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Author: William Lutz Created: 4/2/2009 7:26 AM RssIcon
Lone Star Report Blog
By William Lutz on 10/28/2009 1:52 PM

This Sunday, LSR managing editor William Lutz appeared on Inside Texas Politics with Brad Watson on WFAA Channel 8 in North Texas. Lutz blasted Dallas District Judge Tena Callahan's decision to grant a same-sex divorce to a couple married in Massachusetts and used it as an example of how many Democrats campaign as "bipartisan moderates" but don't always act the part when elected. You can view the archived commentary on WFAA's website here.

The entire program can be viewed here. The program also features an interview with Dallas County Commissioner Ken Mayfield.

By William Lutz on 10/26/2009 5:07 PM

LSR has received tributes to the late former Sen. Teel Bivins from current Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), Gov. Rick Perry,  Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio). We will add additional tributes to this space as we receive them. We print below:

By William Lutz on 10/26/2009 5:02 PM
Former Sen. and Ambassador Teel Bivins (R-Amarillo) died today of pneumonia. He was 62.
Teel Bivins was one of those elected officials who reflected positively on the region and district that elected him. He was honest, straightforward, hard-working, and never forgot the folks back home. It was Bivins’ practice to have regular luncheons with the House members whose districts contained counties in Senate District 31.
He was universally respected at the Capitol. But equally important, he was well liked. One Bivins staffer once told me that the Senator came in from a busy day of considering legislation and took his staff to the movies.
When I first started at the Capitol, one role this publication held (and still holds) the role of being a watchdog over the education bureaucracy. As chairman of the Senate Education Committee, part of Bivins’s responsibility was getting the education agenda of Gov. George W. Bush through the Texas Senate and promoting the education accomplishments of Gov. Bush.
Therefore, some of the stories I wrote about what I saw as the shortcomings of either the school system under Bush or some of the legislation Bush signed probably didn’t meet with his approval. But Bivins never held it against me. He was always exceedingly polite and went out of his way to be accessible.  His statesmanship was always appreciated by this reporter.
According to the Amarillo Globe-News, services for Bivins will be held Thursday at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Amarillo.
By William Lutz on 10/24/2009 4:59 PM
Now that Cathie Adams is chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, what’s next?
Adams said recruiting good candidates and raising the money to fund them is her next top priority.
By William Lutz on 10/24/2009 2:21 PM

Both Gov. Rick Perry and his re-election opponent, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison have issued statements congratulating Cathie Adams on her election as chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. We reprint below.

By William Lutz on 10/24/2009 2:15 PM

In last week's issue, we printed that Texans for Lawsuit Reform's Sherry Sylvester sent a handwritten note to incoming-Republican Party Chairman Cathie Adams wishing her well in the chairman's race. At today's meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee, Adams told LSR the note was actually from TLR Chairman Richard Weekley and was a handwritten comment at the bottom of a typed thank-you letter for a donation that Adams had sent TLR. LSR regrets the error.

By William Lutz on 10/24/2009 10:48 AM

The State Republican Executive Committee has elected Cathie Adams as the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. Adams received 36 votes, Melinda Fredricks received 25 votes, and Mary-Yoly Moore of El Paso was nominated but did not receive any  votes.

By William Lutz on 10/23/2009 7:50 PM

In our story this week on the race for chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, Texans for Lawsuit Reform's Sherry Sylvester is incorrectly identified as the organization's executive director. She is the organization's spokesperson. LSR regrets the error.

By William Lutz on 10/23/2009 4:37 PM

LSR Managing Editor William Lutz will be appearing on WFAA's Inside Texas Politics with Brad Watson this Sunday at 9 am on Channel 8 in North Texas. Lutz will blast the recent decision by Dallas Democratic judge Tena Callahan to grant a same-sex divorce.

By William Lutz on 10/16/2009 4:41 PM

There's a lot of misinformation circulating on the Internet about Propositions 2, 3, and 5. They do NOT, we repeat DO NOT, create a state property tax.

