Thursday, May 27, 2010

Elena Kagan and the Confirmation Process

I wrote this letter in response to an editorial in the Round Rock Leader last Saturday. The letter appears in today's paper, but they changed my spelling of Kagan to 'Kagen' throughout. Here is my original submission.

Your May 22 editorial not only mis-characterizes opposition to the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, but the confirmation process as well. The Senate should consider whether or not the nominee has a thorough working knowledge and understanding of the U.S. Constitution, and how said nominee views the validity of our governing document.

You attribute concern over Ms. Kagan's view on the D.C. gun laws as merely playing politics, however, the issue at stake is the 2nd Amendment, which has been interpreted since 1791 as the constitutional right of individuals to own firearms. Senators responsible for Ms. Kagan's confirmation should know whether Kagan joins many leftist thinkers in opposing this portion of the Constitution, and if that opposition extends to other constitutional provisions.

Politics always has, and likely always will, play into judicial appointments. In 1995 Ms. Kagan herself wrote an article in support of the infamous Robert Bork hearings and asserted that the Senate should 'demand' answers about “broad judicial philosophy” and “view(s) on particular constitutional issues.”

The Constitution allows the President to nominate anyone he or she chooses, but rightly checks presidential power by subjecting these nominees to confirmation by the Senate. All of the players are politicians and will make decisions accordingly; to pretend otherwise is simply naïve.

While there are certainly those few who are concerned about Ms. Kagan's orientation, serious political thinkers have shrugged and turned to constitutional matters. The rumors about her preferences actually serve very nicely as a red herring and allow supporters to attribute any opposition to mere homophobia.

I do agree that elections matter. Elena Kagan will be confirmed, and if Americans don't like it, their best course of action is to elect candidates who will uphold and defend the Constitution, not only to the White House, but to every office in the land.

Holly Hansen
Legislative Committee Chair,
Williamson County Republican Women

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Environmental Extremism Taking Over Texas Power Sources


-By Eric Stratton, 2008 PEC Board Candidate

The Pedernales Electric Co-op is under a SILENT SEIGE by the environmental extremists and special special interest groups and has been now for 2 years. They are determined to make PEC an example and to force "green power" down our throats for the sake of climate change at all costs. As David Foster, the Executive Director of Clean Water Action even stated recently in an email to a PEC member, "The PEC is as you know the largest electric cooperative in the nation, and what is [sic] does can set a healthy precedent for others co-ops. Energy policy is directly related to water quality and quantity, since conventional methods of producing electricity (coal, natural gas, nuclear) require vast amounts of water...And the burning of fossil fuels is a leading driver of climate change...." This group alone controls a block of 7,000 votes which has helped ensure liberal victories up and down the ballot in the PEC Board elections the past 2 years--and that's not counting "Smitty" Smith's Public Citizen and PEC4U!

The only way to stop the bloodletting, ensure a conservative victory, and prevent the left from holding 6 OF 7 SEATS ON THE BOARD is to come together and vote as a block ourselves! As an activist for the past 10 years in the electric cooperative community, and a former candidate for the PEC Board myself, I truly believe that the BEST candidates for the job and to do this are KEN RIGSBEE (DISTRICT 4) and JOE SUMMY (DISTRICT 5). They are no nonsense CONSERVATIVES who have been ACTIVE IN THE AFFAIRS OF THE PEC for years. They are running on a platform of "Getting back to the Business of the Business," focusing on the affairs of running the cooperative as a business and back to basics co-op principles, putting the members first, while moving away from these special interest groups and their single-issue agendas.

