About that August bond election for Harris County

Sen. Paul Bettencourt is correct in his opposition to the date of the bond election, which is for an amount not specified and no projects identified.

Been a bit since I’ve agreed 100% with Tio Pablo but his thoughts on the recently ordered bond election in Harris County is spot on. From the Inbox:

Are the “Dog Days of Summer” Setting in on Harris County Taxpayers?
Series of summer special property tax rate election events coming, but still time to move them to November!

HOUSTON – Senator Bettencourt (R-Houston) is speaking out on behalf of taxpayers following the announcement by more than one taxing jurisdictions that special elections to raise property tax rates will be occurring throughout the Summer and better public policy is to hold them on the November General Election date. This is occurring so quickly that the Klein ISD Trustees are voting on a TRE election Monday, May 14.

I am worried about voter fatigue as well taxpayer’s pocketbooks!” said Senator Bettencourt. “Rather than spend money on special elections these taxing jurisdictions still have the chance to do the right thing and schedule their proposed tax rate increase elections in November.”

Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas) granted permission for Harris County to hold an estimated $2.5 billion Harris County Flood Control Proposition on a non-uniform election date on August 25th, the date of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall. In his approval letter, Governor Abbott highlighted, “…billions of federal dollars either are currently available to Harris County or will be available to the county before it has the ability to issue the bonds requested…”

In their letter to Governor Abbott, Harris County Commissioners Court stated, “We must show the various federal agencies that matching funds are available now in order to apply for Harvey related grants that are already available.”

However, the Governor also stated in his letter, “Congress purposefully provided much of those matching dollars through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds so that local government would not need to match the federal grants.” This strongly suggests that waiting to hold the election in November will not stifle the flow of federal money nor change the facts that the CDBG funds do not need a local match.

At their quarterly Executive Committee meeting this week, the Harris County Republican Party nearly unanimously passed a resolution calling for “Harris County, City of Houston, and Klein ISD governments to schedule their respective bond and/or tax cap repeal elections as part of and on the November General Election date.” Resolution author Clint Moore stated, “Rather than disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, our elected officials should put these tax rate increase elections on the November ballot. I thought we were beyond choosing these sorts of obscure election dates, but I guess not.”

Voters throughout Harris County may return to the upcoming May 22 Primary runoff election, a probable 9 penny June tax rate ratification election in Klein ISD the weekend of the Republican State Convention, a county bond election in August, and potentially the Mayor’s announcement that he wishes to bust the voter approved property tax rate cap by November general election. “It is a fundamental truth that our Republic functions better when more people are able to cast their ballots in a Democracy,” concluded Senator Bettencourt.

###

I watched the Commissioner’s Court meeting when they made the decision to hold the election in August. You can watch it by clicking here and then clicking on Item V, (Part 1 of 2). It was a nightmare for anyone that cares a whit about fiscal policy, small government, transparency, open government or basic fairness to taxpayers. Strong statement since I am a huge fan of Judge Emmett and Commissioners Radack and Morman but that is exactly the way I saw it.

The decision basically boiled down to the best guess of the commissioners as to which date it was most likely to be approved by the voters. Commissioner Rodney Ellis was the only one that wanted it in November but it wasn’t for any of the reasons Bettencourt mentions above, he simply thinks that more of the po’ folks will turn out to approve it. He changed his vote at the urging of Commissioner Radack so that the court would be unanimous when it sent the letter requesting permission to hold the election to Gov. Abbott.

Because there has been NO groundwork laid, there was only an open ended conversation about which group of identity politics driven activists would get their fair share. It was disgusting. Speaker after speaker lined up extolling the virtues of their particular identity group wanting a share of the bond money, the bigger, the better. It was like watching a litter of kittens lining up in front of mama cat. This is what happens when government is driven by identity politics and activism instead of sound fiscal and engineering policy.

Maybe I’m being too hard on the Commissioners but I don’t think so. Disgusting.

