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TexasTowelie

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Texas
Home country: United States
Current location: Red Hell Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 76,948

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

In Dallas and Across Texas, Teachers Keep Leaving Jobs as Fast as They Take Them

Last month, Dallas Independent School District held its annual job fair to fill roughly 2,000 open positions for the 2014-2015 school year. The fair at Conrad High School was stuffed to the brim with eager college graduates, jaded career changers and Dallas newcomers. By mid-morning nearly half the positions had been filled.

But DISD human resources exec Carmen Darville said at the time that although the district expected to fill the 2,000 spots, there would likely be another wave of openings later in the summer as teachers continued leaving their posts.

Dallas' teacher turnover rate is high, but not unusually so -- not for Texas, anyway. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board reports that Texas will likely fall short of its new teacher certification goal next year, and that as many as half of new teachers will leave the profession within five years.

Dallas' poor retention rates, of course, can be a good thing if departing teachers are underqualified and underperforming. But year after year, Dallas is faced with a teacher shortage when scores of teachers leave -- often for higher-paying jobs in less challenging environments -- and the district is forced to hire another stream of young teachers.

More at http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2014/07/dallas_isds_high_turnover_rate_could_be_addressed_in_the_upcoming_legislature.php .

Texas Congressman Pete Gallego Saves Choking Child on Airplane

He's not just the only Democratic incumbent in Texas with a tough race this year, he's also a hero.

Democratic Congressman Pete Gallego (TX-23) was flying back to Alpine on Friday night when the child sitting next to him began choking on a chicken nugget.

Gallego was able to clear the child's airway, much to his mother's relief. However, I wouldn't recommend the Heimlich as a method of direct voter contact other than when the situation demands it.

The child's mother sent her thanks to the Congressman:

Paige Hoch Flippen @pflippen

@RepPeteGallego @petegallego saved my son last night as he was choking on our flight home! So thankful for his quick reaction!


More at http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/15509/texas-congressman-pete-gallego-saves-choking-child-on-airplane .

Over 1,000 Wendy Davis Volunteers Gather For Leadership Summits Across Texas

This weekend, something big happened.

The Wendy Davis campaign held 11 leadership summits in cities across Texas for more than 1,000 volunteers who have taken a leadership role in organizing for the campaign.

Volunteers gathered in Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, McAllen, Laredo, El Paso, Tyler, Lubbock, Austin and Dallas. They heard from not only Senator Wendy Davis, but also Senator Leticia Van de Putte and local officials such as Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

These volunteers are the reason that Wendy Davis has such an impressive voter contact operation, so it is great to see them working together to develop their skills to do even more good work.

More at http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/15507/over-1000-wendy-davis-volunteers-gather-for-leadership-summits-across-texas .

The Trouble With the Enterprise Fund

Governor Perry's decision to fund the opening of a new Charles Schwab office in El Paso (and another in Austin) is a classic example of what is wrong with the governor's economic development funds. Charles Schwab is a national firm that needs no subsidy from the state to succeed. The issue with these grants ought to be whether the firm getting state funds needs the money to be successful. In the case of Schwab, the answer is clearly no.

The money is going to a local office that represents but a pittance of the business that Schwab does. Why does Schwab require a subsidy? The governor's office says that Schwab is also expanding in Austin. The test in these cases ought to be whether the beneficiary of the grant needs the money to be successful. To put it another way, would Schwab be expanding in Austin and El Paso without an Enterprise Fund grant? Or is this another case of Perry doing favors for his friends?

http://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/trouble-enterprise-fund

[font color=green]Somewhere between the restrictions on abortion clinics and this story is a setup for a callous "swab" remark. I will defer to others on DU to make it.[/font]

Texas Department of Insurance Hikes Long-term Care Rates 75%

Rick Perry likes to say that the reason the Texas economy performs so well is because of the quality of the state’s work force, the reasonableness of regulations pertaining to business, and the passage of tort reform in 2003. I’ll grant him his evaluation of the work force and the importance of tort reform. But when it comes to the reasonableness of regulations pertaining to business, that’s a different story. For instance, consider this story from the July 24 edition of the Dallas Morning News:

