott we're discussing, the most important outlet:
  • Fox News - James Younger, 7, to have Texas judge decide fate amid parents' gender transition battle.
Once Fox picked up the story, Abbott no longer had a choice.  The story became too hot to ignore.  So he tweeted.

Of course, none of this is surprising.  We've been arguing for years that Greg Abbott cares far more about national conservative media than the grassroots of his own party.  That's why we started calling him Governor FoxNews in the first place.

But it's always been more of a hypothesis than anything.  It's difficult to prove.  It's impossible to test.

Until this week:
  1. Abbott ignores issue for over seven months.
  2. Out of nowhere, national conservative media becomes very interested.
  3. Abbott at least pretends to do something.
If scientists had designed it in a lab, you couldn't have had a much better test of the "Governor FoxNews" hypothesis.

Greg Abbott behaved exactly how that hypothesis would predict.

Bottom Line: James Younger got lucky.  But the whims of social media and the national news cycle are no way to govern a self-respecting republic.  Even if it worked this one time.


Note: If you work for a national conservative media outlet who covered this story this week, thank you!  You made more of a difference than you know.  Thank You.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

#TXLEGE: Apparently, Planned Parenthood Supports Prop. 6

"You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch,
And the star of your god Remphan,
Images which you made to worship;
And I will carry you away beyond Babylon.’"
Acts 7:43

The things you see scrolling through Twitter:


Obviously, we've opposed Prop. 6 since we first heard about it. CIPRIT has been scandal plagued for years.  They don't need an additional $3 Billion.

But we didn't expect Planned Parenthood to get in on the act.

Then again, we never expected NARAL and Wendy Davis to show up here.

Bottom Line: We already thought Prop. 6 was a boondoggle, but this is all the more reason to oppose it....

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

#atxcouncil: Can We PLEASE Recall Steve Adler?!?

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

Yes thank you:
AUSTIN (KXAN) — A political action committee has formed with a goal of ousting Austin Mayor Steve Adler and five members of the Austin City Council.

The PAC “Our Town Austin” formed yesterday. Sharon Blythe created it and says the PAC’s purpose is to prompt a recall election for Adler plus council members Natasha Harper-Madison, Pio Renteria, Ann Kitchen, Paige Ellis and Kathie Tovo. Those are the members of council who are not up for reelection in 2020.

To recall a council member “Our Town Austin” will have to gather signatures from at least 10% of each of their districts. For Mayor Adler, they will need 10% of registered voters within the entire city.

If the PAC gets the necessary signatures, the council members or Mayor Adler will have five days to resign or the city will hold a recall election.
We've been suggesting recall elections for awhile, but we knew nothing about this effort until we read the news reports.

As we've been arguing since June, the best solution for this one specific issue is a special session.  Obviously, that ain't happening.  Furthermore, given where things stand on other issues (eg. speaker, #2A), a special session is perilous for reasons unrelated to the situation in Austin.

So recall elections work.

If nothing else, they force council to play defense for the next six months, and probably render Adler a lame duck.

Bottom Line: May 2020 gonna be lit....

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

#TXLEGE: Acute crisis subsides, Toxic Culture Remains

"For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death."
2 Corinthians 7:10

This was always inevitable:
Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) announced this morning he would not seek reelection to the Texas House.

“Since Friday, I have had numerous conversations with Members who care deeply about the Texas House, and I respect the manner in which they have handled the entire situation. After much prayer, consultation, and thoughtful consideration with my family, it is clear that I can no longer seek re-election as State Representative of District 25, and subsequently, as Speaker of the House,” said Bonnen in a statement.

“I care deeply about this body and the work we have accomplished over the years, namely, the outstanding success we achieved in the 86th Legislature,” he continued.

This announcement comes after Michael Quinn Sullivan, of the conservative grassroots group Empower Texans, released a recording of a closed-door meeting he had with Bonnen, in which Bonnen offered a clear quid pro quo — Texas House media credentials in exchange for Sullivan monetarily targeting 10 select “moderate” Republican House members.
Two and a half cheers.

