in Houston, Texas
Texas Voter Resources: Research candidates, find where to vote
Monday, Nov 05, 2012, 03:08PM CST
By Lee Ann O'Neal
voting

We’ve compiled a links roundup for voters preparing to head to the polls. And be sure and join us on Twitter -- @texaswatchdog -- and Facebook tomorrow evening as we follow the news and results from Election Day.

Harris County:
Candidate lists by political party: Democratic and Republican.
View candidates’ campaign finance info.
Find polling place and create a personal sample ballot or view a countywide sample ballot.

Dallas County:
Candidate lists by political party: Democratic and Republican.
View candidates’ campaign finance info.
Create a personal sample ballot and look up polling place.

Travis County:
Candidate lists by political party: Republican. (The Travis County Democratic Party hasn't posted an updated November list.)
View candidates’ campaign finance info.
View polling places. Travis County residents may vote at any polling place in the county.
View ballots: Presidential/general election and Central Health/cities and other government districts

More Campaign Finance:
State: Texas Ethics Commission and FollowtheMoney.org.
Federal: Federal Election Commission and OpenSecrets.org.

On Election Day, users of the Foursquare app can use its I Voted feature to see what’s on their ballot, find their polling place, and let others know that they’ve voted.

Google’s Voter Information Tool:

 

 

***
Contact Lee Ann O’Neal at 713-980-9777 or leeann@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of sign by flickr user KCIvey, used via a Creative Commons license.

Rogue law enforcement in Shelby County to return motorists’ cash
Monday, Nov 05, 2012, 09:36AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
cash

Hey, all of you unsuspecting transients who had the misfortune to be stopped in the cash confiscation center that once was Tenaha, your ship has come in.

Well, not many of you, and it’s more like a leaky dinghy.  

Years after local law enforcement officers in this little town 15 miles from the Louisiana border took it upon themselves to appropriate roughly $3 million in cash and property from 140 people who were never charged with anything, the current district attorney in Shelby County is returning about $100,000 of it, Associated Press reports.

Kenneth Florence, installed by Gov. Rick Perry after the resignation of Linda Kay Russell, is locating those fortunate to have their shakedowns recorded in seizure accounts where records were rarely kept.

Among its few advantages,Tenaha is right on Highway 59, a popular and much-traveled route to and from Houston. From 2006 through 2008 this self-authorized Highwaymen Patrol stopped cars under a variety of pretexts and took cash and other valuables, forcing people to sign waivers or face prosecution.

Most of the ill-gotten assets have never been accounted for, Timothy Garrigan, a Nacogdoches attorney in a class action lawsuit filed in the case, told Texas Watchdog.

The lawsuit, filed in 2010 by the American Civil Liberties Union,  was settled by a consent decree ending the expropriation practices and setting down strict guidelines for traffic stops by law enforcement in Shelby County.

But although the case has been under investigation by federal authorities and has been the reason for convening at least two grand juries, no law enforcement officials involved have been charged with a crime or disciplined.

None, including the former district attorney, remains in a position of authority, Garrigan says.

The consent decree was explicit in allowing individual victims to sue the municipality for damages. Garrigan says he is representing clients from Arkansas, Maryland, Michigan, Washington, D.C., as well as Texas.

Garrigan, who has practiced a lot of civil rights law in more than 25 years in East Texas, says he thinks the war on drugs and on terror have emboldened law enforcement officers everywhere.

I've seen law enforcement gaining a freer hand to abuse their authority with increasingly little concern that they might be held accountable, “Garrigan says.  “I'm not anti-law enforcement. I know they have a difficult and important job to do, but the bad apples have reason to think they are free to do as they please. As a result more people fear the police instead of respecting them.”

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of money by flickr user athrasher, used via a Creative Commons license.

Texas state officials criticized for faulty matches in purge of deceased voters
Friday, Nov 02, 2012, 03:43PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
vote sticker

Just four days before a presidential election likely to change everything in America unless it doesn’t, it is our professional responsibility to tear the shroud from a great voting conspiracy here in Texas.

