Thursday, October 31, 2013

Perry Gives CPRIT OK to Resume Work

In 2012, The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) came under allegations concerning some of their policies, procedures, and methods of awarding grants. This caused the Texas government, December 2012, to place a moratorium against any further grants while CPRIT was investigated.
"Saving Texans' lives in the fight against cancer is one of the most meaningful and impactful projects we have undertaken. To continue this important work with the credibility it deserves, it is vital that CPRIT fully address the concerns that have been raised about its processes and operations prior to future grants being awarded," the state leaders said in the letter. "The mission of defeating cancer is too important to be derailed by inadequate processes and a lack of oversight. It is important that we restore the confidence of the Texas taxpayers who approved this important initiative before new funds are dispersed."

CPRIT complied and assisted with a rather thorough investigation. In addition, several important and needed reforms were passed earlier this year during the Texas 83rd Legislative Session. CPRIT worked diligently to comply with the new regulations and oversight policies. These policies were contained in SB 149, which passed both houses and Gov. Perry signed into law on June 14th.

Here is an excerpt of some of those reforms:

            Senate Bill 149 revises annual reporting requirements regarding CPRIT's activities, grants awarded and in progress, research accomplishments, and future program directions and sets out recordkeeping and audit requirements relating to grant applications and grant awards.  The bill includes provisions relating to limiting supplementation of CPRIT employee salaries, but expressly prohibits CPRIT from supplementing the salary of the CEO, which can be paid only from legislative appropriations. The bill prohibits a CPRIT employee from having an office in a facility owned by an entity receiving or applying to receive money from CPRIT.
            Senate Bill 149 expands the applicability of conflict-of-interest rules adopted by the oversight committee to include the program integration committee, the research and prevention programs committees, and institute employees. The bill sets out provisions regarding prohibited professional and financial conflicts of interest for institute employees, oversight committee members, program integration members, or research and prevention programs committee members, or a person who is related to the employee or member within the second degree of affinity or consanguinity, and regarding the circumstances under which the conflict-of-interest requirements may be waived and the investigation and final determination of an unreported conflict of interest.

After almost a year, Governor Perry along with David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus, announced the investigation has concluded. CPRIT has reformed some of their policies and procedures to comply with state and federal regulations. The trifecta announced on Oct. 30, 2013 that CPRIT may resume its grant operations.

CPRIT is a leading organization in the battle against cancer. Their grants have assisted patients and doctors in this battle. The resumption of the grants is key to continuing this fight against a global killer.

Governor Perry's remarks on the removal of the moratorium and CPRIT's resumed fight against cancer:

"With the new oversight committee and critical reforms in place, CPRIT can continue its lifesaving work with greater transparency, accountability and integrity. The research and prevention efforts supported by CPRIT have the potential to make a meaningful impact in the fight against cancer. As important as this work is, it must be done in a way that ensures the trust and confidence of the people of Texas."

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst added:

"CPRIT is crucial to our state's efforts to save lives and is now even better equipped to do so thanks to the reforms we have put into place. crafted by our legislators. With the impeccable peer review process and concentration on getting life-saving drugs to deserving patients, we can help save the lives of countless fellow Texans. I remain fully committed to CPRIT's mission and strongly support funding cures to this dreaded disease."

Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, Joe Straus, released the following remarks:

 "The reforms passed by the Legislature will make CPRIT more transparent and accountable to the public. The agency is now equipped to implement those reforms and move forward with the critical mission of fighting cancer. The Legislature will closely monitor CPRIT in order to ensure that the agency's mission is realized and taxpayer dollars are used properly."
CPRIT was created by public resolution and legislation in 2007 as an agency directed to join the front lines in the battle against cancer.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Former SA City Official Suspects Corruption

The tale dates back to 1982. James Foddrill worked for the City of San Antonio as the city's Telecommunications Manager. He oversaw the IT department, the city's phone banks, and the city's 911 services, among other duties.

At one time, he had 240 employees in the IT department, but only 5 personnel maintaining and working the phone banks for city officials including the Mayor and the city council members. That portion of the department seemed to operate on a shoe-string budget, according to documentation and affidavits written by Foddrill.


Before me, the undersigned authority in and for the State and County aforesaid, on this day, personally appeared John Edward Foddrill Sr. being by me duly sworn upon his/her oath deposes and says:

This is a report of criminal activity – violations of law. In documents submitted to U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez, Western District of Texas, 655 East Cesar Chavez Blvd- room G65, San Antonio TX 78206 on or about July 26, 2013 criminal acts committed by the law firm of Fitzpatrick & Kosanovich and their clients

Michael Bernard, William McManus and the City of San Antonio were reported to the Court.

1. Evidence submitted by the Plaintiff supports his report that the Defendants and their attorneys – Fitzpatrick & Kosanovich – have defrauded THIS Court by stating in recent documents submitted in THIS case that there is no conspiracy . ( see July 2, 2013 document, p2, paragraph 4 ) They defraud THIS court with their untrue statement “There was no perjury”. ( see July 2, 2013 document, page 5 , note at bottom of page )

During a period of time beginning in 2005 San Antonio TX city attorney Michael Bernard and others conspired to conceal numerous violations of law – especially the theft and misuse of tens of millions of City, County, State and Federal funds over the past three decades. In February 2009 attorney Bernard and others defrauded the 57th District Court in an effort to hide the criminal activity (2006-CI-06702). When proof of the “fraud upon the court” and illegal cover-up was presented to law enforcement and public officials Bernard, McManus and the City of San Antonio TX in an effort to conceal the crimes issued an illegal, unconstitutional criminal trespass warning on July 1, 2009 barring entry into City Hall and public meetings. Evidence of the criminal activity was confiscated, police reports were discarded and everyone was sworn to secrecy.

When proof of the underlying criminal activity / illegal cover-up was presented to U. S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez as the reason for the criminal trespass warning and other unconstitutional acts addressed in civil rights / freedom of speech federal lawsuit 5:13-CV-00051 ; Bernard, McManus, the City of San Antonio TX and the law firm of Fitzpatrick & Kosanovich submitted false statements to the Court in effort to conceal the crimes and have proof of the ongoing criminal conspiracy stricken from the record.

I ask that a criminal investigation be opened and that criminal charges be filed.

This statement is true and correct to the best of my recollection.

Back in 1982, the city set up a revolving fund for paying the phone bills for the city officials. By 2006, the fund was operating on $5.2 million annually, just for land-line phone calls. Foddrill began to dig and found there was no oversight or accountability with that fund. He alleges that the fund may have been used to finance other things such as no-bid contracts that had no public visibility.

Since, Foddrill has attempted to see the suspicions investigated by authorities either within the city or through external means. Such attempts at integrity and transparency have been met with harassment. Foddrill set up meetings with officials, leaving copies of some of the evidence. For doing so, on July 1, 2009 he was served a warrant for criminal trespass (for going to city hall) and issued a restraining order keeping him from visiting City Hall or attending any City Council meetings. By law, City Council Meetings must be open to the public.

Then, on July 4, 2011, Foddrill, his wife, and his neighbors were awoken at 10pm by "Mental Health Police". There were allegation that Foddrill was "mentally disturbed and unstable". The police involved in the incident did file a report the next day stating they found no evidence to indicate any veracity of the initial report. However, without a proper warrant or just cause, they still harassed Foddrill, his wife, and his neighbors. 

In 2012, Michael Cuellar was also served a similar warrant and restraining order for looking into potential corruption by city officials. Cuellar served as the city's contract coordinator for the Fire Department and Emergency Response Teams (EMS). Cuellar sued and was eventually relieved of the warrant and ban. In April, 2013, Foddrill received a letter saying his ban was temporarily lifted as well.

The story didn't receive much media coverage. One news outlet, The San Antonio Current, did file several stories revealing Foddrill's side of the case. However, when Elaine Wolff ceased working as an editor, the coverage ceased. 

Texas Public Radio (TPR) did conduct these  interviews in January 2013.

