Thoughts On Conspiracy Theories

Posted in Privatization, Road Issues, Commentary at 5:03 pm by wcnews

The traditional media has ramped up it’s conspiracy theory talk this week as it pertains to TTC. A couple of examples are here and here.

Whether it’s JFK, 9/11 or the TTC the phenomena of conspiracy theories is an interesting one. Calling someone, or some group, a conspiracy theorist is an easy way to - as Glen Greenwald says on a different topic but applies here too - “discredit them without doing the work of engaging the criticism.” One thing to keep in mind when dealing with conspiracy theories - whether it’s an assassination, a terrorist attack or a toll road disaster - is that the real reason behind the act or plan is probably not something hatched by an Illuminati, global cabal, or something like that. It’s more than likely simple, base human failings - lying, cheating, and stealing. More than likely revolving around the accumulation of money and/or power.

Conspiracy theories can overwhelm and make people give up. Some may say, “If this hugely powerful entity is controlling everything anyway, then what’s the point”? It’s also entirely possible that these “conspiracy theories” could have been created by those that perpetrated the nefarious act/plan to “throw-off” those nosing around - fully understanding the fact that what was just said can be construed as another conspiracy theory. But it’s the throwing us off of the scent, that came to mind when reading this editorial in the HChron today, No secret. Especially the last paragraph.

All too real, on the other hand, are the effects the corridor itself will have on Texas. Bisected communities, carved-up farmland and devastated wildlife habitats are some of the provable results the corridor will leave in its wake. These threats are considerably more real than the possibility of continental government, and it doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to worry about them.

While we get tied up in NASCO, SPP, NAU, etc, etc. the plan is moving forward. Don’t get me wrong I love a good conspiracy theory, especially JFK and 9/11 - I don’t believe the theory our government’s been trying to sell us on either of those. I’m with Gore Vidal who says, “I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’m a conspiracy analyst..”. But there’s a huge difference between JFK and 9/11, and the TTC. The first two events are in the past, theTTC is yet to happen. Let’s stop the TTC now, and all the bad it will do. Then, after that’s been done, we can go back and analyze who would have benefited.

I agree with the editorial. Let’s not loose sight of a battle that still needs to and can be won. Instead kick out all elected officials that won’t unequivocally say they will stop this abominataion, PPP’s, CDA’s, that promote tolls as Texas’ only option, and that don’t have the courage to raise the gas tax and allow us to own our transportation infrastructure.

Grandview Hills Elementary Given The Green Light

Posted in The Environment, Education, Around The State, Williamson County at 1:10 pm by wcnews

Who do you trust to determine whether the former chemical plant, that will soon be your child’s elementary school, is “..a safe place for students and teachers”? Apparently the TCEQ has made that determination regarding the future Grandview Hills Elementary in the Leander ISD, State says school is safe but needs tests before opening.

The commission has been reviewing the site for months and issued its final report to the district and a roomful of parents during a town hall meeting Monday night.

“They agree we may open the school and it’s a safe place for students and teachers,” district spokesman Bill Britcher said.

The findings came as a relief to most parents, some of whom raised concerns about harmful chemicals, such as mercury, found on the site.

“There really were no surprises,” said Kelli Merchant, the school’s Parent Teacher Association president. “I’m just ready to put this all to rest and move forward.”

Last month, the panel ranked the site a “moderate to high potential hazard.”

Until 2003, the chemical company Sasol North America Inc. operated a research and development facility on the site, using chemicals to produce products such as shampoos and soaps.

The school will not open until next school year at the earliest because of mold problems. South Texas Chisme asks, “First, James ‘Rick’ Perry’s people say it’s safe. You’d trust Rick, now wouldn’t you?”

Fill His Boots

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:07 am by wcnews

In a continuing effort to raise awareness, support, and money among regular people like us about Rick Noriega, a regular person like us, his campaign manager, Sue Schechter, sent an email urging us to send what we can to raise $20K before Lt. Col Noriega returns form Army Precommand leadership training in Fort Benning, GA on Thursday. Click here to donate.Click “read the rest..” to read the email. Read the rest of this entry »

TxDOT Is Spending Millions To “Educate and Engage Texans” About the TTC - UPDATED

Posted in Privatization, HD-52, Had Enough Yet?, Road Issues, Around The State, Williamson County at 8:51 am by wcnews

Here’s the article in today’s HChron, State spending millions to push Trans-Texas plan. Of course Williamson County’s own “conservative” Rep. Mike Krusee (R-Corporate Toller) has not problem with this expense and actually thinks it’s a great deal.

