12.12.12

The conservative racket

Posted in Around The Nation, Commentary, Election 2012, Money In Politics at 2:14 pm by wcnews

Rachel Maddow has the video:

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Rick Perlstein is far and away the best historian of the modern conservative movement. And this goes all the way back to the 1964 election, The Long Con: Mail-order conservatism.

Back in our great-grandparents’ day, the peddlers of such miracle cures and get-rich-quick schemes were known as snake-oil salesmen. You don’t see stuff like this much in mainstream culture any more; it hardly seems possible such déclassé effronteries could get anywhere in a society with a high school completion rate of 90 percent. But tenders of a 23-Cent Heart Miracle seem to work just fine on the readers of the magazine where Ann Coulter began her journalistic ascent in the late nineties by pimping the notion that liberals are all gullible rubes. In an alternate universe where Coulter would be capable of rational self-reflection, it would be fascinating to ask her what she thinks about, say, the layout of HumanEvents.com on the day it featured an article headlined “Ideas Will Drive Conservatives’ Revival.” Two inches beneath that bold pronouncement, a box headed “Health News” included the headlines “Reverse Crippling Arthritis in 2 Days,” “Clear Clogged Arteries Safely & Easily—without drugs, without surgery, and without a radical diet,” and “High Blood Pressure Cured in 3 Minutes . . . Drop Measurement 60 Points.” It would be interesting, that is, to ask Coulter about the reflex of lying that’s now sutured into the modern conservative movement’s DNA—and to get her candid assessment of why conservative leaders treat their constituents like suckers.
The history of that movement echoes with the sonorous names of long-dead Austrian economists, of indefatigable door-knocking cadres, of soaring perorations on a nation finally poised to realize its rendezvous with destiny. Search high and low, however, and there’s no mention of oilfields in the placenta. Nor anything about, say, the massive intersection between the culture of “network” or “multilevel” marketing—where ordinary folks try to get rich via pyramid schemes that leave their neighbors holding the bag—and the institutions of both evangelical Christianity and Mitt Romney’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
And yet this stuff is as important to understanding the conservative ascendancy as are the internecine organizational and ideological struggles that make up its official history—if not, indeed, more so. The strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers points up evidence of another successful long march, of tactics designed to corral fleeceable multitudes all in one place—and the formation of a cast of mind that makes it hard for either them or us to discern where the ideological con ended and the money con began.
Those tactics gelled in the seventies—though they were rooted, like all things right-wing and infrastructural, in the movement that led to Barry Goldwater’s presidential nomination in 1964. In 1961 Richard Viguerie, a kid from Houston whose heroes, he once told me, were “the two Macs”—Joe McCarthy and General Douglas MacArthur—took a job as executive director for the conservative student group Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). The organization was itself something of a con, a front for the ideological ambitions of the grownups running National Review. And fittingly enough, the middle-aged man who ran the operation, Marvin Liebman, was something of a P. T. Barnum figure, famous on the right for selling the claim that he had amassed no less than a million signatures on petitions opposing the People’s Republic of China’s entry into the United Nations. (He said they were in a warehouse in New Jersey. No one ever saw the warehouse.) The first thing Liebman told Viguerie was that YAF had two thousand paid members but that in public, he should always claim there were twenty-five thousand. (Viguerie told me this personally. I found no evidence he saw anything to be ashamed of.) And the first thing that Liebman showed Viguerie was the automated “Robotype” machine he used to send out automated fundraising pitches. Viguerie’s eyes widened; he had found his life’s calling.
Following the Goldwater defeat, Viguerie went into business for himself. He famously visited the Clerk of the House of Representatives, where the identities of those who donated fifty dollars or more to a presidential campaign then by law reposed. First alone, and then with a small army of “Kelly Girls” (as he put it to me in 1996), he started copying down the names and addresses in longhand until some nervous bureaucrat told him to cease and desist.
By then, though, it was too late: Viguerie had captured some 12,500 addresses of the most ardent right-wingers in the nation. “And that list,” he wrote in his 2004 book, America’s Right Turn: How Conservatives Used New and Alternative Media to Take Over America, “was my treasure trove, as good as the gold bricks deposited at Fort Knox, as I started The Viguerie Company and began raising money for conservative clients.”
Fort Knox: an interesting image. Isn’t that what proverbial con men are always claiming to sell?
The lists got bigger, the technology better (“Where are my names?” he nervously asked, studying the surface of the first computer tape containing his trove): twenty-five million names by 1980, destination for some one hundred million mail pieces a year, dispatched by some three hundred employees in boiler rooms running twenty-four hours a day. The Viguerie Company’s marketing genius was that as it continued metastasizing, it remained, in financial terms, a hermetic positive feedback loop. It brought the message of the New Right to the masses, but it kept nearly all the revenue streams locked down in Viguerie’s proprietary control. Here was a key to the hustle: typically, only 10 to 15 percent of the haul went to the intended beneficiaries. The rest went back to Viguerie’s company. In one too-perfect example, Viguerie raised $802,028 for a client seeking to distribute Bibles in Asia—who paid $889,255 for the service.
Others joined the bonanza. Lee Edwards, a YAF founder who today works a nifty grift as “Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought” at the Heritage Foundation writing credulous hagiographies of conservative movement figures and institutions (including, funnily enough, the Heritage Foundation), cofounded something called “Friends of the FBI.” This operation’s chief come-on was a mass mailing of letters signed by the star of TV’s The FBI, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., purportedly to aid the families of fallen officers. The group raised $400,000 in four months—until Zimbalist abruptly withdrew his support. The TV star said he’d looked at the organization’s books and seen how much was going to the fundraisers—and claimed he’d been the victim of “fraud and misrepresentation.”
In 1977, Democratic Congressman Charles H. Wilson of California proposed timid regulations to inform donors exactly how much of their money was going to the cause they thought they were supporting. The Heritage Foundation raced forth with an “issues bulletin” announcing that any such rule changes would subject “church leaders” to “vicious” attacks, and would “increase the paperwork on every Christian organization . . . inevitably lessening the funds each charity can use for its stated purpose.” (Christianity itself being the obvious target of this Democratic subterfuge of “reform.”) And just to give the cause the imprimatur of elected office, a favorite congressman of the Christian Right, John Conlan of Arizona (“He’s never been honest,” Barry Goldwater once said about him), was drafted to explain that the high overhead of direct-mail campaigns was a boon to the charity-customers: it represented start-up—“prospecting”—costs that would permit organizations to raise yet more money down the line. (“Defends charities against Big Government,” read the caption beneath a picture of Conlan in Conservative Digest—the magazine Richard Viguerie published.)
Here’s the thing, though: as is the case with most garden-variety pyramid schemes, the supposed start-up costs never seemed to stop. And conservative groups that finally decoupled their causes from Viguerie’s firm found their fundraising costs falling to less than fifty cents on the dollar. Viguerie would point out his clients didn’t feel ripped off. At that, maybe some were in on the con, too—for instance, his client Citizens for Decent Literature, an anti-smut group, took in an estimated $2.3 million over a two-year period, with more than 80 percent going to Viguerie’s company; the group’s principal was future S&L fraudster Charles Keating.
It all became too much for Marvin Liebman, the Dr. Frankenstein who had placed the business model in Viguerie’s palpitating hands. Liebman told conservative apostate Alan Crawford, author of the valuable 1980 exposé Thunder on the Right, that Viguerie and company “rape the public.” Another source familiar with the conservative direct-mail industry wondered to Crawford, “How anyone of any sensitivity can bear to read those letters scrawled by little old women on Social Security who are giving up a dollar they cannot afford to part with . . . without feeling bad is unbelievable.”
Such qualms clearly did not carry the day—and now the practice is apparently too true to the heart of conservatism to die. In 2007, the Washington Post reported on the lucrative fundraising sideline worked up by syndicated columnist Linda Chavez. George W. Bush had nominated Chavez to be his first secretary of labor, but then backpedaled after reports that she had lied about an undocumented worker living in her house. Among the prime red-meat entries on her résumé is a book called Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics. And while Chavez probably wouldn’t have brought much reliable wisdom to the task of regulating organized labor, it’s quite clear from the Post report that she had mastered the art of the shakedown. In her direct-mail career, she had “used phone banks and direct-mail solicitations to raise tens of millions of dollars, founding several political action committees with bankable names: the Republican Issues Committee, the Latino Alliance, Stop Union Political Abuse and the Pro-Life Campaign Committee. Their solicitations promise direct action in the ‘fight to save unborn lives,’ a vigorous struggle against ‘big labor bosses’ and a crippling of ‘liberal politics in the country.’” But true to the Viguerie model, less than 1 percent of the money that Chavez’s groups raised went to actual political activity. The rest went either back into further fundraising pitches or into salaries and perks for Chavez and her relatives. “I guess you could call it the family business,” Chavez told the Post. I guess you could.

