GOP Continues To Go After Poor Children

Posted in Health Care, Privatization, The Budget, Around The Nation at 4:24 pm by wcnews

Check this out from No Shelter from the Storm: Amerrica’s Uninsured Children.

The Number of Uninsured Children

  • There were more than 9 million uninsured children (ages 0-18 years) in the U.S. in 2005. One out of every nine children is uninsured.
  • One out of every five uninsured people is a child.
  • The five states with the largest number of uninsured children are California (1,368,999), Texas (1,366,638), Florida (718,603), New York (441,434), and Illinois (376,332). Together, the uninsured children in these five states account for nearly half of all uninsured children in the country.
  • The five states with the highest rates of uninsured children are Texas (20.4 percent), Florida (17.0 percent), New Mexico (16.7 percent), Nevada (16.4 percent), and Montana (16.2 percent).

There’s a bipartisan effort afoot in Congress to try and insure more uninsured children. Of course President Bush, and enough members of Congress to prevent a veto override, are against it. Therefore holding up bringing what the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) says, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates, will bring health care to 5.1 million of those 9 million uninsured children. If anything is a no-brainer, and the right thing to do, it’s making sure ALL children have insurance. Cutting it in half is a good first step.

So why are Bush and his minions against this and why do they make dubious claims about this bill. This post at Fire Dog Lake, Now the Republicans Are Obstructing Children’s Health Care, leaves no doubt.

Despite bipartisan support in both houses for significant expansion of SCHIP, the Republican leadership has decided to block any major expansion and to support President Bush’s threatened veto [h/t Jane]. And why are they against expanding a successful children’s health program, especially when solving the problem of uninsured/uncovered Americans is high on the public’s wish list? The answers reveal today’s Republicans at their hypocritical worst.

Partly it’s because this is the opening skirmish in the looming battle over the structure of health care reform. You see, if access to SCHIP’s pooled funding mechanism is expanded, so that more Americans can choose it, then Republicans fear Americans who have a choice between the tax-funded pool and private insurance plans that are more expensive (unless subsidized) will choose the tax-funded pool approach — just like a single payer system. That solution costs less, but the private insurers lose business. So the Republican game is to preclude as many people as they can from having this choice by limiting access to the pooled approach, and then pushing people into private insurance plans through direct subsidies, tax credit incentives or simply denying Americans any other choice.

We’ve already heard the President, who claims anyone can get universal health care just by showing up at an emergency room, attack the SCHIP expansion as favoring a “government run” program. McConnell and Boehner are now labeling the concept as “Hillary Care,” echoing the completely stupid claims by Mitt Romney that Senator Clinton’s approach (which she hasn’t announced) is essentially Marxist. It’s the beginning of the debate over “socialized medicine,” just as Moore’s SiCKO predicted.

Ah yes. If it’s proven that the government can insure children for cheaper than the private sector than everyone will want that less expensive health care and there will be anarchy. Here’s that despicable quote mentioned above from President Bush:

“People have access to health care in America,” he told an audience in Cleveland. “After all, you just go to an emergency room.”

It’s truly despicable what they will do for their political paymasters and what they won’t do for the least of their brothers.

By the way, Texas is first in the nation in teen birth rate. The new head of the SBOE is quoted in the article:

He said he’s concerned that Texas’ sex education curriculum focuses too much on abstinence and provides too little information on other ways to prevent pregnancies.

A 1995 law requires school districts to emphasize abstinence in sex education classes.

“It’s a touchy subject,” Sanborn said. “We can preach abstinence quite a bit, and there is nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t affect some kids, and apparently it’s really not working in Texas.”

State Board of Education President Don McLeroy, of Bryan, said sex education is primarily a local issue. Although the state emphasizes the teaching of abstinence, the law requires each district to have a local committee that decides what will be taught.

“The idea that just giving them a lot of information is going to solve it, I think, is kind of naive,” he said. “Certainly, it’s more of a societal problem than it is a school problem.”

Of course, don’t educate them, aka give them information, that would be naive. You can read more about him here and here.

