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TexasTowelie

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 78,448

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Energy Money Behind Texas Railroad Commission Speaks Louder Than Texas’ Citizens

By Carol Morgan

With the worship of the Texas Miracle and the subsequent injection of oil and gas money into political races, it’s hard to believe that Texans didn’t see this coming.

As a result of voter blindness, Texas has a proxy government that’s calling all the shots and undermining the governance of the Texas Legislature.

The TRC used to be content with merely buying politicians who would further their agenda, but in the last year, they’ve grown increasingly emboldened by their lock on power. And so have the energy companies that purchased the agency and the individuals who administrate it.
[link:http://lubbockonline.com/lubbockonline.com/interact/blog-post/carol-morgan/2014-05-07/texas-oil-and-gas-kingmakers|
Way back in May, I complained about the fact that oil and gas has way too much sway over who gets elected to office.]

Six months later, Texas watched as Denton citizens voted a ban on fracking and the very next day told it wouldn’t be upheld by Representative (and drilling rights attorney) Phil King (and if it was, he’d file a bill to make sure it wasn’t upheld). Christi Craddick declared she would still issue permits and it appeared there was something “Bushy” going on underneath it all.

On Monday, a joint investigation of the TCEQ and the Texas Railroad Commission by the Center for Public Integrity and Inside Climate News concluded that both agencies are protecting the oil and gas industry rather than the public whom they claim to serve.

They published the stories of two former TRC employees to back up their claims.

Two different sources and another media website offered the frustrating narrative of Fred Wright and Morris Kocurek, two oil and gas regulators working for the TRC. Throughout their careers, both Wright and Kocurek were promoted, praised, and given raises for their good work, and then summarily fired in 2013 for simply doing their job.

Wright’s boss, Charlie Teague insisted that wells be approved even though they were in violation of statewide rules. Kocurek reported that whenever he wrote up a violation, they would mysteriously disappear after the right phone calls were made.

Open records corroborate the stories of Mr. Wright and Mr. Kocurek, but it’s doubtful that anything will come of the investigation because the TRC is controlled by three elected commissioners who have accepted nearly $3 million combined in campaign contributions from the industry during the 2012 and 2014 election cycles, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Now it appears the tentacles of the Texas Railroad Commission are reaching out to strong arm Texas municipalities in the form of higher natural gas prices by changing the rules for any city’s participation in gas utility rate cases. This action was taken in spite of the efforts of the Texas Legislature.

The Texas Railroad Commission, in collusion with the energy barons, successfully circumvented the actions Texas Legislature to accomplish the will of its benefactor. Worst of all, it's been accomplished openly and shamelessly.

Historically, cities’ participation in rate setting has prevented some outrageous increases by investor-owned utility companies. City government has a duty to protect its citizenry, but one investor-owned utility, Center Point Energy Entex of Houston, has repeatedly attempted to meddle in Texas Legislative affairs, pushing legislation that effectively excommunicates cities from the process.

As a result of the TRC ruling, cities would be forced to accept the rate hikes upfront and then litigate them in the future at the city’s expense after the rate hike takes effect.

That’s a lot of money and bureaucracy that would force city governments to think long and hard before embarking on that process, while, in the mean time, the community is forced to pay outrageous and unjustified rate increases.

One fact to note about CenterPoint: It’s intriguing that in December 2011, the non-partisan organization Public Campaign criticized CenterPoint Energy for spending $2.65 million on lobbying and not paying any taxes during 2008-2010, instead getting $284 million in tax rebates, despite making a profit of $1.9 billion, and having an executive pay between $12 and $13 million for its top 5 executives.

Isn’t that cute?

Now it gets close to home.

Mayor Glen Robertson and Mayor Pro-Tem Jim Gerlt testified before the Texas Railroad Commission on Tuesday to oppose the rule changes, but it was a lot like facing Goliath with no slingshot. Funny, how the TRC and all their political relatives are the “small government-local control” folks, except when it comes to money to feed their donor buddies, then all bets are off.

You may read the TRC’s detailed brief and justification of their ruling on Tuesday’s hearing here: http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/media/25618/adopt-new-1-86and1-87-rate-cases-and-discovery-sig-120914.pdf .

Warning: It’s 36 pages and guaranteed to induce slumber.

The budget, education, roads, and more permissive gun laws…this is just one more thing Texas needs to worry about in 2015.

Feeling any voter’s remorse yet?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Carol Morgan is a career/college counselor, writer, speaker, former Democratic candidate for the Texas House and the award-winning author of Of Tapestry, Time and Tears, a historical fiction about the 1947 Partition of India. Email Carol at elizabethcmorgan@sbcglobal.net , follow her on Twitter and on Facebook or visit her writer’s blog at www.carolmorgan.org

http://lubbockonline.com/interact/blog-post/carol-morgan/2014-12-10/energy-money-behind-texas-railroad-commission-speaks#.VIkzIcnuPoE

Permission granted to post Carol's blog in its entirety.

BumBum Model Had Vaginal Restoration Surgery To Restore Her Virginity



Plastic Surgery preys on the idea that one is not good enough, now they are using virginity to continue that trend. What does it say when a lady who competes with her body also opts for the same procedure.