The campaign is anticipated to cost $7 million to $9 million, according to a memo titled “Keep Texas Moving: Tolling and Trans-Texas Corridor Outreach” sent to transportation officials by Coby Chase, director of the agency’s government and public affairs division.

Such use of state highway-fund dollars is drawing questions, but the department says it’s an important effort to educate and engage Texans.

“It’s a waste of money,” said Rep. Warren Chisum, chairman of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee, “and they have no business out there trying to get public opinion to be in their favor.”

The money would be better spent fixing roads, said Chisum, R-Pampa.

But Rep. Mike Krusee, House Transportation Committee chairman, said the campaign addresses lawmakers’ concerns by explaining new financing methods.

“The Legislature has been beating TxDOT over the head for two years, telling them they need to explain what the Trans-Texas Corridor is and why it is necessary to the public. They’ve been telling TxDOT they are moving too fast — they are moving before the public and the Legislature has the chance to understand what they are doing and why,” said Krusee, R-Round Rock.

If the outreach is effective, Krusee said, it could save money in the long run.

“Texas is losing money for roads by the hundreds of millions of dollars every year simply due to delay because the Legislature and the public don’t understand the need to move to a new finance method. And so an expenditure of a few million dollars could literally save hundreds of millions of dollars per year,” Krusee said.

The agency’s budget is more than $7 billion for fiscal year 2007 and more than $8 billion for fiscal year 2008.

[UPDATE]: (One more comment about what Rep. Krusee said. It’s humorous how “conservatives” are always willing to spend upfront money to save money in the long run only when in benefits those who support them financially. In this case those that will benefit financially from building the TTC. But when it’s something like education or children’s health care, they don’t see nor promote the benefit of spending that upfront money, which would save us millions down the road.)

More than likely it’s just a sales pitch, catapulting the propaganda as they say, to sell a bad deal to the public. Although Rep. Kolkhorst has a much better idea. Your job is to build roads not sell corporate toll roads to the public.

Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, who fought for a moratorium on privately run toll roads, said the initiative needs a hard look.

“TxDOT is consistently telling us we have no money to build highways, yet they seem to be spending a lot of money on internal audits and also ad campaigns. That’s something that the Legislature needs to look at,” she said. “I don’t know that we would approve any other agency to do a $7 (million) to $9 million campaign on an initiative as controversial as the Trans-Texas Corridor and tolled roads.”

She added that the cost “is a lot of money, and I would hope since it’s taxpayer dollars they would approach it with a balanced approach to tell the pros and the cons of toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor.”

TxDOT spokesman Chris Lippincott defended the campaign. “The clearest and most-often repeated criticism of the department during the legislative session was that we needed to do a better job of engaging the public,” he said. “We heard that message loud and clear, and we’re acting on it.”

If that was what TxDOT heard, that makes it obvious they’re still not listening. The biggest criticism was that the public wasn’t being listened to when it comes to how we fund our transportation infrastructure. And a campaign of flashy commercials and annoying radio ads shows that TxDOT didn’t get that message and is still ignoring the people of Texas. It’s the gas tax stupid!


Another Sad Mugshot For Williamson County

Posted in Criminal Justice, Williamson County at 4:03 pm by wcnews

This one is not a county employee but sad just the same. A pastor at a local church embezzled money form his congregation, Round Rock pastor stole at least $500,000, according to arrest report.

A longtime Round Rock pastor was arrested after telling authorities he embezzled at least $500,000 from his church, according to court records.

Donald “Roddy” Clyde, 48, turned himself in to authorities Wednesday and was charged with felony theft of more than $200,000 from the Fellowship at Forest Creek Church. Clyde’s bail was set at $400,000, and he could face 99 years in prison if convicted.

This is a sad situation. More from the AAS.

Glenn Hamilton, a church member, said the congregation’s feelings about Clyde, who had been at the church since 1992, are divided.

“There are people that, despite what he’s admitted to, don’t want to go on without him, and then there are those that feel betrayed,” Hamilton said.

An Austin fraud specialist said that Clyde could have stolen more than the $500,000 he reportedly admitted to taking.

“If he’s saying $500,000, in my experience, I would look for a lot more because when perpetrators do estimate, it’s always grossly underestimated,” said Jim Ratley, president of Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

Here’s the link to The Fellowship’s web site.