Mi amigo Neal Meyer weighs in on the issue over at blogHOUSTON.

Third, considering that an August election would result in a very lowvoter turnout, there is an issue of legitimacy. If this election results in a turnout of 50,000 voters voting in favor of the bond, while a mere 30,000 vote against, that means only a tiny percentage (like 2-3 percent) of the 2+ million voting electorate of Harris County ends up making the decision that everyone else has to live with. I’ve long gotten tired of this kind of stuff happening, which is why I’ve been pushing for several years now to require voter quorums for bond elections to pass.

Believe it or not, I might actually vote in favor of a bond proposal for flooding, but only after my concerns listed above are addressed. I would like to see a full vetting of the bond proposal, which means delaying the public vote until the November 2018 election. That would give the electorate another 2 1/2 months to analyze and debate the proposal. The November 2018 election will also result in a higher turnout, which will give the bond vote stronger legitimacy.

There is no need to hurry, so why not wait?

Neal is exactly right. Why not have a full vetting before voting on such a nebulous proposition? Note that he doesn’t sound like an angry voter, just a frustrated one that knows full well there will not be a full vetting and most of the bond is simply going to be guess work on the high side of the equation.

There is no need to have the bond election in August. The only reason to do so is a political calculation on the part of the Republicans on the court. Sad.

Budgetary Stewardship – POTUS Team: “Recission Request” Forthcoming

Senior administration officials are preparing to brief the media on a congressional “recission request” notification:

“Today, senior administration officials will hold a background briefing to preview the Presidents historic rescission request to Congress. The special message to Congress will be delivered Tuesday, May 8, 2018. The briefing will be conducted via conference call at 6:00PM EDT tonight. The information will be embargoed until 9:00PM EDT this evening.”

In essence the administration is preparing to enter into a spending discussion with congress. The White House is actually trying to eliminate unnecessary federal spending. FULLSTOP. Yes, that’s what happens when a businessman, committed to financial stewardship, takes over as executive and reviews spending.

The basic point of “recission” is simple. The Omnibus spending bill contained too much unneeded spending on non-essential budgetary items. A Very Stable Genius President approved the Omnibus to gain the needed financing for the military.

With the military shored-up, the sketchy pork hidden inside the Omnibus needs to be addressed while deconstructing the deep state apparatus.  So,…. the White House is talking with congress about NOT spending the appropriations.

http://www.conservativetreehouse.com

Do You Know There is a Movement Afoot to Allow Criminals Back on the Street without Bail? …and its all about “The Tool”

Arnold Foundation Admits the Truth: It Funded Lawsuits to End Money Bail in Houston and Elsewhere

The Arnold Foundation and the “not so secret” mission to end cash bail…

The Houston-based Laura and John Arnold Foundation has been going around the country promoting its Public Safety Assessment as the gold standard in scientifically sorting defendants into categories and then making recommendations as to what the conditions of release on bail should be.

Curiously, while the tool often recommends detention, the tool never recommends or even contemplates release on a bail bond.  As a result, this “science” is then used to deny a critical constitutional right to bail.

The Arnold Foundation has long claimed that they are simply in the “objective” science business with no skin in the game except to provide judges better information so that they can confirm their “hunches.”

Arnold Foundation Launches Expansion of Public Safety Assessment Tool<https://linkprotect.cudasvc.com/url?a=http%3a%2f%2flink.quorum.us%2ff%2fa%2fbEW8LgWN7a_Jl1nY28Lvjw~~%2fAACYXwA~%2fRgRcys3OP0RsaHR0cHM6Ly90aGVjcmltZXJlcG9ydC5vcmcvMjAxOC8wNC8yNS9hcm5vbGQtZm91bmRhdGlvbi1sYXVuY2hlcy1leHBhbnNpb24tb2YtcHVibGljLXNhZmV0eS1hc3Nlc3NtZW50LXRvb2wvVwNzcGNYBAAAAABCCgAG1EnoWhXywKhSGnN0YWN5YUBicmF6b3JpYS1jb3VudHkuY29t&c=E,1,f24LNnwHR9R8LBoVWOw_pMkOUmwbSmJ2YG3tlgJZDL8JcA714ntXZFK4ZMEDFTRhgIWuXj68M62CKSUQUdti_9qNGyUAJrifpzyG8VJvRku4REd79eM,&typo=1>

