05.31.06

Convention delegate required reading

Posted in Around The State at 5:59 pm by dembones

BOR‘s Phillip Martin has posted interviews with two candidates for Texas Democratic Party Chair: Boyd Richie and Glen Maxey. (Additional challengers include Charlie Urbina-Jones and Lakesha Rogers.) The race will be decided Saturday, June 10, at the TDP State Convention in Fort Worth.

If you are a delegate to the state convention next week, go read these interviews as soon as possible.

What Is This Man Saying?

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Williamson County at 1:09 pm by wcnews

Rep. John Carter spoke at the Killeen Greater Chamber of Commerce yesterday and said some interesting things on the subject of immigration. He thinks we should make those crossing the Mexican border into the U.S. “sweat” and “they should be made to feel uncomfortable”. He’s also into “making their life miserable for coming across” and believes “they are coming across and just looking for a free ride”. He makes the conditions for immigrants in this country sound so good I think I’m going to move to Mexico and then come back across the border for the “free ride”.

His statements in this article are riddled with inconsistencies. They should be made to sweat and feel uncomfortable but at the end he states he does not believe anybody should start life in the United States as a criminal. Since they’re here as criminals they’re sweating and uncomfortable already. He also says they’re coming here for a free ride and later says their work ethic should not be taken into consideration. Can you be a lazy, free-rider and have a work ethic too?

Whether it’s Rep. Carter or the writer of the article they repeat a common falsehood, “The mass migration is made up of people seeking jobs in the U.S. and willing to work for substandard wages in jobs most U.S. workers won’t accept.” The highlighted part is the falsehood. Pay them standard wages and they’ll accept the job. This whole argument is about cheap labor. U.S. workers will do any job. Yes, even wash dishes in a restaurant. They just have to be paid a wage that will support them and their family. There is no job a U.S. worker will not do if paid a living wage. And yes, businesses will do illegal things, like this, to drive down their costs.

Rep. Carter went to the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce to tell a bunch of business folk , many of them we can safely say use this labor force in some way, the cheap labor pool they’re using is going to dry up if he has his way.

05.30.06

Round Rock & Cedar Park Chase Their Event Center Dreams

Posted in Williamson County at 3:24 pm by wcnews

Round Rock for it’s part doesn’t know how much it will cost, how big it will be or where it will be but all “… the self-designated Sports Capital of Texas” knows it that it wants one. Not to worry though, the city and Chamber of Commerce are splitting the cost ($75,000) for “..an international consulting firm to help them decide what type of center to build.” There are some interesting aspects of this article. Not a peep from Round Rock Mayor Nyle Maxwell in the article. The Ryan family has right of first refusal to manage the facility, whatever it will be. Also no mention of how much this will cost the taxpayers of Round Rock, whatever it will cost.

Meanwhile in Cedar Park still wanting to build it’s sports/multipurpose event center doesn’t understand three-strikes-and-you’re-out, so they’re going back for a fourth try. I guess that last one was a foul tip? Again there’s very little definite about what this is going to be:

The Dallas investor (Former Dallas Stars NHL team owner Norman Green) wouldn’t say where in the city the arena would be, how much it would cost, or which team would play in it — although he allowed that any hockey team, including the Austin Ice Bats, could call the new center home. Green said it would take about two years to build the arena, which would be run by a private operator and could also play host to concerts and events such as high school graduations.

This HCN article later in the week had more details and that it will cost taxpayers of Cedar Park $18 or $22 million:

This is the fourth time Cedar Park entertained the idea of building a multi-purpose event center within the last 10 years.

The 20.7-acre facility with an optional enclosed public ice rink would be located at New Hope Road and U.S. Highway 183A.

Green said the city would pay $18 million for the center and an additional $4 million if it wants a second sheet of ice for the optional public ice rink.

Green said he would lease the arena from Cedar Park for 30 years at a rate of $1 a year.

Well I’m sure with the economic impact it will pay for itself.

Lawmaker & UT Football Tickets, Krusee 3rd On The List

Posted in Around The State, Williamson County at 9:27 am by wcnews

As the article points out, Lawmakers getting free, discounted tickets to UT football games, there is nothing illegal about lawmakers receiving these tickets:

There appears to be little doubt that it is legal for lawmakers to accept free or discounted tickets. And state law apparently does not require them to disclose the gifts on personal financial statements filed annually with the Texas Ethics Commission.

But it wasn’t always that way. An advisory opinion issued in 1992 by the Ethics Commission concluded that free tickets constituted a prohibited “benefit” under the state penal code. The only exception would be if a legislator were accompanied by an officer or employee of the college or university, the commission said.

The state Legislature changed the penal code the next year, dramatically broadening the exception to allow lawmakers to use “property or facilities owned, leased or operated by the governmental entity.” Public universities are governmental entities.

It’s legal but is it right? Well I’ll leave that up to you. Here’s a complete list of all the recipients over the last 5 seasons. Three of the six most gluttonous are quoted in the article.

