Texas Liberal

All People Matter

The Purpose Of Republican Presidential Debates Is To Spur Good People To Action—They Are Telling You Just How Mean They Are

I watched the Republican debate this evening.

It was a very bad program—Lousy characters and an awful script.

I realize it was a poor use of my time to watch this debate.

Though this poor decision making on my part would only matter if folks trusted the judgment of bloggers in any case.

I’m hesitant to use my blog to attack these Republican candidates each day, as they are interchangeable with a thousand other race baiting, health care destroying, job killing, fear mongering politicians who could be up on that stage instead. There are so many more hopeful things in life to discuss.

The debate was like a game show where the contestants answer each question in the form of a hate speech.

The most important thing about Santourm, Romney, Gingrich & Paul is that they are up there, and they are saying for all to hear who they are and what they are about.

At that point it is up to each of us to make sure that one of these folks does not become President.

More significantly, it is up to each of us to help create a nation where people like these are not viable candidates for the highest office in the land.

The work of freedom and a more hopeful nation is up to each of us. The point of these Republican debates is to spur good people to action.

There they are up on the stage spewing hate and talking about making the rich richer.

What are you going to do about it?

January 24, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Loyal Citizens (A Few Of Them) Protest Manuel Rodriguez’s Anti-Gay Campaign Tactics—Where Are The Good People?

Above you see freedom loving citizens of Houston protesting the ongoing presence of Manuel Rodriguez on the Houston Independent School District Board.

They are quite appropriately making this protest under the flag of our State of Texas and under the flag of the United States of America.

Mr. Rodriguez circulated anti-gay campaign materials in his recent reelection bid. Mr. Rodriguez won by 24 votes.

The link above shows the campaign circular.

From the Houston Chronicle

“Rodriguez, who is seeking re-election to the District III seat, noted in the brochure that his challenger, Ramiro Fonseca, has “spent years advocating for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender rights … not kids.”  The ad also points out (Ramiro) Fonseca’s endorsement by the Houston GLBT political caucus and underlines the words “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.” Rodriguez describes himself in the flyer as a “family man” who is married to his high school sweetheart and is the father of four and the grandfather of five. The ad says Fonseca has a male partner and no children”

There is a website regarding this issue. 

Though I don’t see a word about this concern on the website of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. 

There were maybe 20 people at the protest shown in the picture. These folks were loyal Americans seeking to right a wrong.

While that is very good, there are a number of questions I had after attending this rally.

Where was the full GLBT community?

Where were the candidates who have been happy to take the Houston GLBT caucus endorsement over the years?

Where were other civil rights groups in Houston? The freedom of all people is connected. Where is the outreach between groups? Where is the effort and imagination? Where is the hope that people working together can make life better?

At the core of the matter, where were everyday citizens of Houston?

Is anybody serious about anything?

You can’t control what folks such as Mr. Rodriguez are going to do or say. There are always going to be people who do and say mean and hateful things.

All you control is your response to the bad actions of people in power.

Mr. Rodriguez and people who support his narrow mindset know the sad facts of the matter as shown by this example.

You can get away with just about anything and folks will look the other way.

Even folks who say they care about issues of civil rights and freedom will for the most part look away.

December 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq Veteran Scott Olsen Wounded By Police At Occupy Oakland—Please Consider Supporting The Occupy Wall Street Effort

Above is a picture of former Marine Scott Olsen after he was seriously wounded by Oakland police yesterday as they attempted to break-up the Occupy Oakland effort.

Mr. Olsen was hit in the head with a projectile of some kind.

The folks who helped bring about this recession with economic crimes and fraud don’t go to jail, but you see above what can happen when you advocate for economic fairness.

YouTube has a video up that strongly suggests police fired so-called non-lethal force into a group of people seeking to assist Mr. Olsen after he was wounded.

The Voice of America reports that Occupy Oakland protestors are not giving up.

Here is how Jon Stewart reported on the situation in Oakland. 

