Monday, September 28, 2015

Retired Army Officer Challenging Tea Party Incumbent Louie Gohmert for East Texas Congressional Seat

By Faith Chatham - Texas Federal Blue Seed PAC - September 3, 2015

Shirley McKellar officially kicked off her 2016 Campaign for Congress in the shadows of the Smith County Court House. Earlier this year, KLTV Tyler introduced Dr. Shirley McKellar as one of East Texas' Freedom Fighters. Joan Hallmark features area soldiers who serve in combat zones in the U.S. Military., Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News
"Shirley McKeller served 18 years in the U.S. Army as a nurse. Eighteen months of that time was during "Operation Iraqi Freedom" in an Iraqi Field Hospital that was under bomb threat every day and in a hospital in Germany where wounded soldiers were sent for further medical aid. 
An accident ended McKeller's Army career, and she found out firsthand how difficult it was for veterans to get into the system for medical aid.

McKeller has become an advocate for veterans, and in she 2014 ran for Congress in the 1st District on the Democratic ticket. Although McKeller lost the election, she hasn't ruled out a future run."  - KLTV Joan Hallmark

McKellar combines elegance with the toughness of an Army medical officer who has seen duty in the combat zone. A native of Tyler, McKellar's family tree leads back through generations of small business owners. Working, serving, solving problems, using logic and common sense and getting as much education as possible to be able to understand more, and to be more effective, is automatic to her.

She is a woman who is not easily deterred. When she knows something needs to be done, is convinced that something should be done, she goes into action, almost as though on auto-pilot, to see that it happens. Multi-tasking while giving personal attention to everyone she encounters is innate with Shirley McKellar. She has lots of titles, all earned, but does not see her PhD or retired status as a Major in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps or honoree of so many awards that it is difficult to list them, as anything that should set her apart from others. She says she lists the PhD and other titles to show that she has done "her homework" and is prepared to serve. Her focus is always on how to get things done to improve the lives of others and to make our community and nation an even better place to live.

As the number of women soldiers (and women veterans) increased, the U.S. Military and Veterans Administration lacked many of the medical services women need. McKellar was at the forefront, helping to establish medical services for women. She was instrumental in establishing the Breast Cancer Awareness program for the European Theater of the U.S. Military. She was one of 16 clinicians from around the world to travel to Berlin and establish, "The Best Clinical Practices for Treating Breast Cancer Around the Globe".  Baylor University Health Services named her their  "International Breast Cancer Advocate" for Europe, to represent America at the 4th European Congress at a conference where her speech on the "Healthcare Disparities Among African-American Women" was aired to over 250 Comprehensive Breast Cancer Centers in the world, including The University of Texas at M.D. Anderson in Houston. 

Once back in the U.S., it was natural for her to partner with UT Austin Health Science and launch the African American Breast Cancer Outreach Program and to serve as site manager for the program at UT Tyler. She served as the sexual harassment officer and EEOC officer in the military. In civilian life, she used her non-profit organization to employ social workers and nurse clinicians to provide sexual abuse and domestic violence services to women and children in 12 Texas counties.

McKellar did not intend to end her military career two years short of her 20 years of active duty. However, on the border of Iraq and Turkey, a fall down a flight of stairs abruptly changed her life. She spent over a year in Brooks Medical Center in San Antonio and some who knew her during that time reported that it was difficult to keep the patient, Shirley McKellar, from serving others. Some of her closest associates and most ardent volunteers today were other injured soldiers whom she met during those dark days while she was undergoing numerous surgeries and physical rehab.

Injured or not, she remained alert to the circumstance of others around her. She remained a thinker always looking for a solution. She was an "encourager".  She worked hard on her own rehabilitation, fighting her way back from injuries which often seemed insurmountable. She didn't fight just for her own recovery. Shirley was fighting for others, some of whom were too injured to fight for themselves.

Shirley has never been a person who fought just for herself. She is someone who always is extending an invitation to others "to get on the bus."  She has done that as an educator, as a founder/director of a Non-profit organization, as an military officer, as a wife and mother and grandmother and friend. "Until we all have succeeded-none of us have succeeded" and "Reach one, Teach one" are more than mottos for Shirley McKellar. 

Some solutions are "high tech" or require enormous co-operation and legal /legislative involvement.  However, there are some obstacles which deter people which can be solved with application of common sense and basic East Texas community co-operation when there is someone to lead. Frequently Shirley McKellar is the person who leads, who enlists others, who mentors, and who monitors until it is accomplished and implemented.

The US-TX First District has one of the state's highest rates of unemployment.
Shirley has worked consistently to create jobs and to enable people to get vocational training for available jobs. She problem-solves to remove obstacles preventing people from becoming or staying gainfully employed. As an R.N. she knew that there were jobs in the medical profession which were unfilled. She also knew there were jobs in the community working shift work or weekends. She heard the frustration of parents who needed work but did not have safe, appropriate child care for evening or weekends. Through her non-profit organization, she partnered with others to establish a 24/7 childcare center.  This fall she is launching a medical transcription school in Tyler to train people to fill some of those unfilled medical slots. These are things which she has accomplished as a private citizen. It frustrates her to see the Congressman from East Texas "grandstand for soundbites" and "neglect tackling issues which are truly life and death for East Texas families."  She is determined to change things for the better. She knows that she can do more for people as a member of Congress than as a private citizen.

Running for Congress has almost become a way of life in the McKellar household. Most candidates set-aside other community service and focus only on campaigning. McKellar campaigns while serving. She doesn't stop doing whatever she can to make things better. She doesn't stop meeting people and hearing their stories and viewpoints. She doesn't stop building and fine-tuning her campaign organization. She works the phone and internet as her driver shuttles her from one city to another, between places where she volunteers and serves on boards to campaign events and team meetings.

Education is a way of life in the McKellar household.  All children matter. Realizing that "education had to start earlier than the first grade and that much of the human brain is formed by age 3," Dr. McKellar and her friend,  Dr. Sally Sanders, RN, MSN, started an early childhood education school serving ages 6 Weeks-Kindergarten. They also launched an after school mentor-mentee program and provided care for children until midnight for the children of parents whose jobs required "shift work". It evolved into a different non-profit which employs social workers who provides service to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in 12 counties.

McKellar's husband, Bro.  Danny C. McKellar,  is an educator who retired from the  Dallas Independent School Systems, and  now serves on the pastoral staff of a church in Tyler as Minister of Christian Education. Juggling children, community, military service, church, and education was a constant in their household. Somehow they pulled it off and frequently amazed people with how effortlessly it appears from the outside. From the inside, there is teamwork and mutual affirmation. She is about building, nurturing, healing, leading. Both of their children are grown; now they have five grandchildren.