Since, Foddrill has filed a civil rights violation case against the city. He's met with several stumbling blocks including an attempt to dismiss the case for it being past a 2-year statute of limitations. Foddrill was originally attempting to represent himself pro se, but was ordered to hire legal representation.

Through all of the hoopla, Fodrill has alleged that the San Antonio Express News has been less than sympathetic, supposedly printing only stories that favor the city's perspective and alleged cover-ups.

On social media sites such as FaceBook, "new media" outlets have cast suspicions on the paper's alleged complicit role in the cover-up conspiracy: 

Post by
San Antonio Express News employee emailed in.. we will keep her anonymous... She said that the Express News' Powers that be... decided with Julian Castro behind the scenes to keep his name out of the Centro Partnership Board Ethics Violation and from being subjected to ethics claims... to save the Pre-K for SA and for it to not be defeated due to bad press... and you tell us we make this up...

Meanwhile, Foddrill has sent copies of his evidence, affidavits, and other documentation to several law enforcement and investigative officials outside of Bexar County and San Antonio. Among those officials are USAG Eric "Fast and Furious" Holder, who may have strong political ties to Mayor Castro and his twin US Representative brother, U S Attorney Robert Pittman, James Comey - Director FBI, Senator Ted Cruz, Attorney General Abbott, and former San Antonio Councilperson Chan.

Citizens Against Public Corruption, Waste, Fraud, and Abuse has also filed similar evidence attached to a  letter to many of the same officials:

Citizens Against Public Corruption Waste Fraud and Abuse
9650 Limestone Pond San Antonio, TX 78254

 Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

James Comey - Director FBI
J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20535-0001

HUD-OIG - Inspector General David A. Montoya
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W.,
Washington, DC 20410

Texas Department of Public Safety
Austin, Texas 78773-0001

AUSA Erica Giese, Chief of San Antonio
United States Attorney’s Office
601 NW Loop 410, Suite 600
San Antonio, Texas 78216
certified mail 7010 3090 0002 7075 1558

Attorney General Abbott
Office of the Attorney General
Austin, TX 78711-2548

This is a report of Criminal Activity - Violations of Law

Please find enclosed a sworn affidavit and a CD detailing the criminal acts committed by the law firm of Fitzpatrick & Kosanovich and their clients San Antonio TX city attorney Michael Bernard, SAPD Chief William McManus and the City of San Antonio (represented by Mayor Julian Castro) in an effort to defraud the Federal Judicial System and conceal massive long-term public/police corruption including the theft and misuse of tens of millions of City, County, State and Federal funds.

Documentation proving the fact that former City CIO Richard Varn, Texas Ranger Hank Whitman, Bexar County TX First Asst. DA Cliff Herberg, HUD-OIG agent Victoria Marquez, FBI agent D. True Brown and many others assisted the City and their attorneys in their criminal scheme is included in information submitted to US District Judge Xavier Rodriguez (see enclosed CD – “summary of nine files” serves as an index).

We ask for an open, transparent investigation and that criminal charges be filed asap. Thank you.
Open Carry Texas and other Second Amendment proponents are also seeking civil rights violation cases against San Antonio, Mayor Castro, and SAPD Chief McManus for violations of First and Second Amendment protections and potential corruption charges.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Perry Awards Audie Murphy with Medal of Honor

During the Second Special Legislative Session, the Texas 83rd Legislature voted to award Audie Murphy with the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor, the highest award the Republic of Texas can award.

Audie Murphy served in the Texas National Guard after World War II. He attained the rank of Major in the National Guard, later transferring to the US Army Reserves until his passing in 1971. Given his lifetime of bravery, honor, and achievements, the Texas Legislature saw fit to pass HCR 3 awarding the medal.

In a ceremony in Farmsville, TX  on Oct. 29th, Governor Rick Perry presented the award, posthumously. Here are the Governor's remarks:

I'm privileged to be here today, joining you all to honor an individual who helped define heroism for his community, his state and his country.

More than four decades since his untimely passing, Audie Murphy lives on in the hearts and memories of a generation of Americans.

For them, Audie remains the first person they think of when they hear words like "valor," "determination" and "courage."

Many of you here today knew Audie personally, and you knew that Audie stood for all of that, and much, much more. You know what made Audie great wasn't simply his courage.

It was his quick wits, improvising effectively when things went wrong within the fog of war.

It was his determination...powered by a seemingly endless reserve of energy...and his profound faith in the rightness of his cause.

And it was his love. The love he felt for his fellow soldiers on the battlefield; the love he felt for his country; and the love he felt for everyone waiting for him back home. Audie Murphy personified every trait that led America to victory in the Second World War, and what's led us to victory on other battlefields, in other wars, around the globe.

As such, it's our obligation to keep his memory alive, telling and re-telling his stories, reminding new generations of Texans of what this sharecropper's son accomplished through the sheer power of his will.
Put simply, that's what the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor is all about.

It's about recognizing true greatness in the individuals who served our state, and our country, during our most trying times.

It's about thanking individuals who gave everything they had in combat, putting themselves in harm's way to preserve the freedoms that make America exceptional.

That seems tailor-made for an individual like Audie Murphy, and I'm honored to be here to present this award.

To his friends and family here today, please know Texas simply couldn't be any prouder of Audie.
We will all work to keep his memory, and his spirit, alive.

We'll do so because, first, it's the right thing to do for a man who gave so much to his community and country.

But we'll also do so because he remains a shining example for anyone who believes in the importance of service, for generations now, and into the future.

Once again, thank you for having me here today.

May God bless you and, through you, may He continue to bless the great State of Texas.

Court Rules Against TX Abortion Reform

This summer, Governor Perry called a second special session of the Texas 83rd Legislative Session after Wendy Davis attempted to filibuster a bill intended to reform abortion policies in the state.

Davis had donned her pink shoes. She talked for hours. The Texas Senate voted and passed the bill. But Lt. Governor David Dewhurst was hampered by a mob of activists as he attempted to enroll the bill, on time,  after its passage. 

Davis didn't pull any such stunts during the second special. She voted against the bill, which passed.

Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and others joined in a suit against Greg Abbott, the Texas Attorney General, and Davis' popular opponent for the 2014 Texas Gubernatorial Election.

The US District Court in Austin, Texas stated they would rule on the suit before its provisions went into effect on October 29th. Late in the afternoon of the 28th, the judge presented the ruling, fully anticipating an appeal. The case is now anticipated to see its arguments before the US 5th District Court of Appeals and may end up before the US Supreme Court.

The ruling struck down two provisions of  the abortion reform bills.

First, it struck down some of the provisions regarding pharmaceutical abortions. These are abortions performed using poisons that cause a woman's body to reject the child growing within her, basically causing a drug-induced miscarriage. The law required these drugs to be distributed only through prescription and used under the supervision of a licensed physician. The court ruled that this restricts a woman's freedom of choice. It disregarded quality of life infringements these drugs impose upon a child that has developed past the age where the drugs effectively induce such a miscarriage. The drugs are known to cause extreme birth defects and developmental impairments on those children.

Next, the court struck down the provision that a doctor performing an abortion have an admission agreement or contract with a nearby hospital in case of a medical emergency.

The court did not strike down the reform that limits elective abortions to within 20 weeks of gestation.

Governor Rick Perry issued the following statement regarding the court's decision:

"Today's decision will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life and ensure the women of our state aren't exposed to any more of the abortion-mill horror stories that have made headlines recently. We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans."

Current Texas Agriculture Commissioner and Candidate for Lt. Governor had this to say about the court's ruling:

"I am deeply disappointed with the ruling today. We must stop Wendy Davis and her liberal allies like Battleground Texas from pushing their pro-abortion agenda in Texas."

The irony is that the provisions the court struck down are still laws that apply to other ambulatory surgical procedures and childbirth.

If a patient goes to an oral surgeon to have teeth extracted, such as wisdom teeth, the dentist is required to have an admissions contract with a hospital. See Texas Administrative Code Title 25 Part I Chapter 135 Sub-chapter A, RULE §135.4, paragraph 11. Sub-paragraph (B) further specifies the admissions contract requirements. This applies whether the patient is having wisdom teeth pulled, getting a nose-job, having a broken bone set, or having a boil lanced. Those are all ambulatory surgical procedures.

