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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Doggett a likely goner under proposed new TX congressional redistricting map?


Here's a plum from the Wall Street Journal, via another informed Tweeter:

Treaty Oak Media
As GOP Eyes Turn to Texas, Perry Hits Snag

More tweets from Twitter, Wed 11:45am:

sonia smith
(State Sen.) Dan Patrick taking another pass at abortion legislation in special session (via )

Erik Vidor
RT : Dan Patrick(R) wants to root around in your uterus again.

annette torres
With so much interest in my uterus you think I'd at least have a date Friday...RT :

Robert Cyrus Ryland
you forgot to add "...unless you're rich, in which case you should feel free to do less with more"

____________________

Updates (confirmed) from Twitter, Wed Jun 1 11:30am :

Elise Hu
RT : Fantastic before and after interactive maps of Congressional redistricting in Texas via :

Legeland
House committee public hearing 10:45 AM or upon adjournment on Thursday, June 2, in Capitol Auditorium (room E1.004).
____________________

Note: Look closely at the first map and you can see that the proposed redistricting splits Hays County into three parts, each with its own congressional district – the 25th, 21st and new 35th. If you like multi-flavored ice-cream, you'll love this map! Travis County is chopped into four or five pieces (shish kebab anyone?) – a real testament to the extreme lengths Texas' GOP will go to skewer long time nemesis Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett, who heretofore has represented all of Hays County and a sizable slice of southeastern Travis County in the 25th District. The current and the new district look nothing alike.


Doggett, asked by the Austin Chronicle in a report today if he was willing to move to a more favorable district, said, "I'm ready to live in a Winnebago if that's what it takes."

Governor Perry has added congressional redistricting to the special session's agenda, which was followed by a release today of the proposed maps from the chairs of the House and Senate redistricting committees.

Update: Word is a public hearing on the composition of congressional districts (SB 4/Seliger) is scheduled Friday, June 2, 9am in Hearing Room E1.016 at the Capitol.

Send your comments and news tips to roundup.editor@gmail.com or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story


Texas Politics
blog | Houston Chronicle

As expected, the biggest winners are Texas Republicans, who would be favored to pick up three additional seats in the 36-seat House delegation.

The biggest regional winners are San Antonio (which would gain a seat) and West Texas (which should have lost a seat but didn’t). Two new Hispanic-majority districts would be created in South Texas.

The biggest regional losers are the Houston area, which gains only a sliver of an East Texas-based district that meanders north and then southeast to the Louisiana line, and Austin/Travis County, which is cut into five pieces to minimize Democratic influence.

Two incumbent congressmen are big losers: Democrat Lloyd Doggett of Austin, whose district is shredded and now stretches to the Tarrant County line, and Republican Joe Barton, whose district is transformed into a minority opportunity district for D-FW area Hispanics.

Most of the Houston-area lawmakers are only minimally affected. The biggest change is to the district of Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson, who loses his political stronghold of Victoria and instead wanders east along the Gulf Coast toward Beaumont and Port Arthur.

(Click on maps to enlarge)



In a tight-money session, business interests mostly did fine


"Business did well. Business always does well," said Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston. "When everyone else has to make a sacrifice, business doesn't."


Send your comments and news tips to
roundup.editor@gmail.com, to Ms. Copelin, to Ms. Fikac, or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story

R. G.'s Take: The Budget Session Nobody Enjoyed By R. G. Ratcliffe | BurkaBlog | Texas Monthly –
The rumor was that the school finance plan that passed the House on Sunday by 84-63 already was unraveling with Republican members concerned about casting a vote that would hurt their district twice. Dewhurst gloomily predicted that a special session had the potential of lasting the full thirty days.

School finance sits atop agenda By Peggy Fikac and Gary Scharrer | San Antonio Express-News – Democrats said this is the time for Texans to make their voices heard if they oppose cuts. They welcomed a special session as a way to focus public attention on what they call GOP efforts to cut neighborhood schools.

By Laylan Copelin
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Updated: 5:11 a.m. Tuesday, May 31, 2011 |
Reprinted from the Statesman Read the complete story

A more conservative Texas Legislature came to Austin in January with a shaky economic recovery, billions less to spend and a promise not to raise taxes.

Taking care of business became the watchword as lawmakers shelved a long list of business tax "loopholes" identified as revenue sources and continued spending tax dollars to subsidize economic development.

Overall, business lobbyists give the Legislature high marks."I think Texas' stature of being one of the best places to do business remains unchanged by anything the Legislature did," said Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business, just a few days ago.

Then Sunday night a Democratic filibuster in the Senate killed Senate Bill 1811, a budget-related bill that was the vehicle for many topics, including continuing a small business tax exemption.

An estimated 28,000 small businesses could see their taxes increase unless Gov. Rick Perry and the Legislature revive the exemption in the special session set to start today.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Senate deadlocked over school finance; special session likely


5:38pm
Justin W. Williamson
RT : AP -- The 82nd regular session of the Texas Legislature has ended, a special session begins Tuesday.

One hour ago
Emily Ramshaw
Sen. Davis tells TT the Senate Dems finished caucusing, and Republicans do not have the votes to suspend rules, bring 1811 back up.

3:50pm from Twitter Texas Tribune
Senators going through memorials and resolutions. About 45 min till 's self-imposed 4:30pm deadline for a deal on .

2:02pm from Twitter quorumreport
The one issue that resonated with Dems this session was class-size issue. Definitely. Parents understood that.

12:45pm from Twitter Roger Garza
Joint House and Senate Democratic Caucus press conference at 1:30. Keep your rally caps on, members!

12:09pm from Twitter
Jennifer
OBSTRUCTIONISTS! RT New reports: Dems plan to demand a full public hearing on school finance in a special session.

Earlier from Alexa Garcia-Ditta
Sen. Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) says she has "full confidence the Gov will call us back tomorrow" she's canceling this week's plans

Update: Monday May 30 – The Senate adjourned at midnight last night following a filibuster of a catch-all piece of legislation known as CSSB 1811 that includes changes, deferrals and reductions in the state's funding for public schools. Under the bill, which the House succeeded in passing late last night, school districts would lose about $4 billion in state funding in 2012-13 – in effect, passing the buck to the
local school districts for another round of tax rate increases. Seven votes are needed in the Senate Monday to block the bill from a final vote. If it is blocked, expect the Legislature to go into a special session as soon as Tuesday.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rainwater harvesting bill heads to governor for signature


Rainwater harvesting will now be officially recognized and promoted by the State of Texas as a "desirable and sustainable water resource" – at least it will be after the governor signs the legislation.


