in Houston, Texas
Austin Energy customers foot bill – $2 a month per customer for 19 years – for idled biomass plant
Thursday, Feb 14, 2013, 05:33PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Sam Houston National Forest

Around the clock, seven days a week, in a plant 233 miles away, a full complement of energy professionals stands at the ready to provide wood-fired power to Austin Energy customers.

The staff isn’t sure when they will be needed next. The $128 million plant has produced electricity for less than two of the seven months it has been in operation.

But  for the next 19 years a little less than $2 will be added every month to the bill of the average Austin Energy customer to pay for a plant that, when it does produce energy, produces energy too expensive for any energy company to want to buy.

“It is one of the biggest boondoggles I’ve seen in modern history,” an obviously agitated Tony Bennett says. Bennett is the acting director of the Texas Forest Industries Council. “Just thinking about how they pulled this off makes me mad.”

Bennett was among those who tried to persuade Austin Energy five years ago to think a little bit harder before trying to pull off building a new biomass-burning generating plant in the pine woods of East Texas.

The Council was part of a once-in-a lifetime coalition of consumer and good government advocates, environmental activists, and commercial and industrial interests who came together in 2008 to plead with the Austin City Council to reject the plan.

The City Council unanimously approved allowing Austin Energy to charge its customers to build the plant. The plan allowed for the energy company to enter into a guaranteed contract for 20 years for energy valued at the time at $2.3 billion.

“What is the most disturbing thing to me was that they put this contract through in about two weeks, almost in secret,” Bennett says. “I can tell you it shocked the forest products community at the time, the way they hurried it along.”

The reason for its urgency was that Roger Duncan, then head of Austin Energy, considered the plant a necessary component in his plan for Austin Energy to get 35 percent of all of its energy from renewable sources, spokesman Ed Clark says.

Unlike solar power and wind power, wood or biomass is a source of energy that could be called on in the dead calm of night, Clark says.

“Roger wanted that renewable component that would allow us to have power to dispatch 24-7,” he says.

Roger Duncan and Austin Energy could not at the time the contract was signed in 2008 have anticipated the explosion of hydraulic fracturing that created a buyer’s market for a seemingly endless supply of cheap natural gas, Clark says.

They could have had they listened to several industry experts who were part of a generation plan task force formed by former mayor Will Wynn in 2007, Trey Salinas, a spokesman for the Coalition for Clean Affordable Renewable Energy, says.

At least three of those experts who later helped form the coalition told the task force that most every reliable forecast predicted a protracted period of low natural gas prices driven by technological breakthroughs like hydraulic fracturing.

“They can’t say they couldn’t know because they were told,” Salinas says.

More than two years ago, while the plant was under construction, Michael Webber, who supported the plant as associate director of the Center for International Energy & Environmental Policy at the University of Texas, admitted to Texas Tribune the plant was controversial to begin with and no longer made economic sense.

In spite of the failure of additional federal tax breaks to materialize that would have made biomass more competitive, construction pushed on. Not long after the plant  fired up for the first time this past summer Southern Power, a subsidiary of the Southern Company in Atlanta, acquired it.

By agreement, Southern Power has the plant fully staffed around the clock, ready to serve Austin Energy’s needs, spokesman Tim Leljedal says. In spite of the substantial lack of work, Leljedal confirmed that the company has not reduced staff nor has it been asked to by Austin Energy.

Leljedal declined to say - per the contract - how much Austin Energy customers were paying by the day, week or month when the plant is idle.

Clark confirmed Austin Energy is paying a capacity fee to Southern Power, but would not say what it was, per the contract. But the fee and the contract are little different from those signed with other renewable energy companies in generation arrangements that are increasingly complicated.

At one time, Austin Energy envisioned the biomass plant running 90 percent of the time. Officials have downgraded the outlook to 75 percent and promised the plant would be firing on all burners by this summer, Clark says.

When asked if Austin Energy customers would be expected to cover the shortfall in the $2.3 billion contract, Clark says, “We’re not going to come close to that $2.3 billion figure.”

The problem is, advocates have for five years been unsuccessful in getting Austin Energy to make the terms of the contract public. No one really knows what utility ratepayers are paying for.