She leads a multi-ethnic rainbow coalition and resonates with people of all ages. She has friends and associates that stretch back to her public school days in Tyler or University or years while she was serving in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. Some related to her because she shares their ethnicity and understands their history. Other gravitate to her because she is   "delightful, intelligent, accomplished, human and caring." Her staff have variations in skin color but share her determination to make things better for everybody. Instead of talking about what needs to be done, she attracts people who do what they can wherever they are to make things better while evaluating what needs to be done next.   
She doesn't want to just end the discrimination that shoved people to the back of the bus, she wants to help people overcome there not being a "bus to get on."  It is important to understand who we are and where we come from in order to find our way to a better tomorrow. It won't be done with hatred and name calling. It must be forged with respect and hard work. Earlier this year, she took a bus load of folks from East Texas to walk across the Selma Bridge. It would probably have been easier for her to just go with a friend or two or by herself. But is not who and what she is. It was wonderful for her to be able to share the experience with many who probably would have been unable to go if she had not "instigate it."


Instead of working to bring jobs to East Texas, the Republican Incumbent Louie Gohmert's positions frequently make it more difficult for employers to keep people working. For over two years he fought to close down the Export Import Bank. He called it "Corporate Welfare" even though not one cent of taxpayer money was required for its operation. In fact, the fees and interest charged foreign borrowers who utilized the bank's services to finance their purchases of goods and services produced by American businesses employing American workers generated a profit which was transferred to the U.S. Treasury. In 2014 over $674Bil went into the U.S. Treasury after all expenses were paid by the Export Import Bank. It made no sense for Gohmert and others (who frequently voted for tax breaks and subsidies for their pet industries) to target the Export Import Bank. Yet they did. One of the last acts on June 30th, before Congress adjourned for their break, was Gohmert, Jeb Hensarling, and others succeeding in blocking the renewal of the 81-year old Export Import Bank's charter.  There action is one which is causing American businesses to lose contracts to foreign competitors. It is  an act which,  in the short-term,  is costing the U.S. Treasury the millions of dollars a year in profits the bank earns on interest and fees and, if not rectified, will cost the American economy in the long-term. The immediate consequence was loss of several large contracts by American based manufacturers. Without these contracts, corporations are announcing lay-offs. Loss of one satellite contract is prompting Boeing to announce the cut of 3,300 American workers by December 2015. There are reports of similar job cuts in almost every state in the nation. Why? Because some members of Congress decided to end our nation's bank of last resort for exports.

This makes no sense to Shirley McKellar. She views it as "an unnecessary and illogical move. Instead of focusing on solving real problems and working to keep American jobs here, and working to create new jobs, Congressman Gohmert's position in the Export Import Bank is causing American manufacturers to have to turn to foreign governmental banks to finance their exports." These governments are requiring that their citizens are employed instead of American workers. Without jobs, people do not earn. Without earnings, people are not taxed. Without taxes, the government has greater deficits. It makes no sense to many people and it certainly makes no sense to this problem-solving, logical, intelligent, obstacle attacking former U.S.Army Nurse and Officer.

 Gohmert's time on the bench as a judge had been filled with controversy. Once he even overstepped his authority and ordered a couple to marry within 24 hours under duress. He promised to commute the man's sentence only if he married his girlfriend. McKellar saw a pattern of failing to follow the Constitution and failing to focus on solving the real problems facing people in East Texas from Congressman Gohmert.

2016  will be the third time she has challenged Louie Gohmert for the US-TX 1 seat in Congress. The first time, was a learning experience. The second time she was able to build a campaign organization. This time she is strengthening her organization and reinforcing her network.

She also is host or co-host of three radio shows per week. She recruits volunteers locally and nationally. Working from a virtual office in Kentucky, co-host Rhena Piegols is a key part of McKellar's campaign staff.  Traveling with her to many of her campaign events, Ellis County resident First Sargent (ret). Eddings is a familiar sight. They met in Brooks Medical Hospital, both injured soldiers who were helping others.

Her schedule is tight.  Between campaign events, she always sandwiches in service at the V.A. Hospital in Dallas. It is not unusual for her to drive from Tyler on Tuesday morning, serve at the V.A. Hospital in Dallas until 2 or 3 in the afternoon, make a meeting or two that afternoon, drive to East Texas and speak at a Club or Democratic or Community gathering in Tyler, Longview, Marshall, Carthage, Nacogdoches or Lufkin and return to Dallas on Wednesday to serve again at the V.A. Her newly redesigned campaign logo reflect the many hats and roles this multi-faceted human being brings to everything she does. She is the great great granddaughter of one of East Texas' noted rose growers. She described growing up on "500 acres of roses and cabbage" in an interview with Joan Hallmark of Channel 7-Tyler. Her family has been farmers in business in Smith County for over 5 generations. Several generations of her family owned and operated Mitchell Erwin Roses of East Texas, which was a major supplier for roses for Tyler's Rose parade. She says: "I learned from watching them. They started businesses and ran businesses and employed the family and other people."

She has a strong network of supporters in East Texas and a network that spans across the United States. From former military associates, to educators and medical associates, to leaders in numerous groups and associations, and listeners on her radio programs which are broadcast in the Tyler/ET market, and across then nation on Blog Talk USA, she engages people. As people grow to know her, her supporter base grows. She is an individual who does not accept what is "hard" as being "impossible." She sees working for improving things as a calling and refuses to be deterred. Every time Congressman Gohmert distorts the facts or lies to the media or the people of East Texas, it strengthens her resolve and energizes her to continue communicating with people, to continue doing what she can whenever she can to improve things, to continue treating people respectfully and fairly.

In July 2015 Gohmert addressed the Lions Club in Carthage and stated that "President Obama lied when he said no money would be transferred from Medicare to fund Obamacare." Gohmert continued, saying: "Over $70 Billion dollars over ten years was transferred from Medicare to pay for Obamacare." McKellar shook her head when asked about Gohmert's statement. No money was transferred form Medicare or Social Security to fund the Affordable Care Act. Gohmert knows this. He is probably counting   on retirees thinking that the rise in Social Security Supplement Insurance premiums in Texas is because "President Obama did something to cause it."

Dr. McKellar and others who have researched it know that Congressman Gohmert is misleading people. The rise in Social Security Premiums would be greater if the Affordable Care Act had not been enacted. It is based on the cost the insurance companies have to pay for medical services which are driven higher in proportion to the losses providers have to cover for service to uninsured patients. So where did Gohmert get the $70 Billion over ten years? It comes from an estimate of SAVINGS over ten years from improving the process which enables the government to detect Medicare Fraud. McKellar understand this, She knows her opponent. She knows health care. She understands the economic cause and effect of uninsured losses and the human costs of denial of access to medical care. She is appalled at the incumbent feeding the fear of senior citizens, his crass disregard for the truth, and his refusal to work to improve services which are lifelines for so many worthy Americans. She cannot change him. It merely makes her more determined to be better herself, to serve others, to respect our American process, to find solutions, and to Win so that she can do more for more people.

