Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Action Alert: Contact your congressman to avert windfall profits going to polluters

By Move-On Org - Oct. 22, 2007It's looks pretty clear that some kind of pollution credit system will be created soon to try to get a handle on the climate crisis. Polluting industries are trying to turn that legislation into a massive program of corporate subsidies. Their plan--giving away the credits for free to big polluters--punishes new companies and companies who got a jump on cleaning up their act.

But a full public auction makes sure that everyone plays fair by charging them equally to pollute and raises money to help pay for America's transition to the clean energy economy. Most of the Democratic presidential candidates have endorsed the public auction--which means industry is in a hurry to lock up the other system while we still have this President and this Congress.

I just signed a petition to ask our Congress to make sure any climate legislation has a public auction to sell pollution credits. Signing a petition may not feel like a lot. But it's a first step. And there's a lot at stake--$50 to $150 billion. Enough money to help all Americans transition to a clean energy economy. Our representatives need to hear clearly that we care about this issue.

Can you join me by signing the petition?

Jim Hightower Comments

Used by permission of Jim Hightower - The Hightower Lowdown

Monday, October 29, 2007

Each doing a little combined makes a lot

By Faith Chatham - DFWRCC - Oct. 29, 2007
In today's Fort Worth Star Telegram Anna Tinsley wrote about how small donors are playing a big role in fundraising for the 2008 Presidential race. With campaigns costing gigantic amounts these days, most of us feel helpless. It is difficult to comprehend how what ordinary working folks or retirees or college students can contribute which will make a substantial difference.

However, the reality is that what we have to offer truly can make the difference between a candidate's race getting off the ground and staying alive and it fizzling and dying before anyone notice.

Tinsley wrote:
Kerry Bouchard knew it was just a drop in the bucket.

But the Fort Worth man wanted to help Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, so he sent $50 to the campaign last month.

"I felt I needed to try to do what little I could to influence the presidential race," said Bouchard, 46, a librarian at Texas Christian University. "Sometimes it seems hopeless because there's so much money involved."

But his $50, added to someone else's $25, plus someone else's $35, eventually adds up.

In the 2008 presidential primary campaign, it seems that the smallest donors are gaining a larger voice.

Millionaries and billionaries giving large donations is viewed by many people as one of the problems in American politics. It is difficult for an elected official needing large amounts of money to run media advertising and to pay consultants and other campaign expenses to ignore the agendas of large donors.

Thus far this year it appears that the trend is for smaller donors to carry more of the load toward financing campaigns.

Tinsley wrote of donors giving $50 or less:
Nationwide, those donors have contributed more than 21 percent of money raised by presidential candidates.

In Tarrant County, more than half of donors gave less than $500. Just 22 percent gave $2,000 or more, according to a Star-Telegram analysis of new campaign finance records.

"Two-thirds of the donations", writes Tinsley, "have come from large donors."

Jeff Classen's researched campaign returns of Presidential candidates and analyzed Tarrant County Donors. His research shows:
Rudi Giuilani has receieve more donations over $2,000.00 than any other presidential candidate. He comes in 5th in number of donors under $2000.00. Republican candidates lead in the top 4 spots in the number of donations over $2000.00 from Tarrant County.
Democrats lead in the top number of donations from donors under $2000.00 in Tarrant County.

Number of donors over $2000.00 from Tarrant County:
1. Republic Rudy Giuliani 103
2. Republican Mitt Romney 54
3. Republican Fred Thompson 51
4. Republican John McCain 42
5. Democrat Hilliary Clinton 39
6. Democrat John Edwards 29
7. Republican Huckabee 25
8. Democrat Barack Obama 11
9. Republican Ron Paul 9
10. Democrat Bill Richardson 7
11. Democrat Chris Dodd 2

Democrats lead with the number of donors under $2000.00 from Tarrant County.
1. Democrat Barack Obamba 173
2. Democrat Hilary Clinton 130
3. Democrat John Edwards 128
4. Republican John McCain 125
5. Republican Mitt Romney 101
6. Republican Rudy Giuliani 88
7. Republican Ron Paul 57
8. Republican Fred Thompson 53
9. Republican Tom Tancredo 44
10 Democrat Bill Richardson 36
11. Republican Mike Huckabee 16
12. Republican Duncan Hunter 14
12. Democrat Joe Biden 14
13. Sam Brownback 6
14. Democrat Chris Dodd 3
15. Republican John Cox 2
15. Democrat Dennis Kucinich 2
Source: Federal Elections Commission, Star-Telegram analyzis by Jeff Claussen