And abortion is a form of elective surgery. Should the patient not be afforded the same life-saving measures? Some may see this as a matter of common sense and answer "yes". Others, such as Wendy Davis, would rather the patients be subjected to conditions like those Dr. Kermit Gosnel subjected his patients to.

Birthing centers, including those run by Licensed Midwives, must also have admissions privileges and contracts in case of emergencies. Chapter 137, Sub-chapter D, RULE §137.36 paragraph 1 specifies:

The physical and environmental requirements for a center are as follows.
(1) The center shall be located within a recommended 20 minutes but with a required maximum of 30 minutes normal driving time of a referral hospital. The department may approve the location of a center that is located a further distance away if the department finds that the health and safety of the clients of the center will not be adversely affected.

Here, the law protects both patients, mother and child. This begs the question on why abortive mothers should not be afforded the same protections.

These are provisions that Planned Parenthood opposes. An organization that propagates its alleged role as a means to provide health and fertility care for women appears to oppose providing emergency medical care for women.

The ACLU stands with them, as does Candidate for Governor of Texas, Wendy Davis.

Wendy Davis also stands for expanding the federal role in healthcare in Texas. She wants the federal government to expand its authority over the lives and decisions of private individual citizens. Her claims appear to state that Wendy believes she knows better what is best for each of the 25.6 million individual Texans than they or their doctors do.

She supports taxpayers paying for the elective surgeries on others. That is taxation without representation.

With the clunk-out of the Obamacare exchanges proving more and more troublesome each day, Wendy Davis supports increasing its impositions upon Texas citizens. Nation-wide, as many as 3 million people may be losing their insurance policies because of provisions within the [un]Affordable Care[less] Act. Each day, more people are coming forward, outraged that they must change plans and doctors because of  the law. More and more doctors are choosing to refuse medicare and medicaid because of the law.

Even devout supporters of the ACA, such as Ronald Reagan's daughter are experiencing shock over what the law really means. Even Obamacare activist and former congressional staffer Sue Klinkhamer is appalled.

Wendy Davis wants more of it in Texas. She wants Kermit Gosnel clones to run abortion facilities in Texas without requiring them to have admissions contracts at hospitals. She wants taxpayers to be burdened with the bills for all of the above.

Yet, Planned Parenthood sued Greg Abbott over provisions to provide emergency life-saving access and admissions capabilities being required under law.

Thomas Paine is rolling in his grave, scratching his head, and wondering if Common Sense has died.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Texas Cutting $NAP in Nov.

Effective November 1, 2013, the amount some Texas residents receive on their "Lone Star Cards" will be reduced by approximately 5%.

The Texas Heath and Human Services Commission (HHS) announced a 5% cut to Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) subsidies. According to Texas HHS spokesperson Linda Edwards Gockel, the funds allocated to SNAP allocations will be cut approximately $11 per person. This is an approximation as each family's individual circumstances may warrant slightly higher or lower subsidies.

SNAP is also commonly called "food stamps". The state of Texas averages approximately $400,000,000.00 a month in federal and state funds disbursed to 3.5 million Texas residents.

In 2009, the so-called "stimulus" increased federal SNAP allocations by 13.6%. The temporary act has expired. After calculating inflation and cost of living adjustments, the stipends will be 5% larger than they would have been without the stimulus act, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. With the ARRA expiring, that extra 5% will no longer be disbursed.

For example, a family of 4 will see its SNAP allocation reduced from $668 to $632 a month.

The ARRA has been much maligned by those opposed to Keynesian and socialist economic policies. Many economists more aligned with the thinking of Smith, Hayek, Freidman, and Laffer have found little to no benefit from the ARRA to the US Economy. Some even blame it for the slow, marginal recovery and the continuing high unemployment rates.

Today, nation-wide, there are a greater number of personnel receiving SNAP subsidies than there were just 5 years ago. Texas HHS tracks SNAP participation with a goal of reducing the number of personnel dependent upon the subsidies. Since 2005, the reduction rate in Texas has been approximately -47.8% for FY13 (ending Sept. 30).

The 5% reduction may alleviate some of the burden on taxpayers created by the increased dependency upon government subsidies.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Shooting Children

A few days ago, a 12 year old boy shot and killed his teacher in Sparks, NV.

The gun-grab debate is reignited. A few facts need to be addressed.

First, it is currently illegal for a 12 year old to purchase a firearm. That means that the child did not acquire the weapon legally. He did not buy it. Legally, he did not own it.

If his parents gave it to him, they are idiots.

My parents taught me that guns are not toys. They were kept locked up much of the time. Even if they weren't, touching them was not worth the ass-beating. So, we didn't mess with them. By the time I was 12, though, I knew where they were hidden. If locked up, I knew where the spare keys were stashed. If I had wanted to, I could have gotten them. I was just raised not to mess with other people's stuff, especially my father's guns and cameras.

A caveat is that my father did teach me quite a bit about both. I learned how to clear and care for both firearms and cameras from my father. I also learned how to shoot both, from him. I also learned that shooting a picture creates a long-lasting item. Shooting a gun can destroy something forever. That is something that needs to be in your head and understood before you shoot either. (This was the days of film cameras. Once the frame was shot, there was no deleting it. So, you don't waste shots.)

However, from snippets of information released about the parents, they seem rather responsible and reasonable people. If the gun was theirs, the child stole it. Consider that. The child was so desperate to acquire a tool that could enact lethal force that he stole it. That means he would have stolen a gun from his parents, his neighbors, or anyplace he could. If he had the savings and internet access, he probably could have found somebody to sell him one on the black market. The gun control laws already in place did not deter him. It is highly unlikely increased infringements upon the Second Amendment would have either.

Even if guns didn't exist, it seems the child would have used a knife, a club, a sword, or a pair of chopsticks to attack his targets.

Meanwhile, in California, we had another case of cops behaving stupidly.

Honorable police have a difficult job. They have rather strict rules of engagement and escalation of force protocols. Soldiers with combat experience are well versed in these concepts. To civilians, this means that police are trained to respond appropriately with the least amount of force necessary to quell a situation.

So why did these cops shoot a 13 year old boy who was holding an obvious toy? The simple answer is that they panicked and ignored the ROE and EoF protocols. If the boy was not pointing the weapon at somebody in a threatening manner (he wasn't pointing it at anybody, according to witness accounts), there was no reason to shoot him. There are claims that the "replica" looked "too real". That just hammers in the fact these cops need to go back to school and learn to spot the differences.

All of this recalls several topics.

The first one is bullying. Our kids are taught, in school, by various "government approved" anti-bullying programs, that they don't have a right to defend themselves. It's another person's responsibility. Those "other people" are perceived authority figures. However, those "authority figures" are limited in what they can do. In many cases, some feel so frustrated that they don't do anything more than ineffective administrative actions such as suspensions or calling parents.

Parents are often told they cannot do anything, but have to control their children.

Kids get teased, taunted, and physically bullied to the point something needs to be done. The aggressors are taught by these "anti-bullying" programs how to successfully bully in ways that the schools have no recourse. Schools cannot (legally) control what kids do in social networks outside of school hours and off school property. They shouldn't, either. That's the job of parents. They also cannot control anything that happens off school property. So, bullies attack their targets off school grounds.

It's been that way for decades. Heck, when I was growing up, we knew better than to fight on school grounds. As far back as the '70s, we took it to the park across the street, where the school employees had no jurisdiction. That was for mutually agreed upon confrontations. "After school, 330, in the park. Be there or everybody will know you're a chicken".

Kids had somewhat of a healthy outlet. They came home with a bloody lip or a black eye. Mom and Dad fettered out what happened. Parents met. Kids got punished and learned that fighting doesn't solve most disputes. Most of the time, there are better ways. Fighting can usually escalate the conflict. But kids had that outlet and the freedom to learn those lessons through experience. Today, some schools will suspend kids for having "burn contests" (also called "cut-down contests"). Today, kids are taught "sticks and stones may break my bones, but those will heal and we have Obamacare. Words, however scar my superego for life because we are no longer taught resilience or personal accountability".