Recently the Brazilian Bumbum competition winner, model Indianara Carvalho, announced she would be restoring her virginity with surgery. The controversial procedure is said to restore a woman’s hymen and restore her to a “virginal tightness”

“The model, who says she wants to use her newly virginal status to find love, had ‘vaginal rejuvenation surgery’ which includes a hymenoplasty.”

Sharon Osborne also had a similar surgery. She called it the worst of all the plastic surgeries she’s had.

“{The worst was} having my vagina tightened,” she revealed to Norton. “Oh, it was just excruciating.”

Read more: http://www.liberalamerica.org/2014/12/10/bumbum-model-to-have-vaginal-restoration-surgery-to-restore-her-virginity/

The sports-edifice complex: Follow the money where the sun don't shine

"Since 2005, North American municipalities have allocated more than $8 billion to stadium projects without so much as a public vote, says Tim Kellison, an assistant professor at the University of Florida studying stadium financing. 'A lot of it happens under the radar,' he says. 'Decisions can be made very quickly.' "

-- from "Public cut out of stadium votes" by Mina Kimes, in the Dec. 8 issue of ESPN The Magazine

Just how far under the radar does it go, this business of dumping public money into sports edifices for the benefit of rich sports owners? Here's one of my favorite details from this report by ESPN The Magazine columnist Mina Kimes. She's writing here about the way the County Commission of of Cobb County, Georgia, pursued its plan to issue $400 million in bonds for the building of a new stadium for the Atlanta Braves: "Atlanta magazine reported that the commissioners met privately with Braves executives, rotating in and out to avoid forming a quorum, which would have forced them to convene in public."

Of course there's always incentive to move chunks of money around for purposes that seem vaguely public-spirited given that movement of large chunks of money creates opportunities for people to position themselves in the path of that movement. Sports edifices have a special appeal, though. As Mina writes, "For the better part of a century, politicians from both parties have siphoned taxpayer money into sports teams' coffers, clawing at the chance to prostrate themselves before billionaire owners."

The especially modern touch, though, is the secrecy. And as Mina puts it, Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz "spoke with unusual candor about the team's furtive dealings with Cobb County":

"If it had gotten out, more people would have started taking the position of, 'We don't want that to happen,' " he said. Elected officials might crave the spotlight, but they loathe the glare of public scrutiny. It's easier when everyone else lives in the dark.

It seems the public has gotten a little less enthusiastic about shelling out tens and hundreds of millions of dollars for the benefit of rich guys. And if you think they might say no, is it any wonder you'd just as soon they know as little as possible about what you're doing? The source of the Schuerholz quote, by the way, is a piece from the website "Field of Schemes" called "Braves exec: Good thing this stadium deal was secret, or somebody might have objected."

See more at: http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-sports-edifice-complex-follow-money.html

Rick Perry Says Income Inequality Not A Problem We 'Grapple With' In Texas

Despite a significant rise in income inequality in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry (R) is arguing that it's not something the state ought to be worried about.

“We don’t grapple with that here," Perry told The Washington Post in a recent interview, while acknowledging that the state's richest residents have seen the greatest spike in earnings.

“Biblically, the poor are always going to be with us in some form or fashion,” he added, an apparent reference to Mark 14: 7. While Perry takes the message from the Bible to mean poverty is hopeless and therefore not worth grappling with, Jesus Christ was actually delivering a different lesson: "For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good," the Son of God advises in the King James version of the Bible.

Yet the Biblical shoulder-shrugging is consistent with what Perry said while briefly running for president in 2011, when he proposed a tax plan that would have helped wealthy Americans while potentially raising the taxes of lower- and middle-income people.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/10/rick-perry-income-inequality_n_6301406.html

Texas professor: 'The tea party are like the Nazi's' (with video)



A YouTube video of a Texas professor comparing the rise of the tea party in the United States to the rise of the Nazi Party in 1930s Germany has drawn criticism from conservatives online.

In the video, filmed during a Nov. 17 lecture, Blake Armstrong — psychology professor at South Texas College in McAllen — said, "In 1931, which was really interesting, the Nazis — people are kind of tired of them. They've been around since 1920, 11 years now, they've won seats — they're like the tea party. Look, that's such a good example. Don't tell anybody I said that, though. 'The tea party are like the Nazis.'"

Armstrong continued, "But, in the sense of how they politically came to power, there's a good analogy there that eventually people realize, 'Oh, these Nazis, they're a bunch of nuts. These tea party people, they're a bunch of nuts.' I mean, the analogy really is a good analogy. And they started losing votes again in late '31, 1932, they started losing seats."

The professor's comments drew ire from conservative websites such as RedState and The Blaze.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/local/article/Texas-professor-caught-on-tape-comparing-tea-5947748.php

Plano adds LGBT protections

After listening to more than an hour of public testimony, the Plano City Council voted 5-3 Monday to ban anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Plano, Texas’ ninth-largest city, becomes at least the sixth in the state to ban anti-LGBT discrimination.