In our effort not to unnecessarily frighten some of our readers, may we point out that this brazen attempt at subversion has been brought to the attention of the Attorney General and the Secretary of State who have, for the time being, put a stop to it.

We begin on June 17, 2011, when Gov. Rick Perry signed into law House Bill 174. Perry, a Republican, naturally had support for the new law from every Republican in the House and the Senate.

Oddly, the bill also had the blessing of every Democrat in both chambers.

HB 174 called for the Secretary of State’s office to add to its legally required methods of keeping voter rolls up to date a cross-check with a list of Social Security Administration cardholders who are dead.

The Secretary of State’s office developed a database checking the names of 13.5 million registered voters in Texas against a Social Security master list that numbers in the 80 millions.

The only information used in the check was a name, a date of birth and a Social Security number, Rich Parsons, director of communications for the Secretary of State told Texas Watchdog.

This produced a list of more than 8,200 names of Texas voters who were very likely no longer of this world and another 68,000 whose match discrepancies warranted further investigation, some of these because the names matched people living in other states.

For at least 40 years, the Secretary of State’s office has, as it is required to by law, passed this investigative responsibility onto voter registrars in the state’s 254 counties.

This cleaning of the voter rolls at the county level was to begin in late August, the state having pushed back its primary from April 3 to May 29 and runoff to July 31 because of  a Supreme Court challenge to the district maps passed by the Legislature, Parson says.

Let’s say for evenhandedness, the methods of investigation locally varied just a bit. Some county voting chiefs used additional records to confirm that voters were alive or dead. Others sent brusque letters suggesting to voters that unless they reported in alive and well they would be dropped from the voter rolls.

Four of the living sued. There have so far been no lawsuits filed by the dead. Counties continued on expunging the names of voters whose deaths could be proven, Parsons says.

Prominent Democrats began questioning the timing of the voter roll scrub-down so close to the election.

Partisan resistance by the county voting administrators very nearly broke out when John Ames, the Democratic tax collector/assessor for Dallas County, objected, until Harris County Republican tax collector/assessor Don Sumners protested, too.

Bexar County tax collector/assessor Sylvia Romo, a Democrat, complied and, according to Parsons, did a smashing job carrying out her legal responsibilities.

The plot, however, took another gnarled turn with an analysis by the Houston Chronicle of the names of the 68,000 so-called weak matches. (You can read the story here.)

Chronicle analysts found that voters in heavily minority districts in Houston, Dallas, El Paso and Brownsville matched up with the names of the dead twice as often as other voters.  There was also a greater match in minority heavy districts in Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, than those in surrounding counties.

Racial, ethnic and geographical information played no part in the cross-check, Parsons says. Voting officials do not ask for or keep voting information based on race or ethnicity.

“That means it is impossible to generate a match based on one’s race, ethnicity or geographic location,” Parsons says. “Any suggestion otherwise is patently false.”

The Chronicle analysts aren’t sure why they got the results they did, except to say that it had to do with a concentration of particular surnames in those minority districts.

All of which might tend to point to statistical chance. But then that might rule out collusion by the Legislature and abetting by the governor and the secretary of state, finally being undone by rogue county voting registrars refusing to follow the script.

And who would want to do that right before an election?

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of sticker by flickr user yksin, used via a Creative Commons license.

Texas state payroll shrinks, though not in higher ed or at the DMV
Thursday, Nov 01, 2012, 12:10PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
plate

Social services, criminal justice and education were largely responsible for reducing the state payroll by ½ a percent in the past fiscal quarter in Texas.

The reduction of 1,620 full-time positions, bringing the total down from 297,502.9 positions, was nearly offset by the addition of 1,587.6 positions in the state’s institutions of higher education, according to a new report by the state Auditor comparing employment in the previous quarter to the same period in 2011. (See a chart tracking the change here.)

While total higher education staffing increased by 1.1 percent to 148,557.9 full-time equivalencies, the number of administrators jumped by 2.4 percent over the same period a year ago to 3,023.6 positions.

