TDP Q & A With Felthauser & Krusee

Posted in Election 2006, Williamson County at 10:53 pm by wcnews

Here’s the link, Candidates differ on TTC, tax plans. The difference in the answers to the questions is stark. Krusee mailed it in. Karen Felthauser puts forth a well reasoned way forward. Just look at the difference in their answers to the first two questions:

Question: How will the Trans-Texas Corridor 35 project affect your constituents?

Krusee: SH 130 will be designated as the TTC for Williamson County. Its route was decided by the citizens of our county after extensive public hearings to ensure minimal impact on neighborhoods and productive agricultural land. Its opening this month – a year ahead of schedule and under budget – will reduce congestion, encourage job growth, improve safety and clean our air. And it is owned and operated by the State of Texas. (Did you know toll roads clean air? What the hell is that?)

Felthauser: The TTC will take land by eminent domain from Williamson County farmers and homeowners, then use it to make profits for a foreign firm. Since the gas and food services needed by drivers along the TTC will be provided inside the corridor, these locals will be locked out of any potential profits from the usual development along freeways. With extremely limited crossovers, it will divide the county, making access for residents, police, and emergency services difficult.

It will remove much land from the local tax rolls. As a route for cheap foreign goods, it will outsource more jobs to Mexico and beyond.
Question: Was the legislature’s attempt to fix public school education funding adequate? What remains to be done?

Felthauser: Texas ranks 40th in the nation in per-pupil spending, 50th in high school graduation rates and 48th in SAT scores, yet the special sessions actually ended with a $400 million cut to the public education budget. The legislature did not even attempt to fix education funding.

The legislature was focused on making a tax swap of business taxes for property taxes, not in itself a bad idea, but the plan they devised provides no new money for education and will create a $25 billion deficit within five years. Even if the plan had produced new revenue, they actually put in the law that any funds raised from the new business tax were not to go to education but only to property tax reductions.

Their much touted teacher raise is only paid for through the first year because we have a budget surplus. Once this surplus is expended and we face the rapidly increasing deficits they have created, education will be in much worse shape than before their special session. Their plan took us backward, not forward.

Krusee: Significant property tax cuts and long-term financial security for education were secured by the school finance and tax reform legislation. The plan reduces school property taxes by 33 percent and provides a $2,000 pay raise for every teacher.

See what I mean? Stark difference. Read it all, it’s not long.

Corporate Welfare

Posted in Around The State, Had Enough Yet? at 11:00 am by wcnews

There was a time when things like this would make conservatives mad:

Some of the expenditures flagged by critics include dinner for 30 at Fogo de Chao, a Dallas eatery where dinner costs $46.50 per person; two airline tickets costing $1,722.20 each for an executive and his wife to attend the Bush inauguration; at least eight “Astor” chairs valued at $2,000 each; and $75,000 in artwork.

Not anymore. As long as it’s a corporation bilking people with the governments support they don’t care. If this was a “welfare mother” buying something she shouldn’t with her money…oh boy the conservatives would be freaking out.

Here’s the Republican reaction to this:

But Geoffrey Gay, an attorney representing Fort Worth and other North Texas municipalities in regulatory matters, noted that many of the questionable expenditures were included in earlier rate filings that supposedly covered only expenses for infrastructure improvements and system reliability
Instead, those filings included the artwork, more than $205,000 for office remodeling, $123,000 for new filing cabinets and $5.4 million in new furniture, Gay said.

Gay noted that the three-member Texas Railroad Commission gave only a cursory review to those earlier filings — they totaled more than $26 million in additional annual expenditures for the company — and now ratepayers are getting charged for all but $1.5 million of it.

He said the commission argued earlier that it would give the expenditures a closer inspection during a full-blown rate case. But that rate case is under way, and a deadline has come and gone for railroad commission staff to have weighed in on those expenditures. So far, the agency staff has failed to file testimony either to support or oppose any of it, he said.

“I think that not only are they abdicating their authority, I think it is a gross injustice,” Gay said. “It’s a disgrace. By statute, they’re supposed to protect the public interest, but they have a staff that hasn’t done anything.”