The Texas constitution's prohibition on a state property tax remains intact, even if all three pass. The propositions simply make the existing property tax system more efficient. Because of the public interest in this issue, we are putting on the public part of our site (the "featured articles" section) our article from this week's issue. You can access it here too. 

Our article this week explains, in detail, exactly what each of these ballot items actually do and addresses some inaccurate information on the Internet.

By William Lutz on 10/16/2009 4:16 PM

Gov. Rick Perry named three new members to the board of trustees of the Teacher Retirement System. Perry named Houston Real Estate Investor Todd Barth, Beaumont investor Seth Crone, and Whitesboro school counselor Nanette Sissney to six year terms. Of the three slots vacant, one was a direct appointment by the governor, one was selected from a list prepared by the elected State Board of Education, and one was selected from a list prepared by active members of the retirement system. As noted in a recent previous post to this blog, the Teacher Retirement System has come under careful scrutiny at the Capitol for its recent investment decisions and move toward more non-traditional investments.

By William Lutz on 10/14/2009 3:23 PM

Over the weekend, the Austin American Statesman published a must-read article by Kate Alexander on the latest political controversy at the Teacher Retirement System. Unfortunately, it appears this important story may get lost because much of the Capitol press corps is on a rampage about two non-scandals – one with the forensics board and another with the State Board of Education – and ignoring a real policy issue that might actually impact the upcoming GOP primary.

Few – if any – Republican primary voters will care about the forensics board (GOP primary voters are a law-and-order bunch who like prosecutors) nor the fact that a couple of Democrats didn’t cross a t on a disclosure form (this is nothing more than an attempt by social liberals and legislators who want to raid the Permanent School Fund to do a hatchet-job on the elected board). But the controversy at the Teacher Retirement System is different.
By William Lutz on 10/12/2009 3:57 PM

The Young Conservatives of Texas has produced a video blasting Proposition 4, the "Tier One" constitutional amendment that would redirect the Higher Education Fund endowment money toward universities seeking "Tier One" research university status. The video, set to the tune of Michael Jackson's song "Money," questions the return taxpayers get on the money spent for university research.

In the interest of balance, the supporters of Proposition 4 have their own organization, Texans for Tier One.

By William Lutz on 10/12/2009 2:36 PM

Mary-Yoly Moore of El Paso has announced for chairman of the Republican Party of Texas.  Moore is running on a platform of making party operations more transparent and encouraging more outreach for Asian, Black, Hispanic, youth and women voters. The State Republican Executive Committee will meet Oct. 24 to pick a new chairman.

By William Lutz on 10/6/2009 11:20 AM

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst today announced his appointments to the Sunset Advisory Commission. Dewhurst named Sens. John Whitmire (D-Houston), Joan Huffman (R-Houston), and Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) to the commission for terms ending in 2013. He also designated Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) as chairman. Both Hegar and Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D-McAllen) are serving the second-half of terms that end in 2011. Dewhurst also reappointed Charles McMahen as the public member of the commission. The Sunset Advisory Commission examines the structure of state agencies and decides how to improve that structure and whether agencies should be continued.

"I want to thank all of these individuals for accepting appointment s to this important commission," Dewhurst said. "Some of our most critical state agencies are scheduled for review by the Sunset Advisory Commission and I know these appointees will provide the leadership and knowledge necessary to ensure all aspects of agencies under review are thoroughly evaluated."

By William Lutz on 10/5/2009 11:38 AM

A federal petit jury has returned mostly guilty verdicts in the Dallas City Hall Corruption trial today.

Former mayor pro-tem Don Hill, his wife Shiela Farrington Hill, former Dallas Plan Commissioner D'Angelo Lee, consultant Darren Reagan and housing developer and car dealer Rickey Robertson were convicted in federal court. The charges included bribery, conspriacy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit extortion, and depravation of honest services.

