Here’s a scathing report on how Perry’s donors, have burrowed themselves inside of our state government. And, in return, have given millions in campaign donations back to the governor. Here’s the summary from the TPJ report, Perry Reaps $17 Million from his Political Appointees[PDF].
Governor Rick Perry has received $17 million in campaign contributions from his political appointees and their spouses, according to a new report by Texans for Public Justice. One out of every $5 raised by Governor Perry since 2001 has come from appointees or their spouses.
Key findings of the report include:
Texas Governor Rick Perry tapped 3,995 appointees 5,662 times to serve on hundreds of state agencies, boards and commissions between January 2001 and February 23, 2010 (some appointees were appointed multiple times).
From 2001 through June 2010 Perry’s campaign received $17,115,865 from 921 of these appointees or their spouses. Gubernatorial appointees accounted for an impressive 21 percent of the $83.2 million that Perry’s campaign has raised since 2001.
Perry’s most-lucrative appointee is Wendy Lee Gramm, whom he appointed to the A&M Board of Regents and the Texas Tax Reform Commission. The U.S. Senate campaign of Gramm’s husband transferred $610,000 to Perry’s campaign in 2002. It was the largest same-day contribution of the governor’s political career.
Only two other appointees gave Perry more than $450,000 apiece: Peter Holt and T. Dan Friedkin. Perry appointed both of them to the Parks and Wildlife Commission. Parks and Wildlife is Perry’s favorite appointee fishing hole. He bagged more than $2 million from this commission ($118,477 per appointee).
A&M Regents were Perry’s No. 2 source of appointee cash, yielding $113,127 per appointee. Four A&M appointees besides Wendy Gramm gave the governor more than $200,000 apiece.
Inaugural Committee appointees gave the governor an average of $102,194 apiece, making this Perry’s No. 3 source of appointee contributions.
University of Texas regents ranked fourth, giving Perry an average of $83,463 each.
These are staggering amounts of money. This is one of the reasons Independents, and moderate Republicans in Texas – who reliably vote for the GOP candidate – are thinking twice about Perry. He’s just been in office too long – Perry-fatigue.
Williamson County commissioners will not be relying on the county attorney’s office for legal help anymore.
The commissioners created two positions Tuesday: an attorney and an administrative assistant who will handle the legal duties of the court, including negotiating and drafting contracts and interlocal agreements, attending executive sessions and handling public information requests.
The commissioners decided Tuesday that the salary and benefits would be $101,801 for the attorney and $50,309 for the executive assistant. Money to hire the attorney would come from cutting one position at the county attorney’s office, said Lisa Zirkle, the county’s director of human resources. Zirkle said the commissioners “would find” the money to hire the administrative assistant. [Emphasis added].
County Attorney Jana Duty has clashed with commissioners over the years on various issues.
Much of this stems from an argument last month, during the budget process, about a new social media policy that the commissioners believed was needed because of county employees who were exercising free speech on their own time.
Here are a few comments from the AAS article linked above:
Appears the County Attorney is now being “Griffinized”. The Wilco Commissioners Court is out of control. Former Constable Griffin was targeted for standing up to them, now it is Duty’s turn. So much for constitutional checks and balances by independent elected officials.
It is a strange way to organize a government, but having the voters decide who will provide the Commissioners with legal advice, is a far better system than a system—like they have now created—where the lawyer knows he can be fired if he gives the Commissioners any advice they don’t want to hear. The irony of this situation (and my prediction) is that, having rid themselves of an independent source of legal advice, the Commissioners are likely to get themselves in legal trouble.
It’s pretty clear now that when this crew on the WCCC runs into a roadblock they will do whatever they feel like to get the answer and results they want. (Click here to read some of how former Constable Gary Griffin was treated). It should be obvious to every resident of Williamson County that some balance and accountability must be brought to our one-party county government.
If the two current commissioners running for reelection are returned to office (Cynthia Long and Ron Morrison), and the WCCC is returned intact, then we will get the exact same results – unaccountable and shady county governance. It’s time to bring accountabiliyt to our county government. That’s why we need to elect Jeff Maurice and Jim Stauber in November.