The Department of Aging and Disability Services reduced its staff over a year to 16,878.8 positions. The reduction of 721.2 positions was the biggest single loss for a state agency, according to the study.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Juvenile Justice Department dropped a combined 1,101.7 jobs from the end of August 2011.

The Texas Education Agency, which began laying off employees during a tough legislative session on public education in 2011, reduced staff by 226.2 to 701.6 positions, a 24.4 percent drop, the highest percentage decrease among major departmental employers.

The Texas House under Speaker Joe Straus and the Senate, headed by Lt. David Dewhurst, both conservative Republicans who have called for smaller state government, made double-digit percentage reductions, shedding more than 100 employee positions each.

It is important to note that in June through August of 2011 the Legislature was just completing a session and in the same quarter this year the Legislature had been adjourned for more than a year.

The Department of Public Safety, in the midst of a $63 million spending spree to open driver’s license megacenters across the state, brought its staffing to 8,692.8 positions by adding 347 jobs, more than any state agency.

Texas state employees


The Department of Motor Vehicles grew its staff by 151.3 positions to 730.2 positions or 26.1 percent, the highest percentage increase of any major state agency.

Governor Rick Perry, another high-profile, small government conservative, added 3.9 positions in a year, bringing his staff to 264.1 positions.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose staff handled a Supreme Court challenge to Obamacare that was not upheld and a Supreme Court redistricting fight this year, increased his office’s staffing by .3 percent, 13.7 positions added to a staff of 4,057.2 positions.

The General Land Office, headed by conservative Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who is running for lieutenant governor in 2014, boosted his staff by 20.9 positions or 3.6 percent to 600.9 positions.

However, Patterson’s agency was called on in August of 2011 to take over nearly $3 billion in federal funding that had not yet been distributed in relief for the victims of Hurricane Ike in 2008.

The Department of Rural Affairs, one of the agencies criticized for its handling of the Hurricane Ike funding, was abolished by the Legislature, a reduction of all of its 70.6 positions, the Auditor’s report says.

The other agency with Ike responsibilities, the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, lost 52.2 or 14.4 percent of its staff during the same period. Michael Gerber, the executive director of the agency, resigned at the end of August of 2011.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Put our RSS feeds in your newsreader.

Photo of Texas state Capitol dome by flickr user victorfe places, used via a Creative Commons license.

Creative Commons License
Like this story? Then steal it. This report by Texas Watchdog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. That means bloggers, citizen-journalists, and journalists may republish the story on their sites with attribution and a link to Texas Watchdog. If you do re-use the story, e-mail news@texaswatchdog.org.

Waco ISD ground zero for Texas student discipline reform
Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012, 02:38PM CST
By Curt Olson
Waco school bus

A new student discipline program that emphasizes handling bad behavior in schools rather than courts has taken hold in Waco ISD.

Advocates believe that if the program improves academic outcomes for teens, it could become a model for a broader shift away from criminalizing student behavior in a state where students have been ticketed for horseplay, cursing or putting on perfume. The pilot, initiated by the the governor’s office, is in its second year.

Charlene Hamilton is among the believers.

“We’re living in a culture of zero tolerance. We got away from classroom management,” said Hamilton, who oversees the project for the Waco Independent School District. “We are remedying that here.”

The students she works with used to be slapped with police citations and sent before a judge. Now, teachers and students are trying to address situations on campus through a program called Suspend Kids to School. The program is aimed at preventing students teetering on the edge of suspension or expulsion from landing in alternative education programs.

Gov. Rick Perry’s Criminal Justice Division picked Waco ISD for the $600,000 pilot project because it has its own police department, officers were ticketing students for behavior issues and Waco has close proximity to Austin. If Perry likes what he sees when a report on the program emerges from Texas A&M University’s Public Policy Research Institute, state leaders may reform zero tolerance laws adopted in the mid-1990s.

