Saturday, December 29, 2012

CTRMA Boondoggle

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has a 2012-13 budget of $43.2 million taken from Texas taxpayers and toll tax revenue. 
The agency was proposed and pushed through 10 years ago by former Rep. Mike Krusee, whom Texans did not reelect because of his questionable special interest motivated actions.
The toll agency, which currently manages 2 toll roads should be dismantled. The toll roads that it plans to build and manage on MoPac Expressway are a sham and are not needed. CTRMA borrowed $130 million to add to the toll road building. The proposed toll roads will not ease traffic conditions; they are simply a source of new revenue. Furthermore, Texas does not need ongoing toll roads. 
Texans need an intelligent, well-managed and reality-based Texas Department of Transportation that works in the best interests of the entire community. There is no reason in the world that CTRMA agency head Mike Heiligenstein should be making $250,000 annually for running an agency that plans toll roads in Central Texas, except that he is appointed by Gov. Rick Perry.
Perry and Texas Legislators refuse to let the gasoline tax catch up with inflation and also continue to divert gasoline tax revenue to their other interests, which is part of the reason TxDOT hasn't sufficient money to build and maintain our roadways. 
Lastly, toll roads are an inefficient and poor cost effective method of building and maintaining roads and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority may raise toll costs at will without approval and has little oversight to ensure it is working in the best interests of the community at-large.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Credit Bureaus: the bad boys get more clout...

This article was printed back in 2009. Some things never change.

Time to Quell Excessive Power of Credit Bureaus, Sometimes Ruling Life or Death

by: Peter Stern, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
During the past several decades in the US, three credit bureaus have become so powerful, they can make or break American lives.

They are Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Any one of them has the capability to cause many sleepless nights of worry for American citizens, and on many levels their power and control rival that exerted by the dreaded IRS.

While it may take only minutes for any company extending credit to provide the bureaus with negative financial information or comments on a person that can stay on an individual's credit report
for up to 10 years, it may take years for an individual to get incorrect negative documentation corrected and/or removed.

The God-like power wielded by "the big 3" was recently brought to light when a woman was deemed an unacceptable applicant for a residential mortgage because the bureaus classified her as dead. Based on misinformation provided by the credit bureaus, she was
refused a mortgage.

The power currently exercised by the credit bureaus may also
determine whether a prospective employer will hire you since credit reports may be used to prescreen job applicants. Why should a person's reported financial status determine whether he or she is eligible to be hired for a job? The purported state of a person's finances should not eliminate the chances of a prospective employee.

It is absurd and unconscionable that entities with such little oversight should have such immense power over the lives of American citizens, and it is time to diminish the extent of that power in the best interests and personal rights of American citizens.
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This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.


We need to take better care of our Veterans...

In response to Austin Statesman article... “Department of Veterans Affairs to track how veterans die
It's way more important to service them and their needs while they are alive . If you service them properly they will be tracked in the system.  I am in the VA system, but I am lost to them.  There is no real follow up by the VA.
Of all the problems I have had with the VA system since I returned from the military during the Vietnam era, getting narcotics was the easiest.  All you have to do is mention the word "pain" and you are prescribed narcotics.  It's easy to get strung out on them. Little has changed over the years.
I also believe the VA needs to process disability claims more quickly and REASONABLY and not make deserving veterans get an attorney before they are given an honest disability rating.  I fought the VA for more than 8 years before it gave me the rating I deserve.  It's an infantilizing and despicable process.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Texas Gun Laws are Fine...

...But fewer restrictions are needed, especially re: gun free zones.
Before getting a concealed license you must take an approved state class, show gun proficiency and safety knowledge, pass a fingerprint and background check. I think all of that is the right approach to approving a concealed gun license. It weeds out most of the lunatics. However, even some law enforcement personnel make mistakes or go bonkers occasionally, so nothing is 100 percent safe.

Still, I would feel better if our children are protected by gun toting security professionals. The military in Israel is all over the place. You can't breathe without seeing some on every corner and in various stores and schools. You can't close your eyes here and pretend not to see the insanity all around us. Protection makes sense, as long as it is done intelligently and/or professionally.

Monday, December 17, 2012

TxDOT sugarcoats its toll revenue...

