07.31.14

Abbott’s pattern – siding with corporations against the people of Texas

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Commentary at 9:57 am by wcnews

It’s clear that the Texas GOP’s candidate for governor, Greg Abbott, is on the side of corporations against the people of Texas.  The latest evidence comes from Wayne Slater, Abbott’s action in Baylor Plano case followed big donations from Scott & White chairman.

When Baylor Regional Medical Center in Plano was accused of protecting a neurosurgeon whose patients died or were maimed, it got some outside help from Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Abbott has intervened in three federal cases on the hospital’s side. He says he’s defending state law as a matter of principle. But he’s also siding with one of his biggest campaign contributors.

In March, Abbott — the Republican nominee for governor — filed motions to intervene in federal court against former patients who sued the doctor claiming botched spinal surgeries. The patients contend that the 2003 Texas law sharply limiting medical malpractice suits is unconstitutional.

Aides say Abbott is trying to defend an important state reform, not shield Baylor from liability. But his action would make it more difficult for the patients to win their cases.

Baylor Regional is part of the Baylor Scott & White Health hospital system. The chairman of the system’s board of trustees is Drayton McLane, a Temple transportation executive and Republican political contributor. McLane has donated to Abbott before, but never in the large sums of the last year amid the hospital’s mounting legal problems.

Abbott received $100,000 from McLane in June 2013 and another $250,000 in January. The donations coincide with Abbott stepping up his fundraising as his campaign for governor developed. But before these contributions, McLane’s biggest donation to Abbott was $25,000, according to state records.

The $100,000 donation came a day after the Texas Medical Board suspended the license of Dr. Christopher Duntsch, who left Baylor Plano in 2012 after a series of problem surgeries. The second donation was reported a week after the second of several medical malpractice lawsuits was filed against the doctor and hospital.

It’s a pattern that Abbott’s opponent, Democrat Wendy Davis, has been highlighting for quite some time. From a Davis email earlier this month.

Greg Abbott Works for Insiders And Texans Get Hurt in the Process

What We Know (So Far) About How Greg Abbott’s Insider Dealings Harm Texas Families:

Farmers Insurance: Abbott Collected Nearly $130,000 in Campaign Contributions from Farmers Insurance; Negotiated a “Sweetheart Deal” for the Company that Hurt Texas Homeowners

Chemical Disclosure: Abbott Accepted More Than $100k From Chemical Interests and Ruled That Explosive Chemical Locations Could Be Kept Secret, Putting Texas Parents & Children in Danger

Bond & Contract Deals: Abbott Gave $3 Million in Taxpayer Contracts to $200k+ Donor, Approved $20 Billion in Bond Deals To Benefit Six Financial Contributors Instead of Help Hardworking Texas Families

Payday Lenders: Abbott Collected Nearly $300,000 from Payday Lenders While Letting Them Prey On Hardworking Families With Unlimited Rates and Fees

Cancer Research: Abbott Took Half a Million Dollars From His Donors And Let Them Take $42 Million in Taxpayer Money Intended for Cancer Research

Everyone of those is Abbott ruling in the interest of corporations and his big money donors and against the best interest of the people of Texas. But it’s on just Greg Abbott.  The Texas GOP, since taking complete control of state government, has reconfigured our government so that it favors the powerful over the people.  This is how they believe government, what little of it they think there should be, should operate.  When they show you who they are believe them.

Click below to see the full text of the Davis email with links.
Read the rest of this entry �

07.14.14

Abbott Hemmed In By The GOP’s Ideology

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Election 2014 at 2:19 pm by wcnews

Greg Abbott only has Rick Perry to thank for the predicament he’s in over his confusing statements regarding where he stands on the release of information about hazardous chemicals.  Getting rid of regulations, which protect the public, and as far as the GOP is concerned hurt “bidness”, are a pillar of Perry’s policies.

In his stump speech Perry would click off what he said were the four major reasons his state had come to lead the nation in job creation—without ever forgetting a one of them. They were, he said, low taxes, low regulation, tort reform, and “don’t spend all the money.” [Emphasis added]

Abbott’s answers to the question of what Texans should do if they want to know if these chemicals are near where they live, their children go to school, or the nursing home of their aging parent, have been dismissive at best. Via Peggy Fikac, Abbott smacks into a chemical hazard.