Tea Party events have in many cases treated very well by police. This has been the case even when Tea Party rallies have involved people brandishing guns in public.

Political protestors of all viewpoints should be given a wide latitude. The current Supreme Court has made clear that First Amendment rights are very important.

The Citizens United case was about free speech for political donations of many kinds and from very powerful interests. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Westboro Baptist Church people may shout offensive things at the funeral services of veterans killed in combat.

Free citizens must be allowed to take part in our democracy. Occupy Wall Street supporters do not have the money to buy millions of dollars in campaign ads, or to buy the votes of politicians on both sides of the political aisle.

I support the Occupy Wall Street effort because I’m a hard-working, taxpaying citizen who votes in every election. I want a society where there are good jobs, where everybody pays a fair share of the taxes , and where we show some care for each other.

 Here is the Occupy Wall Street website.

There are Occupy efforts taking place all over the nation. Look around and you may find one near you.

Here is Occupy Houston.

Here is Occupy Galveston.

If there is not one near you, then start one yourself. 

There are Occupy pages all over Facebook.

People have a right to protest and to ask for a fair society.

I’m certain that many police officers feel the very same way. Police officers are everyday working people.

Please take time to consider the Occupy Wall Street effort and please consider lending your support in some way.

October 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Occupy Houston March To Start On Thursday, October 6 At 8:30 AM—Why I Will Be There

(Update– 10/06/11–Here is my post on the event today.) 

(Blogger’s Note— I’m going to say just I what I said yesterday in this space with one new link at the bottom and a new poster for the event below the links. I’ve been heartened  by the amount of blog traffic my posts on the Occupy movement and Occupy Houston have been receiving. Let’s be hopeful and see where all this leads.)   

I’ve worked ever since I graduated college.

I willingly pay all my taxes.

I vote in every election.

I write a political blog so I can be part of our democracy.

I spend much of my free time reading and following baseball.

Maybe I’m the conservative.

Maybe my friends are the conservatives.

Maybe the Occupy Wall Street folks are the conservatives.

We just want a decent society where playing by the rules and working hard is rewarded.

What we don’t what is a nutball free-for-all of corporate criminals owning our politicians, endless war based on lies, and treating people like crap because they may be gay or of color.

This is why I’ll be attending the Occupy Houston event you see described below.

I think we need to be—working together—the source of our own hope and change.

The work of freedom and democracy is up to each of us.

Here is the Occupy Houston website.

Here is the Occupy Wall Street website. 

Here is a great view on the protests from the liberal magazine The Nation.

Here is a Daily Kos post with links to Occupy efforts all across the country. This is a great resource.

October 5, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Occupy Wall Street—We’ll See What Happens

(Update 10/03/11—Here is information about the Occupy Houston event that will be held on October 6.)

The Occupy Wall Street protests are entering a third week.

I don’t know if the protests will lead to anything of consequence or not.

The Los Angeles Times has written that the effort lacks a clear focus at the moment but that it may have some potential.

Liberal columnist Charles Blow of the New York Times is not so far hopeful that a movement will take off from these protests.

Here are some facts about Occupy Wall Street from The Nation magazine.  The Nation is a weekly liberal magazine.

Here is the Occupy Wall Street website.

Various Occupy Facebook sites are being created. There is one for Houston and one for Dallas.

Go on Facebook and see if there is one for a place near you.

We’ll see how this all turns out over the long haul.

In the meantime, see how you can get involved and support these protests.

No matter how it all ends up, these Occupy demonstrators are taking responsibility for their nation.

The work of freedom and democracy is up to each of us.

This fact is something that many Tea Party supporters understood well in 2010.  Tea Party folks are still motivated as 2012 nears.

Every day is a new day. Every day offer a new chance to move in a hopeful direction.

October 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Amy Price For Houston City Council At-Large #4—Ms. Price Listens To People

Amy Price is a running as a Green Party candidate for Houston City Council at-large position 4.

