Archive for September, 2010

Frullo vs Morgan at the Forum

Thanks to Kristen and the other LCU College Republicans for hosting a lovely candidate forum Tuesday night. Nine candidates in local races gave their stump speeches (4 minute limit) and then mingled with the crowd for an hour.

I want to highlight the House District 84 candidates, who spoke in alphabetical order (as did all other candidates):

John Frullo remarks (mp3)
Carol Morgan remarks (mp3)

John Frullo was vague and brief in his remarks, using only three of the four minutes he was given. His speech was full of buzzwords: “freedom,” “opportunity,” “conservative,” and so forth, but low on substance. Texas Republicans are running against Washington, because their record in Texas is so shameful. John Frullo also adopted this strategy.

Carol Morgan was specific and her issues were better: education, local control (e.g. of agriculture, schools, and water), oversight for state contracts, and trimming “non-people” expenses like travel and security. She mentioned her lead-by-example plan to donate her entire legislative salary to 2 scholarships for Tech students. My friend Denise, who provided the above audio, asked John Frullo during the reception if he would make the same commitment with his salary. He dodged the question twice.

But again: don’t take my word for it. Listen to the audio yourself. I think you’ll agree that Carol Morgan is the more articulate and aware candidate who speaks to the issues that are most important to West Texas.

This and That

Behind on blogging + a ton of stuff going on = this post.

Mondays With Morgan
Monday, September 27 7pm-8pm J&B Coffee (26th and Boston)
HD84 Democratic Party candidate Carol Morgan continues her open-to-the-public “Mondays with Morgan” events, this time at J&B. Come out and meet a very exciting candidate!

LCU College Republicans Candidate Forum
Tuesday, September 28 6pm-8pm Baker Conference Center on LCU Main Campus
LCU College Republicans are hosting a candidate forum featuring a great selection of local and regional candidates who will each introduce themselves and then mingle with the crowd. This will be a rare opportunity to see so many candidates at once, including all three County Judge candidates. A can of food for the South Plains Food Bank will get you in. (Thanks to Kristen Vander-Plas at LCU for putting this event together!)

Democratic Party Booth at South Plains Fair
Now through Saturday October 2nd in the Merchants Building at the South Plains Fair
We’re giving away free fans to help you stay cool at the Fair this year! (The fans have our full slate of candidates printed on them, so save them for early voting!) We also have free bumper stickers and literature from all the different campaigns. T-Shirts are available for a donation.

Bill White phone bank
Every Monday - Thursday 5:30pm-8:30pm at the Law Office of Brian Murray, 9th and Texas Ave
Phone banks for the next governor of Texas BILL WHITE are still going strong! There is a combination block walk / phone bank coming up this Saturday, October 2nd at the same location as well.

Lubbock County sample ballots are online
Right now!
Go to the Lubbock County Elections Office page and click on “sample ballots” to find a complete list of sample ballots by precinct. You can look on your voter card to find out which precinct you live in if you’re not sure. Most Lubbock County voters will have 4 different ballots this election: special election for HD84, general ballot, LISD bond election, and a water district election. For convenience, you can print a copy at home, mark it how you want to vote, and then take it with you to the polling location as your notes so that you don’t forget who you want to vote for.

Adventures on talk radio
Wade Wilkes show on KRFE AM 580 M-F 7am-8:30am
Get your daily dose of conservative (Wade Wilkes) and liberal (Kenny Ketner) news and opinion (mostly opinion — it is talk radio after all) each morning on KRFE AM 580. Locally, Wade has done the best job of offering a balance of viewpoints on his morning show for many years.

I also appear on the Todd Klein Show every other Thursday. TKS runs every weekday from 4pm-6pm on KRFE AM 580 and has a very interesting mix of guests each week in an open discussion, caller-friendly format.

There’s quite a bit going on as this campaign season heats up. Hope to see you out there!

