Please, Enough Already

Posted in Bad Government Republicans, Privatization, Road Issues, Commentary, Around The State at 11:41 pm by wcnews

The latest GOP scare tactic is the newest “TxDOT ad” that’s currently running in all the state papers. Here’s the SAEN’s version, TxDOT says it’s near edge of roadwork funding cliff.

State transportation officials cried “uncle” Thursday, saying federal and state lawmakers have raked so much money from the highway department that it’s running out of funds to build roads.

Lawmakers had help from rising construction costs, which jumped 62 percent in five years. But federal cutbacks, state diversions of gas-tax funds and new restrictions on hampering private investments in toll roads have delayed projects and could cancel others, officials said.

The conservative neglect of our transportation infrastructure over these last 15 years has finally come to fruition in their well planned self-fulfilling prophecy. They’ve bankrupted our transportation infrastructure in Texas and the only way we can have new roads they tell us, of course, is to sell them off the the corporations. Enough of the boogeyman stuff Ric. It’s time for someone in this state to lead on this issue already! Let’s raise and index the gas tax and be done with it already.

Can You Tell, Is Sen. Cornyn For Or Against A Border Fence/Wall?

Posted in Immigration, US Senate Race, Election 2008, Congress, Around The Nation, Around The State at 4:55 pm by wcnews

Did you know there was such a thing as the Border Trade Alliance (BTA)? Looks like a cozy group of corporations and local entities, you can join for $150 investment. Don’t worry, EOW didn’t know about it either. Nonetheless, Sen. Cornyn spoke to them this week in a live video feed, via The Chronic, Cornyn Takes Wimpy Stance on Border. Wimpy? Sure. But EOW thinks it was more “weasely” than anything else. It looks like Cornyn’s trying to have it both ways. See what you think is he for or against a wall or a fence?

Cornyn, no doubt knowing he’ll be pulling more votes from, say, the Dallas-Fort Worth area than the Rio Grande Valley, sticks by the border wall – at least a partial one – although he says it’s only one aspect of stemming illegal immigration. “I believe that the primary solution with border security has to be more Border Patrol agents, because right now we only have about 10,000 Border Patrol agents. New York City, by way of comparison, has about 40,000 police officers. So we clearly need more human capital, more boots on the ground. And then, I believe that technology remains the primary answer beyond the human component … Now fencing, which I do believe is one component of the solution, has to be done in a cost-effective and an intelligent and reasonable sort of way. I have long said that I do not support a fence, or as some said, a wall, between the United States and Mexico. That’s irrational and just doesn’t make sense, because we know that people can come over fences or walls; they can go under them; they can go through them, given sufficient opportunity. And so that’s why it’s so important to have the three legs of the stool: more boots on the ground, more and better technology, and in some hard to control places, we need to have – Border Patrol needs to have some sort of responsible solution to the fencing issue.” Cornyn also said he supports a management program to control Carrizo cane, an invasive, tall plant that hinders border agents; eradicating it, he said, could minimize the need for fencing.

Is he for or against the fences? It’s a component of the solution, but in the next sentence he says he doesn’t not support a fence, or a wall and ends with the need for a responsible solution to the fencing issue. Alright, what would that be Senator?

More here from the Rio Grande Guardian, Cornyn: U.S.-Mexico relations are at their lowest ebb.

Sen. John Cornyn Votes Against Childrens Health Care

Posted in US Senate Race, Bad Government Republicans, Election 2008, Health Care, Around The Nation, The Budget, Around The State at 1:57 pm by wcnews

That answers the question posed in a TDP email today, Will Cornyn Vote to Deny Texas Children Health Care Again? From the email:

“If John Cornyn votes against bipartisan SCHIP legislation one more time, he’s forfeited the right to say he represents the people of Texas, because voting against kids from working families hurts all Texans,” said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie. “With the highest rate of uninsured kids in the nation, Texans can’t afford for John Cornyn to make the same mistake twice.”

Roll call vote here. Think Progress has more, Senate overwhelmingly passes SCHIP.

Defying a veto threat from President Bush, the Senate just passed legislation expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), by a vote of 69-30

The Senate has enough to override a veto. To emphasize how far out of the mainstream Conryn is on this vote, Texas’ other Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison voted for the SCHIP bill.

