Friday, August 30, 2013

Leander ISD Second Fastest Growing District? Not So Fast...

Regarding the recent budget and tax rate debate, reader has pointed out a slight discrepancy in the claim that Leander Independent School District is among the fastest growing in the nation. 

According to her research, Denver Public schools added 2,261 students from 2011-12 to 2012-13, while LISD added 970.  Secondly, Frisco ISD claimed around 3,000 per year last November.  Northside ISD claims it is growing at 2,000 to 3,000 per year.  And Biz Journal's list of the top 15 "Fastest Growing School Districts" doesn't even mention Leander ISD. 

My reader also points out that while the alleged source for the "second fastest growing district" talking point is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a site-wide search for "Leander" "LISD," or "Leander Schools" on the Foundation Website yields nothing. 

Hmmmm.  Perhaps there is a reasonable explanation for this mystery, or perhaps they are counting on the fact that so many Americans today are intellectually on par with Allison Benedikt

Truth or Propaganda?

Bad People

I know most everyone with a brain has already jumped on this idiot, but not all of my followers read Hot Air, etc., so I would just like to bring your attention to the Slate piece entitled "If You Send Your Kid To Private School You Are a Bad Person."

In the article, Allison Benedikt 'argues' that if everyone in the nation sent their kids to public school, eventually the public schools would be great.  She actually writes:
I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.
 In short, your kids will get a lousy education, but in the long run, public schools might improve, and you are bad for not sacrificing your children to her idea of the common good.  Never mind that even parents who opt out still pay for public school.

Another gem from the article:
Reading Walt Whitman in ninth grade changed the way you see the world? Well, getting drunk before basketball games with kids who lived at the trailer park near my house did the same for me. In fact it’s part of the reason I feel so strongly about public schools.

Benedikt says many other shockingly stupid things and expresses pride in her shoddy education and inability to reason.  Her 'argument' has already been thoroughly destroyed, here, here, and here.

Sadly, like Ben Sherman at BOR, I think Ms. Benedikt is being brutally honest about Leftist views.  For the so-called Progressives, it's not about quality education, but social engineering. 

If this is what public education is producing...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Texas Lt. Governor Race: Patterson Calls Austin "Washington West"

According to the Tribune's Primary Pencil Bracket, we've four Republicans running for Lt. Governor:  David Dewhurst, Jerry Patterson, Dan Patrick, and Todd Staples.  Apparently the Dems are still looking for a sacrificial victim candidate to represent higher taxes, gun control, and unrestricted taxpayer-funded abortion.

Here's the latest from the Jerry Patterson campaign. 

"Local Government Debt: What Transparency?" and LISD Public Hearing on Budget & Tax Rate

My "All In Perspective" column from August 22 is republished below.  In related news, it seems that the Leander ISD is holding a specially called meeting on Thursday, August 29, at 6:15 at the Support Services Complex.  This will include a public hearing on the Budget and Tax Rate for the 2013-14 school year, and presents an opportunity for the community to speak out.  Concerned citizens should plan to attend. 

Original Column:

In a recent San Antonio Express News article, Donnis Baggett of the Texas Press Association claimed that ‘transparency’ was the buzzword of the Texas’ 83rd Legislative Session.  Baggett applauded a new law that allows the public to better scrutinize communications between elected officials, and gives news publishers more leeway to “correct, clarify, or withdraw” false reporting before being subject to defamation laws.  According to Baggett, these are marvelous advances for transparency in Texas.

However, the Elephant in the Room ignored by Baggett et al, is that Texas legislators quietly killed important transparency legislation that could have a dramatic impact on the long-term economic health of Texas.
The “Transparency for Texas Taxpayers” act, authored by House Appropriations Chair Jim Pitts, would have required greater disclosure on local government debt.   Both House and Senate versions of the bill stated that all taxing entities must prominently publish their spending and debt information online.  Also, when asking voters to approve new debt, local governments would have been required to include ballot language stating the:
  • Amount of proposed debt;
  • Principal outstanding on current taxable debt;
  • Estimated remaining interest on existing debt; and
  • Estimated total debt service on existing debt.
While many Texans are self-righteously clucking their respective tongues over the financial demise of cities like San Bernardino and Detroit, the truth is we have growing debt problem right here in the Lone Star State.  According to the Texas Bond Review Board, state taxpayers are now on the hook for $324 billion in local debt, and local taxes are on the rise.  Locally, the Leander Independent School District alone has a total debt/payback burden of nearly $2.7 billion dollars.  LISD is able to manage this monstrosity for the time being via the use of highly controversial Capital Appreciation Bonds (CAB’s,) which defers payments to future generations of Leander citizens.  In the meantime, LISD’s bond rating has been repeatedly downgraded and area homeowners already shoulder a significant property tax burden.
Defenders of public debt are eager to point out that most local government borrowing is “voter approved. “  Of course in most cases less than 10% of registered voters participate in bond elections, and proponents intentionally schedule such elections on odd dates for the express purpose of stifling voter participation.  (Like the Hutto ISD’s Labor Day Weekend election last year.)  Furthermore, local government officials set up separate Political Action Committees to promote these bond proposals.  Said committee then launches a slick advertising campaign that downplays the necessary tax increases and up-plays the benefits of the swanky new city/school district/county thing-a-ma-jigger.  Never, ever, ever is there any mention of the current debt carried or the impact on the next generation of taxpayers.
Unsurprisingly, cities and school districts sent their well-paid lobbyists and even a few elected officials to Austin to try to stop the Transparency for Texas Taxpayers Act, with the City of Georgetown in Williamson County playing an active role.  One witness actually stated aloud that he opposed the publication of the data because voters would not support higher debt if they knew how much they already owed.  In other words, we can’t continue to borrow and spend like drunken sailors if the public realizes what we’ve done.   The Texas House pulled down the act on a procedural problem and quietly let it die without taking action.

