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The Air Is So Bad In Texas That It Offends Oklahoma—States Rights Views Infringe On Our Neighbors

Pollution coming from Texas is so bad that it offends Oklahoma.

From the Houston Chronicle

“Coal-fired power plants in Texas are responsible for dozens of bad air days in neighboring states each year, according to a new analysis released by an environmental group Tuesday. The study, produced by the Sierra Club, attributes as many as 64 days with harmful levels of smog in Oklahoma to Texas’ coal plants. It also ties the plants to as many as 20 days of unhealthy air in Arkansas and up to 16 in Louisiana. “The coal plants are a real problem — not just for Texas, but the entire region,” said Jennifer Powis, a regional representative for the Sierra Club, which opposes the new push to build more coal-fired plants in Texas. The report supports earlier concerns raised by Oklahoma officials about the potential impacts on their state from the nearly 30 coal-fired plants either operating, permitted or proposed in Texas. The attorney general for Oklahoma asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency in May to require Texas to show that the new plants will not foul the state’s air before issuing permits for construction…..Oklahoma, for example, had 64 days that exceeded soon-to-be-finalized federal limits for ozone in one year because of emissions from existing coal plants in Texas. The proposed plants would cause another 11 days of dirty air north of the Red River, the study concluded.”

Oklahoma is no tree-hugger place. Yet the air coming from Texas is so bad that Oklahoma is angry.

Texas is fighting the Environmental Protection Agency over clean air standards and over greenhouse gas emission standards.

It’s all part of the so-called states rights kick that Governor Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott, and the state legislature are indulging in for temporary political gain.

We cannot not forget that no man is an island.

We can say we are going it alone, but all things are connected. Our bad air is harming people in other states. It is also, of course, harming people in Texas as well.

States rights is a philosophy that may sound good to some. But the reality has been that over our national history, this idea has been used to justify the worst civil rights abuses.

In this case, we see that states rights views are being used in a way to justify even more harmful activity.

I am in no way a reflexive opponent of industry.

Industry is needed to create the products we use in our lives. People need the jobs that industry provides. The technology that drives industry is an extension of our intellects.

A balance must be found between clean air and the needs of industry. The State of Texas has no interest in finding that balance. The State of Texas wants to press ahead with an extreme ideological point at the expense of others.

When even a very conservative state like Oklahoma objects, you have to wonder if we are going overboard with a my-way-or-the-highway view in Texas.

We are playing the music very loud all day long and our neighbors object. We are not the only people who live in the neighborhood.

Public Citizen Texas is doing a great job in fighting for clean air and an economically prosperous future for  Texas. Check out the Public Citizen homepage and see the great work they are doing.

( Below–Picture I took a few months ago on a cloudy day of industry in Pasadena, Texas.)


November 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rick Molina Working Hard To Represent The People Of Pasadena In Austin

Rick Molina is running very hard to win in Texas State House District 144.

This district represents the hard-working people of Pasadena, Texas. Pasadena is the second largest city in Harris County.

From Mr. Molina’s campaign web home

“From an early age, his parents taught him the value of hard work, persistence, and community service. His family wasn’t wealthy but they knew that a good education was the key to success. As the first person in his family to go to college, Rick attended nearby Rice University and the University of Houston Law School, all while working part-time to pay his own tuition and volunteering as a student mentor. Unfortunately, today’s skyrocketing tuition costs undermine not just our families but our businesses that depend on a skilled workforce to keep our region economically competitive. Rick wants to make sure that our colleges aren’t off limits to middle class students. After college, Rick moved back home because he knew Pasadena had the right elements to raise a family of his own: quality of life, friendly people, and safe neighborhoods. Crime prevention is important in every community and Rick will use his experience as a former Harris County prosecutor to keep drugs, gangs, and violent criminals off our streets and focus on supporting our law enforcement officers.”

Mr. Molina’s opponent, incumbent Ken Legler has a very poor record on job creation and helping people who are put of work in these hard times.

Click here for some of the details on Mr. Legler’s record on outsourcing jobs abroad and opposing unemployment benefits.

Mr. Molina is hard-worker and a great believer in the American Dream. He’s the kind of effective representative in Austin that the people of Pasadena merit.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Joe Horn Gets Away With It

There is not much one can add at this point to discussion of the Joe Horn case.

Mr. Horn is the Pasadena, Texas resident who last year shot and killed two men after they robbed a neighbor’s home. He shot them in the back.

People aware of the issue know how they feel about the matter. Views on this question have been set in stone for many months now.

A Harris County grand jury yesterday decided not to indict Mr. Horn for any crime at all.

Many readers at the Houston Chronicle expressed satisfaction with this decision on the Chronicle’s online forums.

By satisfaction I mean they were downright glad Mr. Horn had killed the two men.

The two men were Hispanic illegal immigrants. 

It does not require much imagination to guess what some were saying.

There is a widely circulated picture of Mr. Horn that in some eyes may make him look like some type of stereotypical rube. 

I never run that picture on this blog because I feel it is sometimes used to say, “Look at this guy–Of course he shot two people of color.”

As we saw with the grand jury yesterday, and as we see in the crime news that bombards us each day in Houston and in this entire metro region, tolerance for cold blooded killing is widespread and fits no profile of appearance, gender or skin color.

Mr. Horn had the option to stay in his home, as he was advised to do by the 911 operator, and not kill anybody.

He took another course and killed two fellow human beings.

I don’t believe in karma.

I don’t believe in hell.

He just got away with it.  

July 1, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Texas | , , | 18 Comments

Texas U.S. House District 22—Facts, History & Views

Texas U.S. House district 22 is up for grabs in 2008.

Here are some facts, history and views on this race. 

