Thursday, August 27, 2015

Government "Education" Bureaucrats honor Straus


"Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
1 Corinthians 15:33

If you were wondering why School Choice has gone nowhere in the Texas House the past few sessions:
AUSTIN– Texas PTA has selected the Honorable Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio as Texas PTA’s 2015 Legislator of the Year. Speaker Straus has been a staunch advocate on behalf of the children of Texas for many years.

In his fourth term as Speaker of the House, Straus has proved he is truly a friend of Texas children through his support of several pieces of legislation impacting children and youth including:


  • Earmarking $1.2B in new money for public schools. 

  • Encouraging a bi-partisan group of House members to work throughout the interim to develop a new system of school funding and prioritizing the legislation that resulted from the work, HB 1759, for debate in the House. In the end, the members were not prepared to move forward with the legislation, but an important debate was begun. 

  • Supporting and encouraging the development of a new system of accountability for public schools that focuses more broadly on the work of schools. Supporting fast track legislation to offer an alternative for 2014-2015 seniors who passed all required courses but been unable to pass one or two end-of-course exams. 

  • Supporting legislation to create an alternative method of assessing writing, and legislation requiring state-mandated assessments to be validated by an independent entity and ensuring that there are appropriate limits on the length of time a test may take to be completed. 

  • Supporting legislation requiring the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills to be reviewed.
Speaking after the presentation, Leslie Boggs, President of Texas PTA said, “I was honored to present Texas PTA’s Legislator of the Year award to Speaker Joe Straus today. Speaker Straus’ actions improved our system of public schools, expanded opportunities to some of our most at risk students, and in doing so helped to re-enforce Texas PTA’s mission to make every child’s potential a reality.”
In addition to corrupting children, government "education" is one of the largest components of Texas' state budget (to say nothing about all the lawsuits).  For both educational and fiscal reasons, Texas needs to structurally reform this component of the budget.  This award illustrates why that will NEVER happen as long as Joe Straus runs the Texas House.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How Governor Abbott can discipline the lawless Texas Racing Commission


"And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold."
Matthew 24:12

Yesterday, in a BRAZEN act of chutzpah, the Texas Racing Commission gave the elected leadership of Texas a GIGANTIC middle finger:
Commissioners voted 4-3 against removing references to historical gaming machines from its rules at today’s meeting.
"Historical racing" is a euphemism for slot machines.  Last year, the Racing Commission approved "Historical racing" terminals in an attempt to impose Casino Gambling on Texans. Texas Senate Republicans refused to go along.

Here's where things get interesting: Three current members of the Racing Commission are holdovers whose terms expired in February.  Of those three, commissioners Gary Aber and Michael Martin voted for "Historical racing."  This gives an opportunity to Governor Abbott.

When the legislature is out of session, Article IV, Section 12, subsection (c) of the Texas Constitution grants the Governor wide appointment authority:
If an appointment of the Governor is made during the recess of the Senate, the Governor shall nominate the appointee, or some other person to fill the vacancy, to the Senate during the first ten days of its next session following the appointment.
Bottom Line: Governor Abbott has the authority to replace two of the Commissioners who yesterday voted to allow "Historical racing."  The appointees would take office as soon as the Secretary of State received the paperwork and would serve until (at least) 2017.  It will be interesting to see if Governor Abbott uses this authority.

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Governor Greg Abbott:
Phone: (512) 463-2000
Twitter: @GregAbbott_TX

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Whatever happened to Pickett's Federal Reserve Rent-a-Cop bill?!?


"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

One of the biggest controversies of the 84th Texas Legislature concerned a bill by (Straus' committee chair) Rep. Joe Pickett (D - El Paso) that would grant state law-enforcement powers to private Federal Reserve security guards.  When they attempted to sneak this bill through the Local and Consent process, Jonathan Stickland knocked it off the calendar.  That exchange was the direct antecedent to Chairman Pickett's actions against Stickland in a committee hearing later that evening.

Unfortunately, the House passed the bill through the regular Calendars committee a week later.

But what happened after that?!?

It's often said in the Texas Legislature that "delay equals death."  The Texas Senate received Pickett's bill from the House on May 14th.  Lt. Governor Patrick sat on the bill for a week.

On May 21st, Patrick referred the bill to the Criminal Justice committee...where it died without a hearing.

They never took it up.

Bottom Line: Joe Pickett's bill to grant law enforcement powers to a subset of private security guards never reached the Governor's desk...thanks Dan Patrick!!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Giovanni Capriglione...and Steve Bresnen?!?


"Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits.”
1 Corinthians 15:33

Steve Bresnen is a prominent Austin lobbyist.  He has longstanding ties to BINGO interests and Trial Lawyers.  As a lobbyist for the Texas Family Law Foundation, he was instrumental in killing American Laws for American Courts legislation last session.