By William Lutz on 10/3/2009 1:10 PM
ARLINGTON, Va. -- Larry Kudlow of the Kudlow Report spoke like a true business reporter, with a dry, monotone voice but with every sentence full of substance. Kudlow, at the Americans for Prosperity national conference today, exhorted the audience to make supply side economics front-and-center in appeals to take America back. He suggested conservatives put a “It’s the economy, stupid” sign in their campaign offices.
By William Lutz on 10/3/2009 10:33 AM
ARLINGTON, Va. -- The general sessions of the Americans for Prosperity Defending the American Dream tour had an upbeat feel to them. Most of the activists here believe that – despite the country’s difficult economic and political condition – that an American resurgence is just around the corner. Most of the speakers compared the current political situation with that of 1977 and 1993, years when Democrats ran and expanded government but led to massive conservative resurgence.
By William Lutz on 10/3/2009 9:35 AM
ARLINGTON, Va -- The Texas Association of Counties hates Americans for Prosperity. It’s not surprising. AFP is for lower taxes. TAC is for higher taxes and bigger government.
 
So TAC does everything it can to try to demean and marginalize AFP, because the group’s members come to the Texas Capitol to fight for taxpayer protections. A few years ago, TAC published an article in its county magazine trying to portray AFP as some sort of Washington front group. The article tries to portray AFP-Texas director Peggy Venable as some sort of puppet for some Washington DC interests.
By William Lutz on 9/30/2009 2:45 PM

When sports events don’t turn out as predicted, ESPN analyst Chris Berman frequently says, “That’s why they play the games.”

The same could be said of yesterday for the Perry campaign. First, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas gives a public speech endorsing him and lambasting his opponent, and that speech (which occurred on a Saturday morning) got very little press coverage (except from LSR, of course).
Then, The Dallas Morning News runs a front-page, above-the-fold story by Gromer Jeffers Jr. on the Perry campaign offering cash to anyone who can get 11 friends to the polls for Gov. Rick Perry.
By William Lutz on 9/30/2009 2:25 PM
Not much in the way of controversy or profound policy discussion occurred at today’s meeting of the House Redistricting Committee. No new population or redistricting figures emerged from the committee discussion. The committee heard a technical discussion of how the Census is conducted from the head of the redistricting data section of the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
The census date is April 1, 2010.
By William Lutz on 9/29/2009 4:46 PM

We just received a news release from Austin businessman Glenn Bass who announced he is running for the House District 48 seat in the Republican primary. We post his release here. The seat is currently held by Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) who is seeking re-election.

By William Lutz on 9/28/2009 10:52 AM

As LSR readers know, Republican Party of Texas Chairman Tina Benkiser resigned at Saturday’s State Republican Executive Committee meeting. LSR’s William Lutz was the only reporter present at the meeting. Lutz recorded Benkiser’s speech and we post the digital audio file here.

In her speech, Benkiser both praises Gov. Rick Perry and blasts – though not by name – U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s campaign. But more importantly, she tells her story, the story of why she decided to resign as chairman of the Republican Party and join the Rick Perry campaign. The story that Benkiser recounts in her remarks to the SREC is about a speech that she gave to a Republican organization in Edna, Texas a few weeks ago.
 
I recommend hearing the entire speech for yourself, but here are a couple of notable quotes:
By William Lutz on 9/28/2009 10:04 AM

Yesterday, a commentary from me aired on WFAA television’s “Inside Texas Politics”. In my commentary, I called on Tarrant, Dallas, and Denton counties to put their check registers online. A commenter to our blog pointed out that Tarrant County includes its check register (called a "claims register")in the .PDF of the commissioners court agenda, which is online.