Rick Noriega and Mikal Watts [.PDF] have both blasted Cornyn for his vote against this last time and will surely do the same this time.

Millionaire Constable Candidate Has Issues In His APD Past

Posted in Constables, 2008 Primary, Commentary, Williamson County at 1:00 pm by wcnews

Anytime someone is applying for a job it’s only natural that they would want to highlight the positive and omit negative. But it’s also imperative in a job interview that when asked about a character flaw or previous mistake that the person shows they’ve corrected that flaw and/or learned from that mistake to prove that it’s no longer an issue so the flaw or mistake doesn’t happen again.

In today’s AusChron article on Precinct 1 Constable candidate Robert Chody, The Millionaire Who Would Be Constable, we learn that APD settled a policy brutality lawsuit - involving himself and another officer, Jerry Sullivan - shortly after winning the lottery and just before leaving the Austin Police Department. Read the rest of this entry »

AusChron on Texas BlogPAC

Posted in Good Stuff, Election 2008, Democratic Events, Around The State at 12:48 pm by wcnews

Via Naked City section.

Progressive Texas bloggers have formed a new political action committee, the TexBlog PAC, “to effectively harness the power, energy, talent, and financial resources of the online, progressive community to make Texas a better place by electing Democratic candidates at all levels of state and local government.” A fundraiser Monday night at the home of public-policy activist Kurt Meachum and attorney Amy Clark Meachum raised more than $3,500, and in only two months of existence, the PAC has raised more than $10,000 total. Partygoers mixed with the likes of Reps. Eddie Rodriguez, Valinda Bolton, Mark Strama, Lon Burnam, Pete Gallego, former Rep. Glen Maxey (who is running for Travis Co. tax assessor-collector), and Travis Co. Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt. Gallego addressed the partygoers with real optimism at what just two elections ago would have been mere fantasy: a Democratic majority in the Lege. After reaching a low of 62 Dems in the House in 2003, the donkeys have now climbed back up to 70, the latest due to Grand Prairie’s Kirk England switching parties. That leaves them only six away from a majority, a prospect that clearly had partygoers giddy. For more, look at any number of prog blogs, such as www.capitolannex.com, www.offthekuff.com/mt, and www.burntorangereport.com.

Here’s BOR’s report from the event, TexBlog PAC: A Huge Success!

TPJ Report “Money in PoliTex”

Posted in Money In Politics, Around The State, Williamson County, Election 2006 at 11:37 am by wcnews

The press release asks Who Bankrolls Your Legislators? Damn good question. Here are the key findings:

  • 378 major candidates raised $158 million for 173 legislative and top statewide offices in the 2006 election cycle;
  • The candidates who won these 173 races accounted for two-thirds of all the money raised by candidates seeking these offices ($105 million).
  • 142 powerful individuals who contributed totals exceeding $100,000 apiece accounted for an overall total of $52 million in donations.
  • 132 institutional donors that contributed totals exceeding $150,000 apiece accounted for an overall total of $65 million in donations.
  • The largest interest group, Lawyers and Lobbyists, accounted for 15 percent of the money raised by candidates seeking these offices ($23 million).
  • Single contribution checks of $10,000 or more accounted for 30 percent of all the money raised ($48 million).
  • House candidates raised 81 percent of their campaign funds outside their districts ($48 million).
  • Senate candidates raised 70 percent of their money outside their districts ($14 million).
  • 9 percent of the total money raised ($14 million) arrived on the so-called “Late Train” that ran between the November 7, 2006 Election Day and the start of the January 2007 legislative session.

Here are the pages for Williamson County legislators:
Sen. Steve Ogden
Rep. Mike Krusee, from the AAS article on the report:

State Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Williamson County, who leads the House Transportation Committee and champions toll roads, was favored by construction and concrete companies. His top three donors were from those industries.

Rep. Dan Gattis


Rep. John Carter Votes Against Insuring Children

Posted in Health Care, District 31, Commentary, Around The Nation, Around The State at 10:21 am by wcnews

AAS has the story, House votes to expand children’s health insurance program.