One difference between her 2016 Campaign and previous races is news coverage. She has continued building her coalition, strengthening her team, training and learning and teaching and sharing. Instead of contacting the media trying to get them to mention her, this year, the media contacts her. She has already been featured or included on more television interviews in the East Texas market this year than in her two previous campaigns combined. The January 2015 feature Joan Hallmark did on her for "Freedom Fighters" which aired on Channel 7 was excellent.  When Gohmert said he'd retire from Congress if the Iran Agreement became a Treaty she was interviewed again by Channel 7. "Skeptical. Of course I'm skeptical. He's just saying that to get news coverage." she said. "He doesn't intend to not run. I do agree with one thing he said. No one wants him in Washington anymore." She was referring to Gohmert's alienation of the Speaker of the House and G.O.P. party establishment. He is no longer chair or member of any important committees. When you challenge the Speaker of the House and lose, you become less effective at getting the job done for the people in your district. Gohmert only got 3 votes when he ran for Speaker in 2015.  He lost much more than he gained and with his decline, went opportunities to make substantive improvements for his district. His attempt to defund Homeland Security earlier this year led to the Republican American Action Network, the sister PAC of the Republican Congressional Leadershp Fund, spending $10K on digital advertising in his district. This was he first time that organization has advertised against one of their own party's incumbents.

The Longview News ran a story March  3, 2O15:
"After a week of legislative chaos over funding the Department of Homeland Security, a Republican group is taking aim at U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, in his East Texas district over his opposition to a DHS funding plan.
American Action Network, which calls itself a "center-right" advocacy group, has bought $10,000 worth of digital advertising in the district in the hope of building support for a congressional bill that will fund the Department of Homeland Security.
"Global threats against our security are increasing … and some in Washington are playing political games with our national security," the ad says. "Tell Congressman Gohmert: Fund Homeland Security."...
AAN and its sister Super PAC, Congressional Leadership Fund, have unofficial ties with House GOP leadership. Former leadership staffers work for AAN and CLF, and House Speaker John Boehner participated in a CLF fundraiser in 2013, according to Politico.

Both organizations are capable of spending millions during campaign season. This is the first time either group used negative advertising against sitting members of the GOP."

The 2016 Campaign in East Texas will be interesting to watch. It is a rematch between the multi-term far right of center incumbent who has alienated the leadership of his own party and a highly decorated retired East Texas female soldier who considers getting fewer votes than her opponent on election day as "not as a defeat but as preparation for when I come back and win it."

Shirley McKellar:
Born: Tyler, Texas

Married: Danny C. McKellar
Parents of a son and a daughter and five grandchildren

Education: R.N., Nurse Clinician, PhD

Bachelors, Texas Women's University:  

Nursing and Chemistry
Masters, University of Texas, with honors: 

Community Health Nursing
Criminal Justice  

Organizational Speech Communications

Community Minority Business Advancement
Doctorate, Columbus College of Public Health and Administration: 
Nursing Management with Dissertation on "Spiritual in breast cancer patients" written at the UT Health Science Center, Tyler, TX  
Military Services: U.S. Army Nurse Corps, Major (ret.)

  • Served 18 years active duty
  • Deployed overseas for 18 months in support of, "Operation Iraqi Freedom," and "Operation Enduring Freedom," serving in combat zone medical units in Iraq and at the U.S. Military Hospital in Stuttgart, Germany.
  • Served as Major (rank 66 H-8A,MOS for the 94th Combat Support Hospital, Seagoville, TX. 
  • Served as the Officer-in-Charge of Combat Life Saving School,
    Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),
    Consideration of Others 
  • Served as Unit Sexual Harassment Team Officer
Member or serves with:
American Biographical Institute Research AssociatioAmerican Business Women's Association
National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer
National Black Nurses Association

The Intercultural Cancer Association 
National Sisters Network, (cancer awareness for black women)

American Biographical Institute Research Association

American Business Women's Association

Texas Democratic Women

North Tenneha Church of Christ

Numerous Veterans organizations

Radio Talk Show Host:
          Radio KGLD 13.30 AM  at Thursday noon , "A View From The Top," covering local and national topics
         "Marvelous Monday's with Dr. Shirley J. McKellar" on Blog Talk USA, Monday from  8 to 10 pm CST
          RGLO Baltimore, MD , co-host "Wellness Wednesdays with Donny Walker",  8 a.m. CST.

Two Texas Democratic women have declared their candidacy for U.S. Congress in 2016. The Texas Federal Blue Seed PAC has an appeal for funding for these two candidates. With one click a donor can contribute directly to these two candidate's campaign and assist the Federal multi-candidate PAC in its assistance to non-incumbent progressive Democrats who are challenging Republican/ Tea Party congressional incumbents in Texas' currently red Congressional Districts. Donors can use debit or credit cards or pay pal securely on-line.

To contribute to her campaign from her website:
To contribute to the two women (McKellar and Caiden) running in Texas and to the Texas Federal Blue Seed PAC (which supports them and other progressive challengers running against incumbent Republicans for Congressional Seats in Texas with one click:
(Note: the part that is given to the candidates using this form does not count against the $5000 per candidate cap per election the PAC can give to them).
To contribute to the two former officers (McKellar and Cozad) running for Congress in Texas and to the Texas Federal Blue Seed PAC with one click:

Sunday, September 06, 2015

New Contributors

By Faith Chatham - September 6,2015
Invitations have been extended to a number of new authors for this blog. Most are either 2016 candidates or leaders with activist groups. Some are staffers for progressive candidates running for office in 2016.

The best way for us to learn what is happening with these campaigns and groups is for them to post their news directly to this blog.

Some are also being extended invitations to post to "Wise Women Won't Wait Any More" and/or "Reclaiming the Texas Turf."

The articles are from the perspective of the campaign or author, not from the perspective of the site administrator or DFW RCC.

The Real Labor Day Story This Year: Congressional Assault on American Jobs

By Faith Chatham - Sept. 6, 2016 Republished from Daily Kos
Instead of working to create jobs and help American manufacturers  compete in the international market place, short-sighted, bone-headed members of Congress conspired to shut down America's 81-year old  Export Import Bank. Without the financing of last resort, American businesses have lost contracts to foreign competitors. Layoffs are being announced in almost every state in the nation.

Instead of local media calling the members of Congress to task for their direct action against the bank, most are ignoring the story. In Dallas, the DMN did cover the comments of the CEO of GE about their board's decision not to relocate their national headquarters (with about 5000 jobs) to Dallas. He directly cited Jeb Hensarling's assault on the Export/Import Bank. GE decided against investing in a region which elects members to Congress who are directly hostile to the bank which enables them to be competitive. Hensarling's statement on the Export/Import Bank angered C.E.O.s of businesses which relied on the Bank's services.
"This is a small step toward renewing a competitive free-market economy and arresting the rise of the progressive welfare state and the cronyism connected to it.  Ex-Im is not only corporate welfare, it is corporate welfare for foreign companies and countries." -Jeb Hensarling Press Release - June 25, 2015).

Americans who value their jobs should examine the position on the Export/Import Bank taken by the U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators elected to Congress from their Districts.  Failure to renew the Bank's charter is a direct assault on jobs. It is leading to more American jobs moving off-shore.

The Dallas Morning News failed to mention that Michael Burgess, Kenny Marchant, Louie Gohmert and Ted Poe have worked  with Jeb Hensarling  for over two years to get the Export/Import Bank shut down.  They have lashed out at the bank and the businesses which utilize its services, labeling its services "Corporate Welfare."

