Archive for the ‘State governments’ Category

Texas, The Sequel: The State That Continues to Provide the National News and Late Night TV Plenty of Material

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Between March and June, 2015, making national news seemed to be a frequent occurrence for Texas as Austin, Garland, Waco, Overton, and texas1McKinney experienced unprecedented media coverage. Meanwhile, as the Tea Party conservatives maintained control of the legislature, Texas also gained notoriety in many other areas.

The Texas Tea Party has a history of avoiding issues…Texas ranks first in the amount of executions, first in the amount of uninsured citizens, first in the amount of toxic chemicals released into water, and first in the amount of hazardous waste generated. On the other hand, they ranked last in mental health expenditures, last in the percent of students who reach graduation, and last in worker compensation coverage. In addition, they are in the bottom five for tax expenditures that directly benefit their citizens, the number of poor people covered by Medicaid, and the number of people included in employer-based healthcare. (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, November 17, 2012)

The city of Austin recently had a training mission to teach staff members how they should work alongside a female majority on the council. The training included the following statement: “Women don’t care about the math, they don’t read the briefings, they’ll drown you in questions.” Austin’s female council members, rightly shocked and outraged, blasted the briefing for being ignorant, archaic, and offensive. (DMN, 3/16/15, p 24A Hit and Misses Nitwits on parade) In the city’s defense, its spokesman said those ideas from the visiting consultant were “timely and relevant”. Really?

As the media continues to focus on mass shootings and the mounting number of gun deaths, Texas legislators continue to make it easier to carry guns everywhere—grocery stores, college campuses, and on city streets. On May 2, two gunmen opened fire at the Culwell Event Center in North Garland at the “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” featuring controversial cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed. The shooting occurred as the event was concluding, Garland police spokesman Joe Harn said. The two gunmen were killed, but the incident thrust Texas into the national spotlight again. (CNN News, May 4, 2015)

Two weeks later, the horrific May 17 shooting in Waco between the police and two motorcycle gangs, the Bandidos and the Cossacks, left at least nine people dead and 18 hospitalized. Three weeks later, the Waco police, who had arrested 177 bikers following the deadly shootout, still had filed no charges in the killings. Nearly half the bikers remained in jail on unusually high bonds, and more than a few legal experts — including former prosecutors — are wondering what is going on in McLennan County? (Texas Tribune, June 10, 2015)

Following the deadly incident in Waco, the police in Overton, Texas continued the media frenzy but, this time by shutting down a lemonade stand run by two little girls, ages 7 and 8. Andria and Zoey Green were trying to raise $100 for a Father’s Day present. They had been selling lemonade and kettle corn for an hour – and made about $25 – when officers showed up and told them they need a $150 permit to sell their lemonade.

“It is a lemonade stand, but they also have a permit that they are required to get,” Overton Police Chief Clyde Carter said, “as well as to be approved by the Health Inspector.”

The sisters, smart entrepreneurs even at an early age, decided to reopen the stand. Instead of selling their lemonade, they chose to give it away for free and accept donations. They made about $1,000. (ABC Eyewitness News, KTRK, June 11, 2015) I hope these youngsters stay in Texas and inspire our state politicians to adopt some commonsense approaches to problem solving.

In early June, Eric Casebolt resigned from his post as a corporal for the Police Department in McKinney, Texas days after a video went viral online showing him yanking a 14-year-old bikini-clad girl to the ground and kneeling on her back. Prior to the police intervention, white residents began to harass the swimmers. When one woman told the teens to “go back to Section 8 housing,” a fight broke out. The black girl, who was assaulted by the policeman, was invited to the pool party by one of the residents at the complex.

While the media prefers to report on heinous vs heroics, thousands of officers perform good deeds without much recognition. Even though the good deeds don’t often make the national news, it important to notice, remember, and praise the men and women who serve our communities. Below are just a few of their heroic deeds that were in print, but were hard to find, and didn’t receive much national press…

In the freezing temperatures of January, Odessa Police Corporal Jeremy Walsh was seen kneeling next to the homeless man and giving him a pair of boots and a bottle of water. (Yahoo News, January 21, 2014)

In February, Plano Police Chief Rushin was on his way home from a speaking engagement when he saw three young ladies walking along the shoulder of State Highway 75. Their vehicle had run out of gas. He drove the women to a gas station so they could purchase gas, and then transported them safely back to their car. (CBS/DFW February 5, 2014)

On April 19, Mesquite police officers Ryan Nielson and Autumn Soto pulled a man from a burning car moments before it was engulfed in flames. (The Independent, June 18, 2015)

Just as citizens should respect the job done by most police officers, the Texas legislators need to respect the laws of our land, and welcome same sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act as part of Texas’ future. Instead of taking the opportunity to reinforce and unite our country, Governor Abbott chose to divide us by stating Texas won’t comply with these new Supreme Court rulings.