It's certainly good that Bonnen is gone.  It always serves the public's interest to remove corrupt officials.  Furthermore, Bonnen's departure reduces the odds of a GOP electoral wipeout.

Still, it's hard to get too excited.  It took them three months to make a completely obvious decision.  It should have taken about three days.

Last Saturday we wrote that, given their inability to do that which is completely obvious re: Bonnen, the GOP deserved to lose the Texas house.  Obviously, this morning's announcement renders most of the specifics of that blog post moot. anyone confident a new scandal won't soon emerge?!?

Cuz' we ain't.

As we wrote:
It's no longer just about Dennis Bonnen.  Or one act of political funny business.  This specific scandal is the completely predictable result of the toxic culture in the Texas capitol that has prevailed for a long time.

The GOP, meanwhile, has been running the place for a quarter century.

This is the same Republican majority that:
  • Two years ago, put a man who had been in a sexual relationship with a lobbyist for over a decade in charge of writing its sexual harassment policy.
The pattern is anyone not under the influence of afore mentioned Egyptian rivers.
Dennis Bonnen (and Joe Straus and Jim Pitts) might be gone, but Charlie Geren and Jim Murphy remain.

It's hard to feel confident in a culture that continues to tolerate the likes of Charlie Geren and elevates the likes of Jim Murphy.

Even if they did (very, very, belatedly) throw Dennis Bonnen overboard.

Bottom Line: We're certainly in a better place now than we were twelve hours ago...but that's not saying much.

Monday, October 21, 2019

#TXLEGE: Leach, Shaheen, ignore First Rule of Competitive General Elections


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

How to lose a competitive general election in one press release:

In terms of substance, all four representatives should be embarrassed. But at least Justin Holland and Scott Sanford represent safe seats. Jeff Leach and Matt Shaheen do not:

Yet these geniuses are vocally defending Bonnen.

It doesn't take a genius to see how this plays out: Leach and Shaheen are attacked as lackeys of corruption.  They reply with a complicated, political, answer.  The public, hating those sorts of answers in the same way that they always have, votes for the non-incumbent.

Leach and Shaheen lose.

Rule #1 of competitive general elections: Additional baggage is bad.  It's difficult enough to get across the finish line on your own.  Other people's drama can only sink you.  All the blockwalking, messaging, and money in the world won't save you.

Yet Leach and Shaheen chose to do exactly that with Bonnen.

Like we said, doesn't take a genius.

Bottom Line: This will be one of the most predictable political attacks in the history of political attacks...and Leach and Shaheen won't have a good answer.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

#TXLEGE: At this point, the GOP deserves to Lose the Texas house

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

Never, ever, ever underestimate the cowardice, or the stupidity, of the Republican caucus in the Texas house:

That one has to go to the Twitter feed of a Texas Tribune reporter to find that statement, while the GOP caucus hasn't posted it to their own, tells you everything you need to know.

We'd call it denial, but we don't want to insult Egyptian rivers.

In other words:

Yet here we are.

It's 2006 on steroids.

We don't have anything new to say about this specific scandal.  There's nothing we can say that we didn't say three months ago.  And two months ago.  And ten days ago.

Yet here we are.

It's no longer just about Dennis Bonnen.  Or one act of political funny business.  This specific scandal is the completely predictable result of the toxic culture in the Texas capitol that has prevailed for a long time.

The GOP, meanwhile, has been running the place for a quarter century.

This is the same Republican majority that:
  • Two years ago, put a man who had been in a sexual relationship with a lobbyist for over a decade in charge of writing its sexual harassment policy.
The pattern is anyone not under the influence of afore mentioned Egyptian rivers.

It can't be defended, and it shouldn't.