Robert Duncan: Liar

State Senator Robert Duncan lied and acted like a total jerk in front of 30+ witnesses at Tuesday’s United Way Legislative Briefing right here in Lubbock. Here’s what happened according to HD84 Democratic candidate Carol Morgan.

Robert Duncan accused Carol Morgan of lying about state travel spending when Carol Morgan’s numbers on this subject come straight from the Comptroller’s website.

In recent media appearances, Carol Morgan has provided the figure of $165 million spent by the State of Texas on travel in FY 2009 as an illustration of a budget area that should be cut to help balance the state budget. I’m not sure why Sen. Robert Duncan objected to this number; perhaps he is embarrassed that the total is so high. Whatever the reason, the $165 million in travel expenses for FY 2009 is a fact.

But, don’t take my word for it; you can duplicate this research yourself by following these steps:

Go to On the left menu, hover over “where the money goes.” Then, click on “spending by category.” Next, click on the big blue “Search spending by category” button. Wait for loading. Double-click 2009 on the list on the left. Click “Run Query” on the right. Go get a beer, because this query takes a while to run. After a couple of minutes, you should see a list that has a breakdown of all state spending by category. “Travel” is at the bottom of the list, and it’s $165,058,345.99. You can click on the amount to get a breakdown by category of travel.

If you follow a similar process for 2010, you’ll see that state spending on travel is $157,127,157.91 this fiscal year.

Robert Duncan ridiculed Carol Morgan’s plan to donate her entire legislative salary (approx. $14,000) to college scholarships.

He claimed the salary was “not much,” with the implication being that it doesn’t make a difference to donate it, so why do it?

First, $14,000 is enough to give two students a full tuition at Texas Tech University for one year. That could be the difference between going to college or not for two high school graduates. It will be a life-changing event for two Texas students.

Second, Carol Morgan is literally putting her money where her mouth is by giving her legislative salary to scholarships. Education is her number one issue. Through an act of personal austerity, she is demonstrating her commitment to trim the state budget in a responsible manner that does not wreck education funding. Clearly, with $165 million spent on state travel in FY 2009, there is room for more fiscal efficiency without damaging the Texas education budget beyond repair.

From the account I’ve heard of the event, it’s clear that Sen. Duncan owes Carol Morgan an apology for wrongly accusing her of lying.

I believe his actions display a lack of respect as well.

Meet Andrea White!

Andrea White, wife of Democratic candidate for Governor Bill White, will be in Lubbock today, 9/21/10 at 5:30pm at the Hastings at 50th and Indiana Ave (where the old Albertsons used to be). She will be speaking and signing copies of her books. (She has written three young adult books and a biography of Churchill.)

Also, tomorrow, Wednesday 9/22/10, the Lubbock HQ of the Bill White Campaign will have a grand re-opening at lunch (12-1pm). It’s a come-and-go event with pizza which Andrea White will also attend. The Lubbock HQ of the Bill White Campaign is at the Law Offices of Brian Murray, 9th and Texas Ave.

If you want to get involved with the Bill White Campaign locally, the easiest way is to join the phone banks happening every Monday through Thursday evening from 5:30-8pm at the Bill White Campaign HQ.

See y’all there!

The Fight to Keep 6-Day Mail Delivery

There have been rumblings in the news media lately about the possible end of 6-day mail delivery in the USA. I decided to find out more, so I sought a union perspective. (If you want to know what’s really going on in an organization, ask the workers.)

I had the opportunity to interview Michael Sturm, who holds titles with the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the AFL-CIO. Michael is the Legislative Aide for the state organization (Texas Postal Workers Union) and a Craft Director with the local (the Lubbock Area Local 952). The interview follows below.

What is the American Postal Workers Union?

The APWU has nearly 300,000 members nationwide, and represents three of the main five occupational groups in the Postal Service which are called crafts. We represent all employees in the clerk, maintenance, and motor vehicle crafts.

How much, if any, of the US Postal Service has been “privatized?”