Judge Gattis Changes Landfill Vote, Again - UPDATED

Posted in Commissioners Court, Bad Government Republicans, Landfill, Williamson County at 3:52 pm by wcnews

While this it’s right to change the vote back to the original date, the date shouldn’t have been changed in the first place, and the judge’s actions are becoming ridiculous. AAS has the story, Williamson County won’t vote on landfill contract Tuesday; hearing to expand landfill starts. (Link above is cached, original article. Click here for the updated AAS article).

A hearing on whether to expand the Williamson County landfill began Monday with County Judge Dan A. Gattis declaring that a rival landfill owner was at the root of citizen concerns against the expansion.

Gattis also said he would postpone a vote on a revised contract with the county’s landfill operator until next week.


When asked under oath in the state office of administrative hearings who has been the main proponent voicing concerns about the landfill, Gattis replied, “Mr. Bob Gregory.”

Gregory owns Travis County waste company Texas Disposal Systems Inc. He is a party in the hearings opposing the expansion through a separate real estate company that owns land within a mile of the Williamson County landfill.

Gattis’ position that the furor over the landfill was a “whipped” up by a rival of Waste Management (WMI) is laughable. This was a big issue during last year’s campaign and all the candidates know it. None of them complained about Mr. Gregory or TDS then. They all said they would fix this, and thus far haven’t come up with a contract that does. Whether it was Mr. Gregory who initially brought this to the community’s attention is a moot point. It’s there now and the judge and commissioners, as the county’s elected official have to deal with it. After all , that’s what they were elected to do.

Another sticking point has been whether the county is the sole owner of the landfill and whether that will be reflected in the contract. Gattis says…er…maybe.

Gattis also declared that the county is the sole owner of the landfill and its permit, a sticking point with groups opposing the landfill who want Waste Management of Texas’ name taken off the expansion permit application. Waste Management is the private company that has run the landfill for 20 years.

Gattis said he’d have no objection to the company’s name being taken off the application if officials at the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality requested it. In the past, county officials have refused to remove the company’s name.

In other words not if the citizens want it, but if the TCEQ tells reguests it. As Robin Schneider, executive director of Texas Campaign for the Environment, makes clear, the votes been delayed and that’s a good thing.

Amid vocal citizen dissent, the commissioners were to vote on the new contract Tuesday, but Gattis said Monday morning that he will delay the vote by a week because the county did not get the contract revisions finished in time for citizens to review it.

“There were a lot of citizen comments, and we take those very seriously,” Gattis said, explaining that he and attorneys spent 10 hours going through citizen complaints about the draft contract.

“That is at least fair of him,” said Robin Schneider, executive director of Texas Campaign for the Environment.

“This is very good news for us that they’re putting it off a little bit because we were feeling it was very unfair for them to change the vote,” Schneider said. Last week, Gattis said the vote would be pushed up a week to allow more time for budget discussions Aug. 28.

Schneider said the latest draft of the contract was out of step with citizen concerns on at least one point. She said the length of the contract was extended from 40 years with five-year renewals to 40 years with 10-year renewals.

“If they were trying to be responsive to citizen comment, that wasn’t responsive,” she said.

There will still be a hearing on the contract tomorrow, so be sure and show up and let the court know what you think. You can call as well.

Dan Gattis, Sr., County Judge (943-1550)

Comm. Pct. 1 Lisa Birkman (733-5380)

Comm. Pct. 2 Cynthia Long (260-4280)

Comm. Pct. 3 Valerie Covey (943-3370)

Comm. Pct. 4 Ron Morrison (238-2111)

[UPDATE]: Information received via email:

What Lorenz missed is that after Gattis made his statement about Bob Gregory being the major proponent opposing the landfill expansion, under direct examination, Marisa Pirales, attorney for the Hutto Citizens Group and Heritage on the San Gabriel Homeownwers Association, cross-examined the judge and got him to admit:

1. Orlynn Evans, head of the Mount Hutto Aware Citizens, has been the most longstanding proponent for finding a solution for the landfill problems.
2. Evans and his organization are not a front for anyone else, including Gregory.

Somehow, this information didn’t make it into the article.

