Archive for March, 2010

Onward to Financial Reform and Jobs

After a week and change of celebrating (or predicting the end of the world) health care reform, and with the hcr “fixes” bill signed into law, it’s time to focus our national priorities on financial reform and jobs creation.

One final word about health care reform: the new bill is definitely worth celebrating, but the progressive/liberal goal of a single-payer system was not achieved. Even the progressive compromise goal of having a public option for insurance was not achieved. What we got are long-overdue regulations to make the health insurance industry play nice, along with a mandate for coverage. It’s a start, but I can see us revisiting hcr, perhaps in Obama’s second term.

Financial reform, which President Obama wants to sign into law sometime in May, is necessary to restore America’s (and the world’s) confidence in our markets. We need to look for ways to return sanity to huge unregulated markets that were created in the deregulation craze of the late 90s / early 00s. Indeed, certain markets and certain financial instruments maybe just shouldn’t exist at all. Through regulation, banking should be guided back to its core missions of helping people save their money and originating loans, not gambling with people’s savings and selling/trading people’s debt.

But, jobs. In my opinion, success or failure at job creation is the one thing that could still sink Democrats in November. (The cons out there who think that running on hcr “repeal and replace” is a ticket to victory need to get real.)

Labor is getting anxious because nothing has happened to move the Employee Free Choice Act through Congress. I’m starting to get the sense that EFCA is something that will be delayed until after the midterm elections for strategic reasons. That’s unfortunate, not only because the American worker deserves the protection of EFCA, but also because Labor’s support will be essential in November.

The best thing that could happen in terms of immediate job creation is to put out of work Americans to work building/fixing our infrastructure. Mass transit projects, green energy initiatives, and an expansion of nonmilitary American service agencies will, alongside continued private sector recovery, do the trick.

Onward!

Did John Frullo Violate Campaign Ethics Laws?

Following in the footsteps of Carl Isett, it appears that John Frullo may have inappropriately paid his family with campaign funds.

Frullo owns Midtown Printing & Graphics at 16th and Texas Ave here in Lubbock. Actually, according to the Secretary of State’s website, John Frullo is a Vice President of Midtown Printing & Graphics, Inc. while his wife Patti is the President. Patti Frullo is also listed as the registered agent for Midtown Printing & Graphics, Inc.

Frullo’s most recent campaign finance report (#444886) dated February 22nd, 2010 shows a political expenditure of $4,319.13 to Midtown Printing & Graphics for printing.

When Rep. Carl Isett paid his wife for accounting services, he was fined $6,400 and ordered to reimburse his campaign roughly $25,000 (and then there was the matter of his mileage reports). Isn’t John Frullo’s use of campaign funds to pay his own company, where he is Vice President and his wife is President / registered agent, the same sort of ethical violation?

Here’s the relevant piece of campaign finance law:

“A candidate or officeholder may not use political contributions to pay for personal services rendered by the candidate or officeholder or by the spouse, or dependent children of the candidate or officeholder.”

As I see it, there are a couple of loopholes that Frullo might use: 1) Is printing a “personal service?” 2) Is the legal structure of a domestic for-profit corporation (even though he and his wife clearly own and run the business) enough of a shield?

I honestly don’t know. But, the dude endorsed by the dude with multiple campaign ethics violations might be worth checking out further.

Farmer Roy Riddle Scholarship

In the middle of all the craziness that this week has been, we have lost a great Lubbock man. Roy Riddle, or “Farmer Roy” as he was known around the South Plains Food Bank (spfb), passed away on Wednesday.

Here’s the announcement from the spfb facebook page:

We have experienced a great loss here at the Food Bank. Farmer Roy Riddle, who has been our horticulturalist at the Carolyn Lanier 5-acre Youth Farm has passed away. Roy had announced his retirement from the farm, but had still been instrumental in the U Can Share Food Drive this past year. He believed very much in the South Plains Food Bank, the GRUB program, and in helping those around him. He will be missed.

Spfb has created a scholarship in his memory that will sponsor students for the GRUB program at the spfb farm. Please consider contributing to this scholarship.