The state-federal program provides coverage for 6.6 million children from families that live above the poverty level but have trouble affording private health insurance. The proposed expansion, backed by most governors and many advocacy groups, would add 4 million children to the rolls.

The bill drew support from 45 House Republicans, many of them moderates who do not want to appear indifferent to low-income children’s health needs when they seek re-election next year.

But 151 Republicans sided with Bush.

Republican Reps. John Carter of Round Rock, Lamar Smith of San Antonio and Michael McCaul of Austin voted against the expansion.

Roll call vote here. Know this, the Cost of 41 Days of the Iraq War = Cost of 365 Days of Health Care for 10 Million Unprotected Children in America. This article from The Nation has more, Poverty Is Hazardous to Your Health.

Obviously Carter thinks his constituents won’t hold him accountable for voting against making sure more children have health care. As a country, I had hoped, we could all agree, at least, that we should insure ALL of our country’s children. It’s sad that to Carter insurance company profits takes precedence over insuring our children. This is a shameful vote by our Congressman.


Are Things Getting Better At The WCRAS?

Posted in Good Stuff, Animal Shelter, Williamson County at 5:01 pm by wcnews

From what Shelter Concerns has posted it appears conditions may be slowly getting better at the shelter. They have a rundown of consultant Gary Coe’s top ten concerns about the shelter. Short form below:

  • Too many people trying to run the shelter.
  • Facility capacity.
  • Staff levels and schedules were a problem.
  • Kennel management was lacking.
  • City and County rules and regulations are not consistent with the shelter.
  • Lack of supplies. How to obtain supplies.
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are not complete. SOPs have been changing day-to-day.
  • No idea what the euthanasia rate is.
  • Emancipet contract (spay/neuter) a big issue.
  • IT computer problems.

Shelter Concerns has the full list with much more explanation of each item. Also more on the meeting, and apparently Pct. 3 commissioner Valerie Covey still doesn’t get it. Here’s the wrap up of the meeting.

Covey continues to be extremely negative and unsupportive of change. She continually tried to pick apart at what Coe and others said. She even got into [it] with Leander Councilman Perez who told her “Let her (Schneider) do her job.” I did notice that for once she appeared to be on her own when complaining about issues. I feel strongly that she needs to be released from her position on the Board. If she remains, change will occur slowly or possibly not at all.

I was very pleased with the meeting. Most of the issues I have been addressing for the last three months were finally spoken about in public. In my opinion, the success of the shelter will rest with the Director and her staff. However, the Board of Directors, Council members, Commissioners and Mayors need to provide support and let the Director do her thing. I was able to meet Ethel Spence and Cheryl Schneider. I was impressed with their knowledge and passion. I think they will make a strong team. I was happy to hear Schneider say “I like specifics. I am a numbers person.” Gary Coe did a nice job of presenting the facts and giving credit, when due, to the appropriate staff. I think the shelter is on the right track.

My concerns are a change to the hold period of only 72-hours straight, possibly removing the Volunteer Coordinator position from the budget permanently and when Coe leaves will the Board and others still express their support for these necessary changes as well as provide for Schneider and Spence. Will they stand by the Director and her team? We know how easily some go back on their word…especially when no one is watching!

Yes we do. Thanks for all the hard work on this.

TDP has an article up as well, Hired consultant tracks Wilco shelter’s disarray.

Coe said it is this lack of organization that has created so many problems for the shelter in the past and urged the board to take his recommendations seriously.

“I am confident that if you don’t implement these things you will find yourself back where you were two months ago and it will crater again,” Coe said.

Well there’s hope now, which is more than we’ve been able to say for a while.

The TO, Yarborough, & Postcards

Posted in Commentary, Around The State at 1:27 pm by wcnews

Today at Postcards - Trail ver., Gardner Selby posts on a recent Texas Observer article on a liberal Texas icon, Ralph Yarborough’s Ghost, it’s a good read. In his post he points out what is most likely an “factual hiccup” in the TO article, while making one of his own.

Error by TO:

A minor wonder: I thought I spotted a factual hiccup in a line suggesting that then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson joined Gov. Allan Shivers of Texas in supporting Republican Dwight Eisenhower for president in 1956—an unlikelihood, it seems, because Johnson was a Senate leader with national aspirations in the Democratic Party. I’ll stand by to be corrected, though if so, I’ll start wondering if maybe the Observer missed the big story—Johnson backing a Republican four years before running as the Dems’ vice presidential nominee.