When the DSHS ruling drew attention, Abbott first said the private facilities themselves must release the information to the public, even though the state couldn’t.

He said Texans could find the locations as they “drive around,” prompting a Dallas TV station to take him up on the idea by driving to companies and asking to see their chemical lists. It worked about as well as you’d think, which is to say, not at all.

My Austin bureau colleague, the Houston Chronicle’s Lauren McGaughy, sought the information from companies and local emergency response agencies through open records requests, with mixed results. Several gave no data or didn’t respond, some were sparing and others gave complete information. Abbott ultimately acknowledged to the Associated Press the data might be harder to get than he thought.

Last week, Abbott wrote an opinion piece that touted a Texas Department of Insurance website as one place to get general information about ammonium nitrate. But the website only discloses whether ammonium nitrate is in a ZIP code. Not how much, not where. A consumer watchdog called that useless. Abbott also said he’d propose the Legislature allow access to the information at local fire stations.

Abbott’s ignorance of what his own office had ruled on this issue, then telling folks to “drive around”, shows his indifference for what most Texans are dealing with. His main concern are ideological.

But Abbott’s efforts to contain the chemical controversy contrasts to Davis’ straightforward message. She says people deserve to know about the dangerous chemicals in their neighborhoods. She promises to make disclosure a priority.

No one is suggesting this is enough to vault her ahead of Abbott, but Rice University political scientist Mark Jones pointed out last week the contrast fits her effort to paint him as an insider who isn’t looking out for average Texans.

The West explosion highlighted weaknesses in Texas’ oversight of hazardous chemicals, said Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson, so this issue “goes right to the heart of the Texas model” under GOP leaders.

Abbott’s initial answer about how people could find out about chemicals’ location “was dismissive of the legitimate interest that people have in knowing whether their families are safe,” Jillson said. “He’s been unable to formulate a better answer because to do so would fly in the face of his general ideological and political commitments – small government, low taxes, deregulation.”

If he gives in to what the people want he will start to alienate the tea party base of the Texas GOP. So this is not just an Abbott issue, it’s an issue with the entire GOP in Texas. Which is why more Democrats in Texas need to start asking questions of all their GOP opponents. Like Susan Criss is doing, Dust-up over Abbott chemical ruling bleeds into state House race.

The political scuffle over Greg Abbott’s ruling to keep chemical facility information secret is starting to bleed into local races, as the Democrat aiming to replace state Rep. Craig Eiland seeks to tie her Republican opponent to the increasingly heated debate.

“Texas families have a right to know about potentially dangerous chemicals that could harm their families,” said Susan Criss, a Democratic district judge running for Eiland’s seat. “Does Wayne Faircloth feel the same way?”

Calls to Faircloth’s wife, Susan, also his treasurer, were not immediately returned Friday.

Make them all, from Dan Patrick on down, answer whither they’re with Abbott on this issue or not?

07.03.14

Let’s Be Clear, It’s Not Just Greg Abbott

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans at 11:57 am by wcnews

There’s more to add to yesterday’s post, GOP In Texas Is Corporate-Owned, about Greg Abbott’s indifference to the lives of Texans. Texans must understand that it’s the way of elected Republicans in Texas to put aside the concerns of Texans because of the burden that would be on corporations.

Via State Impact Texas, Proposals to Prevent Another Fertilizer Explosion Immediately Meet Resistance.

The explosion at a fertilizer plant in the small town of West, Texas last year took much more than fifteen lives. At least 262 people were injured; twenty percent of those were brain injuries. Homes and schools were destroyed. But judging from the response of some state lawmakers charged with stopping it from happening again, preventable disasters like the one in West are just something Texans are going to have to live with from time to time.