A spokesman for railroad commission Chairwoman Elizabeth Ames Jones, the elected head of the agency, said she would not comment because of the pending nature of the case.

A separate commission official, spokeswoman Ramona Nye, said staff there will thoroughly consider the case during a hearing scheduled to begin next week. She also noted that nothing in state law requires agency staff to file testimony.

As long as Republicans are in control corporations can steal from the people without retribution.

It’s Down To Who Shows Up And Which Way Do The Independents Break

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Election 2006 at 10:05 am by wcnews

That’s what will decide the governor’s race. With another round of polling and except for ‘ol What’s Her Name’s internal poll, this has turned into a two person race, Bell v. Perry. Despite that, Burka is doing his best to make it a Perry and ‘ol What’s Her Name race and “go dark”, himself, on Chris Bell. Burka is also trying to call Chris Bell’s campaign over because he will “go dark” in the next week. Well Chris will be all over the state until election day and his campaign says he will stay on TV too. It’s probably too late to change many minds now with TV, but his money issues have given him some of his best media this whole campaign cycle. That’s about the only time the Texas media covers his campaign. (And yes Paul, Perry is helping Bell with that dirty liberal vote by mentioning his name all the time).

The biggest break Bell has gotten lately is that he’s definitely become, there’s no question about it now, the only one that can beat Perry. Friedman is no longer viable – was he ever? – and his support falling is more than likely responsible for both Bell and Perry’s numbers going up, not many of his former supporters will defect to ‘ol What’s Her Name. Another reason Bell and Perry’s numbers are coming up is more than likely their base voters coming home, which Friedman and ‘ol What’s Her Name don’t have.

So as most of us knew months ago this race comes down to the high 50% – low 60% of Texans out there that are “anybody but Perry” (ABP) voters. Do you want 4 more years, 10 total, of Rick Perry as governor? If you do vote for Rick or ‘ol What’s Her Name or Friedman. If you don’t there’s only one choice, Chris Bell.

But truly it’s like the title says. If Perry’s base comes out in force and votes for him, and the I’s are split all over the place he’ll win pretty easily. But, if Perry’s base stays home, D’s come out in force, vote Bell, and he can take a significant chunk of the I’s/ABP vote, them Chris Bell’s got a pretty good shot.


A Few Items

Posted in Around The State, Election 2006 at 10:29 am by wcnews

John Sharp endorses Chris Bell, FWIW. If he’s going to vote for him that’s an endorsement.

Only a three seat pick-up needed to make Speaker Craddick, Rep. Craddick again? Some think three seats it too little. But it the GOP loses three seats in the Texas house that would be two election cycles with Craddick as Speaker and two elections with GOP losses in the Texas house.

Off The Kuff has the latest on polls, HChron calls if for Perry, Chron polls Governor’s race. Not to be outdone, like most polls in the governor’s race this was has issues too.

Harrell’s For Change In Iraq, Carter Is For Staying The Course

Posted in Central Texas, Election 2006, Williamson County at 9:27 am by wcnews

In yesterday’s AAS there was an article about the races in TX-31 (Harrell v. Carter) and TX-10 (Ankrum v. McCaul). In these two races there are Republican incumbents who are Bush “Stay the Course” supporters and two Democratic challengers – one a vet and one a military wife and mother – who like the military in this country know it’s time for a change.

“I say three years of failure is enough,” says Harrell, a Killeen lawyer who calls her opponent, two-term 31st District Republican John Carter, “a rubber stamp for failure.”

But as usual in a story like this it’s what Harrell’s opponent, “Duck and Run” Carter says that’s the most amazing.

“Losing American soldiers is never good,” said Carter, 64.

“The accomplishments we have met seem to be forgotten because everybody seems to be in a hurry,” he said, pointing to removal of Saddam Hussein‘s regime, holding free elections, reopening schools and hospitals, rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure and training Iraqi security forces.