Under Suspend Kids to School, teachers receive training to better manage their classrooms, and leaders among students receive training in peer mediation and campus teen courts. The district also has a Saturday course to help parents address student behavior.

The early signs have proven positive.

The number of students referred to alternative school has dropped dramatically. The district referred 104 students to Challenge Academy, the county’s alternative education program, last school year, Waco ISD spokesman Dale Caffey said. So far this year Waco ISD has referred three students and estimates that with the reforms the district will refer 22 students total this year.

The number of citations for Class C misdemeanors dropped 42 percent in 2011-12 compared to a year earlier, Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said.

These strategies could bite into the estimated $600 million spent per year statewide on campus policing and on-campus and off-campus alternative education programs. The 11 biggest school districts in Texas spent $140 million last school year on disciplinary and juvenile justice programs for suspended and expelled students, on top of some $87 million spent on campus security efforts, according to a report released this week by Texas Appleseed, an Austin-based social justice think tank.

There are costs to families, too.

discipline in texas schools

Ticketed students typically land before a local justice of the peace, where they can be fined $500 for fighting or other disruptions. Throw in lost time from work for a parent to take a child to court and pay the fine, and the cost climbs higher.

At least in Waco ISD, the reforms don’t mean a reduction in costs from staffing the police department of about 30 people. A district spokesman said that responsibilities would shift, turning police who write citations now into truancy officers.

“The objective of the program is not to decrease the size of the WISD police force. However, the program is enabling police officers to be spend less time handling disciplinary related matters that are more appropriate for school administrators to handle,” Caffey said via e-mail to Texas Watchdog. “Police officers ... security guards and crossing guards, all of whom make up the Waco ISD police department, are still needed to keep our schools safe.”

Campus police for school districts write some 275,000 tickets a year for disrupting class, disorderly conduct, truancy and other conduct violations, according to a 2010 study by Texas Appleseed. Study authors say it’s likely the number of tickets written “grossly exceeds that number,” based on low reporting of data to the Texas Office of Court Administration.

Many students are repeatedly ticketed, with fines of $50 to $500 for each offense.

“One municipal court providing data to Texas Appleseed indicated a youth had received as many as 11 tickets. In the same court, more than 350 youth had received multiple tickets, with some receiving six or more,” the study states. (See page 69.)

Officers in Waco ISD issued 1,070 tickets in 2006-07, when the district had more than 15,400 students, the Texas Appleseed study found.

A separate report by the Council of State Governments Justice Center suggests all that ticketing is associated with poorer academic outcomes.

Researchers for the Council of State Governments followed every Texas seventh-grader in 2000, 2001 and 2002 — about 930,000 students — for six years. The study found that almost a third of students disciplined ended up repeating at least one grade, and that African-American and special education students were disproportionately disciplined.

“This report demonstrates that if we want our kids to do better in school and reduce their involvement in the juvenile justice system, we in the legislature need to continue looking into how teachers can be better supported and how the school discipline system can be improved,” State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, and chairman of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said via a Council news release when the report was published.

A spokeswoman for the Council said officials nationwide started examining different aspects of school discipline earlier this month, though their findings are more than a year away.

“The policy recommendations will focus on both state and local efforts that can be tailored to the distinct needs of jurisdictions, and we hope that the report will have utility for lawmakers” and others dealing with juvenile justice, Council spokeswoman Martha Plotkin said via email.

***
Contact Curt Olson at curt@texaswatchdog.org or 512-557-3800. Follow him on Twitter @olson_curt.

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Photo of bus by flickr user ErnestBludger, used via a Creative Commons license.

Creative Commons License
Like this story? Then steal it. This report by Texas Watchdog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. That means bloggers, citizen-journalists, and journalists may republish the story on their sites with attribution and a link to Texas Watchdog. If you do re-use the story, e-mail news@texaswatchdog.org.

Driver’s license megacenter opens outside Austin. Will wait times for Texas drivers decrease?
Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012, 10:12AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
mirror

At last it’s here, as eagerly awaited in Texas as the anniversary of the Battle of Sabine Pass, the first day of Wurstfest and the opening of chachalaca hunting season.