Texas needs to join the 21st century and envision a path forward that will enhance our image, both with the citizens and the media, rather than diminish and tarnish it.

Texas, Our Texas: Will Republicans Continue to Make Things Even Worse?

Friday, June 12th, 2015

texas1There are many competitions in our society, in our country, and in our world. Children, adults, colleges, corporations, etc. are constantly striving to be ranked at the top. States even compete so they are ranked high for things like the best place to work, raise a family, and live. So why does Texas, and the Texas Republican Party, strive to be last? Following are just a few of the decisions, laws, and actions contributing to the race to the bottom in the country:

Environmentally, no other state has deregulated dams like Texas, said Lori Spragens, executive director at the National Association of Dam Safety Officials. The law “just doesn’t make any sense from a safety standpoint,” she said. Spragens was referring to the fact that Texas stopped inspecting 44% of the dams in the state, following passage last year of a state law that exempted most privately owned dams from safety requirements by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Texas gave permission for unsafe environmental measures to go unchecked (Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2014).

In education, Texas ranks last among the 50 states in the percentage of high school graduates. Rather than working to improve their status, Texas chose to cut billions from education funding and lower standards for students to graduate.

Texas is not always at the bottom. It is in first place with the highest proportion of people without health insurance, and we are also number one in releasing the most carbon dioxide and hazardous waste of any state.

Texas ranks number one again, having more gun dealers — about 8,500 — than any other state, according to statistics kept by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. (USA TODAY, February 18, 2013)

Texas Republicans without a doubt are pro-life, but are they really concerned with a person’s life itself or just a person’s life before it is born? The state’s lax gun laws, which have no required state registration of firearms, no waiting period, no limits on type or number of guns, make Texas a prolific source of guns for criminals and the ire of national gun-control advocates, according to John Rosenthal, co-founder of the Newton, Mass.-based Stop Handgun Violence.

If Texas Republicans are pro-life, why was the Republican state legislature passing legislation allowing guns on college campuses, rather than helping people through the recent floods that took their homes, their businesses, and their lives?

In 2014, Texas, with the blessing of the Supreme Court, passed one of the most restrictive voter ID laws in the country. Texas voters were required to present one of seven forms of identification to vote. Student IDs at state-run universities were not included on the list of acceptable forms of identification but, concealed handgun licenses were. The Justice Department said more than 600,000 mostly blacks, Hispanics, the elderly and the poor, currently lack any of the eligible IDs to vote.  A federal judge compared the Texas’ tough voter ID rules to a poll tax meant to suppress minority voters and he blocked Texas from enforcing it just prior to the midterm election. (DMN, October 9, 2014)

Texas lawmakers believe they are beyond having to follow the Constitution and laws of the land. They have proclaimed that if the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a Constitutional right to marry in all 50 states, they will just disregard it. Additionally, on May 11 the Senate gave tentative approval to protect pastors who want to refuse to perform a same sex marriage.

According to Planned Parenthood, abortion restrictions clearly violate Texas women’s Constitutional rights and drastically reduce access to safe and legal abortion statewide. On October 3, 2014, the second round of HB2 restrictions took effect, leaving only 8 of the original 36 clinics in Texas. The only cities that still had clinics after this constricting legislation are Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Houston. (Fund Texas Choice, 10/14/14) With so few clinics now available, Texas is depriving improvised women who have to travel long distances for access to a clinic, great emotional, physical and financial hardships.

How do Republicans justify being for smaller government? How can Republicans claim they care what citizens’ want when they override local laws? Denton County citizens banned fracking in their own backyard, yet Governor Greg Abbott’s legislature banned the ban.

Governor Abbott asked the State National Guard to track Jade Helm 15 this summer, which is a scheduled military teaching program, calling the maneuvers a Conspiracy Theory of Obama to enforce a martial law takeover of Texas.