Also, under cross examinaton in the SOAH hearing on Monday, Roy J. Murray, the owner of the Houston engineering firm that prepared the landfill permit expansion application, admitted that Waste Management, Inc. told him to insert the extra pages into the application which made Waste Management a co-applicant with the county. Asked if the county approved this co-application step, Murray said that the county didn’t comment on that aspect of the application before it was submitted.

Sen. Cornyn’s Q & A in the AAS

Posted in US Senate Race, Around The State at 1:28 pm by wcnews

Read the whole thing, Q&A: Cornyn on war, immigration and attorney general. Here’s a little bit to whet your appetite:

Q. Update us on your thinking on the war in Iraq.

A. I think he’s (President Bush) got it about right on the war, as painful as that is. The threat that we are experiencing today is complicated and I think people are confused. But, to me, the core of it is an ideology that justifies the killing of civilians to pursue its goals and it’s manifested in a number of places in a number of ways. … But whether it’s Hamas, al Qaeda, or Hezbollah or the Iranian state sponsors of terrorism, I think it’s a common threat.

About right? Well what which parts doesn’t he have right. As painful as what is? He’s saying that the president has done about as good as can be expected with Iraq. Of course Sen. Cornyn is still standing by his man and the “we went to Iraq to fight Al Qaeda” BS. Stick with that Senator and you’ll be back in Texas for good com January 2009.


Q. Will you ask the president to appear with you on the campaign trail?

A. I will probably ask the president to help me do some fundraising, but probably not on the campaign trail. … We’ve talked about his poll numbers. And the fact of the matter is he’s not going to be on the ballot anymore.

Hell no!! He doesn’t want to be associated with a president with low approval ratings that won’t be on the ballot. But he’ll sure let the president fleece his donors for him in private.

A Couple Of Items Of Interest

Posted in 2008 Primary, Election 2008, Privatization, Road Issues, Around The State, The Lege at 12:41 pm by wcnews

Privatization of our infrastructure, and conspiracy theories. While it may be a worth making fun of those who see a conspiracy becacuse Bush and Perry are too incompetent to hatch a plot like the one described in the article. There’s no denying that the road is being built because of what NAFTA has wrought.

Burka (free for now) on Craddick:

Most people in Craddick’s position at the end of the session—knowing that the partisan Democrats loathe him; knowing that most Republicans loathe the daily strife and poisonous atmosphere of the House, which would dissipate if a consensus-seeker were Speaker; knowing that a substantial majority of the membership wishes he would just go away; knowing that he can remain as Speaker only by bending recalcitrant members to his will; knowing that he will face the same or greater opposition next session than he faced this session—would say to themselves, “I’ve served for almost forty years. I’ve made a fortune in business. I hung tort reform and congressional redistricting around the Democrats’ necks. I’m the first Republican Speaker since Reconstruction. I’ve served three terms. I’ve pumped tens of millions of dollars into my hometown. I’ve accomplished everything I ever wanted. To hell with it. I’m outta here.” Not Craddick. Give his enemies the satisfaction of hounding him from office? Never. He’s a Spartan warrior, straight out of 300: “Come home carrying your shield or on it.” It is not his nature to accept defeat.

Although many Austin insiders believe that Craddick will not be reelected Speaker, he is more driven and more cunning than his opponents, who remain divided to the point of not even being able to settle on a single challenger, and he has broad support in the Republican party structure. He has achieved a level of personal discipline that few would seek: He has stifled the greatest weakness a politician can have, the desire to be loved—or even liked. All he wants, all he knows, is to win. I’m betting he will.

on Craddick:

Predictions are that Abbott, who has until Dec. 15 to provide his official opinion, will punt the ball back to the Legislature. But that could be a political liability, read as siding with Craddick.

Craddick’s supporters may find that alliance a political problem next year. Voters are already increasingly dissatisfied with President Bush, and Craddick and his brass knuckles could be a huge issue in 2008 House races.

Something may cause Craddick to step down or aside, or Abbott might issue a surprisingly stiff opinion.

But Democrats hope Craddick survives, at least through the November 2008 election. They need a good punching bag.

While, at this point Burka is right, we’ll just have to see what happens in the primary and general election. To see how many of Craddick’s allies and enemies survive.

Texas, Taxes And Gambling

Posted in Privatization, Health Care, Public Schools, Road Issues, Commentary, Around The State at 11:03 am by wcnews

Keep the issues below in mind:

Texas Has Above Average Needs, but Below Average Fiscal Effort.

Texas ranks 49th in health care.

Texas is not doing well wit public education either.