The New York Times, meanwhile, gets in on the act:
AUSTIN, Texas — With President Trump arriving in red-state Texas for a campaign rally in Dallas on Thursday, the Republican Party in the state faces a host of troubles.

The Republican-controlled Texas House of Representatives is engulfed in scandal. Six of the state’s 23 Republican members of the United States House of Representatives say they will not run for re-election, opening new opportunities for Democrats. And one of the state’s three top Republican leaders believes that the president has become a political liability among a crucial bloc of voters.

“With all due respect to Trump — who I love, by the way — he’s killing us in urban-suburban districts,” Dennis Bonnen, the speaker of the state House and the central figure in the legislative scandal, said in a 64-minute tape recording released on Tuesday.

The recording of a sometimes salty conversation Mr. Bonnen had with a conservative activist at the State Capitol in June includes a description of what critics have called a quid-pro-quo offer that is now under investigation by the Texas Rangers.

Mr. Bonnen says the tape, which was recorded without his knowledge, proves that nothing he said in the conversation broke any laws.

Even so, the political landscape in Texas will now feature both an embattled state leader struggling to hold on to the speakership and an embattled president confronting an impeachment inquiry — a prospect that unquestionably raises the stakes for Republicans in a state their party has dominated for more than two decades.

Consequently, “corruption and abuse of power become not just a national issue but potentially a state-level issue for Republicans as well,” said Jim Henson, a pollster and political analyst based in Austin.
Obviously, a certain type of moron will reply "HashtagFAKENEWS" to the New York Times.  That's fine.  They'll get what they deserve.

To the reality based community, however, its' a warning.

You don't have to agree with every statement in that Times article to understand they've got the basic dynamic right.

The frickin' New York Times understands reality better than the majority party in the Texas legislature.

Think about that.

Yet here we are.

Bottom Line: The Democrats might not deserve to win.  It might remain the case that they suck even more.  It probably does.  But it shouldn't surprise anyone if "might" fails to defeat currently observable reality.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Why does THE SAME STATE AGENCY handle Corporate Registrations and Elections Administration?!?

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

Without prematurely disclosing details, this author is in the process of forming a for-profit entity.  It is what it is.  Exciting times and all that.

As we go through this process, however, one question lingers: Why does this go through the office of the Secretary of State?!?

Isn't the Sec'y of State the state agency that handles elections?!?

The truth, of course, is that the Secretary of State's office handles both.  But that's a problem (or at least it should be).  When a large bureaucracy is charged with such wildly different responsibilities, we shouldn't be surprised when it handles them poorly.

To be fair, both corporate registrations and elections administration are valid functions of government.  So there's nothing inherently wrong with the state of Texas being involved in these areas.  Whatever historical accident placed those two duties under the same roof, however, illustrates how government works.

Over the past year, the Secretary of State's office has come under considerable criticism.  Much of it valid.  That being said, having gone through the past week an a half, we can't help wondering if maybe that agency is just trying to do too much.

Bottom Line:  When you throw a bunch of different objectives into a bureaucratic hodge-podge, you shouldn't be surprised when it performs at least some of them poorly.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

"Innovative Teachers" launch COMPETITOR to incumbent (ie. leftist) Teacher Unions

"Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."
Phillipians 2:4

Via the Hayride:
Teaching, as anyone knows, can be a taxing job, especially in public school environments. Just this year nationally, the number of teachers leaving the profession after just one year has reached an all-time high.

Even in a conservative state such as Texas, the bureaucratic hurdles, required paperwork, a focus on high-stakes test scores, and disciplinary restrictions make it increasingly difficult. Simply removing a disruptive student is now against the rules in many public school districts — the polar opposite from the days of wooden paddles or sitting in the corner.

Comparatively low salaries for the level of work they do have turned many teachers to the “gig economy” to supplement their pay. Union-led efforts to address this has resulted in higher paychecks for edu-crats and administrators, and an expansion of the public education system infrastructure. And that’s not to mention a combative stance toward school choice. The once-sacrosanct summer vacation becomes shorter and the work days become longer.