Two families are calling out the Texas Department of Insurance for not protecting ratepayers hit with a 75% increase in their premiums for long-term care insurance. They raise a valid question. Is the Texas Department of Insurance an ally of the insurance industry or an ally of consumers. Is the agency so limited in its powers granted by lawmakers that it can’t stop rising costs. Texas granted a 75% increase, compared with other states that approved a 20 or 25% increase when requested by Allianze Life Insurance Co. of North America.


How does this compare with other states? Texas granted a 75% increase, compared with other states that approved a 20% or 25% increase. That doesn’t sound reasonable to me. As for the question of whether TDI is an ally of the insurance industry or an ally of consumers, the facts speak for themselves.

http://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/texas-department-insurance-hikes-long-term-care-rates-75

All but Illegal--Texas abortion clinics brace for closure

On a balmy Saturday evening, July 12, reproductive rights activists, many with tears in their eyes, took turns recounting aloud their experiences fighting one of the most draconian abortion laws in the country. Roughly 30 people donned orange (symbolizing the pro-choice movement) or black to gather at the Capitol, mourning the one-year anniversary of the passage of House Bill 2. The modest vigil, organized by local activists, provided a space to reflect on the wins and losses in solidarity with fellow advocates. While less widely publicized than the previous week's celebration, attended by hundreds, of the one-year anniversary of the filibuster against the bill by state Sen. and now gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, it was certainly heartfelt.

"The moment I realized the politicians didn't care about the truth; didn't care about our health; didn't care if we lived or died – it was both horrifying and liberating," said Geraldine Mongold, one of the thousands who crowded the Capitol last summer to protest HB 2. "It freed me from being congenial – from being awed by their authority, and reminded me that this Capitol and this government belong to me."

The mixture of grief and hope among the participants reflected the range of emotions felt by those who are now coming to grips with the bleak post-HB 2 reality. The first part of the Republican-backed omnibus legislation, which took effect last Nov. 1, bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, forces women receiving pharmaceutical abortion to follow outdated and more expensive protocols, and requires physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic where the abortion is performed. The law has triggered a wave of clinic closures, eliminated abortion care in large areas of the state, and produced severe disruption for vulnerable patients.

The numbers alone are chilling – in 2012 there were 44 abortion clinics in Texas; as providers braced for HB 2, the number dropped to 34. After the law was initiated, by November 2013, 24 clinics remained. Today, the number fluctuates between 20 and 24, as a few clinics have closed and then reopened. However, the number is expected to dwindle to fewer than 10 on Sept. 1 – when the final requirement imposed by HB 2 takes effect, forcing clinics to make costly building changes in accord with ambulatory surgical center (ASC) standards. Only five Texas cities – Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston – have clinics guaranteed to remain open. This in a growing state of 26 million people.

More at http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2014-07-25/all-but-illegal/ .

Twin Liquors Settles With TABC, faces $500K fine and end of some wholesale operations

Austin-based Twin Liquors has reached a settlement with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission that will allow the liquor giant to keep open all of its retail operations. In exchange, the chain will face a $500,000 fine and end wholesale operations in a handful of stores.

The settlement resolves an investigation into possible connections between Twin and Yassine Enterprises, the now-shuttered operator of nine Downtown nightclubs. The Yassine brothers and eight associates were convicted on a variety of counts related to drug and weapon sales and money laundering.

Although the state did not detail the alleged ties between Twin and Yassine, a joint FBI, IRS, and TABC task force raided Twin Liquors' Austin headquarters in April 2013, seizing multiple boxes of evidence. During the raid, owners David and Margaret Jabour were also served administrative notices for multiple offenses and notified that the state had frozen all of the chain's pending permits. Although Twin had a handful of violations on the books prior to the raid, the feds did not say at the time what prompted the action.

