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Hometown: Austin, TX
Home country: U.S.
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 18,063

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Texans among the U.S. reps benefitting relatives, watchdog group says

Dallas Morning News 3/26/12

Texans among the U.S. reps benefitting relatives, watchdog group says

A Roll Call story over the weekend led me to a fiscal watchdog group's new study on nepotism in the Beltway.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington found nearly 250 members of the U.S. House of Representatives had "used their positions to benefit themselves and family," based on an analysis of public records from the last two election cycles. That's more than half of the House.

Of Texas' 32 representatives, 20 were found to have aided family or themselves in some way. A handful was further singled out for their largesse. Among them: Ron Paul (who paid six relatives $304,000), Silvestre Reyes (who reimbursed family $143,000) and Kay Granger (who earmarked $28.3 million to Fort Worth's Trinity River development project, which her son helps oversee).

The whole list available from link above. Texas Rs were of course very heavily represented - because of course they hate big government. Right!

Tejano Monument dedication set for Thursday

Austin American Statesman 3/26/12

Tejano Monument dedication set for Thursday

At Thursday's long-awaited dedication of the Tejano Monument at the Capitol, hundreds of schoolchildren will lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and the descendants of pioneer Tejano settlers will unveil some of the 10 pieces of the massive granite and bronze statuary. Children will lift the veils off statues depicting a young boy and girl.

Like the monument, a vision conceived in 2000 and meticulously crafted over the past decade, incorporating children and families in the ceremony is by design.

"The message is that it's not about the bronze and the stone and the past. The monument is a statement about modern Texas and living Texans," said Andrés Tijerina, an Austin Community College history professor and one of the leaders behind the nearly $2 million project.

A tribute to Texas' early Spanish and Mexican explorers, settlers and their descendants, the Tejano Monument is the first of its kind at the Capitol. Supporters say it recovers hundreds of years of Texas history, a story usually not told in the conventional narrative that begins with the arrival of Anglos from other states in the 1800s.

Sculpted by Armando Hinojosa of Laredo, the monument tells the sweeping story of pioneer Tejano families, the advent of cattle ranching, farming and the Tejano cultural influences that pervade Texas life centuries later. The life-size statues depict a Spanish explorer, a vaquero (cowboy) on his mustang, two longhorns and a family of settlers. Installed on the south lawn last week, the monument has been eagerly awaited by supporters and the organizers who waged a grass-roots campaign to see it accomplished. The Legislature approved the project in 2001. Supporters raised about $1 million to combine with another $1 million in state money.

Just watch the wingers start complaining about how this is praising illegal immigration. Never mind that Tejanos were here before the Alamo. The wingers can't wrap their heads around that one.

More info about the monument here

Proposed environmental rule to give hundreds more Texas polluters a passing grade

AAS 3/22/12

Proposed environmental rule to give hundreds more Texas polluters a passing grade

About 40 percent fewer gas stations, oil refineries, construction sites and other potential sources of pollution will be considered as having a failing history of compliance under a proposed state rule.

The numbers became clear this week as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality published a sortable list of expected scores for the more than 250,000 pollution sources it regulates after a public information request from the American-Statesman.

Agency officials say the new rule more accurately measures a regulated entity's performance, but critics say the environmental commission is giving big polluters a free pass.


Under the current compliance history rule, about 1,600 sites have failing histories; the proposed rule lowers that total to about 890 sites. A failing, or "non-satisfactory," compliance history could stymie permit applications or changes and even lead to the suspension or revocation of existing permits.

Some of the 1,600 non-satisfactory sites would end up with better ratings, some satisfactory or high-performance sites would have worse ratings, while many would stay the same, a Statesman analysis of the ratings found.

Oh our wonderful environmental state agency TCEQ, (pronounced toxic), a completely captured agency always looking out for their industry polluters!

Redistricting wrangle hits Romney and Texas Republicans

Yahoo News 3/20/12

Redistricting wrangle hits Romney and Texas Republicans

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas should be playing a role in Republican politics this year as big as, well, Texas.

The fast-growing state - the most populous by far in the Republican column - has four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, a big U.S. Senate race and more than a 10th of the delegates who will choose the party's presidential nominee.

But a racially tinged dispute over redrawing its congressional districts has delayed the Texas primary by almost three months, complicated the U.S. Senate and House contests and altered the race for the White House.

A San Antonio court pushed Texas' primary back to May 29 from March 6 after complaints that a new electoral map drawn by Republicans violated the federal Voting Rights Act by diluting the voting power of blacks and Latinos.

Three of Texas' four new U.S. House seats were created in areas dominated by whites, even though Hispanics and blacks accounted for 90 percent of Texas' population growth since 2000.

The battle sets white Republicans, who have firmly established political control in Texas within the past decade, against rising and strongly Democratic Hispanic and black populations, whose leaders argue that they are being unfairly denied an equal voice in state politics.

Ha ha ha Texas white republican a-holes! Texas minorities are the future - your days are limited. I just hope I live to see the day we kick you to the curb like yesterday's trash.

Texas Gets a D+ in Public Integrity Study

Texas Tribune 3/19/12

Texas Gets a D+ in Public Integrity Study

Texas earned a D+ for state integrity, tying with six other states for 27th place, according to a study released Monday by a group of public watchdog agencies.

Texas scored 68 percent, along with Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Montana and West Virginia.

“This study shows it’s time to unshackle Texas’ ethics watchdog and give it some teeth,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen Texas, a watchdog group.