The main reason people are in a hurry, which it’s obvious congressman Carter has forgotten, is because of all the stories of cakewalks, quick victories and cheap reconstruction we were told by this Republican adminstration and it’s rubber stamping members of Congress. At this point Iraq’s infrastructure is not even up to pre-war levels and unemployment is estimated to be between 25-40%. Here’s more from Harrell.

“Because my boys are willing to serve in a volunteer army and are so patriotic and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the country, I felt they deserved civilian leadership that truly appreciated that sacrifice and would execute winnable plans,” Harrell, 49, said.

“We must take Iraq in a completely new direction. It’s over 2,700 American lives, half a trillion dollars a year in no-bid contracts. We can’t continue this. It’s hurting our country, it’s hurting our military and it’s driving us deeper into debt.”

The choice in TX-31 is obvious. If you want more of the same Carter is your man, if you want change for the better then you must vote for Mary Beth Harrell.


General Wes Clark Endorses Mary Beth Harrell – Press Release

Posted in Central Texas, Election 2006, Williamson County at 1:15 pm by wcnews

Here’s the link to the endorsement page.

Citing “Strong Moral Values and Ethics Reform for Washington”

Clark says, “Texans Deserve a Leader Like MaryBeth Harrell”

*Immediate Release* Contact: Erick Mullen

(202) 409-8803 or emullen@securingamerica.com

October 28, 2006. Little Rock, AR. Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, General Wesley Clark endorses the candidacy of Mary Beth Harrell for the US House of Representatives for District 31 from Texas.

“Mary Beth Harrell embodies the mainstream values and middle-class work ethic of central Texas. As the wife of a retired military officer and mother of two active-duty soldiers – the oldest serving in Iraq, she is running to restore the kind of independence, accountability, and leadership that the citizens of Central Texas demand – and deserve.

“Mary Beth Harrell has taken a strong stand on the Iraq War and will never support any exit strategy that squanders her son’s service in Iraq nor dishonors her husband’s long service to our country. She will stand for crafting and implementing an exit strategy that protects our national interests and brings our soldiers home as soon as possible by setting achievable benchmarks for the Iraqi government. She will call for the building of a truly international peacekeeping coalition and the redeployment of our soldiers out of Iraq before it becomes full blown civil war. She will also ask the tough questions. The Bush Administration said that the Iraq War would be paid for by Iraqi oil. The newest budget presented to Congress calls for half a trillion dollars to pay for this war. Harrell will be a strong voice in Washington to clear up these discrepancies between rhetoric and reality.

“Sending Mary Beth Harrell to Washington, DC will guarantee that mainstream values are once again represented in Congress. Mary Beth Harrell represents the best of everything America is. She will make our country proud,” said General Wesley Clark.

General Wesley K. Clark is a retired four-star general and served as the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe where he commanded NATO forces and directed Operation Allied Force in the Balkans, putting a stop to the ethnic cleansing by the Serbs. More recently, he was drafted in 2003 to seek the Democratic nomination for President. General Clark remains engaged in public policy and private business development. Authoring two books, Waging Modern Wars and Winning Modern Wars, he and his wife, Gert, still live in Little Rock. He can be reached through his website, www.securingamerica.com.


Erick Mullen, Spokesman for WesPAC and General Clark
(202) 409-8803


A Few Words On The 3rd, Court of Appeals Races That Is

Posted in Central Texas, Election 2006, Williamson County at 3:39 pm by wcnews

Here are some good links to get a rundown of the candidates in the races for 3rd Court of Appeals. This article from yesterday’s AusChron, Four of Six: 3rd Court of Appeals, and these two from the AAS – 3rd Court Wide open and candidate bios.

Anyone who reads EOW knows that these races are key to anyone living in the proposed path of the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) keeping their land. While it’s recommended that anyone who has land in the path of this disaster vote for all the Democrats running for this court, Waldrop and Pemberton are the two that must not be reelected.

Jim Coronado’s opponent is Alan Waldrop. First, Waldrop was appointed by Perry, which means he is pro-TTC. And second, he’s the former lobbyist and chief counsel to Texans for Lawsuit Reform, which means he’ll side with a corporation over the people every time. He also has DeLay, TRMPAC issues.