On September 20, 2013, the state raised the stakes by announcing plans to cancel all Twin Liquors permits. But in March of this year, lawyers for the company responded with their own lawsuit against the TABC, Administrator Sherry Cook, Chief of Field Operations Robert Saenz, and Assistant Chief of Audit and Investigations Dexter Jones, calling TABC's actions "arbitrary and capricious." The suit alleged that the company had been denied access to key documents and was not allowed to question some witnesses.

More at http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2014-07-25/twin-liquors-settles-with-tabc/ .

Desperate Workers and Insatiable Corporate Giants

By Carol Morgan

The most fascinating period in American history is the Post-Industrial Age, the evolution of the worker, the emergence of the robber barons, the clash of worldwide ideologies and fervent irrational nationalism that birthed fear, violence, the imprisonment of innocents, and wage slave psychology.

I love reading about that era, but I never dreamed I’d be reliving it.

Many newsworthy stories about the desperation and abuse of workers and the tax-dodge waltz by the corporateurs are effectively obscured by coverage of the murderous bloody chaos taking place in every corner of the globe. Most Americans can’t avert their eyes from the international train wreck long enough to connect some important dots and arrive at preemptive conclusions.

Very recently, Microsoft announced it was laying off 18,000 workers, 14% of its workforce, but what they didn’t tell you is that it’s cutting 80,000 of its contract workers as well. Another convenient omission was that MS is one of the top five tech companies requesting the cap be lifted on H1B visas. 175,000 workers in other countries have already applied.

If MS is laying off an actual 98,000 workers but asking for more foreign workers, what does that tell you?

And while tech companies are laying off workers, other corporations are inflicting some unreasonably cruel work practices.

Chicago’s WaterSaver faucet manufacturing corporation installed swipe card systems on employee restrooms located adjacent to the factory floor. After gathering data from the new system, corporate bosses ascertained that workers were spending “excessive” amounts of time in the restroom, taking away from time on the assembly line. A new rule was implemented that workers were limited to six-minutes per day of bathroom time with a reward of $1 if workers refrained from using the restroom at all during the work day.

That gives a whole new meaning to holding up the line, doesn’t it?

A recent NYT article, “Part-Time Schedules, Full-Time Headaches”, chronicles the difficulties that part-time employees are having with scheduling abuses. The article relates employee’s stories of being scheduled for work, arranging for child care, finding transportation, only to arrive at work to be told to go home, because business was too slow or too many employees were scheduled to work. Those who protested this penny-wise practice were summarily fired or their hours were cut. Other workers were scheduled as part-time, but told to be “on call” full time to accept additional hours at the supervisor’s discretion.

Where’s a union when you need them, right?

All those indignant and righteous souls who demonized the unions over the years… Now, perhaps those same individuals realize the union’s true worth. Without unions, workers lose the power of leverage; corporations can enact any sort of abuse they like and the employee’s only choice is to stay or go.

“Right to Work” is nothing more than a throwback to the Gilded Age; another head-scratching term like enhanced interrogation which really means torture. It’s a deliberate effort to perplex, confound, and confuse. It transforms the heinous into the innocuous.

Work in America is sounding more and more like Tennessee Ernie Ford’s Sixteen Tons, where workers owe their soul to the company store.

The giant corporations aren’t satisfied with wringing out every bit of labor they can to make insane profits off the backs of workers. There’s been a mass movement by corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes on the fruits of slave wage labor.

This corporate ploy is called “inversion”, which, in their case, is a synonym for evasion.

Inversion is when an American corporation seeks out and merges with a (usually smaller) foreign business, then uses the country where that business is located for tax purposes, thereby avoiding U.S. corporate taxes. These corporate giants essentially renounce their citizenship to evade taxes, even though they benefit from making record profits here in America.