WCRAS News Update

Posted in Animal Shelter, Williamson County at 12:24 pm by wcnews

Shelter Concerns has a great post up on the Tuesday’s commissioners meeting regarding the shelter issues. They took up three issues, (1) They hiring for 4 new positions, (2) They’re hiring a consulting firm to hire a new shelter administrator, (3) and a new contract for veterinarian work at the shelter.

The final agenda item was the vet contract. Rotating vets will be brought in on the days the shelter is closed, Monday and Thursday between the hours of 7:00 am to 12:00 pm. There will only need to be a minimum of 15 dogs/cats spayed and neutered each surgical day (


). If the minimum number of animals cannot be scheduled, surgery will be canceled by the shelter (what will happen to those animals?). There is a fixed fee of $300 per surgical day. The vet will be solely responsible for all surgery costs including surgical personnel. The vet will also provide euthanasia and medical assessment services, as requested by the Director, on an as needed basis. There was no timeframe given for euthanizing animals at the shelter who are severely injured or terminally ill. Emancipet is currently doing spays and neuters because they cannot handle the load, but this is not an exclusive contract. The vet contract was approved.

The Board will be meeting on Monday, July 30 to discuss changes to the shelter budget with Dr. Boehm providing input. The Commissioners said that right now there are Round Rock employees (Officers) working at the shelter and they have expressed interest in continuing to work out there permanently. Commissioner Birkman noted that there are “high level” people working out there. There was a brief mention of hiring a business consultant at some point.

The county having to hire a consultant to hire and new administrator is probably due to the horrible way they treated the last one.

From the Chronic (tip to Shelter Concerns) we find out that the Former Vet Tech Files Grievance on WilCo Animal Shelter.

On Friday, July 20, Kathy (Lopez) Abdella, represented by the law firm Deats, Durst, Owen & Levy, filed a formal grievance alleging violation of the Texas Whistleblower’s Act after she was terminated on Monday, July 16, from her job as vet tech at the Williamson County Animal Shelter.

Shelter Concerns has more here on recent events at the shelter.

Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) Steps Up

Posted in Privatization, Road Issues, Around The State at 9:13 am by wcnews

Not only does Sen. Eltife say that the privatization of toll roads is “insanity” he also steps up and says the obvious:

The senator said he is opposed to building toll roads and turning them over to private contractors because the state would not have control over toll amounts, or the roads.

“This is a bad idea, a bad concept,” he said. “It is insanity, and it should be stopped.”

Instead, the gas tax should be increased to keep up with inflation to allow the state to build bridges, intersections, expanded roadways and outer loops.

“If you go to the pump, you fill up, you use the road, you need to be willing to pay,” he said.

He talks about SB 1643 which he was attacked for by a “wing nut” education group for not supporting - click here for a refresher. He also calls the governor’s veto of the community college funding a disaster. This is the kind of leadership we’ve been missing in Texas. Raising the gas tax is like getting out of Iraq, it can’t be done by Democrats alone. While raising the gas tax may be unpopular it’s much more popular than raising toll taxes through the roof.


US Senate Race Round Up

Posted in Election 2008, US Senate Race, 2008 Primary, 2006 Democratic Candidates, The Budget, Around The State at 4:03 pm by wcnews

The El Paso Times has an article up on the Democratic Explorers, Race for the TX Democratic nomination seat is on.

A soldier and a lawyer will be fighting for the hearts, minds and, most importantly, the votes of Texas Democrats next year, as they try to become the party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate.

Check out this article written last week by Dave McNeely (former AAS political writer) on Rick Noriega’s announcement, Rick Noriega faces uphill battle for U.S. Senate. Uphill but nowhere near impossible.

Jabbing at the Republican incumbent, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, as a “cheerleader” for the administration of President George W. Bush “for a variety of failed policies,” Noriega said a change in representation is necessary to bring a change in direction.

“A lot of the problem we see today is (that) stubbornness is not a foreign policy,” Noriega said.

Noriega, a sturdy 49-year-old legislator who has worked in educational administration, last week announced formation of an exploratory committee at a press conference on the state capitol’s front lawn.

Noriega, with buzz-cut hair and an erect military bearing, chose a backdrop of the memorial to those who died at the Alamo to underline his 26 years in the armed services, including a stint in Afghanistan with the Texas Army National Guard.