There’s been no new regulations for fertilizer plants since the disaster until this month, but there’s been a consensus for some time about how to prevent another tragedy like the one in West: require fertilizer plants to store ammonium nitrate in non-combustible facilities or to use sprinklers; conduct inspections of facilities; and train first responders so they know how to deal with fires that may break out at sites with ammonium nitrate.

draft bill to do just that was introduced Tuesday by state Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso), chair of the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee. But Republicans on his committee like Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) made clear at a hearing yesterday that they’re likely going to fight new regulations proposed to prevent another West. Flynn said new rules could put “Mom and Pop” fertilizer companies out of business, and he worries that any new rules for volunteer fire departments could strain budgets.

To get an idea of how much resistance the proposed rules could face from Republicans, take a look at one of the exchanges between Flynn and Pickett. Pickett proposed training volunteer fire departments to deal with fires at ammonium nitrate facilities. Currently, they get two days of training free, but another two days of hands-on training that is needed isn’t covered by the state. Over 70 percent of the firefighters in Texas are voluntary, and don’t have the authority to inspect facilities with ammonium nitrate. Pickett wants to change that, but Flynn and other rural Republicans weren’t convinced.

“When you start requiring basic gear that a municipality has to a local Volunteer Fire Department, you’re going to put them out of business,” Flynn said. “In a rural area, I’d rather have some people that are willing to come out and … ”

“Spit on it?” Pickett interrupted.

“Well, if that’s what what they have to do,” Flynn replied. “I don’t want to be that naïve.”

“But there’s nothing in here that says they have to buy a new fire truck!” Pickett said. “We’re talking about training.”

It went on like this for some time. Pickett proposing something, with Republican lawmakers from rural areas pushing back. Pickett noted that there haven’t really been any changes at facilities storing ammonium nitrate in combustible buildings or without sprinkler systems. He said they were waiting on the legislature to see what they need to do. “Very few have done anything on their own to make it safe for their employees” and surrounding communities, Pickett said.

I know I’ve said this plenty of times but, how can anyone expect a party that thinks government is the problem to use government to fix problems?  The GOP is incapable of doing anything, that would in any way, be an inconvenience to “bidness” that would make chemical storage safer for the people of Texas. This issue shows just how “owned” the GOP is by corporations and business. Kuff has a great wrap up of all that’s happening right now on this issue, Why would you want to regulate that?

Further Reading:
Via NPR, Will Texas GOP Candidate’s Remarks On Chemicals Prove Toxic?

07.02.14

GOP In Texas Is Corporate-Owned

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Had Enough Yet?, Money In Politics, Uncategorized at 10:03 am by wcnews

Greg Abbott’s response to a question yesterday show exactly what Republican in Texas think the governments responsibility is to the people of Texas….nothing.  Via Wayne Slater in the DMN, Money from Koch interests flows to governor candidate Greg Abbott.

Five months after an ammonium nitrate explosion that killed 15 people in West, Attorney General Greg Abbott received a $25,000 contribution from a first-time donor to his political campaigns — the head of Koch Industries’ fertilizer division.

The donor, Chase Koch, is the son of one of the billionaire brothers atop Koch Industries’ politically influential business empire.

Abbott, who has since been criticized for allowing Texas chemical facilities to keep secret the contents of their plants, received more than $75,000 from Koch interests after the April 2013 explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. storage and distribution facility, campaign finance records filed with the state showed.

The West accident focused public attention on the storage of potentially dangerous chemicals across Texas and regulatory gaps in prevention, data-gathering, enforcement and disclosure to prevent explosions in the future. In addition to the 15 deaths, scores of people were injured, and homes and businesses were leveled.

The issue has re-emerged for Abbott in his run for governor. The Republican nominee recently declared that records on what chemicals the facilities stored could remain hidden, citing state laws meant to deter potential terrorist threats.

The campaign of his Democratic opponent, Wendy Davis, has charged Abbott with protecting campaign donors. On Tuesday, Abbott struggled to explain how Texans might learn of dangerous chemicals in their midst.

“You know where they are if you drive around,” Abbott told reporters at an event in Austin. “You can ask every facility whether or not they have chemicals or not. You can ask them if they do and they can tell you, ‘Well, we do have chemicals or we don’t have chemicals.’ And if they do, they tell which ones they have.” [Emphasis added]

After the West disaster, The Dallas Morning News identified 74 facilities in Texas as having at least 10,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate or ammonium-related material, including a Koch subsidiary, the Georgia-Pacific Gypsum plant in Sweetwater. The subsidiary now makes a nitrogen fertilizer, not the same product as the one that exploded in West.