ROUND ROCK – State Representative Diana Maldonado (HD-52) will host a campaign rally and day of action at the Williamson County Coordinated Campaign Headquarters with gubernatorial candidate Bill White this Saturday morning. White and Maldonado’s remarks will be followed by a mega-walk of the district.
What: Campaign Rally and Block-walk
When: Saturday, October 2nd at 9:00 AM. [Time Updated]
Where: Williamson County Coordinated Campaign; 894 Summit St., Suite 109 Round Rock 78664
It’s the best state (Texas) in the nation not to have a job in.
-Texas Gov. Rick Perry (When he appeared on Inside Texas Politics September 26,2010)
(The complete videos of both Democrat Bill White and GOP incumbent Rick Perry can be seen here, Perry and White’s Uncut Interviews with WFAA-TV. They will be referred to again in this post.)
It’s an interesting statement made by Perry. In context, what it seems he was trying to say, is that because of Texas’ job creation in the past, it’s easier to find a job in Texas than anywhere else in the nation. While that may be true, it’s unlikely that job will pay very much, or at least, not as much as the job that was previously held. As most of us in the Williamson County/Round Rock area can attest, most of the high-paying Dell jobs are gone for good. And they’ve been replaced with retail and other lower-paying jobs. In other words for our economy and our citizens lives to get better, we need an economy that is producing jobs that pay enough to support a family, which includes a living wage and benefits, (which includes health care, sick and vacation time).
It certainly can’t be the best state in the nation, as far as unemployment benefits are concerned. And the rest of the social safety net isn’t much better. We are, after all, a low service state as far as the citizenry is concerned. So yes, one can find a job “better” in Texas than in other state’s but it’s unlikely it will pay as well, or have the benefit level, as one’s previous job.
In other words we don’t just need jobs, we need good paying jobs with benefits, in Texas. Of course this all has long deep ties to the pain that has come down on working and middle class Texans over the last 30 or so years. Here’s what Perry said regarding if he will balance the budget on the backs of the poor as he did in 2003:
Gromer Jeffers [GM]: Of course, in 2003 one to the big criticisms was that the cuts impacted the poor too much. The budget was balanced on the cuts, shortfall was dealt with on the backs of the poor..
Rick Perry [RP]: Do you know the worst thing you do for people that are in that category you refer to as poor?
GM: or needy.
RP: Keep a climate where they can get a job….When you put taxes on the back of the job creators and families out there, they’re less likely to expand their business and make a job available for those who come from the disadvantaged…uh..financially disadvantaged part of our society. So…my point is don’t get confused about what the most important thing is. If you put downward pressure, taxes, more cost to do business on those that are out there..uh..putting their capital to work, they’re the ones that create the tax returns that make the programs…
The tax cuts did not spur investment. Job growth in the George W. Bush years was one-seventh that of the Clinton years. Nixon and Ford did better than Bush on jobs. Wages fell during the last administration. Average incomes fell. The number of Americans in poverty, as officially measured, hit a 16-year high last year of 43.6 million, though a National Academy of Sciences study says that the real poverty figure is closer to 51 million. Food banks are swamped. Foreclosure signs are everywhere. Americans and their governments are drowning in debt. And at the nexus of tax and healthcare, Republican ideas perpetuate a cruel and immoral system that rations healthcare — while consuming every sixth dollar in the economy and making businesses, especially small businesses, less efficient and less profitable.
This is economic madness. It is policy divorced from empirical evidence. It is insanity because the policies are illusory and delusional. The evidence is in, and it shows beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts failed to achieve the promised goals.
So why in the world is anyone giving any credence to the insistence by Republican leaders that tax cuts, more tax cuts, and deeper tax cuts are the remedy to our economic woes? Why are they not laughingstocks? It is one thing for Fox News to treat these policies as successful, but what of the rest of what Sarah Palin calls with some justification the “lamestream media,” who treat these policies as worthy ideas?
The Republican leadership is like the doctors who believed bleeding cured the sick. When physicians bled George Washington, he got worse, so they increased the treatment until they bled him to death. Our government, the basis of our freedoms, is spewing red ink, and the Republican solution is to spill ever more.
Those who ignore evidence and pledge blind faith in policy based on ideological fantasy are little different from the clerics who made Galileo Galilei confess that the sun revolves around the earth. The Capitol Hill and media Republicans differ only in not threatening death to those who deny their dogma.