The truth and only the truth.  The Arnold Foundation admitted that it is funding the lawsuits to eliminate bail.  In a recent article, it was noted that the Arnold Foundation is a “important ally” in the legal effort to eliminate all financial conditions of bail.

“Most notably, efforts funded by the MacArthur Foundation and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation have forged partnerships with local jurisdictions to change how the “front end” of the criminal justice system works, to reduce the number of people swept into the incarceration pipeline.” – With the Backing of Top Funders, This Group is Taking the Criminal Justice System to Court<https://linkprotect.cudasvc.com/url?a=http%3a%2f%2flink.quorum.us%2ff%2fa%2f6awRj0VZgbCe3k8bs-v75w~~%2fAACYXwA~%2fRgRcys3OP0SFaHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuaW5zaWRlcGhpbGFudGhyb3B5LmNvbS9ob21lLzIwMTgvNC8yNC9tZWV0LXRoZS1sYXd5ZXJzLWFuZC10aGVpci1mdW5kZXJzLXRha2luZy1hbWVyaWNhcy1jcmltaW5hbC1qdXN0aWNlLXN5c3RlbS10by1jb3VydFcDc3BjWAQAAAAAQgoABtRJ6FoV8sCoUhpzdGFjeWFAYnJhem9yaWEtY291bnR5LmNvbQ~~&c=E,1,9Bjbf8GOcmrZk6liSokdhVAgsTWNmx5LXLbpccCseLuXkSjoyj1rX2QscRYFONXp341bue71zqMAToFZEnKc-QDtHYv7YGsT83CCP0FhtfH22R1nOsrIDg76GQ,,&typo=1>

There’s been a dramatic surge of new philanthropic giving in this space in recent years, with funders moving strategically to tackle a decentralized challenge. Most notably, efforts funded by the MacArthur Foundation and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation have forged partnerships with local jurisdictions to change how the “front end” of the criminal justice system works, to reduce the number of people swept into the incarceration pipeline.

That’s where Civil Rights Corps<https://linkprotect.cudasvc.com/url?a=http%3a%2f%2flink.quorum.us%2ff%2fa%2fca6J-6xxG4MH6IRdzfChcA~~%2fAACYXwA~%2fRgRcys3OP0QgaHR0cDovL3d3dy5jaXZpbHJpZ2h0c2NvcnBzLm9yZy9XA3NwY1gEAAAAAEIKAAbUSehaFfLAqFIac3RhY3lhQGJyYXpvcmlhLWNvdW50eS5jb20~&c=E,1,Dj_dJrbDMkN9n9FuW7h5903uQbcOUirrK4ddQEccj3PV-m2TYiWS2WwcOdW3MeCtYLEbY7y_Sbzyn64VY35Y_WaN16sQSDx0dIBHfnmOJdtyXu0u8SE0cyyzS0zV&typo=1> comes in, an organization dedicated to challenging criminal justice abuses in court. It was founded just two years ago by a young lawyer named Alec Karakatsanis who teamed up with a more seasoned lawyer and nonprofit leader, Eric Halperin—now the CEO—and is staffed by a small but growing team of mostly attorneys. – Inside Philanthropy, April 24, 2018<https://linkprotect.cudasvc.com/url?a=http%3a%2f%2flink.quorum.us%2ff%2fa%2f6awRj0VZgbCe3k8bs-v75w~~%2fAACYXwA~%2fRgRcys3OP0SFaHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuaW5zaWRlcGhpbGFudGhyb3B5LmNvbS9ob21lLzIwMTgvNC8yNC9tZWV0LXRoZS1sYXd5ZXJzLWFuZC10aGVpci1mdW5kZXJzLXRha2luZy1hbWVyaWNhcy1jcmltaW5hbC1qdXN0aWNlLXN5c3RlbS10by1jb3VydFcDc3BjWAQAAAAAQgoABtRJ6FoV8sCoUhpzdGFjeWFAYnJhem9yaWEtY291bnR5LmNvbQ~~&c=E,1,-lHvOs45-lfyy52p_x2_9G4svmY5iRS5MUyarLgZyzgcYM0-9Dl57cUYWVjriGrLbSY1SO8hljscWfLdAzeUEXMTmVAm42NL3vQsuUkl&typo=1>