Ironically, the Bank does not cost the Taxpayers ONE CENT. All operation costs of the EX/IM Bank are paid by the fees and interest charged to the foreign borrowers who finance the American-made goods and services they import! In fact, in 2014, the EX/IM Bank transferred into the U.S. Treasury over $675 Mil which was profits it made after all their operating expenses were paid.

There is no substance to the claims of Tea Party extremist like Gohmert, Marchant, Burgess, Poe and Hensarling that this is "corporate welfare."

They don't consider services of commercial lenders who finance homes and automobiles "welfare." The borrowers of the Import/Export bank pay back the loans and pay fees and interest.  The Ex/Im Bank does not compete with private lenders. It is a lender of last resort. They step in after other lenders refuse to lend.

Granted, some of America's largest corporations use the services of the Export/Import Bank. Boeing, GE, General Dynamics utilize the bank for some of their contracts. The majority of the loans go to small to medium exporter. Even the larger corporation's contracts support small to medium sub-contractors.Helping to level the playing field for American businesses so that they can compete with foreign manufacturers is a legitimate role for our Federal Government. Large and small businesses are employers. Sometimes when a small business fails, hundreds of employees lose their jobs. That hurts the local economy. When a large business loses contracts, thousands of employees lose their jobs and the small to mid-sized businesses which do business with them are frequently also forced to down-size. That hurts the entire region and frequently has a negative ripple-effect that goes across our entire nation.

The Export/Import Bank has one of the lowest default rates of any lending institution in this nation! Renewing the Bank's Charter is a Win/Win for American and for American workers. However, a handful of boneheaded right wing zealots decided to torpedo American jobs by refusing to renew its charter.

Now American workers are losing their jobs. Some companies are turning to other nations to get financing for contracts they have invested a lot into and they will face big losses if they cannot secure. Without financing, buyers cannot purchase from our suppliers. So many are turning to countries such as Canada to provide the financing. These financial agreements usually require that the supplier employ citizens of the country which provides the financing.

In East Texas, Louie Gohmert (R) represents the Texas First District in the U.S. Congress. That district has one of the state's highest unemployment and under employment rates. Gohmert, despite his decade in office, has not helped the region solve its employment problems. He has not worked to help leaders in the region attract new businesses to the region. He has protected the fossil fuel industry by voting for tax breaks and subsidies. He does not see these direct transfers from the budget to his pet industries as "corporate welfare" yet calls the services of the Export Import Bank (which do not transfer any taxpayer money to anyone) "welfare!"

Dr. Shirley McKellar, PhD of Tyler is challenging Gohmert for the US-TX 1 seat in Congress.
The Texas Federal Blue Seed PAC issued this message this week utilizing talking points by McKellar on Gohmert's opposition to the renewal of the charter of the Export/Import Bank.

McKellar is a charismatic, multi-degreed Tyler businesswoman. An R.N., she enlisted in the Army and served 18 months of her over 18 years of Active Duty in Iraq and Germany supporting our troops medically. Injured in Iraq, she returned home and was told that she would have to wait 18 months for the medical treatment she needed to overcome her injuries. Her local Congressman (Louie Gohmert) voted for across the board cuts to Veterans services. The V.A. was in crisis. Shirley McKellar is a fighter. She fought for herself. She underwent numerous surgeries and excruciating rehab. Much of her treatment was at Brooks in San Antonio. There she listened, observed, and learned. She was determined to change things. As a civilian, she has stepped forward to help people solve some of the problems Congressman Gohmert has ignored. She is fighting to take his seat in Congress so that she can help solve more problems for people who live in the Texas First District.

Changing thing, improving things, is nothing new to Shirley McKellar. She has been doing that all her life. In business, before entering the military, she was a leader and educator in the health care field and a leader in her community.  In the military, she led in establishing medical programs for women soldiers. She was instrumental in establishing the Breast Cancer Screening Program for the European Theater for the U.S. Military. She implemented a critical response training program which saved the government money by  in-house training which helped to alleviate a shortage of trained medical staff. Back at home, after being forced to retire by her injuries, she was turned her attention to serving here. In conjunction with the UT Austin Medical School she established the African American Breast Cancer Awareness Program and served as site manager for the UT Tyler campus.

Lack of good paying jobs are one of her greatest concerns. She saw parents struggling to pay the rent and to provide for their children. Jobs were especially in short supply. Some were offered jobs working nights or weekends. Safe, affordable child care was not available in Tyler.. Dr. McKellar used a non-profit organization she had co-founded, and partnered with others to provide 24/7 childcare. This allowed parents to go to work and also created jobs for others caring for the children. Some solutions are not high-tech. Many require listening, observing, and using "common sense."

It appears that the Republican (Tea Party) former judge who the Texas First District has sent to Congress is short on using "common sense."  There is nothing "conservative" about costing the U.S. Treasury over $675Million dollars in profit from a bank which enables American businesses to be competitive in the world market and does not use one cent in taxpayer money for operations. "Common sense" does not lead to costing American workers their jobs by removing the financing which enables foreign buyers to purchase American-made goods.

In the US-7th District (Houston) incumbent John Culberson (R) also opposed the renewal of the Ex/Im Bank's charter. City of Houston Assistant Attorney James Cargas was the Democratic Nominee in the U.S. TX-7th in 2014. He's kicking off his 2016 Congressional Campaign in mid September. Cargas served under Bill Richardson in the Energy Department during Bill Clinton's administration. An Oil and Gas attorney, Cargas specialized in sustainable development. Houston, one of our nation's energy centers, has converted its municipal energy supplies to sustainable sources during Cargas' time with the City. He is not the only voice in Houston which moved the city in this direction, but it is probable that his training and expertise was one of the resources Mayor Parker relied upon during this transformation. This saved the City money and did not undermine the city's support for the fossil fuel intensive refinery and exploration companies based there.

Cargas understands the importance of exports in our nation's economy. Renewal of the Export/Import Bank's charter to protect American jobs is high on his list of things which must be accomplished. Culberson's opposition to the bank is costing Houston based businesses contracts. Loss of contracts leads to layoffs. Layoffs trickle down and impact other small to large businesses. Without pay checks, consumers cannot patronize retailers. This impacts the tax base of cities. Cargas understands this, but unfortunately, the incumbent in Congress seems to myopic to comprehend the importance of the 81-year old American Export/Import Bank.

No Republican or Democrat have filed yet to challenge Jeb Hensarling, Kenny Marchant or Michael Burgess. It will be unfortunate if they are allowed to get a free-ride to re-election in 2016. In addition to the loss of potential growth by the decision of GE not to relocate to Dallas, they are failing the business community of their districts and costing American jobs. General Dynamics is among the larger employers in the NT region who use the EX/Im Bank for financing. As the U.S. Military has cut back on aircraft purchases, DFW aircraft manufacturers and others across the US have converted some of their lines to building civilian aircraft. Loss of financing for foreign exports at at time when the industry is attempting to shift production into the civilian market makes it very difficult for these manufacturers to service contracts with foreign buyers, and to keep maintain their current workforce levels here in the United States.