City Manager Bruce Glasscock said the council has been discussing the issue on some level for about 10 years, and recently determined that the city’s nondiscrimination policies were out of date.

“These changes I believe are reflective of the values of Plano as a diverse, inclusive community that values and respects the rights of all of our citizens,” Glasscock said.

Read more: http://www.lonestarq.com/breaking-plano-adds-lgbt-protections/

Another story is at http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/28833/plano-becomes-latest-texas-city-pass-protection-lgbt-discrimination .

Ted Cruz Communications Director Hilariously Blames Torture On Dems

Yesterday, Americans learned the extent of brutality and deceit in the CIA’s years of torture following September 11th. What was thought to be publicly known before turns out to be much worse than previous thought, from the CIA intentionally misrepresenting its own data to support continued torture to practices never before known, like “rectal rehydration”.

When Ted Cruz’s communications director Amanda Carpenter got her hands on the facts, she got right to work fear-mongering like the president who oversaw the torture. Like most of her right-wing cohort averse to facts and American transparency, Carpenter claimed — with no backing from anyone in the intelligence community — that the report would endanger American lives. When Texas Democratic consultant Jason Stanford pointed out the asininity of her claim, Carpenter provided an unintentionally comical response:



Jason Stanford @JasStanford
Ted Cruz's comms director thinks that the rest of the world didn't already know what was in the torture report.
12:11 PM - 9 Dec 2014



Carpenter seemingly wants you to forget that the Republicans ran the torture program that has greatly hurt America’s standing in the world, wasted billions, bred distrust for us worldwide, and has endangered American lives. Torture’s effects are entirely in Republican hands. Projection is the glue that holds the Republican Party together, and Carpenter’s boss is no exception, so though ridiculous, her claim is also utterly predictable.

Of course, it’s tragic that such a damning report comes under fire from one of the two “serious” (heavy quotes) political parties. It’s important to remember that though they’re now out of presidential power, it is the Republicans’ war criminal legacy that has proven so strong as to protect all the CIA torturers – and their commanders – from ever facing prosecution.

Read more: http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/28851/ted-cruz-comms-director-hilariously-blames-torture-dems

U.S. House colleagues pay tribute to Rep. Ralph Hall of Rockwall (last WWII vet in Congress)

WASHINGTON — The day Rep. Ralph Hall switched parties in 2004 — a move that prolonged his congressional career by a decade — Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson called and called. The normally friendly Hall wouldn’t pick up the phone and he wouldn’t return messages.

Finally, the Dallas Democrat got hold of an aide and passed along a message: “Just tell him that I still love him. I don’t care what party he’s in.”

A half-minute later, Hall called back, apologetic. His wife and sister had already given him a hard time about turning Republican, he said, and he couldn’t take another scolding.

House colleagues lovingly recounted dozens such stories Tuesday as Hall’s 34-year tenure comes to an end. At times emotional, Republicans and Democrats alike lauded the 91-year-old — the oldest person ever to serve in the U.S. House — as a storyteller and jokester, a wise and trusted colleague, and a political natural.

Read more: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/national-politics/20141209-u.s.-house-colleagues-pay-tribute-to-departing-rep.-ralph-hall-of-rockwall.ece

Players seek $250 million from Texas Lottery contractor

More than 500 players of a lottery scratch-off card filed suit against the game’s developer seeking about $250 million in contested prize money.

Confusion over the rules led many to believe they had winning tickets, but those tickets were not honored by the state. The suit contends that the lottery’s contractor, GTECH Corporation, owes prize money to the players because they wrote the rules and programmed the scanners to identify the winners.

GTECH Corporation spokeswoman Angela Wiczek said “we believe that the suit has no merit and we’ll defend our actions.”

Houston attorney Manfred Sternberg, who represents the players, said the rules imply that when people buy a scratch off ticket, they should “win whatever they said we would win.”

Read more: http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2014/12/players-seek-250-million-from-texas-lottery-contractor.html/

Texas loses out on $120 million in federal grant funds to expand pre-K

In a setback for those hoping Texas will expand pre-kindergarten access, the federal government on Wednesday announced the Lone Star State did not qualify for up to $120 million to do just that.

Texas was among 36 states to apply for four years worth of federal pre-K grant funding. The U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday it would award funds to 18 states, not including Texas, which applied to receive up to $30 million annually. The states that did get grants, including neighboring Arkansas, will receive more than $226 million during the first year of the program.

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams described the decision as “disappointing” in a statement.

“Our application to the U.S. Department of Education reflected a belief that Texas could build upon an established foundation of high quality pre-k programs by expanding, enhancing and providing greater parental choice,” Williams said, referencing a voucher component to the state’s application. “High-need communities in 15 counties were identified that would have been eligible to participate in the grant over the course of four years. The federal government’s decision, while disappointing, does not take away from our state’s belief in the value of high quality prekindergarten programs.”

Read more: http://www.statesman.com/news/news/state-regional/texas-loses-out-on-30-million-federal-grant-to-exp/njPzJ/

[font color=green]Abbott’s office declined to comment.[/font]
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