The list of corporate defectors is long (Pfizer, Chiquita, Mylan, and AbbVie, to name a few) but the most hurtful is Walgreen’s, America’s drugstore supposedly located at “the corner of Happy and Healthy”. This is more than just greedy, it’s a betrayal.

25% of Walgreen’s $722 million in profits comes from taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

These corporations seeking tax-asylum in other countries want all the advantages of operating in America, but expect others to pay, even as they make record profits. They rely on public resources like roads to transport products, law enforcement for theft protection, and our education system (which they bash continually) to provide them with employees. Pharmaceutical companies benefit even more than other corporations from government research, government rules, and government reimbursement.

Corporate bootlickers will claim that the corporate tax rate of 40% is the highest in the developed world, but they fail to mention that corporations get to apply a long list of tax credits, subsidies, loopholes and other giveaways which means they pay much less than the top rate. According to an analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice, many corporations have fine-tuned their ledgers to pay no tax at all.

Just like recalcitrant middle schoolers, the corporations want it all. Not only do they demand occupational slavery without backtalk, they insist on holding on to the insane profits earned at the expense of the American worker.

Something must change; the inversion loophole, the abuse of workers, and the tsunami of cheap foreign labor. But as we all know from the past, change is something people do only when they’re out of options.

Until the American people get really desperate, nothing will change.

http://lubbockonline.com/interact/blog-post/carol-morgan/2014-07-27/desperate-workers-and-insatiable-corporate-giants#.U9XAOrFCz2Q

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. Read her work at the Houston Press and MetroLeader News Service. Email Carol at elizabethcmorgan@sbcglobal.net , follow her on Twitter and on Facebook or visit her writer’s blog at www.carolmorgan.org

Permission granted to post in entirety.

Cross-posted in the Socialist Progressives Group.

Desperate Workers and Insatiable Corporate Giants

By Carol Morgan

The most fascinating period in American history is the Post-Industrial Age, the evolution of the worker, the emergence of the robber barons, the clash of worldwide ideologies and fervent irrational nationalism that birthed fear, violence, the imprisonment of innocents, and wage slave psychology.

I love reading about that era, but I never dreamed I’d be reliving it.

Many newsworthy stories about the desperation and abuse of workers and the tax-dodge waltz by the corporateurs are effectively obscured by coverage of the murderous bloody chaos taking place in every corner of the globe. Most Americans can’t avert their eyes from the international train wreck long enough to connect some important dots and arrive at preemptive conclusions.

Very recently, Microsoft announced it was laying off 18,000 workers, 14% of its workforce, but what they didn’t tell you is that it’s cutting 80,000 of its contract workers as well. Another convenient omission was that MS is one of the top five tech companies requesting the cap be lifted on H1B visas. 175,000 workers in other countries have already applied.

If MS is laying off an actual 98,000 workers but asking for more foreign workers, what does that tell you?

And while tech companies are laying off workers, other corporations are inflicting some unreasonably cruel work practices.

Chicago’s WaterSaver faucet manufacturing corporation installed swipe card systems on employee restrooms located adjacent to the factory floor. After gathering data from the new system, corporate bosses ascertained that workers were spending “excessive” amounts of time in the restroom, taking away from time on the assembly line. A new rule was implemented that workers were limited to six-minutes per day of bathroom time with a reward of $1 if workers refrained from using the restroom at all during the work day.

That gives a whole new meaning to holding up the line, doesn’t it?

A recent NYT article, “Part-Time Schedules, Full-Time Headaches”, chronicles the difficulties that part-time employees are having with scheduling abuses. The article relates employee’s stories of being scheduled for work, arranging for child care, finding transportation, only to arrive at work to be told to go home, because business was too slow or too many employees were scheduled to work. Those who protested this penny-wise practice were summarily fired or their hours were cut. Other workers were scheduled as part-time, but told to be “on call” full time to accept additional hours at the supervisor’s discretion.

Where’s a union when you need them, right?