So let's STOP THE SILENT SEIGE of the PEC and VOTE RIGSBEE AND SUMMY for PEC BOARD. If you lost or tossed out your ballot, please contact the administrator of our elections:

Election Services Company (ESC)
Mon.-Fri. 9am-4pm CDT

The future of your co-op and your electric power bills depends on YOUR VOTE!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Maria Talamo: Anti-Competition, Anti-Free Enterprise

The race for Cedar Park City Council Place 6 continues to reflect the national struggle over which political philosophy will determine America's future. While municipal elections are nominally 'non-partisan' and candidates are often deliberately vague about party affiliation, Maria Talamo's recent comments before the City Council place her squarely in the camp of leftists who prefer socialistic government control over business rather than promoting a free enterprise system beneficial to consumers.

When the Cedar Park City Council took up the issue of amending General Office zones to allow for ambulatory surgery centers (ASC's) and drug stores, Maria Talamo gave testimony opposing the measure, since the ASC's would compete directly with the Cedar Park Regional Medical Center. Talamo and company seem to fear that patients might exercise consumer choice and utilize the less expensive ASC's for outpatient medical needs. Instead of a competitive market and lower prices for consumers, Talamo prefers to protect a monopoly for the CP Regional Medical Center, even to the point of asking the Council to favor one private business over another, an abuse of power that would certainly lead to years of litigation for the city.

Even more disturbing is a possible conflict of interest for Maria Talamo, since she told several Cedar Park residents she was seeking the previously open CEO position at the hospital. At this most recent city council meeting Ms. Talamo declared the hospital needed protection from competition, yet sources say she recently lobbied against a $4,000,000 tax incentive payment to the hospital from the city. It is unclear if she was against the payment to the hospital before or after she sought employment there.

Thankfully, Maria Talamo's leftist mindset did not sway the Cedar Park City Council. “I'm unwilling to use the power of the city to restrict competition,” said Councilman Tony Dale. “Also, we have no written agreement to do that.”

Maria Talamo's testimony before the City Council, along with her claims of being a "card-carrying member of the ACLU," indicate that she is much farther to the left than the good residents of Cedar Park.

Don Tracy, who will face Talamo in the run off election on June 12, has a much clearer vision of how competition works in the American free enterprise system and how it benefits consumers. Cedar Park residents would be much better served by Tracy's fiscally conservative approach and support for healthy competition in the marketplace.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Walk For Life 2010

As a Conservative, one of my core beliefs is in the preciousness of human life. Even during my 'atheist' years, I recognized that unborn children were human, and that abortion negatively impacts not only babies, but women, men, families, and really, all of society.

While my political involvement has taken me into many areas of interest, my heart is still first and foremost committed to changing hearts and minds on the issue of abortion. One way I work for that goal is by supporting my local pregnancy center and Texas Alliance for Life.

This coming weekend, as I have done for the past 8 years, I will participate in the TAFL Walk for Life. The Walk will take place in 3 area locations:

Georgetown, May 22
Sequin, June 5
Austin,June 19

Proceeds will support the TAFL Trust Fund's valuable research, legal defense, and educational efforts to help change hearts, minds, and public policy to create a culture of life. A portion of the proceeds will also be awarded as grants to 19 pro-life Texas agencies, including pregnancy centers in Williamson County.

At the Texas Alliance for Life website, you can sponsor me, sponsor another walker, or sign up to participate yourself. Donations as small as $5 will help make a difference!

Please consider supporting the work of Texas Alliance for Life and our pregnancy centers to create a culture of life for all Texans.

Pregnancy Centers in Williamson County:
Agape Pregnancy Resource Center, Round Rock
Hope Pregnancy Center, Hutto
Hope Connections Pregnancy Center, Leander
Pregnancy Help Center of Williamson County , Georgetown

Monday, May 10, 2010

Voter Apathy And Six Votes

I know I am not the first to go on a voter apathy rant, nor will I be the last, so here it is:

Texas School Boards take up the bulk of resident property taxes, and children spend more waking hours at school than with their parents in a day, so one would think homeowners and parents would both be highly concerned about these boards. My own district, the Round Rock Independent School District Board of Trustees manages a whopping budget of $292 Million, and sets policy for those educating and protecting the community's children.