So, some kid who has no outlet and no recourse hits his limit, steals a gun, and tries to shoot his bullies, or those who taunt him. Instead, he kills a teacher. That teacher was a war veteran who probably could have taught the kid some real resilience, if allowed to do so.

The best anti-bullying program involves conflict resolution, resilience, compassion, empathy, and self-defense. Many times my brother and I "talked out" our conflicts while wrestling each other. It works. You just have to have some rules. Headgear and mats help, too.

Still, around the world, there will be kids with guns. In some cases, yes, the kid stole the gun to do an unthinkable and horrible act that could have been prevented if adults acted like adults and paid attention. In others, though, it is adults who put the weapons in the kids' hands.

Around the world, you have places like West and Central Africa. There you have kids mustered into the armed forces. You have 12 year old boys fighting wars. We've seen some of  the same in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well.

In Iraq, I saw several incidents of kids aged 10-14, doing the work of soldiers. What do US Soldiers do when a 12 year old starts throwing grenades at us? We shoot him before he kills too many other people. It's horrible. It is regretful. It is pitiful that some adult is too cowardly to face us himself, so he sends kids to do an adult job. The cost is the child's life. I'd rather have shot the terrorist who gave him the grenades.

Here in America, we have criminals in street gangs who put weapons in the hands of kids. They are programmed by a culture of violence that, to earn "cred" and respect, and their keep, they need to kill somebody. It is just stupid. Real respect comes if they save lives and help others to succeed. Adding to the horror and violence is nothing less than pure disrespect demonstrated towards their parents, their neighbors, their siblings, their country, their "culture". If they wanted true respect, they'd go to school study hard, stay away from drugs, and make something or their lives. They'd become doctors, nurses, police officers, EMTs, librarians, or ethical car dealers. But they don't. They are lied to. Somebody puts a gun in their hands and tells them to kill.

Then you have cops looking at a 13 year old with a toy. They shoot him thinking he is just another brainwashed street thug looking for "cred". They murder him for having a toy in his hands. Now, that poor cop is going to have to live with that for the rest of his life.

Some of us know what that's like. But with some of us, the kids weren't playing with toys. They were shooting real guns, blowing up real bombs, and throwing real grenades, and killing real people. The sting and scars are the same. the difference is, in this cop's case, nobody would have died if he didn't pull the trigger. No lives were saved. One was stolen, just like the gun the 12 year old in Nevada stole. But a stolen life can never be returned.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Texas A&M - Nazareth Campus!

Imagine you want your degree in some environmental engineering field or in agricultural engineering with a concentration in irrigation and water conservation technologies. Perhaps you want a degree in archeology, anthropology, theology, or even international relations. Now imagine you are a Texan, through and through but would love to get some first-hand, real world experience in an environment of cultural immersion, but want to stay in a Texas-based university.

While on his economic development trip to the UK and Israel, Governor Rick Perry made an announcement that could open those doors.

Governor Perry announced the Creation of a new branch campus of Texas A&M, this one in Nazareth, Israel. This would be the second Texas A&M campus to open in the Middle East. This campus is dubbed the "Peace Campus".

It will also open the Texas university systems to the international market. This could attract some high quality students and future legal immigrants of high caliber. They would bring potential innovation to our country and help increase our country's global marketing potential in many fields. 

Governor Perry's remarks on the occasion:

"Texas A&M and Israel make a good fit, as communities built upon the values of family, commitment and tradition. That's reflected in the goals we've established for this university. We want to see the Nazareth branch as a means to preserve peace and build understanding between cultures. We want to see students and instructors from a diverse array of nationalities, faiths and backgrounds within its classrooms, each student learning more about the world and what bright possibilities lay ahead for all of us."
Shai Piron, Israel's Minister of Education, added the following comments:

"Today is a day of celebration. Our joy is even greater, knowing that we are establishing a campus of peace located in the city of Nazareth, in the Galilee. The founding of such a renowned institution in an Arab city in the State of Israel sends an important message to Israeli society and the Arab public in Israel. I am certain that this splendid institution will have the power to enhance the vision of peace and equality, and the founding of this institution is a giant step in that direction."
In 2003, Texas A&M opened its first campus in the Middle East, in Doha, Qatar. Texas A&M has three other international campuses outside of Texas. They are in Mexico City, Mexico, San Isidro, Costa Rica, and Santa Chiara, Italy

Governor Perry is currently in Israel to attend the Water Technology and Environment Control Exhibition and Conference following several days in London where he met with several UK-based business leaders. He is expected to return to Texas on Friday the 25th.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Perry's Economic Development Trip

Anita and Governor Rick Perry departed on an overseas trip on Oct. 15th. They stayed in London until the 19th. They then traveled to Israel and are scheduled to return to Texas on the 25th.

The primary purpose of the trip is to meet with leaders in the economic, business, and education fields as well as attend the Water Technology and Environmental Control Exhibition and Conference (WATEC).  No taxpayer funds were used for this trip.

From the official Press Release

"The U.K. was Texas' 12th largest export destination in 2012 with more than $4.27 billion in Texas exports, including industrial machinery, aircraft, spacecraft and parts, mineral fuels and oils, electric machinery and medical equipment. Israel was Texas' 38th largest export destination in 2012 with more than $999.46 million in exports, including transportation equipment, chemicals, machinery, computers and electronics and fabricated metal products. Israel is internationally recognized for its innovations in managing scarce water resources, and widely regarded as a nexus of world-class expertise in the water field. This year's WATEC conference will emphasize technologies to more efficiently use natural resources, including water, soil, energy and materials"

 While in London, at the Berry Brothers and Rudd building, Perry had the following remarks:

"This is a special day for me and for the people of Texas. When Texas was a fledgling republic, establishing diplomatic relations with a nation as rich in history and prestige as the United Kingdom was a significant accomplishment. It helped put us on the map, to use the phrase quite literally," Gov. Perry said. "On days like today, it's worth remembering our humble beginnings, and how the U.K. was there to help us establish ourselves as a nation, in every sense of the word."

The Berry Brothers and Rudd building housed the Texas Embassy from 1842-45. Today, The UK remains the 12th largest international customer/consumer of Texas exports. Gov. Perry also met with several UK business leaders in order to build better ties between UK businesses and private Texas-based industries.

Oct. 22, in Israel, Governor Perry attended the WATEC in Israel. His intentions were to further promote the capitalism-friendly policies of the State as well as its accomplishments in light of global economic struggles. While at the conference, Perry seeks to familiarize himself with new developments in water reclamation and conservation. With Proposition 6 headed to the polls in November for citizen ratification, Perry seeks for cost-effective means to better utilize limited water resources.

Below is a transcript of Gov. Perry's speech at the conference:

"As anyone who lives in Israel or West Texas can tell you, water is an issue that will define our times.

"I grew up with a special affinity for the importance of water, on a dry-land cotton farm in West Texas, near a town called Paint Creek. A town so small it didn't even rate being noted on our state maps until I became governor.

"At any rate, as someone who grew up on a farm, I know how devastating a lack of water can be.

"I understand the anxiety you feel as you endlessly scan a cloudless sky looking for some sign of relief.

"And you don't have to work the land to realize just how important water is to a state, or a country.

"In Texas, we have communities that have trucked in water, almost daily for the past 20 months.

"For the people who live there, they simply can't take for granted that the water will be there the next time they turn their tap.

"That's why the kinds of technology we're seeing and hearing about at this conference is so vital to states like mine, and for countless states and nations around the world.

"It's fitting that this conference is held here in Israel, which faces the special challenge of managing relatively scarce water resources with continued economic and population growth.

"Texas faces many of the same challenges and, like Israel, we must strive to utilize new technologies and new strategies to conserve and expand our supplies of fresh water.

"Texas has always been about finding innovative solutions to new challenges. We're the birthplace of the integrated circuit, created by Texas Instruments in the 1950s.