(Above–Ms. Price.)

The incumbent in this race is C.O. Bradford.

Mr. Bradford—a Democrat—has offered Democrats an austerity based fiscal message and a council tenure where he has worked with Republicans to undermine Mayor Annise Parker.

Mr. Bradford’s record of service to the people of Houston includes his time as police chief and his poor stewardship of the City of Houston Crime Lab. Mr. Bradford was police chief from 1997 to 2004.

The impact of the crime lab scandal goes on to this day. 

Mr. Bradford is not loyal to the best ideals of his party. Nor is he public official who has done his job well.

Lacking these qualities, what does Mr. Bradford offer the people of Houston?

Ms. Price is working hard on the campaign trail each day not just to defeat Chief Bradford, but to offer the people of Houston a hopeful progressive choice.

It is not enough to simply be someone other than the person you are running against. You have to offer something of value to the voters you are running to represent.

Ms. Price is asking questions and seeking solutions. She is talking to everyday people in Houston, and not to big corporate donors or advocacy groups who often have narrow agendas.

As Houston voters consider the 2011 City Council field, they will find Ms. Price both true to the values she asserts on the stump, and a person who inspires confidence in voters of all ideological leanings that she will be able to do the job.

Here is an interview with Ms. Price that was conducted by Houston political blogger Charles Kuffner.

Here is the link to Amy’s website.

Here is her campaign blog. 

Here is a link to donate to Ms. Price.

Ms. Price is running a daily series of questions and answers on her campaign blog.

Below is a complete entry from one of her recent posts.

As early voting and Election Day approach for our Houston city elections, the work of deciding who will best serve our city is up to each of us.

It is the responsibility of voters to look beyond name recognition and fundraising advantages to see who will do the best job.

I encourage Houston voters to study the options available on the 2011 municipal ballot and to vote as they see fit.

Here is Ms. Price’s blog entry—

Challenge: a big, complex city

Solution: listen to its inhabitants

While block walking this weekend, I had folks share some fantastic ideas with me. Here they are.

For discouraging the sort of cyclic electricity usage that could lead to brownouts (especially in the future, when we’ll have more people crowded into the same space): have more expensive peak rates and lower off-peak rates. Just like your cell phone plan.

For encouraging water conservation when rationing is going on: up the rates during rationing. The surest way of ensuring that folks do what they should do is to make it something they want to do. Continue reading

September 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Who Is Running In 2011 City Of Houston Elections?

Houston municipal elections are just weeks away.

(Above–Photo montage of Houston by Yassie.

October 11 is the last day to register to vote.

Early voting runs October 24–November 4.

Election Day is November 8.

Voters in Houston will be selecting a Mayor, the City Controller, 5 at-large citywide Council positions, and 11 district Council seats.

(Update 10/25/11—Here are my endorsements for Houston in 2011)

Who are the candidates?

There are some useful resources online for you to get the lay of the land.

Fellow Houston blogger Charles Kuffner has a list posted of the candidates and of what groups have endorsed the candidates.  Charles has also conducted interviews with many of the candidates.These interviews can also be accessed at the link above.

The Harris County Republican Party has a very helpful list of the candidates with the party identification of each candidate.

The Harris County Democratic Party—damned near useless in municipal elections as always—has a list of candidates that offers no clues at all as to who is a Democrat.

The Harris County Green Party has a web site as well.  There are two Green candidates in 2011.

While candidates are not listed by party on the city ballot, nothing prohibits candidates for Houston city office from saying what party they represent.

Party identification is a core political question that tells voters a number of things about a candidate.

I don’t know why the Harris County Democratic Party does not promote itself and all the Democratic candidates on the ballot  more aggressively in City of Houston elections.

Most people in Houston vote Democratic in most elections.

You would think that given how lousy turnout is in city elections year-after-year, that the Democratic Party would want to expand the number of people who take part in these elections.