Faith Chatham is the CFO/Developmental Officer for the Texas Federal Blue Seed PAC. She is a DFW-based activist/writer who frequently covers Environmental, Ethics, Public Policy and Campaign Finance. She was Chief of Staff/Strategist for the 2014 Cozad for Congress campaign. Follow her on Twitter @faithchatham or @txfedblueseed   or @arllngtonfocus

See Daily Kos post for articles documenting the impact of Congress not renewing the Bank's Charter on U.S. Jobs.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Guns and Upsurping Control from Local Citizens Tops Legislative Agenda this Session

By Faith Chatham - June 5, 2015
Some of the awful bills that were filed in the Texas Legislature this session died. Other truly awful ones were passed and in a totally irresponsible fashion, Gov. Abbott is bragging about signing them into law.

Brian Birdwell and Konni Burton head our Senate Wall of Shame this Session:

Birdwell, a decorated military man who was injured when the plane flew into the Pentagon, earns our biggest Senate Blaggard Award. It was a hard choice but he stands out on two fronts.
1. Attacking the benefits of other military veterans and their descendants with his bill that would reduce the number of Texas Veterans who qualify for education assistance under the Hazlewood Act. Birdwell's proposed eliminating eligibility for reservist and national guard who were called to active duty to qualify under the Hazlewood Act. Those men and women who were called to Active Duty during the Bush and Obama administration, many of whom were deployed abroad into combat for long tours of duty and retained abroad when those tours ended are disqualified for Hazlewood Act Benefits under Birdwell's bill. Birdwell also proposed shortening the number of years in which the education benefits could be used. For many soldiers, their children would not be old enough for college before the benefits expired. Thank You Brian Birdwell for being so callous to other Veterans! This bill is deplorable and Birdwell is too callous to even comprehend how very mean spirited this bill is. His service to this nation is noted. His attack on the welfare of other veterans takes him down several knotches in my estimation.  This bill dishonors the uniform he wore and the nation he served. He ranks as blaggard for refusing to honor the service of other veterans.

2. Birdwell earns the nickname of "Tote those Guns on Campus" for sponsoring the Campus Carry bill which was passed by both houses of the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Abbot. As drafted, the bill did not allow State Universities to prohibit guns anywhere on campus. To get it passed, it was amended to allow universities the option of establishing gun free zones. Because Birdwell represents Waco, in self-preservation when Baylor University objected to campus carry, Birdwell exempted private schools from having to allow guns on campus and reworded it to apply to State School. Gee. What a creep.  I truly hope he has a strong opponent in the Republican Primary who takes him out in 2016. I hope there is a strong candidate in the Democratic Primary who wages a good fight in the General Election. He's gotten a free ride in too many election cycles. His assault on Veterans removes the advantage he had from military service. Would be great for another vet (or 2) to challenge him and one of them claim that seat.

Then we come to Senator Konni Burton. She jumped in and carried water for the Oil and Gas Industry and put her name on an abominable anti-local governmental control bill which I think violates both the Texas and the U.S. Constitution. Named Senate Bill 40 because the Oil and Gas industry is said to be 40% of the Texas economy, the bill removes the right of local citizens to petition their government and vote in ordinances which regulate underground activities. Citizens in Denton, a city which is far from a liberal stronghold, voted overwhelmingly to ban fracking. Burton's bill not only restricts local governments from banning fracking, it nullifies all local ordinances which have been passed in the past five years which pertain to any underground activity.

Cities such as Arlington can no longer prohibit injection wells. With the rash of earthquakes in the Barnett Shale, which evidence shows are probably related to injection wells, and other Oil and Gas activity, passage of this bill places local landowners at greater risk of property damage. The sponsors of this bill are so proud of their service to the 50% yet they put the rest of the economy and all residential property owners at greater risk by removing local oversight totally from the Oil and Gas Industry. If the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality or the Texas Rail Road Commission actually did their job instead of being a full time state sponsored lap dog of the industry, state oversight would be a very different thing. Texans have litte reason to expect State Regulators to enact reasonable controls. Cities such as Fort Worth and Arlington which have hundreds of wells are pretty well screwed. Those who signed gas leases were informed of stricter local ordinances. Now that those ordinances are null and void thank to Konni Burton and a cadre of other fossil fuel agents, the environmental realities in many neighborhoods will probably deteriorate.  It is a shame that Burton tired of her Wedding Planning business. She is more suited to such endeavors than she is to legislation. Unfortunately, Senators serve 6 year terms and Senate District 10 is probably stuck with her until 2020!

Oh, there are rumblings that two of the freshmen have established policies that exclude constituency service to anyone who did not vote for them. Mollie White (TX-H Belton) and Konni Burton (TX-S 10) seem to fail to realize that once elected, they are supposed to serve EVERYONE. These two are reported to have instructed staff not to schedule appointments for people who live in their districts who were not their supporters!  Senate 10 has 602,461 Voting Age Residents. Since she only got 95,532 votes so according to her policy it appears that she intends to serve less than a 6th of the district! Maybe she can get 1/6 of her stipend and salary. Granted, the Legislature doesn't make that much, but for those who choose to cherry pick who is and who isn't constituents, they deserves less than they get!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Bay Area Houston: Dan Patrick. When you lie with teabaggers

Bay Area Houston: Dan Patrick. When you lie with teabaggers: Texas State Senator Dan Patrick is a smart liar. Case in point, his comments about immigration from Peggy Fikac’s of the Houston Chronicle :...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Water! Water! It's about Water and Education for this Texas Senate District 9 Candidate

By Faith Chatham - Jan. 13, 2014
Gregory R. Perry is a quiet-spoken intelligent man. When asked why he is running for Texas Senate District 9, he replied: "Mainly Anger!"
When he begins talking about public policy and how it impacts his grandchildren, it becomes clear that Gregory R. Perry is determined to change the course of Texas public policy. Gregory is convinced that the trajectory of this state is at odds with the opportunities facing his grandchildren and their generations. Gregory R. Perry is a man with a purpose and he knows what must be done and is ready to get to work seeing that it gets done!
1. Education - "Without education no one is going anywhere!" Perry says that even highway funding is inconsequential if we do not educate our children. He is running in an urban district (Arlington,  Irving, Grand Prairie and the Mid-Cities) which has over 89,000 adults who have not graduated from High School.  Unopposed in the Democratic Primary, Gregory R. Perry is facing incumbent Kelly Hancock (R) in the General Election. Hancock voted to slash school funding in 2011 while in the Texas House. In the Senate he has done little or nothing to restore the funding or to strengthen the public education system in Texas. In the Senate, Hancock opposed Equal Pay for Equal Work for women.

2. Public Infrastructure - especially Water - For Gregory Perry it comes down to energy and water. The U.S. Government stopped building reservoirs in the 1980s. The Reagan administration tried to privatize building water reservoir. Perry, retired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, specialized in water management and river engineering. He says that until the Reagan administration, the Army Corps of Engineers built three reservoirs per decade to keep up with water demands from population growth and expanded industrial usage. When Reagan tried to sell of the reservoirs and speculated that future reservoirs could be constructed by private corporations, they failed to factor in the impact of flood control and sovereignty.