We’re being told that TxDOT will be in the “black” and making toll profits by 2014. I doubt it. No matter how you try to sugarcoat toll roads, they are an abomination to communities in every way imaginable. Tolls are simply new and additional taxes. People think you only pay tolls if you use the road, but that's not true. We all pay tolls even if we don't use them. We pay additional costs added to goods and services when providers add their toll costs to our purchases and we also pay for road bonds with our property taxes.

In addition, we are manipulated by toll authorities who do not need to get any approval to increase toll costs. Furthermore, tolls are usually forever. Tolls are supposed to stop when the roads are paid for, but I only know of 2 times when that has occurred in our nation: once for a small road in Dallas and once for a parkway in New York City.

Toll roads being started on North MoPac are NOT needed. They will NOT improve traffic flow. They will be added out of greed, not purpose. Capital of Texas Hwy (360) at Hwy 290 needs overpass routes and ones are needed at MoPac and Slaughter Lane, but TxDOT whines poverty and doesn't do it. Reason: TxDOT wants to put in toll lanes at both sites.

TxDOT whines poverty for projects except when it "finds" $320 MILLION to add to the proposed MoPac toll project. We are surrounded by corruption. Texans should wake up and smell the Starbuck's!!! You will leave your children and grandchildren with mega toll costs, while tolling agents make 80 percent off the top of toll collections.

Don't drive on toll roads and contact your state house reps and senators to stop the bloated toll mentality!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Looking at the wrong folks for guidance on Education...

Why is Bill Hammond, CEO of Texas Association of Business, constantly viewed as "the Guru" on public education? The guy has no background in public education and in fact is pretty uneducated on the topic.
In fact, Hammond is the one who was a proponent of increasing class sizes and cutting the number of teachers as a means to save money in education. All the studies show that is a ridiculous option and it would hurt children even more.
Hammond and other business people simply want to use their business methods in education instead of recognizing that you can't have successful learning outcomes that way.
Business is business and education is education... 2 separate entities. We look to the wrong people to
guide us in resolving education issues.

“Right to Work” Agenda

As big business continues to screw American workers, there will be a drive to reinstate unions to combat low wages, poor work environments, fewer sick and personal days, no or little health care plans, fewer vacation days and poor retirement packages. Unions will return. It is cyclical.
BTW, if businesses were FAIR to their employees they would actually eliminate the need for unions. But that is not the case.
Lastly, “Right to Work” is a GOP political ploy to eliminate the unions, and thereby large campaign financing, for Democrats. It will give Republicans more clout and money in winning elections.
The Party of Eisenhower and Reagan should work as diligently in selecting viable and grounded candidates for office.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Public Education Obsolete

More Texans need to home school their kids. 
Public Education has become obsolete and we can thank Governor Perry, Texas Legislators and the School Board of Education because they have killed it. 
Voters deserve part of the "thanks" because they have permitted it. 
Homeowners deserve "thanks" because they have paid the most for it.
Our children suffer because of it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

And once again it's time for REDISTRICTING...

After the party lost several house seats in the recent election, there is a current push by the Texas GOP to redraw the court-ordered state redistricting map.

Redistricting according to Texas law is supposed to take place once every 10 years. Conservatives in Texas continue to look like spoiled fools as they try again and again to gain more positions by their ongoing arrogant and malicious attempts to redistrict when it suits them.
"The times they are a-changing..." -- Bob Dylan
Texas is slowly changing from "red" to a “pinkish hue” before it turns more “blue” and there isn't much the GOP can do to change that reality. Redistricting is one of the last attempts of a frustrated party growing stale and losing its mega grip.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Overview of modern liberal and conservative perspectives...

“Liberal” and “Conservative” are two words used to describe two political philosophies and platforms that may not be so easy to view and comprehend. It seems that humans maintain a need and desire to label everything and everyone in their lives and certainly this is recognized in Politics, perhaps more so than in other areas of our daily existence.

Immediately, several such labels come to mind, e.g., liberal, conservative, socialist, fascist, to name a few. The terms “Liberal” and “Conservative” are frequently used in politics and within our modern society; however, the context may vary in actual use and definition at any given time. Furthermore, the terms have changed over time periods and/or have been manipulated to promote special interest concerns, desires and legislation.