The first, all-new, gigantic driver’s license “megacenter” opens today in Pflugerville, the Houston Chronicle reports. As Texas Watchdog has teased, other driver’s license megacenters are currently under construction in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas, Houston and San Antonio and all for only $63 million.

The DPS is, judging from the Chronicle story, eager to put an end to all those outrageous stories people tell after their ordeals at what now must be considered driver’s license “minicenters.” Like the man from Port Arthur who was able to build a full-scale replica of Sabine’s Fort Griffin out of old Pearl beer cans before his number was called.

We jest.

The Pflugerville station, the DPS insists, is built to move people along, with 36 bright-eyed state employees manning 22 customer service stations spaced out in a cavern of 24,000 square feet.

With any luck at all, the center should be able to handle at least 720 customers a day, Rebecca Davio, assistant DPS director, told the Chronicle.

The DPS isn’t banking on it. Each of the new megacenters will have a queuing system for customers to save a place in line ahead of time by computer or cell phone or at a self-service kiosk at the center.

The system generates texts telling you when it will be your turn next. Giving you plenty of time to get back from Wurstfest.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of Texas state Capitol in mirror by flickr user Remko Tanis, used via a Creative Commons license.

Big school districts in Texas spent $227 million last year on disciplinary programs: Report
Tuesday, Oct 30, 2012, 09:38AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
money

Taxpayers in 11 of the biggest school districts in Texas spent $227 million during the 2010-11 school year to protect and punish children, according to a study by a non-profit group calling for less expensive alternatives.

Texas Appleseed intends to present its study, Breaking Rules, Breaking Budgets, before a joint hearing to discuss public school disciplinary policies before the state Senate Education and Criminal Justice committees Tuesday morning at the Capitol.

The report concluded the 11 districts surveyed spent $140 million in a single school year on disciplinary and juvenile justice programs for suspended and expelled students, Associated Press reported Monday afternoon. Campus police and security and monitoring equipment and personnel cost another $87 million.

The school districts surveyed - Bryan, Conroe, Cypress-Fairbanks, Dallas, Fort Bend, Fort Worth, Houston, Humble, Northside, Plano, San Antonio - educate a quarter of the roughly 5 million students enrolled in public schools in Texas. There are about 1,050 school districts in the state.

In its report, Texas Appleseed, volunteer lawyers and other professionals promoting social and economic justice, offers alternative disciplinary programs it contends are more effective and less expensive.

Districts could maintain higher federal funding reimbursements by raising their average attendance by suspending only students who threaten staff and student safety or damage to the school.

Atlantic Philanthropies, the Houston Endowment, the Public Welfare Foundation and The Boone Foundation helped fund the Texas Appleseed study.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of money by flickr user 401 (K) 2012 athrasher, used via a Creative Commons license.

Texas Rangers to probe use of reserve deputies for Bexar Co. sheriff’s campaign
Thursday, Oct 25, 2012, 11:12AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
texas rangers

Voters in Bexar County are being asked to decide not only a sheriff’s race but whether or not criminal allegations against the sheriff are real or the usual election season politics.

District Attorney Susan Reed has called on the Texas Rangers to determine if Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz ordered reserve deputies to provide security at his campaign functions under threat of losing their commissions, the San Antonio Express News reports today.

The famed Rangers notified Ortiz they would not begin an investigation until after the Nov. 6 election pitting the first-term sheriff, a Democrat, against Republican Susan Pamerleau, Manuel Longoria, his chief deputy, told the Express News.

Longoria waved off the allegations, telling the newspaper he thought Reed’s request was politically motivated. In other words, don’t pay attention to stories done by San Antonio’s KSAT-TV.

A KSAT reporter in early June got ahold of an e-mail calling for 10 reserve deputies to provide security for Ortiz’ primary election victory party May 21.

The station later videotaped the reserve deputies at work and interviewed Ortiz, who said there were no legal or ethical problems because the deputies volunteered and were not paid.

