Saturday, September 24, 2016

Team Straus' oddly light presence at #Tribfest


"For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light."
Mark 4:22

Greetings from this years Tribfest.  In a development that will surprise no one, we had a question we hoped to ask Joe Straus.  But we didn't see him anywhere on the agenda.

So, we decided to do a search on the list of speakers:


But when we followed the link, it turned out that it was just a former staffer of his speaking on an unrelated panel; apparently, Joe is absent from this year's event.

That got us thinking, so we did a search for another well known Straus lieutenant who never misses a Trib event:


Ok, now this is getting strange, but let's try one more:


Bottom Line: We don't know what it means, and it could be something as innocent as a scheduling conflict, but for Joe Straus and his two most prominent lieutenants to miss the biggest #TXLEGE insider-fest of the year is...unusual.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Watson lays foundation for ANOTHER Tax Hike....


"But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God."
Nehemiah 5:15

The phrase "HELL No" comes to mind:
State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, on Thursday proposed creating an "MD Anderson of the brain" on the site of the troubled Austin State Hospital, a psychiatric facility that has been plagued with staff shortages, crumbling facilities and a failure to meet federal health standards.

“The state must do something about the Austin State Hospital,” Watson told a crowd of higher education leaders and health care advocates at a downtown Austin hotel. "I call being worst an opportunity."

....

The commission estimated the cost of building a freestanding state mental health hospital ranges from $300 million to $400 million, but Watson said he hopes state and local governments can work together to shoulder the costs and, in the long run, “make Austin the place where we model mental health care.”

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
Read the whole thing here.

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There is a lot we could say on this topic, but 2014 #ATXCouncil candidate Ed English (District 7) says it best:


Thursday, September 22, 2016

"The Grove" and Austin's disengenous NIMBY Establishment....


"And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:31

[Author's Note: The Grove is up for final approval at today's council meeting (Item 73).  According to sources at City Hall, they're expecting about 8 hours of testimony.  We don't feel like sitting through the hearing, so this blog post can serve as written testimony.]

Let's suppose you live in a city with a severe housing shortage.  Let's suppose, further, that there was a gigantic empty lot one block away from a major highway.  Would it make sense to build housing?!?

Of course it would.

But old guard Austin begs to differ.

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We discovered this issue a couple months ago when we started examining Natalie Gauldin's candidacy in district 7.  Natalie cut her teeth fighting for it.  But our thoughts today are only tangentially related to that race.

Mostly, we're incredulous that people oppose building housing on a gigantic empty lot in a city with a housing shortage.

How is this even controversial?!?

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The short answer is that it's 'controversial' because of a phenomenon called "neighborhood association" politics; as Forbes explained this past summer:
[E]xisting residents buy homes in destination cities, and then utilize land-use regulations and anti-growth public officials to prevent new construction.
In this case, the anti-growth public official is Leslie Pool.

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At this point, it's worth pointing out that we're not crazy about every aspect of this project.  As part of the political sausage making process, a whole bunch of unnecessary 'affordable housing' subsidies have been tacked on.  That being said, it's probably the best deal we can get within political reality.

On net, it moves the ball forward.

But this was never about 'affordable housing,' and now the NIMBY's are yammering on about "traffic."

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It's the subject of 'traffic' where the disingenuousness of the opposition becomes obvious.  Remember, in the first section, when we said the site was one block away from a major highway?!?  That highway would be MoPAC.

In other words, it's pretty much impossible to site a project of this nature in a location where it would have less of an impact on 'traffic' in the surrounding neighborhood.

Personal note: we frequently travel through this intersection for work.  By standards of Austin's traffic, the 45th/MoPAC intersection isn't that bad.  But, of course, this isn't about 'traffic'....

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At this point, let's circle back to district 7.  This issue highlights the single biggest difference between Natalie Gauldin and Leslie Pool.  Donate to Natalie's campaign here.

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Bottom Line: How is this even controversial?!?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

3rd Court of Appeals ABETS UT Politburo's Admissions COVER UP....


"Therefore by their fruits you will know them."
Matthew 7:20

We know (and, for the record, have voted for) each of these Justices personally, so this isn't fun.  But this is some major league bullshit.  Duly noted for the next Republican primary:
University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall Jr. has lost in court a second time, and perhaps for good, in his effort to gain access to confidential student information from an investigation of admissions irregularities.

A three-judge panel of the state 3rd Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that Chancellor Bill McRaven didn’t act outside the scope of his authority when he refused to turn over unredacted records to Hall, a Dallas businessman. The UT System-commissioned investigation by Kroll Associates Inc. found that then-UT-Austin President Bill Powers sometimes ordered students admitted, despite subpar academic records, at the urging of legislators, regents, donors and other influential people.

Justice Cindy Olson Bourland, writing for the court, said it was the UT System Board of Regents, not McRaven, “who denied Hall access to the documents in unredacted form, having implicitly determined that Hall does not have a legitimate educational interest in the information and that it may be protected by other privacy laws. Whether the Board’s determination in this regard is correct is not before us, and we take no position on whether that decision would be reviewable by this Court.” Bourland added that McRaven “must comply” with board directives.
Amen:
“I think it’s troubling for UT, and really for all state agencies, that the Court of Appeals has ruled that a majority of the governing board can withhold relevant information from an individual board member,” said Hall’s lawyer, Joe Knight. “That rule seems to invite cover-ups and defeat the kind of oversight the Legislature intended, especially here, given that Kroll specifically found that members of the Board of Regents were complicit in the improper secret admissions program.”
It gets better:
The 3rd Court’s ruling, filed Friday, upholds a decision by state District Judge Scott Jenkins of Travis County, who dismissed the case in December. The appeals court said McRaven enjoys sovereign or governmental immunity that deprives Texas courts of jurisdiction unless an official acted without legal authority.