“Growing up in Houston, my family taught me the importance of serving my community,” Noriega said in a prepared statement. “I’ve been privileged to serve this country as a soldier, my state as an elected representative, and Houston as a community leader focused on education. The call to service has been a big part of my life, and I am taking the next step in answering that call.”

“Standing in the shadows of this monument, I’m reminded of our state’s great tradition and our duty to speak out when things have gone off the rails,” Noriega said. “Today, our nation is headed in the wrong direction, led by those whose choice is to divide Americans to maintain power.

“They ignore the will of the people about the war in Iraq. They ignore the needs of the people for health care, college education, and a better standard of living. They ignore the lessons of our history: that America’s strength lies in our unity and diversity.

“John Cornyn represents the worst of these trends,” Noriega said. “And it’s time for him to go.”

Perry at Brains and Eggs adds his great commentary, The 18th:

A few of the names I can remember without Googling: Sam Houston. “Pappy” O’Daniel. Lyndon Johnson. Price Daniel. Ralph Yarborough. Lloyd Bentsen.

John Tower. Phil Gramm. The current occupants, Senator Perjury Technicality and Senator Box Turtle.

Mikal Watts has a press release out (no link) attacking Sen. Cornyn on his disregard for veterans health care (more on that below):

“In 2003, John Cornyn told veterans in my hometown that they’ve earned better health care and should get it,” said Watts, a native of Corpus Christi. “Four long years of failure later our veterans still deserve the health care, but now they also deserve a senator who can deliver on our country’s promise to them. When I’m Senator, we will kick the political hacks out and make sure our veterans get the health care they deserve.”


The latest USA Survey poll, released June 19, 2007, showed that only 42% of Texans approve of the way Cornyn is handling his job, with 43% disapproving. The poll demonstrates that Cornyn is the least popular US Senator standing for re-election in 2008.

No matter the Democratic nominee it’s obvious that Sen. Corunyn has to go. The Lone Star Report has two excellent reports on Sen. Cornyn’s shameful record of failing the troops (.pdf) and on the deficit(s) and as Bush’s lapdog (.pdf). You can also dress him up like a paper doll.

With the Democratic field now at three, John Cornyn was caught sneaking Karl “Turd BlossomRove into and out of a fundraiser. The question must be asked why is Cornyn sneaking him around and why is Rove agreeing to it? I thought Karl Rove was a fantastic GOP political operative, I can’t imagine why they would want to hide Rove’s involvement with Sen. Cornyn. Especially with his poll numbers so low. Anyway Turd Blossom came and went from the fundraiser and purportedly, “gave a really” nice speech”. Sure he did.

Sen. Cornyn can blame poll methodology all he likes but if the thinks running on the same lies Republicans have been telling for the last four or five decades will get him reelected than he’s fooling himself:

Recent polls, though, have shown Cornyn’s approval rates falling. A June Survey USA poll showed 42 percent approved of his work, while 43 percent disapproved.

This week, Cornyn called the methodology of those polls questionable and said the election happens after each party has chosen a candidate. No significant primary challenge is expected in the Republican U.S. Senate race.

“Right now, the other side hasn’t picked their candidate,” he said during a news conference. “We don’t know what they’re going to propose.”

Cornyn said he planned to run on Republican principles of low taxes and regulation, restoration of law and order and opportunities for education and achievement.

While Cornyn’s mistakes are well documented, Stop Cornyn, Democrats must choose who will take him out first. I look forward to a primary that the people of Texas will focus on that will help Democrats choose a candidate that can help turn our country and state around.

Greg Is Right - Let’s Move The Goal Posts

Posted in 2008 Primary, 2006 Democratic Candidates, Around The State at 11:29 am by wcnews

In our initial zeal to support Rick Noriega for US Senate the netroots of the Texas blogosphere may have been over enthusiastic. We may have projected the enthusiasm we have for Rick Noriega onto the rest of Texas and the United States. We were sure that through our blogs we could spread the word about Rick Noriega and surely we could get 800 people in 4 weeks to donate to his campaign. We also realize that the primary support is never as enthusiastic as the actual race and we confused the two. The netroots campaign is not solely about raising money but raising awareness of Rick Noriega and getting people on board with his candidacy and helping to spread the word.

