Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Austin Planned Parenthood "Clinic" reveals organization's weakness

"He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.."

Proverbs 28:13

Post HB-2, there's only 1 facility in Austin that performs abortions.  Planned Parenthood South Austin is located on Ben White blvd.  The local chapter of 40 Days for Life has been doing sidewalk counseling there for years.

The next 40 Days for Life campaign begins on September 23rd.  In preparation for that campaign, it appears Planned Parenthood South Austin had just erected a 10-foot concrete fence that will make it impossible to see outside the facility grounds.  A sidewalk counselor with the Central Texas Coalition for Life took these pictures this morning:

Bottom Line: Strong organizations don't retreat behind 10 foot walls to avoid looking at the truth standing right outside their door.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Austin's municipal bureaucrats' throw a TANTRUM over modest savings proposals

"A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back."
Proverbs 29:11

During the ongoing Austin City Council budget process, Mayor Steve Adler (D - Citywide) and Council members Don Zimmerman (R - Northwest Austin) and Ellen Troxclair (R - Southwest Austin) have proposed modestly reigning in benefit and wage growth for municipal employees.  At press time, it's unclear which proposals have the votes to pass.  Nonetheless, the (butthurt) inability to withstand mild criticism expressed by City Manager Marc Ott is a sight to behold:
In a memo sent Aug. 31, City Manager Marc Ott let Mayor Steve Adler and Council members know the changes and proposed budget reductions had taken their toll, and morale is suffering.

“I’m hearing that many employees are understandably feeling ‘under attack,’” wrote Ott. “I can attest to the sentiment that many of the concept menu items have been ‘deflating’ to say the least to our employees. I will also say that in my tenure here, this level of response by employees is unprecedented.

“The very employees that have been striving to support the new 10-1 system, especially the Department Heads and their executive teams, have said that they are feeling undervalued and unappreciated from several of the budget concept menu items. For example, several concept menu items focus on reducing employees’ benefits, reducing recommended salary increases, increasing employee insurance costs for some more than others, and even terminating almost 100 employees,” wrote Ott.


Today, Council will tackle its budget concept menu in earnest. Among the suggestions for cost-savings are a tiered raise structure that would award the highest raises to the lowest-paid workers and offer no increase to the highest-paid employees. Though that proposal does not appear to have the majority of Council support, it was sponsored by Council Members Don Zimmerman, Ellen Troxclair, Ora Houston and Sheri Gallo. Adler has proposed an alternative, which would implement a 1.5 percent structured pay increase in lieu of the recommended 3 percent raise.

Also up for debate are proposals to restructure employee health insurance premiums; cap merit bonus pay; reduce the city’s employer pension contribution from 18 percent to 15 percent for the Employee Retirement System; eliminate the executive health benefit that provides $500 per year in ancillary executive compensation; and reduce General Fund, Enterprise Fund and support services budgets by 20 percent for travel, training, mileage reimbursement, printing, binding, food and beverages, subscriptions, memberships, hardware, software, minor equipment and supplies.


Ott’s memo also included messages of support for Hensley’s letter from 22 city department heads.

City Clerk Jannette Goodall, Officer of Real Estate Services Lauraine Rizer, Department of Public Works Director Howard Lazarus, Animal Services Chief Officer Tawny Hammond, interim City Attorney Anne Morgan, Chief Sustainability Officer Lucia Athens, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, Austin-Travis County EMS Director and Chief Ernie Rodriguez, Fleet Services Department Director Gerry Calk, Director of Libraries Brenda Branch, Austin Resource Recovery Director Bob Gedert, Austin Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros, Planning and Zoning Department Director Greg Guernsey, court administrator Peter Valdez, Economic Development Department Director Kevin Johns, Transportation Department Director Robert Spillar, Telecommunications and Regulatory Affairs Officer Rondella Hawkins, Small and Minority Business Resources Director Veronica Lara, Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Director Betsy Spencer, Austin Convention Center Director Mark Tester, Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Scott Swearengin and Capital Planning Officer Mike Trimble all emailed messages of support to Ott or thanked Hensley for her letter.
Read the whole thing here.