If we are to avoid the fate of the failed states of America, we must have a serious and persistent conversation about debt, and perhaps send some of our local elected officials to consumer credit counseling.  While some debt is necessary, excessive debt and extravagant spending (like $2500 park benches and unrealistic government pension plans,) can only have one, Detroitesque outcome.  Unfortunately, politicians are kicking the debt-can down the road for our children and grandchildren to solve.
This November, numerous local governments will be asking voters to approve ever more debt, and since there is little interest in off-year, single-issue elections, in all likelihood fewer than 10% of registered voters will bother to vote, and most of those will be completely unaware of the existing debt burden.  Local governments have until August 26 to call for bond elections for this year.  Be sure to check out local proposals, stay informed, and by all means, vote. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Leander City Councilwoman Cantwell Announces Candidacy for Williamson County Treasurer

Just received this release regarding Leander City Councilwoman Michell Cantwell:
“It has been both an honor and a privilege to serve and represent the citizens of Leander on the Leander City Council since 2003. Based upon the ‘Resign to Run’ requirements of the Texas Constitution and the Leander City Charter, I am resigning my seat on the Leander City Council effective immediately to announce my candidacy for Williamson County Treasurer. I will continue to serve on the Leander City Council until an election determines a replacement for the remainder of my term.  I sincerely appreciate the support and confidence the Leander voters have extended to me in representing their interests here in Leander, Texas.  Additionally, from a professional standpoint, I want to recognize and commend our city manager and his staff for their professionalism and support throughout my tenure on the Leander City Council.  While I will no longer be serving Leander citizens at the city level, I eagerly look forward to serving them as the next Williamson County Treasurer.  I ask for your support, your votes, and your prayers as I move forward with this opportunity to serve the citizens of Williamson County.”
The other announced candidate is Jerri Jones.  

New Beginnings for Round Rock ISD?

Well, it looks like the Round Rock ISD may have a new superintendent lined up.  Only one candidate has emerged from the school board's search to replace the highly controversial Jesus Chavez.  Another Harlingen CISD veteran, Dr. Steve Flores, was announced as the lone finalist last Friday. 

Several area news sources reported that Chavez "shocked the community when he announced that he would not be serving out the remaining two and half years on his contract."  The truth is that few were actually "shocked," but many were relieved.  During Chavez' tenure, the district has seen declining ratings, sloppy procedure, and an erosion of fiscal responsibility.  His actions regarding boundaries and construction have pitted the various communities of the ISD against each other, and his political posturing has wreaked havoc with the reputation of the district.  Chavez asserted last year that superintendents do not have to comply with elected school board authority, but the Texas Legislature overwhelmingly rejected that claim and passed legislation stating as much.  Chavez' days were numbered.

Hopefully, if approved, the new Superintendent will focus on making RRISD a solid district again.  With intense growth in Central Texas, the community will need new schools and strong leadership that works for the entire community.  Let's hope Dr. Flores will usher in a new era.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Primary Pre-Season Ground Rules

Well, summer is over and since 2014 is an election year, there are announcements and rumors of announcements all over the place.  For those of us who have friends running against friends, this is a good time to screen your phone calls and duck political commitments until the filing deadline passes.  So awkward.  Or, you might just be trying to figure out who's who and who's running for what.

Frankly, my head is spinning. 

One resource is the Texas Tribune's 2014 Elections Pencil Brackets.  They keep it pretty up to date, but of course it won't show your local stuff.  After the filing deadlines, we will have a clearer picture.  My advice?  Keep your powder dry; things are pretty fluid right now, and there are still announcements yet to come.

I have found some of the preliminary announcements troubling however.  Recently Red State's Dan McLaughlin had a great piece entitled "73 Rules for Running For President as a Republican," and a goodly number of his 73 rules could apply to any GOP and/or 'Conservative' candidate.  Based on some of the acknowledged and rumored candidates I've seen so far, here's just two rules I've come up with for Texas.

1.  Don't bother running for office if you can't manage to be faithful to your spouse.  If your indiscretions don't come out in the Primary, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Dems will be all over it.  Seriously dude, you might give some pretty speeches about how you came to Jesus when you were like, seven or something, but half of Austin knows how you've behaved when away from home.  We've got some very vocal, truly empowered women working in the Texas GOP, and frankly we won't put up with you as the nominee.  Spare your wife and family the grief and embarrassment, okay?