Costly Roadways Impacting Texas Hill Country Landscape

The move is underway to rip apart our scenic Hill Country in order to provide large profits for developers and road companies from which they may toss some back to elected officials via perks and campaign contributions.
The new road proposals essentially carve up much of our open lands and break up our private properties to new and unsustainable growth patterns. The corrupt process of appointing designated associates by County Commissioners comprising persons with already-voiced interests in either building roads or being involved in development, who then sit down and decide for the rest of the citizens (and LANDOWNERS) of this County what should happen to their lives is undemocratic, blatantly contemptible and should not be tolerated.

Most people know little or nothing about these new proposed roads, and there has been NO PUBLIC INTEREST in building more roads. Instead, it is a top-down bogus process of handing over public tax money to private entities in the form of road contracts and eventual housing and commercial development.
Our lands and our lifestyle must not for sale, nor open to controlled special interest decisions about where increased vehicular traffic, overpopulation and additional air and noise pollution should be directed and how.

Local news media along with community residents must rise up together as a giant tsunami of protest. 

We recognize that the County is growing and that we must make improvements to our roads, but not this way.

To Toll or NOT to Toll...

Texas Tolling Mentality Continues…

In response to the Austin Statesman editorial, “U.S. 290 tollway’s first piece opening in December
Despite the fact that gasoline tax revenue is diverted to other special interests and also that Gov. Perry and the Texas Legislature refuse to permit the increase of the tax to allow for inflation (as they apparently do permit for yearly toll road increases) the primary focus on building roadways is on developing more and more toll roadways, which truly does NOT help with traffic congestion.

This is unconscionable.

Furthermore, there is no regulation for the increase of tolls at any given time and once the toll road is paid for, the tolls usually remain. This is NOT a legacy we want to leave for our children’s children.

The ruling GOP cries out against new taxes, but what are tolls if not new taxes?

Even if drivers opt NOT to use the toll roads goods and services will increase accordingly as toll costs will be diverted onto customers. Consequently, I urge all Texans to avoid using toll roads, but also they should contact legislators to stop the tolling insanity.

Single-Gender Schools in Austin ISD?

Stop letting petty bureaucrats and politicians decide what is best for the community and children. Instead, let the community determine its own needs. It's called School-Based Management and it works!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Another Israel-Gaza War...

In response to the 11/14/12 NY Times editorial “Another Israel-Gaza War?” provokes a simple question....
During the past 50 years, how many peace agreements and cease fires have there been between Israel and its neighbors?  
The answer is “too many to recall” and all of them have resulted in further attacks. Israel did not initiate the renewed attacks, but Arab nations did.  The Arab nations will never accept the state of Israel and they continue to dismiss Israel’s right to be in the Middle East. 
While it is true that the development of Israel was pushed onto Arab homelands back in 1948 via Western persistence and protection, the surrounding neighbors continue to view Israel as an intruder, a new state that was created without their approval.   The hatred and animosity prevalent in the Middle East against Israel will never be resolved peacefully.  History has proven that Israel will have to take any means possible to keep its state and to protect its survival.  While the rest of the world may not approve of Israel’s aggressive methods, they also have not “walked a mile in Israel’s shoes.”

Sunday, November 11, 2012

TAB’s CEO Bill Hammond is being Hammond Again...

Kissbutt Rick Perry puppet Bill Hammond naturally would like more businesses to move to Texas to make himself and his organization more important. Big businesses [not small ones] in Texas already have the government in their pockets. Why the need to fork people even more than Perry and the Legislature are already doing?

Characteristically, it seems that Perry and Hammond want the same thing, to beef up business and get rid of the remnants of the middle class by pushing them to the brink of financial suicide. Hammond's constant ignorance is astounding. Perhaps he and Perry should go on the toll road together to campaign for 2016 President and VP. They both are arrogant, willful, self-centered and each could care less about average Texans and public education. The nation would be very entertained by a Perry/Hammond team. Of course they would never win the party nomination. 
They always want to cut their own costs while upping the ante at the expense for Texans. Motor vehicle registration already is one of the highest in the nation. Fees and penalties have been increasing for the past decade, coincidentally? since Perry became Governor. The State continues to divert its constitution responsibility for the public education budget onto local government in the way of [mostly] higher property taxes.
It's time businesses pay their fair share since the business climate in Texas already is one of the best in the nation. What would Texans get from all these absurd suggestions besides more cobwebs in their wallets where once dollar bills were abundant?