The national report, compiled by the Center for Public Integrity, Public Radio International and Global Integrity, used local reporters in all 50 states to review the laws and practices related to transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms.

The report compared laws and practices in individual states against 330 “corruption risk indicators” and applied them to 14 categories of state government that were each graded on a 0-100 scale.

I'm shocked!
Really expected more of an F, frankly.

Sid Miller's social media lesson (TX transvaginal law author)

Letters From Texas blog 3/14/12

Texas State Representative Sid Miller (R-eject), the author of the invasive sonogram law in Texas, got a quick lesson in social media today, when on Facebook he posted the Doonesbury cartoon featuring state legislator "Sid Patrick." The cartoon lampoons the sonogram legislation Miller and state senator Dan Patrick passed.

Sid Miller: Round Two of Doonsbury today. This time he refers to the house arthur (Sid) and the Senate sponsor( patrick) Well as long as they are talking about you, right.

Yes, it was really spelled "arthur."

It wasn't long before angry people began posting on Miller's Facebook photo. So Miller hid the photo from his wall, not realizing that those who knew the web address at which the photo was located would be able to continue posting. Miller ultimately deleted the photo, and thus the comments.

Harold Cook captured some of the best comments that miserable Sid Miller had to deal with.

Oh I'm sure he's finally feeling as stupid as he is. Oh and I'm sure Miller had to call in his grand kids to help him delete the photo. A-hole!

What's Next for Texas' Women's Health Program?

Texas Tribune 3/14/12
What's Next for Texas' Women's Health Program?

A state rule that forces Planned Parenthood out of Texas' Women's Health Program takes effect today, and in response, the Obama administration is preparing to halt federal funding for the program. But the change won't be immediate: Texas health officials say it will take a few weeks to transition to a fully state-run program from one that had been 90-percent funded by the federal government.

Since the standoff between Texas and the federal government erupted over the state's decision to write clinics "affiliated" with abortion providers out of the Women's Health Program, abortion opponents have argued that there are thousands of more comprehensive health care providers available to take Planned Parenthood's place. By law, none of the clinics enrolled in the five-year-old program were performing abortions.

But Fran Hagerty, the head of the Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas — which represents non-Planned Parenthood providers in Texas, including clinics, hospitals and medical schools — said she seriously doubts Gov. Rick Perry will be able to keep the pledge he made last week to maintain the roughly $30 million-per-year program without federal help. She said the "monstrous" family-planning funding cuts of the last legislative session, made before the Women's Health Program was jeopardized, have eroded trust and have forced clinics to shut their doors.

"The funds made available to family planning providers through the Women’s Health Program is what is keeping most of them going at this point," she said in a statement. "No one trusts Gov. Perry to find state money to fund them at the same level as the Medicaid program."

No one trusts Gov. Perry to find state money to fund them

But that was the whole point in declaring a war on women. Cut off their access to health care.

Feds challenge Texas voter ID

Houston Chronicle 3/12/12

Feds challenge Texas voter ID

The U.S. Justice Department has rejected Texas' new Voter ID law.

The department on Monday said Texas did not meet its burden under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and did show that the law will not discriminate against minority voters.

According to the state's data, a Hispanic registered voter is much more likely than a non-Hispanic registered voter to lack the required identification, according to the Justice Department.

The Republican-controlled Texas Legislature passed voter ID legislation last year, and critics said the measure would make it more difficult for at least 1,000,000 eligible Texas voters to vote.

Way to go DOJ! This piece of voter suppression crap should be fought every step of the way!

John Courage joins race for Texas Senate

San Antonio Express News 3/10/12

Longtime Democratic activist John Courage filed Wednesday to run for state Senate District 25.

The district, which includes a chunk of South Austin plus all or parts of Hays, Kendall, Comal, Bexar and Guadalupe counties, is heavily Republican and currently represented by state Sen. Jeff Wentworth.

Wentworth is facing a bruising primary race against former Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones and emergency room physician and Tea Party favorite Donna Campbell.

Courage said he was inspired to step into the race after listening to a recent candidate's forum.

“It was disappointing to me that they didn't address some of the most important needs in the state: education and health care, particularly for children, seniors and Texas women. There needs to be another voice talking about these issues.”

John Courage is a wonderful candidate and we would be lucky to have him serve. I wish him the very best.

Papers move, scrap 'Doonesbury' abortion law strip

AAS 3/9/12

Papers move, scrap 'Doonesbury' abortion law strip


A handful of newspapers say they won't run next week's series, while several others said the strips will move from the comics to opinion pages or websites only. Many already publish the strip by cartoonist Garry Trudeau, whose sarcastic swipes at society's foibles have a history of giving headaches to newspaper editors, on editorial pages.

The comic strips feature a woman who goes to an abortion clinic and is confronted by several people who suggest she should be ashamed. Among them is a doctor who reads a script on behalf of Texas Gov. Rick Perry welcoming her to a "compulsory transvaginal exam," and a middle-aged legislator who calls her a "slut."

One panel equates the invasive procedure to rape and describes the device used to perform it as a "10-inch shaming wand."

"Our readers are accustomed to pointed political and social commentary in strips like 'Doonesbury' and 'Mallard Fillmore,'" Tom McNiff, managing editor of The Gainesville Sun and Ocala Star-Banner in central Florida, said in an emailed statement explaining the decision not to run the series. "But the language the author used to make his point in two of the strips was quite graphic for a general readership."

Kudos to Gary Trudeau for keeping the national attention on this issue!

Texas is ground zero for the war on women.
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