The new organization seeks to provide an alternative to the multiple teachers unions present in Texas. The strategy, while to provide an objective voice for Texas teachers, would naturally stand by conservatives and Christians who often feel that they are being suppressed by the public ed system.


[T]hey will need 5,000 members to begin an adequate insurance pool. The existing teachers unions in Texas provide insurance for teachers who find themselves on the wrong end of the administration and lose their jobs — the insurance will keep them afloat while they pursue various appeals.
This is fantastic.

The cynical among us, led by this author, often look at so-called 'professional organizations' with a jaundiced eye.  They frequently become pro-status quo political actors.  In practice, this often translates into leftism.

But that's not to say professional organizations have no place.  As this example illustrates, teachers still need to buy insurance.  If someone new can provide better value, minus the wretched politics, so much the better.

Bottom Line:  Someone should have done this decades ago.  Unfortunately, they didn't.  You've gotta start somewhere.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

#TXLEGE: Bonnen's "Cities and Counties" Remark Illustrates Degree to which he's LIAR

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

The media seems to be fixating on an odd little remark Dennis Bonnen made in the Empower Texans recording:
The recording of a conversation between two top Republican state lawmakers and a conservative activist released Tuesday exposed legislators’ intentional political targeting of cities and counties — and their plans to make the 2021 legislative session even more painful for local governments.

“Any mayor, county judge that was dumb ass enough to come meet with me, I told them with great clarity, my goal is for this to be the worst session in the history of the legislature for cities and counties,” Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, said in the recording.

“I hope the next session is even worse,” Republican state Rep. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock replied.

Bonnen then said he was “all in for that.”
The trib piece explores some political ramifications and is worth reading in full.  Over at Texas Monthly, Chris Hooks has a silly overreaction.  If you're looking for a good laugh, check out the Texas Municipal League's full statement.

There's just one problem: Bonnen was lying.

If Bonnen's goal were really to make the 86th "the worst session in the history of the legislature for cities and counties"...don't you think the sick leave bill would have passed?!?

Instead, we got this:
AUSTIN — As the House heatedly debated a contentious bill late Friday that would prohibit municipalities from contracting with organizations that provide abortions, such as Planned Parenthood, Democrats in the chamber were preparing for more acrimonious battles in the last week of a legislative session that’s been characterized by its mild-tempered and collaborative tone.

Earlier that day, House committees voted out controversial bills that would make it harder to remove Confederate monuments from public places, prohibit cities from requiring private employers to provide paid sick leave, and stiffen penalties for providing false information on a voter registration application.

All of those bills were still eligible to be placed on the chamber’s agenda before an important procedural deadline Tuesday, as long as they made it through the House Calendars Committee over the weekend. But by Sunday night, when the committee met to set the agenda for Tuesday’s calendar, none of those Republican-authored bills made the list, leaving them all but dead very late in the session.


A group of Democrats began talking to House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, offering to withdraw amendments on the abortion-providers bill if he would consider leaving other divisive bills off the House calendar in the final week of the session.
But Bonnen totally hates cities.

Ignore results.

Bottom Line: Honestly, were not sure if Bonnen lying or the media being oblivious to Bonnen's lying is worse.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

#TXLEGE: Bernal Lets Cat out of Bag

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

This won't surprise anyone who was paying attention, nevertheless:
Well, yeah.

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

That's why folks were angry.

Even if Dan Patrick claims to have "won" some alleged Super Bowl.

Bottom Line: About time somebody said it....

Monday, October 14, 2019

EXCLUSIVE: George P. Bush Political Operative getting $11k(+) monthly AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE

"The wicked prowl on every side,
When vileness is exalted among the sons of men."
Psalm 12:8

Ten days ago, we wrote a blog post about George P. Bush's thinly disguised political ambitions.  In the course of writing said post, we deduced that several media stories had been planted by some dude named "J.R. Hernandez."  By itself, there's nothing wrong with this.  That's the job of a campaign flack.

