09.29.06

More On TTC Document Dump

Posted in Around The State, Road Issues at 10:21 am by wcnews

Here are the details, if you have the time and stomach, Master Development Plan. There’s much more analysis and logic from Off The Kuff and McBlogger.

Off The Kuff

Let’s do a little math here. The full route is 370 miles. How many miles per gallon does your car get on the freeway? We’ve got a Saturn coupe that exceeds 30 MPG on the highway, and a Subaru Outback that gets between 25 and 30. But let’s say you’ve got a Hummer, and that 370 mile trip would take you 20 gallons of gas (18.5 MPG). At that crappy level of mileage, the gas tax would have to increase by $2.81 per gallon to match the toll price. Let me say that again: That toll equates to $2.81 per gallon extra in gas tax. If we simply doubled the existing gas tax – from 20 cents per gallon to 40 cents per gallon, which would make ours the highest gas tax in the country – you’d have paid an extra $4 for that 370 mile trip.

Four dollars versus fifty-six and change. What a deal, huh?

McBlogger

Current plans for the TTC are to the east of 35, paving over some of the most amazing farm and ranch land in the country. Land that can’t be replaced. Land that’s been in families for generations and land that will be worth far less once it is divided. This will severely damage agriculture in Texas (one of our largest industries) and the primary reason Hank is against the project. The problem is, many in the media have made an issue of Hank’s (Hank Gilbert) opposition, as if he were anti-transportation when in fact nothing is further from the truth.

The solution? For one thing, the gas tax needs to actually be spent on transportation. Further, the people of Texas should have the right to choose, at the polls, whether they want tolls or gas taxes. If it’s to be tolls, then let’s keep private ownership out of the game. By adding in a private operater, you add in to the cost their necessary profit. Make no mistake, toll roads can be operated by the state just as cheaply as they can by Cintra-Zachry. The state can also issue bonds. In short, many of the ‘innovative’ solutions being touted by the pro-TTC crowd CAN be done without having to hang Texas taxpayer’s to twist in the wind.

More From The Republican War On The Middle Class

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State at 8:32 am by wcnews

This is just sad, Texas leads nation in uninsured children, study finds.

More than 20 percent of children in Texas are uninsured, the highest rate in the nation, a report released Thursday found.

[...]

More than 9 million children nationwide don’t have health coverage. In Texas, more than 1.3 million are.

The majority of uninsured children who live with a parent live in a two-parent household where both parents work, according to the study. Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Montana rounded out the study’s list of states with the largest percent of uninsured children. The study found that 16 percent or more of the children in these states were uninsured.

The data “confirms what we’ve all known for years,” said Michael F. Rodgers, senior vice president for advocacy and policy at the Catholic Health Association of the United States.

“These are ordinary families that are earning a paycheck and trying to make ends meet, but they’re still left out in the cold.”

[...]

Health professionals present for the study’s release urged states to simplify eligibility requirements for government health programs. They estimated that 6 million children without health insurance are eligible for state programs. (You know like the Accenture debacle in Texas) Emphasis mine.

This is sick stuff. These are not deadbeats or people without jobs. These are two-parent households where both parents work.  Either their employers don’t provide or they can’t afford health care for their children! This shows that, literally, Republicans are fighting and winning, the war on the middle class. Their fight has also coined a new phrase, the working poor.

09.28.06

Is Democracy Is Eroding In Williamson County?

Posted in Commentary, Williamson County at 8:57 pm by wcnews

In today’s AAS there is an article about the 15 uncontested races in Williamson County this November:

Elections Administrator Debra Stacy said that with state and political party approval, the county decided to simply list uncontested candidates on ballots without residents actually casting votes.

In other words, they won the Republican primary and therefore won the office. Whether unopposed races should be on the ballot or not is an issue I can see both sides of. It’s always seemed silly for that single candidate to be on the ballot, but the point of that office being hidden from voters if that office is not on the ballot, is well taken. Especially when it’s hidden from voters that show up at the general election and don’t show up for that one party’s primary.