During the 2006 Attorney General's race, Democrat David Van Os raised most of his money from donors who gave under $1000.00. On-line donations and people on the grassroots pooled their money and financed outdoor advertising for the Van Os Campaign. All of the down-ticket Democratic challenger were financially challenged. All except Dale Henry and Fred Head (who self-financed their campaigns) relied on small donors to help keep gasoline in their tanks and pay travel expenses as they traveled the state trying to meet as many voters as possible in towns and cities all over Texas. They were unable to compete in the larger markets where Republican incumbents warchests financed media advertising blitz the last few weeks of the campaign.

Candidates found ways to cut corners on campaign headquarters. Most of the down-ticket Democratic challengers last year utilized skilled volunteers working from virtual offices in key slots usually filled by paid campaign staff and consultants. Van Os and Maria Luisa Alvarado shared campaign headquarters in the Van Os Law Firm Building in San Antonio. Sometimes they car-pooled to events and shared on-the road meals of sandwiches and fruit packed at home from coolers in the car while they coordinated their campaigns from cell phones and laptop computers. Hank Gilbert had some hired staffers but ran his campaign from his pick-up by cell phone as he drove from town to town. They connected with the grassroots and their supporters were volunteered as many hours as many paid staffers normally work in better financed campaigns.

They proved that candidates can fight smart campaigns, connecting with the grassroots, in Texas. However, in a state this big, without money to combat end-of- election-cycle television and radio campaigns of their opponents in the major urban markets, they lose too many votes from the fringe or swing voters who are not party activists. It is difficult (probably impossible) to wage as aggressive a people to people style campaign while spending the normal half day on the phone calling potential donors that most consultants demand of candidates.

For Democratic challengers to regain offices in Texas, more donors need to give money without getting a telephone call from the candidate. Underdogs need money but they also need votes. To get votes, they need to connect with people. If the political landscape in Texas is going to change significantly, Texans on the grassroots must continue to take responsiblity for generating resources for charmastic, dedicated, qualified, educated candidates.

For Democrats challengers or populists to regain the Texas Turf, by winning state executive offices and judicial, house and senate and US House and Senate seats, and for Democratic presidential candidates to prevail, volunteers and small donors must unite to fill the gap between donations from millioniare and billionaires which traditionally bankroll Republicans and incumbents. They must also raise enough money to run media in major markets to reach voters who do not go to political events.

For Democrats to regain the Texas Turf, more people have to care enough to give a little and to volunteer a little. More Texans have to care enough to learn where the candidates stand on issues and go vote. This is a year when major changes can be made in the politican landscape in the USA and in Texas. It will happen only if small donors contribute what they can and a few larger donors steps up and helps push the campaigns over the top.

TxSharon writes: Will Sen. Estes Investigate the RRC for Malpractice?

One of my favorite writers, TXSHARON shows the DUTIES of the Texas Railroad Commission, their failures and pins the Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources to the wall demanding "WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT?" She cites specific instances of corruption and incompentency which endangers the citizens of Texas.

By TxSHARON - Texas Kaos - Oct. 19, 2007
Read: Will Sen. Estes Investigate the RRC for Malpractice.

Friday, October 26, 2007

One of my favorite bands -- The Ackerman's of Texas - performs this weekend

By Faith Chatham - Oct. 26, 2007
Listen to the Ackerman's

They will appear Saturday, Oct. 27th (6:30-9:30 p.m.) at Lake Highlands/Whiterock Democrats Chili Supper. Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez will be the keynote speaker. The event will take place at DanceMasters at 10675 E. NW Highway.
Intersection is Plano Rd. DanceMasters is on the second floor left of the Kroger.
Admission is $10.

I really like their video.