"We played a key role in the Space Race...and in securing America's presence in space in the years since.
And we are currently developing important new life-saving treatments and technologies for a variety of diseases at places like Houston's MD Anderson Cancer Center.

"In Texas, much like here in Israel, we embrace the role that research will play in determining our quality of life in the future, and in ensuring our economic strength for decades to come.

"To that end, we've recently passed a measure that, with voter approval in a few weeks, will provide $2 billion to assist with funding water projects across our state for the next 50 years.

"These projects will cover a lot of territory, both geographically and technologically.

"They'll have to.

"We all know fresh water is a limited resource, and that conservation and new technology will be key in keeping the water flowing

"In Texas, we currently have more than 40 installations working to desalinate brackish groundwater, with much of that water being used to supply drinking water to communities across Texas.

"But we realize that's only the beginning, and we're always ready to embrace new approaches and ideas.

"That's just one reason Texas is an ideal site for anyone looking for a place to prove their new technology.
Texas has nearly 5,000 public water systems, serving communities of all sizes, situated in a wide variety of climates and topographies.

"That makes our state a perfect incubator for new technologies.

"That makes Texas a place where innovative new technologies can be put into action, proved up, and scaled up.

"That's, by definition, a win-win situation.

"It also means they get to do business in Texas, which is always a bonus.

"That's because we've worked hard to create a climate conducive for any business, young or established, big or small, to make the most of their opportunities.

"We keep our taxes low, so employers and employees alike get to keep more of their hard-earned dollars.

"We've passed tort reform, so our courts are fair and don't allow for over-suing.

"We keep our regulations smart, predictable and effective, so work can start on a new project, for example, in weeks, rather than months it might take in some other states.

"That doesn't mean we don't take care of our own; our system of common sense regulations works. Texas' air quality is significantly better than it was in 2000, with ozone levels down 23 percent, more than double the national average, and nitrogen oxide levels down by nearly 58 percent.

"We've been able to do that during a time of rapid economic and population growth, with 5.2 million new Texans joining us in the Lone Star State since 2000.

"And we've also invested heavily in accountable schools, building a world-class workforce, so Texas workers are ready to fill any role any employer may require.

"Part of the reason we do that is so we're ready to take advantage when new technology companies come calling.

"In Texas, we firmly believe in the power of competition to make good things happen. And we also want to be home to wildly successful new water projects.

"Once again, I commend all of you here for the hard work you do. It's truly among the most vital of all the challenges before us.

"Conferences like this, which bring together so many people dedicated to the cause, will certainly help us meet these challenges much more quickly."

Crawl At Sept. Employment Numbers

Each month, we take a layman's run at the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly economic indicators. The most quoted number in any month's report is the U3 unemployment rate.

This month, the report was late due to the layoff of non-essential bureaucrats that was mislabeled as a "government shutdown". Of the functions that were paused, many were essential while other, non-essential agencies remained open. For example, the National Park Service was approved for more man-hours in order to barricade citizens from national parks and monuments, including illegally evicting people from their homes and businesses.

To rattle the cages of economists, financial analysts, venture capitalists, and business owners (as well as anyone with a 401K retirement account whose nest-egg is tied to the financial markets), Obama ordered the BLS to delay its report, deeming it "non-essential".

The irony is that there are private bean-counting firms who garner access to the same databases that BLS employs. They tend to crunch unemployment, workforce, and projection figures, and tend to do so a little more accurately than the BLS. BLS tends to revise its numbers in later reports. Usually, those numbers are worse than originally reported.

Due to the late report this month, we took a run at extrapolation and prediction. Now that the report has been released, let's take a look.

As predicted, for end of month September numbers, the U3 rate, as calculated by BLS, ticked down a tenth of a percent. We predicted a slight downward tick. It is at a 5-year low of 7.2%. Even after changing the formula in order to make the unemployment figures look less deplorable, the U3 has remained above 7.0% since Obama took office. 5 years puts the last "low" in 2008, near the end of Bush's final year in office.

The Workforce Participation Rate also known as the Labor participation Rate, "remained little changed". The translation is that it dipped lower, but less than a tenth of a percentage point, so they won't report it. We predicted as much.

BLS reports that the U6, which includes those employed part-time for "economic reasons" also "remained relatively unchanged". That is because once a person has left the workforce, then returned but to a part-time job, they are considered a "new hire" and not slotted in the U6 calculation. Due to the work-hours restructuring going on due to Obamacare, there are a few new part-time positions that those who were out of work for over 6 months may be taking. The average workweek is at 33 hours, barely over the 30 hour line Obamacare delineates between full and part-time.

The November 8th report will contain the impacts of the so-called "shutdown". In addition, temporary holiday hires in retain and wholesale may tick up in late October as businesses prepare for the heightened shopping season from mid-November through Mid-January. A current seasonal upward tick in the manufacturing sector indicates the trend.

However, polls and other indicators suggest that traditional store-front shopping may not be as optimistic this season as many shoppers suggest they will make more holiday purchases online this year than in previous years. This may impact those seasonal job numbers.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

TX Lt. Gov. Primary Race Heats Up On Border

Four Republican candidates are fighting for the nomination in the 2014 Texas Lieutenant Governor race. However, the race between two of them has heated up early.

Many Texas conservatives have already, perhaps prematurely, written off incumbent David Dewhurst. His loss to dark horse candidate turned grass-roots Tea Party conservative super-star Senator Ted Cruz has many analysts already looking towards others in the field. 

Among those other three are two accomplished conservatives, State Senator Dan Patrick and State agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples.

Both appear to have similar platforms. Dan Patrick's exploratory surveyed the state to determine what citizens felt to be their most important state-level issues. Among the top issues are Second Amendment protections, Immigration Issues, and Border Security.

Todd Staples wrote a book that included several studies and data concerning immigration and border enforcement issues. The common sense plan and policies explained in the book gain Staples a large amount of credibility on those two subjects. Dan Patrick seems to have taken to task a mission to crumble away that foundation.

The risks of doing so won't harm either candidate in the November 2014 election against the Libertarian and Democratic candidates. Democrats have a long history of being weak on border security and deterring illegal immigration.

Patrick has attacked Staples records from his time in the Texas Congress.

First, Patrick attacked Staples vote in favor of a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to attend Texas Universities at in-state resident tuition rates.

If Staples had done so, a possible reason may have been out of support for seasonal temporary workers on temporary work visas that are vital to Texas ranchers and farmers. Taking care of the children of those workers on temporary visas does help the Texas economy. However, if those children are not in the US legally, should they still receive that lower tuition rate? Many would argue "no". Those students should apply for foreign exchange status. Perhaps, if their parents are legal foreign workers with valid visas, they should have some form of break extended in the red tape of the process.

While Staples and his campaign team reacted to those allegations from the Patrick campaign, Patrick released another blow towards Staples's immigration policy foundation.

On another piece of legislation, Staples allegedly voted in favor of allowing illegal immigrants to obtain Texas State Drivers' Licenses. In 2001, the Texas State Legislature considered HB 396, a bill intended to clarify what documents were valid forms of identification necessary to obtain a license.

The bill passed with several amendments. Among those amendments was this one authored by Todd Staples:

Amend HB 396 by striking Section 2 of the bill and substituting in lieu thereof the following:
SECTION 2. Section 521.142(a), Transportation Code, is amended to read as follows:
(a) An application for an original license must state the applicant's full name and place and date of birth. This information must be verified by presentation of valid proof of identity from an independent verifiable source <satisfactory> to the department. Proof of identity is sufficient if the proof presented is:
     (1) a driver's license or personal identification certificate issued to the applicant by the department, regardless of whether the license or certificate has expired;
     (2) a valid driver's license or valid identification document bearing a photograph of the applicant and issued to the applicant by another state;
     (3) a passport, federal identification card, voter identification card or work permit bearing a photograph of the applicant and issued to the applicant by another country or a governmental agency of another country;
     (4) a duplicate original birth certificate or a certified copy of a birth certificate issued by this or another state or by another country, if accompanied by supporting documentation required by department rule; or
    (5) any other proof of identity satisfactory to the department.
The amendment requires proof of citizenship or, if not a US citizen, proof of legal status under a visa or "green card". That is hardly a vote on a bill that would have allowed illegal aliens to obtain drivers' licenses.

