Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Central Health, UT Med School, get the lawsuit they so RICHLY deserve....

"Defend the poor and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and needy."
Psalm 82:3

It's about time, via the Austin Bulldog:
Three Travis County taxpayers filed a lawsuit this morning against the Travis County Healthcare District, dba Central Heath, and its president and CEO Mike Geeslin, complaining that property tax funds are being used for purposes not authorized by the Texas Constitution and state statutes.

If successful the litigation’s biggest impact would be to force Central Health, through its nonprofit Community Care Collaborative, to stop giving $35 million a year to the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School. That would make vastly more funds available to provide direct healthcare services available for indigent, uninsured, and underinsured residents of Travis County.

Under an Affiliation Agreement, that yearly allocation has already yielded $105 million for the medical school through FY 2017 and the $35 million annual payments are scheduled continue in perpetuity. Stopping that flow of money would undermine the financial foundation upon which the medical school was built. In June 2012 the UT Board of Regents committed $25 million a year to operate the medical school and $5 million a year for eight years to equip laboratories, but made those funds contingent upon the community providing $35 million a year. Otherwise there would be no medical school.

The lawsuit petition tackles that premise head on: “The issue in this case is not whether it would be cool or wonderful to have a medical school in Austin (or whether defendants consider other goals cool or wonderful). This suit is necessary because defendants are not complying with Texas law and are expending funds on items unrelated to its statutory authorization of providing health care to our poor and vulnerable residents.”
Read the whole thing here.

#TXLEGE: Lower profile issue illustrates Straus doesn't give rat's rear end about "economic competitiveness"....

"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Proverbs 29:1

As Straus pursues this loathsome little "economic competitiveness" stunt, it's worth reflecting on an issue from the special session that didn't get a lot of press at the time: PERMITTING REFORM.

Low housing costs are routinely cited as a major reason why both businesses and individuals move to Texas.  Unfortunately, as the number of people moving here this past decade has driven up demand, supply has failed to keep pace.  The natural result is higher prices.

There are a number of reasons why this is happening.  But one of the biggest is that the permitting process is a bottleneck that adds costs and delays construction projects.  Obviously, Austin is the worst offender, but they're not alone.

This summer, Governor Abbott partnered with Konni Burton on SB 13: "Relating to the issuance of a permit by a political subdivision."  The bill would have eliminated bureaucratic slow walking by making the permitting issuance mandatory after a certain period.  It also would have eliminated a number of the excuses political subdivisions use when denying permits.

You can see what happened:

Bottom Line: If you aren't serious about abusive municipal permitting, you aren't serious about housing costs.  If you aren't serious about housing costs, you aren't serious about "economic competitiveness."  Case closed Joe.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Construction Interests Bankrolling the Austin ISD Bond....

"Like a roaring lion and a charging bear
Is a wicked ruler over poor people."
Proverbs 28:15

From Travis County Taxpayers Union:
Corporate Cronies, Special Interest Unions Contribute $81,500 to Sell AISD $Billion Tax Increase


Austin, TX -- The Travis County Taxpayer’s Union (TCTU) has analyzed and released their findings regarding the 30-day financial disclosures of the Austin ISD pro-bond campaign, and the results are alarming.

Among the biggest campaign contributors is a host of corporations, architects, contractors, lawyers, and service providers to AISD, further evidence as to who is the true beneficiary of the bond: not the students, nor the teachers, but the bureaucrats and crony capitalists who directly and monetarily benefit from the extravagant spending in the taxpayer-funded bond tax increase.  Some of the corporate donors:

ABC Home & Commercial Services - $10,000.00
Greater Austin Economic Development Corp. - $10,000.00
Education Austin PAC - $10,000.00
Heritage Title Company of Austin, Inc. - $5,000.00
Pfluger Associates, L.P. - $5,000.00
Walsh Gallegos Trevino Russo & Kyle, P.C - $5,000.00
American Constructors - $5,000.00
Bartlett Cocke General Contractors - $3,500.00
DLR Group - $3,500.00
O'Connell Robertson - $3,500.00
PBK, Inc. - $3,000.00
Encotech Engineering - $2,500.00
Ranger Excavating, L.P - $2,500.00
BLGY Architecture, Inc. - $2,500.00
Flintco, LLC - $2,500.00
Joeris General Contractors - $2,500.00
D'Amato Conversano, Inc. DBA DCI Engineers - $2,500.00
Husch Blackwell LLP - $2,500.00
JE Dunn Construction - $2,500.00
Ranger Excavating, L.P - $2,500.00
Square One Consultants - $2,000.00
Journeyman Construction, Inc. - $1,000.00
Studio 8 Architects, Inc. - $1,000.00
MWM Design Group, Inc. - $500.00

“Don’t be deceived, Austin ISD taxpayers - this is a corporate contractor’s bond,” says Don Zimmerman of TCTU. “The school district is shrinking, and no bond money is going towards our teachers. Our kids - and our educators - deserve better.”

“What this amounts to is that Austin ISD has severely mismanaged their maintenance budget - a whopping $54,000.00 per month, and is now being bankrolled by opportunistic contractors and construction companies to try and trick taxpayers into bellying up. Austin voters should not stand for this.”

Meanwhile, the district continues to claim the bond will not increase tax “rates” - a rhetorical device being used to deceive voters that borders on a lie, and perhaps even an ethics violation according to the rules set by the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC). The ballot language itself reads that, if the bond passes, Austin ISD will be authorized to increase taxes “without limit.”