Beyond the modest proposals for this year, at least one third of the city departments listed above should be eliminated.

Bottom Line: If the new Austin City Council didn't have a real opportunity for meaningful governmental reform, the permanent bureaucracy wouldn't be acting in this manner.

Wiley endorses ABOLISHING Central Health!!!

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

The Central Health Hospital district, previously seen promoting subsidized abortion and raising Austinites' taxes to subsidize the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas, is back with more shenanigans:
For the first time since its creation in 2004, the taxing authority that oversees health care for needy Travis County residents is trying to fundamentally change who would be eligible for free or low-cost services.

In redesigning the health care system for uninsured and underinsured county residents, Central Health officials are discussing how to categorize patients based on medical need, while potentially raising the income threshold for services. The Central Health board this spring discussed boosting the threshold from its current maximum of $48,500 for a family of four to nearly $91,000.

That idea went over with a thud, but it’s not entirely off the table. Central Health staff is exploring options and the impact on taxpayers.

A fleshed-out proposal is expected in November, but the discussion is underway now because of an unusual partnership between the public Central Health and the private Seton Healthcare Family. The two created the nonprofit Community Care Collaborative in 2013 to produce a better coordinated, more integrated care delivery system for the safety net population they serve. And now they are trying to put that system in place as their answer to fixing a fragmented, inefficient network of care.

It comes at a time of uncertainty about how much federal aid will be available for indigent health care after Sept. 30, 2016. That’s the expiration date of a Medicaid program that is expected to generate nearly $260 million in the new fiscal year for Travis County safety net providers — unless the federal government renews it.


Seton is investing in the collaborative and building a $295 million teaching hospital that it will own where indigent patients will receive care. A legal agreement between Central Health and Seton allows Seton to retain $20 million a year for five years, a total of $100 million, to cover the costs of transitioning to the integrated delivery system, including hiring staff, setting up a call center, creating electronic records and other work, said Seton executive Greg Hartman, vice chairman of the collaborative.

Some observers have questioned whether Central Health is going too far to appease Seton, which has the right, under the legal agreement, to mutually decide with Central Health who should be eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health care services.
Empower Texans picked up the Statesman article, which we posted to the "Travis County Republicans" Facebook group along with a question for Jay Wiley:
Like   Comment   

Wiley's response:
  • Jay Wiley You bet -- it's an even bigger nightmare than we all understand. Let's just say I get an earful all the time from the medical rank and file that have to deal with the mess they've created.
    Like · Reply · 2 · 19 hrs
  • Adam Cahnman Oh wait, that's right, your wife is a doctor!
    Like · Reply · 3 · 19 hrs
  • Jay Wiley like I said, night. mare.
    Like · Reply · 1 · 19 hrs
Bottom Line: Central Health's latest boondoggle is business as usual for an organization that has previously subsidized the murder of children and the second wealthiest University in the country; kudos to Jay Wiley for his willingness to shut the whole mess down.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Austin ISD gives Taxpayers GIGANTIC Middle Finger!!!

"There is desirable treasure,
And oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man squanders it."
Proverbs 21:20

There's are no words; TPPF this morning:

TPPF Statement on Austin Independent School District Proposed 2015-16 Budget

AUSTIN, TX – Today, the Austin school board will consider adopting a $1.1 billion budget for 2015-16 that spends 8.9 percent more than the previous year’s budget. Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Local Governance Director James Quintero issued the following statement on the proposed budget:

            “AISD’s budget is set to see a near-double digit increase at a time when student enrollment is shrinking and homeowner tax bills are soaring. The district’s inability to live within its means will add another $168 per year to the average homeowner’s property tax bill, further exacerbating Austin’s affordability crisis and likely leading to even more students leaving the area.

            “AISD’s latest budget snafu highlights not only its problem with budget restraint, but also its difficulty with debt. In the district’s latest budget proposal, debt service payments constitute almost 10 cents of every dollar spent, which is money that is not going to the classroom but instead going to help pay off the district’s $1.2 billion in total debt.”
Bottom Line: Austin ISD hasn't been a high priority since we curbstomped their bond two years ago.  If they want to pass profligate budgets, they can become a priority very quickly.  The next round of elections is in November 2016, and Austin ISD trustee races are always low-turnout affairs at the end of a VERY long ballot; they would not be difficult to swing.