Here’s the actual paragraph from the TO:

Yarborough was a leader of the liberal Democratic faction in the days when the Texas party was led mostly by conservatives and Dixiecrats—among them Gov. Allan Shivers, who, along with Gov. John Connally and LBJ, backed Republican Dwight Eisenhower in the 1952 presidential election.

Googled for a while and couldn’t find, and didn’t expect to either, a reference to LBJ endorsing Eisenhower, Connally either for that matter, but yes Gov. Allan Shivers, and his “right wing Shivercrats”, did (see here).

Selby’s error is here:

Anyway, the Observer article brings the feisty-and-sometimes-hardheaded Yarborough to light while also illuminating the old courthouse-to-courthouse style of stumping. Nobody campaigns like that any more, perhaps for good reason, given that we get information in many other ways. To be fair, I’m not convinced it was entirely effective even then; photographs accompanying the printed version of this article show at least a couple of distracted, if not bored, Texans in the crowds watching Yarborough speak outside county courthouses.

Someone did last year. Just goes to show how much attention Selby was paying to David Van Os’ campaign last year. Where he took his Whistle Stops campaign to every county courthouse, all 254 of them, in Texas. Oh well, he’s only the political reporter for the paper.

Bush Shows His True Colors, A Compassion-Less Conservative

Posted in Health Care, Bad Government Republicans, Had Enough Yet?, Commentary, Around The State, Around The Nation, Uncategorized at 10:40 am by wcnews

In case you haven’t read it yet state Rep. Garnett Coleman wrote an Op-Ed over the weekend, Ideologues seek to cut children’s health plan, about the need for the federal SCHIP bill that president Bush has said he will veto. If we had a compassionate president he would be much more worried about insuring uninsured children than insuring insurance companies profits.

The president vows to veto the bipartisan effort to provide more children with health care.

What’s extraordinary is why he says he’s doing it. He’ll veto the bill and put kids at risk TO PROTECT PRIVATE INSURANCE COMPANIES.

Right, the president’s objections are “ideological.” He believes that a broad expansion of the children’s health program will lead more people to rely on government health care and not purchase health insurance from private companies.

Now most of the parents of the children that would benefit from the bill can’t afford health insurance — that’s why the children are uninsured. So Bush’s fears are unfounded.

But even so, faced with a choice of providing children with health care or protecting the profits of private insurance companies, the president chooses the latter.

Nothing more need be said.

That’s pretty damning stuff about our “divider” president. But let’s go back to Rep. Coleman’s Op-Ed, particularly this part:

It’s tragic that some Texans in Washington are pushing failed policies from Texas. When Bush was governor, he supported even more restrictive eligibility standards, but the Texas Legislature ultimately forced him to sign a bill that covered more children.

At that time, Gov. Bush cynically remarked to one legislator: “You crammed it down our throats.” In 1999 all we did was provide access to health coverage for children whose parents worked but couldn’t afford it. Now it’s time for Washington, D.C., to do the same, and it’s a shame that Congress may have to “cram it down the throats” of leaders who should have learned better by now.

In other words Bush fought giving health care to poor kids even back then but gave in. I’m sure at that time Turd Blossom was whispering in his ear about what would be best for his presidential run. Taking health care away from poor children and children of the working poor wouldn’t have allowed him to cynically run as an oxymoron, a “compassionate conservative”. This shows why what the president is doing now shows his true colors. Without the worry of another election, and the need to trick the voter in the center into believing he’s for something other than corporations, Bush can now do what he believes - fight to protect insurance companies profits.

No matter the case back then, at this time the president, and the minority that will follow him over the cliff, are with the insurance companies and against insuring more uninsured children. This issue has, despite what the president says and lack of media reporting, wide BI-partisan support and is a no-brainer for passage.

This post form Bill Scheer goes through the politics of whats ahead, Are You For Good Government or Bad Government?

And there’s much more at this post form, Please Lend A Hand For Kids In Need, Fire Dog Lake.

Insuring ALL children should be done, period, end of story.

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