Wait a minute, let’s think about this.  The Arnold Foundation goes to Houston and convinces everyone that their neutral version of pretrial risk assessment is something that the County should adopt – which they do – all while funding litigation against the very counties, including Harris County, which it provides services.  Of course, The Civil Rights Corps, the proverbial legal witch hunter for the Arnold Foundation, carries out the marching orders for Arnold by suing the pants off of many jurisdictions.

How any local official can tell the constituents they serve that they have an objective vendor in Arnold is beyond us.  This is a tool that is calibrated to achieve a specific political and legal result, that is now absolutely clear.

We call on the Arnold Foundation to release all donation records immediately so that those who contract with the Arnold Foundation can become aware if Arnold is funding entities that seek to, let’s just say compel, the use of the Arnold Foundation tool when the constitutional right to bail goes away due to the Arnold Foundation’s efforts.

We believe the Arnold Foundation is completely tainted on this issue. What began as perhaps a well-intentioned attempt to improve the pretrial release system in criminal justice under Anne Milgram, former Vice President of Criminal Justice at the Laura and Arnold Foundation, is now nothing more than the think tank behind the wholesale destruction of accountable pretrial release.  Arnold plays architect, validator, and implementor of their risk assessment instrument – while hiding behind an iron clad contract that every jurisdiction that uses the tool must sign.

The Foundation might as well come clean—their goal is to eliminate all financial conditions of bail, and they are spending money directly to make that a reality.  Arnold needs to stop snowing over local officials with their “awe-shucks, we’re just data scientists” routine.  Obviously, this completely calls into question the objectivity of the tool itself, and should leave public officials thinking, what we have gotten ourselves into?  A debacle, that’s what.

The Arnold Foundation has demonstrated an intent to deny the right to bail, and is therefore a co-conspirator in the attempt to trammel the constitutional right to bail for all Americans.

As we continue to expose this tainted Foundation, who is compiling records on millions of Americans with no oversight, we would encourage local officials to start asking hard questions. In Harris County, Texas, where the County had to pay $7 million to defend a lawsuit that their “free vendor” literally funded against them, we’re not sure they would be too happy with such a conflict of interest.

With the Arnold Foundation recently announcing the addition of over 200 more jurisdictions to participate in their “Safety and Justice Challenge,” how many more lawsuits will we see? How many more millions of records will Arnold compile at their New York clearinghouse of criminal information? How many more victims of violence will see their attacker freed on nothing more than just a “promise” to appear?

Jeff Clayton

Executive Director

American Bail Coalition

More about the American Bail Coalition…

The American Bail Coalition is the national trade association of commercial bail insurance underwriters whose members are responsible for underwriting criminal bail bonds throughout the United States of America.

The Coalition’s primary focus is to protect the constitutional right to bail by working with local and state policymakers to bring best practices to the system of release from custody pending trial.

Jeff Clayton, Esq. is the Executive Director/Policy Director and can be reached at jclayton@americanbail.org<mailto:jclayton@americanbail.org> or (877) 958-6628.