Note: A hat tip goes to State Rep. Doug Miller (R) from neighboring Comal County/New Braunfels, for his rainwater harvesting bill – a true milestone for the state. Miller is serving his first term in the House. Five bills he has authored have passed the lege and been sent to the governor. Among them is HB 3866, requiring elections of directors of the Hill Country Underground Water Conservation District be held in even-numbered years on the uniform election date in November rather than in May.

HB 3391 has passed the Legislature. Three days ago it was sent to the governor.

From the bill analysis, author's statement of intent: "The use of harvested rainwater is typically restricted to nonpotable purposes such as landscape irrigation, laundry, and toilet flushing. Interested parties note that, with Texas facing limited water resources, it is critical that both potable and nonpotable harvested rainwater be recognized as a desirable and sustainable water resource. The parties see a need to promote the use of rainwater harvesting for both potable and nonpotable purposes at public and private facilities in Texas in order to acknowledge the viability, sustainability, and conservation of this natural resource. H.B. 3391 seeks to address these concerns.

" . . . Requires TWDB, if the 82nd Legislature makes an appropriation to TWDB to provide matching grants to political subdivisions of this state for rainwater harvesting demonstration projects, not later than December 1, 2012 . . ."

Amendments (pdf/word download) made in the Senate, the biggest being that anyone wanting to connect their rainwater system to a water utility system must first get permission from the utility.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Isaac announces $6 million federal education jobs money for local districts


" [T]here is no question that these dollars will be spent in the classroom to support the teachers . . ."

State Rep. Jason Isaac

Update
1:40pm Sunday – Isaac has just twittered this message:
"We will have a special session this summer to deal with TWIA and 'maybe some other things.'"

Update
Sunday May 29Texas Tribune: Here are the expected amounts to be cut from Hays County school districts – more than $13 million total – under the school finance plan awaiting a final vote today in the Legislature . . . if this passes, watch for local tax rate increases as districts piece together their 2012 budgets over the next two months.

Hays CISD: Expected FY 2012 $119,321,911 | New $112,239,186 | Reduction -$7,082,725 -5.94%
San Marcos CISD: Expected $54,131,694 | New $51,164,371 | Reduction -$2,967,323 -5.48%
Dripping Springs ISD: $32,815,896 | $30,696,820 | -$2,119,076 | -6.46%
Wimberley ISD: $15,825,322 | $14,859,754 | -$965,568 | -6.10%
Katherine Anne Porter School: $1,164,504 | $1,102,514 | -$61,990 | -5.32%

Update
Sunday May 29 – Houston Chronicle: State Budget cutting billions heads to Perry | Talks fail to rescue plan for storm agency; special session possible

Houston Chronicle | Texas lawmakers will vote Sunday on $4 billion cut in school finance.
"It's unbelievable that we would lay off teachers, increase class sizes, cut Pre-K programs and hurt our schools across the board while there is more than enough money sitting in the rainy day fund to avoid the cuts completely," said Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston.

Note: We received the press release below Thursday from Rep. Isaac. We called Isaac's office and a couple of school districts to ask how many teacher jobs might be saved by this 11th hour infusion of federal money. (No word yet from Wimberley ISD.) It's interesting that the federal government winds up playing the White Knight in Shining Armor for Texas teachers.

Isaac's chief of staff Ellen Troxclair said the education funds were released through the governor's office. So it would be best to call the governor's office for additional information, 512.463.2000

Tim Savoy, public information officer for the Hays Consolidated ISD, said no teacher positions have been eliminated; because of growth in the district more teachers have been hired. There was a reduction in force earlier of 38 non classroom teaching positions, with 35 being hired back to different positions in the district. Savoy said the Legislature has not yet finalized the funding mechanism for schools for the next biennium. "The overall loss from the state I think will still be greater (than the federal money). It is certainly a help," he said.

On the legislation front, two closely watched bills authored by Isaac during the session, HB 3865 (relating to the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District) and HB 3832 (relating to the Hays County Development District No. 1/Caliterra development in Dripping Springs), have been declared dead. The groundwater district bill passed the House but never made it to a public hearing in the Senate Natural Resources Committee and the HCDD bill never got past the House Local and Consent Calendar for a vote in the House.

Send your comments and questions to roundup.editor@gmail.com, to Rep. Isaac at campaign@jasonisaac.com, 512.463.0647, or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story

AUSTIN – State Representative Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) announced that over $6 million additional dollars will be distributed to school districts across Hays, Caldwell, and Blanco counties. The money is part of the federal education funds that have recently been made available to Texas.

“This money will be crucial in helping to save teacher’s jobs and supplement school district budgets in the midst of our current shortfall,” said Rep. Isaac. "No funds may be spent for central office employees, administrative expenses, or construction. Therefore, there is no question that these dollars will be spent in the classroom to support the teachers who dedicate their lives to our children, including mine, and the future of our state.”

The project period for the federal grant is August 10, 2010 to September 30, 2012. The money has been the subject of much controversy over the past year when Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) passed an amendment that would have prevented these funds from coming to our state. Rep. Isaac and several other conservative legislators personally called on Congress to release the money back to the Texas taxpayers.

The following is a list of school districts in Texas House District 45 and the amount that they will receive from education job funds:

Blanco ISD : $199,401
Dripping Springs ISD : $673,216
Hays CISD : $2,424,526
Johnson City ISD : $164,745
Lockhart ISD : $792,399
Luling ISD : $251,642
Prairie Lea ISD : $47,212
San Marcos CISD : $1,192,565
Wimberley ISD : $330,744

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Legislature shows its regard for the big and the powerful


. . . the city made the discovery when it recently dug up older steel water pipes from the ground in an attempt to replace them. When the city brought the older pipes to a local recycling scrap yard, the scrap yard turned them away as “too radioactive” to recycle.

