Fighting for Transparency & Fiscal Responsibility in Local Government

Where is the Republican Caucus Leadership?

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The Texas Senate is calm. After all, they’ve finished their work, for now.

The Texas Senate has passed legislation relating to 18 of the 20 priorities called for by Abbott. The Texas House, on the other hand, has passed 2.

The House is a hot mess. It’s difficult to overstate the circus, unless you’ve been in Austin to witness the clown-show firsthand. Other than the Freedom Caucus members, state representatives are irrationally stressed. This paranoia is driven largely by the fact that no one appears to be in charge. There is no plan, which would normally emanate from the Speaker’s team.

House Speaker Joe Straus has effectively lost control of the chamber.

Last week we saw Rep. Tony Tinderholt call points of order, only to see Speaker Straus hide his right hand in his pocket as it shook uncontrollably, day after day. Joe is scared.

The conservatives disdain Joe, the moderates are mad at him for putting them in this special session conundrum. It’s a lose-lose situation. The democrats are mad because he doesn’t follow the rules and the special session gives them no place to hide their radical and unpopular agenda to create, raise, and increase taxes. Everyone is mad at Joe.

This should be a unique time for the Republican Caucus to shine…but it cannot.

Or, perhaps it will not. Much like the House itself, the Republican Caucus has no real leadership. State Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) has fully embraced Obama’s mantra of “leading from behind.” Caucus members are looking for leadership, but they selected an empty suit for that position. Tan is incapable of leading, except when corporate handouts are at stake—he’s all but proven as much to capitol onlookers.

Last week, without input from the caucus, Tan published talking points for members to use to reassure their constituents. Members were simply embarrassed by these blatantly false talking points. I’ve attached them to this article below.

Tan has chosen to fully embraced Straus’ tactic of blaming the rules, when convenient, while talking out of both sides of his mouth. In one sentence he brags about filing 209 bills, while following up with complaints the special session and calendar don’t give them enough time to act, because the House has so many more members than the Senate.

The truth is simple: Tan and Joe will always come up with ways to “get things done” when asked by the lobby, whether it’s the Texas Medical Association or the Texas Municipal League. When pressed by their taxpaying constituents, they’ll come up with little more than excuses.

Tan has chosen to demonstrate no leadership in regards to advancing popular priorities called for by Republicans. Tan needs to step aside, and let the caucus appoint new leadership.

Tan and Joe share a lot in common. Hopefully they will share a loss in March.

Drivers Beware: New Cameras Spreading in Texas

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Texans do not want their tax dollars paying for traffic cameras that are a revenue stream disguised as a public safety measure. While state lawmakers have failed to act, citizens across Texas are fighting to ban red light cameras, and winning.

Red-light cameras are voted out in almost every city that puts them on the ballot. A statewide ban passed in the Texas Senate, but stalled in the House, and now thousands of citizens have signed a petition, recently delivered to Governor Abbott, to add a state-wide ban to the Governor’s Special Session call.

Meanwhile, cities are fighting to hold onto their cash-cow cameras. In recent years, even counties have tried to get into the game, which they don’t have the legal authority to do. With red-light cameras on the chopping block, the new ploy is cameras set to catch cars speeding in school zones and passing school buses while the stop arm is deployed.

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We’ve Come a Long Way Baby! — On Voter Fraud

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Direct Action Texas went public with it’s Tarrant County vote harvesting investigation last October – a mere 8 months ago – and we’ve come a long way since then.

At the time, voter fraud was a thing of conspiracies, crazy talk. The main stream, respectable folk did not speak of such things. Fast forward to last Monday. I sat at Texas Public Policy Foundation’s policy orientation for the special session, and as I opened their handbook I found multiple pages dedicated to mail in ballot fraud policy. This is huge because TPPF has had a longstanding policy of not discussing or engaging in election law or reform. Now they have a published stance. Yesterday I watched as Chuck DeVore, Vice President of TPPF, testified on behalf of SB5, the voter fraud bill before the Senate. This is simply unprecedented.

At that same special session policy orientation, Governor Abbott gave the opening comments and mail in ballot fraud was a major part of his message. Out of all the issues facing Texas, Governor Abbott included mail in voter fraud among the 20 he felt deserved to be included in the special session. In a few short months this issue went from outside the mainstream to a priority of the Governor of Texas.

You see policies have a process they go thru. It looks something like this:

From Radical to Acceptable to Sensible to Popular to POLICY.

This process usually takes years. I sat in the Senate yesterday, a Sunday, on the threshold of this issue becoming policy and realized we went from Radical to Popular in a short 8 months. This is a reality because of voters in Dallas who came forward and said their votes were stolen just this last May. This is a reality because of hard work by folks at the Office of the Attorney General. This is a reality because voters and activists made it a priority to their elected officials. Politicians don’t act on issues unless they believe there is enough pressure to use their political capital and receive a return on that capital.

We are almost there. SB5 passed the senate committee and will most assuredly be passed out of the chamber tomorrow. Meanwhile, watch HB184 as it proceeds thru the Texas House.

Texans made this issue a priority. For that I say – Well Done. Lets continue to the finish line.

The Ritchie Scandal – There’s an Audit

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Another Tarrant County official is under fire from county auditors for alleged violations of state law. But unlike Democrat Constable Ruben Garcia’s recent scandal, it appears the local District Attorney’s office is taking action to prosecute either a judge, his staffer, or both.

Last week we unveiled Garcia’s scandal, which involved several possible violations of state law, including failure to document drugs and other property seized, along with cash collected by field deputies. Shockingly, Ritchie’s audit revealed alleged offenses similar to the Garcia scandal. while the laundry list of offenses documented in Garcia’s audit was lengthy, Ritchie’s is even longer.

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