Industrialists Charles and David Koch have created sprawling political and fund-raising networks that bankroll Republican candidates and business-friendly causes. Their groups are poised to spend millions of dollars to help Republicans win the Senate this fall, and the brothers, who are largely quiet about their political activities, have emerged as the Democrats’ biggest-spending political bogeymen. Opponents warn the Kochs are trying to undo health and safety regulations to benefit their conservative agenda.

What Abbott is saying is that in addition to everything else hard working Texans are already doing – working, taking care of their family, going to school, paying the bills – now they have to do another job, drive around, and get the chemical corporations to disclose information the government already has.  Here’s what Wendy Davis’ campaign had to say about this.

A Davis aide rebuked Abbott for the remarks.

“The only thing more outrageous than Greg Abbott keeping the location of chemical facilities secret is telling Texas parents they literally need to go door to door in order to find out if their child’s school is in the blast radius of dangerous explosives,” said spokesman Zac Petkanas. “Parents have a right to know whether their kids are playing hopscotch next door to the type of facility that exploded in West.”

As the US Supreme Court decisions reinforced this week, we now have a government that’s owned and run for corporations.  And a politician like Abbott better do what he’s told if he wants the checks to keep rolling in.

 

06.23.14

Surplus Of Neglect

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Transportation at 10:50 am by wcnews

Our state government in Texas has been shirking it’s responsibility since the Texas GOP seized control of all branches of government.  They’ve neglected funding some of the most vital areas, public and higher education, infrastructure (roads, bridges, water), and health care just to name a few.  Because of the GOP’s neglect, the money that could have been used to pay for those needs, have instead been hoarded and instead created surpluses.  And now the GOP wanst to give that money to their wealthy corporate and business donors.

Leading state Republicans and some of their most vocal backers have turned up the volume in demanding tax cuts, as lawmakers anticipate a surplus about seven months before they return to Austin.

Sen. Dan Patrick, the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, has urged cuts in property and business taxes.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican hopeful for governor, has said small businesses need relief from what he calls a very unfair state franchise tax. The Texas Public Policy Foundation, which advocates less state spending, wants a two-year, half-penny reduction in the state’s 6.25-cent sales tax.

However, while Texas’ economy shows continued strength, fiscal experts say there is no chance the state will be so flush that lawmakers can slash school property taxes and make more progress toward adequately funding roads and water reservoirs.

Texas and its local governments rely so heavily on property and sales taxes that it’s hard to hammer a noticeable dent in them, experts said. So unless you own a business, you’re unlikely to feel any tax relief from the Legislature, the experts say. [Emphasis added]

The point that everyone needs to understand is that there is more than enough money in Texas to pay for the needs of Texans. There is not the political will, on either side, to pursue it with the vigor needed. Which is why, at least in the near future, the surplus of neglect – political as well as fiscal – will continue.

06.21.14

I Hate To Say I Told You So…But

Posted in Bad Government Republicans, Commentary, Transportation at 3:37 pm by wcnews

This should not surprise anyone.  The central goal of the modern day Republican Party/tea party is to get elected and destroy the government from the inside.  They want to make sure that the people no longer feel they can turn to their government for help or any sort of constructive solution.

Report: SH 130 Toll Road Company in Danger of Default.

The private consortium behind the project owes more than $1 billion and lacks the funding to pay off an upcoming debt payment due on June 30, according to the report. The report adds that the company has “depleted all but $3.3 million of available liquidity reserves.”

Oh well this is a good sign, better late then never, Senators Murphy (D) and Corker (R) Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase.

The government will do what’s best for the people again some day. But not until the people demand it.

06.09.14

The Biennial GOP Platform Changes

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Commentary at 12:00 pm by wcnews

I have to admit I paid very little attention to the Texas GOP convention in Forth Worth.   But what little I have seen or heard since it was over two things stand out.  One is that the Texas GOP is now owned by Ted Cruz and Dan Patrick. The other is that they’ve made some changes to their platform, particularly around the issues of immigration and LGBT, Backs to the Future?.

