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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: 85,794

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

State senator admits campaign fund mistakes, resigns

OKLAHOMA CITY — Facing new accusations that he embezzled his own campaign funds, state Sen. Kyle Loveless resigned Thursday and admitted he made mistakes.

The conservative Oklahoma City Republican stepped down two days after his defense attorney, Mack Martin, met with Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater about the accusations.

He became the third Oklahoma senator in the past two years to resign in disgrace after coming under criminal investigation. His resignation is effective immediately and is irrevocable.

A criminal investigation into his campaign finances has been underway since February.

Read more: http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/government/state-senator-admits-campaign-fund-mistakes-resigns/article_e9e72ffa-5a53-5f62-9e89-83504517f369.html

Lawmakers make little progress closing $878 million budget hole

OKLAHOMA CITY — With one month left in the legislative session, lawmakers have made little progress on closing an $878 million budget hole.

Last week, legislators postponed and rescheduled several budget committee meetings, added and dropped bills from agendas and gave the public little notice of what tax and revenue-raising measures were under consideration.

Despite that, legislative leaders say they are confident they will come up with a budget and avoid a special session.

“Meetings have been productive this week,” Senate Majority Floor Leader Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said Thursday. “You may not see all results of the productivity. This time of year there are always rumors flying around of war and gnashing of teeth.”

Read more: http://www.tulsaworld.com/homepagelatest/lawmakers-make-little-progress-closing-million-budget-hole/article_ea51fc98-95d9-5ba2-b0ef-a824f44c3090.html

Black judge says repeating 'N' word in appellate opinion was 'unnecessary'

The lone black judge on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has rebuked Presiding Judge Gary Lumpkin for repeatedly quoting a murderer's use of the "n" word in a published opinion.

The opinion, released Friday, upheld the Tulsa County conviction of Charles Gustaves Johnson Jr., 71, in the 2013 murder of Duchone Whitworth.

"I concur in the decision reached by the court in this matter. However I write separately to point out that the author of this opinion did not have to repeat the repugnant language used by the appellant," Vice Presiding Judge David Lewis wrote in his concurring opinion. "The repeated use of the 'n' word in this opinion was unnecessary to the reader's understanding of the language used by the appellant, and unnecessary to the court's resolution of this case."

Judge Lumpkin quoted the racial slur verbatim in his opinion, while Lewis used the euphemistic expression "'n' word" in his criticism.

Read more: http://newsok.com/black-judge-says-repeating-n-word-in-appellate-opinion-was-unnecessary/article/5547323

Some Oklahoma lawmakers and business leaders are calling for increased gross production taxes

In late March, faced with an $868 million budget shortfall and with few revenue-raising bills passed through the state Capitol, Oklahoma House Democrats crafted a budget plan to repair the state’s revenue problem by reversing specific tax cuts, including for oil and gas production.

In its Restoring Oklahoma Plan, which lays out a strategy for funding a teacher pay raise as well as protecting key government services from further budget cuts, the Democratic caucus determined raising the gross production tax, or severance tax, from 2 to 5 percent would generate an estimated $312 million in state revenue.

“For decades, the state of Oklahoma had a stable tax rate on gross production by taxing wells at 7 percent,” Vinita Rep. Chuck Hoskin told members of the press. “In recent years, the legislature has created more and more tiers and incentives for oil and gas production, including historically low tax rates when a well is at its most productive [time]. … While we understand and agree that oil and gas [industry] is very important to our state’s economy, investing in our children and our infrastructure is mutually beneficial.”

While this isn’t the first proposal floated to increase state’s tax rates on oil and gas production, the idea has found some support among some small oil and natural gas producers and a former state Republican chairman.

Read more: http://okgazette.com/2017/04/21/some-oklahoma-lawmakers-and-business-leaders-are-calling-for-increased-gross-production-taxes/

Five dead, dozens hurt after tornadoes wallop Canton, Eustace, Caney City

Five people are dead and nearly 50 injured after tornadoes whipped through Van Zandt, Henderson and Rains counties, and authorities said they were braced for the toll to rise.

