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TxDOT sticks to toll roads or no roads agenda

If you tell a lie long enough, it’s eventually accepted as truth. That’s what attendees of the Texas Transportation Forum hosted by the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) were expected to buy into at Tuesday’s gathering pertaining to the myths of tolling. TxDOT has been criticized by the public over the last decade for promoting its doctrine of toll roads or no roads. After several attempts at re-making the agency and trying to convince a skeptical public that it’s changed, the leopard hasn’t changed his spots and it’s back to its old toll roads mantra at this year’s forum. On the heels of announcing an $825 million toll plan for San Antonio, TxDOT continues to hold road funds hostage to tolling.TxDOT brought in some big names today – Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Con. John Delaney of Maryland who touted his bill to create an infrastructure revolving fund utilizing more debt that has to be repaid with tolls or new taxes, and even a surprise unannounced visit from Texas Gov. Rick Perry. But TxDOT, who’s apparently formally joined at the hip with Reason Foundation and the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA), hosted a session entitled “Tolling: An Unfolding Transportation Success Story” that attempted to sing the praises of tolling that included outright false information and calls for tolling to become the funding mechanism for roads to replace the gas tax in the future. TxDOT lobbied for higher taxes with its annual forum as the mechanism while using taxpayer money to do it.

The Reason Foundation and IBTTA panelists were joined by the North Texas Tollway attorney and all three made statements about tolling that simply aren’t true. For instance, the claim tolls are a user fee and only those who use the road pay for the road. In Texas, virtually all toll roads are now being subsidized with gas tax, sales tax or property tax revenues or other public funds – whether the Texas Mobility Fund, Prop 12, Prop 14, or federal loans or stimulus funds. This also affirms tolls are double taxation, and in Texas, the toll can stay in place in perpetuity. So the way tolls are being implemented in the 21st century it’s become a permanent tax. The toll advocates even said the aim is permanent, ongoing revenue generation. So the ‘user fee’ myth is squarely busted by their own admission.

Another argument contended tolls are tailored to highway cost. There is no way that’s a truthful statement when most toll projects being done today, especially in Texas, are not toll viable and cannot be repaid with toll users alone. So costs are passed onto all taxpayers through public subsidies or taxpayer guarantees. In addition…Continued here: http://watchdogwire.com/texas/2014/01/09/txdot-sticks-to-toll-roads-or-no-roads-agenda/

Governor Perry Hypes Texas Transportation Projects

Gov. Rick Perry has been lauding the improvements in the Texas transportation system.

The available data indicates that Texas transportation infrastructure, particularly highways, has increased and grown substantially since 2001. In fact, records show that over 6,600 new miles of highway have been built in the past 12 years. The growth and improvements have cost taxpayers almost $60 billion.

In order to accomplish the projects, Perry and the state have instituted P-3 (Private-Public Partnership) projects similar to those instituted by Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana. They have also delegated much of the roadwork to local and municipal officials so they could target the work where the cities felt it was most needed.

Of course, that works great if the local municipal government is transparent and not corrupt. However, it leaves questions about cities such as San Antonio whose mayor has been pushing for an overpriced light rail system that will never generate enough revenue to be self-sufficient. That means it will forever be a burden upon the taxpayers to run mostly empty trains. Other questions can be raised concerning transportation funding in San Antonio should a trace on the funds show it being deposited into any of the revolving accounts such as “the variable” in the city’s telecommunications department.

The improvements made in the past 12 years have prompted the Texas  Transportation Commission to create the Governor Rick Perry Leadership in Transportation Award. The award will be given to leaders in Texas who increase transportation infrastructure in a manner that does not increase taxes on citizens.

Gov. Perry remarked on the importance of transportation infrastructure in Texas and the government’s role in facilitating projects:

Transportation fuels the economy that’s making it possible for families to build lives, but transportation is also essential to help families enjoy the lives they’ve built.  That’s a simple fact of life that we need to keep in mind moving forward. That’s why we’ve taken so many steps over the past decade to improve our roads, while remaining true to the essential Texas value of fiscal responsibility.

With many businesses moving from less-business-friendly states to Texas and the relative economic boom in the state, many contend that the improvement and growth of transportation infrastructure is a necessary factor in continuing economic growth in the state. Companies such as X-Cor and Magpul benefit from relocating to Texas. In order for their products to get to their designated markets, they need roads, railways, and airfields.

One key feather in the state government’s cap is they have accomplished this without raising taxes. However, a drawback is unfunded liabilities generated from the sale of bonds. Bonds are a form of loan to the government, part of the public debt. They must be paid back with interest in the future. That leaves a drawback of potentially leaving the next generation stuck with the bills.

The 83rd Legislature had to convene for a second special session this past summer to debate (and pass) resolutions regarding the transportation funding in the state. The resolution went before voters this past November and were ratified to the Texas State Constitution. The resolution allowed for the creation of a new transportation fund and the movement of a portion of the Economic Stability Fund (so-called “rainy day fund”). The ESF funds were then to be back-filled by any budgetary surplus after the biannual budget closed.

Comptroller Susan Combs certified the budget with a $5.5 billion surplus for 2012-13. Many voters are wondering why the transportation fund wasn’t just created on its own without having to reduce the ESF. The ESF is mostly…Continued here: http://watchdogwire.com/texas/2014/01/10/perry-hypes-texas-transportation-projects/

Is Dewhurst being completely sincere on tuition for immigrants?

Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (AP)

This week, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst stated that had he been governor in 2001, he would not have signed into law Texas House Bill 1403.  HB 1403 allows undocumented immigrants who meet a set of requirements to pay in-state tuition at Texas public colleges and universities.

 

It is helpful to recall that that the version of HB 1403, which Governor Rick Perry signed into law in 2001, was backed by 76 Republican senators and representatives and opposed by only 5 Republican legislators. That is, it received the near-universal support of the Republican delegation in the Texas legislature.

 

By stating he would not have signed the bill, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst is claiming that he would not only have adopted a position on this issue that was distinct (more conservative) from virtually all of his fellow Republicans, but also that he would not have signed a bill that enjoyed the near-unanimous support of his Republican colleagues in the legislature (as well as the support of every Democratic legislator).

While it takes no great leap of faith to believe the lieutenant governor’s position that in 2011 he would not sign HB 1403, it is much more difficult to accept that, had he been governor in 2001, he would not have signed HB 1403; just as Governor Rick Perry… Continued here: http://blog.chron.com/bakerblog/2011/09/is-dewhurst-being-completely-sincere-on-tuition-for-immigrants/

Small Town Texas Police Chief Orders Unlawful Arrests

A travesty has occurred in the sleepy town of Andrews, TX. As American patriots, it will anger you to see the following gross misinterpretation of Texas state law that occurred on Jan. 22, 2014. As a former LEO, I’m personally appalled at the unprofessionalism displayed by the Andrews Police Dept.

 

Former Army Sergeant Michael Keoughan was unlawfully arrested for the lawful carry of a firearm. Michael has a clean criminal background, and is also a member of “Come And Take It” (CATI).

 

CATI is one of the groups in Texas compiled of law abiding citizens fighting to get open carry of a firearm legalized. Under current Texas law, you can open carry “long guns” and pre-1899 black powder pistols including their replicas, but not a holstered handgun. 25 states allow open carry of handguns, but Texas has yet to join the ranks. The official CATI press release is below.

 

Come And Take It Texas
January 22, 2014 4:30pm
False arrest(s) by Andrews PD

Former Army Sergeant Michael Keoughan was arrested today in Andrews, TX today at approximately 1:30 pm. Michael Keoughan is a member of Come and Take It Midland/Odessa, gun rights organization that seeks to educate Texans about our legal rights to openly carry firearms in Texas. Come and Take It Midland/Odessa is a local chapter of Come and Take It Texas. The organization is working with legislators to make the open carry of modern handguns legal in Texas once again. Michael Keoughan was one of the members of Come and Take It Midland/Odessa that met with Andrews Police Chief Bud Jones on January 7, 2014 to discuss open carry laws. Police Chief Jones went on record saying that police would not arrest a person for openly carrying firearms in Andrews. Chief Jones was on scene today when Michael Keoughan was arrested and charged with… Continued here: http://freepatriot.org/2014/01/23/small-town-texas-police-chief-orders-unlawful-arrests/

Rick Perry defends states right to legalize pot at world summit

Rick Perry speaks with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos

By

Gov. Rick Perry defended the rights of states, such as Colorado and Washington, to legalize marijuana and said Texas has made moves towards decriminalizing the drug.