The “Texas Solution,” the much-touted effort from the Republican Party of Texas to move toward acceptance of some kind of immigration reform, is dead. The measure, which was written into the party platform in 2012 and called for an expanded guest worker program, had been watered down in the convention’s drafting process—but it was replaced wholesale on the convention floor by hard-line immigration language that spells the end, for now, of one of the state party’s highest-profile dalliances with reform.

The new language emphasizes cracking down on immigration, calls for the end of in-state tuition as well as a raft of other measures, and waters down the guest worker provisions into almost total insignificance. “Once the borders are verifiably secure,” the plank reads, “and E-Verify system use is fully enforced, [the party calls for] creation of a visa classification for non-specialty industries which have determined actual and persistent labor shortages.”

The Republican Party now has, effectively, the immigration platform it had in 2010, the peak tea party year. It’s a remarkable reversal for several reasons. The Texas Solution’s inclusion in the party platform in 2012 was highly contentious among delegates at the time, but it was just as highly touted by party elders who wanted to show the GOP was evolving on an issue central to the future of a state with an increasing number of Hispanic voters—and a continuing need for a steady supply of labor.

[...]

Consider also that it’s 2014. The new Republican Party of Texas platform endorses what’s known as “reparative therapy,” the practice of training LGBT people to “convert” to heterosexuality. The platform committees dropped some archaic anti-gay language, but added a provision recognizing the “the value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle.”

Delegates who objected to the language wrote amendments attempting to alter it, but they never got a chance to introduce them on the floor. Debate over the platform was ended after five hours, and pro-gay Republicans were out of luck.

“I want every Republican elected. I’m here today trying to get Republicans elected,” said Rudy Oeftering, a vice president of the Texas Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group that had been banned from having a booth at the convention’s trade shows. But he admonished reporters on the convention floor to keep focus on the plank, even if the state party didn’t feel like talking about it.

“Every reporter should be asking every Republican candidate if they believe in reparative therapy. If they believe that homosexuality is a choice,” he said. “If you’re going to put language like this in the platform to drive away voters, then every Republican candidate should be accountable for what’s in the platform. The platform itself says that every candidate needs to take a position on this.”

That the GOP’s base, which continues to lurch further and further to the right, made this decision on it’s platform shouldn’t surprise anyone. This is, more a less, what happens every two years. The GOP in Texas goes more extreme with their platform and they continue to win BIG in Texas. So why in the world would they even think of dialing this back? It should be easy to see where I’m going with this.

The only way they will change their platform is if they start losing BIG. Otherwise it’s only likely to get more extreme two years from now. Until the Texans who are affected the most by this extreme platform that neglects the needs of poor, working and middle class Texans decide it’s time for a change, this will continue.

Texpatriate has more.

04.10.14

Carter Votes For Cuts That Harm Middle Class, Poor & Cuts Taxes For Rich

Posted in Around The Nation, Bad Government Republicans, Health Care, Taxes at 8:59 pm by wcnews

Out GOP Congressman John Carter voted for the Ryan budget which takes dead aim health care (Medicaid, Medicare, The ACA), education, and support for the poor, while giving another tax cut to the rich.

As Digby says, “This is the GOP Agenda“, Politics House Passes Ryan Budget With Big Cuts.

The 219-205 vote on the budget outline takes a mostly symbolic swipe at the government’s chronic deficits. Follow-up legislation to actually implement the cuts isn’t in the offing. Twelve Republicans opposed the measure, and not a single Democrat supported it.

The measure passed after a three-day debate that again exposed the hugely varying visions of the rival parties for the nation’s fiscal future. Republicans promised a balanced budget by 2024 but would do so at the expense of poor people and seniors on Medicaid, lower-income workers receiving “Obamacare” subsidies, and people receiving food stamps and Pell Grants.