Four of the reserves confirmed on camera in a follow-up story that they were, indeed, not paid. They were not, however, volunteers, but conscripts told the department would withhold working credits required by the state to maintain their peace officer licenses.

Longoria says there was no coercion, only encouragement to donate time to community service.

Voters will not have the benefit of the Texas Rangers’ investigative prowess to decide who is and isn’t telling the truth and whether or not it ought to affect whose box they check for Bexar County sheriff on election day.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of Texas Ranger badge via Texas Parks & Wildlife website.

Union lobbyists win access to White House, wealthy and powerful held at arm’s length, visitor’s logs show
Thursday, Oct 25, 2012, 10:28AM CST
By Staff Reports
white house

Lobbyists for the nation’s largest labor unions have had the run of the White House during its occupancy by a president who pledged from his first day in office to curb political influence.

At the same time President Obama personally limited access to the wealthy and powerful. Including labor leaders, union lobbyists made nearly 500 visits to the White House through June of this year during the Obama administration, according to a review of available White House visitors logs.

The Franklin Center created a database of the 879,401 visits by people who came to the White House for an official event or meeting from nearly 3 millions entries made up mostly of tourists.

Read more about what the center found in this story by Texas Watchdog Austin bureau chief Mark Lisheron.

Photo of White House by flickr user DuckofD3ath, used via a Creative Commons license.

After $2.75 million boost from Texas taxpayers, Houston bioenergy co. Terrabon files for bankruptcy
Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012, 10:55AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
corn field

From the looks of it your state and federal governments are competing to see which can produce the most technology business failures with your tax money.

Terrabon Inc., a Houston bioenergy company that was able to get up and running with 2.75 million tax dollars scrounged up in 2010 from the state Emerging Technology Fund, has filed for bankruptcy, Associated Press is reporting today.

Terrabon is the fourth and biggest tanking - the second in just four months - since the state began betting with your money on technology-based startups in 2006, AP says.

The federal government, which counts its technology crapshoots in the hundreds of millions of tax dollars, crapped out again last week when A123 Systems Inc., a manufacturer of electric car batteries, went all Chapter 11 on us.

That’s a $250 million stimulus grant the American public isn’t going to see again. Along with the now infamous Solyndra, Abound Solar, Beacon Power Corp., and EnerDel, the federal government has now helped steer $1.23 billion in tax money into legal liquidation. (Please see this helpful chart of stimulus flops here.)

Terrabon’s death dive brings to $5.25 million the taxpayer investment losses heaped up by the Emerging Technology Fund. In May, NanoTailor Inc. of Austin, went down taking $250,000 with it.

The Emerging Technology Fund has in the past been criticized as a pet project of Gov. Rick Perry’s to assist business people whose political support he has curried. The fund is also a rather expensive way to create jobs in Texas.

The state Auditor was harshly critical of the Governor’s Office in a lengthy report in April 2011 for its lack of monitoring of the fund and for withholding of investment information from the public.

But we’ll leave it to William Aulet, managing director of the entrepreneurship center at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, to state the obvious, as he did for the Boston Globe: “Yes, the government is a bad venture capitalist.”

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of a corn field by flickr user Dodo-Bird, used via a Creative Commons license.