“CCARE (Coalition for Clean Affordable Renewable Energy) has always strongly believed that Austin Energy should release the 2008 Biomass contract,” Salinas says. “We do not feel there is a legitimate reason that a signed contract should be kept confidential and held from the public for over four years.”

The Austin City Council is currently deciding on whether or not to hand oversight of Austin Energy over to an independent board.

“We view this biomass plant decision as Exhibit A for why we need an independent board overseeing Austin Energy,” Salinas says.

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

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Photo from the Sam Houston National Forest by flickr user NixBC, 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.

Public costs of wind power pile up as industry digs in against expiration of tax credit
Friday, Sep 14, 2012, 02:15PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
spanish fan

Imagine Washington policymakers one day proposing a spectacular renewable energy and jobs program, one that assigned a laborer equipped with a lovely Spanish-style but, of course, American-made, fan to every home.

The symmetrical logic of reducing our loathsome dependence on fossil fuels while creating more than 114 million jobs is powerfully alluring. If you could resist the impulse to ask what this revolutionary program would cost.

Something on a much less ridiculous scale has been going on for decades at the intersection of power generation and your government, which has insisted, through its policies, that American taxpayers support alternative energy sources like wind power.

To give you an idea of how competitive the wind power industry is, the possibility a federal production tax credit for wind farms might not be renewed for the first time since 1992 has sent companies in the nation’s wind power capital, Texas, into a panic, the Texas Tribune reports.

This in spite of the $7 billion state electric ratepayers contributed to build power lines from West Texas wind farms to cities where the power could actually be used. And that all of the taxpayer and ratepayer support produces a very small number of jobs at a cost of $1.6 million each.

Vestas, a Danish turbine manufacturer, is closing its Houston research and development facility in advance of the tax credit vote, the story says. William McWhirter with Trinity Industries in Dallas says a decline in wind tower production next year will hurt the manufacturing company.

Sarah Howell, a spokeswoman for BP Wind Energy, a creator of Texas wind farms, says the impact of a lapsed tax credit on the industry would be “devastating.”

Little remarked upon by the people opining in the story is how much supporting the wind power industry costs and that those costs have always been borne by taxpayers and ratepayers.

Without subsidy, the actual cost to generate wind power on-shore is expected to be at least 50 percent and as much as 75 percent more than for natural gas, according to projections made in a June 2011 study by the Electric Power Research Institute. (Please see projection charts on pages 1-11 and 1-12 in the study.)

Offshore wind power is expected to cost two to almost three times as much to produce as natural gas, the Research Institute study says. And those cost differences are not expected to change appreciably by 2025, the study says.

***

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 from ad by Lands Far Away Imports Inc.

Two Texas counties violated state law by not holding runoffs, but won’t be punished without a formal complaint
Friday, Aug 03, 2012, 03:07PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
no

Exhausted by the intricate dance that is Texas politics, party officials in Sterling and Oldham counties decided to sit the Tuesday runoff out.

Their separate decisions not to hold runoffs are violations of the state election code, according to a story today by Texas Tribune. The Secretary of State, in charge of elections across the state, however, has no legal authority to do anything about it, spokesman Rich Parsons told Texas Watchdog this morning.

The office had received at least two calls from voters in those counties inquiring about the lack of an election, but as of Friday no complaint had been filed, Parsons says.

“Certainly, if someone felt the failure to conduct a runoff maybe had an effect on an election, an inquiry could be made,” Parsons says.

Not very likely. In rural Sterling County, population 1,150, roughly between San Angelo and Midland, 327 people, 315 Republicans and 12 Democrats voted in the May 29 primary .

The Republican Party in Oldham County, home to 2,060 people west of Abilene, scored a clean sweep with 252 votes to zero for the Democrats in the primary.

The chairs of both parties in Oldham County said they had no interest in holding runoff elections, County Clerk Becky Groneman, told the Tribune. "We haven't had a runoff election in several years. The last time we had one, two people voted," Groneman said.

When the Republican chair in Sterling County moved out of the county, Republicans were unable to find a replacement before the July 31 runoff, County Clerk Susan Wyatt said. The Democratic chair didn’t have that excuse, just plain deciding not to have a runoff, Wyatt said.