You would think this would be even more the case as the 2012 elections approach. Democrats will have positions to gain and to defend in Harris County in 2012.

While I do not believe that Barack Obama will win Texas in 2012, there is no reason to concede 14 months before the election. You never know. Houston is the largest city in Texas. Should not every effort be made to mobilize likely Democratic voters in Houston?

I suppose though that if the local Democratic establishment did really try to expand turnout , they might have to start to answer questions about why our local Democrats are silent about a near 50% child poverty rate in Houston.

And, of course, we would not want partisanship to get in the way of Democratic Mayor Annise Parker’s outreach to Republicans.

Mayor Parker’s 70% victory with 15% turnout is going to be of cold comfort should Republicans make major gains in Harris County in 2012 and if Rick Perry is elected President.

As we progress towards Election Day, I’m going to have more on the candidates and on who liberals and progressives can support with some measure of enthusiasm.

I’m afraid that may not be a very long list.

In any case, it is up to each voter to learn about the candidates and to ask questions of the candidates during the election season.

The work of freedom and democracy is up to each of us.

September 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Driver’s License Renewal—Peace & Blessings To All Our Fellows

I’m at the DMV right now getting my driver’s license renewed.

I’m happy to be with all my fellow citizens. And non-citizens.

All people must visit the DMV to get a driver’s license.

The picture here is of my shoes as I wait in line.

Some of our fellow citizens don’t look very friendly. I’m concerned that somebody might shoot me if I took a picture in which they felt they had been included.

On the other hand, I was able to lend a pen to a man who based on his accent might have originally been from Africa.

Peace and blessings to all our fellow men and women from all over the globe.

Peace and blessings and just keep your eyes focused down on the floor so as to avoid trouble.

September 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up—The Mess That Is Democracy

Here is the weekly round-up of the Texas Progressive Alliance. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. TPA members are citizen-bloggers who are working hard for a better Texas.

Every Texan has the ability has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and even run for public office. The work of freedom is up to each of us.

(Above–While it is true that our democracy often seems like a big mess, we each have to make the call to take command of our futures. Photo copyright 2010 Neil Aquino.) 

Here is the round-up—

Off the Kuff wonders how big the next state deficit will be. Because we’re surely going to have one.

McBlogger takes a look at the Republicans’ most recent effort to give us RyanFraud. Continue reading

July 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

How Do We Have Money To Attack Libya?—We Can Always Ask More Of Ourselves As Citizens

How is it that we have the money to attack Libya?

Each Tomahawk missile we have launched on Libya cost $569,000 in 1999 dollars.

Then there are all the costs of fuel and manpower and whatever else involved.

As of 3:37 PM EST, Sunday, March 20 , the U.S and Britain had launched a total of 124 Tomahawks in Libya.

Britain has a big austerity program going on.—Still, the U.K. also found the resources for war.

How much will this all cost American taxpayers?

I don’t know.

But given that the President has said we must cut even programs that help the poor, whatever the Libya mission costs would seem to be more than we have.

Or at least more than we told we have by both major political parties.

Maybe the alleged budget crisis we are so often told exists is in fact something of a fraud.

Here is the United States Navy website for the Tomahawk Missile.

The full term is Tomahawk Land Attack Missile. The Tomahawk name is trademarked.

(Above–A Tomahawk missile product.)

Just because your tax dollars bought the things, does not mean you can call the missile you build in your garage a Tomahawk.

I support the Libya mission. I think we need to act to prevent a massacre of Libyan dissidents and rebels by Colonel Gaddafi.

Hopefully, I’d see the question the  same way if a Republican President had ordered the attack.

It should be noted though, that President Obama does not see the authority of a President to order combat without the approval of Congress in quite the same way candidate Obama saw the question.

How do Republicans feel about the Libya mission?

It is hard to view Republicans as credible on this question.

In the years since 9/11, Democrats and liberals have often been attacked for being soft of terrorism and for not supporting our troops.