Report from Brady–Water makes pipes radioactive/KHOU 11 News


A legislative update from Independent Texans Linda Curtis


* Senate stirs pot with TSA groping bill | By Mike Ward | American Statesman

Send your comments and news tips to roundup.editor@gmail.com, to Ms. Curtis at ljcurtis@indytexans.org or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story

Conferees meeting ends with no resolution
– Quorum Report "The Buzz"

Texas House and Senate members are locked in a stalemate on what to do about funding (or, more accurately, cutting) public education. Your typical member, Republican and Democrat, is catching absolute and deserved hell from their constituents. Because both parties lied to the people of Texas by not making the $27B deficit a front and center issue in the last Governor's race. Carole Strayhorn was right in her 2006 letter to Rick Perry, calling him on the plan to write a "hot check," predicting a $24B shortfall this year. But it was both parties that let him get away with it.
Huddle on the House Floor/Larry Kolvoord/AP
Both parties also managed to make a mockery of the Sunset Review process that failed to rein in agencies under extreme influence of industry special interests from TxDOT to TCEQ to the Texas Water Development Board. It is truly a theater of the absurd. Watch this 6 minute KHOU-TV report this week on how the TCEQ allowed water companies to alter reports on how much radioactivity is in their water!

Tuesday, the lege passed a bill
(SB 332/bill analysis) to signal to the Texas Supreme Court that groundwater should be commodified and sold to the highest bidder and to forget about local control. And do you believe that in the midst of a personal data breach of 3.5 million Texans, the Comptroller continues to push for a subsidy for the billionaires at the Formula 1 race track?

As Rick Perry tests the water for a potential presidential run touting the so-called "Texas miracle," millions of ordinary Texans see the nightmare on the horizon. The political class hasn't a clue (nor a care, apparently) as to how much pain they will inflict on students, the elderly, the disabled and everyone in this state who must do real work to pay their rent or mortgages, and to simply feed their families. And it was all for nothing. They could have fixed this budget problem by closing loopholes on property and oil and gas taxes, but they refused.

What can you do? Call your legislators tomorrow. Deliver them this simple message: Hello, my name is ________. I don't know all there is to know about all the bills you are working on, but I want you to know that I am going to see the results of your work next Tuesday. It will be the report card from the independents. We're going to look at how much you supported cutting the little people, while the big people and corporate lobbyists got all the breaks. Thank you – I'll be back in touch.

On the water front we have two things for you:

1. An interview with our friend, Phil Cook, following the strategic battle in central Texas over the "Trans-Texas Water Highway." This fascinating interview shows the various forces fighting over who gets their hands on the "Simsboro" portion of the great Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer.
CHECK OUT THE MAP!

An excerpt:
Cook: To me, the train wreck – unless citizens intervene – is that the Carrizo-Wilcox will be depleted because, in fact, there isn’t enough water to go around, and developers will not back down from their projects. There is no evil intent there, it’s just that is how developers make money and, as good business people, profit is what drives them. That may or may not work in the best interests of residents, the consumers of their developments, especially when what is at stake is the local water supply.

2. An enlightening piece in the Houston Chronicle by Austin attorney and rancher, Malcolm Harris, about the passage of SB 332 – for "vested" ownership rights of groundwater.

Fed up! Get active, contribute or do something will ya?!

We will send you a report of the good, bad and the ugly next week after the session ends on Monday.

Join us on the next statewide conference call on Monday, June 6th at 8 pm OR join us at a face-to-face meeting on Saturday, June 11th, in Bastrop from 2-4 pm at the Bastrop Library. We will discuss the session and where we're going from here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sanctuary cities bill hits roadblock in Senate


Unless 21 votes can be found, or a parliamentary maneuver can be found to get it up for debate and passage, the bill that is considered a key priority by Gov. Rick Perry and GOP conservatives would be dead


Note: Below is a small sample of the heated comments being posted on Mike Ward's story. Join in if you wish (click on the Statesman link), or click on the "comments" here, at the bottom of the story.
HB 12 sponsor Burt Solomons/texastribune.org
Reprinted from the Statesman

By Mike Ward | Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 11:11 PM

House Bill 12, the controversial sanctuary cities bill that was hailed as must-pass legislation by GOP conservatives, has just failed to get enough votes to be debated in the Texas Senate. The vote was 19-12. The Senate’s 12 Democrats voted against it. Twenty-one votes were needed.

Comments:

By OldBlowhard May 25, 2011 10:17 AM
My mother is an illegal alien and we don’t need to pursue the illegal Sanctuary Cities legislation.
By GOP Are Nazi Taliban May 25, 2011 10:11 AM
Thank-you Democrats. This bill would have turned Texas law enforcement into precisely the same things the Gestapo did to the Jews in Nazi Germany. Thank-you, thank-you for defeating Christian Taliban fascists like Dr. J. They are sick in the head, and mentally ill, but they just don’t know it.
By Dr J May 25, 2011 9:58 AM
The DEMOCRATS are against upholding the laws of the land, THEY HATE AMERICA, IT IS PLAIN TO SEE. DEMOCRATS think law breaking MEXICAN citizens have the right to invade our country and take resources away from US CITIZENS/TAXPAYERS with out any regard to THE UNITED STATES LAWS. THE DEMOCRATS ARE FOR LAWLESS ILLEGAL ALIENS. THEY WELCOME MURDERERS AND THIEVES TO ROB AND PLUNDER OUR COUNTRY AND TREASURY. WHY, BECAUSE THEY ARE UNREGISTERED DEMOCRAT VOTERS. Vote everyone one out who opposes the LAW OF THE LAND. IMPEACH O’BLARNEY the SOCIALIST who stated he will not enforce the laws of the UNITED STATES which he SWORE he would do. He can go back on his pledge since his alliance it to Alla.
By SuckOneChristianTaliban May 25, 2011 9:53 AM
Hey segregationist Christian Taliban! SUCK ONE!!! ROFLMAO BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mr. Conley goes to Washington


"I know you don't have firsthand knowledge (i.e before anybody else does, including elected officials) of everything going on now that Liz is gone. Deal with it.
In the mean time you keep waking up every morning and thinking of me Charles. It's an honor to wear the badge as most wanted by Dr. Odell, it means I am doing some good for this community. "
Will Conley in e-mail response to O'Dell

Note: Let's face it, communication never has been Commissioner Will Conley's strong suit during his seven years of public "service," as he calls it, leastwise when it comes to providing information the taxpaying public is entitled to know and which might cause him some embarrassment. Public service should not be confused with playing politics. Hiding important facts and information from the public simply is not the mark of a good public servant. Conley owes the taxpayers a detailed report and explanation of his trip to Washington, period. There should be no need to dance around that fact.

Send your comments and questions to
roundup.editor@gmail.com, to Mr. O'Dell at codell@austin.rr.com, to Commissioner Conley at
will.conley@co.hays.tx.us or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story

By Charles O'Dell, Ph.D.