The bill was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry. The basis was that the state already had similar requirements in place and the state already recognizes drivers' licenses issued by Mexico as lawful permission to drive on Texas roads as long as the license is valid and the driver is in the US on a temporary basis through a work or tourist visa.

The irony is that immigration law and the security of the borders with foreign countries is, per the US Constitution, a role of the federal government. 

Meanwhile, Patrick seems to be keeping other important state-level issues out of the spotlight. Patrick's largest legislative spotlights in the last legislative session have centered around the controversial CSCOPE program and changing state laws to allow adult students with concealed carry permits to carry those tools of self-defense on college campuses.

College campuses are notorious for sexual assaults and other violent crimes. The gun-free zones provide violent attackers a virtual Elysian Field ripe with defenseless victims. Imagine a young, naive 20 year old walking from a class to her dorm only to be attacked and raped next to the security office. That happened to one college student in Colorado.

The "Campus Carry" was one issue Patrick had some direct influence over as the chairman of the Senate committee for Education as well as sitting on the Criminal Justice committee.

Despite the speeches and rhetoric, Patrick failed to garner enough support to fully shut-down the CSCOPE program he vowed "to kill". He also failed to pass HB 972 or its Senate companion SB 182 which would have allowed campus carry. Instead, SB 1907 was passed into law. It allows that college student to keep her firearm locked in her car while she is at class. That, however, would fail to do her any good while walking to and from her class, where she is most vulnerable. It's a legislative equivalent to Illinois policy of allowing FOID holders to own a weapon, as long as it doesn't leave their home.

With Patrick and Staples, two strong conservative candidates, chipping away at each other, the field may yet leave room for a race between incumbent David Dewhurst and dark horse candidate Jerry Patterson, the current Texas Land Commissioner.

More and more, this primary season is looking to be filled with fireworks and mud-flinging. This could get interesting.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Magik Theater Chocolate Factory

The Magik Theater is located near Downtown San Antonio, TX, not far from the Alamo in Hemisfair Park. For 20 years, the theater has been inspiring kids and adults alike with live performances of treasured stories, both old and new.

The Magik Theater opened its 20th season with a special production of their adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Timothy McDonald and Leslie Bricusse adapted  the script for the Magik Theater Company. Their musical play took elements of the 1971 screenplay, also by Dahl as well as some minor elements from John August's 2005 screen adaptation and added in some of their favorite segments from the book that the screen adaptations overlooked.

When asked about some of the differences between the book, director Becky King stated that they discussed which they preferred, the 1971 script or the original scene in the book. In the case of choosing a squirrel or a goose, they preferred the 1971 script. She then challenged children from the audience to go home and read the book to see what other changes they made.

Like many members of the troupe, Becky King wore multiple hats in this production. She directed  the play. She choreographed the dance sequences. She danced in many of those sequences in her role as one of the Oompa Loompas. Dylan Collins, who turned out a great depiction of Willy Wonka, was the assistant technical director, helping design and coordinate many of the special effects.

Most don't expect great special effects in a live stage show, especially one for children. However, the troupe rehearsed many slight-of-hand techniques gears to precision timing with digital lighting and camera effects. The result was astonishing.

Before the presentation, the troupe sponsored a special sort of fair in the lobby. They handed out chocolate bars, many of which contained  golden tickets. This brought the audience into the show as they, too, sought after the coveted tickets. The tickets given to the audience, however, contained prizes such as season tickets and complimentary tuition for the acting and theater camp run by the company.

After the show, children were encouraged to stick around and ask questions. In addition, the troupe signed autographs near the exits.

Normally, tickets run $10 each. This special event doubled the price, but it was well worth it.

The Magik Theater does more than present 6 or 7 plays a year.

The concept behind The Magik Theaters is to encourage kids to read and use their imaginations to make the books come alive. They demonstrate how that is possible. This year, in addition to Willy Wonka, the company is performing Skippyjon Jones, Pinocchio, The Bootmaker and the Elves, and Shrek (based off of William Steig's book), among others.

They also plan on taking performances on tour (Nationally) starting with Splat! The Cat.

They also adapt shorter, small venue performances for elementary and middle schools.

The Magik Theater is a non-profit organization. Ticket sales and donations go not only to paying the performers, upkeep of the theater, and funding travel but goes towards literacy and education programs as well. They do performances of Shakespeare's works adapted to modern language to assist high school students in understanding the plays. They run an acting academy as well as the aforementioned Camp Shobiz. They also conduct professional development workshops for teachers to help them bring theatrics into the classroom to better engage students' attention and enthusiasm. If they could help build a real Magic School Bus, it would be awesome.

This was my first trip to the Magik Theater. My family is deliberating with our budget over season tickets. The season tickets may win. Even if they do not, we still plan to return for at least one, if not two future performances.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The One Million Veteran March

On Oct. 13, '13, US Military Veterans of every war from World War II through OIF and OEF gathered, with their families, and did what they have been doing their whole lives. They stood up for our nation against tyranny and oppression.

It was sparked by Obama's decision to barricade all the national parks, monuments and memorials across the country. He even barred WWII veterans from a scheduled "Honor Flight" visit. Veterans gathered to right the injustice. They gathered at the war memorials. They deconstructed the barricades. They marched to the Lincoln Memorial and did the same. They marched with the pieces of the barriers and dumped them on the White House Lawn.

The demonstration by our nation's finest living patriots, the examples of true honor and fidelity, was vilified by the liberal talking-point propaganda megaphone known as the mainstream news media. The gathering was described as "just another Tea Party rally". It was referred to as potentially violent, though more violence occurred each minute of the Occupy activities than during the entirety of the March.

Grass roots politicians who, despite vilification by the left's lapdogs in yellow journalist clothing, have stood for what their constituents demand, joined the veterans. Senator Ted Cruz, who once won a major Supreme Court case that lessened infringements upon Second Amendment protections, joined the Vets in standing up for our natural rights. Senator Mike Lee of Utah, another true representative of the people, joined him. Former Vice Presidential Candidate and Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, was in the crowd as well. With these three outspoken people joining a few thousand heroes, this must, of course, just be a Tea Party rally, right? Wrong.

It is true that the Tea Parties supported the march. But it wasn't their design. Similar marches occurred across the country, yesterday. In many state capitols, veterans that couldn't make the trip to DC marched to local memorials. The same happened in larger cities. The word of these marches spread from the VFWs and American Legion Halls to the Tea Party groups through common members. It did not flow from the Tea parties to the veterans organizations.

In San Antonio, TX, the VFW gathered members for a similar march from 8-9am. The local Tea Parties asked members to support the veterans. They did not recruit veterans to act as their pawns. That is something Lisa Fithian and her communist cronies did in organizing "Occupy". It's also why "Occupy" didn't even know what it stood for. Veterans know what we stand for. We took an oath. It's rather cut and dry. We took an oath most of us will honor to our graves. It is to defend the US Constitution against all enemies.

War veterans not only took the oath, but demonstrated it. We shed blood, lost limbs, lost dear friends, and experienced horrors we do not wish any to ever witness. We bear the memories and the pain as badges of honor, a duty fulfilled, a promise kept. Do we stop there? No, we keep doing so.

In DC, there were not 1 million war veterans marching. However, if some group went and tallied those who across the county who marched on local memorials and national parks, that number may just be accurate.

War veterans represent less than 2% of the US Population.

I Am the 2%, and damned proud of it.

To those who made it to DC, I salute and thank you.

"To Us and those like Us... damned few left..."

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Texas Drought & Perry's Prop. 6 Lobby

On the ballot this coming November, in Texas, is Proposition 6 to amend the Texas Constitution. The Amendment will create a new state fund for water projects needed to prepare for and combat drought conditions in the state.

A few years back, California proposed water rationing that seemed to be mostly directed at farmers and citrus growers. It has since proven harmful to the California economy.