A post written yesterday by Greg Wythe of Greg’s Opinion, The Marker: 109 … or 121, has given us the opportunity to reassess our initial goal. We will now, take Greg’s excellent opinion as our own, and change our goal to not 4 weeks, but to a quarterly goal, the end of September. Thanks for the advice Greg.

And don’t forget to go to ActBlue and donate to Rick Noriega, and help us get to 800, the sooner the better.

Republican Indifference - State Schools Edition

Posted in Bad Government Republicans, Had Enough Yet?, Commentary, Around The State at 10:13 am by wcnews

There’s really not much left to say about the horrible stewardship of our government that the Republicans in Texas have been in charge of. Whether it’s defunding CHIP, the TYC scandal, and now this, Abuse, neglect plague state schools. (Not to mention the neglect of our infrastructure that they’ve presided over as well).

There’s a common thread running through all of the three issues mentioned above - CHIP, TYC, state schools - they’re involving people who can’t take care of themselves, can’t defend themselves, have little political power, and they donate nothing to political campaigns. In other words the Texas GOP, which has many times wrapped itself in the Bible, has little problem neglecting these least brothers.

Vince at Capitol Annex has much more analysis of the DMN article linked above, Abuse, Neglect Plague State Schools For Mentally Retarded.

When reading about these horrible atrocities that are happening with out neglegent state government we must keep this in mind, we can’t expect people who think government IS the problem to use government to fix the problem. Or as said here:

But Republicans are incapable of running an effective government, lest they refute their own “government is evil” mantra. It’s quite the paradox.

Republicanism works fantastic as an opposition party. In charge of things? Not so much.

Stop, If you’re a wing-nut, I’m not saying the government is the answer to everything, I’m saying many times it is the better or best answer. Now we must ask one more question, are these things being done on purpose? To perpetuate the GOP’s self-fulfilling prophecy that government can’t work. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The way the GOP handles these issues shows much indifference for the least brothers. I’ll leave you with this excerpt from Vince’s post above:

And, more from the Perry Administration:

“It’s important not to sensationalize these incidents,” Ms. Moody said, noting that the Department of Aging and Disability Services didn’t become responsible for the state schools until 2004. “They should not be portrayed as though they happened yesterday, and no action has been taken.”

First off, you don’t need to sensationalize someone being left naked in a trash bin. That pretty much sensationalizes itself, don’t you think?

Second, regardless of when these incidents happened, this administration has shown us not one iota of evidence that such behavior is not continuing. The system is broken, and, while perhaps it didn’t break yesterday, no one has provided credible evidence to show it is fixed today.


State Media Coming Around On Highway Neglect

Posted in Privatization, Road Issues, Around The State at 10:59 am by wcnews

We here at EOW hate to say, “I told you so”, well not really. This article, Toll road proponents: Motorists can — and should — pay more, in the SAEN by Jaime Castillo is very good and takes apart the recent Dye audit that TxDOT paid for. Anyone who pays attention already knows most of this but it’s good to see it in the newspaper. Here’s the money quote:

In the last 16 years, the state’s population — and construction costs — have grown exponentially. Yet, the gas tax — the primary source of highway funding — has been frozen since 1991.

And not only has it remained static in an ever-changing world, state lawmakers can’t keep their hands off of it either.

Continuing its long-running budgetary shell game, the Legislature’s latest two-year budget will see one-tenth, or $1.6 billion, of the highway fund diverted from building and maintaining roads.

With fiscal constraint apparently off the table, raising the gas tax must be looked at seriously. While difficult with gasoline prices hovering around $3 a gallon, it could be done if the entire state leadership — the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker — supported the change.

That way, lawmakers, who already quietly concede that the gas tax is too low, could stick their necks out and not fear being singled out as the pigeons that supported higher taxes.

The alternative is to unnecessarily gouge those who will use toll roads. If the recommendations by Dye Management Group are the guide, toll riders will soon have the privilege of paying the highest tolls possible and paying the 20-cent-a-gallon gas tax.

There’s still one problem with what he says. In a vacuum, yes if the state leadership would support raising the gas tax it would happen. But with our state’s current leadership, if you want to call it that, it’s NEVER going to happen. Which means we need new state leaders to stop this tremendous tax increases - yes tolls are taxes - that will be levied on mostly urban and suburban drivers.