ACKERMAN's VIDEO: Take Me Back to Amarillo

Friday, October 19, 2007

TURF prevails as Judge grants continuance, allows discovery - TURF attorneys may depose top TxDOT officials

(Editor's Note by Faith Chatham: Even though this is my personal blog and is not affiliated with TURF, I am thrilled that T.U.R.F. was granted a continuance in its lawsuit on behalf of all of us with TxDOT. Here is San Antonio Toll Party founder and T.U.R.F. executive director Terri Hall's account.)
By Terri Hall - T.U.R.F. - Oct. 18, 2007
Austin, TX – Thursday, October 18, 2007 - In Travis County District Court today, Judge Orlinda Naranjo granted Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) a continuance allowing TURF to move to the discovery phase and depose top Transportation Department (TxDOT) officials, including Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson himself. Allowing discovery is vital for TURF to force TxDOT to hand over key documents that they’ve been withholding via Open Records requests. TURF is seeking to immediately halt the illegal advertising campaign and lobbying by TxDOT (read petition here).

The State was attempting to throw us out of court with their favorite “get out of jail free” card (called the plea to the jurisdiction), but TURF’s attorneys, Charlie Riley, David Van Os, and Andrew Hawkins outmaneuvered Attorney General counsel Kristina Silcocks to file a motion for a continuance to allow TURF to move to the discovery phase to gather evidence to show TxDOT’s top brass broke the law with the Keep Texas Moving (KTM) ad campaign and lobbying Congress to buyback interstates.

“This is a great victory for Texas taxpayers!” an elated Terri Hall, TURF’s Founder and Executive Director proclaimed. “This egregious misuse of $9 million of taxpayer money by a rogue government agency is one MAJOR step closer to being stopped.”

The tide seemed to turn when Riley showed the affidavit by TxDOT’s Helen Havelka was false. TURF uncovered this August 13, 2007 memo by Coby Chase (read it here) through an Open Records request showing the Keep Texas Moving campaign was not over and in fact it has multiple phases planned with the next one fashioned to influence the upcoming Trans Texas Corridor TTC-69 NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) hearings planned for early 2008.

With a clear attempt to mislead the court by causing Judge Naranjo and the public to believe the KTM Campaign was over when in fact it isn’t, the State’s credibility and case went downhill from there.

“I wonder what TxDOT’s top brass is saying tonight as they’re being informed they’ve now been added as defendants and may be deposed under oath about their lobbying and ad campaign activities,” pondered Hall. “My guess is the phones are ringing and the paper shredders may just get fired-up."

This lawsuit is brought pursuant to § 37, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. TxDOT’s expenditure of public funds for the Keep Texas Moving campaign is illegal, and an injunction prohibiting any further illegal expenditures in this regard.TxDOT has violated § 556.004 of the Texas Government Code by directing the expenditure of public funds for political advocacy in support of toll roads and the Trans Texas Corridor, and have directly lobbied the United States Congress in favor of additional toll road programs as evidenced in its report, Forward Momentum.

On Monday, September 24, Judge Naranjo did not initially grant a temporary restraining order (TRO). TxDOT unearthed a law that says they can advertise toll roads (Sec 228.004 of Transportation Code) and the citizens invoked another that says they can’t (Chapter 556, Texas Government Code). The burden to obtain a TRO is higher than for an injunction.

“TxDOT is waging a one-sided political ad campaign designed to sway public opinion in favor of the policy that puts money in TxDOT’s own coffers. School Boards cannot lobby in favor of their own bond elections, and yet TxDOT cites its own special law to line their own pockets at taxpayers’ expense,” says an incredulous Terri Hall, Founder/Director of TURF.

Hall also notes that TxDOT’s campaign goes beyond mere advertising, “It’s propaganda and in some cases, the ads blatantly lie to the public! In one radio ad, scroll down to radio ad “continuing maintenance”), it claims it’s not signing contracts with non-compete agreements in them and yet last March TxDOT inked a deal with Cintra-Zachry for SH 130 (read about it here) that had a non-compete clause (which either prohibits or financially punishes the State for building competing infrastructure with a toll road).”

On August 22, 2007, TURF filed a formal complaint with Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle to investigate TxDOT’s illegal lobbying and asked him to prosecute TxDOT for criminal wrongdoing. See the formal complaint here. The petition seeks immediate injunctive relief in a civil proceeding.

Updates to TURF’s petition and supplemental affidavits will be posted soon.