How much more evidence do we need that we made terrible and costly mistakes in 2001 and 2003?
It’s not so much about having a job, but more like what we used to call “making a living”. It’s not a boast to say we have jobs in Texas, but both spouses have to work to keep the family from going to a food bank. And the latest poverty statistics for Texas are immoral. Over 4 million Texans, 17.2% living in poverty[PDF]. Here’s Bill White’s response to the same line of questioning:
GJ: And now as you know in 2003 some of the cuts impacted the very poor in the state.
Bill White: Sure.
GJ: Can you promise that what you, whatever you guys do, at the state level, it won’t impact the poor like it did in 2003?
Bill White: Well I know, I’ll tell you this, I can’t promise that there will be no impact on anybody or that you can really target one category of Texans, but I’ll tell you this. That we’re not going to see a situation in which we pull the ladder up behind us on tuitions in higher education. Higher education is now priced out of the price range of middle class families since 2003. Four-year state university the tuitions have gone up over 90%. In 2003 the budget problem was less serious that it is now. If this happens again then our public schools will become, in effect, private schools and that’s unacceptable.
That’s an answer that says, everyone will have to sacrifice equally, but the best way to help people up is to make sure they get a good education. Which is in stark contrast to Perry’s which basically says, what we’re doing in working and we are just going to keep giving you more of the same.
What’s clear is that as a state, and as a nation, we are heading in the wrong direction. Our standard of living is decreasing, not increasing. It’s an unassailable fact that since that over the last 30 or so years we began taxing the wealthy less, and essentially stopped investing in infrastructure and research and development – which was the basis of our economy – and since then things have been on a steady decline. We were told we could stop paying taxes and still have it all – let corporations and the free market handle everything through privatization. Too many believed it and unfortunately here we are. Trying to make a living in the best state not to have a job in.
Neil at Texas Liberal noted this week that the party holding the White House has lost seats in the U.S. House of Reps. in 33 of 36 midterms since the Civil War. Neil is not pleased that Democrats may lose some seats in the upcoming election, but these things do happen.
Now say you come to the government and you’re asking for money for a project you want to do. And you show the government your business plan. (Only, of course, he didn’t say “government” he said “go’mint” and he didn’t say “business plan” he said “bidness plan.” But I digress.) Now, you’ll know what a bidness plan is, right? That’s the document you need to write up when you’re starting a bidness that explains how you’re gonna do it. So say you want money from the go’mint and so you have to show them your bidness plan. Now, if there’s freedom of information, your competitors can go into the go’mint files and read your bidness plan! So all this transparency stuff, it’s a two-edged sword!
And he sat back, very pleased with himself for having educated his Mexican visitors on the real nature of open meetings laws and freedom of information acts, and even what a bidness plan is.
After he left, however, it was clear that his guests were a little under-impressed.
I’m certainly glad the governor explained to me what a business plan is, said the senator from Mexico. That’s not something we covered when I attended Stanford Business School.
Ah, general stupidity!
No wonder the chairperson of the Texas Board of Education, appointed by Governor Rick Perry, is a creationist who believes that our history books betray an Islamic bias!
I’ll bet she doesn’t know what a bidness plan is, either!
DURING THE 1980S I SPENT SEVERAL EASTER VACATIONS SAILING with the late columnist Molly Ivins and some of her leading liberal friends. After the day’s sail out of Corpus Christi or Port Aransas, our party would reassemble on land for drinks and dinner. I wish I had a double Scotch (and probably did have a double Scotch) for every time Ivins remarked: “Whenever two or three reporters and commentators are gathered together, they tell the most revealing, engaging, sometimes appalling stories of happenings behind the scenes, but rarely share a word of it with their readers.”
Now that I am a writer on my own, having left the Houston Chronicle after 34 years, and with Texans facing another four years of government of, by and for Gov. Rick Perry and his cronies, I see no reason to hold back.
After three terms as a state representative and two as agriculture commissioner, in 1998 Perry successfully ran for lieutenant governor. During the campaign he appeared before the Houston Chronicle’s editorial board. Asked what was his first priority, Perry said that the highest and most sacred duty of every public official is ensuring that children get a good education.