Texas Blog Round Up (July 23, 2007)

Posted in Commentary, Around The State at 8:27 am by wcnews

Each week, the Texas Progressive Alliance compiles the weekly Texas Blog Round Up, modeled after the 50 State Blog Round Up. It is published on member blogs every Monday. Here is this week’s installment, brought to you by Vince from Capitol Annex.

John C. at Bay Area Houston Blog once again looks at the Houston City Council’s Own Chickenhawk and explores how he was once again punk’d on his own radio show.

Muse at Musings brings us some photos from State Rep. Rick Noriega’s announcement that he’ll form an exploratory committee to run against U.S. Senator John Cornyn in 2008.

TxSharon At BlueDaze revals that the government paid $400,000 for a new marketing plan that will fool us into believing that Endless, Forever War in Iraq is a good thing.

WCNew at Eye On Williamson tells us about the Texas Department of Transportation’s efforts to continue justify its existence in TxDOT’s Sunset Review Kick-Off Party & Media Blitz.

Texas Toad at North Texas Liberal tells us that the U.S. Senate Majority Leader has finally decided to call out the GOP in Iraq in Senator Reid’s Jujitsu On Iraq.

Hal at Half Empty explores Governor Perry’s choice of Don McLeroy to head the State Board of Education in Governor Perry Names ‘Academically Unacceptable’ To Head Texas School Board.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News reminds everyone to see Michael Moore’s SiCKO and reminds us to call senators and congressmen about the healthcare crisis, while telling us why he won’t be bothering to call Senator John Cornyn.

McBlogger at McBlogger wants to know why Stonewall Democrats President Shannon Bailey hasn’t resigned yet.

Krazypuppy at Texas Kaos is celebrating his own recovery from minor surgery this week by commiserating in his own inimitable way with the President’s latest colorectal adventure.

What is the Texas GOP doing to get ready for 2008? Charles Kuffner at Off the Kuff takes a look.

Do you want a red border fence or a green one? Will it make Texas look fat? CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme blogs about how the Republicans are all about PR and imagery. Chertoff opened his mouth and proved it once again.

MexicoBob at Who’s Playin’? explores some issues related to some outdated marijuana references in the City of Lewisville’s smoking ordinance in Texas Town To Allow Public Smoking Of Weed.

PMBryant at B and B explores journalists downplaying the effects of gender bias during an article on women and their career choice.

PDiddie at Brains & Eggs quotes Dave McNeely’s column regarding the potential 18th Texan to serve in the US Senate.

AAS Does The Landfill, This Isn’t News

Posted in Landfill, HD-52, Williamson County at 12:52 am by wcnews

Check this story out, Williamson landfill contract might be revealed. It’s hard to figure out what the point of this story is. Any person that’s heard about this issue knows that the Williamson County Commissioners Court has been hemming and hawing for months on whether or not they’re going to allow the citizens of the county more than a couple of days to look over the contract before public comment, and a final vote is taken on the new deal is finished. And after the many months of negotiation guess what? The Court is still hemming and hawing on whether or not they’re going to allow the citizens of the county to see the contract for more than a couple of days. (Emphasis added).

A controversial new landfill contract could be available for Williamson County residents to review for 30 days before commissioners sign it, County Attorney Jana Duty says.


It will be up to county commissioners whether residents can get a monthlong look at the new contract, Duty said. Two of the five commissioners said last week that they were unsure how they would vote.

“I have mixed feelings, in that I believe in open government, and we certainly have nothing to hide,” County Commissioner Lisa Birkman said. “On the other hand, we don’t do that for other contracts.”

The Commissioners Court typically releases contracts a few days before voting on them.

Commissioner Ron Morrison, whose precinct is home to the landfill, asked for an outside attorney to look over the contract before the vote. He said he’s open to letting residents review it.

County Judge Dan A. Gattis was out of the country and not available for comment last week. He has said the county would not release the contract for public review.

Commissioners Valerie Covey and Cynthia Long did not return calls for comment last week.