Contributing Editor

Hays County Commissioner Will Conley believes and acts as though he were above the law. Conley avoids transparency in his official actions, works hard on behalf of special interests and thinks nothing of violating Open Records and Open Meetings laws when it suits him. There are many examples to cite and here are just a couple.

Conley attended a meeting at the U.S. Department of Interior in Washington, D.C. on April 13, 2011 to represent Hays County. The meeting was, “…to discuss streamlining the permitting processes related to the Regional Habitat Conservation Plan (RHCP), Hays County road projects and other projects that require permitting by the federal government.”

In plain terms, road builders and developers want permission to proceed with their projects before Endangered Species Act studies are completed.

The Washington meeting was arranged by Austin attorney Alan Glenn, a Hays County RHCP consultant. Commissioner Conley spent $2,186.85 of taxpayer money on his overnight trip, and played hooky from the April 12, 2011 commissioners’ court meeting.

Conley left commissioners’ court meeting shortly after roll call and long before the court authorized Conley to represent Hays County and approved payment with public funds for his travel that Conley had already committed the week before.
Will Conley/RoundUp
We wondered why Conley abused his office, skipped almost all of commissioners’ court on Tuesday, April 12th to begin a trip at public expense before court authorization and approval; how he used our public funds; and what the results were from his Washington, D.C. meeting regarding official Hays County business.

Lack of Accountability or Stewardship

Conley booked United flight 766 leaving Austin on April 12, 2011 at 11:58am, arriving Washington Dulles at 4:06pm. Roundtrip fare cost taxpayers over $1,600. Conley could have flown Southwest Airlines nonstop leaving from Austin at 3:50pm, arriving Baltimore (same distance from DC as Dulles) at 8:05pm. Roundtrip cost was less than $1,000, saving taxpayers over $600, and providing Conley four more hours in commissioners’ court.

Why did Conley leave commissioners’ court four hours early and spend $600 more to arrive early the day before his meeting?

Conley stayed one night at The Jefferson Hotel (5 star) costing taxpayers over $320. The Jefferson is located more than a mile from his meeting. For $149, Conley could have stayed at the State Plaza Hotel (4 star), located just two blocks from his meeting, saving taxpayers an additional $171 plus cab fare.

Why did Conley stay at one of the most expensive Washington hotels located over a mile from his meeting when he could have stayed within walking distance at less than half the cost to taxpayers?

Open Meeting Violation
“…the electors, have an inalienable right to watch as they, the elected, make our laws and spend our money. The doors to deliberations must remain open… The Texas Open Meetings Act at times can be burdensome for elected officials who'd like to discuss public matters or act on our behalf without our knowledge.” ~ Austin-American Statesman Editorial Board, Dec. 15, 2009
Conley made his trip reservations eight days before, obtained a purchase order a week before, and left commissioners’ court long before agenda item 17 authorizing him to represent Hays County at the Washington meeting and approving $2,186.85 for travel was even voted on April 12, 2011. This was clearly another Conley open meetings violation.

Open Records Violation

Texas' Public Information Act (open records) is a tremendous resource with a noble goal essential to self-governance in a democracy ~ Forth Worth Star-Telegram Editorial, May. 22, 2011
"It is the policy of this state that each person is entitled, unless otherwise expressly provided by law, at all times to complete information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees," the law states. "The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created." ~ Texas Public Information Act
The law is supposed to be "liberally construed in favor of granting a request for information." ~ Texas Attorney General
Mr. Conley wasn’t talking about the results of his official Washington trip so we made an open records request to find out why. We requested copies of the following items:

1. The airline ticket for Commissioner Will Conley regarding his recent trip to Washington, D.C. on official Hays County business.
2 Mr. Conley’s schedule of meetings, personnel and subject matter associated with his recent trip to Washington, D.C. on official Hays County business.
3. All other documents (email, correspondence, written phone notes, commissioners court minutes, etc.) used in preparation for Mr. Conley’s aforementioned trip to Washington, D.C. on official Hays County business.

We only received the following documents:

1. Mr. Conley's Agenda Item Request Form (available on the Internet)
2. Commissioners' court minutes related to authorizing $2,186.85 for travel (available on the Internet) and,
3. Conley’s Washington Expedia itinerary

We complained that documents responsive to our open records request had been withheld by Conley. We copied the Texas Attorney General Office with our complaint of Conley’s open records violation.

Hays County quickly followed up with additional documents that included the following:

1. Conley’s purchase order with flight and hotel accommodation information
2. An undated 33 page briefing book primarily relating to the Williamson County RHCP.
3. An undated one page Hays County RHCP timeline.
4. Conley’s purchase order for air fare, hotel and travel allowance.
5. An email from attorney Alan Glenn, Hays County RHCP consultant, to Michael Bean, Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, setting up the April 13, 2011 meeting and,
6. An invoice to HaysCAN for document copies.

To find out what taxpayers got for their money we emailed Conley the following request (which, despite Conley’s claim, constitutes an open records request if written documents exist):

I have ten questions regarding your April 12/13, 2011, trip to Washington, D.C., where you visited with Michael Bean, Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and with others. To make my questions easy to follow I have listed them below. Thank you for your response.

Questions:
Who scheduled the meeting with Mr. Bean?
What was the major purpose of the meeting?
What specific subjects were discussed at the meeting?
What was your role at the meeting?
How long was the meeting?
During the meeting did you express or agree that Hays County was considering walking away from the RHCP?
What was the major outcome of the meeting from your perspective?
Did you prepare a written report of the meeting for yourself, for commissioners’ court and/or for any other party?
Did Alan Glen provide a written report of any kind regarding the meeting results?
Could the meeting have been scheduled so that you wouldn’t miss commissioners’ court?

Here is Conley’s response to my inquiry received Monday:
“Charles,

Since you have had questions for me every Monday morning for the past few weeks I think it is appropriate to ask you some questions.

1. Have you or anyone associated with you over the past years had any contact with the Service?
2. If so was that contact in regards to fm 1626 and what was the context of those conversations?
3. same for fm 110?
4. Have you contacted the Service about our HCP and if so what was the context of those discussions?

I don't care to play your little games. The time and money you have cost the tax payers of this county for your political agendas is astronomical.