Right answer, but, quelle surprise, Perry’s actions have run counter to his words. He has kept state support for public education – state government’s largest and most important function – anemic. As governor he appointed as chairman of the State Board of Education a man who not only rejected evolution and modern biology, but also wanted to deny Texas children a basic knowledge of physics and cosmology. Perry appointed an education commissioner who fudged the numbers to hide poor student achievement and rampant failure.
Soon after George W. Bush was elected president of the United States in November 2000, he resigned the Texas governorship, and Perry became governor. A few days after his inauguration, Perry invited the Houston Chronicle editorial board to dine with him in a private room at Post Oak Grill in Houston. Perry sat at the head of the table. He was flanked by his bodyguard of state police officers wearing ridiculous, oversized white cowboy hats in the style made famous by Tom Mix. I was seated to the governor’s left, appropriate enough considering my position on the political spectrum.
Toward the end of the meal, Perry affected a humble demeanor and beseeched my colleagues and me to just give him the benefit of the doubt, a chance to show he could do the right thing by the citizens of Texas. Perry promised, as a point of personal honor, that we would not be disappointed. He seemed so sincere, he had me going there. For a moment, I actually thought a new desire to add some distinction to his leadership and legacy had caused him to turn over a new leaf.
Yeah, sure. On his opposition to adequate state support for the public schools and the teaching of legitimate science to Texas children, Perry proceeded to heap large cuts in state support for undergraduate education and university research, the very engines of the growth Perry rightly regards as essential for Texas prosperity.
The problem is not simply that Perry lacks integrity, which he does. The worst of it is that Perry is so dedicated to perpetuating himself in office and so mindless of the public interest that he doesn’t even know what integrity looks like. From my decades-long observation post on the Houston Chronicle’s editorial board, I saw many examples of how Perry auctioned his power to the highest bidder, including the one that follows:
Paul Burka has a post up making the point that Rick Perry is essentially “mailing it in” (my words) for the rest of his campaign.
There is no effort to expand the governor’s message beyond what Perry has been saying for years, no effort to attract new voters, just make your pitch to the base. Perry is betting that he can win the election with the voters he already has, and that White can’t get enough Democrats (or Republicans) to make the race close.
We haven’t seen any overture to the political center this time. The strategy is a tacit admission by his camp that they know he can’t expand the base, that opinions about him have hardened.
It’s also true that Perry is stuck because he has boxed himself in. He, like many in the GOP, have wedded themselves to the most conservative elements on the right, and risk offending them if they tack toward the middle. It was a decision Perry made, and had to make, in fending off Sen. Hutchison. Now if, after all his anti-government bile, he tried to now say that government is here to help that would mean he’s either been lying all along, or he’s lying now.
It’s true that there’s nothing left for Rick Perry to say to voters. With unemployment running extremely high in Texas, the state’s debt having skyrocketed under Perry, a massive $21 billion shortfall looming, and our education and transportation systems falling further and further behind every day, it’s no surprise that Perry doesn’t want to face his opponent, or the media. These facts and his arrogance, or ignorance, should make everyone question why Perry still wants to be governor?
While Texas may not be a liberal state, Texans still desire a certain level of service from their government. And they want it to be well managed. Creating a system with a known budget deficit built-in, to satisfy a political agenda, is not good management. Texas once had the best roads in the nation, now they’re crumbling and our roads are falling behind. Education should be well-funded, and everyone knows there’s no better economic development project then a well-educated workforce. These are common sense areas (budget, roads, education), everyone agrees the government should do and do well, that are in a shambles. And the governor is acting like they are no big deal. Well they are a big deal!
There’s a reason why Perry barely cracked 50% in his party’s primary in March, many in his own party are dissatisfied with his performance as governor. As Texans start to focus on the race for governor, it’s imperative to listen to both candidates. Bill White, will not only bring different policy, but a much different leadership style to the state. He will work with all Texans. Unlike Perry who ignores Texans who aren’t part his donor base or on the political right wing.
Everyone should watch these two interviews with KERA in Dallas, it may be as close as we’ll get to a debate in Texas. The differences are stark. Again, not just in substance but in style. It’s not hard to see why Perry wouldn’t want to debate Bill White, or face media scrutiny.