All those indignant and righteous souls who demonized the unions over the years… Now, perhaps those same individuals realize the union’s true worth. Without unions, workers lose the power of leverage; corporations can enact any sort of abuse they like and the employee’s only choice is to stay or go.

“Right to Work” is nothing more than a throwback to the Gilded Age; another head-scratching term like enhanced interrogation which really means torture. It’s a deliberate effort to perplex, confound, and confuse. It transforms the heinous into the innocuous.

Work in America is sounding more and more like Tennessee Ernie Ford’s Sixteen Tons, where workers owe their soul to the company store.

The giant corporations aren’t satisfied with wringing out every bit of labor they can to make insane profits off the backs of workers. There’s been a mass movement by corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes on the fruits of slave wage labor.

This corporate ploy is called “inversion”, which, in their case, is a synonym for evasion.

Inversion is when an American corporation seeks out and merges with a (usually smaller) foreign business, then uses the country where that business is located for tax purposes, thereby avoiding U.S. corporate taxes. These corporate giants essentially renounce their citizenship to evade taxes, even though they benefit from making record profits here in America.

The list of corporate defectors is long (Pfizer, Chiquita, Mylan, and AbbVie, to name a few) but the most hurtful is Walgreen’s, America’s drugstore supposedly located at “the corner of Happy and Healthy”. This is more than just greedy, it’s a betrayal.

25% of Walgreen’s $722 million in profits comes from taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

These corporations seeking tax-asylum in other countries want all the advantages of operating in America, but expect others to pay, even as they make record profits. They rely on public resources like roads to transport products, law enforcement for theft protection, and our education system (which they bash continually) to provide them with employees. Pharmaceutical companies benefit even more than other corporations from government research, government rules, and government reimbursement.

Corporate bootlickers will claim that the corporate tax rate of 40% is the highest in the developed world, but they fail to mention that corporations get to apply a long list of tax credits, subsidies, loopholes and other giveaways which means they pay much less than the top rate. According to an analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice, many corporations have fine-tuned their ledgers to pay no tax at all.

Just like recalcitrant middle schoolers, the corporations want it all. Not only do they demand occupational slavery without backtalk, they insist on holding on to the insane profits earned at the expense of the American worker.

Something must change; the inversion loophole, the abuse of workers, and the tsunami of cheap foreign labor. But as we all know from the past, change is something people do only when they’re out of options.

Until the American people get really desperate, nothing will change.

http://lubbockonline.com/interact/blog-post/carol-morgan/2014-07-27/desperate-workers-and-insatiable-corporate-giants#.U9XAOrFCz2Q

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. Read her work at the Houston Press and MetroLeader News Service. Email Carol at elizabethcmorgan@sbcglobal.net , follow her on Twitter and on Facebook or visit her writer’s blog at www.carolmorgan.org

Permission granted to post in entirety.

Cross-posted in the Labor Movement Group.

Dan Patrick incorrectly says Texas has 40 percent to 50 percent dropout rates in inner-city schools

Houston state Sen. Dan Patrick, the Republican lieutenant governor nominee, vowed to reach out to all Texans in his general-election campaign.

Addressing his party’s June 2014 state convention, Patrick continued: "I’m going to go into Democratic strongholds and I’m going to tell them about school choice and educational opportunities, because we have a 40 to 50 percent dropout rate in our inner-city schools, and that cannot stand, for those families and for our state."

We wondered about those proclaimed dropout rates.

The numbers from Patrick, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, contrast sharply with those cited by the the Texas Education Agency, which reported a statewide high school dropout rate for the class of 2012 of 6.3 percent. (Austin’s high schools averaged a 3.7 percent dropout rate, topping out at LBJ High School’s 8.4 percent rate, according to the agency.) The state said nearly 88 percent of more than 316,000 seniors graduated in 2012, with another 5 percent staying in high school and 1 percent receiving GED certificates.

More at http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2014/jul/27/dan-patrick/dan-patrick-incorrectly-says-texas-has-40-percent-/ .
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