Democrats countered with a plan that would leave Obama’s health care plan and rapidly growing health programs like Medicare intact, relying on $1.5 trillion in tax hikes over the coming decade to bring deficits down to sustainable but still-large levels in the $600 billion range.

The GOP plan, by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would cut more than $5 trillion over the coming decade to reach balance by 2024, relying on sharp cuts to domestic programs, but leaving Social Security untouched and shifting more money to the Pentagon and health care for veterans. It reprises a controversial plan to shift future retirees away from traditional Medicare and toward a subsidy-based health insurance option on the open market.

While staking out a hard line for the future, follow-up legislation is likely to be limited this year to a round of annual spending bills that will adhere to a bipartisan budget pact enacted in December.

But the Ryan plan does paint a picture of what Republicans would attempt if they claim the Senate this fall and the White House in 2016. Its cuts to entrenched benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid, however, would be difficult to pass even if Republicans gained control of both the House and Senate in this fall’s elections.

“It’s totally out of touch with the priorities and values of the country,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. “This is a clear road map of what Republicans in Congress would do if they had the power to do it.”

[...]

Ryan’s plan revives a now-familiar list of spending cuts to promise balance, including $2.1 trillion over 10 years in health care subsidies and coverage under the Affordable Care Act; $732 billion in cuts to Medicaid and other health care programs; and almost $1 trillion in cuts to other benefit programs like food stamps, Pell Grants and farm subsidies.

The measure also promises deep, probably unrealistic cuts to domestic programs like education, health research and grants to local governments that are funded each year through annual appropriations bills.  [Emphasis added]

And this, House-Passed Budget Shows Parties’ Divergence.

The move underscored the different universes the two parties occupy as election season heats up. Democrats see the budget, which passed on Thursday in a 219-to-205 vote, as a political millstone, with brutal cuts to popular government programs, sweeping and controversial changes to Medicare, and tax cuts for the rich. Republicans consider it a modest step.

[...]

The budget — the fourth presented by Mr. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee — is nonbinding and will go nowhere in the Senate.

But Republicans will try to use the vote to prove their tough-minded fiscal credentials. And Democrats will seek to tar their opponents by spotlighting the budget’s deep cuts to education, food stamps and transportation programs, its proposed transformation of Medicare, and the tax rate cuts for the rich.

The budget bill tally demonstrated the Democrats’ certainty that the Ryan budget will badly hurt its supporters — no Democrats voted for it.  [Emphasis added]

Make no mistake, despite all the articles stating that this has no chance of passing, this is the GOP agenda. And if they pick up seats this November they will set out to make this a reality. As evidenced by Carter’s Orwellian press release after his rubber stamp of the Ryan Budget.

There is a much better option, The Better Off Budget.

BOB web logo blue(1)

During our economy’s best decades, Congress invested in the American workforce and every family was better off for it. But recent years have been dominated by growing inequality and a Republican majority in Congress obsessed with slashing the budget, making it harder for working Americans to find decent jobs and save for the future. The Congressional Progressive Caucus’ Better Off Budget reverses the damage budget austerity has inflicted on hard-working families and restores our economy to its full potential by creating 8.8 million jobs by 2017.

The Better Off Budget reverses harmful cuts that have hit working families the hardest—starting with repealing across-the-board budget cuts known as the “sequester.” It creates a fairer tax code so that low and middle-income families no longer pay more than they should while the world’s biggest corporations benefit from unnecessary loopholes. Our budget reverses harmful pay freezes, expands benefits for federal retirees and strengthens federal health care and retirement programs Americans rely on.

When the federal budget invests resources wisely, we can meet the needs of working families and shrink the deficit. The Better Off Budget not only creates jobs, it reduces the deficit by $4.08 trillion over the next 10 years. It’s the right budget for the country, for working families and for our future.

That shows a clear difference between Democrats and the GOP. I certainly hope that Democrat Louie Minor, who is running against Carter, will support the Better Off Budget.

[UPDATE]: Bernie on the Ryan Budget:

04.09.14

Inherently Incompatible With Democracy

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Commentary, Money In Politics at 12:08 pm by wcnews

Apparently there’s nothing illegal about this, Prolific Donors Are Behind Perry’s Marketing Tool.