Only the United States Government can claim sovereignty. When reservoirs have to open the floodgates in exercising flood control, the government can defend itself from law suits because of sovereignty. A private company cannot. Therefore, it is too big a risk for private corporations to invest in reservoirs. There is a water crisis in Texas and it will not get better. Deferring investment in water solutions -- long term investment in infrastructure is imperative for the quality of life and economic future of North Texans. Gregory R. Perry worked on the Joe Pool Lake, Lake of the Pines, Sam Rayburn, and Lake of the Pines Corps of Engineers water management projects. He understand water and he knows Texas aquifers. With the stress of trillions of gallons of water used by horizontal drilling/fracking in Texas during drought, water is a priority for this next legislative session. He has worked on the rivers and lakes of Texas and now Gregory R. Perry is prepared to bring solutions to the floor for consideration.

Commenting on the power plants which went off-line during the January cold spell, Perry explains that these plants are coal power plants and it takes longer for a coal plant to come on-line. Water powered power plants come on-line rapidly. However, in Texas we do not have the water to power new hydro powered plants.

We have to think ahead and be innovative and apply sustainable energy solutions throughout the state. "Fossil fuel is a limited resource. We must shift to renewable energy for powering our homes and businesses and save the petro chemicals for producing plastics." Perry sees the current use of fossil fuel as "squandering resources which are too precious to use on generating electricity."

3. Equal Pay for Equal Work - Gregory Perry says that failure to index the minimum wage to inflation has eroded the financial base of families and transferred costs to the government which should be included in the cost of business when making a profit. In Senate District 9, over 48% of the households in the district live on less than $50,000 a year.  About 45% of the households in the District are renters. The median gross rent is $850 a month. Transportation cost is high. The Texas Legislative Council estimates that 110,536 people were living in poverty in Senate District 9 in 2011 and the per capita income is estimated as $25,046. Gregory R. Perry believes all workers should be fairly compensated. Gender and racial workplace discrimination must stop. The percentage of Latino and African American workers are three times more likely to live in poverty than Anglo workers. Texas has a higher employment rate than many other states but 28.6% of Texas jobs are low-wage. Gregory R. Perry says that "Trickle-down economic is a dismal failure. Money flows to the top one percent and American jobs have gone off-shore. Money hasn't trickled down to the middle class. The earning of many of the middle class is now below the poverty level." Gregory Perry cites a 2011 U.S. Census Bureau report that the number of families living in poverty in the United States is now at the highest level in 50 years.

Perry sees education as the big divide between economic stability and opportunity.  The Texas Legislative Council reports 26.6% of the adults in Senate District 9 have Bachelor's Degrees or higher. However, 18.1% of the adults 25 years and older do not have high school diplomas. Many of the 45.8% of the district which have graduated from High School have difficulty affording a college education. In 2011 only 45,613 persons in the district were in college, attending university or trade schools. Gregory R. Perry says that lack of education combined with racial and gender discrimination in pay rates and job opportunities impacts the poverty level in the district. When families earn less, they have less to spend. This impacts the retail, housing and wholesale sectors of the district and impacts the overall economics of the region.

Gregory R. Perry does not think in sound-bites. He thinks like an engineer who is interested in macro economics. He views the big picture and looks for short-term solutions as a bridge while  long-term investments can be implemented to prevent future problems.

I found the conversations with Mr. Perry very stimulating. He does not duck and hide from the difficult questions. He is a family man who thinks of the future instead of just trying to put a band-aide on current problems. I find him refreshingly honest and intelligent. He is not a politician. He's neither polished nor evasive! He does have a plan and he has purpose. I like him. He is worth giving serious consideration for replacing the current incumbent in Senate District 9.

Visit his website at


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Campaign Rules Proposed for Tax-Exempt Nonprofits

The Obama administration on Tuesday moved to issue new rules that would curtail political activity by tax-exempt nonprofit groups, with potentially significant ramifications for one of the fastest-growing sources of campaign spending.
The proposed rules, announced by the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service, would expand and clarify how the I.R.S. defines political activity and then establish clearer limits for how much activity nonprofits can engage in. Such a change — long urged by government watchdog groups — would be the first wholesale shift in a generation in the regulations governing political activity.
The move to curtail nonprofits follows years of legal and regulatory shifts, such as the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010, that have steadily loosened the rules governing political spending, particularly by big corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals.
The rules would not prohibit political activity by nonprofit organizations. But by establishing clearer limits for campaign-related spending, the new rules could have a significant impact on the big-spending nonprofit groups that have played a central role in national politics in recent years, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on political advertising and voter outreach.
The administration’s proposal would apply to nonprofit groups organized under Section 501(c)4 of the tax code, which are permitted tax exemption in exchange for devoting themselves primarily to the promotion of “social welfare,” which under current rules can include some political activity.
The largest political nonprofits — such as Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, co-founded by Karl Rove, the Republican operative, or Americans for Prosperity, backed by the conservative philanthropists Charles and David Koch, have exploited that provision to spend heavily on election-themed advertising.
But the proposed guidance, a broad swath of campaign-related activity — including any ads that mention a candidate within 60 days of an election — would be excluded from the definition of “social welfare.”
“Depending on the details, this could be dramatic,” said Marcus S. Owens, a former chief of the I.R.S.'s exempt organizations division.
The rules would also effect political activity by conservative and liberal grass-roots organizations, including Tea Party groups whose complaints of aggressive treatment and harassment by I.R.S. employees led to the resignation of several high-ranking agency officials last spring.
More details of the proposal were scheduled to be released later on Tuesday. The final rules are unlikely to be issued until after the 2014 election, after a lengthy public comment period, possible hearings and more deliberation by the agency.
“This proposed guidance is a first critical step toward creating clear-cut definitions of political activity by tax-exempt social welfare organizations,” said Mark J. Mazur, the assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy.
Unlike candidates, parties and “super PACs,” such groups do not have to disclose donors, giving rise to the label “dark money” for organizations that spend heavily on elections but claim to be engaged in promoting social welfare.
The vague — and inconsistently enforced — rules for political nonprofits, along with the anonymity they offer donors, have made them the vehicle of choice for wealthy individuals, corporations and unions seeking to influence elections in secret. From 2006 to 2012, election spending by tax-exempt groups rose to more than $300 million from less than $5.2 million.
Read more in The New York Times

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Max Bus Service is a Feeble Beginning