This despite the fact that draft-dodger George W. Bush and draft-dodger Dick Cheney did not provide proper body armour to protect our troops fighting in our wars.

From the New York Times of January 7,2006

“A secret Pentagon study has found that as many as 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had had extra body armor. Such armor has been available since 2003, but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.”

Here is a useful website to see which Republicans have avoided service and how Republicans and Democrats are rated on issues impacting veterans.

I recall how back in 2002 Democratic Senator Max Cleland of Georgia, a triple amputee from combat in Vietnam, lost his seat after being attacked by his Republican opponent as weak on national security. Television ads were run in that campaign picturing Mr. Cleland with Osama and Saddam.

In regards to Libya, I imagine Republicans believe we should support a sitting President at a time of conflict. I’m sure they feel that to believe otherwise would be to put our troops at risk.

Right? Did I get the standard Republican line correct here? Or does it only apply when we have a Republican President?

I’m concerned the allied troops fighting for a better future in Libya. I’m concerned for people in Libya. I hope rebel forces in Libya have democratic aspirations.

It seems sometimes the best you can hope for on these type issues is that you get at least some measure of truth from people in power.

It does not have to be this way. People do not need to be helpless.

Our leaders from both parties know that often what we appear to want most is to avoid military service, avoid taxes, get cheap gas, and to blame Muslims for our problems.

We always have the ability to expect more of ourselves.

If we asked more from ourselves, we would get more from our leaders.

( Below–Senator Cleland in Crawford, Texas in 2004. Mr. Cleland was attempting to deliver a letter to George W. Bush asking that attack ads on John Kerry’s Vietnam service be stopped.)

March 21, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

State Rep. Borris Miles Says Texans Should Flood State Capitol Just Like In Wisconsin—Where Are Other Elected Texas Democrats?

Houston-area Texas State Representative Borris Miles says that Texans should flood the Texas State Capitol in Austin just as people are doing at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison.

Here is a portion of what Rep. Miles said—

“We need to fill the Texas Capitol like the citizens of Wisconsin are doing in Madison and let our voices be heard.  I have been inspired by the citizens of Wisconsin turning their capitol into the people’s house and we need to do the same thing here in Texas.”

Why should Texans do such a thing?

Again from Rep. Miles—

“Make no mistake, balancing the budget purely through by budget cuts will have a disastrous effect not only on District 146, but the entire state.  In fact, Standard & Poor’s said that Texas needed to combine new revenue along with budget cuts to prevent significant negative impacts on local governments and public schools.  I have not tried to hide my disgust with the proposed budget whose deepest cuts will fall on children, the poor, the disabled and the elderly.”

Other elected Democrats at all levels of government in Texas should also be calling for average citizens to take the lead in fighting back against the brutal cuts being planned in our Texas legislature.

Is anybody aware of any leadership coming from Houston City Council on these questions? Has Mayor Annise Parker made clear a strategy of any kind with these cuts on the way? Is the city lobbying in Austin? Will that lobbying make any difference? Are we just supposed to sit by quietly? Would Tea Party activists, who out-worked and out-organized the other side in 2010, do nothing if they were under attack in Austin?

What about where you live in Texas? Are the Democrats you vote for year-after-year well-representing you when the stakes are so high for the things we value as Democrats and as liberals and progressives?

Rep. Miles has it right. Everyday Texans must take the lead in working against the brutal cuts under strong consideration in Austin.

March 3, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 4 Comments

March 12 Save Texas Schools Rally Gains Momentum—You Must Make The Decision To Take Action

Texans are fighting back against sharp cuts in public education and other essential state services that are being planned by Governor Rick Perry and the Republican dominated Texas legislature.

We here in Texas can be just as tough and organized as we are seeing in Wisconsin.

How are drastic cuts in education funding going to help Texas children prosper in the global economy? Isn’t it hard enough for young adults to get a start in the changing world economy?