Texas is trying a different strategy. The state's legislature passed resolutions to enable the legally registered voters in the state to amend the constitution.

 SECTION 1.  Article III, Texas Constitution, is amended by adding Sections 49-d-12 and 49-d-13 to read as follows: 
       Sec. 49-d-12.  (a)  The State Water Implementation Fund for Texas is created as a special fund in the state treasury outside the general revenue fund. Money in the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas shall be administered, without further appropriation, by the Texas Water Development Board or that board's successor in function and shall be used for the purpose of implementing the state water plan that is adopted as required by general law by the Texas Water Development Board or that board's successor in function. Separate accounts may be established in the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas as necessary to administer the fund or authorized projects.

The idea is to take $2B from the state's "Rainy Day Fund" to start a new fund directed at assisting priority water projects in the state. This proposition comes in light of a US Supreme Court decision regarding cross-border water cooperatives and agreements with states such as Oklahoma. Texas had claimed a compact with Oklahoma granted Texas the rights to water on the north end of the Red River. Oklahoma protested, saying it still required direct consent from Oklahoma for Texas to have that access. The US Supreme Court took a state's rights stance and sided with Oklahoma.

Amid bolstering the State to fill-in where federal bureaucratic furloughs and temporarily delayed funding due to the "government shutdown' and handling other necessary state business, Governor Perry has been rather active promoting Proposition 6.

Perry has made three major speeches in regards to Proposition 6 since October 1st. Water is essential for life as well as for much of the Texas economy. Perry understands the necessity of this vital natural resource. From such a stance, he highly supports Prop. 6.

On October 2nd, at the Fisher Reservoir in San Angelo, Perry said this:

"Earlier this year the Texas Legislature passed, and I was proud to sign, House Bill 4, which makes a historic commitment to meet our state's current and future water needs without raising a single penny in taxes. If Texas is to remain the best place to live, work, grow your business or raise your family, we must ensure adequate supplies for generations to come. We stand at a historic crossroads, with a prime opportunity to meet our water needs for ourselves and generations of future Texans."

Then on Oct. 9th, at Lake Travis:

"Prop. 6 presents us with a historic opportunity to fund water projects that will ensure we have the water we need to grow and thrive, for the next five decades. We're talking about projects like new reservoirs, state-of-the-art desalination plants, and utilizing new technology to conserve and re-use current supplies. This is simply too vital an issue, and too narrow a window of opportunity, to come up short on the brink of meeting our water needs."
 Followed the next day with these remarks in Wylie, TX near the Texoma Pipeline construction site:

"For every project currently being built, many more across our state are waiting for funding before they can get underway to deal with a specific local water issue. As we face the ongoing effects of drought, combined with our economic and population growth, we simply can't wait any longer. If Texas is to remain the best place to live, work, grow a business or raise a family, we must ensure adequate supplies for generations to come. That's why Prop. 6 is so important to the future of this state."
On Oct. 3rd, Gov. Perry extended a Texas State of Emergency for the second time this year. In July, Perry issued an Emergency Disaster Proclamation in regards to several Texas Counties for drought conditions. He extended that proclamation in September.  Despite the onset of "Fall Rains", the conditions have not improved significantly enough to call and end to the state of emergency.

I, RICK PERRY, Governor of the State of Texas, issued an Emergency Disaster Proclamation on July 5, 2011, certifying that exceptional drought conditions posed a threat of imminent disaster in specified counties in Texas.
WHEREAS, record high temperatures, preceded by significantly low rainfall, have resulted in declining reservoir and aquifer levels, threatening water supplies and delivery systems in many parts of the state; and
WHEREAS, prolonged dry conditions continue to increase the threat of wildfire across many portions of the state; and
WHEREAS, these drought conditions have reached historic levels and continue to pose an imminent threat to public health, property and the economy; and
WHEREAS, this state of disaster includes the counties of Anderson, Andrews, Aransas, Archer, Armstrong, Atascosa, Austin, Bailey, Bandera, Bastrop, Baylor, Bee, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Borden, Bosque, Bowie, Brazoria, Brazos, Briscoe, Brooks, Brown, Burleson, Burnet, Caldwell, Calhoun, Callahan, Cameron, Camp, Carson, Cass, Castro, Cherokee, Childress, Clay, Cochran, Coke, Coleman, Collin, Collingsworth, Colorado, Comal, Comanche, Concho, Cooke, Coryell, Cottle, Crane, Crockett, Crosby, Culberson, Dallam, Dallas, Dawson, Deaf Smith, Delta, Denton, DeWitt, Dickens, Dimmit, Donley, Duval, Eastland, Ector, Edwards, Ellis, El Paso, Erath, Falls, Fannin, Fayette, Fisher, Floyd, Foard, Fort Bend, Franklin, Freestone, Frio, Gaines, Galveston, Garza, Gillespie, Glasscock, Goliad, Gonzales, Gray, Grayson, Gregg, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hale, Hall, Hamilton, Hansford, Hardeman, Harris, Harrison, Hartley, Haskell, Hays, Hemphill, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hill, Hockley, Hood, Hopkins, Houston, Howard, Hudspeth, Hunt, Hutchinson, Irion, Jack, Jackson, Jeff Davis, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Johnson, Jones, Karnes, Kaufman, Kendall, Kenedy, Kent, Kerr, Kimble, King, Kinney, Kleberg, Knox, La Salle, Lamar, Lamb, Lampasas, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Liberty, Limestone, Lipscomb, Live Oak, Llano, Lubbock, Lynn, Madison, Marion, Martin, Mason, Matagorda, Maverick, McCulloch, McLennan, McMullen, Medina, Menard, Midland, Milam, Mills, Mitchell, Montague, Montgomery, Moore, Morris, Motley, Navarro, Nolan, Nueces, Ochiltree, Oldham, Palo Pinto, Panola, Parker, Parmer, Pecos, Polk, Potter, Presidio, Rains, Randall, Reagan, Real, Red River, Reeves, Refugio, Roberts, Robertson, Rockwall, Runnels, Rusk, San Jacinto, San Patricio, San Saba, Schleicher, Scurry, Shackelford, Sherman, Smith, Somervell, Starr, Stephens, Sterling, Stonewall, Sutton, Swisher, Tarrant, Taylor, Terrell, Terry, Throckmorton, Titus, Tom Green, Travis, Trinity, Upshur, Upton, Uvalde, Val Verde, Van Zandt, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Ward, Washington, Webb, Wharton, Wheeler, Wichita, Wilbarger, Willacy, Williamson, Wilson, Winkler, Wise, Wood, Yoakum, Young, Zapata and Zavala.
THEREFORE, in accordance with the authority vested in me by Section 418.014 of the Texas Government Code, I do hereby renew the disaster proclamation and direct that all necessary measures, both public and private as authorized under Section 418.017 of the code, be implemented to meet that threat.
As provided in Section 418.016 of the code, all rules and regulations that may inhibit or prevent prompt response to this threat are suspended for the duration of the state of disaster.
In accordance with the statutory requirements, copies of this proclamation shall be filed with the applicable authorities.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto signed my name and have officially caused the Seal of State to be affixed at my office in the City of Austin, Texas, this the 3rd day of October, 2013.
Governor of Texas
Of particular note, "The River City", San Antonio, is located in Bexar County, one of the effected areas. San Antonio is home to the Alamo, a National Park that draws a large crowd of international tourists.

This proclamation extension is not a mere political spin. Many residents of counties such as Bexar pray for rain, rejoicing in each precious drop that falls, wondering if it will be enough to end the drought anytime soon. Much of Bexar and neighboring counties are home to farms, ranches, and vineyards necessary to the state's economy and necessary to providing food to much of the nation.

The fate of Prop. 6 will be decided on November 5th. Should it be passed, its success will be known only by what the future will hold. Meanwhile, Texans continue to pray for rain.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ft. Hood & Texas Disabled Awareness Month

Some may have some difficulty putting the two subjects of this article together.