[Facebook]<https://linkprotect.cudasvc.com/url?a=http%3a%2f%2flink.quorum.us%2ff%2fa%2fZCQd8irqqgbv2cwR3aa1SA~~%2fAACYXwA~%2fRgRcys3OP0QvaHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZmFjZWJvb2suY29tL0FtZXJpY2FuQmFpbENvYWxpdGlvbi9XA3NwY1gEAAAAAEIKAAbUSehaFfLAqFIac3RhY3lhQGJyYXpvcmlhLWNvdW50eS5jb20~&c=E,1,U3lzLEQtEOM_CCm33NRSmXSEL2B5rar_1sSpylCVI_OHQL5EyvwbPgm1ha2yLBwEjlxoJDDY67p5f2x6LziMtNyaT5KJSHpDRoauy3opHCNogw,,&typo=1>

[Twitter]<https://linkprotect.cudasvc.com/url?a=http%3a%2f%2flink.quorum.us%2ff%2fa%2f6Fh6BNmsh-R32NL4clzksA~~%2fAACYXwA~%2fRgRcys3OP0QjaHR0cHM6Ly90d2l0dGVyLmNvbS9hbWJhaWxjb2FsaXRpb25XA3NwY1gEAAAAAEIKAAbUSehaFfLAqFIac3RhY3lhQGJyYXpvcmlhLWNvdW50eS5jb20~&c=E,1,1ClJnwPoU1pU1h6Zd5C5yMOQWQ5lwnVP2nxtuZFV_iza7P1qflc_K2uGySU2x8GAIS508uB0rXls-Yg1gtaSL1OXxJMRP-dGYVJyiL_lRipjZW3wpS75KdKu9Rc,&typo=1>

National Day of Prayer

Comments by Texas Senator Ted Cruz

On this #NationalDayofPrayer, people of all faiths and churches join together in shared hope and supplication for the homeland they love. We recognize that without the blessings of divine providence, our human institutions and mortal plans would all be for nothing.

I invite all Texans to join me in prayer for our nation: That America may always be a home for the free and the brave; that we may care for the poor and vulnerable; that we may defend the innocent and bring justice to the wicked; that we may truly see all men and women as our brothers and sisters under God; and that we may leave our children with a better country for our efforts, and a stronger faith through our example.

Texas Conservatives by Sheri Edwards

All the news that fit to read and of interest to Texans

 

https://paper.li/sedwardstea/1424277450#/

 

What Should Be Your Response to an Active Shooter Situation

Join Pearland Tea Party as we host Pearland Police Officer Nick Palomo who will speak on how you should respond to an Active Shooter situation. Officer Nick has given these presentations in our area schools and with many organizations. Come be informed and we encourage everyone to have dinner. We appreciate Big Horn BBQ. Their room is newly remodeled, think about using this location for your next function.

Date: Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Time: 6:30 pm

Location: Big Horn BBQ 2300 Smith Ranch Rd Pearland 77584

CLTP PhoneBanks for Ted Cruz ReElection Campaign

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/calling-for-cruz-clear-lake-tea-party-tickets-45449613016/?aff=ebdsorderfblightbox

This Wednesday, the Clear Lake Tea Party (CLTP) will be sponsoring a phone banking session for Senator Ted Cruz at Rudy’s BBQ just off I-45 from 6-8pm. We have reserved the backroom for SD11 conservatives who are interested in keeping Texas “Red”!

Because Senator Cruz will be one of the main drivers of down ballot success, we need to continue the process of making sure voters are ready to keep Texas on the right path this election cycle.

Media is out there claiming that Ted and the Democrat are tied. This is causing enormous enthusiasm on the left which will certainly spill over into the down ballot races if we don’t start to counter this narrative.

This next Texas Legislative session promises to be one of the most conservative Texas values sessions ever with Straus gone and Texas conservatives picking up key primary wins.

However, should our conservative picks get swamped by a “blue” wave, we will be back to 2010 politics in the Texas Legislature. We fought too hard to lose our gains now.