Bree Buchanan’s opponent is Bob Pemberton. He’s another Perry appointee, although he did win election in ‘2004. Pemberton is the former deputy general counsel to Gov. Perry. He held that job when the TTC was rolled out in January of 2002. That guarantees that he’s pro-TTC.

Mina Brees, Drew Brees’ Mom, is running against David Puryear, who has DeLay issues too.

And Diane Henson who’s is much more qualified than her opponent, Will Wilson, who has an ethics issue in his past.

Vote Democratic to STOP THE TTC and SAVE YOUR LAND!

Wesley Clark, WesPAC, Endorses Mary Beth Harrell (TX-31)!

Posted in Central Texas, Election 2006, Williamson County at 10:23 am by wcnews

More details to come. Let’s hope that Wesley Clark can make a stop in the district before the election for Mary Beth Harrell.

With this endorsement even “Duck and Run” Carter would have to agree that having the former four-star general, and NATO Supreme Allied Commander’s endorsement makes Mary Beth Harrell more than credible in this race.

Perry Panders

Posted in Election 2006 at 7:41 am by wcnews

The DMN is upset with the recommended candidate for governor. We don’t even know what the result of the new tax structure passed in the last special session will be and, as noted here yesterday, Perry already wants to lower the business tax, Perry Backsteps:

This particularly galls us because we recommended Gov. Perry for re-election partly as a result of his helping legislators – admittedly, in the final days – solve the school funding crisis. No, he’s backing away from what was a step forward.

Mr. Perry bases his projections on a possible surplus of $15 billion for the next two years. We really ought to think carefully about how best to use that once-in-a-lifetime bounty.

More property tax cuts are possible, but playing with the business tax would be a gigantic mistake.

While this is a galling act by Perry, what is also galling is that the DMN didn’t mention the reason he’s doing this. He’s has taken massive hits from his “base” on the business tax since it passed. This is nothing more than political pandering just before an election.

[UPDATE]: He’s also been making stuff up about the decrease in crime on the border via Grits and Vince.

But Perry’s top homeland security official acknowledged that the numbers used to calculate the average crime decrease do not prove a sustained drop in crime from El Paso to Brownsville, do not include crime rates in major border cities, and do not account for other possible reasons for the decrease.

“The smart user and creator of data takes all those things into account, but the politician just uses data and ignores what’s not convenient,” said UTEP sociology and anthropology Professor Cheryl Howard.

Let’s hope the voters make Perry’s lies very inconvenient for him.


Krusee and Gattis Love The TTC & Toll Roads

Posted in Central Texas, Election 2006, Road Issues, Williamson County at 1:28 pm by wcnews

The article, 3 legislators face challengers – Link via Sal via Corridor News – is a rough outline of the issues involved in the races for the state house and senate in Williamson County – HD 20, 52, and SD 5.

Here’s the money quote from Rep. Mike Krusee, “toll roads are enormously popular”. . We should all give Rep. Krusee a call and let him know how popular they are.

Of course his opponent, Karen Felthauser, is against them and the TTC:

Felthauser said tolls are a wasteful way to pay for roads.  “We’d get more roads for our money if we made them freeways,” Felthauser said.

Dan Gattis for his part says this about the TTC:

Gattis voted for the corridor in 2003 but said he also has several problems with the plan. He said he questions having “a private company setting the tolls that the citizens of the state of Texas will have to pay.”

In other words he’s not against the TTC and would vote for it coming through your farm again, given the chance. He just has a little issue with a foreign company profiting, not that he’ll do anything about it if reelected.

His opponent, Jim Stauber, does not mince words:

In his bid to oust Gattis, Democrat Jim Stauber is opposing toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor. “It’s the biggest land grab this state has ever seen,” Stauber said of the corridor, Gov. Rick Perry’s plan for 4,000 miles of tollways, railroads and utility lines. “It’s going to actually cost people their farms and their livelihood. I don’t see anything beneficial for Texas. They’re going to use it to transport goods from Mexico.”

There’s no grey-area here. If you against the TTC you can’t vote for Krusee and Gattis.

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