You have filed everything you can possibly file on a person in my seven years of service, you have also brought my friends and FAMILY into your sick game at different times. You are the one who is not transparent or interested in the public good. Just your same old self interested agenda. Till you start answering some questions, I have nothing to say to you. If you want to file more open records request that is your legal right to do, and you can do so through our attorney office. Since this wasn't an open records request, and you asked for my opinion, I have the right to question you also. I know you don't have firsthand knowledge (i.e before anybody else does, including elected officials) of everything going on now that Liz is gone. Deal with it. In the mean time you keep waking up every morning and thinking of me Charles. It s an honor to wear the badge as most wanted by Dr. Odell, it means I am doing some good for this community.

W”
Clearly, Mr. Conley sees public interest as a game of keep-away to be played with citizens. Unfortunately, he has passed up yet another opportunity to be transparent in his official actions and to be accountable to the public. Instead, Mr. Conley is upset that someone would hold him accountable for his actions.

In the meantime, ‘A motion was made by Commissioner Whisenant, seconded by Commissioner Ingalsbe to authorize Commissioner Will Conley to represent Hays County in discussions with the officials from the Department of Interior and others in Washington D.C.; and to authorize payment of travel and accommodations out of countywide contingencies. All voting “Aye”. MOTION PASSED’

Mr. Conley was long gone by the time that vote was taken and none of the other commissioners court members seem disturbed about Conley acting without court authorization and approval. But citizens care about open meetings, open records, official transparency and accountability.

Monday, May 23, 2011

After session's adjournment and summer vacation, fundraising begins anew


So, around the week of June 20, after a nice summer vacation break, we can expect our lawmakers and lobbyists to begin again pressing the flesh and passing around the cash for a job well done


Send your comments and news tips to roundup.editor@gmail.com, to Rep. Isaac at
jason.isaac@house.state.tx.us or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story

Isaac received $215,000 and spent $213,000
in the last reporting period


By Bob Ochoa
Editor


The 82nd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature is winding down. Including today, there are nine days remaining which typically are marked by a flurry of activity and horse trading between members, constituents and lobbyists to rush favored legislation to passage and to try to keep other bills on ice that are not so favored.

The Legislature will adjourn, Sine Die, at midnight May 30. As of today, House Speaker Joe Strauss' office said there have been no calls for a special session.

For statewide office holders and legislators, adjournment signals the start of a fresh infusion of campaign cash. Texas election law restricts legislators from accepting contributions 30 days prior to the session and 20 days after adjournment. See also the Texas Ethics Commission's comprehensive Campaign Finance Guide.

So, around the week of June 20, after a nice summer vacation break, we can expect our lawmakers and lobbyists to begin again pressing the flesh and passing around the cash for a job well done.

If State Rep. Jason Isaac picks up where he left off before the start of the current session, he might be able to erase some of the $300,250.00 in loans left over from his 2010 campaign (assuming there's a call on the loans) and raise enough for a re-election run (assuming he runs).

There is no obvious reason why he would not. The new House District 45 probably
will be downsized to two counties, Hays and Blanco, and will lean more Republican, thanks to a state redistricting map that is being drawn up in the Lege.

Isaac did pretty well attracting contributions in the lead up to the session. According to his latest campaign finance report filed Jan. 19, 2011 with the Texas Ethics Commission, covering the period Oct. 24, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2010, Isaac had received $214,927.93, spent $212,943.39, and had a balance of $81,109.63 in contributions as of the last day of the reporting period.

Close to half of Isaac's campaign expenditures, $106,643.32, went to Anthem Media (5524 Bee Caves Rd Austin) for advertising and media buys (page 48 of the report). Another chunk, about $76,000, was paid to Casteel/Erwin Associates (PO 1153 Austin) for political consulting (beginning page 49).

Isaac proved pretty adept at raising contributions, or, a lot of people just had a lot of money to dispense to an untested and unproven freshman lawmaker from Dripping Springs-Belterra.

Among Isaac's biggest contributors, aside from Dripping Springs' Robert Seale's whopping $300,000-plus contribution early in Isaac's campaign, were:

$25,000 – Texans for Lawsuit Reform, Austin, TX
$19,914.45 – Republican Party of Texas, Austin, TX
$10,000 – Associated Republicans of Texas, Austin, TX
$10,000 – Bob J. Perry, Homebuilder, Houston, TX
$8,000 – C B & B Realty, San Marcos, TX
$6,400 – Will VanLoh, Houston, TX
$6,400 – Troy Neugebauer, Nashville, TN
$5,000 – Citizens for Joe Crabb (former state representative), Humble, TX
$2,000 – American Electric Power Co. Committee for Responsible Government, Columbus, OH
$2,000 – Aqua America Inc., H2O PAC, Bryn Mawr, PA
$1,000 – Beer Alliance of Texas, Austin, TX
$1,500 – Brown McCarroll, LLP, Austin, TX
$2,500 – Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Durant, OK
$1,000 – (Hon) Mike Conaway (Congressman), Midland, TX
$200 – William P. Conley, Wimberley, TX
$250 – El Paso Electric Co Employee PAC, El Paso, TX
$1,000 – Farmers Employee and Agent PAC, Austin, TX
$2,500 – Terry Paul Gilmore, San Marcos, TX
$1,000 – GOPAC, Austin, TX
$2,133 – Wallace L. Hall, Jr., Dallas, TX
$1,000 – HBA Home PAC, Austin, TX
$2,500 – Hillco PAC, Austin, TX
$1,000 – HS Law PAC, Austin, TX
$500 – Humana Texas PAC, Washington, D.C.
$1,500 – Independent Bankers Association PAC, Austin, TX
$1,000 – Independent Insurance Agents of Texas PAC, Austin, TX
$2,000 – Robert J. Jackson, Dripping Springs, TX
$1,000 – JPMorgan Chase & Co. PAC, Chicago, IL
$500 – Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, El Paso, TX
$1,000 – John Lawson, Austin, TX
$2,000 – George W. Murfee, Austin, TX
$500 – PharmPAC, Austin, TX
$200 – Jim Powers, Dripping Springs, TX
$2,000 – Ryan Texas PAC, Dallas, TX
$2,500 – Jeff Davis Sandefer, Austin, TX
$2,500 – Richard R. Scott, Houston, TX
$5,014 – In kind phone bank, Robert Seale, Executive, CBG Holdings Inc, Dripping Springs TX
$2,000 – Sam Shackelford, Austin, TX
$250 – Lon Shell, San Marcos, TX
$1,000 – Harold Simmons, Dallas, TX
$500 – TBA Bank PAC, Austin, TX
$500 – TCA PAC, Austin, TX
$500 – Tex Hy PAC, Fort Worth, TX
$250 – Tex-Pipe PAC, Austin, TX
$1,000 – Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association, Austin, TX
$2,000 – Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association PAC, Fort Worth, TX
$1,000 – Texas Apartment Association PAC, Austin, TX
$1,000 – Texas Association of Builders HomePAC of Texas, Austin, TX
$500 – Texas Association of Health Underwriters PAC, Duncanville, TX
$1,500 – Texas Association of Realtors PAC, Austin, TX
$1,000 – Texas Automobile Dealers Association PAC, Austin, TX
$1,000 – Texas Construction Association PAC, Austin, TX
$1,000 – Texas Friends of Time Warner PAC, Houston, TX
$515.96 – Texas Home School Coalition PAC, Lubbock, TX
$1,000 – Texas Medical Association PAC, Austin, TX
$1,000 – Texas Restaurant Association PAC, Austin, TX
$1,000 – Texas State Farm Agents PAC, Austin, Tx
$2,000 – Truck PAC, Austin, TX
$1,000 – Valero PAC, San Antonio, TX
$1,000 – Vinson & Elkins Texas PAC, Houston, TX
$2,500 – Eric Willis, Pflugerville, TX