And, of course, around here we all know about having to use “innovative methods” of paying for our transportation infrastructure because of the neglect it’s suffered over the last 15 years.

When you read this, Texas manages to avoid income tax, gambling.

(Quick aside: While casino gambling is not the ideal way to fund our government, unless some other option is utilized, say a state income tax, casino gambling is an inevitability. It’s too easy and option for most politicians. Especially as long as we have Republicans in charge).

Many states look at Texas through crossed eyes when it comes to casino gambling, but regardless of how others perceive our priorities, the Lone Star State stands rather tall when comparisons are made with other states.

Tall if all that’s being measured is how little businesses and the wealthy pay in taxes. Because, not only does Texas have extremely low taxes on the wealthy, the less one makes in Texas the higher thier taxes will be.

Many states wonder how Texas possibly could avoid both and survive.

Texas is surviving, but it’s not living well, that’s for sure.

So, the best way to keep Texas from having casino gambling and a state income tax is to keep the state economically strong and keep businesses continually moving into our state. Otherwise, what’s considered a vice today may be a necessity tomorrow. Desperation is the route to the two great evils and it looks like most of the nation already has given in to the lure of easy cash.

It’s obvious where the allegiances the MWT stands. As long as businesses are willing to come here and pay little in taxes, and they will be because the tax abatements and exemptions they receive taxes, Texas will be fine.

As far as the MWT is concerned the “great twin satans” are casino gambling and a state income tax. They’re not too worried that Texas has one of the highest property taxes in the country. Texas also has one of the highest sales taxes in the nation too. The sales tax is one of the most regressive - hits low earners harder - taxes there is. A simple, sane, and fair state income tax would drastically lower property taxes, and do away with the need to even consider casino gambling, and give us the ability to fund our public schools as they should be funded.

It’s disheartening to see an editorial like the one in the MWT. It’s not what’s said, so much, as what’s left unsaid. In the editorial there is no mention of the neglect of our children’s education, all health care in the state, and our transportation infrastructure. If our current tax structure was taking care of our citizens needs, that would be one thing, but it isn’t. And that’s what makes the absence of it in the MWT editorial so galling.

Texas Blog Round Up (August 20, 2007)

Posted in Commentary, Around The State at 8:53 am by wcnews

Here is your Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round-Up for the week of August 20, 2007. This week’s installment is brought to you Vince from Capitol Annex.

Krazypuppy at Texas Kaos keeps track of What You Will Not Find at Laura Bush’s Library.

TXSharon at BlueDaze asks, “Would you make Osama Bin Ladin director of Homeland Security?” If the answer is no, read about who wants to protect our water in Barnett Shale: Devon wants to conserve our water? Like hell!

Hal at Half Empty sees vultures flocking to pick over the bones of Tom DeLay’s old seat.

Texas Toad at North Texas Liberal exposes the hypocrisy of chickenhawk Republicans taking shots at Rick Noriega.

Vince at Capitol Annex tells us about the coming storm surrounding implementation of religious viewpoint “anti-discrimination” policies in Texas schools to comply with a bill recently passed by the Texas Legislature.

WcNews at Eye On Williamson points out the hypocrisy in sentencing in recent child molestation cases in Williamson County.

PDidde at Brains and Eggs fries up a double order of e-Slate voting woes: an advance of the meeting over security issues with Houston Mayor Bill White and the Harris County (Republican) clerk; and the disappointing results of that meeting, including the news that the TDP lawsuit over “emphasis voting” was dismissed.

Captain Kroc at McBlogger suggests the incumbent in the Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector race is using a page or two from Turd Blossom’s playbook.

Boadicea at StopCornyn tells us about John Cornyn’s Badge Of Fiscal Irresponsibility.

CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme exposes another Republican minority district suppression scam - using immigration raids to minimize population counts for the 2010 census.

Kuffat Off the Kuff asks “How many felonies could you commit with an oyster?”

Glenn Smith at Burnt Orange Report gives a “political type’s” perspective on the media’s fascination with Karl Rove.

Also, don’t forget to check out these other great Texas Progressive Alliance blogs: People’s Republic of Seabrook, Three Wise Men, Musings, Bay Area Houston, In The Pink Texas, Who’s Playin?, Feet To The Fire, Easter Lemming Liberal News, Winding Road In Urban Area, Common Sense, B & B , The Agonist, Texas Truth Serum.

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