Jon Stewart, comics, and newscasters all mocked Abbott’s fiasco. Bill Maher was clear on his Real Time show. “Have you heard of Jade Helm 15?” Bill Maher asked. “It is actually a code name for a routine training exercise the U.S. military is planning to conduct in the Southwest which the tea baggers in Texas are convinced is actually an Obama plot to invade Texas, take their guns, and impose a new world order. Yes, because we hate Lubbock for its freedom.”

Texas Senator Ted Cruz actually called the Pentagon just to make sure that wasn’t the case. Cruz, who is now running for president, made his announcement at Liberty University, an evangelical school founded by Jerry Falwell — disregarding the Constitutional idea of separation of church and state.

I think citizens should ask: “When is Texas going to elect competent leaders and visionaries with ideas and solutions to today’s challenges that include climate change, education, and healthcare?”

Republican Governors Questionable Behavior

Friday, October 10th, 2014

vote2While some Republican governors’ behavior is criminal, others are morally and ethically wrong. Below are some of the choices made by our brilliant elected officials…

Hardworking California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger not only impregnated his wife with their fourth child, but also had an affair with his maid, Mildred Baena, and impregnated her.

In June 2009, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford simply disappeared for six days. A bewildered spokesman said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. But what he did was fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina to be with his mistress, Maria Belén Chapur. He elected to abandon his position without notice or communication with his office, for almost a week. Apparently some voters don’t think extramarital affairs are that bad. After his term as Governor ended, the voters chose to elect him to Congress to serve SC’s first district. What message are they sending by electing him again?

During the 2012 election cycle, Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett bragged about implementing a new voter ID law that would ensure Mitt Romney was elected president. Since then, he has done nothing to help PA’s economy, the law was overturned by a federal court, and Romney did not win the Presidency.

Florida Governor Rick Scott, who has been mired in corruption associated with his tenure as CEO of Columbia/HCA, cut education funding and a high speed rail project. He also publicly denied global warming and the impact it will have on his state. In spite of his unpopularity, he vowed to spend $100 million to hold onto his job…makes you question his motives?

Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan pushed through a “right to work” law in his union-dominated state and enacted a tough abortion bill – both laws passed in a lame-duck session in late 2012. I wonder: do laws that can only pass in a lame duck session really serve the people who elected them?

John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, ruled with conservative ideology that led to an unpopular law restricting collective bargaining rights for public workers. The restrictive law was subsequently overturned by Ohio voters.

In 2014, a number of Republican Governors faced problems

Governor Chris Christi’s “Bridgegate” involved the closure of the George Washington Bridge to get back at a political opponent. While this scandal hasn’t been directly linked to him…it makes one question how and why it happened under his rule.

Just this month, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, was found guilty of 11 counts of bribery, fraud and corruption; his wife Maureen, guilty on eight counts. Convicted of accepting lavish gifts from businessman Johnnie Williams for political favors including Williams paying for their daughter’s wedding, going on shopping sprees together and borrowing his Aston Martin “James Bond car” for vacations.

While the GOP might love Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s actions against labor and unions, not everyone agrees. He is marred by prosecutor investigations for illegally coordinating with conservative groups, special interest groups and a campaign committee. Charges were brought against a major campaign donor, one of his appointees and three of Walker’s close aides were indicted on felony embezzlement charges.

In August, Texas Governor Rick Perry was indicted for one count of abuse of official capacity and one count for coercion of a public official. Perry, both ignorant and arrogant, when asked “what his charges were?” answered his question, with a question: “bribery?” Afterwards, he created t-shirts with his mug shot. Are these responses presidential?

Democrats aren’t saints either

Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy had a prolific and brilliant career. He was on the path to the presidency. But, when he was involved in the car accident and drowning death of Mary Jo Kopechne, he chose to leave the scene of the accident, and not report it until the next day.

In 1987, Gary Hart was the frontrunner to win the democratic nomination for president. Unfortunately, when his extramarital affair with model Donna Rice surfaced, that goal was unachievable.