The Canton Fire Department confirmed the five deaths, including one in a vehicle tossed by the tornado along Highway 64 near the town in Van Zandt County, KXAS-TV (NBC 5) reported.

Although some reports indicated that as many as five tornadoes passed through the area, the National Weather Service confirmed only three -- in Canton, Eustace and Caney City. Surveys Sunday will determine whether more hit.

The tornado that struck Canton was up to a half-mile wide as it ripped a 40-mile path along the ground, also striking Fruitvale and Emory, KXAS said.

Read more: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/weather/2017/04/28/tornado-canton-five-dead-dozens-injured-van-zandt

House Bathroom Bill Would Undo Houston, HISD, UH Protections

An anti-transgender bathroom bill moving through the Texas House would undo nondiscrimination protections enacted by the City of Houston, the Houston Independent School District, the University of Houston, and other local entities, according to LGBT advocates.

House Bill 2899, by state representative Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton), would bar cities, school districts, and other political subdivisions of the state from enforcing laws that protect a class of people against discrimination by granting them access to multi-occupancy restrooms, locker rooms, or showers.

Simmons is touting HB 2899 as an alternative to Senate Bill 6, the anti-trans bathroom bill championed by lieutenant governor Dan Patrick that would expressly prohibit trans people from accessing restrooms in government buildings based on their gender identity. But LGBT advocates point out that, like SB 6, Simmons’ bill would preempt nondiscrimination laws and policies covering millions of Texas residents and students.

“Ultimately, it seems like Texas is engaged in the same process that North Carolina was engaged in after [they passed House Bill 2], which is trying to figure out how much discrimination is the right amount for Texas,” said Kathryn Oakley, senior legislative council for the Human Rights Campaign, referring to the 2016 anti-trans bathroom bill that cost the Tarheel State’s economy hundreds of millions of dollars.

Read more: http://www.outsmartmagazine.com/2017/04/house-bathroom-bill-would-undo-houston-hisd-uh-protections/

Poll Shows Nearly Two-Thirds Of Texans Now Support Same-Sex Marriage

As Republican state lawmakers try to chip away at LGBT rights in Austin, a new poll shows that a solid majority of Texans now support same-sex marriage.

The poll from Texas Tech University’s Earl Survey Research Lab found that 64 percent of Texans back marriage equality, while only 28 percent oppose it.

The last time the same poll included a question about same-sex marriage, in 2015, only 49 percent supported it, the Lubbock Avalance-Journal reports.

Results from the new poll, conducted between March 20 and April 13, were released 22 months after the U.S. Supreme Court, ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, made same-sex marriage legal in Texas and across the nation. The poll also comes in the midst of the state legislative session, in which right-wing lawmakers are seeking to roll back the rights of same-sex couples, by allowing adoption agencies, businesses, clerks and other entities to discriminate against them based on religious beliefs.

Read more: http://www.outsmartmagazine.com/2017/04/poll-shows-nearly-two-thirds-of-texans-now-support-same-sex-marriage/

Democrats To Protest Culberson's Appearance At Log Cabin Dinner In Montrose

Progressive groups are planning a cocktail party to protest GOP Congressman John Culberson’s appearance at a Log Cabin Republicans event on Saturday night in Montrose.

Culberson, whose 7th Congressional District includes parts of west Houston, will be the keynote speaker at the gay GOP group’s annual Houston Lincoln Dinner at Theo’s Restaurant.

A few steps away at the Rosemont, other pro-LGBT groups will stage “Cocktails with Culberson?“—and they’ve invited the congressman to meet with them, too. Culberson’s office didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Culberson received a zero, the lowest possible score, on the Human Rights Campaign’s most recent Congressional Scorecard, which measures federal lawmakers’ support for LGBT equality. However, Log Cabin Republicans National President Gregory T. Angelo—who’ll also attend Saturday’s Dinner— defended the Houston chapter’s decision to invite the GOP congressman.