When Gov. Rick Perry announced last summer that he wouldn’t run for re-election, he said he was committed to spending his last 18 months in office working to create more jobs and opportunity in Texas. It’s a pledge he has taken seriously, traveling to places like California, New York and Israel in the last year to promote the “Texas Miracle” and recruit companies to bring jobs to the state.

Supporting Perry’s travels is TexasOne, a quasi-governmental agen­cy that has become the governor’s chief marketing tool to tout the state’s “wide open for business” model and that funds his regular promotional trips.

[...]

TexasOne is controversial in part because of how it’s funded: Many of the same corporations and donors that have contributed millions of dollars combined to the governor’s campaigns also donate to TexasOne, which helps woo corporations to bring jobs to Texas.

The practice is lawful, and it’s not unusual for governors to have close relationships — both financial and business — with influential industry leaders. TexasOne officials say that these donor-members, who contribute $1,000 to $250,000 annually to the program, are solely interested in the state’s economic development.

“No one joins because they feel like they’ll get access to Perry,” TexasOne Chairman Bruce Bugg said. “That’s not how it works.”

Well of course not, they already have access to Perry. It may not be illegal, but what’s going on here is something that is inherently incompatible with democracy. This is plutocracy or corporatism. It just seems wrong that the governor of Texas is allowed to gallivant around the world to do the bidding for corporations.

Then there’s this.

One of the beneficiaries of the Enterprise Zone Program is a top-tier TexasOne donor, Dallas-based accounting firm Ryan LLC, which contributes $250,000 a year for its TexasOne membership. The firm’s success in Texas is rooted in its work helping major corporations obtain large tax rebates from the state’s incentive programs, including the Enterprise Zone Program. CEO Brint Ryan benefited from the program himself in 2008 after his firm qualified for a $1.25 million tax refund.

(The exact amounts paid to companies through the program are confidential under the state’s tax code.)

Ryan is a prominent Perry donor and helped found Make Us Great Again, a Super PAC that supported the governor’s unsuccessful presidential run in 2012. Ryan personally contributed $250,000 to the PAC. Representatives for Ryan declined to comment on whether his company’s involvement in TexasOne or his contributions to Perry presented a conflict with his state benefits.

ExxonMobil qualified for a combined $8.75 million in tax refunds from the Texas Enterprise Zone Program starting in 2004. That same year, ExxonMobil became a member of TexasOne with a $25,000 contribution. ExxonMobil currently contributes $100,000 annually to the program. Representatives for the company could not be reached for comment.

Such examples of the overlap among donors to TexasOne and Perry and state benefits they’ve received “fit a pattern of pay-to-play politics” in Texas that have been common under Perry’s long tenure as governor, said McDonald of Texans for Public Justice.

But Bugg, the TexasOne chairman, said the program is focused on economic development and does not engage in political activities.

That may be the way Bugg feels and believes, but because of the way Perry has governed that statement is incorrect. Perry has made economic development a political activity and because of these donors incestuous practices it’s obvious who these corporations favor politically.

Should we allow our state government to be used in this way? Is our state government nothing more then a piece of the marketing puzzle for corporations, the chamber, and local economic development corporations? Those are the ultimate questions this article brings forward, (though it likely wasn’t the intent).

It’s obvious from this, and the actions of our state over the last decade, that the priority isn’t education, health care, infrastructure or anything else the people, “demos”, of this state need.  Marketing corporations is a political issue in Texas.  When we have a government that puts corporations ahead of the people it can’t help but be a political issue.

Further Reading:
Money buys results & erodes trust.
Rich people rule!

04.07.14

Hey Texas Business! Start Helping Elect Democrats If You Want To Get Anything Done

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Commentary, Election 2014 at 9:44 am by wcnews

We’ve written about the Texas GOP’s neglect of needed functions and services of state government for quite a while.  It’s one of the major frames we put forward.  There’s no one running in the current GOP that is putting forward any kind of long-range plan for public and higher education, transportation and infrastructure, and health care to name a few.  And when it comes to immigration the Texas GOP is moving in the wrong direction.  Sooner of later business interests in Texas will come to the realization that they no longer have any pull with the crazies who’ve taken over the Texas GOP.