Help us thwart the liberal agenda to weaken our border security, allow unfettered illegal immigration, undermine our Bill of Rights, increase your taxes, and control the everyday decisions of Texans from the far away Washington, D.C. swamp.

We need to turn out to vote in November and keep Texas RED!

We will use the Cruz Crew app to make phone calls to voters in our area, so please have the Cruz Crew app downloaded 24 hours before you arrive to make sure it is functioning, that you are able to log in, etc.

The app can be used on any smart phone or tablet and can be downloaded in the App Store and Google Play:

Apple Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cruz-crew/id1259376733?mt=8
Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details…
Never made voter outreach calls before? No problem! The app provides a script to use when talking with voters, and campaign staff or trained volunteers will be on site to answer questions.

What to bring:

Headphones if you have them. While not necessary, they can be helpful when making calls in a group setting.
Charged smart phone or tablet (or bring a charger with you, just in case!). Campaign staff will have a limited amount of tablets available for those who might need one.
Please reach out to us for questions and walkthroughs. Let’s keep Texas on the right path! See you soon!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/calling-for-cruz-clear-lake-te…

State lawmaker says Texas school board members get ‘indoctrination’ into groupthink culture

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/watchdog/2016/11/18/lawmaker-says-indoctrination-training-texas-school-boards-puts-adults-first-children-second

Guts. That’s what Republican state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst showed this year when she took on the state’s powerful education lobby with harsh but true words.

She said a few months back at an Austin hearing that the Texas Association of School Boards, which trains trustees in almost every school district, “indoctrinates” its members into “a kind of culture” that is unhealthy for schoolchildren.

It’s an adults-first, children-second mindset, the Brenham lawmaker said. Too much emphasis on the next building, not enough on academics.

She didn’t stand alone. At the same hearing, a school board member, parents and activists supported her contention with similarly harsh words.

Leaders of TASB, known by its pronunciation of TAZ-bee, didn’t see it coming.

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, did something few lawmakers do openly at an August meeting. She poked the state's powerful education establishment in the eye.
Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, did something few lawmakers do openly at an August meeting. She poked the state’s powerful education establishment in the eye.

What she said

Remember the lone man in China who stood up against the tank in Tiananmen Square? The senator is like that, and the tank is the billion-dollar Texas public school business. School board members are the largest group of elected officials in the state. It’s dangerous to poke the bear.

The senator, who represents parts of 21 counties, said this: “Here’s what I find when I deal with some school board members. The indoctrination. You’re supposed to tell your lawmakers not to do this. You’re supposed to tell your lawmakers that we need more money and less accountability.

“When they come back from [TASB] training, their personalities have completely changed.”

She promised, “I’m going to look very closely at the indoctrination — the training of these school board members.”

In an education bulletin to members of the Texas Association of Community Schools, a lobbyist later described these comments as “a turn for the nasty.”

Actually, they’re a turn toward truth.

TASB disagrees

“The truth is just the opposite.”

The rebuttal comes from Charles Stafford, a Denton ISD school board member who happens to be this year’s TASB president.

I told him about the senator’s comments.

“It’s just not right,” he said.

He tells The Watchdog about the wonderful ways that TASB helps school districts in addition to training — insurance, a purchasing cooperative, legal services, and understanding state education laws.

Oh, and don’t forget the corps of TASB lobbyists.

TASB critics complain that taxpayers pay for school board members to join TASB, and TASB lobbyists then go out and promote views that may be counter to children, parents and teachers. But they’re good for superintendents and board members.

Steve Lecholop, a San Antonio ISD board member, backed the senator’s comments.

TASB training is “not even close to good enough,” he told the Senate Education Committee. He called it “bad professional development, some of the worst I’ve ever seen.”

Volunteer board members are not given the tools they need to think for themselves and challenge strong-willed superintendents by holding them accountable for proper management, he said.