Ballot Language:
The issuance of $1,050,984,000 school building bonds for the construction, acquisition, rehabilitation, renovation, expansion, improvement, modernization and equipment of school buildings in the district, including (i) technology systems and equipment, (ii) safety and security systems and equipment, (iii) improvements to address overcrowding and safety concerns, (iv) improvements for students with special needs, and (v) reinvention programs for twenty-first century learning;  the purchase of the necessary sites for school buildings;  and the purchase of new school buses, and the levy, pledge, assessment and collection of ad valorem taxes on all taxable property in the district, sufficient, without limit as to rate or amount, to pay the principal of and interest on the bonds and the costs of credit agreements executed in connection with the bonds.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fox News suddenly interested in chaos at Texas' public universities....

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Galatians 6:9

Briscoe Cain on Fox Business this morning:

During the appearance, Briscoe discusses last week's incident at Texas Southern.  Readers are welcome to watch it themselves.  But we're primarily interested in the fact this happened in the first place.

As we explained in June:
But, for as awful as this fall portends to be, it also makes us weirdly optimistic over the longer term. The reason why is that, as these events unfold, we suspect Fox News will cover them. And we all understand the degree to which a certain Governor cares what Fox News thinks.
And, all of a sudden, here's Fox News covering shenanigans on a public university campus in Texas.  The only thing about which we were wrong is that the incident that produced Fox News' interest didn't occur at UT-Austin.  Instead, it was the failure of UT-Austin to address the incidents on their own campus three weeks ago that allowed this to occur at Texas Southern.

And, eventually, Fox News is going to figure out that (at least in Texas) public universities fall within the jurisdiction of the Governor's office.  And we suspect you'll get whiplash at how quickly Greg Abbott acts once that happens. Whiplash.

Bottom Line:  This morning's appearance was a necessary step in the process.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

#TROXROX: Austin Chronicle throws tantrum after Troxclair qualifies for "Best of Austin"

"rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;"
Romans 12:12

[Note: For all Austin-resident readers who click forward and vote in the Chronicle Awards, we request that in addition to voting for Troxclair for "Best City Official,"  you also vote for Caleb Pritchard for "Best non-Chronicle journalist" and Austin Monitor for "Best non-Chronicle publication."]

Dat's gotta sting.

Check out who made the finals of the Austin Chronicle's annual "Best of Austin" awards:

Readers are encouraged to vote for Troxclair (and Caleb and the Austin Monitor) here. [Note: Austin residents only]

On that news, we're not surprised by the Chronicle's petulant and snotty write up of Troxclair's TPPF speech last week:
Though personal responsibility and resiliency are hallmarks of TPPF's brand, and Troxclair herself said several times that she wanted to be positive, it appeared the council member couldn't help herself: With its taxes, bag bans, composting, and burdensome water restrictions, Austin has quickly become even more of a liberal hellscape than it had been in years past. "Until last year you weren't even allowed to wash your own car in your own driveway," she lamented. "I mean, what is more American than spending a Saturday afternoon washing your own car in your own driveway?"
But it gets worse. Council meetings are too frequent and too long, she said. The makeup of Council doesn't match the overall political views of the city at-large, which she described as roughly 30% Republican (in accordance with 2016 voting totals). Since the last election, when Troxclair lost the comradery of Don Zimmer­man and Sheri Gallo, she can no longer get an easy second on her motions. Zimmerman, in the audience for Troxclair's speech, had spent the hour before her keynote regaling the foundation's crowd with tales of his bureaucrat-busting days.
Now that Zimmerman and Gallo are gone, Council is an even less friendly place for Trox­clair. "A lot of times I feel like I'm going to Council to bang my head against a wall," she admitted. "I get a lot of headaches." But the CM didn't hint at any newfound strategy moving forward. And she defended her decision to testify at the Capitol earlier this year against several of the city's positions, telling an appreciative crowd, "I'm sorry, I did not remember giving up my right to free speech when I ran for office."
And yes, we are aware of the irony that we're doing more to promote Ellen's candidacy this year than we did to promote our own when we were nominated last year.

Read the full chronicle piece on the speech here, read our write-up of the speech here, VOTE FOR ELLEN (and Caleb and the Monitor) here.

Bottom Line: Austin Chronicle...u mad bro?!?

Friday, October 13, 2017

#TXLEGE: Some suggestions for Straus' loathsome little "economic competitiveness" dog and pony show....

"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Proverbs 29:1

Speaking of Straus' "economic competitiveness" stunt, some additional thoughts:
  • State spending limits.
  • Local Spending limits.
  • Ending taxpayer subsidies for partisan political activity via union dues.
  • Permitting reform.
  • Eliminating anti-property rights municipal ordinances related to tree removal.
  • Eliminating municipal ordinances prohibiting short term rentals.
  • Parental education choice.
We could go on, but we think you get the picture.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

#TXLEGE: Guy who killed property tax reform to study "Economic Competitiveness"....

"But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
Revelation 21:8

This is rich:
In the wake of the "bathroom bill" fight that generated strong business backlash, House Speaker Joe Straus is putting together a committee to make sure Texas can continue to chase new companies.

On Thursday, the San Antonio Republican unveiled the House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness, saying it will look at the factors that draw businesses to Texas, including education and infrastructure. He said he wanted the panel to "work quickly and aggressively," giving it a Dec. 12 deadline to report its findings.

"It’s time that we re-assert that Texas is fully committed to private-sector growth," Straus said in a speech to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, where he announced the committee. "There should be no ambiguity that the Texas House will focus on the big and consequential instead of the petty and the polarizing."
LOL, this is literally the guy who killed property tax reform.  Texas has the highest property tax burden of any no-income tax state and the second highest local government debt in the country.  That'd be a pretty good place to start.

And we can already tell you what the committee will report back: More Spending!!!  Spend more on education, spend more on health care, spend, spend, spend!!!  It also appears they've adopted tiresome virtue-signaling cliches.

Bottom Line: Maybe he really is about to switch parties.