Business interests question Republican truths.

Business interests are walking the halls of the Texas Capitol calling on lawmakers to rethink some of their past policies, hoping that after the November election they can win some key victories next year.

The business lobby’s wish list, expressed at legislative hearings and press conferences, includes better-educated workers, more spending on infrastructure and an overhaul of immigration policies. Where these issues fall on the ideological continuum is in the eye of the beholder, but for these trade associations and executives, these are the essential duties of government and critical for economic growth.

These needs that business interests want are what most Texans want too – not on the extreme right. Education, transportation, and health are some of the main building blocks of any society. But our state government, as it is currently configured, is incapable of meeting these needs.

Those lawmakers demonstrated their reluctance to open the state’s wallet in 2013 by choosing to let voters decide whether to tap the rainy day fund for water and transportation projects. Voters approved water funding in 2013 and are expected to approve transportation spending in November, but those constitutional amendments are only a drop in the bucket toward solving the state’s long-term funding crisis for infrastructure.

Last week the Texas Association of Business’s Stephen Minick warned lawmakers that their failure to invest in improved infrastructure sent the wrong signal to companies interested in moving to Texas.

There are hopeful signs coming from the Democratic campaigns, especially from  Leticia van De Putte.  Some in the business community may be ready to give Democrats a look, On the campaign trail: Van de Putte.

A day earlier, the campaign bus touched down in Fort Worth and Dallas with Van de Putte stumping at a Mexican restaurant, electrifying a packed crowd at the Dallas County Democratic Party headquarters and later attending a big-money fundraiser sponsored by Annie’s List, a group working to elect Democratic women.

Scheduled to hit Houston on Saturday for multiple events, the bus tour will make its way to Corpus Christi on Sunday and wrap up with a rally in Austin on Monday.

Aside from elevating her name I.D. and helping to raise money, Van de Putte also is using the statewide tour to lay the blueprint for her campaign narrative — that of a pro-business, bipartisan “problem solver” who is focused on education, health care, water and transportation.

“Voters want us to concentrate on the core issues,” she said, “not the divisive politics, the wedge issues that the Republicans in this race are using.”

At the business roundtable in the Belo Mansion those same themes dominate much of the roughly hour-long meeting.

Frustrated with the direction of the Legislature, the business owners hurdle questions at Van de Putte: Why did Republicans refuse to expand Medicaid during the legislative session? What needs to be done to motivate state lawmakers to get funding fully back on track for public education? And why isn’t the Legislature investing further in water and roads?

On each topic, Van de Putte agrees with the small crowd — more needs to be done now.

It appears clear that the business community in Texas is starting to understand that the right wing crazies are bad for business. But they haven’t quite realized that they have to organize against them, and elect Democrats, to remove them from office if they want things to change. As Kuff said on this.

To know Sen. Van de Putte is to like her, but the challenge is ensuring enough people know her. As she was uncontested in her primary, the last finance report she filed was in January, so we don’t know how her campaign is doing on the fundraising front. I don’t know how much she really needs to raise, but it is in the millions. I get the impression she’s doing well on that front, but we won’t know for sure until July. By the same token, we keep hearing bits and pieces about support for her from Republicans that are not happy with the prospect of Dan Patrick as Lite Gov. I try to keep stuff like that in perspective because I really want it to be true. My hope is that we’ll hear more of this, and have more names attached to the stories, after Patrick (presumably) wins his runoff in May. It would be nice to see some of those same names show up in her finance report, and of course there’s the matter of groups like the Texas Farm Bureau putting their money where their mouths are. Sen. Van de Putte won’t have any trouble firing up Democrats for November. Stuff like this will let us know if it’s contagious outside of the base. Juanita and Stace have more.

What the business community may be finally starting to realize is that there are no more moderate Republicans left to come to their rescue in The Lege. And The Lege is only going to get more right wing, and crazier in 2015.  Which means less chance of them getting what they need unless they start helping Democrats win.

Kuff has more on the road ahead, Who’s afraid of the Republican slate?

� Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »