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A Big Idea, With a Big Price Tag

by Ross Ramsey

Property taxes are easy to hate, and Texas property taxes are high enough to turn this civic irritation into a full-blown political issue.

So it makes news when a candidate for comptroller of public accounts — the state’s tax collector, treasurer and all-around ace of finance — is running around saying he would like to get rid of property taxes. Glenn Hegar, a state senator who won the Republican nomination for comptroller in this month’s primary, was unequivocal in his remarks about the fairness of those taxes at a Tea Party forum in February, as reported by the Killeen Daily Herald: “As long as we pay taxes we have to ask, do we really own our property?”

His opponent, Mike Collier, a Democrat, is trying to turn a 26-second video snippet of Hegar suggesting an end to property taxes into a fundraising and vote-getting machine. He contends that the Republican is proposing a sharp increase in sales taxes to offset the elimination of property taxes.

Hegar, who has been in the Legislature since 2003, is not running away, other than to say he might phase out the tax instead of ditching it all at once. “I have said since I first ran that I preferred a consumption tax,” he said this week. “I have not backtracked in any way from any statement.”

The idea of eliminating property taxes falls nicely in line with some of the original leanings of the Tea Party, which began with concerns about government spending, debt and taxation. It rolls easily from a political tongue: Kill property taxes and rely instead on consumption taxes, which taxpayers control by simply controlling their spending.

Continue reading here.

Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño announces resignation effective immediately

By Jacob Fischler, Dave Hendricks and Ildefonso Ortiz

EDINBURG — Months of speculation and weeks of intensifying rumors reached a crescendo Friday, as Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño resigned his post and aborted his decorated four-decade career in Texas law enforcement amid ongoing federal prosecutions of eight lawmen, a former commander and his youngest son.

The move had been anticipated for weeks, but the fallout from the Hidalgo County’s highest-ranking lawman could still be significant.

“The sheriff’s office is a very large department with many individuals and assets, hopefully they have the infrastructure in place to keep operations running smoothly during this transition,” said Victor Rodriguez, the McAllen police chief. “We believe they do. We rely on each other to help maintain the community safe.”

Hidalgo County commissioners will appoint Treviño’s successor Wednesday morning, but in the interim, no single leader will head the department of 700-800 employees. Instead four, commanders will collectively run the department Treviño steered for more than nine years.

Between June 16 and August 21, party precinct chairs will nominate candidates to run in the November general election, which was not previously scheduled to include a contest for sheriff. The winner of that contest will take office as soon as possible after the votes are made official.

Treviño did not talk to reporters Friday, but he reached out directly to the supporters through his campaign Facebook page, where he reposted his resignation letter and an accompanying note:

“I do this with a very heavy heart but it is in the best interest of the County of Hidalgo and my family,” the post read. “Please take the letter and it’s (sic) contents for face value. Rumors run abound but they are rumors until they become fact.”

The last sentence was an apparent reference to speculation the resignation was a prelude to a federal indictment. Charges against Treviño himself have not been filed.

Continue reading here.

Same Sex ‘Marriage’ Dykes Flood Texas Libertarian Party – Christian First Amendment Rights Are Sacrificed

By John DeMayo

A few days ago it was widely reported Texas Judge Carl Ginsberg presided over two “marriage” ceremonies uniting two surgically altered homosexual men, now transgendered women, anatomically speaking, to their non-surgically altered lesbian partners. This event has revealed a growing chasm in the Texas Libertarian Party, and it appears freedom of speech will now be regulated by militant homosexuals, hi-jacking the liberty movement in the Lone Star State.

You are probably asking yourself, “How in the heck females—kind of sort of—could legally “marry” female partners in Texas, given the Texas Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman?” Well, under Texas law, the grooms (or brides if you prefer) are still considered males by birth, so they were permitted to lawfully “marry” their female partners in the State of Texas.

For many LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, and Queer) like Brandon De Hoyos (Sodomite Libertarian Candidate for Texas Lt. Governor), T.E. Finnegan ( Houston area homosexual rights advocate and devoted Gary Johnson campaign staffer) and the rabid homosexual rights group “Outright Libertarians,” these bizarre unions demand celebration as Texas’ first same sex “marriages.”

For Doc Greene Sr. a straight, white, Christian, husband, father, grandfather and Vice Chair of the Harris County Libertarian Party, these manufactured unions were reason to examine the dark realities associated with living a homosexual lifestyle.

Fueled in part by his admiration for the First Amendment and his Christian faith, Doc Greene Sr., host of the Internet radio program Raging Elephant, posted a comment about these Texas nuptials which included the following statement:

I would be happier if it wasn’t so destructive to families. No one ever said, “I hope my children will be homosexuals when they grow up.” Then add in the fact that 85% of all homosexuals die by the age of 65. That is not very gay. #1 cause of death is suicide. Of course, a musician friend of mine died of complications from aids. A huge loss to the world as he was a major talent. Homosexuality is all about personal pleasure. It has no redeeming benefits. It destroys everything it touches. Certainly nothing to be proud about.

It seems Mr. Greene’s comments somehow violated Section 1.3 of the Libertarian Party platform adopted in 2012. Candidate for Texas Lt. Governor Brandon De Hoyos was inflamed. Continue reading here.

Changes at Alamo Colleges Prompt Accreditor’s Questions

Jacqueline Claunch, the founding president of Northwest Vista College, one of five schools in San Antonio’s Alamo Community College District, said that for the first time in her life, she feels as if she’s engaging in a protest.

Earlier this month, despite an effort by Claunch and about 130 members of her faculty, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved a major change to the core curriculum for the district’s colleges, calling for them to swap out one of their two currently required humanities courses for a mandatory “Learning Frameworks” course that was developed in association with FranklinCovey, a private training firm.

Bruce Leslie, the chancellor of the district, which serves more than 108,000 students, pushed for the new course. He said it is part of a broader effort to align students’ education with workforce needs. But others, including Claunch, have raised questions about the lack of faculty input in the matter before it was sent to the state for approval, which they believe skirted the standard approval process for such changes.

The dispute recently attracted the attention of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which accredits four of the district’s five schools. In mid-March, it sent letters to the four presidents, including Claunch, with questions and concerns.

Continue reading here.

For most suburban Dallas cities, crime rates drop again

“When you move to a city, the first two questions you’re going to ask is ‘How are the schools, and what’s the crime rate like?’
” Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye said. Since 2010, burglaries are down 43 percent in the city.

Taking a tough stance on crime and involving residents in police efforts is key to Dallas suburbs’ efforts to boost their economic and population bases, officials say.

“When you move to a city, the first two questions you’re going to ask is ‘How are the schools, and what’s the crime rate like?’” Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye said.

Dye and other area police officials credited community outreach, hotspot policing, statistical crime analysis and crime prevention efforts for big drops in property crimes.

With the exception of McKinney and Mesquite, which saw crime edge up, the 10 biggest suburbs in Collin, Dallas and Denton counties all reported drops in 2013 ranging from modest to possibly historic.

Continue reading the numbers for individual cities here.

Denny’s worker pistol-whipped during robbery in northwest Harris County

by Larry Seward

Deputies are searching for three suspects who held up employees and customers at a Denny’s restaurant in northwest Harris County.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office responded to FM 1960 at Butte Creek around 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Workers said three men with bandannas on their faces entered the restaurant with two shotguns and a pistol. They pistol-whipped one of the employees and then kicked him. They then turned their weapons on others in the restaurant, demanding cash.

“I thought they were going to kill me like three times,” said manager Eva Mendes. “I thought that I wouldn’t see another day because at first they were upset because it wasn’t enough money, and I said  ‘well they’re thinking I’m lying.’”

“First I got up under the table seeking safety, but I didn’t know if that was safe enough,” said another worker named Elvin. “So when one of my co-workers was struck with a weapon I had took off running, but I was chased by a gunman.”

Elvin managed to escape and flag down a tow truck driver who called 911.

The robbers got away with about $800 in cash.

No serious injuries were reported, but one worker was taken to the hospital to get checked out.

See video report here.

TX: Local governments seek billions in new debt for the children, future

by Lou Ann Anderson

The everything’s bigger in Texas claim certainly applies to our local government debt. While indeed the state enjoys many economic advantages stemming from sound policies promoting economic freedom, limited government and low taxes, Texas local debt stands at an abysmal $322 billion and if assorted school districts, cities and a few other government entities get their way – the May 10 election will bring up to $6.5 billion (more than $9 billion with interest) in new debt.

For context, understand Texas is second only to California in total debt and second only to New York in per capita debt. Local debt is growing faster than the increase in population and inflation.

Many of these bond packages are sold as being “for the children” or as “investments in the future.” And our children are certainly invested in these actions, both now and in the future as the ones who will be left paying for all this spending — for years, decades even to come. When all is said and done, the most lasting legacy with which future generations will be left is one of opportunity-killing debt.

The May ballot will bring about 65 jurisdictions asking voters to consider nearly $6.5 billion in additional debt. Two things rarely mentioned in these elections: existing debt and the interest (roughly 40 percent of the principal) that will be added on to the principal amount promoted in local elections. So with this election cycle, $6.5 billion debt more realistically equates to $9.1 billion. Continue reading here.

Inhumanities from an Unsecured Border Revealed in Houston Stash House Bust

HOUSTON, TEXAS–Five individuals stand accused of armed conspiracy to detain and threaten foreign nationals–including women and children–for the purpose of forcing third parties to make ransom payments, as previously reported by Breitbart Texas. A criminal complaint obtained by Breitbart Texas lists Jose Aviles-Villa, Jonathan Solorzano-Tavila, Antonio Barruquet-Hildiberta, Jose Cesmas-Borja, and Eugenio Sesmas-Borja as defendants in the nationally-reported human trafficking case before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances H. Stacey.

Jose Aviles-Villa and Jose Cesmas-Borja admitted to being Mexican nationals illegally in the United States, according to the filed complaint.

The complaint was filed after 115 individuals were found locked in an alleged human “stash house” outside of Houston on Almeda School Road according to federal court documents filed on March 24.

The criminal complaint alleges the five defendants “detained and threatened” the hostages–who are thought to be illegal immigrants–to extort money.

On March 19, police received a phone call from the mother of Anna Jasmin Hernandez. Houston Police Department (HPD) spokesperson John Cannon told Breitbart Texas the woman’s family members “were told to go to a location in North Houston and exchange ransom money to pick up the woman and her two kids. When the suspect did not show up, the family became concerned and contacted the HPD.”

According to the criminal complaint, the mother initially paid smugglers $15,000 to have her daughter and grandchildren transported to Chicago, Illinois. She subsequently received a call from individuals in Houston who told her to pay an additional $13,000 or else her family would “disappear,” according to the court record.

Continue reading here.

Sessions Report Demolishes Obama ‘Deporter In Chief’ Myth

Fully 98 percent of individuals deported from the United States in 2013 were either criminals, apprehended while illegally crossing the border, or had been previously deported, according to a new analysis from Senate Budget Committee ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

The three-page document, labeled a “Critical Alert” by the senator’s office, found three executive actions by President Barack Obama providing amnesty to groups of illegal aliens meant that virtually no one who did not meet other criteria beyond simply being in the country illegal was deported.

“The evidence reveals that the Administration has carried out a dramatic nullification of federal law,” Sessions said in a statement to Breitbart News. “Under the guise of setting ‘priorities’, the Administration has determined that almost anyone in the world who can enter the United States is free to illegally live, work and claim benefits here as long as they are not caught committing a felony or other serious crime.

Obama’s well-known executive action granted virtual amnesty to so-called DREAMers – individuals who claim to have entered the country as minors under their parents’ guidance.

Two are lesser known executive actions include an Aug. 23, 2013, DHS directive “expanding that [summer 2012 executive DREAM Act] amnesty to illegal immigrant relatives of DREAM Act beneficiaries” and a Dec. 21, 2012, DHS directive “reinforcing that almost all immigration offenses were unenforceable absent a separate criminal conviction.”

In 2013, Sessions’ staff found, 98 percent of ICE’s removals of illegal aliens fit the agency’s “enforcement criteria.” There are four such criteria for illegal aliens to be considered deportation-worthy by ICE: a conviction of committing a serious criminal offense, an apprehension made while an individual is crossing the border, the resurfacing of someone previously deported, or someone having been a fugitive from the law. “Remarkably, the first two categories—border apprehensions (which are not deportations as commonly understood) and convicted criminals—account for 94% of the 368,000 removals (235,000 and 110,000, respectively),” Sessions’ staff wrote in the memo. Continue reading here (+video).

Illegal Immigrants Allowed to Go Free

Federal officials are releasing women and children who enter the country illegally, a CHANNEL 5 NEWS investigation revealed.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reported in 2013 that the feds were releasing anyone deemed a low threat to national security.

Border Patrol officials on Friday confirmed a spike in illegal crossings in the Rio Grande Valley. The agency reassigned agents to the region to deal with the increase in crossings.

A CHANNEL 5 NEWS crew on Monday found a group of women and children at a bus station in Harlingen. The group had just been released from Border Patrol custody.

“I feel very happy, because other mothers can’t do this,” said Mari Jimenez, a Guatemalan national.

Jimenez and her 2-year-old daughter, Marlifer, prepared to board a bus. The single mother said she carried her baby from Guatemala to the border.

Federal officials gave the woman documents that allow her to travel anywhere in the United States.

“Thanks to the authorities who gave us this chance to see our families,” Jimenez said.

Hermilia Maria Ortiz Moran, a Guatemalan national, said detention centers are overcrowded.

Border Patrol officials said most of the immigrants crossing the border come from countries other than Mexico. They said some of those immigrants are sent to Laredo or Del Rio for processing. Still, many are being released.

The immigrants get documents that indicate what they can and can’t do during their stay in the United States.

Ortiz and her three children are scheduled to appear before a deportation officer on May 27, in Hartford, Conn.

“First and foremost, I have to thank God and ask him if there are any opportunities for work, I will work. Just as long as the permission allows us to,” Ortiz said.

The papers she got from officers prohibit her from working. They also must not commit any crimes. They must report any change of address to federal officials.

Continue reading here (+video).