Gary Keith, a senior government lecturer at the University of Texas, sees an erosion of democracy.

When residents don’t see candidates campaigning door-to-door — or when they don’t even have to click “yes” next to a candidate’s name — they lose interest in elections and government, he said. The law allowing unchallenged candidates to be declared elected was intended to save money and space on ballots, Keith said.

Here’s what the Democratic and Republican Party chair’s had to say about the uncontested races:

“To get a candidate to run, they must feel they can win,” said Richard Torres, chairman of the county’s Democratic Party. “We’ve run candidates, and they haven’t done well, so it’s hard to recruit when the outcome seems already resolved.”

Williamson County Republican Party Chairman Bill Fairbrother said the large number of uncontested races shows the party’s dominance in the area. County offices are more often decided in the primary than in the general election, he said.

“I think, in this county, that greatly limits what (the Democratic Party) can do,” Fairbrother said. “Also, in my view, we have a lot of excellent elected officials doing a good job, so there isn’t the outcry for opposition.”

[...]

“The strategy now is to keep moving up 5 or 10 points a year,” Torres said, “and we feel like we’re going to do that this year.”

The comments from the Republicans in this article come off sounding arrogant. They have that right since they’ve pretty much been winning everything in this county since the early ’90s. With arrogance usually comes contempt for your opposition and lack of responsiveness to the people you represent. Which is evidenced by their comments in this article and the lack of opposition by elected Republicans in Williamson County to the TTC and the recent issues involving Frankie Limmer. Unaccountable and unresponsive government is what one-party rule has brought to Williamson County. The Republicans in Williamson County would love nothing more than for Democrats to continue not to field candidates in elections. Often the challenged Republicans smugness shows, it’s almost like they’re offended they even have someone running against them.

Lack of effort, plus self-fulfilling prophecy – we can’t win – has been the biggest impediment to Democrats winning in Williamson County, and, I’m happy to say, that attitude is changing. What all these uncontested races mean, more than likely, is that there are a bunch of untested and possibly unqualified people holding elected office in Williamson County. When all a candidate has to do is convince a very narrow segment, of an already small section of the population – Republican primary voters in Williamson County – it opens the process up to favoritism, “king-making”, and patronage. Not candidates winning elections based on their stance on the issues and who’s the most qualified for the job. What the Democratic Party in Williamson County needs is a “Run.Everywhere” strategy. No more free rides/uncontested races. Without opposition weak and unqualified candidates don’t get exposed and an opportunity is lost. Like the debate that’s going on inside the Democratic Party at the national level about whether we should concentrate our money on a party building effort or a win now/targeted effort, we need to have the same debate in Williamson County. Now is the time for Democrats in Williamson County – and yes there are many more Democrats in Williamson County than most people think – to rebuild the party. This is a golden opportunity. As has been written about in regard to the Redistricting Myth, when you run quality candidates, it doesn’t matter the party-bent of the population, it’s the quality of the candidate that matters most.

One-party government is not what our forefathers envisioned for our country, whether at the national or the local level. They wanted a government responsive to the people, through elected representation. In Williamson County these and most other elected representatives are unresponsive to what the people need and often vote against the people’s best interest. When it gets this bad it doesn’t matter anymore about party it’s about holding those who represent us accountable. You know, checks and balances, and right now in Williamson County there ain’t none. Democracy has eroded in Williamson County and it’s the Democratic Party’s job to bring it back.

Cintra/Zachry Allow Your Government To Release TTC Plans Today

Posted in Around The State, Road Issues at 1:34 pm by wcnews

Today Cintra/Zachry and their wholly owned subsidiary, TxDOT, allowed the State of Texas to release more details on the TTC. Cintra/Zachry still hasn’t released the documents “relating to financial and development plans” the story says that the Texas AG is suing over. Here’s the story from the DMN, Trans-Texas Corridor plans revealed.