Another critic,  activist Peggy Venable, said there are enough dysfunctional school boards in the state to prove training is inadequate. “We shouldn’t have to have the FBI come in and do an investigation,” she said.

Lynn Davenport, Richardson ISD parent
Lynn Davenport, Richardson ISD parent

Richardson ISD parent Lynn Davenport testified that the training teaches board members “how not to listen to us.” Boards too often go through the motions of leadership in public meetings “with preordained outcomes established before the meetings even begin.”

When board members return from TASB conferences, she said, “they use words that don’t resonate with me as a taxpayer: global citizen, future-ready global economy, 21st-century learner, human capital, social emotional learning group, global workforce, outcomes, data-driven.

“The words we use in my house are reading, writing, paper, pencil, textbook, math facts, homework, solving the correct answer, grammar, good grades, spelling, progress report cards, academics.”

Highland Park ISD parent Meg Bakich testified: “In reality, our school boards become pawns of our superintendents. They vote 7-0 in lock step. We’re a diverse community. Who is representing all of our different views when everyone always votes 7-0?”

Parent Steve Swanson of Austin testified: “Sometimes a board member just needs to know the right questions to ask. … So often I’m in a board meeting where it’s courageous for a board member to actually ask a question. And usually the response they get is: ‘Oh, everything’s OK. Don’t worry.’ We have to become more mature than that.”

It’s true

Two years ago, I attended a TASB training session called “Dealing with Mavericks, Malcontents and Mutineers.” The speaker described dissenters as “beepholes,” “jerks,” “difficult,” “special” and “interesting.” I call them brave.

That session is not unusual. At a prior convention, I heard a TASB speaker train on how to deal with “the lone wolf” board member. He said the community views this trustee “as a real nut.”

A TASB training video I saw a few years ago quotes a board member as explaining “When I first got here, I had an agenda, and that was a mistake. If you are a good board member, you can’t have an agenda.”

The Senate Education Committee was the scene of a full frontal attack on the state's education establishment by a senator, a school board member and interested parents.
The Senate Education Committee was the scene of a full frontal attack on the state’s education establishment by a senator, a school board member and interested parents.

Solutions

Lawmakers are poised to examine the nonprofit, multimillion-dollar unregulated TASB operations. Lecholop, the San Antonio trustee, has a few ideas. He wants a law requiring board meetings to be live-streamed so taxpayers can watch live meetings on their devices while at home as “they put their kids to bed.”

He wants financial transparency with every school district required to publicize their checkbook expenses for scrutiny. A few districts do it voluntarily.

Trustee removal laws also must be changed. Unlike mayors and city council members, school board members cannot be removed from office with a recall petition signed by voters, followed by an election. Under a new law, not yet used, a trustee can be removed on action by a county or district attorney and a  judge in a court hearing. Too cumbersome. Why are we protecting disreputable trustees from removal?

The irony of this, Kolkhorst acknowledges, is that school districts are called ISDs for independent school districts. But with such a centralized indoctrination establishment at it core, the word independent is a joke.

Check out The Watchdog Mondays on NBC5 at 11:20 a.m. talking about matters important to you.

Watch the Senate Committee on Education hearing where this was discussed.

Hurricane Harvey and Texas House Bill 1774

By Kaia Flowers -Guest Columnist with Big Jolly Politics

The great state of Texas has suffered a devastating blow the past week. Hurricane Harvey was a nightmare scenario that many of us did not see coming. The damage to our area is unprecedented with countless families having lost everything they own – houses, cars, and clothing gone in a flash. Social media is filled with pictures of homes flooded to the roof, streets filled with cars no longer fit to drive, and debris fields along our coast.

Another thing filling our news feeds and twitter walls are messages urging people to file insurance claims before a September 1, 2017 deadline. Most of the memes do not give any other information besides the opinion that a bill, HB1774, will hurt people filing insurance claims after this deadline.