The last time Texas lawmakers tried their hand at redistricting, the multiyear battle devolved into court fights and Democrats fleeing across state lines to prevent votes from being called.
In legislative field hearings held in North Texas this week, voters and community representatives said they want next year’s effort to redraw congressional and legislative districts to be far less messy but also fair.
Committees and subcommittees jointly held hearings in Dallas on Monday and Arlington on Tuesday. A final hearing in North Texas will be held today in Richardson.
Texas is expected to gain three or four seats in Congress because of population gains, and many expect one will be based in North Texas.
Lawmakers heard from more than 30 witnesses Monday and Tuesday.
Two recurring messages from many of the attendees were that minorities are the source of the state’s phenomenal growth and that those groups deserve to have a stronger voice in government.
While it’s nice to want redistricting to be less messy,it’s not likely to happen.
The logistics of both hearings drew complaints. Several speakers Tuesday said the meeting should have been held in the evening to allow working people to attend.
The day before, Veasey complained that no free parking is available in downtown Dallas. He said future hearings should be held at places where parking didn’t “cost you an arm and a leg.”
That prompted a defense of the location from state Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, whose district includes the courthouse where the meeting was held.
Branch said that the location was “very convenient” and that numerous parking lots are nearby.
In additions to all the other problems we’re facing? Well that’s what state Sen. Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) said recently.
Texas needs to scrap its school funding system and start all over, Senate Education Chair Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, said Thursday, as other members of a special school finance committee agreed that the existing system is hopelessly broken. [Emphasis added].
“We need to find a better system that works for all of us,” said Shapiro, who also is co-chair of the Select Committee On Public School Finance Weights, Allotments and Adjustments.
Whether the committee can develop a consensus before the Legislature convenes in January is uncertain.
Hopeless means there is not hope for the current system and a new system must be created. No more tinkering or failed tax swaps like in 2006. As Kuffner said put it, Scrap it and start over, “It’s nice to see legislators talking about this before the next lawsuit gets filed.” Of course Texas Rush has a plan that will raise taxes on working Texans while giving the rich a tax break.
And when we do get around to changing this system, let’s make sure we don’t make it worse.
Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said he favors a sales tax increase to fund public education instead of property tax revenue.
“The homeowners and the commercial business owners can’t stand much more,” Patrick said, noting that all consumers would directly contribute to public education if the funding source shifts from property to sales.
Every penny increase in the state’s current 6.25 cent sales tax rate would generate $2.4 billion, he said.
The state was already facing major issues in the upcoming session, at least a $21 billion dollar budget shortfall, Redistricting add to that a “hopelessly broken” public education finance system and the next legislative session is going to be doozy. With unemployment holding steady over 8%, and poverty skyrocketing, it certainly would be nice to hear something from the Governor, Lt. Governor, the Speaker, and those in their party plan on dealing with this “new” issue along with all the others.
ROUND ROCK – State Representative Diana Maldonado (HD-52) will join with the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce to host a Transportation Community Forum in Round Rock on Monday September 27th. This forum is designed to discuss current issues surrounding transportation and how the state’s current budget situation will play a role in future transportation financing.
The Community Forum is open to the public and will consist of a panel discussion including the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, an expert from the Texas Transportation Institute, and others.
“Safe and accessible roadways are vital to the success of our businesses, schools and communities, but without proper financing for maintenance and growth they can become more of a burden than a tool,” Maldonado said. “Amid the current budget shortfall our state is facing, it is imperative that the legislature and local municipalities work together to find ways in which we can continue to grow and sustain roadways throughout the state. This forum will bring local and state leaders together to discuss the challenges and opportunities funding decisions can have on our short-term and long-term prosperity.”
What: Community Forum on Transportation
When: Monday, September 27th at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Round Rock City Hall, 221 East Main Street
Representative Maldonado is hosting a series of Community Forums on issues of importance facing communities and residents throughout House District 52.
Maldonado is serving her first term in the Texas House of Representatives and represents House District 52 which encompasses a portion of Williamson County, including Round Rock, Taylor, Hutto, Thrall, Coupland and part of Georgetown and Austin.