Randy Neugebauer Yacht

Want to see modern campaign image control in action?

It looks like some internet hired guns have been set the task of burying the story of Congressman Randy Neugebauer’s yacht. Do a google search for “randy neugebauer yacht” and see for yourself. (And DON’T click on the links that look suspicious, unless you want to tempt malware and viruses.) You’ll get two screens full of bogus websites loaded with keywords to bury.

About this time last year, Randy Neugebauer filed to use a yacht (owned by a family-run LLC) with campaign funds.

Let’s do our part with this blog post to make sure that TX-19 voters remember that Randy Neugebauer wants to live it up on his family’s yacht with campaign funds.

StopNeugebauer.com

Neugebauer Yelled Baby Killer

At the get-together of local Democratic Party activists to celebrate and watch the health care reform pass Congress last night, a bunch of us were joking around — “Wouldn’t it be funny if Rep. Neugebauer was the one who yelled “Baby Killer” while Rep. Stupak spoke?” Well holy crap, it actually was him.

Talkingpointsmemo has the story. (Here is the A-J story.)

At least Neugebauer had the decency to (mostly) apologize:

NEUGEBAUER STATEMENT ON HEALTH CARE FLOOR DEBATE

“Last night was the climax of weeks and months of debate on a health care bill that my constituents fear and do not support. In the heat and emotion of the debate, I exclaimed the phrase ‘it’s a baby killer’ in reference to the agreement reached by the Democratic leadership. While I remain heartbroken over the passage of this bill and the tragic consequences it will have for the unborn, I deeply regret that my actions were mistakenly interpreted as a direct reference to Congressman Stupak himself.

“I have apologized to Mr. Stupak and also apologize to my colleagues for the manner in which I expressed my disappointment about the bill. The House Chamber is a place of decorum and respect. The timing and tone of my comment last night was inappropriate.”

Fortunately, Randy Neugebauer has a strong Democratic Party opponent in his upcoming race: Andy Wilson.

After yet another embarrassment for the Lubbock/Abilene/West Texas area (Neugebauer also sponsored the Birther Bill and bought that huge yacht), I think it’s time that TX-19 voters support someone with some common sense.

Repent Offenders

Repent Amarillo (also Raven Amarillo) has been causing trouble and getting in the news, which is basically what they do (aside from trying to ruin people’s lives). What follows is a summary of what I’ve found about them lately.

Forrest Wilder at The Texas Observer has an excellent write-up of Repent Amarillo’s activities.

The Young Turks featured them recently on their program.

The Amarillo Independent has been covering them for months.

And check out this opinion piece by a writer for Prairie News, the WTAMU paper. David Graham, the director of Repent Amarillo, gets into it in the comments. (He must spend half of his day googling himself to find so many sites to comment on.)

Examiner.com has a recent article about them too.

There’s a facebook group you can join in solidarity against Repent Amarillo: Amarillo Citizens against Repent Amarillo.

Yes, I know the above is basically a link dump. You’re welcome. Honestly, I don’t know what else to say other than “Wow, those crazies up in Amarillo sure have been busy.”

Local Snapshot

Let’s prognosticate!

I know I said it already, but my predictions for the two Republican State House candidate runoffs: John Frullo and Delwin Jones. I don’t think Frullo will win in November, but I think he is best-positioned within his party’s primary.

My predictions for contested City Council races: Mayor Tom Martin will be reelected, Victor Hernandez will win District 1, and Karen Gibson will win District 5. No offense meant to the other candidates in these races. I’m not going to involve myself in the City Council races at all this year, so these are my armchair best-guesses.

I also predict that John Miller will be successful in gathering enough signatures for his race for County Judge as an independent.

Also, congratulations to Councilman Todd Klein, the only unopposed City Council member in the May 2010 election. Todd’s reputation for being approachable and thoughtful is well-deserved; I’m not surprised that no one challenged him.

As of this morning, all four LISD Board member positions are unopposed as well, but I can’t really explain that one.

What are your thoughts about the pre-summertime state of Lubbock politics?