Several lawmakers said there is nothing wrong with their getting a break that isn’t available to ordinary fans.

“That’s certainly up to the university. That’s not up to me. I’m a recipient, and I’m happy to be one,” said state Sen. Florence Shapiro, a Republican from Plano who leads the Senate Education Committee.

Shapiro, who received 51 free or discounted tickets, earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education at UT. She said she often discusses higher education matters with fellow lawmakers and university officials while attending games.

State Rep. Edmund Kuempel, R-Seguin, who received 84 tickets, more than any other lawmaker, said UT makes the rules and he’s happy to abide by them.

“They say, ‘Here, we’re offering two tickets.’ If they say you have to buy them, that’s fine, too,” said Kuempel, a graduate of Texas Lutheran University whose House committee assignments do not include public or higher education.

State Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Williamson County, said getting lawmakers to attend games improves communication.

“I believe UT offers the tickets so they can have time for their administrators and their alumni to have contact with members (of the Legislature), and especially local members,” said Krusee, who received 70 tickets. “There is a reception before the game, which I go to, and I spend much of the time talking to UT personnel. One year it might be about the 10 percent rule (for automatic admission), another year about tuition deregulation.”

They all make sound so innocent.

05.29.06

Those Who Have Sacrificed Throughout Our History…

Posted in Around The Nation at 10:22 am by wcnews

…we remember.

Since the commencement of the War in Afghanistan and the War in Iraq, there have been 3,057 coalition deaths, of which are 2,754 Americans, including 234 native Texans. Below are the names, ages, hometowns, and date of death of those native Texans that have died in the past few years.

The average age of the 234 Texans is 25.8.

We ask that you take time from your holiday schedule to stop, reflect, and pray for those brave men and women who have fought and died while serving their country.

Click the link to see the list of names. Thanks Philip, In Memorium.

05.26.06

Mary Beth Harrell To Honor Nation’s Heroes At Memorial Day Service In Killeen

Posted in Election 2006, Williamson County at 2:03 pm by wcnews

On Memorial Day Mary Beth Harrell will honor our nation’s heroes at the Central Texas Veterans Cemetery service in Killeen at 4:30PM. As an Army wife with two active-duty sons, including one who is deployed in Iraq, this day of prayer and recognition hits home on a very personal level for Harrell.

Mrs. Harrell, who is running against John Carter in House District 31, has been an open critic of the level of care and funding being provided soldiers and veterans by the U.S. Congress. “On this Memorial Day we should all remember the dedication and service of America’s veterans and soldiers. It is reminder that we owe these men and women a great deal and that we can and must do more to honor their sacrifices” said Harrell.

“I’m committed to passing the GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century to improve the contract between our government and our service men and women. I’m committed to a real increase in funding for the future health care needs of our soldiers and veterans and I’m committed to ending the notorious widow’s tax, a disgrace to military wives such as myself.”

This comes in stark contrast to Congressman John Carter’s record on taking care of troops whereas he refused to sponsor the new GI Bill of Rights, voted for inadequate health care funding for soldiers and veterans, and voted to keep the widow’s tax.

WHO: Mary Beth Harrell, Candidate for Congress (TX-31)

WHAT: Memorial Day Service

WHEN: Monday, May 29th at 4:30 PM

WHERE: Central Texas Veterans Cemetery in Killeen

WHY: As the mother of two active-duty soldiers, including one in Iraq, and the wife of a career Army man and as an advocate for a Congress that fights for America’s soldiers and veterans – Mary Beth Harrell is taking this opportunity to honor those who have fallen and pray for those still on the frontlines.

CONTACT: 254-616-0058 or MaryBeth@marybethharrellforcongress.com

You can download the flyer to pass out here.

Rep. John Carter (R-Exxon) Votes For Drilling In ANWR

Posted in Around The Nation at 12:06 pm by wcnews

Republicans in the US House, John Carter included, want to be able to say they’re doing something about energy, high gas prices to be specific, when they come home for Memorial Day. So they, again, passed a bill they know is DOA in the Senate.

Jittery about voters’ sour mood over high gasoline prices less than six months before congressional elections, the Republican-controlled House passed an old favorite yesterday: legislation seeking to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

The measure, approved by a vote of 225-201, faces long odds in the Senate, where it has been blocked repeatedly by filibusters. A Senate GOP aide called the measure “DOA” in that chamber.

But House Republicans wanted to return to their districts for Memorial Day able to say they had acted on energy legislation before the summer vacation season begins

I can’t see how this is going to lower my gas bill. Now consider this.

Many Democrats and some Republicans advocated greater conservation measures, such as tougher miles-per-gallon rules for cars.

“Astonishingly, this Congress has not voted on a single conservation measure since gasoline hit $3 a gallon,” said Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, a New York Republican.

Of course conservation would cause less gas consumption and that’s not good for the oil corporations’ profits.