Here’s a recent email of that ilk, just click the “here” hyperlink to see what fun ensues. Media Matters is also on top of this, Is Conservative Media One Big “Racket”?

It’s conservatism as an ATM.

The “racket” implication also extends beyond the media world and into the Tea Party, which Fox has faithfully touted as a “grassroot” movement. That feel-good characterization was hard to square with the recentrevelation that former GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey stepped down as chairman of FreedomWorks, an influential Tea Party non-profit group, with a staggering $8 million golden parachute. (He will reportedly be paid in $400,000 installments, annually, in “consulting fees.”)

Republicans rarely begrudge millionaires for big paydays. (It’s the free marketplace!) But if they think cashing in has trumped winning elections, GOP pushback is inevitable.

From Kristol [emphasis added]:

And the conservative movement–a bulwark of American strength for the last several decades–is in deep disarray. Reading about some conservative organizations and Republican campaigns these days, one is reminded of Eric Hoffer’s remark, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” It may be that major parts of American conservatism have become such a racket that a kind of refounding of the movement as a cause is necessary.

And because of this crazy crap, the racket, I had to explain to my children earlier this week why President Obama is not going to take away anyone’s guns. Apparently one of their classmates parents has been taken in by the conservative racket.

12.03.12

A direction on the road ahead for Texas Democrats

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Election 2012, Good Stuff at 1:44 pm by wcnews

Despite the overall election outcomes for Democrats in Texas, there were a few Democratic election successes in Texas in 2012. While these results are no “game change” yet, they could lead to one in the future. The success seems to have been built through a well financed and sustained effort of contacting the campaigns likely, or persuadable voters, with a populist message, and then getting them to the polls for early voting and election day.

This awesome analysis posted by Harold Cook on how Democrat Pete Gallego won his race for Congress, Rotkoff: Texas Democrats know how to win – we already are.

The formula was simple: the right message + innovative targeting + good old-fashioned field operation = a Gallego win.

[...]

First, we ditched the message recommended by a now out-of-business pollster, that Pete should focus on his background as a prosecutor and run as Mr. Law and Order. Instead, we started talking about the issues that Latino Democrats in Bexar County, South Texas, and El Paso really care about: protecting Social Security and Medicare for our seniors, and providing educational opportunities for our kids.

Second – it wasn’t quite Project Narwhal – but working with the teams at AMM PoliticalGQR Research, and the Pivot Group we implemented a truly innovate candidate support model, and worked off the best field and mail targeting I’ve ever seen.

And you know what? It turns out that when you to talk to the right voters with the right message, you can win an election nobody thinks you will.

That same mantra served Pete well in the general election: find the right voters and talk to them about the issues that make a difference in their lives.

Also this article on a $600,000 effort in Bexar County that produced great results, Massive ground game boosts Bexar Democrats.

Trial lawyer and über Democrat Mikal Watts financed the effort this year, making it the most lavishly funded GOTV campaign ever mounted through Vote Texas. Watts had contributed $500,000 by the time the final pre-election campaign report was filed, and Daniels said Watts gave another $100,000 in the final days of the campaign.