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Just Liberty post-session roundup podcast Here's the latest Just Liberty podcast - this time reviewing criminal-justice reform legislation from the 85th Texas Legislature -...
Update:1 year 7 months
Grits for Breakfast
Governor signs omnibus innocence bill to track informants, record interrogations Governor Greg Abbott today signed HB 34, Texas' latest omnibus innocence legislation. Grits explained in this post why the eyewitness ID...
Update:1 year 7 months
Grits for Breakfast
Houston meeting of Texas Latino GOP PAC tomorrow evening From the InBox: The Texas Latino GOP PAC are the gatekeepers to the conservative Latino Community, for far too long GOP outreach to Latino...
Update:1 year 7 months
Big Jolly Politics
Sen. Joan Huffman to recap the 85th From the InBox: Join us THIS WEDNESDAY, June 14 (Flag Day!), for our meeting with State Sen. Joan Huffman, SD 17, who will be discussing...
Update:1 year 7 months
Big Jolly Politics
Gov. Abbott mistakes incarceration smell for "freedom" Governor Greg Abbott made a speech in Bell County recently declaring that, as one drove north out of Austin, one could notice a different...
Update:1 year 7 months
Grits for Breakfast
Unanswered questions about law-of-parties beyond death penalty In our podcast the other day, Texas Defender Service Executive Director Amanda Marzullo estimated that 10 percent of death-row defendants...
Update:1 year 7 months
Grits for Breakfast
Priorities The headline from the Victoria Advocate declaring that the Texas Legislature prioritized mental health treatment over incarceration is...
Update:1 year 7 months
Grits for Breakfast
Legislative Session The 85th Legislative Session was different in many ways. Two things changed the narrative this session. First, Empower Texans successfully...
Update:1 year 7 months
Big Jolly Politics
Court trends advise tempered enthusiasm for HB 34 eyewitness ID reforms Does this sound like a suggestive photo array to put before a witness?A witness described being robbed at gunpoint by a “[b]lack male,...
Update:1 year 7 months
Grits for Breakfast
MAY 22, 2917 / Theodore Dalrymple on secularization and transcendence THE SECULARIZATION of Europe is hardly any secret. Religion's long, melancholy, withdrawing roar, as Matthew Arnold put it, is a roar no...
Update:1 year 8 months
Unca Darrell
MAY 10 / James B. Comey . . . . . . needed firing. Everything he did during the 2016 election was wrong. He was wrong . . . . . . back in July to release information...
Update:1 year 8 months
Unca Darrell
Droppin' F bombs, Beto O'Rourke style It's not often that a politician decides to start cursing repeatedly during speeches and interviews. But that hasn't stopped...
Update:1 year 10 months
Rick Perry vs The World
APRIL 5, 2017 / Weeding out the audience at the Alley is . . . . . . a feature, not a bug. Houston's Alley Theatre is running "An Act of God," a loosely dramatized collection of irreverent one-liners...
Update:1 year 10 months
Unca Darrell
Statewide primary rumors It's that stage of the election cycle where politicians are trying to figure out if they should run for something else or stay put. ...
Update:1 year 10 months
Rick Perry vs The World
Is Ted Cruz vulnerable? Is Ted Cruz vulnerable? Not really. Sure, he's not liked, Texans think Ted puts Ted first, his approval rating is upside down, etc...
Update:1 year 10 months
Rick Perry vs The World
MARCH 16, 2017 / Jim Webb on what it means to be a redneck, and . . . . . . why redneck culture matters. In 2004 Jim Webb wrote Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. Though the 2016 presidential...
Update:1 year 10 months
Unca Darrell
MARCH 3, 2017 -- Goodbye, and thanks, to Thomas Sowell THOMAS SOWELL, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and one of America's most important public intellectuals, retired from...
Update:1 year 11 months
Unca Darrell
March 2, 2017 / The poem our teachers got wrong TWO ROADS diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Generations of commencement...