By William Lutz on 9/26/2009 7:21 PM
Republican Party of Texas Chairman Tina Benkiser announced that she is endorsing Gov. Rick Perry and resigning her post as party chairman at today’s meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee. She is joining his re-election campaign as a senior adviser. In her speech, she praised the leadership of the state’s elected Republicans, called for the party to continue its conservative principles and not water them down, and called for unity in the Texas GOP.
She also blasted – though not by name – the campaign of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and implied that the Hutchison campaign tactics helped convince her to join the Perry campaign. In her speech to the SREC, Benkiser cited a speech she gave in Edna, Texas, where she praised the state, its conservative leadership, and the Texas economy. She said that another campaign called the Republican Party and objected to the speech and that was one of the things that made her realize she can best promote the conservative agenda by joining the Perry campaign.
In her speech, and in a subsequent interview with LSR, Benkiser went into more detail about her decision and why she made it. Here are a few answers to questions that haved been frequently asked about today’s events.
By William Lutz on 9/26/2009 4:15 PM

LSR Managing Editor William Lutz will be a guest on Inside Texas Politics with Brad Watson tomorrow morning (Sunday). The program airs at 9 am on WFAA -- Channel 8 in North Texas. Lutz calls for more transparency in county government.

By William Lutz on 9/26/2009 11:00 AM

Republican Party of Texas Chairman Tina Benkiser announced to the State Republican Executive Committee that she is resigning as chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, effective Oct. 5. She is expected to join Gov. Rick Perry's campaign as a senior advisor and will travel the state telling Republicans why she believes Perry's conservative principles have served Texas well and why the State of Texas is doing better than the rest of the nation. "There is only one true conservative in the race for governor," Benkiser told LSR. She characterized the primary as a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.

Perry welcomed Benkiser's support. "Tina has been a strong and successful advocate for conservative causes throughout her career . I'm pleased she is joining our campaign." He said.

There are a lot more details here to fill in. LSR interviewed Benkiser immediately after the announcement. We will fill in the details on this blog as soon as we can today.

By William Lutz on 9/23/2009 10:09 AM
A few days ago, I posted an item on the Fifth-Grade history textbook History Alive! America’s Past, currently in Texas classrooms – including (of all places) Ector County ISD.
This is the textbook that tried to rewrite the Declaration of Independence on its cover artwork to “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all people are created equal …” (men was changed to people.)
 
The text’s treatment of the Second Amendment is almost as suspect. In the back of the book, the text of the Bill of Rights appears with a summary in the left-hand column. The summary reads “Citizens have the right to own and carry weapons for use in state militias.” A photo of the page in question can be viewed here.
 
Yes, that’s one interpretation of the Second Amendment. But clearly, this summary favors the pro-gun-control view of the Second Amendment, and a lot of pro-Second Amendment organizations would definitely take issue with using that as a textbook summary of the Second Amendment.
By William Lutz on 9/22/2009 10:25 AM
Remember, during the 2006 general election, Democrats dug up some racial slurs that appeared in previous Kinky Friedman comedy skits and used them to encourage voters why they should vote for Democratic nominee Chris Bell, rather than Friedman. West – in particular – took offense at Friedman’s past remarks and taped this TV ad thrashing Friedman.
 
West appeared on WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics with Brad Watson Sunday. He was asked by Dallas Morning News reporter Gromer Jeffers Jr. if he would support Kinky Friedman, should Friedman emerge as the Democratic nominee.
 
“Absolutely, unequivocally no,” West said in response to Jeffers’s question. “He’s a joke, to be honest with you."
By William Lutz on 9/22/2009 9:57 AM

During the last two weeks, LSR published -- in our weekly issue-- an interview with Public Utility Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman.  For space reasons, we were unable to publish two of the more general questions from the interview. We reprint below.

LSR: Based on your involvement in some of the “big picture” energy issues, it appears the governor has asked the commission to do more than merely dispose of technical dockets at the PUC. Walk us through some of your involvement and how you see your role in broader energy policy issues.
By William Lutz on 9/22/2009 9:52 AM

The Austin American-Statesman’s Ben Wear published an excellent article Sunday on the problems Capital Metro is having getting its light rail system started. The story goes into all the various problems Capital Metro is having getting the rail system started, including parts that don’t work together, problems with signals, and challenges putting up crossing gates. It’s well worth reading.