 

Perry was on a panel discussing drug laws that included former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

 

Both Annan and Santos said drug laws had proven ineffective and had made criminals out of generations of young people, as well as helped empower drug cartels.

 

Perry said he doesn’t believe in legalizing certain drugs, according to an account of the panel reported by U.S. News & World Report.

 

But Perry also emphasized that he is a staunch believer in states’ rights, which should include the ability to write their own laws on abortion, same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization.

 

“States should be allowed to make those decisions,” he said.

 

Perry said on marijuana that Texas has begun to “implement policies that start us toward a decriminalization.” He cited specialized drug courts that offer treatment instead of jail time and the reduction of penalties for minor drug offenses.

 

Annan praised Perry for the initiatives in Texas. “I think what you are doing is right… and I applaud you,” Annan said.

During his four days in Switzerland, Perry has been rubbing elbows with entrepreneurs, heads of state and other luminaries. He’s posted pictures of himself on Twitter… Continued here: http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2014/01/rick-perry-at-world-summit-says-states-have-right-to-legalize-pot.html/?nclick_check=1

 

Wheelchair truthers now demand Texas Republican ‘prove he is paraplegic’

by Eric Owens

Liberal-leaning “wheelchair truthers” are now suggesting that the Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is just pretending to be a paraplegic.

Tweeters of the world discovered two commenters making the bizarre claim in well-respected Texas-based publications, reports Twitchy.

Abbott is the current attorney general of the Lone Star State and has been a paraplegic for the last 30 years. According to the brief biography at his website, he became disabled in 1984 when an oak tree fell on him while he was jogging after a thunderstorm.

His likely opponent is Democrat Wendy Davis, a Texas state senator who became famous last summer when she filibustered an anti-abortion bill.

One disbelieving commenter, Robert Cuthbertson, expressed skepticism via Texas Tribune on Facebook that Abbott actually needs his wheelchair.

“They mock Ms. Davis!!! Give us the medical records. Prove he is paraplegic. he had a kid after the incident…check to see what the odds are of that happening with SEVERE lower spinal cord injury!!”

The totality of Cuthbertson’s personal Facebook page, which features leftist cant and a ton of cats, suggests that his post is sincere.

Meanwhile, at the Dallas Morning News, commenter Ed Lopez opined:

“Republican voters hate strong women because the bible tells them to . Oh and poor Wendy has to run against a guy in a wheelchair who might or might need the wheelchair to get around and we have never gotten the true story of how he ended up in the wheelchair and how much

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/01/27/wheelchair-truthers-now-demand-texas-republican-prove-he-is-paraplegic/#ixzz2rzVXiEGr

Wendy Davis Scandal: Meet the Reporter Who Shocked Texas’s Media Darling

The Dallas Morning News published a January 19, 2014 article on Wendy Davis revealing that much of her personal redemption and story of overcoming was inaccurate.

The article, titled “As Wendy Davis Touts Life Story in Race for Governor, Key Facts Blurred,” touched off a firestorm with revelations that Texas’s Wendy Davis had been dishonest about her personal redemption story – specifically that she had never been a divorced teen single mother and that her living in a trailer had only been a short-term ordeal. The article raised other questions as well, including doubts about Davis’s commitment as a mother to raising her children and general questions pertaining to her character.

The journalist who broke the story for the Dallas Morning News, Wayne Slater (pictured), immediately came under fire and Wendy Davis herself insisted that the entire ordeal was a campaign tactic from her Republican opponent in the Texas gubernatorial race, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The implication in Davis’s accusation was that Slater was doing the bidding of her Republican opponent.

A look into Slater revealed that he is a frequent  contributor to MSNBC, often leans left in his reporting, and is far from being a right-wing activist.

Breitbart News reached out to Slater via email and the courageous journalist had this to say:

Neither the Davis nor the Abbott campaigns approached me about this story. I never talked to the Abbott camp in advance of publishing the story and it was only after repeated requests for an interview beginning late last year that the Davis camp agreed to sit down with me a week ago.

He then explained how he came upon the shocking details of Davis’s misrepresentation of her own life and history:

One of the normal things we do in covering campaigns is a background check of the details about the candidate’s life, votes, etc. I began building a timeline last November and noticed a few contradictions and several blank spots. I went to the courthouse in Fort Worth to review her divorce files and to the secretary of state’s office in Austin to collect other information. At no time did anyone in the Abbott or the Davis campaign give me anything. It was just basic shoe-leather reporting, something I’ve been doing for 30 years as a political reporter.

He added:

I told the Davis campaign I wanted to talk to the candidate about her background. Initially, they said Davis was busy fundraising and we discussed the possibility of my submitting written questions via email. I said I preferred to sit down with the candidate. In January, they gave me a date, I drove to Fort Worth and conducted the interview.

What Slater and the Dallas Morning News did in choosing to reveal the less-than-honest discrepancies from the mouth of Davis cannot be understated – in one swoop, the paper and Slater revealed that the majority of the mainstream media in the U.S. had blindly regurgitated a historical narrative that was false, all for a Democratic political candidate. It further damaged the chances of Davis’s becoming Texas governor.

Taking this step could not have been easy for a left-leaning frequent MSNBC guest. The fallout with contacts, other reporters, MSNBC producers, and in his social life must have been severe.

Breitbart News spoke with several conservatives in Texas who have interacted with Slater on a professional level. Their interviews reaffirmed that Slater operates from a place of journalistic integrity.

Texas-based Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak said, “I’ve known Wayne Slater probably eight years and have worked with him a decent amount over that time. While he appears on MSNBC regularly and has a left-of-center reputation, he is, above all, a fair and dogged reporter.” Mackowiak added, “It sounds like he earned this scoop on his own because he did the research, waited for the interview, and asked the right questions.”

Mackowiak agreed with Breitbart News’s analysis of the matter and stated, “This was a courageous story to write; I suspect his social circle in Austin didn’t much care for this story or the political impact it is clearly having.”

Devout Tea Party activist Ken Emanuelson, a Texas-based attorney and founder of the Grassroots Texans Network, told Breitbart News he has been reading Slater’s work…Continued here: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2014/01/23/Wendy-Davis-Scandal-A-Look-At-The-Reporter-Who-Broke-The-Story

 

What Every Pro-Lifer Needs to Know About The Girl Scouts’ Link to Planned Parenthood

by Christy Volanski

Is there really a connection between the abortion industry and the Girl Scouts? It’s heart-breaking and, for some, despite the mounting evidence, impossible to believe.  After all, who wants to acknowledge that the Girl Scouts, an organization that should stand for all that is good and pure, has succumbed to the infiltration of the abortion rights agenda?  And what a sad testament to the state of our country today, when we can no longer trust the Girl Scouts, an American icon with influence on over 2 million girls in the United States alone.

As a concerned pro-lifer who supported the Girl Scout organization for many years, as a girl member and as a troop leader, it saddens me to share the fall of this once venerable organization that to this day retains the support of so many wonderful women and girls, many of whom are unaware of what they are actually supporting. But families deserve to know the truth.

There are a lot of accusations in the blogosphere about the Girl Scouts. Some are fact, like the Girl Scout organization works alongside abortion providers and funds/promotes abortion rights advocacy groups. And some are sensationalized, like Girl Scout cookie money pays for abortions (although cookies do fund Girl Scouts’ concerning agenda).  So what is the real truth about Girl Scouts? Let’s break it down – below are factual and verifiable pro-life concerns about Girl Scouts that all pro-lifers and families should know.

Girl Scouts teams-up with abortion providers

 

Girl Scout USA (GSUSA) is quick to assure concerned members that the national level of the organization has no partnership with Planned Parenthood. But GSUSA fails to disclose further relevant information.