The operation circumvented the Bexar County Democratic Party headquarters and chairman, an approach pioneered by Daniels and Lukin Gilliland Jr. in the 1990s.

Adelante Strategy Group partners Christian Archer and Cuauhtémoc “Temo” Figueroa organized the effort on the ground. Notably, Figueroa was the National Latino Vote Director for the 2008 Obama Presidential Campaign. And he ran a 2010 grass-roots effort in Nevada for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, which became the model for the Bexar County program.

Voter contact began late last summer. The targets were 125,000 “soft Democrats” who voted in the 2008 Democratic primary but aren’t consistent Democratic voters.

Figueroa directed a team of 50 workers that went door-to-door for months. Phone banks also were used to push voters to cast early ballots.
Archer said more than 60,000 of the targeted voters cast ballots early.

A well-financed project that started over a year before election day. Even Harvey Kronberg mentioned it recently.

But a little noted relatively low-budget effort in San Antonio demonstrated what Democrats have to do to capitalize on demographic shifts that are making a difference elsewhere in the country.

A wealthy contributor kicked in $600,000 to build a ground game that spent months identifying 125,000 so-called soft Democrats who voted in 2008. The organization made multiple contacts and, according to a San Antonio Express News report was so successful, almost half of those targeted showed up to vote early.

Democrats had a blowout year in the San Antonio area and that $600,000 may have been the best utilized Democratic money in the cycle.

Turnout drops dramatically in non-presidential years, so Texas will probably still be solidly Republican in 2014. But a barely noticed effort in San Antonio may have built the roadmap to a future two party state.

The Texas Democrats also made minimal gains in Congress and the state House, Texas Democrats Gained, if Only a Little, in 2012.

Democrats still do not have any statewide officeholders — and their numbers in those races were dismal. But they held their ground in the state Senate, gained seven seats in the Texas House, split the four new seats in Congress and wrested another one away from the red team. The rebound from the disastrous 2010 election was not dramatic, but a gain is a gain.

I’ve seen little analysis of how Wendy Davis won her reelection in the Fort Worth area. The campaign consultant for her opponent Mark Shelton has received blame for running a bad campaign. But the truth is Davis just ran a better campaign.

The Democrats in Texas need to go back to a message like this in order to succeed in the future.

In the century in which we live, the Democratic Party has received the support of the electorate only when the party, with absolute clarity, has been the champion of progressive and liberal policies and principles of government.

The party has failed consistently when through political trading and chicanery it has fallen into the control of those interests, personal and financial, which think in terms of dollars instead of in terms of human values.

The Republican Party has made its nominations this year at the dictation of those who, we all know, always place money ahead of human progress.

For some reason too many voters in Texas still see the Democratic Party in Texas as the party of elites and the greedy. Part of the reason is because not enough Democrats have been telling them it’s the GOP that now wears that mantle in Texas.

Further Reading:
Why Texas Republicans won’t win over Hispanic voters.

Hispanic voters, as it turns out, are smart. They overwhelmingly support Democrats because we believe in educating their children, caring for their elders and ensuring that their family has health care. They know that Democrats support the Dream Act and that we don’t believe that wasting $7.3 billion on a border wall is the answer to immigration reform.

As the Hispanic voting population continues to increase in Texas, so too will the turnout rates for the community. We’ve seen how grassroots organizing efforts in Colorado and Nevada increased Latino turnout and transformed those states blue. A similar effort in Texas will reap equal rewards. That work will occur alongside the continued rise of elected Democratic Latino leaders. Julian and Joaquin Castro, Juan Garcia (assistant secretary of the Navy), Rafael Anchia and Leticia Van de Putte are just a few of the promising leaders in the Democratic Party.

11.09.12

It won’t just happen – The Democratic demographic myth in Texas

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Commentary, Election 2012, Take Action, Williamson County at 11:16 am by wcnews

Texas, and Williamson County, are different.  While there were many things to be happy about on Tuesday, at a national level, Texas and Williamson County were a whole different story.  Via the Texas Tribune, Against the Grain, Texas GOP Dominated on Election Day.

Democratic victories across the nation left Republican voters and activists with the political version of a hangover last week. In the alternate universe known as Texas, they are blaming the Champagne.

Republicans here are celebrating another statewide sweep. They held onto huge majorities in the Legislature and the Texas congressional delegation. And at a time of increasing angst about their ability to thrive as the Hispanic population grows, the Texas Republican Party has fielded the first Hispanic U.S. senator from Texas — Ted Cruz.

There was a little good new is Texas for Democrats.

There are some caveats to the victory narrative. Just as Republicans had some bright spots nationally, Democrats in Texas are crowing about a handful of electoral successes here.

In the state’s only congressional swing district, state Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, was declared the winner against U.S. Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco, R-San Antonio, though Canseco has not conceded. State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, whose defeat would have brought Republicans one vote shy of an unbreakable two-thirds majority in that chamber, hung on in a district drawn to elect a Republican. And, with an influx of minority voters over the last decade, there will be more Democrats in the Legislature as a result of a redistricting process.

Scattered among the state’s election results are some warning signs for Republicans looking at a future that might not be as accommodating to their policy prescriptions and sometimes harsh rhetoric on hot-button social issues.

At the top of the ticket, Democrats were either tied with or dominating Republicans in four of the five largest counties, forcing Republicans to count on ever-larger margins in predominately white suburban and rural areas to stay on top.

Democrats, meanwhile, picked off three Republican incumbents in legislative races, but none of their own lost re-election contests. Three Republican incumbents also lost races — to little-known Democrats with Hispanic surnames — for seats on the 4th Court of Appeals in heavily Hispanic South Texas.

But it ended with this about what’s needed.

For Democrats, the day when Hispanics vote in high enough numbers to help put them back into statewide competition cannot come soon enough. Richard Morrison, a Democrat, barely won his re-election as a Fort Bend county commissioner — over a Republican abandoned by his own county party after records showed he had voted in both Texas and Pennsylvania three times, an alleged felony.

“Someone is going to have to come down here and invest significant money on turning out the Latino population. It’s going to take about $25 million,’’ Morrison said. “Until they do that we’re just going to be in the same spot.’’

That’s what I call, The coming Democratic demographic myth in Texas, because it won’t just happen without the needed work. It takes a lot of money to create what Obama did nationally in Texas, Republican Reckoning Begins After Revealing Defeat.

Republican Party leaders on Wednesday began picking up the pieces of their movement, trying to figure how to put them back together.

The GOP was blindsided Tuesday, but also revealed. The Democrats’ ground organization was beyond anything they’d imagined, pulling in new voters with stunning effectiveness. It exposed a major weakness in the Republican approach to winning elections, practically and intellectually.

“I don’t think anyone on our side understood or comprehended how good their turnout was going to be,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican committee man from Mississippi. “The Democrats do voter registration like a factory, like a business, and Republicans tend to leave it to the blue hairs.”

But President Barack Obama’s triumphant get-out-the-vote program also pulled back the curtain on the GOP’s looming demographic demise. The exposure was so severe that there will be few inside the party who can deny the need to work toward immigration reform, as well the need to make a broader effort to communicate to parts of the electorate that the party has not tried to in the past.

When we are told certain outcomes are inevitable we check that box and think it has already being done.  It’s as if we think since were told it is going to happen anyway, it already has, and there’s no need to work for that goal anymore. Just because were told that something is going to happen, it doesn’t mean it is inevitable. The work must still be done to insure that it actually does happen.

The most obvious example of this is the eventuality of a Latino voting Democratic demographic wave in Texas, that will turn Texas blue, or at least purple in the near future.  At this time at least it is a myth and it seems to be keeping too many Democrats – at all levels (federal, state, and local) – from making the needed investments, in money and human capital, to insure that the wave actually happens.

From the Texas Observer’s Forrest Wilder in April 2012, Demographics No Longer Destiny for Democrats

Demographics, we are told, is destiny. But people and parties make their own destinies. For more than a decade, Texas Democrats have failed repeatedly to take advantage of the incredible potential among Latino voters. The problem is well known: Latino turnout in Texas is abysmal compared to other states. In 2008, 38 percent of Texas Latinos went to the polls. In California the turnout was 57 percent. Everyone knows this. The party’s old guard doesn’t put much time or effort into engaging and energizing potential Latino voters. Rather, its main strategy involves putting a Latino at the top of the ballot—think Tony Sanchez for governor or Rick Noriega for U.S. Senate—and hoping that Latinos will magically turn out to vote. Guess what? It doesn’t work.There are signs that Democrats are finally going on the offensive. The party recently launched The Promesa Project, an effort to get young Latinos to “promise” to act as “Democratic messengers to their families and social networks,” according to the project’s website. The party is investing $1 million in it. Better than nothing. Yet Promesa, modeled on the “Great Schlep,” a 2008 initiative deployed in Florida to get young Jews to convince their grandparents to vote for Obama, is only a complement, not a substitute, to the dull, block-by-block work needed to enfranchise Latinos. Until that happens, Texas Democrats run the risk of becoming even more irrelevant.

Anyone who thinks the changes that are needed in Texas are inevitable, or that change will be made without a hard-won fight, is kidding themselves.

GOP letting Democrats win the center.

True, Texas will remain Republican in the short term. But the changing political face of the state’s cities and the slow but steady emergence of Latino votes will eventually make it less of a tea party state.

[...]

Here’s what Republicans should worry about, even if they win. Democrats are starting to own the center in Texas with candidates like White and Sadler. These are not Democrats who line up with the party’s more liberal national profile. Coming up are leaders such as Julian Castro, San Antonio’s mayor; his twin brother, Joaquin, who is likely to win a congressional seat this year; and Rafael Anchia, a persuasive Dallas state representative. These crossover Democrats know how to win independents and moderate Republicans.

When Texas finally becomes more competitive, which will happen because of Democratic growth in major cities and Latinos shaping outcomes, candidates like these will know how to win elections. They will be in the center, talking realistically to Texans about building better transportation systems, supplying enough water and growing our economy.

Where will Republicans be?

In trouble, and with leaders still screeching about abolishing the education department, securing the borders or the latest right-wing cause. Meanwhile, Texans will want candidates who know how to make the state work.

I don’t think the GOP in Texas is worried about any of that. As long as they continue to see that the Democrats aren’t making the needed investments to change anything, they really don’t believe it’s going to happen, nor should they.

And as far as what’s going to happen with the budget next session, as much as I want to agree with Kuff, The Lege is going to have to spend some money, I don’t think that’s how the GOP sees it at all. This is the chance they’ve been waiting for to defund everything Texas government spends money on that they hate. And public education has always been at the top of their list.

One axiom I believe – and it applies to life, sports, and politics – is that things are never as good or as bad as they seem.  Another is that there’s no such thing as luck, we make luck through hard work.  The truth is nothing is going to change unless we make it. Too many of us, too often see Election Day as the end, when it should be seen as the beginning of the democratic process.  The day after this election is the day to start organizing for the next one.  (More on that soon).

Much more to read on the subject:

[UPDATE]: Great post here from Letters From Texas, Rotkoff: Texas Democrats know how to win – we already are.

Paul Burka about two weeks ago all but declared the Democratic Party dead in Texas, The Baselice Poll

The lesson here is that the worst thing that can happen to the state Democratic Party, or what’s left of it, is to have an unpopular Democratic president in the White House. The Democratic brand is ruined in Texas. The last Democrat to carry Texas was Jimmy Carter in 1976, and he was defeated in the Reagan landslide of 1980.

The right wing of the Texas GOP fully intends to keep it’s well-won austerity program in place in Texas, Issues facing Texas Legislature will impact energy industry even though Burka thinks funding will be restored.