But it did get us curious about this "J.R. Hernandez" character.

Less than a minute of research yielded the following Twitter account:

Hang on a this person a state employee?!?

30 more seconds yielded this LinkedIn account:

Not only is this "J.R. Hernandez" fella a state employee, he brags about double dipping at campaign and taxpayer expense in a public forum.

[Note: Technically, this is probably legal in Texas.  That doesn't make it ethical or moral.  The potential conflicts of interest are obvious.]

At this point, we decided to send an open records request to the General Land Office for this "J.R. Hernandez" figure's compensation records.

This is where things get REALLY interesting.

According to General Land Office records, on February 1, 2015 George P. Bush hired one "Hernandez, John" as his chief of staff for the low, low price of $10,583.33 per month (aka. $127k annually):

On January 1, 2017 this same "Hernandez, John R." was given a new position and a raise to $10,847.91 per month (aka. $130k(+) annually):

On April 1, 2018 George P. Bush chose to recognize "Hernandez, John R." via a one time 'merit' payment of more than $5200.  As the documents show, this was a de facto 4% pay increase.  That being said, we do appreciate the irony of recognizing a Bush crony for their alleged 'merit' on April Fools Day:

On March 1 of this year, "Hernandez, John R." got yet another raise to $11,281.83 per month (aka. $135k(+) annually):

As of the time of publication, the Texas General Land office is paying this "J.R. Hernandez" personality over $135,000 annually.

Keep in mind: This taxpayer funded salary is in addition to whatever compensation "J.R. Hernandez" is receiving from George P. Bush's campaign.

But wait...there's more!!!

On his application for the position with the General Land Office, "J.R. Hernandez" listed his campaign position under 'previous experience."  Again, by itself, that's not particularly noteworthy.  However, what is noteworthy is that HE LEFT THE "SPECIFIC REASON FOR LEAVING" SECTION BLANK:

Bottom Line: Given that we're talking about Texas state government, perhaps this shouldn't surprise.  Furthermore, given that we're talking about the Bushes, perhaps this should surprise even less.  That doesn't make any of it right.


The full General Land Office document release is available below; the information cited in this blog post is located on pages 12, 20-22, and 28:

Saturday, October 12, 2019

#TXLEGE: A Good Summary on Where Things Stand re: Bonnen

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

Amen Rich:

Pretty much.

These clowns had the opportunity to put this scandal behind them two months agoThey chose to stonewallNext week will present another opportunity to put this scandal in the rear view mirror.

It's an open question whether they take it (probably not).

At some point, the public will notice.

When that inevitably happens, the GOP will have no one to blame but themselves.

It's their call.

Bottom Line: We suspect pessimism is warranted....

Friday, October 11, 2019

#TXLEGE, #TXSEN: Fallon BETTER Have Gotten Something

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

State Sen. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, has decided against a primary challenge to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.

Fallon revealed the decision Thursday, about a month after he announced at a North Texas Tea Party meeting that he was exploring a run.

"Susan and I wanted to share that I will NOT be a candidate for US Senate in 2020," Fallon said in a statement to friends first shared with The Texas Tribune. "This was a difficult decision as I was personally looking forward to reaching ... thousands of fellow Texans and visiting with them, asking them what their thoughts, concerns and ideas are for our state and our country."

Fallon cited concerns about being away from his family — he has two young sons — as well as the $6 million price tag that he estimated would be the "bare minimum to be competitive for the GOP nomination."
This shouldn't surprise anyone.  Historically, Fallon has talked a bigger game than he's delivered.  There's a reason why we greeted Fallon's original announcement with the word "if."

Several sources have suggested that Fallon was "horse trading."  He made a political threat to get something in return.  It's a plausible hypothesis.

We certainly hope that's the case, because the alternative is too depressing.