County Parks Master Plan meeting set May 26 in Wimberley


Plan nears completion with final meeting set for June 30


Send your comments and questions to roundup.editor@gmail.com, to Mr. Hauff (below), check in with your commissioners or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story. County Judge Cobb and Commissioners at bert.cobb@co.hays.tx.us;Pct. 1 Debbie Ingalsbe, debbiei@co.hays.tx.us; Pct. 2 Mark Jones, mark.jones@co.hays.tx.us; Pct. 3 Will Conley, will.conley@co.hays.tx.us; Pct. 4 Ray Whisenant, ray.whisenant@co.hays.tx.us

Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX
– Hays County is continuing to gather input for its Parks, Open Space & Natural Areas Master Plan by holding its fourth public meeting to review a conceptual blueprint, alternatives and implementation mechanisms for a draft plan that when finalized will guide parks and open space development in Hays County for years to come.

The meeting is Thursday, May 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at 119 Wood Acre Drive (Jacob’s Well Property Owners’ Association building), Wimberley. A final meeting is scheduled for June 30 in San Marcos.

For more information about the parks master planning process, go to www.co.hays.tx.us/ParksMasterPlan or contact Jeff Hauff, County Grants Administrator, at 512.393.2209 or jeff.hauff@co.hays.tx.us.

Senate passes education funding bill


Texas Senate News

(AUSTIN) — The Senate passed a bill Friday night that the body's chief budget writer says is key to passing an appropriations bill before the session ends in little more than a week.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Steve Ogden of Bryan has said that without a bill making changes to public school funding, lawmakers could face yet another budget shortfall in 2013.

The measure passed Friday was attached to a fiscal matters bill by Education Committee Chair Senator Florence Shapiro of Plano, who said the funding plan was vital to get extra money appropriated to education in the Senate budget into Texas classrooms. "It is simply unacceptable for our local school districts to be denied the resources to keep good teachers in the classrooms," she said.

The amendment was identical to Shapiro's SB 22, and takes aim at "target revenue," the current funding system that Ogden said has caused a structural shortfall. When the Legislature voted in 2006 to reduce property taxes by one-third, they created a business tax that was intended to cover the lost revenue.

In case the new tax didn't bring in enough revenue, school districts were "held harmless," with their 2005-2006 funding levels guaranteed for the future. As it turned out the business tax did under-perform to the tune of about $10 billion dollars. This meant the state did not have the money it needed to keep funding schools at those 2006 levels.

The measure passed Friday means to end target revenue by 2017, phasing it out over the next few years. It tweaks the formulas used to determine how much money each school gets from the Foundation School Program, the state's primary education source of funding. It also implements a 2 percent cut in funding to all districts over the next biennium. The new plan would allow $5 billion in additional funding over the base budget originally sent to the Senate.

With this bill passing in the Senate and the House considering a vital revenue bill, a deal on the budget could come within the next few days. Lawmakers in both chambers have 10 days to reach a compromise and present a final proposal to the full Senate and House.

The Senate will reconvene Monday, May 23 at 10 a.m.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Christian movement eats last meals, says goodbye, preparing for End of Days on Saturday


If you’re reading this after 6 p.m. on Saturday, then, bad news: You, too, have been left behind (unless you have the Washington Post app on your iPad in the Kingdom of Heaven). So before we go on with our doomsday, let us pause to consider what brought us to this time of tribulation


By Dana Milbank

Opinion Writer
Washington Post
Published May 20, 2011
Signs of the Apocalypse

I’m sorry to say that this probably will be my last column, due to circumstances beyond my control. Apparently, the world is ending.

This information, as you likely have heard, comes from painstaking mathematical calculations by religious broadcaster Harold Camping of Family Radio and advertised on billboards across America and in more e-mails than I can count.


Christian movement eats last meals, says goodbye . . .
By Associated Press
Updated: Saturday, May 21, 11:18 AM

Read the complete story

OAKLAND, Calif. — Some shut themselves inside to pray for mercy as they waited for the world’s end. Others met for tearful last lunches with their children, and prepared to leave behind homes and pets as they were swept up to heaven.

And across the globe, followers of a California preacher’s long-publicized message that Judgment Day would arrive Saturday turned to the Bible, the book they believe predicts the beginning of Earth’s destruction on May 21.
Harold Camping/News2 Charleston, S.C.
/AP/familyradio.com

The doomsday message has been sent far and wide via broadcasts and web sites by Harold Camping, an 89-year-old retired civil engineer who has built a multi-million-dollar nonprofit ministry based on his apocalyptic prediction.

After spending months traveling the country to put up Judgment Day billboards and hand out Bible tracts, Camping follower Michael Garcia planned to spend Friday evening with his family at home in Alameda, near the Christian media empire’s Oakland headquarters.

They believe it will likely start as it becomes 6 p.m. in the world’s various time zones.

“We know the end will begin in New Zealand and will follow the sun and roll on from there,” said Garcia, a 39-year-old father of six. “That’s why God raised up all the technology and the satellites so everyone can see it happen at the same time.”

The Internet was alive with reaction in the hours past 6 p.m. Saturday in New Zealand. “Harold Camping’s 21st May Doomsday prediction fails; No earthquake in New Zealand,” read one posting on Twitter.