So let’s see…Birkman’s a maybe at best, Morrison’s open to it but we won’t know until he actually votes, Gattis is a no, and Covey and Long won’t talk. Does anyone see three votes for open government in all of that? I don’t. This isn’t news. In between the parts excerpted above is another attempt by the county to make it look like all the citizen outrage is being ginned up by the current landfill operator VMI’s opponent, TDS.

This could all be solved if the county would just open the contract up to competitive bidding and do something else they’ve done very little of, get citizen input and involvement in the process. Now that would be news.


TxDOT’s Sunset Review Kick-Off Party & Media Blitz

Posted in Privatization, Road Issues, Around The State at 11:18 am by wcnews

In what looks like a media blitz to show that TxDOT was right all along, and to justify it’s continuing existence in relation to it’s upcoming Sunset review, TxDOT this week is holding it’s Texas Transportation Forum toll-gasm conference.

Much of the focus has been on a draft report of a soon to be released “independent” report - TxDOT paid $3.5 million for the report - that says:

Texas needs more toll roads, and drivers should pay more to use them, an external audit of the Texas Department of Transportation suggested Wednesday.

(Kuff’s response):
I like that “priced to reflect the value - including the time saved” line. Because, of course, if you keep your toll roads expensive enough to guarantee that they’re never crowded, then it’s a self-perpetuating justification. Better yet, if you ensure that the remaining non-toll roads are sufficiently decrepit and jammed up, you’ll also have a built-in reason to keep raising tolls in the future. What more could a local toll road authority want?

A TxDOT paid for “independent” audit that reaffirms TxDOT’s toll every road stance. That’s just a happy coincidence for TxDOT I’m sure. Although the forum is billed as a chance to, “Experience the vision. Share your ideas. Join the conversation. Keep Texas moving”, in reality it appears to be more a way to bring lawmakers and those who make money off of government transportation deals together:

…the need for toll financing and other alternatives to gasoline taxes is a major theme of the conference that brought together public officials and private contractors from across the state.

The audience that packed the Hilton ballroom found in each chair a Texas Department of Transportation brochure titled “TxDot: Open for Business — A Guide to Accelerating Transportation Projects.[.PDF]

The booklet explains various strategies approved by the Legislature in 2003 to supplement tax revenue with toll financing, public-private partnerships and regional mobility authorities.

The conference coincided with the release of an audit by TxDOT, suggesting the state’s best chance for keeping up is to build more toll roads with higher fees.

Now the report, as Move It! explains, has one point that may be worth further exploration. It’s a plan based on making ALL drivers pay a user fee based on vehicle miles traveled:

A long-term answer is to switch from a tax on gas to a tax on how much people drive, called a vehicle miles traveled charge or VMT charge. Oregon finished testing such a system in March and a report is due this summer.

“Texas needs to lay the ground work to move to a VMT charge over the next 20 years,” the report says. (see Oregon Test [.PDF]).

The technology for the implementation may still be a little ways off but this has the potential to be a fair, broad-based tax that charges drivers for the amount of driving they do.

One last thing. Gov. Perry was quoted as saying this:

And the fuel tax “has problems on its face,” he said. Unlike toll roads, which typically have a free alternative, fuel taxes are paid by all drivers, and hit rural residents hardest.

“The boys out in Lubbock, Odessa and Marfa really don’t see the benefit in it for them,” he said.

When Gov. Perry runs around the state telling Texans that we have to build the Trans-Texas Corridor, and take away precious farmland and family legacies, he says it must be done to benefit all of Texas. The “conservative” staple excuse of using economic development as the reason when it benefits their cause. But in those sentences he’s refuting that statement by saying that toll roads only benefit urban/suburban Texans. Which is it governor? Either our highways are built for the benefit of ALL Texans and should be funded by ALL Texans or they shouldn’t. You can’t have it both ways.

Again I’ll refer you back to EOW’s earlier post on the “independent” audit, It’s Not The Size Of The Shorfall, It’s How It’s Made Up That Matters. No matter how we want to slice it, the ultimate question is, How do Texans want to pay to make up for the disrepair and neglect our state leaders, and ultimately ourselves, have allowed our transportation infrastructure to fall into in this state? EOW believes the best way to do this is in the fairest, and most broad-based, way possible, which at this time happens to be raising and indexing the gas tax.

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