Contact info for TURF's attorneys:
Charlie Riley - 210-225-7236
David Van Os - 210-821-1700
Andrew Hawkins - 512-477-2320
David Rogers - 512-301-4097

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Texas needs qualified men and women of integrity in public service

By Faith Chatham - Oct. 9, 2007
Fielding candidates for public office who are unsuited for the job is counter productive to the welfare of the people of Texas. Selecting nominees who who can be "sold to the public" but who are incapable of functioning effectively once in office is detrimental bad political policy. This state has suffered through the incompetence of Susan Combs while she was Agriculture Commission and currently as State Comptroller of Public Accounts, she is an embarrashment. (Refusing to recognize the standards of public accounting, she urged lawmakers to vote that Texas would not comply with GAP!)

We have witnessed the Republican field ill-prepared individuals for stategic offices. Now the some Democrats are attempting to place the wrong candidate in the Rail Road Commission. Art Hall of San Antonio, an attorney/investment banker, who is Vice President of Banco Popular, an international corporation with vast financial holdings in many nations, has announced his intention of challenging Dale Henry in the Democratic primary for Rail Road Commissioner.

Hall has no professional credential which allow him to understand the complexities of oil and gas production/regulation. His background as an attorney is not in this field. His profession experience is not in mineral/energy production/regulation and unlike Henry, Hall is not trained as a petroleum engineer. Although Hall is a Harvard grad, he is a light weight when compared to Dale Henry when it comes to the experience, professional background, technical understanding and education required to exercise the responsibilities of this office with excellence.

Dale Henry has over 50 years training and experience as a petroleum engineer and businessman. He has developed tools which have revolutionized the oil industry. He is a man of integrity. He believes in reasonable regulation of the oil and gas industry. He values the integrity of neighborhoods and believes that oil/gas resources in Texas should be developed without compromising the water, health and welfare, and residential nighborhoods. Dale Henry's professional experience and education enables him to understand the processes and tools available in the oil and gas market which can jeporadize or benefit Texans. He knows what safeguards are needed and what regulations/processes are unnecessary. He's been around the block in the energy field several times and knows the landscape and the tricks and pitfalls.

He has been advising Texas homeowners of these pitfalls without renumeration. He is a champion, fighting to protect the property rights of Texans from exercise of eminent domain for private gain. He has traveled this state testifying at Texas Department of Transportation Hearings all over Texas.

Texas needs Dale Henry on the Rail Road Commission. Pipelines are a major facet of the proposed Trans Texas Corridor. Dale Henry opposes the Trans Texas Corridor. Art Hall is the husband of an attorney for Valero Energy. Valero Energy donated over $111,342.32 from November 2002 through December 2006 to Texas Legislators and Congressional candidates/incumbents PAC. All went to Republicans except for $2,000.00 which went to Paula Hightower-Pierson, a freshman Democrat from Arlington whose huband was a delegate to the National Republican Convention which nominated George W. Bush as President of the USA. Hightower-Pierson has a consistent records while on the Arlington City Council of supporting exercise of public domain for the private profit of George W. Bush. She celebrated when citizens of Arlington were taxed to build the Texas Ranger's stadium. When George W. Bush sold the Rangers he made the first profit he'd ever shown in any of his business enterprises. Valero, which probably hopes to have an interest in the pipelines associated with the Trans Texas Corridor, has contributed over $20,000.00 to Tom Craddick in the past two years.

Dale Henry is not pursuing any business which will involve proposed pipelines. He is not seeking to capitalize by stripping Texans of their farms, ranches, homes and businesses to build the NAFTA Super Highway. His wife is not an attorney with Valero Energy, which has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in Republican campaigns attempting to gain favor in future infrastructure projects and energy regulations.

Dale Henry has the right skill/education set.
Art Hall has active ties with special interests which should not have representation in the Rail Road Commission, the agency in Texas charged with regulation oil and gas/mineral production in Texas.

The Railroad Commission should not be filled with people with ties to ambitions international corporates. Representatives of companies seeking to profit from the decisions of the Commission should not be nominated by either political party. Citizens of Texas along all of the political spectrums should examine the affiliations of those seeking to regulate this state's energy market, production and/or delivery infrastructure. Along with the PUC and State Legislature, the Texas Railroad Commission sets policies which ultimately shifts the wealth of citizens of Texas from various pocketbooks. Right now utility bills of individuals and businesses is shifting a lot of dollars from everybody's bank accounts into those of a few. Railroad Commission policies sets safeguards during exploration and production. The PUC's policies (set through Legislation)impacts utilities and consumers.