Would it surprise anyone if Fallon was just...talking sh...running his mouth?!?  Politicians tend to be cowards.  Furthermore, unlike the "horse trading" hypothesis, the "talking out of his rear end" hypothesis is consistent with the level of political savvy Texas legislators usually demonstrate.

Bottom Line:  Keep an eye on Fallon's committee assignments and which low number bills he carries next session.  Hopefully, this gambit will produce something good.  At this point, however, color us skeptical.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

#TXLEGE: Be careful what you wish for (you just might get it)

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

Oh fun:
Empower Texans
October 10, 2019
As has been widely reported, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey have all requested that the recording of my meeting with House Speaker Dennis Bonnen be released despite not listening to it themselves.
They have called for the release of the audio despite knowing: 
  • the recording was made for my personal protection and the protection of my family, staff, and organization; 
  • certain segments of the recording could cause harm to individuals and their families, and; 
  • specific statements by Speaker Bonnen in the recording could be used by Democrats to undermine the GOP. 
Because these Republican leaders continue to call for the recording to be made public and I have been given the green-light to do so by my legal team, I will release the audio next week.
Michael Quinn Sullivan
To be honest, there's not a lot new we can say.  We said our piece after the scandal broke here.  After we heard the audio, we addressed its contents here.  The reason those two blog posts are so similar is because most conclusions surrounding this scandal are completely obvious.

Still, it's going to be fascinating to see how the R caucus reacts.

If they're smart, they'll use this as an opportunity to make the clean break they should have made months ago.  For as poorly as it's been handled, this scandal remains contained to two people.  Once Dennis Bonnen and Dustin Burrows leave the scene, this discussion goes away permanently.

Or they could gaslight themselves into denying the which case they'll own the slow drip from now until election day.

We're not a gambling man; if we were, betting AGAINST the Republican caucus being smart is probably easy money.

Only time will tell.

Bottom Line: Regardless of how things play out, next week is going to be fun.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Why do we "celebrate" new politicians in the first place?!?

"A man’s pride will bring him low,
But the humble in spirit will retain honor."
Proverbs 29:23

Trib yesterday:
Appointees of Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov Dan Patrick raised a record-setting $5.3 million for the 2019 inaugural festivities, two days’ worth of VIP events that included a ball with country crooner George Strait and a candlelight dinner with the state’s top elected officials.

They reported spending every dollar of it. But don’t ask for any receipts.

The Texas Tribune tried this summer to obtain expense records from multiple state agencies as well as the inaugural committee, a group of private donors appointed by Abbott and Patrick. They claim no such records exist.

“We have conducted a thorough search,” the group’s former executive director, Kim Snyder, who serves as Abbott’s campaign director, said in an email last month. “The 2019 Texas Inaugural Committee has no responsive records.”

The Tribune filed a lawsuit last month under open records laws, seeking to discover what happened to the $5.3 million raised through ticket sales and donations from top lobbying firms, corporations and banks, wealthy businesspeople and trade groups. No taxpayer dollars were expended on the inaugural celebrations, according to the governor’s office.

Bill Aleshire, the attorney representing the Tribune, said the expenditure of money by governmental entities — whether they get it from taxpayers or deep-pocketed contributors — is one of the “core pieces of information the public is entitled to see.”

“The committee is a governmental body by law and is required to keep records,” Aleshire said. “They are not allowed to keep secret the expenditures by this public entity any more than any other public entity can keep that secret.”
The remainder of the article attempts to answer the question posed above. In this specific instance, there may or may not be something wrong. At a minimum, Abbott's stonewalling looks bad.

But this isn't really about Greg Abbott.  Or the Trib.  Or 2019.

2015 was the first time this author attended any Governor's inauguration.  There were aspects that day we enjoyed.  Nevertheless, something felt off.

By 2019, the whole thing was a cult of personality.

Obviously, an oath of office is part of the job description for executive branch officials.  That's fine.  Likewise, there's nothing wrong with a speech outlining priorities.