Read more: http://www.outsmartmagazine.com/2017/04/democrats-to-protest-culbersons-appearance-at-log-cabin-dinner-in-montrose/

Joe Straus and the House Moderates Could've Stopped the 'Show Me Your Papers' Bill

Many believed it wouldn’t happen, but on Thursday, the Texas House passed legislation that in spirit and letter is awfully similar to SB 1070, the “show me your papers” law that properly branded Arizona an anti-Latino pariah. As Chris Hooks noted, the bill shatters a rough consensus that had held for at least a decade in Texas: Big business, moderate Republicans, immigration advocates and Democrats used to work together to fend off any legislative assaults on immigrants and even managed to pass forward-thinking laws like the Texas Dream Act, which guarantees in-state tuition for undocumented Texas high school graduates. There was also the small matter, for savvy GOP strategists, at least, that the Republican Party likely wouldn’t be able to hold on to power if it pissed off too many Hispanics. The status quo was hardly immigrant-friendly — some construction sites are charnel houses, for one — but in terms of preserving the social and political peace, it worked well enough.

The center did not hold. The final vote Thursday on Senate Bill 4 was 94-53, with every single Republican voting “yes” and every single Democrat voting “no.” And for those looking for whom to blame, for my money, there is no better place to start than Speaker Joe Straus and the so-called moderates in the Texas House.

If SB 4 were to be stopped, it wasn’t going to be the governor. (Greg Abbott made “sanctuary cities” an actual legislative emergency, and, oh, did he mention again today that his wife is Hispanic?) It wasn’t going to be the Senate. (There are no moderates left in Dan Patrick’s hostage chamber.) It wasn’t going to be the Freedom Caucus in the House. (They’ve been itching to repeal the Dream Act and attack “sanctuary cities” for at least four sessions.) The Democrats are universally, vehemently against SB 4 and spent much of the last 24 hours making personal, emotional and often tearful pleas to the Republican majority not to pass SB 4, or at least to tone it down.

Who does that leave? It leaves supposed moderates like Jason Villalba, the chummy Dallas rep who takes pride in being a punching bag for both left and right. Villalba was one of only two Republicans to vote for an amendment that would’ve prohibited police from interrogating children about their immigration status. He also voted against an amendment from tea partier Matt Schaefer that aligned the House version with the Senate version by allowing police to question people about their status during detentions, such as traffic stops, and not just arrests. Yet, in the end, he voted in lock-step with his party and on Twitter attempted to blame the whole thing on the Democrats.

Read more: https://www.texasobserver.org/joe-straus-house-moderates-couldve-stopped-show-papers-bill/

Why Mayor Taylor's Comments Disturb and Offend People Who Aren't Religious

This week San Antonio went viral in a very unflattering way – that is, if you’re not a social conservative or worry about religion guiding politicians' actions on some of society's most serious challenges, like addressing the root causes of poverty.

It looks like a blogger at Patheos.com, a website that covers religion and spirituality, was the first to point out the problematic nature of Taylor's comments at a mayoral forum moderated by San Antonio Express-News columnist Gilbert Garcia earlier this month. The blogger linked to a video of the April 3 forum that was live-streamed by the hyperlocal journalism nonprofit NowCastSA. When asked about the root causes of systemic poverty, Taylor's go-to answer is to blame a lack of faith. Or, to be more specific:

"It's broken people, you know. People not being in relationship with their Creator, and therefore not being in a good relationship with their families and their communities and, you know, not being productive members of society. So I think that's the ultimate answer."

Patheos blogger Michael Stone was unsparing in his criticism, saying Taylor's comments "show nothing but contempt for poor people and atheists." The video of Taylor's comments reached viral status after the Huffington Post covered them on Monday.

Taylor's initial reaction was to claim the video had been "intentionally edited to mislead viewers," which is weird considering NowCast had posted footage of the entire 90 minute forum. "I have devoted my life to breaking the chains of generational poverty," Taylor wrote in a prepared statement this week. "I’ve done so because of my faith in God and my belief in Jesus’s ministry on Earth."

Read more: http://www.sacurrent.com/the-daily/archives/2017/04/26/why-mayor-taylors-comments-disturb-and-offend-to-people-who-arent-religious
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