Personal Note: Cahnman's Musings would like to lavish praise on the Texas Public Policy Foundation for catching this monstrosity.  Their diligence is the only reason we found out about this.  If you are a person of means, do feel free to support their work here.

Sarah Davis...anti-Second Amendment?!?

"Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me."
Nehemiah 4:18

It's a well known fact that, despite labeling herself a "Republican," Rep. Sarah Davis (R - Houston) is against human life and for government spending.  For that reason, she's a prominent Joe Straus lieutenant.  But where does she stand on the Second Amendment?!?

In theory, Davis can claim to be pro-Second Amendment.  This past session, she voted for final passage of both campus carry and open carry.  She's even been endorsed by the NRA!!! (*)

But where does she stand when nobody's looking?!?

As a trusted Joe Straus lieutenant, Sarah Davis sits on the Calendars Committee.  SB 11, the Campus Carry bill, was considered in the Calendars Committee on Sunday, May 21st 2015.  How did Sarah Davis vote?!?

[NOTE: Patricia Harless was also a Republican who voted against the bill, but she's retiring.]

Davis also played games with the bill during floor debate.

Bottom Line: While a case can be made that Davis is the best Republican you can get out of that district, there's no reason for her to sit on powerful committees.  Yet there she was, perfectly positioned to vote against campus carry when no one was looking.  And that's only because Joe Straus put her there.


* -- Which, on a slightly related note, illustrates the uselessness of the NRA.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Did "Dallas Business Leaders" lie to Bloomberg?!?

"A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it,
And a flattering mouth works ruin."
Proverbs 26:28

Yesterday, we wrote a post about Jeb Hensarling, GE, and the Export-Import bank.  It was based upon this report from Bloomberg news.  The Bloomberg piece claimed that GE chose not to relocate to Dallas because Jeb Hensarling's opposition to the Ex-Im bank created an "unfavorable political climate."

Our former colleague Tim Carney is a national expert on the Export-Import bank and its relationship with GE.  When we posted yesterday's piece to Facebook, we tagged Tim.  Strangely, he didn't buy it:

This bothered us.  On the one hand, we trust Tim.  On the other hand, Bloomberg news doesn't have a reputation for publishing false stories.

That motivated us to take a closer look at the original Bloomberg report, consider this paragraph:
GE told Dallas business leaders in recent days it would look elsewhere for alternatives to its Connecticut home, said the people, who asked not to be identified because details aren’t public. They said GE cited some Texas lawmakers’ opposition to the U.S. Export-Import Bank, an important source of financing for some overseas sales.
The phrase "[T]hey said GE cited" in the second sentence strongly suggests that the sourcing for this article came from the "Dallas Business leaders" side of the talks.

And THAT'S interesting; Tim might be the expert on GE's method of operation, but this website is the expert on the "business community's" M.O. in Texas.

And it's VERY easy to believe that someone from the Dallas Chamber lied to Bloomberg.

Since the beginning of the year, the Texas Association of Business and their subsidiaries have been DESPERATELY attempting to paint supporters of free enterprise as "anti-business" because we oppose corporate rent seeking.  Last month, in a separate controversy over "business incentives" for Facebook, the Texas "business community's" favorite hack wrote:
It is difficult for some observers to imagine that a senator often described as one of the “the most conservative lawmakers in Austin” would actively argue against her community taking steps to be as competitive as possible in attracting high-quality jobs to her district. After all, bragging about the state’s economic prosperity is one of the Texas Tea Party’s favorite talking points. What they either deny or simply do not understand is that the so-called “Texas Miracle” is the result of a mixture of policies that has for years included economic incentives.
So the attack on Jeb Hensarling fits the narrative.

Bottom Line: We can't prove it, but it makes far more sense for someone from the Dallas "business community" to lie to attack the Tea Party than it does for a major multi-national corporation to go after a sitting Congressional chairman.