2.  If you spent most of 2012 campaigning for a Democrat candidate but are now running as a Republican in 2014, forget it.  You might think primary voters are too stupid to know what you're up to, but really, you won't have a chance.  At least not in Williamson County. 

I'm sure we'll come up with some more gems before too long.  For now, these will do. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Barbie Shoes and the "Creep" Factor

Below is my All In Perspective Column from last week.  Shortly after my publisher's deadline, the Wendy Davis controversy re-ignited over Erick Erickson's post at Red State calling Davis "Abortion Barbie."  Erickson pointed out that the media was glamorizing Davis; gushing on and on about her shoes, outfits, hair, etc., while ignoring the fact that she was lobbying to abort babies after five months gestation.  Horrific.  Lefties went beserk, calling Erickson a sexist, but I think these folks have missed a deeper point.  As the outrageous but honest comments of creeps like Ben Sherman demonstrate, abortion reduces women to mere playthings.  Like Barbie, they are just sex objects to be exploited with no strings attached.  What is sexist is pretending that abortion doesn't hurt women, and that women aren't anything more than plastic dolls who can repeatedly abort their babies without a second thought. 

Barbie's shoes look notoriously uncomfortable, but if the Barbie-shoe fits, maybe Davis should wear it.

Original Column:

Gender, Politics, and the "Creep Factor"

As a young, single professional on a business trip in 1996, I overheard a couple of other women discussing that year’s upcoming presidential election.  They expressed disdain for Republican Bob Dole because he “just seemed like an old man,” and, as one of the women explained, “Clinton just looks so cute in his jeans.”  Face, palm.  I can’t say my political views were highly developed in those days, but I was pretty sure I would not choose a candidate based on how he looked in his jeans.
Sadly, there are far too many voters who cast a ballot based on the most absurd criteria, and I am especially dismayed by the way some women participate in politics.  Rather than delve into important issues like maybe Constitutional limits for government or effective foreign policy, some women have bought into a false narrative of ‘women’s issues,’ celebrity candidates, and the politics of ‘firsts.’  For example, some think that since we’ve now had our first “black” president, we must elect the first woman to the White House.  Never mind that the likely candidate has a history of unethical and incompetent behavior; Hillary Clinton is apt to be the only woman running, and what difference does it make that a few unimportant Americans died in Benghazi.
There are also a disappointing number of women who are willing to buy into false narratives about ‘women’s issues.’  In the recent abortion law debate, we were told that the evil men of Texas were on the verge of outlawing abortion and taking away women’s rights.  Fortunately, quite a few smart women read the proposed legislation and knew the bill mandated safety measures for abortion clinics while allowing elective abortion during the first five full months of pregnancy.    (A compromise bill by definition.)  Despite the facts, certain women took to marching around the capitol wearing decorative tampons and carrying “Hoes before Embryos” signs.  And Susan B. Anthony went to jail for this?
Women who don’t bother to inform themselves on the issues are a problem, but another disturbing trend is the willingness to not only tolerate, but promote men who happen to be creeps.  The sad spectacle of poor Huma Weiner standing by her ‘sexting’ husband so that he can obtain even more power and glory, breaks my heart.  While the Clintons may be in a huff over the comparisons, Hillary pretty much set that standard when she showed co-dependent wives how to keep on putting up with a creep on a national level.  And this empowers women how?
Women on both sides of the aisle have found themselves yoked to creeps, but I much prefer the reactions of Marianne Gingrich and Jenny Sanford.  Instead of playing the part of the abused wife, these gals refused to put up with unacceptable behavior and told their unfaithful men to ‘hit the road, Jack.’   An empowered woman does not put up with nonsense; she might show up to the press conference, but maybe only to smack her wayward husband in the back of the head with a shovel.  Now that would be a great news story.
I believe that part of the problem is that women aren’t listening to their instinctual “creep detector.”  As we learn more about allegations that Democrat San Diego mayor Bob Filner has been engaging in sexual harassment for years, women who supported him are publicly admitting that the guy has always been creepy.  It’s too bad these gals continued to support and enable a man like Filner.
Of course while Congressman Weiner and Mayor Filner may be in a close race for National Creep of the Year, we have a Texas nominee too.  In a spectacularly revealing article published last month, a writer at the ‘Progressive’ Burnt Orange Report expressed concern that proposed Texas abortion laws might hamper his ability to hook up.  He wrote to his fellow ‘bro-choicers,’ “Your sex life is at stake…don’t be surprised if casual sex outside of relationships becomes far more difficult to come by.”  At least this guy was honest; unrestricted abortion allows him to exploit more women.  ­What a creep.
Unfortunately, women who have bought into the phony mantra of “women’s issues” seem much more likely to put up with these creepy guys.  The truth is that many progressive ideas, like unrestricted abortion and a state-controlled economy, are harmful to women and their respective families.  Truly empowered women really think about the long-term impact of government policy, and will reject the attempts of left-wing exploitation.  Time to kick the creeps and their harmful policies to the curb.