Wentworth says campus-carry nearly dead, again


The removal of the measure from HB 1581 Friday was quickly hailed by opponents of campus-carry as a parliamentary victory that trumped politics. Supporters claimed it was a parliamentary sneak attack


Send your comments and news tips to
roundup.editor@gmail.com, to Mr. Ward, or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story

Reprinted from the Statesman

By Mike Ward

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Published: 10:48 p.m. Friday, May 20, 2011
Read the complete story

A controversial measure to allow concealed handguns in university campus buildings was declared nearly dead on Friday after the Texas House removed it from another bill and left it with no immediate way to pass.

Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, the Senate author of the so-called campus-carry measure, acknowledged its future looks bleak. He blamed House Speaker Joe Straus for the ambush, but Straus denied that.

The development came as a surprise to proponents because the bill seemed to have widespread support. It has twice passed the Republican-controlled Senate, and in the House, where the GOP has a supermajority, more than 80 of the 150 lawmakers had signed on as co-sponsors.

Still, there was considerable opposition outside the Legislature. College and university regents and presidents opposed the legislation, as did some student groups, professors, parents and anti-handgun activists.

If campus-carry does not pass, it will be among several GOP-supported issues that appear to be headed to a similar fate, including tougher immigration enforcement and a loser-pays rule on lawsuits.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Plant The Park at Blue Hole Regional Park Saturday May 21


The first phase of improvements at Blue Hole Regional Park is nearly done, but we need your help to finish! Your time represents direct savings for the community. The value of your time will substantially reduce the contract cost of the Blue Hole Project and help our dollars go much further.

Landscaping plans call for restoration and filling-in with native plants next to walkways and existing vegetation. Friends of Blue Hole is organizing a small army of volunteers to work under the supervision of master naturalists and landscape architects. We are calling this effort Plant The Park.

We won’t work you to death, and volunteer gardeners need no special expertise, only a willingness to get your hands a little dirty. There will be jobs for those less mobile as well. Our first Plant The Park event is scheduled for Saturday, May 21, 2011 from 8:30-1:30. Bring a couple of handy gardening tools, a shovel, rake, trowel, rock bar, mattock, etc. and we’ll let you put them to good use. Don’t forget your gloves and sun screen! We’ll provide the water, snacks, and camaraderie.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Three big planned developments offer lessons in how the game works


We are particularly curious how it is that the Dripping Springs Water Supply Corporation can agree to a long term water supply commitment with Caliterra while it remains a non-permitted public water utility

We'll take an educated guess that many more such planned subdivisions are waiting at the gate, and at the proper time will receive the Red Carpet welcome from the respective county commissioners courts and city councils. A substitute of State Rep. Jason Isaac's HB 3832 relating to the powers and authority of the Hays County Development District No. 1 (HCDD No. 1/Caliterra) was recently approved unanimously by the House County Affairs Committee and is expected to be assigned soon to the Local and Consent Calendar. The bill still must pass the Senate, assuming it passes the House.

Little noticed and not reported in any media to our knowledge were 4 propositions on the May 14 local elections ballot related to the HCDD No. 1. All 4 propositions passed by a vote of 1-0. The propositions 1) grant HCDD No. 1 the authority and functions of a road district, 2) grant authority to issue bonds and levy a property tax to pay for conservation and development, 3) to issue bonds and levy a property tax to pay for the construction and operation of roads, and 4) to issue bonds and levy a property tax to pay for economic development.

Essentially, all the ducks are being lined up. It's the way it works, the Texas Legislature has made it legal and easy. Unfortunately, the taxpaying public – which will eventually wind up underwriting many of the spin-off costs of these developments from new schools to more law enforcement, fire protection and water consumption – is the last to know. Rest assured that your county commissioners and city council members are often among the first to know.

There's a lot more to this story obviously that is being played out behind the scenes. We are particularly curious how it is that the Dripping Springs Water Supply Corporation can agree to a long term water supply commitment to Caliterra while it remains a non-permitted public water utility. The question is sure to hit the fan once the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (the permitting authority in this case) musters the courage and raises the necessary legal funds to finally address it.

Thanks to Barbara Hopson for her research assistance.

Send your comments and news tips to roundup.editor@gmail.com, to Ms. Hopson at hopsonbarbara@yahoo.com or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story

British American's website describes eight development properties in Texas, including Caliterra just south of Dripping Springs next to the cemetery off RR 12, and two – York Valley Ranch (1,895 acres, Price: $16 million) and WhiteRock Ranch (329.7 acres, Price: $2.8 million) – a hop and a skip east of San Marcos. The latter two are only a couple miles apart and are probably part of the reason for the scramble to pipe additional water supplies into eastern Hays County and environs.

From the website description of York Valley Ranch: "CCWC (Crystal Clear Water Corporation) confirmed that an 8-inch line with good pressure is at the intersection of FM 3353 and FM 20, and could be extended to the ranch at a cost to be determined. CCWC estimates that an 8-inch line will support 500 taps. Current tap cost is around $3,000 per tap . . . Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) indicated that it could participate to any degree desired in a wastewater treatment plant for the ranch. According to GBRA, a 500 home development would need a treatment facility that could process 20,000 gallons per day . . . York Valley MUD District was formed in August of 2008 and has passed legislature."

Also from the website: "WhiteRock Ranch comprises a total of 329.746 acres. The property is generally rectangular in shape with just over 6/10ths of a mile frontage on FM 621, the main highway that connects a planned interchange on future SH 130 to IH 35 and fast-growing San Marcos."

Powers, right, was all ears at a
recent county budget workshop


Caliterra's introduction to Hays County and commissioners court dates back to former county judge Jim Power's first term, around 2000, with approval by the court of creation of the Hays County Development District No. 1. According to the website, the developers have since secured water and wastewater service. The Caliterra property is now primed, so to speak, to be flipped to a big name home builder/developer once the market picks back up and the economy improves. Mr. Powers serves on the board of directors of the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (his term runs thru February 2014) and has been a regular fixture at the Hays County Courthouse since Bert Cobb's election.

The investors behind these projects are British American Development Corporation in Dallas (www.badc.us). Caliterra is currently their most ambitious project (Price: $18 million, 595 acres near RR 12/ FM 150 in Dripping Springs). According to BADC's website, "The main components of the master-planned community will include approximately 350 home sites ranging in size from 1/2 to over 1 acre, and 50 garden villa sites overlooking Onion Creek."