And yet, the turnout for Saturday's Board elections was approximately 3%. While happily Terri Romere won with 58% of the vote, Jennifer Shockley-Daniels is behind by 6 votes in the unofficial totals.

Six votes, people.

Not surprisingly, Shockley-Daniels won in Williamson County, but in the 20 Travis County precincts in the ISD, Austin lawyer and Democrat Catherine Hanna led by a significant margin. (Romere also lost in Travis County). In all, Hanna received 1,440 votes to Shockley-Daniels' 1,434 votes. This of course is in no way a repudiation of Jennifer Shockley-Daniels' candidacy, and I do hope she will run again next year.

In other election news, Don Tracy and Maria Talamo will face each other in a runoff election on June 12, for Cedar Park City Council.

I'm not sure what it takes to get residents to pay attention to these elections, but I suspect it would take a major failure on the part of the district. Sadly, if we do not hold our local elected officials accountable, major failure is entirely possible.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Today is an Election Day!

Today is Election Day in Texas for municipal and school board elections, and in many areas there are ballot measures regarding taxes, bonds, and other issues. These elections have some of the lowest voter turnout percentages, and many will be determined by a mere handful of votes.

Polls will be open until 7pm, and as with any election, you may only vote at your assigned precinct location on Election Day. You can usually look up this information on your county website; here is the list of locations for Williamson County.

There are elections all over Williamson County; I've blogged about the Round Rock Independent School District Board and Cedar Park City Council races, but there are various MUD and ESD elections as well.

The Williamson County Republican Party has an open thread going for the day; check it throughout the day for developments and local opinion.

Lots of good folks fought and died for your right to vote, now get out there and exercise your civic duty!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Terri Romere and Jennifer Shockley-Daniels the Right Choices for ROUND ROCK School District

In the Round Rock Independent School District election, there is a bit of an Austin vs. Round Rock dynamic at play. Residents have long celebrated the difference in values between Round Rock and Austin, or, as neighboring Pflugerville states it, between the “Rock” and the “Weird place.” Many Austinites sneer at our middle-class, traditional values, and would like to impose Austin/Travis County policies here. Consequently, the Austin American Statesman is pushing Austin-leaning candidates Linelle Clark-Brown and Catherine Hanna for RRISD Board, and according to those present, during candidate interviews this week Statesman editorial board member Alberta Phillips even called Round Rock an “ugly little city.”

In Place 5, the Statesman is promoting Austin Attorney Catherine Hanna over Round Rock Mom Jennifer Shockley-Daniels. An Austin resident, Hanna's business is a “civil litigation law firm located in Austin, Texas." The Texas Ethics Commission reports that Hanna made financial contributions to several Democrats, including Rep. Mark Strama, and to ActBlue Texas, an organization promoting Democrat candidates in the state. While the Statesman's editorial board says both Hanna and Shockley-Daniels are “good choices,” they choose Hanna because she is “a lawyer.”


Jennifer Shockley-Daniels is an educated, former career woman who, horrors!, is now a stay-at-home Mom! (Insert audible gasp from self-righteous feminists here.) She lives in Round Rock, volunteers with the district, is involved in the PTA, has chaired the Cultural Arts committee, and served on boundary committees. Prior to having a family, Shockley-Daniels worked as a Texas Senate staffer and as a human resources professional. Sounds like her values are much more Round Rock oriented.

For Place 4, the Statesman Board wants 'incumbent' Linelle Clark-Brown. Clark-Brown 'signed up' for the RRISD Board in 2007, when no one else ran for the seat. An Austin resident who spent much of her career working in the Austin Independent School District, she has voted in the Democrat Primary for the last 5 cycles. Clark-Brown's vantage point is more education administrator than parent. She came under fire recently for her votes regarding school boundaries, and many parents are furious with her and other board members whom they claim are using the boundaries to implement social engineering. Allegedly Clark-Brown 'misled' parents on the boundaries, and they were unpleasantly surprised by her final vote. As the incumbent member of a board notorious for a lack of transparency, I'd hardly say she has earned (re)election, and she is certainly not entitled to it.