What exactly is HB1774? HB1774 is a lawsuit reform bill passed by the Texas Legislature in the 85th session along party lines in the Texas House, 92-55 and in the Texas Senate 21-7, with one Democrat supporting it. It outlines the amount of interest added to claims that are not paid out in a timely manner (section542.060, amended subsection A and adding subsection C), it requires a pre-suit notice of 61 days before a lawsuit is filed (section542A.003), it instructs the court to dismiss with prejudice any claim against an insurance company that is fulfilled before court (i.e. settled with the homeowner, section 542A.006) and outlines the award of attorney’s fees during a lawsuit (section 542A.007). Lawsuit reform is a necessary part of our legal system; laws must be written and revised to ensure that frivolous lawsuits do not hurt the consumer (many experts say that Texas has the strongest consumer protections in regard to insurance policies in the nation). The cost from these lawsuits is passed on to the consumer by raising rates or high prices on everyday goods that we buy.

The timing of this bill and the subsequent social media hysteria is unfortunate during this crisis. We should be very skeptical of the fear mongering in our Facebook feeds. Lawsuits are not the norm and should not be the norm. The vast majority of people will not have to sue their insurance company to receive a settlement. This bill focuses on the outliers that have been unable to come to an amicable settlement.

The Texas state legislature did not lower the amount of interest you will receive if a claim is not paid in a timely manner, they defined it – some cases will still receive 18% interest while other cases will receive the interest rate in section 304.003 of the finance code plus 5%. Section 542.060 subsection C states “Nothing in this subsection prevents the award of prejudgment interest on the amount of the claim, as provided by law.” The pre-suit notice is designed to allow the insurance claim to be settled expediently. After giving notice of the pending litigation the insurance company will have an opportunity to settle the claim without going to trial. This will save time and money by reducing attorney’s fees and the length of the unfilled insurance claim, which is the goal.

This bill also outlines the award of attorney’s fees. It requires reasonable and necessary attorney fees that are supported by sufficient evidence at trial. If the court hears evidence to support a higher attorney fee it will be granted but the key is that there must be evidence. Without this clause unscrupulous lawyers can take advantage of exorbitant attorney’s fees raising the cost of lawsuits and limiting the amount the award to the homeowner.

Without the attorney fee clause, would there have been an uproar over this bill worrying people displaced by hurricane Harvey? I find it extremely unlikely because there would have been no gain to flood social media with messages urging people in shelters to file their claims before the Texas HB1774 takes effect. Filing insurance claims promptly is always the best thing to do in these situations. The faster this step is done the faster people can begin to rebuild their lives after this natural disaster.  In times of hardship there are people who will misuse the public’s trust for their own gain and that is unfortunate but please do not be scared that your insurance agency will abandon you due to this bill.

Kaia Flowers is a long time resident of La Porte, Texas. Mrs. Flowers is currently a student at the University of Houston Clear Lake and is pursuing her degree in history and government.

SE Texas Legislative Recap – With Empower Texans & TX Freedom Caucus Member…

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https://www.eventbrite.com/e/se-texas-legislative-recap-with-empower-texans-tx-freedom-caucus-members-tickets-36589652636

Just a quick reminder to get your tickets. VIP tickets have been the most popular and the  deadline to purchase VIP tickets is Monday August 21, 2017. Do it now before those preferred seats are gone! Along with preferred seating you’ll get Gourmet Hotdog with Texas Chili, chips, drinks, Souvenir Mug and fresh popped popcorn. How can you miss?!

We hope to see you there to hear the real tales of the 85th Lege AND Special Session from those who worked hard, and strategically,  to hold Republicans accountable to the RPT Platform on the floor of the House. Come out and meet some of the candidates who are ready to primary some of the ones having to be held accountable…when it worked and when it didn’t. Know this…tricks and shenanigans abounded.

It’s a great night of fun and information as well as an opportunity to shake hands with some members of the Texas Freedom Caucus. Follow the link above to see the confirmed guests. More will be added soon.