(Above– The John B. Connally High School. J.B.C.H.S.  is part  of Pflugerville I.S.D. The slogan of P.I.S.D. is “Each Child. Their Future. Our World.” )

There will be a massive Save Texas Schools march at 11 AM and rally at noon the State Capitol in Austin on Saturday, March 12.

If you live in the Houston-area and Alief ISD area, there is a free bus you can take to the protest.

Here are facts about this bus—

What: Alief to Austin bus for Save Texas School rally at the Capitol
When: Saturday, March 12. 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM
Where: LeRoy Crump Stadium parking lot, 4214 Cook, Houston, TX (map)
Cost: FREE!
RSVP: Natali. Lacasa@gmail.com

(Below–Buffalo High School is in Buffalo, Texas. Buffalo is in Leon County. Buffalo is “Where  the mighty bison roam.”)


Here are details about others folks in Texas planning to help people get to the rally. There is another Houston-area location on this list.

Here is a list of  the very many school districts around Texas that will have supporters at the rally.

Here is a history of education in Texas from the excellent Handbook of Texas Online. You always have the option to learn more.

(Below—Amarillo High School is in Amarillo. Amarillo I.S.D. says — “Our mission is to graduate every student prepared for success beyond high school.”)

Regardless of if you attend the rally or not, there are steps you can take to fight for Texas kids and for a better future for Texas. Please consider the list below as a model for all sorts of citizen-action that you ,and the people you know, have the ability to complete.  Here is the Save Texas Education Funding site that is the source of this list.

(The good folks at Save Texas Education Funding want you to know that they are a non-partisan group and that they seek the support of all Texans.)

1.  Write to your legislators by mail or fax using a letter template

2.  Email your legislators using the same letter template

3.  Call your legislators (this will only take you 5 minutes or less per call)

4.  Contact the members of the Education and Appropriations Committees.  If you mail a letter to the Committee Chairman, you can include a sticky note asking the Aide to distribute a copy of your letter to all members of the Committee.

5.  Meet with your legislators

(Below–Ysleta I.S.D. is in El Paso. Ysleta is the “Star of Texas.”


6.  Sign Petitions & host Block Walks in your neighborhood to gather petition signatures

7. Attend the “Save Texas Schools Rally” in Austin on March 12th

8.  Attend the Legislative Day in Austin on Monday, March 14th (free bus transportation, lunch and training will be provided, but no children permitted to attend): http://www.texasedfunding.com/home/activities/legislative-meeting-day (Emailsusan.deigaard@gmail.com to RSVP by March 1st)

9.  Join an Email Distribution List for updates by emailing TexasEdFunding@gmail.com.  Join the Facebook group: Texans for Public Education Funding

10.  Ask your children to write letters to Governor Perry and Legislators

And Finally: Email everyone you know (even outside Texas) to inform them of the issues and ask for them to take the above actions as well.  Spread the word to Save Texas Schools!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Also, don’t forget the protest against the state budget to be held at Houston City Hall at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, March 15.

We all have the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family,  start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor,  volunteer for candidates and causes you value, and even run for office yourself. It is up to you to do the work of freedom and to make progress for the future in our state of Texas.

March 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Statewide Save Texas Schools Rally In Austin On March 12—Texas Progressive Alliance Blogger Round-Up

Blogger’s Note–3/1/11–Updated post with new facts about the rally.

Here is the most recent edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up.  The TPA is a confederation of the best political citizen-bloggers in Texas.

With the round-up this week, are the dates of two upcoming protests against the drastic budget cutting and vindictive culture war legislation being enacted  now in our Texas legislature.

On Saturday,March 12, a Save Texas Schools rally and march will be held at the State Capitol in Austin. This event will begin at noon. There is hope that this will be a good-sized protest with people coming to Austin from all over the state.

On Tuesday, March 15, there will be a Texans Day of Outrage protest at Houston City Hall. This event will take place at 4:30 PM.

Be certain to pass on word of these rallies to your friends and neighbors.