Here’s Julian Castro on the work that needs to be done, Texas Democrats need more groundwork to turn the state blue, says Julián Castro.

Hispanic vote should be a clue for Texas Republicans.
Texas’ GOP Loses Ground with Hispanic Candidates.
Texas public schools require more funding to serve Hispanics, expert testifies in finance trial.
Demographer warns of increasing education costs as Latino population rises.

11.06.12

Election 2012 Results

Posted in Election 2012 at 11:02 pm by wcnews

Williamson County Results.

Statewide Results.

Natoinwide Results.

Election Day 2012 – where to vote in Williamson County

Posted in Election 2012, Take Action, Williamson County at 3:00 am by wcnews

GO VOTE!!

If you don’t know your precinct number or polling location, or want to see a sample ballot, click here.

Here’s the list of polling locations by precinct number in Williamson County.

Election Day Polling Places Tuesday, November 6, 2012 Polls Open 7am to 7pm

Williamson County voters must vote at their assigned precinct’s polling location on election day. 

Precinct LOCATION Address
119 Old Town Elementary School 2200 Chaparral Dr. Round Rock
122 Round Rock High School 300 N. Lake Creek Dr. Round Rock
135 Bluebonnet Elementary School 1010 Chisholm Valley Dr. Round Rock
138 Restoration Covenant Church 1150 McNeil Rd. Round Rock
140 Brushy Creek Elementary School 3800 Stonebridge Dr. Round Rock
145 JB and Hallie Jester Annex 1801 E. Old Settlers Blvd. Round Rock
146 Pond Springs Elementary School 7825 Elkhorn Mountain Tr. Austin
147 Forest North Elementary School 13414 Broadmeade Ave. Austin
149 RRISD East Transportation Facility 921 Luther Peterson Place Round Rock
150 McConico Building 301 W. Bagdad St. Round Rock
151 Deerpark Middle School 8849 Anderson Mill Rd. Austin
152 Northwest Fellowship 13427 Pond Springs Rd. Austin
160 Brushy Creek  Community Center 16318 Great Oaks Dr. Round Rock
162 Clairmont Retirement Community 12463 Los Indios Tr. Austin
172 Round Rock Presbyterian Church 4010 Sam Bass Rd. Round Rock
182 Cactus Ranch Elementary School 2901 Goldenoak Circle Round Rock
185 Rattan Creek Park Comm. Building 7617 Elkhorn Mountain Trl. Austin
186 Lord of Life Lutheran Church 9700 Neenah Ave. Austin
189 Rutledge Elementary School 11501 Staked Plains Dr. Austin
190 Fern Bluff MUD Community Center 7320 Wyoming Springs Rd Round Rock
197 Patsy Sommer Elementary School 16200 Avery Ranch Blvd.  Austin
198 Cedar Valley Middle School 8139 Racine Trl. Austin
201 Vista Ridge High School  PAC 200 S. Vista Ridge Blvd. Cedar Park
204 Reagan Elementary School 1700 E. Park St. Cedar Park
206 Fellowship Baptist Church 3600 RR 1869 Liberty Hill
207 Grace Alive 16030 W. SH 29 Liberty Hill
216 Naumann Elementary School 1201 Brighton Bend Ln. Cedar Park
218 Purple Sage Elementary School 11801 Tanglebriar Tr. Austin
253 Leander High School 3301 S. Bagdad Rd. Leander
254 Cedar Park Public Library 550 Discovery Blvd Cedar Park
259 Bagdad Elementary School 800 Deercreek Ln. Leander
264 Pat Bryson Municipal Hall 201 N. Brushy St. Leander
266 Cedar Park City Hall   Bldg. 3 450 Cypress Creek Rd. Cedar Park
267 The Ridge Fellowship 8754 RR 2243 Leander
273 Cypress Elementary School 2900 El Salido Pkwy. Cedar Park
274 Noel Grisham Middle School 10805 School House Ln. Austin
275 Bethany United Methodist Church 10010 Anderson Mill Rd. Austin
277 Cedar Park High School 2150 Cypress Creek Rd. Cedar Park
278 Treasure of the Hills Senior Center 408 Ridgewood Dr. Cedar Park
283 CP Recreation Center 1435 Main St. (Town Center) Cedar Park
287 Highland Estates IRL 1500 N. Lakeline Blvd Cedar Park
305 Jo Ann Ford Elementary School 210 Woodlake Dr. Georgetown
309 Andice Community Center 6600 FM 970    Andice
310 Florence Volunteer Fire Dept. 301 S. Patterson Ave. Florence
311 First Baptist Church of Weir 315 FM 1105 Weir
312 Jarrell Memorial Park (Com. Bldg.) 1651 CR 305 Jarrell
314 San Gabriel Community Center 445 E. Morrow St. Georgetown
330 Block House Creek Elem. School 401 Creek Run Dr. Leander
331 Pleasant Hill Elementary School 1800 Horizon Park Blvd. Leander
332 Parkside Elementary School 301 Garner Park Dr. Georgetown
333 Chandler Oaks Elementary School 3800 Stone Oak Drive Round Rock
337 Teravista Elementary School 4419 Teravista Club Dr. Round Rock
339 Caldwell Heights Elementary School 4010 Eagles Nest St.  Round Rock
341 Crestview Baptist Church 2300 Williams Dr. Georgetown
342 Gabriel Oaks Church of Christ 1904 S. Austin Ave Georgetown
343 First Baptist Church 1333 W. University Ave. Georgetown
344 First Baptist Church 1333 W. University Ave. Georgetown
368 Calvary Christian Center 1351 FM 1460 Georgetown
369 County Central Maintenance Facility 3151 SE Inner Loop  Georgetown
370 East View High School 4490 E. University Ave. Georgetown
371 Georgetown ISD Admn. Bldg. 603 Lakeway Dr. Georgetown
379 River of Life Church 6040 Airport Rd Georgetown
381 Sun City Social Center 2 Texas Dr. Georgetown
392 Village Elementary School 400 Village Commons Blvd. Georgetown
394 Cowan Creek Amenity Center 1433 Cool Springs Way Georgetown
395 Grace Fellowship Church 6600 S. Lakewoods Dr. Georgetown
396 The Worship Place 811 Sun City Blvd. Georgetown
402 Hutto City Hall 401 W. Front St. Hutto
403 Hutto Elementary School 100 Mager Ln. Hutto
413 Coupland School 620 S. Commerce St. Coupland
415 SPJST Hall 112 W. Davilla St. Granger
420 Hutto Middle School 1005 Exchange Blvd. Hutto
423 Stony Point High School 1801 Tiger Trail Round Rock
424 Forest Creek Elementary School 3505 Forest Creek Dr. Round Rock
425 Holy Temple Church of God 100 E. Elm Ave. Bartlett
426 Farley Middle School 303 CR 137 Hutto
427 Northside Board Room 2500 North Dr. Taylor
428 Taylor VFD Hall 701 Carlos Parker Blvd Taylor
429 Taylor Public Library 801 Vance St. Taylor
434 Thrall Volunteer Fire Dept. 201 S. Main St. Thrall
436 Taylor Public Library 801 Vance St. Taylor
455 Voigt Elementary School 1201 Cushing Dr. Round Rock
456 Taylor City Hall 400 Porter St. Taylor
463 Fellowship at Forest Creek Church 3379 Gattis School Rd. Round Rock
480 Gattis Elementary School 2920 Round Rock Ranch Blvd. Round Rock
484 San Gabriel Rehabilitation & Care Ctr 4100 College Park Dr. Round Rock
488 Ridgeview Middle School 2000 Via Sonoma Tr. Round Rock
491 Double File Trail Elementary School 2400 Chandler Creek Blvd. Round Rock