Those who served in the military or have supported them may make some connections between Fort Hood and Texas Disabled Persons Awareness and History Month. Fort Hood is one of the largest US military bases in the world. It's located in Texas, a rather large state in the Union.

Most military bases have some sort of magnetic pull on military veterans and retiree. They tend to gravitate towards them. Many times, the better VA hospitals are near military installations. In addition, retirees are afforded the benefit of Tricare health insurance. Health care through Tricare usually provides more available options with a little (not much) less red tape near military bases.

Among veterans and retirees are a growing population of disabled veterans. This should come as no surprise since the Global War On Terror began in 2001 and continues even now. Terrorists like weapons that generate large, visible, audible explosions. Those tend to hurt people. The injuries may lead to losses of limbs or even severe concussive head trauma called TBI.

One of the first conclusions many may draw about Fort Hood's role in Texas's Disability Month has something to do with disabled war vets. It does. Many of our wounded warriors spent time stationed at Fort Hood. Some of those who opted and fought to remain on active duty and serve are stationed there, even now. It makes sense that Fort Hood would have a role in the month's celebrations and commemorations.

The role it plays, however, dates back to before the fort was named. In fact, it dates back to after whom the fort is christened.

Major General John Bell Hood was an officer in both the United States and Confederate Armies. He graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1851. Three of his classmates also had military installations named after them. Sheridan had Ft. Sheridan, IL named for him. Fort James McPherson near Atlanta, GA was named after one of Hood's classmates. In Hawaii, the 25th Infantry Division's home is John. Schofield Barracks.

MG Hood was wounded by an arrow while he was a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army. He never regained full use of the hand nor arm. But he continued to lead as a cavalry officer despite the disability.

In 1861, Hood resigned from the US Army and declared himself a citizen of the Republic of Texas. After his immigration to Texas, the state joined the Confederacy. Hood was commissioned into the Confederate Army as a Captain. He would rise to the rank of 3-star (Lieutenant) General, however the last promotion was never to be confirmed by the Confederate Congress. Legally, he retired as a 2-star (Major) General.

During the Civil War, Hood was severely injured twice more. At Gettysburg, a bullet wound took away use of his left arm. He continued to serve, though. Then, at the Battle of Chickamauga, another injury cause the amputation of his right leg. He remained in service as an active cavalry officer through the rest of the war.

So respected and feared by the Union Army, General Sheridan dispatched special units to confront Hood in an effort to keep him from disrupting Sherman's "march to the sea". The Battle of Nashville was especially bloody. Hood is considered to have met defeat at that battle. But the mutual attrition was so great that Hood's men added a verse to "The Yellow Rose of Texas" in Hood's honor:

"You can talk about your Beauregard and sing of General Lee, but the Gallant Hood of Texas played Hell in Tennessee."

Though he had declared himself a Texan, Hood retired to New Orleans and was a successful businessman. he died of a fever in 1879. MG Hood is a credit to all military veterans that some seek to label as "disabled". Though he lost an arm and a leg, he kept fighting, and he kept leading, even past the war and into civilian life.

For more on Major General John Bell Hood, please read this article at the Texas State Historical Society's website. Background information on MG Hood taken from several military history sources, including, but not limited to: Thomas W. Cutrer, "HOOD, JOHN BELL," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed October 10, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

To help support wounded warriors as they fight to continue an active role in our communities, please consider donating to Disabled American VeteransThe Wounded Warrior Project and The Fisher House Foundation

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Heroic House That Helps Heroes

Some are calling it a publicity stunt. Others call it an act of angelic charity. It may be a bit of both.

Fisher House has offered to cover some of the death benefits to family members of military personnel who died in the line of duty.

The House and Senate passed one funding bill almost unanimously. It was the one funding bill to cover military service members' pay, allowances and benefits. However, it somehow overlooked some of the family benefits normally payed in the case of death. These benefits are part of a service member's salary. Yet an alleged loophole supposedly allows Obama to suspend these payments for the time being.

The existence of this loophole is a subject of debate that has yet to be determined.

With the recent deaths of 5 Soldiers in Afghanistan, it came to light that their families may be denied some of the benefits. Some of these include flying a family member to see the body arrive back in the states. Others include funeral costs, assignment of a Casualty Assistance Officer, life insurance, and other benefits. While the monetary payments will eventually come, just being delayed, there is but one chance to meet the remains.

Upon hearing  the news, Fisher House has announced it will take care of some of these benefits until congress and Obama can pass a workable budget that won't increase the national debt.

"The Fisher House generously agreed to offer the families an advance grant until the government can make reimbursements at an appropriate time. The Fisher House will also cover flights, hotels and other incidentals for family members. 

 Ken Fisher, Chairman & CEO of Fisher House Foundation stated,“After losing a loved one in service to our nation, these families should not have to endure more pain as the result of political squabbling. For the last 20 years, Fisher House has been there to support our military families in their time of greatest need. We are now stepping up to honor the sacrifices that have been made, and to repay a debt that is truly unpayable [sic].”

Mr. Fisher is correct, the country owes military veterans a debt that they will never be able to repay. Most veterans would never ask for repayment. However, they do ask for certain benefits promised. They include the GI Bill, medical care for service related injuries and conditions, and certain things done to take care of the families of the fallen. Most Soldiers do not think of themselves first. However, they do place the needs of their families very high on their priorities.

In the past,  Fisher House has accumulated "frequent flier miles" donated through several participating airlines. One time, they used these "miles" to bring a Nigerian family to their hero-warrior's funeral in the US. In helping the families of the recent fallen, they are just doing what they do, taking care of the families of our nation's heroes.

This is not the first time Fisher House has made the news. A few years ago, a famous actor took a tour of one of the Fisher House facilities. At the end of the tour, according to legend, he asked how much it cost to build one of the facilities. Upon hearing the answer, according to the myth, he pulled out his checkbook and wrote a check for the quoted cost.

The story is not entirely true. Denzel Washington was highly impressed with all the Fisher House did for the families of wounded military personnel while the warriors recovered from devastating injuries. The donation actually came a few months after the tour. The amount was not disclosed. It remains one of the largest single donations the Fisher House Foundation has ever received. But it was not as extravagant as the urban legend professes.   

For those who advocate the government running social programs such as charities, look at Fisher's website. 95% of donations go directly to the programs they run. 3% goes to administrative costs and salaries. 2% goes to setting up fundraising activities to generate more donations. Compare that to any government program. The average government programs takes approximately 80% for administrative and bureaucratic costs, leaving only 20 cents on the tax dollar allocated for the actual charitable work. With the Fisher House Foundation, you get 95 cents worth of bang for your buck. Two cents of that buck is used to acquire other bangs later on.  That is highly efficient and commendable.

So, should Fisher House get some positive media and promotion spotlight time out of there generous offer, it's a win. This isn't an athletic shoe company promoting some kids soccer team in order to make up for using child labor in Cambodia to manufacture its shoes. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

What does Fisher House do? They do a lot for wounded warriors and their families. Their largest program is to provide a sort of home-like atmosphere for families.

For example, San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC), which used to be known as Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) at Fort Sam Houston, TX, has a Fisher House nearby. SAMMC has some of the best facilities for helping treat Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as well as therapy and recovery facilities for amputees.

If a Soldier is blown to bits by an IED in Afghanistan, but survives, he will likely end up at SAMMC. There he will undergo psychological counseling. He will get treatment for the TBI sustained in the explosion. He will also get physical therapy and other recovery programs associated with his new prosthetic limbs. Some SAMMC "graduates" have recovered well enough to return to military service.

But the road to that recover is a long one. While still on duty and undergoing the process, the family usually would like to be near. Costs of relocating for that duration can be steep, especially if the relocation will be less than a year. Fisher House provides a place for the families to stay at low to no cost.

In the civilian world, Fisher House could best be compared to the Ronald McDonald House, who provides housing and facilities for families of severely ill children.

The foundation can always use donations. If you are so inclined, please visit their site and give this great foundation some consideration. Every penny helps and goes to a noble cause:  Helping Families of Heroes who sacrificed so much and deserve our help in return.