Bourland, whose ruling was joined by Chief Justice Jeff Rose and Justice Bob Pemberton, said Hall declined to avail himself of a board-approved process that might have given him access to some confidential records. She also detailed how the board changed its tune on addressing such disputes.

During an April 2015 board meeting, Hall’s request to review all Kroll materials, including information protected by a federal student privacy law, passed with a minority vote, as permitted under board rules at the time.

The board revised that rule the following month to require a majority vote and voted in July against Hall, but with a caveat: He could review redacted materials and then make his case to board Chairman Paul Foster, who could decide, in consultation with the board’s two vice chairmen and general counsel, to let Hall see some information otherwise protected by the student privacy law and other laws.
Read the whole thing here.

Bottom Line: Pemberton is up in '18.  Rose is up in '20.  Bourland is up this fall, and there's no Libertarian on the ballot, but she'll be up again in '22.

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Cynical Prediction: Keep an eye on Rose the next time a Supreme Court vacancy opens up.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

TPPF highlights spending recommendations for 85th #TXLEGE


"There is desirable treasure,
And oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man squanders it."
Proverbs 21:20

Lots of good stuff here.  Great background if you need to get up to speed on how the state of Texas spends money.  We might go about a few details slightly differently, but at the conceptual level we agree with every single one:



Monday, September 19, 2016

For the Record: James Dickey for TCRP....(and #NEVERTRUMP)


"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

We haven't commented upon the TCRP vacancy.  Largely, that's because we don't support the deranged cretin the Republican party nominated for president.  It's also because we're not a member of the executive committee and thus don't have a vote.

That being said, a number of people have inquired as to our thoughts, and it's probably time to say publicly what we've been saying privately for two weeks: to the extent that we care, we fully support James Dickey.

In February, when we endorsed James in the primary, we wrote: "Since James Dickey became county chairman two years ago, the Travis County Republican party helped put the first two conservatives EVER on the Austin City Council. The Travis County Republican party has a DA candidate on the ballot for the first time since we've lived here....Why mess with a good thing?!?"  To the extent that we care about the Republican party, those sentiments still apply.

Events of the ensuing months have revealed James' character and leadership skills.  While we view the Robert Morrow interregnum as delightfully good fun and the two party system's just desserts, it nevertheless produced unique and unprecedented challenges for the organization.  James' grace, humility, and wisdom during this period were obvious to anyone paying even casual attention.  If anything, the fact that Robert Morrow and Matt Mackowiak have both endorsed James tells you everything you need to know.

Here's the thing: Deranged cretin notwithstanding, there are several strong Republican candidates running in Travis county this cycle.  Maura Phelan is the only choice to introduce integrity (and basic competence) in the District Attorney's office.  Joe Martinez, running for sheriff, is a champion for the rule of law.  Gabriel Nila is doing the Lord's work in HD-46.  Deke Pierce is a credible constable candidate.  In western Travis County, while we didn't support him in the primary, a mediocre incumbent like Gerald Daugherty (Commissioner's court, precinct 3) still sucks less than whatever hack the D's are running against him.  And James helped recruit every single one of them (except Gerald).

Looking to 2018, James is the only person in this race we trust to recruit a credible candidate for Travis County Judge.

Bottom Line:  At this point, it's impossible to forecast the deranged cretin's impact.  That being said, there's a lot one can accomplish at the local level regardless of the details of how this ongoing national bi-partisan dumpster fire unfolds.  On that note, if anyone can salvage something from the Republican party, it's James Dickey.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Revelation 12:10-17 -- War in Heaven and Earth (Part 2)


"Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

The Woman Persecuted
Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
Revelation 12:10-17

Pastor Danny Forshee.  Great Hills Baptist Church.  March 15, 2015:

War in Heaven and Earth, Part 2 - Dr. Danny Forshee - March 15, 2015 from Great Hills Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Outline:
  1. Celebration in Heaven (vv. 10-12)
           - Job1:9, 11

    How to overcome Satan
    A. The Blood of the Lamb
    B. Their Testimony
    C. Their Courage
  2. Sorrow on Earth (vv. 12-17)
    A. Attack One
           - Exodus 19:4
           - Psalm 57:1
    B. Attack Two
    C. Attack Three
Highlights:
  • "I'm gonna talk a lot about the Devil today."
  • Satan accuses us to God and he accuses God to us.
  • "Your test in life gives you a testimony for your life."
    • The Kingdom of Heaven "is augmented and increased" when you share it.
  • "He's still the God of the impossible!!!"
  • "We are marked as the people of God because we obey God."
    • And yes, that DOES mean go to Church on Sunday.
  • It is an honor to obey the King.
  • You don't know how long you have to live, you better giver your life to Christ today.
    • This might be the last time God gives you an opportunity to get saved.
    • Author's Note: As we type this post in a library in Austin, TX in September 2016. we cannot help the conviction that it will stay on the internet forever.  You could be reading this at some point years from now.  If you have read this far down this blog post, and you do not know the Lord, this means YOU.