There has already been a rally at the Capitol against harsh immigration measures that some in the legislature are proposing.

Texas librarians have also rallied at the Capitol against sharp cuts in state assistance to libraries.

I’m certain this is a very incomplete list. If you are aware of an upcoming event anywhere in Texas, please leave a comment.

It is likely the pace of protests will pick up as the legislature begins to seriously consider bills and to take important votes.

It is up to each of us to do the hard work of freedom. Do you want to be out-worked and out-organized by the Tea Party/Republican Party yet again?

Let’s get to work now. Not just for the issues being discussed in the legislature at the moment, but also for the fights ahead and for 2012.

We can flood the Capitol just like we are seeing in Wisconsin. We can fight back and make progress.

Here is the round-up—

Off the Kuff examines the Perry/Combs slap fight over Amazon’s decision to leave Texas rather than pay taxes.

Letters From Texas reports on a note that a pregnant woman sent to Texas state Senator Leticia Van de Putte, as the Senate prepared to pass the sonogram bill, and as the woman prepared to leave for the hospital to deliver her baby. Surprise #1: the woman is against the bill. Surprise #2: so is her father. Surprise #3: her father is another Texas state Senator.

This week the Legislative Study Group released an updated version of the “Texas on the Brink”, Eye On Williamson had this to say: for Texas to get off the brink, we must fight for the impossible.

A gaggle of Houston bloggateers met with Metro’s CEO and board membersand discussed the many changes the transit authority has completed in the past year. PDiddie from Brains and Eggs was there and filed a report. Continue reading

February 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Steps You Can Take To Defend Our Texas Public Schools—It Is Up To You To Act

Blogger’s Note—The  following post was compiled and written by top Houston political blogger Charles Kuffner at his blog Off The Kuff. I asked Charles if I could use this material here and he was kind enough to say yes. The post deals with what people can do to fight drastic cuts in Texas education being planned by the Texas legislature and Governor Rick Perry.  While the post deals at first with the Houston-area Spring Branch Independent  School District, it could just as easily be about any school district in Texas.  As you read down the post, you’ll see  it offers ways for average folks from all over Texas to fight back and win.  I cannot imagine there is any part of Texas not concerned about these cuts in education. It cannot be said enough—The hard work of freedom and of bringing about a hopeful future is up to all of us. We all have the option to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, to write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family,  start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor,  volunteer for candidates and causes we value, and even run for office ourselves. I urge you to consider all these possibilities as from Wisconsin to Washington, D.C, to Austin, our American values of fair play for all are under attack.  Thanks again to Off The Kuff for this post.

1. First and foremost, make sure you understand the scope of the issue and how it will affect you. Here’s an email that was sent out by the Spring Branch ISD to its parents:

Why should you care about the State Legislature and how its leadership impacts SBISD students? 

  • In 2005, state property taxpayers were told by the Texas Legislature that their property taxes would be lowered and that the funding loss to our schools would be made up through other taxes or revenue sources, including a new business or “margins” tax. That promise to make up for the funding loss has not been kept. The Texas Legislature must honor its commitment and restore this funding.

  • Reductions proposed in Austin would equate to 15% of SBISD’s current funding. This represents a reduction of about $800 per student from the current $5,700 per student allotment, or $20,000 per classroom. Pictured in another way, this is the equivalent of one full class period being eliminated from every student’s school day.

  • In 2006, the state froze school district revenue at the 2006 level. Since that time, in order to fund basic inflationary cost increases, including cost-of-living increases for our teachers, SBISD has made difficult non-campus reductions and used its savings to limit the direct effect on our classrooms. In fact, the current 2010-11 SBISD budget reflects reductions of more than $8 million to make ends meet. Unless the Legislature restores school funding, SBISD will no longer be able to keep the impact of yearly budget reductions away from its classrooms.
Our Priorities:Spring Branch ISD students will graduate from high school on time and go on to successfully complete a 2-year technical degree, or a 2-year associate’s degree, or a 4-year bachelor’s degree. 