I’ve had people ask me if I thought the Postal Service was ever going to be privatized, and I’ve told them it’s already being privatized. The Postal Service avoids the word privatized, and instead uses code words like contracting or work sharing. Whatever you want to call it, the Postal Service has been aggressively shifting work, whether it’s building maintenance, vehicle maintenance, sorting mail, transporting the mail, or even delivering the mail, away from postal employees to the private sector. It’s been a major factor in how the Postal Service has been able to radically reduce work hours and its employee complement, but it’s also a major contributing factor in why the Postal Service is in its present financial condition.

Who is pushing to end 6-day delivery and why?

The Postmaster General Jack Potter is the major force behind eliminating six day mail delivery. A coalition of large mailers and the Postal Service’s domestic competitors have been pushing for major postal reform since 2000, but the large mailers are not in favor of reducing delivery frequency. It’s hard to understand why the PMG is so intent on making the change, especially considering his top advisors are also against it.

What are the most important reasons to keep 6-day delivery?

The things that alarm us most about the Postal Service’s Plan to eliminate six day mail delivery have to do with oversight, universal service, and the long term viability of the Postal Service.

It’s a myth that the Postal Service is already obsolete and unnecessary. I think Alaskan Senator Murkowski’s recent testimony to the Postal Regulatory Commission concerning the dependence that rural America has on the mail service is very poignant. Also, how many TV ads do you see each day that are directed at seniors with disability issues telling them they can get medical supplies and other items through the mail?

Many Americans depend on frequent dependable mail service, and so do many companies and businesses of all sizes. The economy is directly tied to the mail. The frequency of mail delivery is too important to be left to one person’s discretion.

What is the APWU doing in the fight to preserve 6-day delivery?

The APWU feels strongly that the public and our congressional leaders should know the whole story about six day mail delivery, and that any changes should not be made until all the facts have been made known. The number one thing the APWU is attempting to do is to educate everyone so they understand exactly what changes are being considered before any decisions are made.

What can individuals do to help in the fight to preserve 6-day delivery?

Individuals can start by spreading the word talking to family and friends, but what is most important is that individuals contact their congressional leaders and let them know how important their mail service is to them.

Anything else?

Your first question was probably the hardest to answer. The Postal Service historically has gone through several cycles. Often when faced with having to make tough decisions concerning difficult problems, past Postmaster Generals had decided the easiest thing to do was cut service. When they did the public good suffered. It really seems like the current PMG has not learned from lessons from the past. We hope he doesn’t just cut service because it’s the easiest thing to do.

I appreciate Michael for agreeing to this interview. You can contact Michael Sturm and the TPWU at or (806)762-7869.

I think a letter or phone call to Neugebauer, Cornyn, and Hutchison is in order. Don’t let one quirky Postmaster General take away 6-day mail delivery!

Texas Ag Commissioner Race Heats Up

Texas Ag Commissioner Todd Staples was in town Tuesday for a rally attended by about ten people.

He doesn’t deserve even that number of supporters. Here are a few reasons why Todd Staples has got to go:

1) Todd Staples hasn’t done anything to improve Texas agriculture, food safety, or consumer protection. Like Susan Combs before him and Rick Perry before her, Staples is using the office as a political placeholder, a stepping-stone on the way toward higher state office. This also means that, like most Texas Republicans, he tries to make his race about national issues because he has no record of success to run on.

2) Nine people died as a result of salmonella poisoning originating from a feces-covered Texas peanut processing plant. Texas is months, if not years, behind on food safety inspections. This is something that Staples could and should have done something about, but he didn’t.

3) Texas is also behind on gas pump inspections. It used to be the case that gas pumps were inspected every year. Then it went to every two years. Now it’s every four years, and our state is still behind. Staples’ Democratic opponent Hank Gilbert wants to return TDA to a two-year inspection schedule for weights and measures to protect Texas consumers. Hank Gilbert’s campaign has been able to find out-of-compliance gas pumps all over the state, including a Tyler, TX gas pump that was last inspected 13 years ago. One news station leaked to Staples the list of out-of-compliance gas stations found by the Hank Gilbert campaign in Tyler, and 3 out-of-area inspectors showed up to blitz the area, including one that showed up during Hank’s press conference! Oops!