On what planet, however, does the governor deserve a parade?!?

This is supposed to be a republic.

Bottom Line: Whether or not anything untoward happened in this specific instance, that such questions are relevant illustrates our misplaced lionization of politicians.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Abbott/Turner slapfight is why government shouldn't provide "disaster relief"

"I will set Egyptians against Egyptians;
Everyone will fight against his brother,
And everyone against his neighbor,
City against city, kingdom against kingdom."
Isaiah 19:2

Oh good grief:
Texas is likely another nine months from getting $4.3 billion in federal post-Hurricane Harvey recovery money aimed at better protecting the state from future flooding and disasters. But when it finally arrives, Gov. Greg Abbott made clear Friday the state will be handling the money directly and not turning it over to cities and counties to manage.

While some local officials expressed frustration over the decision, Abbott said he’s turning to Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush to lead the program aimed at large-scale, regional projects. Bush has already been tasked with dealing with housing recovery issues since Harvey hit Texas in August 2017.


Similarly Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city will continue to work closely with Bush’s agency, but made clear who will be to blame for delays in getting work completed.

“If there will be any delay in the distribution and use of flood mitigation aid, it will come from the federal and state government,” Turner said.

Texas has been waiting for the money since February 2018, when Congress first approved the disaster mitigation program. But it took until August for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to publish rules on how the money can be used.

Now, Bush and the Texas General Land Office are required to develop a “state action plan” that must later get yet another approval from HUD. According to a joint statement put out by Abbott and Bush on Friday, that could take another “nine months or more to complete.” That would mean July 2020 — just short of three years after Hurricane Harvey made landfall.
Blah, blah, blah.

This is a scumbag on scumbag fight.  Greg Abbott and Sylvester Turner both want to supply graft and patronage.  Just different beneficiaries.  No matter who "wins," the public loses.

Don't get us started on that three year "rulemaking" process.

The Texas Observer, meanwhile, has more here.

Bottom Line: This is why you never ask the Feds for money.

Monday, October 7, 2019

#TXLEGE: Higher Ed. establishment proves Abbott A LIAR (once again)

"And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Joshua 24:15

Via. Texas Scorecard:
Starting a college organization is never easy, but starting a conservative organization—Young Conservatives of Texas, to be precise—has proven to be particularly hard at the University of North Texas.

There are many staff, students, and perhaps even those in administration who seem to be against our message. Our freedom of speech is under fire, with rumors that the Student Government Association is looking to put policies in place that would essentially revoke the free-speech rights that were reaffirmed to public universities through the passage of Senate Bill 18—which YCT representatives gave supportive testimony for at the Senate hearing—and Trump’s executive order.
The piece then details the UNT administration's specific abuses.  Typical higher ed. stuff.  To be honest, the details don't matter.

With all due respect: DUH!!!

Of course the higher ed. establishment is ignoring the legislature.  It's what they do.  The only thing that's surprising is that people believed Greg Abbott in June:

The higher ed. establishment will continue to ignore the legislature as long as the Boards' of Regents allow them to do so.  Meanwhile, allowing the higher ed. establishment to do whatever it wants is the one common trait we've seen from Greg Abbott's regent appointees.  And the Texas Senate keeps confirming them.

So why is anyone surprised?!?

We've been making this point for years: See 2017, and 2018, and 2019.

Witness list from this past session's UNT Board confirmation hearing:

All is well with this author's soul.

Bottom Line: The only surprising thing is that anyone is still surprised.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Rick Perry to "earn private sector salary"

"A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
Loving favor rather than silver and gold."
Proverbs 22:1

Writing about Rick Perry's departure from the (federal) Energy department, an unintentionally revealing statement:
One Trump administration ally said Perry, who has spent much of his career in public service, would like to earn a private-sector salary “before hanging up his spurs.”
Oh, we're sure!!!

See here.  And here.  And certainly here.

In politics, a gaffe is when you unintentionally tell the truth.