To support this goal, the Legislature must: 

  • provide SBISD with a revenue stream that is predictable, takes into account inflationary costs, and is not less than the amount SBISD currently receives;
  • exempt school districts from state mandates for which the Legislature has not appropriated funding sufficient to meet expenditures (for example, costs related to the 4X4 math/science requirement);
  • restore the authority of elected school boards to raise funds locally without a tax-rate election, and eliminate the requirement that any of these additional funds be sent to the state (Robin Hood);
  • return local control and responsibility over important issues, such as the school calendar, to elected school district trustees who are most accountable to the community on matters of public schools; and
  • provide high-performing school districts like SBISD with autonomy and flexibility over their educational program.

As the Texas Legislature continues to meet during the months ahead, reduced budgets and associated reductions will be more clearly defined. SBISD, in the meantime, will continue to communicate with Legislators and our community about what these cuts will mean to our students, our employees and the local community.

If you’re not getting this kind of information about what’s going on with your school and your school district, talk to your child’s teacher, your PTA, your principal, or your school board trustee. You can’t know what to do if you don’t know what’s at stake.

2. Make your voice heard in Austin by lobbying your Representative, your Senator, and the members of the relevant legislative committees. HISD has a Legislative Training sessionscheduled for next Saturday to help you learn who these people are and what your best strategies are for communicating with them.

With the State of Texas facing a record-level budget shortfall, it is expected that the Texas Legislature will be severely cutting funding for public education.

To help parents, teachers, administrators, students, and other concerned members of the community understand how this could affect Houston-area students, HISD will be presenting a “primer” on how the Texas Legislature works on Saturday, February 26.

The district’s second “Legislative 101,” which starts at 9:00 a.m. at the DeBakey High School for Health Professions (3100 Shenandoah, 77021), will provide participants with an update on current legislative activity, the chance to hear from top lobbyists on the most effective ways to communicate with elected officials, and details on how Houston-area school districts can work together on legislative issues impacting their students.

For planning purposes, those who expect to attend this event are asked to RSVP as soon as possible to events@houstonisd.org.

You can also watch a video of the first event held on January 27.

Some legislators – Republicans, for the most part – will need more convincing than others.

3. Head up to Austin for a rally and march.

We invite everyone from across Texas to join us at the Capitol building in Austin Texas on March 12th, 2011!

Save Texas Schools will hold a rally and march at the State Capitol on March 12, 2011, with parents, teachers, students, community members, business owners, and faith organizations. A list of speakers and entertainment is in the works for this historic, nonpartisan, family-friendly event. We invite everyone, from school districts all across the state of Texas, to join us in asking our lawmakers to Keep Texas Smart!

DATE: Saturday, March 12, 2011

TIME/PLACE:

March: 11:00 a.m. starting from 12th & Trinity (2 blocks from the Capitol)

Rally: Noon – 2:00 p.m. at the Texas State Capitol on the South Steps, Congress Ave. & 11th St.

Click the link above for a map, and click here to RSVP.

So there you have it. If we don’t fight for this, we will have no right to complain later on. And if you need a little inspiration to get into the fighting mood, read this letter from John Kuhn, superintendent of the Perrin-Whitt Consolidated Independent School District, in which he channels a little William Travis to the Lege.

February 21, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

It Is Up To The Individual To Decide To Work With Others For Shared Goals

Regular readers of the blog will know I often emphasize the fact that it is up to everyday people to do the work of freedom.

We are seeing this fact in full view with current events in Egypt, the middle east, and Wisconsin.

It is the responsibility of everyday people to fight back and make progress.

In Texas, as crippling budget cuts are planned for health and education, everyday people can flood the state capitol just as is going on in Wisconsin right now.

In the end, it is up to the individual to make the decision to work with others for shared goals.

You and the people who share your hopes for the future have the make the call to move ahead.

February 19, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

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