There is another note I’d like to add. Capital Metro’s “solution” to these problems appears to be higher taxes and an expansion of the rail system. The Legislature directed the Sunset Advisory Commission to do a special purpose review of Capital Metro. In its self-evaluation report (p. 165-168), Capital Metro calls for removing the referendum requirement before rail is expanded and allowing cities that want to join Capital Metro to bust the two-cent sales tax cap.

So Capital Metro can’t handle the starter rail line. That means we need a longer rail line and higher taxes. What’s wrong with this picture?

By William Lutz on 9/18/2009 9:33 PM

 

The back-and-forth between Gov. Rick Perry's campaign and that of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison has just kicked up another notch.
 
The Hutchison campaign has purchased a banner ad on the Drudge Report accusing Perry of supporting ACORN. The ad, which can be viewed here, shows Perry surrounded by ACORN activists signing a 2005 lending consumer protection bill.
 
The ad then states, "In 2005, ACORN's 'proudest moment' came when Rick Perry signed one of their top legislative priorities in Texas into law" -- Houston Chronicle 7/4/05" and invites readers to "Click here to help elect a governor who won't stand with ACORN"
 
The new ad is the latest in a skirmish over the Sept. 14 Senate vote to de-fund ACORN. Hutchison missed the vote. The Perry campaign responded by nicknaming Hutchison "KAYCORN" and placing a video on its WashingtonKay website titled "Where in the World is Kay Bailey Hutchison." The ad is set to the tune from the game show "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" and the video asks where Hutchison was during the vote.
By William Lutz on 9/18/2009 9:48 AM
This week, LSR received a phone call from Jason Moore, a parent with kids in the Ector County ISD. Moore told LSR his fifth-grader had to memorize the Declaration of Independence. One catch -- the words were altered: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ..." Of course the actual text of the document said "all men are created equal."
Moore said his son's teacher got that wording from one of the cover pages of his textbook, History Alive! America's Past, published by the Teachers' Curriculum Institute (TCI), an education publishing house in California.
State Board of Education member Terri Leo (R-Spring) blasted the altered Declaration of Independence at the Sept. 17 meeting of the Committee of the Full Board. "Instead of saying 'all men are created equal,' it says 'all people are created equal,'" Leo noted. "Are we going to tell kids what the actual document says or are we going to change words in those documents to be politically correct ... How can you change a historical document and not present it to students as written? ... I think that's a factual error. That's not what the Declaration of Independence says, and I think [the publisher] should be fined." Texas law prohibits factual errors in books and creates a system of fines for publishers that have them.

Representatives of the publisher defended the book. Natasha Martin, Implementation Manager for TCI, told LSR that the original, primary source version -- as written (i.e. "all men are created equal") appears in the Appendix and the text of the book and only the cover art work contains the altered version.

By William Lutz on 9/17/2009 1:50 PM

I've always thought highly of the El Paso Times. It's generally a good newspaper, given the size of the market. It's also noteworthy that the editorial board of the paper is more moderate and pro-business than is usually the case in a solidly-Democratic town like El Paso. The El Paso Times has noticed the debate going on here in Austin about removing Christmas from the curriculum and editorialized against it. The paper properly notes the role Christianity plays in World culture and in this country in particular. You can read the opinion piece here.

By William Lutz on 9/16/2009 12:47 PM

"On July 4, 2002, columnist George Will lamented, “We are supposed to prefer explaining the past, not with reference to event-making individuals, but in terms of the holy trinity of today’s obsessions:  race, gender, class”.

My personal experiences, both years ago and during the past few months, confirm Mr. Will’s analysis. In addition to excessive multiculturalism, the overly negative view of American history – driven by emphasis on social issues that divide, rather than on achievements and patriotic passion that unite – led to negative descriptions of America’s finest achievements."