A few folks complained, Wyatt said, but when she asked if one of the complainers would volunteer to serve as the Republican chair for the next election, “they would back out the door."

***
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 onTwitterand 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 the 'No votes' by flickr user gaelx, used via a Creative Commons license.

Texas A&M presses on with privatization plan, estimates savings at $260 million
Sunday, Jul 29, 2012, 09:37AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
tam

If this keeps up, Barack Obama might be the only person left on a government payroll who despises capitalism.

About six weeks ago, Texas Watchdog told you Texas A&M University was considering using a contractor rather than university staff to handle dining services on campus. Although many who were aware of it tried to keep it hush, hush, word leaked out that A&M stood to save $125 million over 10 years by using a private company.

The idea has gone over so big the school is now planning to pay the contractor to maintain campus buildings and landscaping, too. Combined with free-market dining services, the school’s savings estimate now stands at $260 million, Texas Tribune reports Friday.

The contract with Compass Group USA, of North Carolina, is the largest of its kind with any American university, the story says.

As we reported a couple of weeks ago, privatization has suddenly become all the rage in certain circles, particularly among Democratic leaders who have the unenviable task of telling their citizens their governments have spent them out of money.

Compass has guaranteed employees jobs for two years with a 4-percent pay increase to even out a difference with the company benefits package if they reapply and pass a background check.

University president R. Bowen Loftin thought the Compass offer very fair. Quite a few of the roughly 1,650 taxpayer-sponsored employees who had been serving up the barbecue, cleaning the toilets and cutting the lawn disagree.

Walter Draper, an assistant custodial supervisor who thought it unfair, wondered aloud how a private company could do the same jobs he and his colleagues were doing for an average of $26 million less every year.

“Texas A&M has one of the finest business schools in the country, and yet we can’t figure out how to in-house save money out of our department,” Draper said, with a metaphorical scratch of the head.

***
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, Texas A&M logo from the Texas A&M University System.

As Senate candidates square off, a display of Texas' 'rightward drift'
Friday, May 04, 2012, 11:32AM CST
By Steve Miller
Capitol

The U.S. Senate candidate forum in Houston Wednesday was summed up neatly in a headline by the San Antonio Express-News: “At Senate debate, Cruz rips Dewhurst, who rips Obama.” It’s a truth-telling header that speaks more to the lack of panache of either of the front-runners vying to take the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, the Tea Party favorite, has hammered on the notion that he is the real conservative in Republican primary, while his foe, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, has allowed Democrats to chair state Senate committees during his tenure under Gov. Rick Perry, which began in 2003.

The forum allowed each candidate to speak his piece about how he planned his own version of change, which Dewhurst used to promote himself and berate the Obama administration rather than to take on Cruz, whom he leads 38 to 26 percent, according to one poll.

"We need quite frankly, to send Barack Obama back to Chicago, get a good conservative Republican in the White House, that will follow a stable predictable course, so businesses know that the rug won't be pulled out from under their feet," KUHF in Houston reported Dewhurst as saying. "Invest it in creating millions and millions of new jobs, that will turn this country around."

The Texas Tribune reported that Dewhurst promised to apply “the Texas model” to his position in Washington if elected, a light touch on businesses that would enable growth. “We're seeing an avalanche of job-killing regulation" from Washington, D.C., Dewhurst said.

Among the best assessments of the Texas race for the Senate shows up of all places in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in an Associated Press column

The tone of the race is just one sign of the continuing rightward drift of politics in one of the most conservative states. With nearly 50 percent of Texas voters calling themselves "very conservative" in a recent poll, the competition in the GOP is now all about who's the purest and most doctrinaire. And longtime officeholders who rose in an earlier time can find themselves held up against the new breed of hard-liners who brook no compromise with the opposition.

KERA in Dallas has an excellent gathering spot for voters to check out the platforms of the candidates, a Republican primary field that also includes former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former ESPN analyst Craig James. Former state Rep. Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard, a former sales and billing worker in Garland, are vying for the Democratic nomination, although the primary is expected to serve as the election for an office in which Democrats have little chance.

