Thursday, February 12, 2015

Plutocracy and the Projects

Plutocracy is defined as government by the wealthy, or an elite or ruling class of people whose power derives from their wealth.  I can't think of a better word to describe the government of the state of Texas.  Now, I hear you, you're saying, Texas, right?  Yes, I'm talking about our great state of Texas, and while the government of Texas hasn't done EVERYTHING wrong, there is definitely room for improvement.

I'll start off with one good thing; Texas' decision to refuse the use of Common Core Standards for our public school system.  Not just the standards, but the money that the feds dangled in front of the state.  Let's face it, the government doesn't give anything away for nothing.  They always want something in return-there are always strings attached.  Common Core was no different.  However, the reason that the state turned down the money wasn't just because they were trying to be honorable, and 'do the right thing'.  It was simply a case of not being able to profit from the implementation of Common Core statewide.

Next topic, low income housing.  Yep, I hear you groaning.  Once again, the feds are at the ready to offer up money to the state, in the form of tax credits, but guess what kids, there are strings attached.  The state has an agency set up called Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA), and they hand out the tax credits to the developers who score the most points in order to build the low income housing I mentioned.

Low income housing usually lowers property values, increases crime rates and overcrowds the system; fire departments, schools, EMS services, etc.  However, that's of no concern to the developers who only see dollar signs when they come into the neighborhood they are trying to 'bust'. That's a real term, 'neighborhood busting' and it's a term and an action that has trickled down from liberal Washington, D.C.  Surprise!

So, back to these points that the developers try to accumulate in order to build; you may be asking, who can award those points?  I'm so glad you asked. The state legislators of the designated development area have points to award, as do county commissioners, school districts, water districts and community coalitions, which brings me to my main point.  The state does NOT have to accept this money from the feds!!  If they had courage of conviction, the state would tell the feds to get the hell out of our state, similar to the courage, ahem, they exhibited when they shunned Common Core.  There is one glaring difference here, though.

If you guessed the potential for capital gain on the part of the legislators, then you guessed correctly.  Hmmm, let's see, the developers just might sidle up to the legislator whose district they want to build in, and oh, maybe make a campaign contribution.  Gee, I can't imagine why the legislators wouldn't want these developers to keep coming back.

To another point that has my pants in a bunch is that during the last legislative session, the Senate voted to do away with their points.  Now they have no say in what comes into their districts.  The House is planning on doing the same thing this session.  This can only lead the voter to one conclusion; that the representatives WANT the campaign contributions to continue to flow without having any accountability to those they represent.

This issue isn't over.  I'll be following it and sharing with all of you to keep you informed.  Big shout out to Kay Smith and Barbara and James Hardin for forming the Cypress Coalition and getting out in front of this important issue.  Please go to their website to find out more and to join the coalition.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

State Republican Executive Committee to Select New State GOP Chair March 7th

This just in: Texas remains a red state!  After the November 2014 election, Republicans see victories all over the state!  Okay, well, maybe it's not as recent as I made it sound, but it's still a fact worth celebrating.  Think about who we have to thank for that victory?  Well, lots of devoted volunteers from around the state, that's who.  GOP County Chairmen are the immediate leaders of each county in Texas and their boss is our State Republican Party Chairman, Steve Munisteri.  Without a clear plan in place, our state party and each county party might not have done nearly as well in this last election, and I almost hate to do this, (almost), but I need to bring your attention back to my ground zero; Harris County.

In March 2014, Harris County elected a new county party chairman, Paul Simpson.  He ousted 12 year incumbent, Jared Woodfill from the spot, and it was no easy victory.  Although you'd think that someone who had been in the position for that long and kept getting re-elected MUST have been doing a great job, right?  WRONG!

Sadly now Steve Munisteri is resigning as our State Party Chairman after five great years of service to us.  We will miss him, but know he's going on to bigger, better things.  That leaves the position open and since his resignation comes before the next state convention, the job of electing a new chairman falls to the State Republican Executive Committee or SREC for short.  There are four candidates in the field, Robin Armstrong, former State Vice Chairman, and current National Republican Committeeman for Texas, Wade Emmert, current chairman for Dallas County GOP, Tom Mechler, current State Party Treasurer and of course, Jared Woodfill, the recently unseated Harris County GOP Chairman.

Let's take a look back at some of the highlights from Jared's tenure as Harris County GOP Chairman:

Jared Woodfill Led the Decline of Harris County Republican Dominance

• The Harris County Republican Party delivered Harris County for the Republicans in every presidential election from 1968-2004 and Gubernatorial elections from 1994-2006.

With no county party organization and a lack of leadership from Woodfill, Obama and the Democrats won Harris County in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

For 12 Years Jared Woodfill Failed to Grow the Grassroots
• Over 600 of Harris County’s 1,064 precincts did not have a Republican Precinct Chair.

• 20 years ago Harris County had over 700 Republican precinct chairs. When Woodfill left office there are fewer than 460.

Jared Woodfill Lost the Trust of Grassroots Donors
• A review of Texas Ethics Commission documents show that in 2012, under Jared Woodfill’s leadership, the county Party spent $.78 of every dollar raised on consultants and paid campaign
advertisements with only $.01 going to grassroots activities.

Jared also mismanaged his own personal finances and The Houston Business Journal recently reported the IRS has placed a $40,000 lien on theWoodfill Law Firm for unpaid taxes.  Hmm...

Now, let me ask you if you think that this resume that I've shared qualifies Jared to be the state party chair?  Jared dutifully ignored the development of the grassroots, and pandered to a select few he surrounded himself with at the peril of the party.  He spent more money on high dollar consultants and he let the pay-to-play slates take over Harris County which allowed candidates for any and all offices to be chosen by a few top paid endorsers!   

We've come so far as a state, we cannot afford to let Jared take the helm and repeat what he did in Harris County to the State GOP.  The election will take place on March 7, 2015 at the next quarterly meeting of the SREC.  Let me tout some of Steve's record: From his resignation announcement:  
"It has been my honor to serve as RPT Chairman since June 2010 and oversee our party’s efforts during the last three election cycles. I am proud that by working together, we have had a net increase of 1,182 Republican officeholders during my time in office, representing an increase from 45% of all state officeholders to 67%. We have also set the all-time record for most number of elected Republican Texas State Representatives and Republican Texas Congressmen, as well as tying the record for most number of Republican State Senators.
At the same time, we paid off the party’s debt to $0 for the first time in 18 years and have remained debt free since November 2010 while bringing in over $22 million in revenue. This would not have been possible without the support of literally tens of thousands of grassroots activists and donors, for which I will be forever grateful."

Debt paid off to $0.  A net increase in Republican officeholders and an all-time record for most number of elected Republicans in the State House and State Senate.  Texas can't afford to go backwards.  The vote is scheduled for March 7th.  Contact your SREC representatives and let them know who you support.  Just say 'no' to failed leadership!