 

11.05.12

President Barack Obama is the obvious choice, but election day is only the beginning

Posted in Around The Nation, Election 2012, Williamson County at 11:37 am by wcnews

President Barack Obama deserves a second term and I believe he will get one.  This election has mirrored the 2004 election in that no very popular incumbent will win reelection over and less popular challenger who hasn’t made a strong enough case for himself.  Some of it is the Obama campaign, but most of it is that Mitt Romney has kept to much of what he will do as President hidden, as well as his tax returns.

President Obama was not the FDR style candidate many of us had hoped for, during a time of serious economic struggle.  But he has made significant changes.  Passing a stimulus, that while too small, was what we needed at the time and got the economy out of a big hole.  We’ve begun the process of ending two wars, but Gitmo is still open, and big disappointment.  But he did pass something Democrats have been trying to pass since the time of FDR, health care for most, if not all Americans – The Affordable Care Act.  Though it is not all is should be – neither was Social Security when it first passed – it won’t have a chance to bee all it can be if President Obama is not reelected.

While there are still many, many issues that need to be addressed – education, inequality, wages, and a fair tax system (the wealthy paying their fair share) – a Romney presidency would put us back to where we were four years ago in a hurry.  That is not an option.

I agree with Dr. Cornell West’s assessment, Cornel West Plans To Vote For Obama In November And Protest His Policies In February.

Right. But doesn’t criticizing Obama make all that bad stuff you just said more likely to happen?
I’m strategic. We have to tell that truth about a system that’s corrupt—both parties are poisoned by big money and tied to big banks and corporations. Speaking on that is a matter of intellectual integrity. American politics are not a matter of voting your moral conscience—if I voted my moral conscience it would probably be for Jill Stein. But it’s strategic in terms of the actual possibilities and real options available for poor and working people.

So voting for Obama is good strategy given the realities of the world?
A Romney administration would be a catastrophic response to an already catastrophic condition. I still get in a lot of trouble with my left-wing comrades on this—that I would still support Obama winning while continuing to tell the truth about drones dropping bombs on innocent people, which I consider war crimes, about the Wall Street government, about the refusal to close Guantanamo, about [section] 1021 of the National Authorization Act where you can detain citizens without trial or even assassinate citizens based on the decisions of the executive branch. All of those things to me are morally obscene. It’s a matter of telling that truth, strategically. I think we have to ensure that we don’t have a takeover by conservative right-wing or we’re in a world of trouble.

[...]

What happens if and when President Obama is re-elected?
Well I hope he wins because Romney is so dangerous. But when he wins, the hard work only intensifies. We’ll still need to critique US foreign policy and the worshiping of Wall Street. Let’s start treating workers the way you treat bankers and have loans available to students the way they’re available to banks at zero percent interest.

Do you think Obama will be different?
There might be a possibility that he starts to tilt towards main street rather than Wall Street, but we’ll see who he chooses to surround himself with. When you choose Geitner and Summers, you’re sending pretty strong signs that this is going to be a Wall Street-friendly government. But we’ll have to see and we’ll keep putting pressure on him. The important thing to recognize is that when he does win, the work begins all over again in terms of pressing for issues that will be critical of the system that he runs.

Yes, Obama is the obvious choice. But election day is not the end, it is the beginning. And to keep the safety net safe – Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security – the battle will begin on Wednesday.

Further Reading:
Endorsements – Paul Sadler, Matt Stillwell, and Ken Crain.
You get out of it, what you put into it.