Remember this is not a commuter road this is a road built for corporations to move there products from the Mexico, Central and South America through the US and Canada. Whether or not this road will ease traffic in the major metropolitan areas is the only line they have to use to sell this to the average person and is speculative at best. The consultant studies paid for by toll road builders have been shown to overestimate the money these roads will generate. Not to worry, the corporation’s profit is guaranteed by the state, aka you tax money. That’s right, the state has guaranteed the corporations profit, whether or not the traffic materializes like the consultants predicted. Isn’t the free market great!?
It will cost a is going to cost .50¢/mile for 18-wheelers to drive, $216 one way. Is that enough incentive to keep a trucker off of I-35? That 200 mile trip from Austin to Dallas will cost you an extra $30. But that will probably rise:

Final toll rates will be set when the state negotiates contract terms on each section of the toll road.

And, of course, the final route won’t be revealed until after the November election:

The corridor’s exact route won’t be announced until early next year.

At least there’s no politics involved in this.

One More Thing…

Posted in Williamson County at 8:58 am by wcnews

..from Jim Stauber’s E-interview yesterday a Capitol Annex that I wanted to excerpt was the answer to his last question:

Q: During your time on the campaign trail, or in public office, what’s the funniest, craziest, or silliest thing that’s ever happened to you?

Running into Republicans who vote straight party but do not know who their State Rep. is.

Voting blindly for party like this is exactly how people wind up with someone representing them, Dan Gattis, who votes for issues, the TTC, the majority of voters oppose. Voting in this way sends a signal to the politician that there is no penalty for voting against the people’s best interest. Therefore that politician is now released to do whatever they feel is the best, and many times, what’s best for them. If the politicians who voted for the TTC are voted back into office they will see it as a vote of acceptance for them, and the TTC, and then you’ll only have yourself to blame.

If you haven’t met Jim Stauber yet he’s having a Meet ‘n Greet at Fern Bluff Park, Round Rock. 17815 Park Valley Dr, Round Rock, TX. Wyoming Springs is 3.5 miles from 35. From 620, turn onto Wyoming Springs Drive. Go to the first stop sign, at Park Valley Drive, and take left. Few blocks down on the right past Fern Bluff Elementary School. If your precinct is in Jim’s district, please get out the message to the Democrats and undecided folks in your precinct. This event is really close for precincts 160, 190, 204, 340, 357 & 382 and others.

Follow-up To RRPD Post From Earlier In The Week

Posted in Williamson County at 8:47 am by wcnews

It turns out that the RRPD made a mistake this weekend, but they have graciously acknowledged and apologized for their mistake.  They told a Democratic volunteer this weekend, who was campaigning door-to-door for a candidate, that he could not do that without a permit.  It would seem that they lumped canvassers in with solicitors. While soliciting in Round Rock is not allowed without a permit canvassing is, and you are allowed to ask for donations as well. The officer involved has apologized to the volunteer and the candidate.

You can read the city ordinance here (.pdf), it definitely states that canvassers don’t need a permit.  Two main points here, canvassing is not illegal, period.  It’s a freedom of speech issue and is allowed, everywhere.  Second point, please do not let a story like this deter you from helping out.  Please help out if you can with canvassing, phone banking or just talking to friends and neighbors about our candidates.  If you’re willing to help out please cal (310-8278) or come by the WCDP office to get details on canvassing.

I guess the RRPD is not used to having people out canvassing?  This must mean the Democrats are the only ones out contacting citizens in Round Rock.

09.27.06

Go Read Jim Stauber’s E-Interview At Capitol Annex

Posted in Williamson County at 1:02 pm by wcnews

Jim Stauber is running for the Texas Legislature HD-20 against Republican and TTC rubberstamp Dan Gattis. Here’s the link to the interview. Jim is a good ‘ol fashion Midwest pro-worker, pro-middle class Democrat. Although there is some brief biographic information at the beginning of the interviews I like the one from his web site better. Jim does a great job of showing the differences between himself and Dan Gattiis on the big issues.