Texas U.S. House district 22, previously held by disgraced former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, is now held by Democrat Nick Lampson.  

( Here is a photo of Mr. Lampson. He is happy in this picture.)  

Here is some information about Mr. Lampson from the 2008 Almanac of American Politics

Lampson grew up in Beaumont; he got his first job sweeping floors at age 12 when his father died. After graduating from Lamar University, he taught science in Beaumont schools, leading the first local Earth Day celebration in 1979, and then taught a real estate management course at Lamar; he also headed a home health care company. In 1977, he was elected Jefferson County tax assessor; he claimed to cut the cost of tax collections during his 18 years on the job. In Lampson’s previous House stint, he had a moderate voting record and was a member of the New Democrat Coalition. He promoted the Johnson Space Center from his Science Committee assignment and also looked after local needs from his perch on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. In 2003, Lampson fell victim to the 2003 redistricting plan that was designed to oust Anglo Democrats like him. Republican Ted Poe defeated him 56%-43% the next year in the newly formed 2d District.

On the Republican side, an April 8 runoff will decide the nomination.

One of the two Republicans in the runoff, Pete Olson, a former chief of staff to far right-wing Texas Senator John Cornyn, is a conventionally awful conservative Republican.

Mr. Olson is your man for more war, more tax cuts for the rich and no progress on universal health care.

The other candidate, former Houston City Councilwoman Dr. Shelley Sekula Gibbs , is uniquely awful.

Due to a quirk in electoral law, Ms. Sekula Gibbs served a two-month term in the U.S. House between Election Day 2006 and Congressional Inauguration Day 2007.

Here is an account of that term from the Associated Press after staffers resigned citing mistreatment by Ms. Sekula Gibbs  —

The staff members have a combined thirty-plus years of experience working on the Hill,” Mr. James wrote. “Never has any member of Congress treated us with as much disrespect and unprofessionalism as we witnessed during those five days.”

Ms. Sekula-Gibbs has raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill, largely because of the resignations. Earlier, she told reporters she planned to resolve such thorny issues as tax cuts, immigration reform and the Iraq war — all in less than two weeks of a lame-duck Congress”

Despite how lousy the Republicans are, voting for Mr. Lampson is a judgement call.

On one hand, in 2006 Mr. Lampson  campaigned to the right in order to win a Republican-leaning district. George W. Bush won 64% here in 2004. Sometimes you do what you have to do.

On the other hand, Lampson’s 2006 campaign seemed at times further to the right than required. Specifically egregious in my view was an ad criticizing Dr. Sekula Gibbs for routine city council votes on water and sewer rate hikes.

Cities have to be able to function.

Here is Representative Lampson’s campaign page

You could argue that as long as Mr. Lampson supports Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker and votes with Democrats as often as political realities allow, why not take the best you are going to get in tough circumstances?

Or, you could argue that we are not always obligated to take the least-bad option. Sometimes you can just leave a blank spot on your ballot. If we always take the least-bad option, we’ll just end up being used.

For example, as a lifelong resident of cities, I’ve long felt Democrats take the votes of black folks in every election, but often offer little in return.  

On Election Day, you might be able to stomach Mr. Lampson and vote for him. Or you might feel it is all too much. We’ll see how obnoxious Mr. Lampson’s campaign is in 2008.     

This is a basic dilemma in districts where a candidate for the minority party in the area has to contort his or herself to get elected.

( Photo of contortionist.)

The 22nd Congressional district of Texas is in the Houston metropolitan area. A focus in the district is on the growing suburban city of Sugar Land. 80,000 of the 22nd’s 800,000 people live in Sugar Land. (Here is a history of Sugar Land.) 

The district includes portions of Fort Bend, Brazoria, Galveston and Harris counties. While Sugar Land is in Fort Bend ( Which is a big place with nearly 500,000 people), roughly half the district lives in Harris County.

Other communites in the 22nd include Pasadena, Santa Fe, La MarqueWebster, La Porte and Pearland.

Some these places are aging industrial areas while others are newer suburbs.

In contrast to booming Sugar Land, Pasadena is an established center of industry. 140,000 people live in Pasadena. (Here is a history of Pasadena.)

( Photo of Pasadena, Texas.) 

Houston suburbs are very ethnically diverse. This is a strong point of Houston and the Houston area. The 22nd is counted as 8% Asian, 9% black and with 20% of Hispanic origin.  

An important source of jobs in this Republican district is the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Republicans are fine with government spending when they are the ones cashing the checks.

(Relative importance of Texas-22 as seen from moon. Here are some basic facts about the moon. )


Good luck to liberal and progressive voters in Texas U.S House district 22—You’ll need it!

March 11, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics, Texas, Texas Primary '08 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Joe Horn Should Be Charged With A Serious Crime

Pasadena, Texas resident Joe Horn made the decision to go outside and shoot two people.

This took place on November 14 and has now become a national incident.

The two people he shot were two men robbing the house next to Mr. Horn’s home. 

Mr. Horn had been asked by a 911 dispatcher to stay inside and avoid violence. He was not in any physical danger inside his house.

Mr. Horn said right on the 911 tape that he was going to go outside and shoot the men. 

And that’s just what he did as the men left the home they were robbing. 

He made the decision to go outside and shoot.  The penalty for robbing a home is not death.

How is that not some kind of pre-meditated act of violence?

The case is very polarizing and debate on this issue is not always very illuminating. I’ve been reluctant to post about the matter.

Yet I think it is important that Mr. Horn be charged with some type of serious crime in this instance.  

Beyond the fact that Mr. Horn could have just as easily been killed himself or shot an innocent, we can’t have people killing over property when they had the option to avoid trouble.   

December 12, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Texas | , , , , | 27 Comments