Update:1 year 11 months
Unca Darrell
FEBRUARY 27 / Eric Hoffer on . . . . . . baby boomers and alienated intellectuals. "SCRATCH AN INTELLECTUAL, and you find a would-be aristocrat who loathes the sight, the...
Update:1 year 11 months
Unca Darrell
2017 Project: January “Progress” There are two different ways to interpret my 2017 project: that it's a way more complicated New Years Resolution, or that it is essentially...
Update:2 years 1 week
Greg's Opinion
Ted Cruz's first senate term in a nutshell The National Review's Tim Alberta switched to Politico, and one of his opening pieces put Ted Cruz's first term in a nutshell It...
Update:2 years 1 week
Rick Perry vs The World
Andrea Parquet-Taylor named KTVT CBS 11 news director Former KHOU 11 assistant news director Andrea Parquet-Taylor named Vice President, News Director for KTVT CBS 11 Andrea...
Update:2 years 2 weeks
Mike McGuff
VIDEO: KPRC 2 10pm newscast (1-24-99) ...
Update:2 years 2 weeks
Mike McGuff
Democrats actually thought Wendy Davis was a serious candidate? Hat tip to Willisms: VIDEO- Wendy Davis being Wendy Davis: https://t.co/SHq3ACGVDJ #txlege— Will Franklin (@WILLisms) January 24,...
Update:2 years 2 weeks
Rick Perry vs The World
Luke Bryan to sing National Anthem as part of Super Bowl LI on FOX ​ Country music superstar LUKE BRYAN will sing the National Anthem as part of Super Bowl LI pregame festivities at NRG Stadium in Houston...
Update:2 years 3 weeks
Mike McGuff
Tweets
Karen Townsend | 6 years 8 months
"Patrick F. Kennedy is a career foreign service officer" - http://t.co/GOrCe0IS
Peter Corbett ✈ | 6 years 8 months
I'm at McCarran International Airport (LAS) w/ @almacy http://t.co/KvmId07i
KERA Public Media | 6 years 8 months
TONIGHT at 7pm on KERA TV: Presidential Debate: Learn more at PBS NewsHour. http://t.co/Z9kYdun8
PBS MediaShift | 6 years 8 months
Tech Snafus Make Bill O'Reilly/Jon Stewart 'Rumble' More of a Stumble http://t.co/4OfeBlrG (@kegill | @pbsmediashift) #rumble2012
Will Sullivan | 6 years 8 months
Great addition, been burned too much by bad subs. "Google Play Announces Free Trials For In-App Subscription Services" http://t.co/TOLgRVak
TxDOT | 6 years 8 months
I-35W/North Tarrant Express #constantcontact http://t.co/QDzrQumu
keyetv | 6 years 8 months
Serial shotgun robbers suspects arrested. http://t.co/ka8T4U9B
Karen Townsend | 6 years 8 months
Aren't State Dept career people suppose to be non-partisan? Not the political appointees, the career people. #Libya
San Antonio Current | 6 years 8 months
Go ahead, chalk it up http://t.co/YMWpC5wM #satx #chalkitup
Caller.com | 6 years 8 months
Scanner: Bathroom on fire in 600 block of Virginia, CC fire dept. on the way
Ballotpedia | 6 years 8 months
Does your state offer early voting? Do you qualify? Find out! #election2012 http://t.co/eodxBYVD
Dallas Morning News | 6 years 8 months
Why a Dallas-area cycling coach believed Lance Armstrong was drug-free (video) http://t.co/gURdYkj1
Caller.com | 6 years 8 months
Dozens of illegal waste dumpers sentenced in Jim Wells Co.; others on the run: http://t.co/NgerCdsQ
Karen Townsend | 6 years 8 months
Consistently impressed w/raullabrador when I listen to him in Congressional hearings. #Libya
Cory Crow | 6 years 8 months
Diigo: United raises fares by up to $10 per round trip - Business - http://t.co/kWY8gwPV http://t.co/bw25JP5R
News 4 WOAI | 6 years 8 months
If you see news in or around San Antonio 'SEND IT' to @NEWS4WOAI here: http://t.co/uMqbMXQv OR email us at: NEWSDESK@WOAITV.COM
swamplot | 6 years 8 months
Mining Houston Garbage for Recycling and Compost Gold http://t.co/HMMBArMX
swamplot | 6 years 8 months
Daily Demolition Report: Tulane Highway http://t.co/JXmkSx11
KFDA NewsChannel10 | 6 years 8 months
Obama and Romney: Where they stand on the issues http://t.co/y3VrPfkM
Williamson County | 6 years 8 months
Mental Health Awareness Week FREE Webinar:"Understanding Depression-How to Help You or a Loved One" Thurs,Oct 11@1pm-https://t.co/YUWi19WY
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