By Faith Chatham - Arlington, TX - Nov. 21, 2013
RIDE THE MAX is a two-year pilot program linking Arlington to the Dallas DART and Fort Worth T Systems. It is a controversial start to mass transit service for Arlington, Texas. I see it as necessary, but feeble beginning.
Currently there are two MAX bus stops in Arlington for the service operated by DART which connects Arlington with the TRE at the Centerpoint Rail Station. The service runs 5 days a week, Monday through Friday. It does not run on Saturday when most of the games are played at the Dallas Cowboy Stadium.
The Entertainment District stop was only added Nov. 4th. The location, in my opinion, is wrong. It is located at Andrews and Collins, where there are no benches and no covered shelters. Andrews is four blocks North of the Cowboy Stadium and about a block South of Lincoln Square.
In our neighborhood, two blocks west of the Cowboy Stadium on Webb Street near Randoll Mill Road, there are twelve benches and four shelters. This infrastructure already exists and Arlington taxpayers have already paid for them. I wonder why we have to stand out in the rain and don't have a bench to sit on while we wait for the bus when there is existing under utilized infrastructure on another near-by street!
During the week, when the MAX buses run, these benches and shelters on Webb Street, and the adjacent Cowboy Stadium parking lots, are TOTALLY deserted This already existing public infrastructure (facing an Arlington street and situated on public right-of-way) is very under- utilized. These benches and shelter are used, at the very most, three to five hours a week during football season.
The benches and shelters on Webb Street are two blocks from the Cowboy Stadium, one half block from Randoll Mill Rd, two blocks from Walmart, one block from Walgreens and are adjacent to neighborhoods which have numerous apartment buildings and small single-family homes and duplexes. This is my neighborhood.
,Many of the residents of my neighborhood favor mass transit because we need it. Some of my neighbors have cars which cannot stand up to regularly commuting to Dallas or Fort Worth. Riding an affordable bus with connections to the .TRE and DART or T systems can open up better job opportunities for many people. Better jobs for Arlington residents means more money to spend locally, and that improves our city's economy!
I am a MAX bus rider. Like many of my neighbors, I can walk to the benches at Webb Street, but current bus stop is seven blocks farther away, and that is much harder for me and my neighbors. As a mobility impaired person, I have to have a place to sit down while I wait for a bus or I wait for Handitran to pick me up and take me home..
Richard Webber and other critics of the MAX service have pointed out that the AISD charter bus contract is for $70.00 an hour while the DART contract for MAX service is $150.00 an hour. When accounting for the value of the service, I think it is important to consider that the DART contract includes fares for passengers' connecting service to the TRE and either Fort Worth T systems or the Dallas Dart systems. The AISD contract only includes payment for where the bus goes -- and does not include the right to connect to the T or DART system. You cannot weigh the per hour charge between the AISD Charter Contract and the MAX contract because they are not similar services. One is only for the bus transportation. The other is for the bus transportation and for transportation on the TRE Train and 24-hours of connecting service with the Fort Worth T and Dallas DART systems.
There is a very organized group of Arlington citizens who oppose mass transit of any kind. There are as many, probably more, Arlington citizens who favor it. However, those who favor it are unorganized and not as vocal as the opponents.
The opponents frequently argue against any subsidy of mass transit. They claim, as tax payers, they deserve to be able to drive their cars without having buses on "their streets." They fail to acknowledge that every taxpayer in Arlington subsidizes them when they put their automobile onto a public highway or city street. Their car taxes, gas tax and inspection fees do not generate enough money for the State of Texas, U.S. Government or City of Arlington to build and maintain pubic streets. Transportation is already subsidized  for people driving private automobiles.
It is past time for Arlington to join the modern world and and create a mass transit system which will augment existing modes of transportation (currently only private automobiles). This system must move more people more efficiently between where they live and work, worship, serve, and go to school and  play! We cannot afford to continue exercising public domain to acquire more right-of-way to expand more roads and streets. We cannot afford the pollution from more and more automobiles. We cannot afford the time spend in gridlock because there are too many cars for the capacity of our streets and highways.
Arlington's golden days were the 70ies and 80ies when its location between Dallas and Fort Worth on the DFW Tollroad and its proximity to DFW Airport were it's major selling points. Few other adjacent cities had mass transit then. Now Arlington is the only major city in the region (except for Grand Prairie) which does not have mass transit. Today, it is less attractive to industries seeking places for expansion or plant relocation.
When visitors come to Arlington one of the first questions they usually ask is "Why don't you have mass transit!"  We need to solve this so that when they come here, they'll see what we have instead of being bewildered about why we don't have a system which will efficiently move people throughout the city and connect to other places in the region.
It is time that Arlington moves beyond the resistance of the nay sayers and we roll up our sleeves and seriously find a solution that will allow us to fund a mass transit system which will serve all quadrants of the city.  The MAX is a beginning. It's a feeble beginning, but it is a beginning.
I ride it several times a month. Today there were ten people plus the driver on the bus. My $2.50 gave me a ride on MAX from the Entertainment District to the Centerpoint Station. It allowed me to ride the TRE train to and from Dallas. If I'd wanted to, I could have connected to any DART bus or rail line and ridden all day. If I had wanted to, I could also have ridden the TRE to Fort Worth and gone anywhere on the T System all day. As a rider, it was affordable and a good deal.
Usually I am riding with people who are going to work, going to college in Dallas or Fort Worth, or are going to a museum, sports event or concert.   I'd like to see the MAX service expanded to include days when the Cowboys and Rangers are playing. The more people who come on buses, the less traffic we have in our neighborhood.
Connecting bus service on the weekends between Arlington and Centerpoint could help  attract more hotel guests. As it is, guests who stay in Dallas or Fort Worth hotels can easily travel to sites throughout the Metroplex without taking Taxi cabs or Limos or renting a car. There are no mass transit options for Arlington hotel guests cannot get into or out of Arlington on the weekends to visit tourist sites in neighboring cities or for hotel guests of other cities to come here. Arlington would get a better share of the tourist dollars which are being spent in the restaurants, malls and shopping centers in neighboring cities. if it made mass transit, easy and accessible seven days a week. For Arlington to regain its edge of being conveniently located between Dallas and Fort Worth it must have a mass transit system. Without mass transit in 2013 Arlington is between Dallas and Fort Worth but it is  no longer convenient and it certainly is not competitive!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2013 is off to an exciting election year

By Faith Chatham - Arlington, TX - Nov. 21, 2013

I write when I have something to say. From 2011-present I didn't blog a lot. It was usually about the air, water or an EPA hearing. It was usually more germane to "About Air and Water" or "DFW Regional Concerned Citizens" of "Preventable Pipeline Hazards" so it went on those blogs. Even though a lot happened with insurance and healthcare,  my own hospitalizations and surgeries prevented me from covering those issues. But this is a new year. It's a new election cycle.

It is obvious that 2013 is off to an OUTSTANDING start. From the moment Senator Wendy Davis rocketed into the minds of people around the world standing in the Texas Senate in her pink running shoes, it has been obvious that this is definitely not a "business as usual, boring old election cycle."

More Democrats have declared for office in Tarrant County, especially in Districts in Arlington, than I have witnessed since Ronald Reagan took office! The caliber of expertise and credentials and campaigning skill displayed among most of the first-time candidates impresses me. The Republican Primary is also lively. Tea Party candidates are challenging Republican Incumbents. Non- Tea Party Republicans are challenging Tea Party incumbents. A lot of races this year are worth watching.