Bresnen is also the driving force behind the Texas "Ethics" Commission's jihad against Empower Texans.

Which make this item from page 8 of Giovanni Capriglione's January 2015 campaign finance report very interesting:


Capriglione endorsed Straus's re-election as speaker on Monday, November 10th; Bresnen's donation came the following Friday.

Bottom Line: Cahnman's Musings has no beef with Steve making the donation.  On a certain level, we actually respect the chutzpah.  That being said, for Steve Bresnen to see Giovanni Capriglione as a worthwhile investment tells you everything you need to know about where the latter's bread is buttered these days.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Discussing Texas' 2015 Constitutional Amendments


"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.
His praise endures forever."
Psalm 111:10

The Central Texas Republican Assembly also discussed Texas 2015 Constitutional Amendments on Thursday:



Highlights:

  • Prop. 1 -- Property Tax Relief. (Yes)
  • Prop. 2 -- Yet another complicated attempt to pander to Veterans over property taxes.  (NO!!!)
  • Prop. 3 -- Statewide officials don't have to live in Austin.  (Yes)
  • Prop, 4 -- Backdoor Gambling.  (NO!!!)
  • Prop. 5 -- Small Counties can do private road maintenance.  (Yes)
  • Prop. 6 -- Protecting Hunting from rapacious local governments.  (Yes)
  • Prop, 7 -- Another complicated Transportation funding Formula.  (Undecided)

Friday, August 21, 2015

CTRA: Kevin Freeman discusses Global Economic Warfare


"A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,
But the simple pass on and are punished.
Proverbs 22:3

Texas Land and Cattle -- Kevin Freeman, author of Game Plan, spoke to the Central Texas Republican Assembly last night.  He discussed foreign activity behind the 2008 stock market crash.  He also outlined the current ominous geo-economic situation:



Highlights:

  • The past two days have been the biggest stock market drop in a year and a half.
  • "I'm really worried about Radical Islam crashing the stock market."
  • Brand new kind of war: Cyber-Economic
  • 2008: Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia went after Lehman
    • Putin went after Fannie and Freddie
  • Saudi Arabia is going broke.
  • Financial Crisis Inquiry Report was a cover-up.
  • July, 23 2015 -- China accuses U.S. of crashing their stock mkt.
    • Commies always accuse their opponents of doing what they're about to do.
  • Chinese role model is Soros' attack against the British Pound in 1992.
  • "You can do a lot of damage with fake tweets."
  • China called for an end of the dollar in 2013.
  • Texas needs to get Gold Depository operational.
    • Texas could issue "Gold-Backed BITCOIN"

Thursday, August 20, 2015

UT. Board of Regents "Memorializes Bad Acts"


"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them."
Ephesians 5:11

UT Administration Building -- By an 8-1 vote, today the University of Texas Board of Regents voted to formally allow Campus Presidents to override admissions decisions in "very rare" cases of "highest institutional importance."

Today's policy change arises from the well documented scandals surrounding former UT-Austin President Bill Powers' improper conduct over the past decade.  As Watchdog.org has documented, former President Powers intervened in hundreds of admissions cases, many of whom would not have been admitted without special access.  Today's change tightens some rules while codifying a glaring loophole.

On the positive side, today's changes requires the University make all factors in the admissions process "readily available for prospective students."  Admissions officers may only consider letters of recommendation "based on substance" rather than the position of the person sending the letter.  The new policy specifically prohibits admitting potential students who have been previously denied admissions or other "egregious" cases.

Unfortunately, the new policy also contains the exception listed above.  The only formal criteria is that the President's decisions must be "defensible" on an academic basis.  Individual campus Presidents will be required to report to the Chancellor annually all cases where they overrode the campus admissions department.  Admissions accountability for campus Presidents will be centralized in the Chancellor's office.  Due to "privacy" concerns, the public will never learn about these cases.  As Chancellor Bill McRaven explained, "to some degree, it's my discretion."  Based on his previous record, if anyone trusts Bill McRaven to operate in an open and transparent manner, we have some mineral rights in South Texas we'd love to sell them.

On a practical level, today's action will probably restrict the worst abuses.  For example, it's hard to see the Jim Pitts case moving forward under the new rules.  Former state representative Jim Pitts (who chaired the appropriations committee), retired in disgrace in 2013 after it became public that his son Ryan was admitted to UT Law school despite having scored 155 on his LSAT.

Regent Wallace Hall was the only dissent.  Hall protested the fact the 15 minutes of discussion that preceded today's vote was the only time the Board has discussed either admissions corruption or the Kroll Report.  As Wallace explained, today's vote "memorializes bad acts from a hidden admissions program."

Bottom Line: While the new rules modestly rein in the most public abuses, making the Office of the Chancellor (without a public paper trail) the only check on Presidential admissions overrides tells you everything you need to need to know about the new University of Texas admissions policy.

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Update: Watchdog has more here.