11.02.12

GO VOTE!! – Today is the last day to Early Vote for 2012 General Election, here’s where in Williamson County

Posted in Election 2012, Take Action at 8:33 am by wcnews

Joint General and Special Elections
(Elecciones Generales y Especiales Conjuntas) 

Dates and times for locations:

(Fechas y horarios para localidades de tiempo) 

Monday, October 22 through Friday, November 2
(Del Lunes 22 de octubre al Viernes 2 de noviembre)

7am to 7pm Weekdays and Saturday
Noon to 6pm on Sunday 

Map & Directions

Main Location (Localidad Central):
Williamson County Inner Loop Annex
301 SE Inner Loop, Georgetown
Branch Locations  (Otras localidades): 

Anderson Mill Limited District
11500 El Salido Pkwy, Austin

Brushy Creek Community Center
16318 Great Oaks Dr., Round Rock

Cedar Park Public Library
550 Discovery Blvd, Cedar Park

Cedar Park Randalls
1400 Cypress Creek Rd., Cedar Park

Cowan Creek Amenity Center
1433 Cool Springs Way, Georgetown

Hutto City Hall
401 W. Front St, Hutto

JB & Hallie Jester Annex
1801 E Old Settlers Blvd, Round Rock


McConico Building
301 W. Bagdad St., Round Rock 

Parks & Recreation Admin Bldg
1101 N. College St, Georgetown

Pat Bryson Municipal Hall
201 N. Brushy St., Leander

Round Rock Randalls
2051 Gattis School Rd., Round Rock

Taylor City Hall

400 Porter St., Taylor

Mobile-Temporary Locations, Dates and Times:
Fechas y horario de las Localidades móviles temporales:

Friday, November 2

Viernes 2 de noviembre
Cedar Park City Hall, Building 3, 450 Cypress Creek Rd., Cedar Park
Jarrell Memorial Park, 1651 CR 305, Jarrell
First Baptist Church of Weir,  315 FM 1105, Weir

 

10.30.12

Endorsements – Paul Sadler, Matt Stillwell, and Ken Crain

Posted in Around The State, Election 2012, Williamson County at 10:32 am by wcnews

Here’s Democratic US Senate candidate Paul Sadler’s closing argument ad, it’s pretty good.

Click here to view the video.

He’s trying to use his proven ability to work across party lines, which his opponent Ted Cruz is unlikley to do.

There’s more information on Sadler’s endorsements from Kuff, Endorsement watch: The scoreboard for Sadler, and the Texas Monitor, Sadler’s Final Pitch.

In the final weeks of his campaign, Sadler has gained the critical wind to become a serious candidate for the United States Senate against Tea Party extremist Ted Cruz. In his final pitch to Texas voters, Sadler is reminding them of his bipartisan record and mainstream agenda.

Major newspapers from across the Lone Star State are endorsing from newspapers across the Lone Star State. His two debate performances have boosted his social media presence and gained a lot of buzzwith the press. Meanwhile, his opponent’s party is flopping with the extreme stances its candidates are promoting. Cruz has failed to distance himself from the rape comments made by Missouri’s Todd Akin and Indiana’s Richard Mourdock.

Today he launched his latest campaign commercial, “Texas Honors,” which highlights his exemplary career in the Texas Legislature while calling out Ted Cruz for his anti-Texas policy agenda.

Also the Statesman has endorsed Democrat Matt Stillwell over Tony Dale in HD-136.

Texas House, District 136

An insurance agent who lives in Northwest Austin, Stillwell’s deep concern about the future of public education motivated his run for the Legislature. He says he’ll fight for public schools if elected and will do what he can to roll back punitive, high-stakes testing. He also understands how seriously underfunded the state’s roads are and how cuts to roads and highways, along with cuts in other areas, have not reduced spending or tax burdens but merely shifted costs and debt to towns and cities. He focuses on fiscally sound, gimmick-free remedies that would benefit District 136 in the long term.

Check out Matt’s web site here.

The Williamson County Sun Endorses Ken Crain.

Ken Crain has conducted his career in the Navy and as an attorney in Georgetown in a measured and humane manner He is honest and decent. He says of the 12 assistant DA’s at the district attorney’s office, “If elected I will try to retain as many as possible. With each one handling 100 to 300 active cases, it would be a tragedy to lose these people.”

Crain believes we need to be tough on crime but smart, too. Ideas he proposes include a “no-refusal” DWI policy that would allow blood to be drawn in suspected DWI cases that would identify riot only alcohol content in the blood, but prescription and illegal drugs; this would “cut down on jury trials” because of the clarity of the evidence; a work-release program for first-time offenders that would allow jail prisoners to keep their jobs while serving, say, a 60-day sentence (only jail time and work time would be allowed); and an open files policy for the DAs office, which would allow defense attorneys to see evidence that might help their clients.

We like Ken Grain’s maturity and honesty, his willingness to utilize a top-flight district attorney’s staff, the management experience that he acquired in the Navy, his brain power, and most especially, his superior experience practicing all sorts of law over a 27-year career as an attorney in Georgetown. He is by far the most qualified of the candidates in this election, We strongly recommend him as Williamson County’s next district attorney.

Crain’s web site is here.  Be sure and vote, see where to vote early below. Early voting continues through Friday.

10.22.12

Early voting for 2012 General Election starts today, Where to vote in Williamson County

Posted in Election 2012, Take Action at 8:27 am by wcnews

Joint General and Special Elections
(Elecciones Generales y Especiales Conjuntas)

Dates and times for locations:

(Fechas y horarios para localidades de tiempo)

Monday, October 22 through Friday, November 2
(Del Lunes 22 de octubre al Viernes 2 de noviembre)

7am to 7pm Weekdays and Saturday
Noon to 6pm on Sunday

Map & Directions

Main Location (Localidad Central):
Williamson County Inner Loop Annex
301 SE Inner Loop, Georgetown
Branch Locations  (Otras localidades):

Anderson Mill Limited District
11500 El Salido Pkwy, Austin

Brushy Creek Community Center
16318 Great Oaks Dr., Round Rock

Cedar Park Public Library
550 Discovery Blvd, Cedar Park

Cedar Park Randalls
1400 Cypress Creek Rd., Cedar Park

Cowan Creek Amenity Center
1433 Cool Springs Way, Georgetown

Hutto City Hall
401 W. Front St, Hutto

JB & Hallie Jester Annex
1801 E Old Settlers Blvd, Round Rock


McConico Building
301 W. Bagdad St., Round Rock

Parks & Recreation Admin Bldg
1101 N. College St, Georgetown

Pat Bryson Municipal Hall
201 N. Brushy St., Leander

Round Rock Randalls
2051 Gattis School Rd., Round Rock

Taylor City Hall

400 Porter St., Taylor

Mobile-Temporary Locations, Dates and Times:
Fechas y horario de las Localidades móviles temporales:

Monday, October 22 through Friday, November 2
Hours:  10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Sunday, October 28    12:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Del Lunes 22 de octubre al Viernes 2 de noviembre
Horario: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Domingo, 28 de octubre de 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Monday, October 22
Lunes 22 de octubre
Thrall ISD Board Room,  201 S. Bounds St., Thrall

Tuesday, October 23
Martes 23 de octubre
RRHigher Education Center, 1555 University Blvd., Round Rock
Granger City Hall, 214 E. Davilla, Granger

Wednesday, October 24
Miércoles 24 de octubre
Florence Volunteer Fire Dept., 301 S. Patterson Ave., Florence
Former Head Start Bldg., 431 S. Bowie St., Bartlett

Thursday, October 25
Jueves 25 de octubre
RRHigher Education Center, 1555 University Blvd., Round Rock
Andice Community Center, 6600 FM 970, Andice

Friday, October 26
Viernes 26 de octubre
Liberty Hill Annex, 3407 RR 1869, Liberty Hill
Florence Volunteer Fire Dept., 301 S. Patterson Ave., Florence

Saturday, October 27
Sábado 27 de octubre
Liberty Hill Annex, 3407 RR 1869, Liberty Hill
Coupland School, 620 S. Commerce St., Coupland

Sunday, October 28
Domingo 28 de octubre
Clairmont Retirement Community, 12463 Los Indios Tr., Austin
Highland Estates Independent Retirement Living, 1500 N. Lakeline Blvd., Cedar Park

Monday, October 29
Lunes 29 de octubre
Clairmont Retirement Community, 12463 Los Indios Tr., Austin
Highland Estates Independent Retirement Living, 1500 N. Lakeline Blvd., Cedar Park

Tuesday, October 30
Martes 30 de octubre
Clairmont Retirement Community, 12463 Los Indios Tr., Austin
Seton Medical Center – Wmsn, 201 Seton Parkway, Round Rock

Wednesday, October 31
Miércoles 31 de octubre
Cedar Park City Hall, Building 3, 450 Cypress Creek Rd., Cedar Park
Seton Medical Center – Wmsn, 201 Seton Parkway, Round Rock

Thursday, November 1
Jueves 1 de noviembre
Cedar Park City Hall, Building 3, 450 Cypress Creek Rd., Cedar Park
Jarrell Memorial Park, 1651 CR 305, Jarrell

Friday, November 2
Viernes 2 de noviembre
Cedar Park City Hall, Building 3, 450 Cypress Creek Rd., Cedar Park
Jarrell Memorial Park, 1651 CR 305, Jarrell
First Baptist Church of Weir,  315 FM 1105, Weir

 

10.11.12

Austin Chronicle on HD-136 Race

Posted in Election 2012, Williamson County at 1:00 pm by wcnews

Can Dems Flip the Suburbs?

HD 47 was heavily redrawn last year, but HD 136 is a completely new creation; the old 136 was down in Har­ris County, but it was carved up during redistricting, its number reallocated to a new seat in southern Williamson County. And Democrat Matt Still­well believes that works to his advantage. “Williamson County is most definitely a Republican county,” he says, “but this is the most Democratic part of it.” The new HD 136 was smashed together from chunks of the old HDs 20 and 52, which were redrawn to make them more securely Repub­lican. Stillwell said HD 52 Rep. Larry Gonzales “really offloaded his most Demo­cratic precincts, which were the ones in Northwest Austin, into this new seat.”

The Travis/Williamson line is often seen as an invisible demarcation between blue and red – Democratic Austin and GOP-friendly WilCo. But Stillwell points out that there are thousands of Austin residents in Williamson, plus prime commuter towns Lakeline, Cedar Park, Leander, and Brushy Creek. He faces Tea Party Republican and Cedar Park Council Member Tony Dale for the new seat, but he argues the numbers are with him. In 2008, the precincts in his district only voted 51% for presidential candidate John McCain. This year there’s also a Libertarian in the race, Cedar Park-based software developer Matt Whittington; that will normally split the Republican vote, opening up opportunities for Demo­crats. Moreover, Stillwell has done polling that shows the HD 136 voters support environmental protections and women’s health care. “It’s just not a socially conservative district,” he said.

Like Frandsen, he believes education is the key wedge issue of this election, and he argues that voters are already seeing the impact of Republican public school spending cuts. There are two school districts in HD 136 – Round Rock and Leander – and both have asked the Texas Education Agency for waivers on class size limits. Leander ISD had planned to open Officer Leonard A. Reed Elementary in 2011 but has now pushed that back to 2013 because of budget concerns. Stillwell said, “They lost positions, they had to cut expenses like every other district, so I think people are starting to realize the effects of those cuts.” He says his GOP opponent is failing to engage voters on these issues. “He’s really running a race against the federal government,” said Stillwell, “and not so much about what he can do as a state representative.”

Will education be enough to put either Democrat over the top? Frandsen doubts it. “Parents aren’t feeling [the cuts] yet, but the school districts are,” he said. But he sees other suburban tensions that could break for the Dems, such as transportation. He said, “The problem with the roads is that the state doesn’t have enough money to maintain what they have – nevermind build anything new – unless they go with the toll road approach, which I completely object to.” Similarly up north, Stillwell calls HD 136 “the growth corridor of the 183 tollway.” In fact, the district is quartered by two toll roads – 183 running north-south, and 45 going east-west. Stillwell said, “People around here realize that the main strategy for infrastructure here has been toll roads, and how that is a not-so-hidden tax on them.”

Yes education and transportation are big issues. And they’re going to cost us money no matter what, but waiting and doing nothing (neglect), will only cost us all more in the long run.  Be sure and check out Matt Stillwell on the issues.

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