Some of my favorite candidates from previous election cycles have already declared their intention to run again. Maria Luisa Alvarado, 2006 Democratic Nominee for Lt. Governor is already campaigning hard. She launched her campaign website ONE TEXAS FOR ALL.NET.

 Sen. Leticia Van de Putte has announced for Lt. Governor. For the first time in the history of the Texas Democratic Party, two strong Texas women who are both proven leaders will b. e going head-to-head, each presenting her case as to why she is the best choice for Texans as Lt. Governor. I'm enthusiastic about this race. I expect both women to expand the base of people voting Democratic with their campaigns.

Dale Henry has decided to try again to show Texas voters why they should elect a person with his knowledge and expertise in preventing Oil and Gas spills and water contamination to the Texas Rail Road Commission instead of the people that Republicans have chosen to fill those slots for decades. Each time Mr. Henry has run, he has educated Texans on the industry and the importance of sensible regulation to prevent water depletion and /or contamination.

Reclaiming the Texas Turf and Grassroots News U Can Use are two blogs where we'll be covering some of these very interesting races. There are a lot of other progressive political blogs in Texas. Perry Dorrell's Brains and  Eggs is one of my personal favorites.  David Van Os blogs as Notes from a Texas Patriot.

When it comes to issues, there are a number of excellent environmental writers. Texas Sharon remains among the best with BlueDaze.  Here in the Barnett Shale, there are a number of citizens who have turned activist and are communicating by blogs. Some of the best include:  Westchester GasetteFishCreek MonitorFort Worth CanDo,   Dallas Drilling Blog, Dallas Residents At Risk Fort Worth Follies.

On transportation, there is the Texas Democratic Pork Barrel Caucus which is a private facebook group which Texans who vote in the Democratic Primaries can ask to  join. Out of San Antonio there is a "non partisan" pac lead by Republican Terry Hall called Texas Turf. In addition to some of Texas's "Innovative financing -leveraged toll projects proving to be unprofitable and projected to go "belly up" by the summer of 2014, there are other interesting developments with Texas Roads. The wear and tear from gas production vehicular traffic has worn out a number of Texas' Farm to Market Roads. TxDOT proposes to widen them and to convert paved roads to unpaved roads.  The folks who live on those roads and have to drive long ways to shop and go to work and to the doctor and to school are "none too pleased" to say the very least at the prospect of their roads being converted to a gravel like asphalt composite because the state has mis-managed the funds they charged the gas drillers and/or transferred those dollars to other uses rather than maintaining existing roads. We'll cover that in more depth later.

Join us and KEEP WATCHING! It's already off to an exciting year.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The Superrich Don't Need Our Middle Class Infrastructure

Monday, 04 November 2013 09:25By Ronnie CumminsOrganic Consumers Association | Truth-Out, Op-Ed, Nov. 4,  2013,Read more:

America is falling apart - and this nation's super-rich are to blame.
There was once a time in America when the super-rich needed you, and me, and working-class Americans to be successful.
They needed us for their roads, for their businesses, for their communications, for their transportation, as their customers, and for their overall success.
The super-rich rode on the same trains as us, and flew in the same planes as us. They went to our hospitals and learned at our schools.

Their success directly depended on us, and on the well-being of the nation, and they knew it.
But times have changed, and the super-rich of the 21st century no longer think that you and I are needed for their continued success.
And in some ways, they have given up on America, period.
As Paul Buchheit brilliantly points out over at AlterNet, "As they accumulate more and more wealth, the very rich have less need for society. At the same time, they've convinced themselves that they made it on their own, and that contributing to societal needs is unfair to them. There is ample evidence that this small group of takers is giving up on the country that made it possible for them to build huge fortune." 
Buchheit goes on to say that, "The rich have always needed the middle class to work in their factories and buy their products. With globalization this is no longer true... They don't need our infrastructure for their yachts and helicopters and submarines. They pay for private schools for their kids, private security for their homes. They have private emergency rooms to avoid the health care hassle. All they need is an assortment of servants, who might be guest workers coming to America on H2B visas, willing to work for less than a middle-class American can afford"
Unfortunately, these millionaires and billionaires who have given up on America and on the working class are in control of the political process in this country.
They have brainwashed Republicans into thinking that the success of working-class Americans no longer matters for the future of this nation.
As a result, Republicans are no longer investing in things that have traditionally made America - and the working-class - successful.
Take America's infrastructure for example - or lack thereof.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers annual report card on America's infrastructure, America's infrastructure is a mess. 
Our roads are falling apart, our transportations systems are in turmoil, and our energy and electrical systems are stuck back in the 1900's.
new graph released by investment research firm BCA shows why. 
Non-defense related infrastructure spending was around $325 billion per year when George W. Bush stepped foot inside of the White House.
Today, it's around $235 billion per year, a $90 billion drop in funding from when Bush took office.
Republicans, brainwashed by America's super-rich, have repeatedly refused to fund comprehensive infrastructure spending bills, all in the name of austerity.
But cutting funding to the nation's infrastructure isn't the right way to address American's debt or spending problems. And it certainly isn't the right way to rebuild this nation.
As Cardiff Garcia over at The Financial Times points out, "It's also likely that much of the investment that has been forgone in the name of fiscal consolidation will have to be made eventually anyways - only it will be made when rates are higher, exacerbating the long-term fiscal outlook rather than improving it. And as Think Progress points out, "continued underfunding in this arena over the coming years will cost businesses a trillion dollars in lost sales and cost the economy 3.5 million jobs." 
The Society of Civil Engineers says that it will take a staggering $3.6 trillion investment by 2020 - or $450 billion per year - to bring the American infrastructure into the 21st century, and to avoid risking a complete infrastructure collapse.
But the super-rich don't care about how much funding is needed to save this country, as long as they have their private schools, private hospitals, private airports and private places.
The super-rich in this country are bleeding working-class Americans dry, while destroying the infrastructure of the nation that has done so much for their success.
No matter what Jamie Dimon, Charles Koch, or Shelly Adelson will tell you, America's wealthy elite did not make their fortunes on their own.
Without a strong economy and infrastructure, America's millionaires and billionaires would not be where they are today. It's that simple.
So what can we do right now to rebuild America's infrastructure and give a boost to the American economy?
First, it's time to bring an end to globalization.
We need to be protecting American jobs, instead of letting the super-rich ship them overseas and build factories in China and third-world countries.
But more importantly, we need to roll-back the Reagan tax cuts, and make sure that America's wealthy elite are paying their fair share to support our economy and infrastructure.
Right now, the burden for rebuilding America is on the backs of working-class Americans, and that's just wrong.
It's ridiculous that working-class Americans struggling to survive day-to-day are paying more in taxes than billionaire banksters and oil tycoons.
A lot has changed in America over the past 100 years or so but one thing remains the same: The success of the super-rich still depends on the success of you and me.
The super-rich still need us for their roads, for their businesses, for their communications, and for their transportation.
Our infrastructure may be crumbling, but there's still time to get America back on the road to success.
We're all in this together.
This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.

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