Place 4 candidate Terri Romere is also an Austin resident, but is much more oriented to Round Rock values. As a successful Round Rock real estate agent, she works to 'sell' Round Rock every day, and is committed to making the district the best it can be. With her own children in the district, Romere has been involved with the RRISD since 1999 in various capacities, and has been RRISD Volunteer of the Year and Partner of the Year. Additionally, she realizes the importance of a fiscally responsible approach to district finances, and is a proponent of transparency and accountability to both taxpayers and parents. Romere represents parents and the community, and is interested in making the district beneficial for all concerned parties, rather than participating in some social engineering project crafted by Austin educational elitists.

Contrary to the opinion of the Statesman editorial board, Terri Romere and Jennifer Shockley-Daniels have ROUND ROCK values at heart, and are the right choices for the ROUND ROCK Independent School District.

And hey, Alberta, it's a really cute town too.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cedar Park City Council Candidate Eddie Hurst: "Drop the Box"

The Cedar Park Place 6 City Council race continues to be one of the more entertaining contests in Williamson County, but also one with serious partisan implications. Some of the candidates not only seem to lack basic knowledge about the job and the city, but have hard-core leftist policy ideas.

Yesterday KAZI FM 88.7 featured an hour with some of the Cedar Park City Council Place 6 candidates, including Eddie Hurst. During the interview he mentioned something about the city’s “ETJ”. When the interviewer asked him what ETJ meant he said, “Extra-terrestrial” (pause), and fellow candidate Maria Talamo rescued him by stating “Extra Territorial Jurisdiction.” Kinda funny, but it does raise concerns.

Eddie Hurst, Wayne Ruark and Maria Talamo all answered a question about 'train crossing quiet zones' in Cedar Park. The interviewer asked their reaction to citizen complaints. They all listed answers about solving the problem. The only problem with their responses is that every train crossing in Cedar Park already has a quiet zone. According to the Statesman and KEYE, it is Leander residents who are complaining. In fact one resident of Leander said on KEYE, "It’s just not right. I don't understand why we're not getting it [quiet zones] like Cedar Park has it. I think we deserve it the same as they do,” Leander resident Maria Johnson said.

One of the most disturbing moments in the interview however, was Eddie Hurst's response to a caller asking about how to reduce incarceration and promote rehabilitation. Eddie Hurst said,

“I would also encourage the city staff to ‘drop the box’ like they are doing here in Travis County as also in the City of Austin. In ‘dropping the box’ what I mean is unless you have something that is like a child molestation, child felony or child abuse you would not have to mark on your application whether or not you had a criminal history as long as it is not something that is violent or sexually oriented the city should be able to drop that box.”

Williamson County is well known for a strong stance on law and order. I find it hard to believe that the city staff, local law enforcement or the “citizins” of Cedar Park would endorse allowing the city to hire people with criminal backgrounds. According to MSNBC “similar 'ban the box' measures have been adopted in recent years in Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Baltimore, San Francisco, Oakland, Calif., and Norwich, Conn.” But Cedar Park is a long way from San Francisco.

At the end of the interview session Maria Talamo, who supports higher taxes for Cedar Park to fund another hospital, was asked “What makes you different?” Her answer, “If it weren’t for me we would not have a hospital that community today.” I wonder if the team of individuals who all worked hard and long to build the hospital know that their efforts didn't count? A little candidate bluster, I guess.

The clear remedy here is Don Tracy. Don Tracy understands the importance of fiscal responsibility, and will work to carefully manage budgets and debt while promoting economic and community development. In these dire economic times, Cedar Park needs a smart, fiscally disciplined leader like Don Tracy. Visit Don Tracy's website at

Early Voting continues May 1, May 3, and May 4. Election Day is May 8.