Q: What do you see as the three or four most important issues to the voters in your district?

A: Trans-Texas Corridor

Education

CHIP- Accenture

Phase 2 – Toll roads

Q: As a legislator, what would you do to ensure that these issues were properly addressed?

A: Stop the corridor

Make sure our public schools are fully funded.

Fire Accenture

This corridor is a bad idea and I will work with the rest of the legislature to remove the Spanish owned company from building these roads. This corridor if approved will run right through the farming heartland of Williamson County. We need to keep land in agriculture production to feed the people of Texas not pave it over.

There are so many programs designed to fund schools. The Reliant Energy program is one example. Currently our government has turned its back on overseeing these programs and as a result they have been the subject of skimming and fraud. I will push for legislation to empower the Attorney General and the Comptroller to open up the books and remove the fraud.

Even the lottery is not working to the optimum level for the schools.

Fire Accenture. Accenture is incapable of managing the CHIP of Texas. Waste is apparent and we need to return the state workers to manage this program. Privatization does not work. Making profit off of assistance programs is against my ethics.

I encourage the residents of HD-20 to read this interview. Jim Stauber is a great candidate who will “Put Our Government Back to Work for you.”

09.26.06

Democracy For America Blogs Karen Felthauser

Posted in Election 2006, Uncategorized at 10:18 pm by wcnews

Support has been swelling for DFA-List State Representative candidate, Karen Felthauser. Karen has been endorsed by many past and present school board members, Texas teachers and their organizations. This is not surprising since she is running because she wants a legislature that will prioritize the needs of Texas school children.

If Texas were a nation, it would have the 8th largest economy in the world, yet it was recently ranked 40th in dollars spent per pupil. Because of this low investment in public education, Texas ranks 50th in high school graduation rates and 48th in SAT scores. Nevertheless, in the latest so-called ‘special’ state session on education, Texas legislators actually cut the education budget by 400 million dollars. We need new legislators here in Texas badly!

Today, Karen is asking for your help to raise some funds to get her message to the voters. Please visit her web site and help her in any way you can.

Garry Mauro, Crosses Over

Posted in Around The State, Road Issues at 9:21 am by wcnews

Now I don’t want to get into a whole DLC/corporatist Democrat debate here, but this is just sad, Our roads can’t handle new traffic.

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Lone Star Project On John Carter

Posted in Election 2006 at 8:58 am by wcnews

September 26, 2006
Contact: Matt Angle
On the web at www.LoneStarProject.net

Texas Republican Ineffective, Often Embarrassing

John Carter Demonstrates DeLay Redrawn Districts Prop-up Mediocre Members

When Rick Perry, Tom Craddick and David Dewhurst redrew Texas congressional boundaries, they crafted not only districts that favor Republicans but districts so skewed that plainly incompetent and ineffective Republican incumbents could withstand a strong challenge by a very capable and talented Democrat. In some cases, the Tom DeLay-inspired map has discouraged qualified challengers from even filing to run. However, in others, very good Democratic candidates who would make outstanding Members of Congress have emerged.

The Lone Star Project looked closely at Congressional District 31 where incumbent Republican John Carter is seeking his third term in Congress. Carter is a clear example of poor and sometimes embarrassing service being papered over by a district overtly drawn to elect a Republican, no matter how incompetent. Carter’s opponent, Mary Beth Harrell is an accomplished, moderate to conservative central Texas attorney who also has the distinction of being the mother of two sons serving in the military and the wife of a retired career military officer. (Mary Beth Harrell for Congress Website) By anyone’s measure, Mary Beth Harrell is highly qualified to serve in Congress, while John Carter appears to have taken a comfortable seat on the back bench bringing little to the table for Texans.

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