This Is What A Democrat Sounds Like

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, The Lege at 8:56 am by wcnews

Thank you Sen. Shapleigh, Great Texas Tax Shift benefits few, it’s too good to excerpt:

“What Texans need to know is that Our Kids are in Grover’s tub.”

The tax proposals passed this special session continue the 10-year pattern in both D.C. and Austin of the “Great Texas Tax Shift,” where the wealthiest Texans’ taxes are shifted onto the backs of middle- and low- income families and budgets for key programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program, college loans, and public education get cut.

The total tax relief in the Perry Tax Plan to Texans who make less than $54,000 is zero. In fact, those Texas families will pay $7 million more in net taxes. For Texans who make more than $100,000, taxes are cut a total of $920 million net. The governor’s priorities are clear: tax cuts over kids.

After 10 years of the Bush era in Texas and six in D.C., we now know the pattern: tax cuts for the wealthy few, budget cuts for you and deficits as far as we can see. During this era, Grover Norquist Republicans have worked every session to shift taxes from wealth to work, from the rich to the middle class. Norquist is famous for saying “my goal is to cut government in half in 25 years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” What Texans need to know is that our children are in Grover’s bathtub.

How does this work? Under Bush and Perry tax plans, wealthy donors get big tax cuts, middle-class families get the price of a tank of gas, then the resulting cuts to budgets destroy programs like CHIP.

In 2003, Republicans balanced the state budget on the backs of children by cutting CHIP, Medicaid and after-school programs. As of this April, over 213,000 children have been kicked out of CHIP. Texas already had the highest rate of uninsured children in the U.S. with 21 percent lacking health-care coverage — dramatically higher than the national rate of 12 percent.

The result of the tax shift and program cuts is that income has steadily become concentrated in the hands of the wealthy. Texas started the 21st century with the greatest income inequality in the nation between the richest 20 percent of income earners and the middle 20 percent.

In today’s politics of the right, tax cuts are valued over children, and budget cuts are valued over good teachers.

After a decade of right-wing leaders, Texas ranks 50th among the states for high-school graduation rates and 48th in SAT scores, and Texas’ per-pupil expenditures recently dropped from 35th to 38th. Despite these obvious failures, tax cuts, not children, come first.

If we as a free people do not rise to elect leadership to meet the challenges of educating our children and investing in our future, for the first time in Texas history, we face a tomorrow less prosperous than today.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

John Sharp Says $1,350

Posted in Around The State at 8:26 am by wcnews

How much you will save depends on who you ask and where they are in the political process. John Sharp firmly stakes out the middle of the road:

The owner of an average-value home will save about $1,350 in school property taxes over the next three years, former Comptroller John Sharp said.

[...]

His explanation splits the difference between Perry and Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who is running for governor.

Isn’t that brave!? He’s driving right down the center stripe, not trying to burn any Republican or Independent bridges. Not to mention his non-denial, denial of future political ambitions:

But he’s not ruling out running for elected office again.

“I just don’t see it in the cards. And you sure as heck wouldn’t do something like this if that was your plan,” Sharp said, joking about the enemies he made while leading the governor’s tax commission on school finance.

Sharp added, though, he’s still got a taste for politics.

“I mean, you never get it out of your system. … It’s kind of like sex. You know, politics and sex are a lot alike. Once you’ve experienced either one of them you don’t usually say, ‘OK, been there, done that,’ ” Sharp said.

That depends on who you have politics with. Will John Sharp be coming to the Democratic convention this year? Will he go out campaign for the Democratic ticket in Texas this year? Or is he just campaigning for the role of elder statesman? At this point he looks like someone who doesn’t want to show himself as a Democrat.

05.25.06

TxDOT Releases Public Hearing Schedule On TTC-35

Posted in Around The State, Williamson County at 2:10 pm by wcnews

Corridor Watch has the story:

We now have the list of dates and locations for 54 hearing that TxDOT will hold along the TTC-35 route. This series of Public Hearings will begin July 10, 2006 and conclude on August 10, 2006.It is important for the public to participate in this process to provide input and express concerns that they may have. However, it is equally important to understand that this is an environmental process mandated by the federal government. TxDOT has held more than 100 meetings as part of the environmental process. It is not a process by which the State of Texas will determine whether or not to build the TTC, that decision has already been made (without your input).

There was never as much as a single meeting to solicit public input on the Trans-Texas Corridor concept or plan before it was made policy. Proceeding with the TTC was the unilateral decision of Governor Perry and has been faithfully implemented by the Texas Transportation Commission.

There will be two hearings in Williamson County

  • July 24, Georgetown, Georgetown High School, Klett Center for the Performing Arts, 2211 N. Austin Ave.
  • July 25, Taylor, Taylor High School Auditorium, 3101 N. Main St.

Mark your calendars!  You can see the full list here.

TxDOT has their press release here (.pdf) as well as a flyer (.pdf) for the hearings.

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