Caliterra/BADC
Caliterra makes up the whole of Hays County Development District No. 1. HCDD can issue up to $120 million in tax-exempt bonds. "The district has the power to levy and collect taxes on property within its boundaries, including the authority to levy and collect a sales tax, an ad valorem tax, assessments, and if applicable, a hotel/motel tax."

"Water:
The project will be served by a 12” water line along Ranch Road 12. There is capacity sufficient to serve the projected needs of the community. Water will be purchased under a water purchase agreement between Hays County Development District No. 1, Dripping Springs Water Supply Corporation and LCRA."

"Wastewater: Hays County Development District No. 1 has an approved permit to treat up to 350,000 gallons of effluent per day. The project's total sewer needs are anticipated to be approximately 170,000 gallons per day.
The treated effluent will be used for landscape irrigation."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ron Paul shines in a field of lackluster GOP presidential aspirants


From what I have seen from the conservative popular establishment since the 2010 elections, I doubt if most conservative Americans are smart enough to know that most of their conservative idols are big corporate or religious right lackeys who do not want to solve America’s problems


Note: Rocky Boschert takes a timely swing at presidential politics. East Texas Congressman Ron Paul announced his run for the presidency on Friday, his "third time's a charm" attempt, Newt Gingrich officially threw his hat in the ring last week, Mike Huckabee decided not to run, and Donald "The Apprentice and Big Mouth" Trump has managed to slide to the bottom of the favorable ratings in a matter of just a few weeks. The Republican establishment has virtually conceded the 2012 election to Obama knowing that it has a terminally weak and uninspiring field of candidates and is now focusing its attention on capturing a majority in the U. S. Senate. Good luck.

Send your comments and news tips to roundup.editor@gmail.com, to Rocky at arrowbiz@texasorp.com or click on the "comments" at the bottom of the story

By Rocky Boschert
Financial Editor

The 2012 GOP presidential primary voters now have a field of candidates willing to bash the White House for basically doing the same things these candidates once defended a Republican president or governor for doing in the past. In fact, most potential 2012 candidates will be as guilty of contributing to as much big government as the president they’ll be criticizing.

Mitt Romney gave us the ObamaCare blueprint for government-run healthcare in Massachusetts; boring Tim Pawlenty and compulsive wife changer Newt Gingrich gave Republican support for cap and trade; social conservative loudmouth Rick Santorum ran cover for Bush’s entire social agenda by touting the president’s right wing big government Christian conservatism. And media whores (pun intended) like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann will exploit any issue they can, without even knowing why.

Adding ideological insult to injury, most of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates still promote an astronomically expensive foreign policy and an out of touch big government social conservatism - while they simultaneously and contradictorily claim we must cut government spending. By and large, these candidates are conservative in rhetoric & media glory - and not with their voting records, as has been the case with most Republican presidential candidates for decades.

On the other hand, during the periods when conservatives find themselves not defending big government Republicans - and instead choose to stress the need for their base philosophy of limited government, constitutional fidelity, and the need to eliminate debt and deficits, they echo the sentiments of Ron Paul.

The difference between Paul and most Republicans, however, is Paul never changes his story. One thing conservatives can rely on with Ron Paul is his philosophical consistency, even when his fellow conservatives disagree with him (or attack him like at the 2008 Republican presidential debates). When hypocritical conservatives attack Paul for his non-interventionist foreign policy views, Congressman Paul is quick to remind them that it is mathematically impossible to reduce the national debt and deficits without seriously addressing Pentagon spending and overseas military misadventures.

Paul also has the courage and integrity to say that big government efforts such as anti-abortion legislation and cutting NPR, Planned Parenthood and local money earmarks will do nothing to effectively reduce the debt, no matter how much each concern might excite conservatives emotionally. Likewise, Paul chastises the neocons for ignoring the need for military spending cuts that will continue to sustain and grow the national debt, especially when most neoconservatives are economically dependent on their military-industrial complex corporate masters.

In addition, Ron Paul’s political integrity really shines through when he declares that obsessing over Obama’s birth certificate only distracts us from the US economy’s impending death certificate. And Paul knows that drooling over the self-serving media flatulence of a reality TV star with a bad comb-over may get some neocons excited, but it doesn’t address our collapsing dollar and our stagnant high unemployment economy.

Of course simple thinking conservatives tend to draw meaningless battle lines between Republicans and Democrats. Paul, on the other hand, establishes a sensible battle line with those in both parties who consider big government power to be absolute. This includes abusive big government power, such as the nonsense of the Texas mandatory abortion sonograms that bogus conservatives – from Jason Isaac all the way up to Rick Perry – believe is their domain to do their God-complex bidding.

As a statement of the state of national politics, Ron Paul seems to be one of the very few conservative constants in popular US politics (although Paul seems to now have a true conservative compadre in the presidential aspirations of the New Mexico libertarian ex-Governor).

To the extent that the American Right gets so easily distracted from true conservative principles, typically in the name of mindless Republican partisanship or some emotional attachment to a particular big government social agenda, they usually find themselves at odds with Paul.

This brings me now to the almost guaranteed entrenched Republican Party “establishment” distaste for Ron Paul. Generally speaking, there are two reasons for Paul’s unattractiveness to the Republican money monopoly. First, he is not a puppet of big government Christian extremists who now control the Republican Party in the southern United States. And second, Paul is not a political puppet of the US Republican Party corporate war machine (which is now only slightly more aggressive than the US Democratic Party corporate war machine).

As a reluctant fiscal conservative (not someone who supports corporate monopolies but someone that supports decentralized economic ownership) and a progressive social liberal, I just hope Ron Paul or someone of his conservative political consistency will be selected as the 2012 Republican Party presidential candidate. Regardless of whether you are left or right, we all need consistency and integrity more than ever in US politics.

But unfortunately, from what I have seen from the conservative popular establishment since the 2010 elections, I doubt if most conservative Americans are smart enough to know that most of their conservative idols are big corporate or religious right lackeys who do not want to solve America’s problems. They have the same motives as some TV contracted aging civil rights leaders: They are disingenuous faux leaders who pander to the outdated and unproductive emotional buttons of (right wing) anger and divisiveness – all too often in the name of God. Want proof?

We have just seen such unintelligent behavior by the Texas Legislature regarding the mandatory sonogram law that pretty boy mass manipulator Rick Perry will no doubt sign.