Bottom Line: Rick Perry was probably one of the less terrible elected officials in recent memory, but nobody should pretend he's a stranger to the revolving door or the gravy train....

Friday, October 4, 2019

Entitled Bimbo Wants to Serve You (to his donors on a platter)

"Even a child is known by his deeds,
Whether what he does is pure and right."
Proverbs 20:11

Via Kevin Williamson:
A source in Texas told me that George P. Bush, currently the state’s land commissioner, already is running a quiet campaign for lieutenant governor. His people would not exactly confirm that, but what they did say was, in a sense, more interesting: Who says it’s lieutenant governor?

“While he wouldn’t challenge current Governor Abbott or Lieutenant Governor Patrick, if an opening presents itself he would absolutely consider serving Texans in a higher role. When that moment arises, he’s ready,” said adviser J. R. Hernandez.

George P. Bush is the son of the former Florida governor and the nephew of the former Texas governor and president. He was born in Houston and is a graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law.

“Over the last few months,” Hernandez says, “several activists and donors have asked Commissioner Bush to consider higher office in Texas. At this time he is 100 percent focused on doing his job as land commissioner.”
This is the worst idea since Pete Sessions decided to run for Congress in Waco.

Good grief.

Is there any market for George P. Bush anywhere (besides a few big donors)?!?

With all due respect to whomever this "J.R. Hernandez" character might be (*), there sure as heck ain't any activists calling for this.  That may not ultimately matter, we've campaigns win without activist support (case in point: George P. Bush 2018).  But for anyone connected to the Bushes to claim "activist" support illustrates the sense of entitlement with which the entire operation carries itself.

Bottom Line: What could possibly go wrong?!?


* -- We sent GLO some open records requests.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

#TXLEGE, #atxcouncil: Abbott (kinda sorta) Makes Vague Promise (a month from now)

"A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back."
Proverbs 29:11

Alright there tough guy:
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott presented Austin and its Mayor Steve Adler with an ultimatum Wednesday: “Demonstrate consequential improvement in the Austin homelessness crisis” by Nov. 1 or the state will step in.

In a press release announcing the warning, Abbott’s office lamented reports of “violence, used needles, and feces littering the streets of Austin and endangering Texas residents.” The situation has drawn ire from a number of Republican officials and certain Austin businesses owners who have decried recent changes to city ordinances — meant to avoid criminalizing homelessness — as a threat to public safety and the local economy.

Under the changes, sitting and camping in public — except on parkland — is legal as long as a person does not endanger “the health or safety of another person or of themselves” or make “usage of such area unreasonably inconvenient or hazardous.”

“As the Governor of Texas, I have the responsibility to protect the health and safety of all Texans, including Austin residents,” Abbott wrote in a letter to Adler. “Further inaction by you and the Austin City Council will leave me no choice other than to use the tools available to the State of Texas to ensure that people are protected from health and safety concerns caused by the Austin homeless policies.”

The governor laid out several strategies that state agencies can utilize if there's no change by Nov. 1. Those agencies include the Health and Human Services Commission, which has the authority “to adopt rules in the areas of communicable disease, sanitation and health protection,” Abbott said. The Texas Department of Public Safety, he warned, will add troopers in Austin areas that “pose greater threats.”

“DPS also stands ready to increase security for state agencies that are forced to respond to the homelessness crisis,” Abbott said.
Apparently, no special session.

Instead, Abbott wants a commission to...adopt rules?!?  What exactly is that supposed to accomplish?!?  Besides keeping bureaucrats busy.

Meanwhile, from what current responsibilities does Abbott intend to pull DPS personnel?!?  Because the state doesn't have an unlimited number.  "Adding troopers" on high profile issues comes at the expense of DPS' core responsibilities.

There might be some activity, but there's very little accomplishment.

We've seen this movie:

Abbott = Hans Blix.

Bottom Line: Nobody should take anything Abbott said yesterday seriously.