 

Today, we are reprinting -- with permission the third and final installment of a three-part series that first ran on texasinsider.org on attempts from the left to rewrite our state's American history curriculum. Bill Ames, one of the few non-educators on a panel charged with making recommendations to the elected State Board of Education on the rewrite of the social studies curriculum (also known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS) -- has issued a call-to-arms to conservatives. You can read part three of his piece here.

 

 

Among some of his key thoughts:

By William Lutz on 9/15/2009 3:10 PM

Could somebody please tell me what planet the education bureaucracy lives on?

Yes, educators (and particularly education professors) are liberal, but they’re usually pretty good at covering it up – or at least making their multicultural agenda look as if it’s not a threat to normal American values.

 But they’ve gone way overboard with the drafts of the proposed new social studies curriculum (the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS), and in so doing, have pitched a softball to the conservatives on the State Board of Education. Let’s see if they can hit this one out of the park both at this week's meeting and throughout the review of the social studies TEKS.
By William Lutz on 9/15/2009 1:49 PM

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announced that he's naming Blaine Brunson as his chief of staff and Julia Rathgeber as his deputy chief of staff. Both are long-time Capitol staffers who have worked for Dewhurst for several years. Most recently, Brunson served as Dewhurst's budget director and Rathgeber as his policy director. 

By William Lutz on 9/15/2009 1:37 PM

The President and CEO of ERCOT (the Electric Reliability Council of Texas) -- the state's electric grid operator -- is leaving the organization in Nov. 2009. CEO Bob Kahn joined ERCOT in 2007.

“I feel good about where the organization is now and can leave knowing that ERCOT is on solid ground and looking good for the future and for the launch of the nodal market in 2010,” Kahn said.  “I’ve been very focused the last few months on the budget process for 2010, and I’m pleased that the board approved that budget today. I appreciate the support of this board and the support of the market participants.  We couldn’t have done the things we have accomplished without their help,” he said. “And finally, I want to thank the ERCOT employees and staff.  They are the best bunch of people – it has been an honor to work with them.”
The ERCOT release also quotes Public Utility Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman thanking Kahn for his service.
ERCOT is currently being examined by the Sunset Advisory Commission. (The Public Utility Commission is also up for Sunset Review this cycle.)
By William Lutz on 9/15/2009 1:29 PM

Rep. Ismael "Kino" Flores (D-Palmview) announced he will not seek re-election to the House in 2010. Flores has served in the Texas House of Representatives since 1997.

 

"I worked effectively, fought hard, and delivered for South Texas," he said. "I will not apologize for standing up for our region."
Flores said he has never done anything to bring discredit to himself, his family, and his constituents.
"When I was first elected to represent my constituents, I took an oath of office to uphold the laws and ethics rules of this great state," Flores said. "At no point during my public service have I intentionally or knowingly violated any state law or rule."

Flores is currently facing prosecution in Travis County for the accuracy (or alleged lack thereof) of state ethics disclosures.

Flores was known for his support of gambling, as chairman of the Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee. He also was one of the "Craddick Ds," Democratic members who joined former Speaker Tom Craddick's leadership team. He survived a spirited primary challenge in 2008.

 

"I would like to thank my supporters and constituents for giving me the opportunity to shape South Texas into a better place for our youth, our families, the elderly, and our veterans.  I have thoroughly enjoyed learning not only about the constituency of District 36 but also learning about the political process as a whole," said Flores. "I look forward to working with the many influential community leaders and elected officials whom I have had the pleasure of meeting in order to continue making District 36 a better place for us all. "
The McAllen Monitor is reporting that Sandra Rodriguez -- Flores's 2008 opponent --  will run for the open seat and has mentioned Sergio Munoz, Jr. (the son of a former Rep) as a possible candidate.
By William Lutz on 9/15/2009 12:19 PM

"In the section covering significant military leaders of WWII, Generals Omar Bradley and George Patton were removed, replaced by Oveta Culp Hobby and black Colonel Benjamin O. Davis.  It was a glaring example of significant history being compromised in favor of multicultural diversity.  The only justification given was that Hobby and Davis were “firsts”. 