GSUSA omits the fact that it allows every local Girl Scout council – the arm of Girl Scouts that actually connects with girl members in their local communities – to work with Planned Parenthood. Hear it from the horse’s mouth, the GSUSA’s national spokesperson, at this link. Many Girl Scout councils are doing just that, teaming up with…Continued here: http://www.lifenews.com/2013/12/04/what-every-pro-lifer-needs-to-know-about-the-girl-scouts-link-to-planned-parenthood/

ICE Union Boss Urges GOP: Don’t Ignore Immigration Officers

Chris Crane, president of the National ICE Council, the union representing officers of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, issued a statement Tuesday ahead of President Obama’s State of the Union address. Crane blasted the president for his repeated refusal to meet with ICE officers at the White House, and asked House Republican leaders to consult with ICE personnel as they work to outline their immigration reform “principles”:

According to news accounts, the President has once again invited illegal immigrants to the State of the Union – and yet the President still refuses to meet with ICE officers. We have a President who will provide those illegally in the US with the seat of honor at one of the most important events of the year, but ICE officers who serve under him are unwelcome in the White House. This is symptomatic of the President’s continued demonstration of contempt for immigration officers and his blatant disregard for Congressionally-enacted law. ICE officers are forced every day to release violent offenders back into the streets; we are prohibited from enforcing immigration violations and document fraud and from cracking down on illegal employment; we are prohibited from enforcing public charge law to protect taxpayers; and we are forced to catch-and-release illegal aliens who are not ‘priorities’ even when officers’ believe there is a threat to public safety.

We are pleading with House Republicans to stand up to the Obama Administration’s abuses and to support ICE officers. I am therefore alarmed to read that House Republicans are working with prominent amnesty proponents instead of reaching out and working with ICE officers. Any immigration principles crafted by House Republicans should be crafted in consultation with the ICE personnel who know firsthand what is wrong with our immigration system and how to fix it. House Republicans must work with ICE officers, and investigate the abuses and misconduct at DHS, before moving any legalization bill – otherwise, they are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. ICE officers do not have the connections, funds or votes that powerful special interests and billionaire CEOs can deliver. We are just 5,000 law officers responsible for enforcing immigration law for tens of millions of visa holders and illegal immigrants in all 50 states and two territories — it is a losing battle that puts American safety at risk.  But we hope… Continued here: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/369706/ice-union-boss-urges-gop-dont-ignore-immigration-officers-andrew-stiles

Have You Heard of Rep. Scott Turner? Meet The Future Of The GOP

GOP Rep. Scott Turner filed Friday to run for Texas House Speaker. He is challenging three-term Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio, who is powerful, but not popular with the grassroots/Tea Party.

 

Turner gave the keynote address on Wednesday at The Texas Public Policy Foundation Conference, and he KILLED it. It really is a must see. Go watch it here. It wasn’t really a political speech at all, it was an inspiring speech. It was a speech about perseverance and understanding that when you fall down, you get back up again, and you just keep moving forward. I thought it was one of the best speeches I’ve heard in a long time. Do yourself a favor and watch it.

 

Naturally, I had to interview him after that. I interviewed him Thursday, and the next day he filed to run for Texas Speaker of The House.

 

I hadn’t heard of Rep. Turner before this week. Here is a  brief background. He is a former NFL player (hear all about that in the link above!). While he was in the NFL Turner interned for Rep. Duncan Hunter, the Armed Services chairman during the 108th and 109th Congress.  Turner says he was very inspired by Rep. Hunter. Turner said that Hunter was a great mentor, and gave him a great view into what leadership, being a servant, and leading with integrity and humility meant.  Rep. Scott Turner was elected in 2012 from the Rockwall and Collins Country district. I asked Rep. Turner what motivated him to get into politics now. He said he had been in ministry, and seeing the moral decline in our country was the biggest motivator to get into servant leadership, and into public service.

 

The following is the rest of our interview.

 

Q) What was the biggest surprise in being in the legislature, and what was the biggest concern?

 

A) The biggest surprise was how hard it was to move legislation. You believe if you have good legislation that makes good common sense, like transparency in higher education, people will back you and it will pass. Not so. I also had a bill on school choice, giving parents credits to go to the school of their choosing. It’s difficult to pass even good common sense legislation. The biggest concern, and there are lots of concerns, is how hard you have to fight for conservative principles, even within the GOP. 

Q) With faith in the public square being demonized in the media, how do you handle that? How do you walk that fine line with public policy, and expressing one’s faith? How do you see yourself not …Continued here: http://blog.chron.com/texassparkle/2014/01/have-you-heard-of-rep-scott-turner-meet-the-future-of-the-gop/