Carried Away With Open Carry

The open carry movement is a fascinating one to watch.

Today I read a New York Times article describing the U.S. open-carry movement, and it’s got me thinking about what motivates people who happily wear a gun all over town.

A California group is wearing their guns to draw attention to the difficulty of getting a concealed carry permit in California versus the relative ease of open carry. It’s an interesting form of civil protest, but I don’t think it has the effect that second amendment advocates desire.

See, open-carry meetings are like the gay pride parades of the pro-gun movement. Sure, second amendment advocates are (in most states) within their rights to openly carry guns, but doing so creates an aura of unease around them. As the above NY Times article mentions, the NRA is (wisely) distancing themselves from the open carry movement — at least publicly.

Texas doesn’t have open carry, so this doesn’t apply too much here in Lubbock. However, I feel compelled to state what good “gun people” already know: you don’t need to wear your guns like a fashion statement. No one is coming to take your guns, either. Next time you feel the need to strap on a gun (or knife, for that matter) where it can be seen, don’t. Unless you’re a peace officer, you’re just going to scare people.

THE FBI HAS NOT BEEN HERE

I’ve been reading Marilyn Johnson’s excellent, brand new book This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All, and it’s reminded me of that disaster of Bush-era legislation: The Patriot Act.

Chapter 5 in Johnson’s book describes the story of the Connecticut Four, who were librarians and library administrators who resisted the Patriot Act. Unfortunately, their court-ordered gags did not let them speak out about their resistance before the Patriot Act was first renewed in 2005. Because of the gag order, Bush and company were free to lie to the public, saying that no official challenges to the Patriot Act had been received.

Earlier this Week, Congress and President Obama extended the Bush Patriot Act for yet another year. This is a huge disappointment to me.

A key factor in the Connecticut Four’s ability to resist the Patriot Act was their organizing ahead of time. In consultation with their lawyer, they devised a policy to refer all “national security letters” and other requests for patron information all the way up the chain to the Executive Director of the library consortium (one of the Connecticut Four). This well-rehearsed policy prevented FBI agents or anyone else from pressuring library staff at the bottom of the totem poll into compliance with a “national security letter” — compliance that meant not only breaching library users’ privacy but also covering up that breach of privacy.

An old children’s story comes to mind: Drummer Hoff. Look it up some time if you don’t know it; or better still, ask a librarian to help you find a copy. At any rate, I bring up Drummer Hoff to illustrate the point that, ultimately, it’s up to us whether we follow unjust orders.

So, I take heart that, out there among the people of all walks of life who are willing to defend our civil liberties, the librarians have got our back. And librarians by nature know how to organize. Some librarians are even sly enough to post signs like:

THE FBI HAS NOT BEEN HERE
(watch very closely for the removal of this sign)

Post-Election

I’m very pleased with how Election Night went tonight.

My Precinct Convention went smoothly — we had 3 attend and passed 2 resolutions and 4 delegates on to the County Convention. The Republican Precinct Convention in my Precinct had one lonely attendee. (I’ve been in that situation myself in my old precinct, but there was also only one Republican there at the time, so I consider it a tie.)

Local races went pretty much as I expected. Pam Brink will continue as Lubbock County Democratic Party Chair, thank goodness. On the Republican side, runoffs are where I expected them to be, and incumbents kept their place where I expected they would (and one judge that really needed to go, went).

My Predictions for the Republican State House District 83 and 84 runoffs: Jones and Frullo.

And remember, the race for Lubbock County Judge is not over yet. John Miller plans to run as an independent if he can get the signatures, and I believe he can.

Statewide, I’m not surprised that Perry got the GOP nod without a runoff, since he’s been playing to the Republican base for over a year with all kinds of outrageous stunts and sound bytes. For me, this is great news, because I think Bill White can mop the floor with Rick Perry in November.

Lastly, as of this writing, it looks like Hank Gilbert will win out over Kinky Friedman, which is a relief. We have a serious, strong ticket from top to bottom in 2010.

What are your thoughts about the outcome of Primary 2010?


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