But in later discussions, “firsts” Orville and Wilbur Wright (powered flight), and Neil Armstrong (moonwalk) were rejected by my writing team.  “Firsts”, in their context, means “multicultural firsts” only."

Today, we are reprinting -- with permission the second of a three-part series that first ran on texasinsider.org on attempts from the left to rewrite our state's American history curriculum. Bill Ames, one of the few non-educators on a panel charged with making recommendations to the elected State Board of Education on the rewrite of the social studies curriculum (also known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS) -- has issued a call-to-arms to conservatives. You can read part two of his piece here.

Among some of his key thoughts:

By William Lutz on 9/14/2009 12:38 PM

Today, we are reprinting -- with permission the first of a three-part series that first ran on texasinsider.org on attempts from the left to rewrite our state's American history curriculum. Bill Ames, one of the few non-educators on a panel charged with making recommendations to the elected State Board of Education on the rewrite of the social studies curriculum (also known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS) -- has issued a call-to-arms to conservatives. You can read part one of his piece here.

Among some of his key thoughts:

"A group of educators, some of whom are liberal activists, have   descended on Austin.  This year they have been busily rewriting U. S. history, revising the story of the most successful experiment in history – with its roots firmly anchored in Western Civilization – and replacing it with their own negative view of America told thru an overly multicultural lens of victimization and oppression of minorities and women.  "

By William Lutz on 9/10/2009 5:42 PM

Long-time Republican businessman Ben Bius announced he's forming an exploratory committee to look at running for the Texas Senate in District 5 (the seat opened by Rep. Steve Ogden's [R-College Station] retirement).

The district stretches from Huntsville (Bius's home) to College Station to Round Rock. While I am disappointed that Senator Ogden will not be returning to Austin to represent me and my fellow residents of District 5, I certainly understand and respect his decision. Steve has been a principled leader in the Texas Legislature who has led the fight for fiscal discipline in state government,” said Bius. “While he leaves some mighty large shoes to fill, it is extremely important that his senate seat be filled by someone who will carry on his vision of less government and personal responsibility,” Bius added.

By William Lutz on 9/10/2009 12:25 PM

James Bernsen, a former staffer at the Capitol and former staff writer for the Lone Star Report, announced today that he is running for the Republican nomination for State Representative in District 52. This is the House seat currently held by Rep. Diana Maldonado (D-Round Rock).

“I’m announcing my candidacy for the Texas House because I think Round Rock needs a representative who shares our pro-family values and common-sense fiscal conservatism,” Bernsen said. “Government spending is out of control on all levels. I know how to cut spending in Austin and refocus our priorities for a leaner, more effective government.”
By William Lutz on 9/10/2009 12:22 PM

[Dewhurst quote added 5:05 pm 9/10/09]

Both the Austin American-Statesman and the Bryan College-Station Eagle are reporting that Sen. Steve Ogden (R-College Station) is not seeking re-election to the Texas Senate. Ogden is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He has served in the Texas Senate since 1997. Prior to that, he served in the Texas House.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst praised Ogden for his Senate Service.

"Chairman Ogden has represented Senate District 5 with the utmost honor, dignity and integrity and he has been one of the Texas Senate's strongest leaders," Dewhurst said. "I ask all Texans to join me in thanking Steve for his years of service and dedication to our state, especially his leadership as my Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, in helping successfully guide our state budget through a turbulent economy. Steve will remain a close friend and I wish him well in the future."

By William Lutz on 9/10/2009 12:08 PM

Texas Conservative Coalition President and Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Center) has released a video stating that all members of the Texas Conservative Coalition oppose President Barack Obama's health care proposal. The video can be viewed here. Thanks to Michael Quinn Sullivan of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility for pointing this out to us.