John Edwards had dreams of being president, but poor judgment and sexual indiscretions crushed that ambition. Edwards, not only had an affair with filmmaker Rielle Hunter, as his wife was dying of cancer, but he fathered a child with her. Later, in an attempt to cover up an extramarital affair following his 2008 campaign, a North Carolina grand jury indicted Edwards in 2011 on six felony charges of violating multiple federal campaign contribution laws. Edwards admitted the affair, was found not guilty on one count, and the judge declared a mistrial on the remaining five charges.

Bill Clinton had his affair with Monica Lewinsky and Congressman Anthony Weiner texted unwanted photos of “his wiener” to multiple women.

New York’s Eliot Spitzer had at least seven liaisons with prostitutes over a six-month period. Investigators estimated Spitzer paid up to $80,000 for prostitutes over a period of several years, while serving as both attorney general and governor.

Maybe it’s time to stop voting for incumbents. Maybe it’s time to use a moral compass rather than a high-dollar portfolio to decide who we elect to office.

Will Rick Perry Run for President?

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Of course he plans to, and why shouldn’t he. Three reasons to do it include: (1) He did so well the first time around; (2) Late night comics and political pundits are encouraging his run as they need some new material, and (3) … I can’t remember three…OOPS.

texasflagAs the longest serving governor of Texas, it is time for a change in our state. While he boasts of creating more jobs than the other 49 states combined, he fails to mention that a vast percentage of them are minimum wage jobs with no future. On the positive side, the economy is good, and his best work is in job creation for Texas.

Unfortunately, he is leaving office with a very divided state as he chose to bring up the abortion bill for a third time, even though it failed to pass in either the regular session or the first special session. He is willing to spend taxpayer dollars for a second special session that will not help the thousands of women he is disfranchising from medical care. This doesn’t make it safer for women, it makes poor women resort to back alley tactics and much more risk. Women of means have numerous other options, such as flying to a state that does respect a woman’s right to choose.

Additionally, he is denying Medicaid Expansion that is 100% funded, so his real agenda is clearly not that of providing better health care to women. He has also turned down federal funds assistance to rebuild streets and bridges. As a result, he is keeping hundreds from good paying jobs and creating a road to deficit spending in the future when infrastructure can no longer be ignored.

I am sure all of his current moves are designed to appeal to the far right conservative base of the Republican Party that will vote in the presidential primary. Since the country isn’t as far right as the base, their plan to win the national election is to suppress the vote by any means possible. And the partisan Supreme Court has made that, as well as billions of dollars by special interest groups, part of our current election system. This is causing America to slowly lose it democracy. Before we spread democracy to other countries, we need to fix it here at home.

After the 2012 clown show of characters running for the top office in the land, I can’t wait to see who throws their hat in the ring in 2016. We already know Perry is seriously considering it, as probably Paul Ryan who lost in 2012, maybe Rick Santorum, possibly Ted Cruz (who wasn’t even born in this country, but in Canada), and probably a couple of Republican governors, perhaps even a couple of dark horses no one is thinking about now. Whoever does run, I’m sure the talk and political show hosts are salivating at the prospects.

Rick Perry – A dichotomy in message

Monday, July 1st, 2013

texas1On the one hand he argues that every life is precious, and that abortion should be banned. On the other hand, Texas just executed its 500th prisoner in modern times. While many states have abolished the death penalty, Texas leads the country in executions even though some innocent men have been put to death.
As Rick Perry and his conservative vigilante’s disregard what people want in order to further their own political agenda, women in Texas suffer. Perry, who according to his own words, wants to protect women’s health, defunded Planned Parenthood and refused the federal program of expanding Medicaid. Both programs leave thousands of women without adequate healthcare.

More than a quarter of the population is uninsured. One of the highest in country, Texas is leaving the poor to seek healthcare as a last resort at emergency rooms. This is one of the most expensive and least reliable means of providing health services.

Perry insists abstinence is the solution, not contraception. Yet Texas leads the country in teen pregnancies.

But in Texas, the facts don’t matter.

As Perry criticized Texas Senator Wendy Davis’ democratic right to filibuster as stalling the democratic process, his fellow Republicans continue filibusters in the U.S. House to stop any progress for the country. When he told her story of being a single mom, he missed the most important point of the story. She had a choice and she chose to have her daughters. Because abortion is available, doesn’t mean it is what women choose. Women who have abortions struggle with that decision and make what they believe is right for them and their families. Information Perry and other legislatures don’t have.
Texas deserves better.