Texas Agriculture Commissioner is a vital office, responsible for many important duties that have been neglected under Republican rule. It’s time to elect Hank Gilbert so that we can reform the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Dude, you have no Koran.

Amarillo radicals from the “Repent Amarillo” group were set to burn a Koran in a public park on Saturday, but were confronted by a peaceful interfaith group protesting their planned activity. And then, a skateboarder took the Koran and ran, removing the possibility of West Texas book-burnin.

More local coverage here and here. Huffington Post also picked up the story.

Skateboarding slacker Jacob Isom is an American hero who deserves our thanks for stepping up and bringing some positive coverage West Texas’ way.

Real Life Good Samaritans

TIME has a piece by Andy Cohen about Arizona volunteers who leave water in the desert. There’s no question that the water is consumed by illegal immigrants crossing the border. What is touching about the actions of the No More Deaths volunteers (a Unitarian Universalist group) is that they don’t consider the citizenship status of their fellow human beings that they are trying to save. It doesn’t matter whether people dying of thirst in the desert are here illegally. They are still human beings, and they are still dying of thirst.

From the article:

The risk of death to immigrants caught in the desert without water is real. Some groups put up signs warning immigrants of the danger, but in many cases the migrants go ahead. There are water stations along the border, but not enough. According to No More Deaths, at least 214 human remains have been found so far this year in the south Arizona desert alone, putting 2010 on track to be the deadliest year yet. Two days before Millis was stopped, the group says, he had found the body of a 14-year-old girl from El Salvador.

No More Deaths works with another Tucson-based group called Samaritans to leave life-saving supplies in the desert. The word Samaritan is often used metaphorically, but in this case the word is a literal fit. In the biblical parable, Jesus told of the Samaritan who went to the aid of a traveler who was left for dead by the side of a road. Jesus then told his followers, “Go and do likewise.” But you need not be Christian, or religious at all, to know that what Millis did was fundamentally right and moral — and that it should not be against the law.

Cohen’s article mentions that the recent court ruling exonerating those who left water in the desert is not a protection against similar future prosecutions against this humanitarian behavior. Cohen believes that it would take an act of Congress to safeguard those who do this life-saving volunteer work.

I’m not holding my breath for a new law passed by Congress clarifying the basic humanitarian principle that leaving water for people in the desert is not a crime. The political climate is too toxic right now. Maybe things will settle down after November and we can hope for a return to common sense.

In the meantime, I think we should be grateful for groups like No More Deaths and Samaritans who act to save lives regardless of the chaos of the immigration debate.

Social Security Myths That Won’t Die

Lurking in the back of the insanity that is the 2010 political season is the ever-present threat of that wing of the GOP that’s out to kill Social Security, one of the most successful public programs in the history of any government ever. Whether it’s the through the quick death of privatization or the slow death of incremental cuts to benefits and eligibility, Social Security is once again in the crosshairs of certain conservative groups.

In the middle of this debate, there are persistent myths about Social Security that won’t die. They still make the rounds in chain emails, on talk radio, and in commentaries from dishonest pundits. Last Friday my friend and conservative talk radio host Wade Wilkes read one such email (originally from 2004!) over the air as if it were fact, and it mostly isn’t. It’s this one here, thoroughly debunked by The chain email attempts to construct a bogus narrative about Social Security, one where Democrats are out to weaken it while Republicans want to boost it up. Of course the facts of history say the exact opposite. Variations of the myths in the chain email are so prevalent that the SSA website even has a section addressing them as well.

For a decent non-partisan reminder of the facts of Social Security, check out this article on

(And here is a bonus summary of Ronald Reagan’s bluster about Social Security. As Reagan said, “facts are stubborn things.” I wonder if he had his own history in mind when he said that. Probably not.)

Thanks to facebook friends and AM 580 morning show listeners who helped compile the above links. You know who you are. :)

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