By William Lutz on 9/2/2009 6:06 PM
A couple of days ago, I posted an entry to this blog where I discussed how 92 percent of local governments declined Comptroller Susan Combs’s offer of help to become more transparent. I also noted that only one city and 10 counties put their check registers, budgets, and financial reports online. That’s bad enough, but the behavior of local government trade associations made things even worse.
During the recently concluded legislative session, Rep. Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) filed HB 2743, which required counties above 250,000 to put their check registers online. The bill cleared Rep. Garnet Coleman’s (D-Houston) county affairs committee but – like many bills last session – ran out of time.
During the committee hearing, Coleman’s committee heard the usual “sky is falling” talk from county bureaucrats who don’t want the public to know how their money is being spent.
This time – however – Paxton had an antidote – the truth.

 

By William Lutz on 8/31/2009 3:35 PM
During her speech to the Texas Public Policy Foundation last week, Comptroller Susan Combs talked about her efforts to promote transparency in state and local finance. For Combs, making it easy for Texans to see how government spends our money is a top priority. For local bureaucrats and their Austin lobbyists avoiding transparency appears to be a top priority. Conservatives have known for a long time how hostile city and county officials are toward open government (until they get blasted by their newspapers for promoting secrecy, that is), but Combs proved it with statistics she read off during her speech.
Only one city – that’s right one – the City of Tyler puts its check register, financial reports and budgets online. Only 10 counties out of 254 do so. And only 93 school districts (out of more than 1,000) do so. Combs offered to send staff from the comptroller’s office to help local government be more transparent with voters. 92 percent of the local governments she surveyed declined.
By William Lutz on 8/31/2009 1:31 PM

LSR Managing Editor William Lutz appeared on WFAA Channel 8's Inside Texas Politics with Brad Watson. Lutz took aim at the liberal Democrats and RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) who are attacking the conservatives on the elected State Board of Education. He argues that the SBOE should be thanked, not attacked, for insisting that public schools portray America positively and teach students about our country's Founding Fathers. You can view Lutz's commentary here. (Lutz starts talking at about 8:30 into the program).  Preceeding Lutz's commentary was a very interesting interview with Congressman Michael Burgess, MD talking about health care reform. Inside Texas Politics airs every Sunday morning at 9 on WFAA Channel 8 in North Texas.

By William Lutz on 8/31/2009 9:57 AM

Michael Quinn Sullivan, president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, notes that despite all the new money the Texas Legislature has spent  (113 percent increase), college entrance exam scores have remained flat. Sullivan asks a simple question: what are the people of Texas getting for their money? Sullivan wrote an opinion piece on this topic that is currently posted to the Empower Texans blog, the official website of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. We reprint below, with permission:

 

by Michael Quinn Sullivan

"Texas' public education spending continues to inspire little confidence, with reports today that the SAT scores remain flat to declining even though fewer kids took the test in 2009. The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports Texas' kids scored just one point better on the math portion of the test, while the reading and writing sections dropped by as much as five points. For this we have increased the amount of money flowing to the bureaucracy by 113 percent since 1998?

According to financial data available from the Texas Education Agency, expenditures on public education in 1998 were $27.8 billion -- $5,597 per pupil. In 2008, public education spending was at $9,998 per kid, or $46.5 billion in total.

By William Lutz on 8/31/2009 9:48 AM

We try to stay away from the private, personal lives of the members of the Legislature. That having been said, high-profile divorce cases can and often do have an impact on contested primaries. The Brownsville Herald wrote a story over the weekend about Rep. Tara Rios Ybarra's (D-South Padre Island) pending divorce case and her relationship with Clayton Brashear, whom the paper describes as a land-developer and a Republican. Rios Ybarra's ex-husband told the paper he will actively support her opponent in the Spring Democratic primary. It's way, way too early to predict how something like this could affect a contested election, but we do note that the story ran just a few weeks after it became clear she would face an opponent in the primary. The story can be read here, and we post without further comment.

    
 
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