***
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of the Capitol via the Architect of the Capitol.

Army spends $1 million on solar array for Fort Bliss, solar output projections at 1 percent of total needed to power base
Friday, Apr 27, 2012, 02:01PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
sunrise

This might be the solar energy industry’s cleverest pitch for a government subsidy yet, making sun power a matter of our national defense.

Fort Bliss, the nation’s sprawling U.S. Army base outside of El Paso, recently spent $1 million to put up a solar array, according to the Texas Tribune today.

This tax outlay is part of an Army test program to see if the base could by 2018 offset all of its resource use by producing its own energy and recycling all of its own water and waste.

Good luck with that.

This latest solar bivouac more than doubles the amount of energy not produced by conventional electricity. Which puts total solar output at exactly one percent of the total needed.

The Army concedes that Fort Bliss can never reach its energy neutrality with solar power alone, what with the relentless West Texas sun only shining half the day and storage technology still in its infancy.

Without subsidy from every branch of government, including the military, the solar industry in America could not exist and solar arrays like the one at Fort Bliss could not in any grunt’s lifetime pay for itself.

Fort Bliss would like to try some more solar, a multimillion-dollar, 20-megawatt system that would become one of the biggest in Texas. But with budget cuts and all, the Army thinks it might have to be done with private funding.

We’re pretty sure a private company would take advantage of the added benefit of the raised solar array and begin charging G.I.s for the covered parking they are now getting for free.

***
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 'west texas sunrise' by flickr user brighter than sunshine, used via a Creative Commons license.

Departing Texas state workers collecting tens of millions annually as they cash out vacation time; other states look to curb practice
Thursday, Mar 15, 2012, 11:43AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
beach

The next time you are in line at the Texas Department of Public Safety, having ordered out for pizza while moving on to the second of the Lord of the Rings trilogy on your iPhone, summon just a little empathy for the folks who are, if you are lucky, less than three hours from waiting on you.

Five hundred and six million dollars says at least some of these overworked and underloved state employees will at retirement be collecting a fat check for vacation time they were somehow not able to use, according to a story today by the Texas Tribune.

This is the total amount the state paid out to retiring state employees over the past decade, $66.5 million of it last year alone, the interactive bar graph accompanying the story says.

This policy is perfectly legal in Texas and in nearly every other state. Vacation time here can roll over from year to year to a maximum of 13 weeks pay, which can be taken as a single payment or put toward an early retirement.

But it has begun to concern your elected officials who get mightily peevish when running out of your money to spend.

Minnesota is considering ending payments to retirees for unused vacation and sick time. A $3.6 million payout to New Jersey Transit retirees last year spurred Gov. Chris Christie to call for a new policy for all state employees.

The governors of California and New York, in their efforts at pension reform, have decried the practice of adding in unused vacation and sick time to fatten the calculation of a state retiree’s pension.

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

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Photo of beach by flickr user Vaughan, used via a Creative Commons license.

Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign security detail bill is in, ready to be added to the pile of taxpayer-funded security tabs
Tuesday, Jan 24, 2012, 01:24PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Rick perry in Iowa

At $2.6 million, it might not be considered much of a bargain, but the Texas Department of Public Safety actually performed two services while on Gov. Rick Perry’s wanna-be-president security detail.

The first one was obvious, if pricey. The invaluable second was to remind taxpayers who has their best interests at heart when it comes to spending the money government coerces from them.

Gov. Perry spends nearly six months on the inaptly named stump, surrounded by DPS officers. He then returns to his home state and brazenly refuses to refund to taxpayers the cost for his protection.

Texas taxpayers know this because of the vigilance of Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, the leader of the opposition party in the House, the Texas Tribune reports.

"One way to protect taxpayers' money is by not spending it unnecessarily," Farrar wrote in a letter to the governor obtained by the Tribune. "But, if someone discovers tax dollars have been spent unnecessarily, it should be reimbursed either to general revenue or directly to taxpayers."

The necessity of the Texas governor’s security has been a matter of DPS policy at least as far back as 1999 when Gov. George Bush ran up a $3.9 million security bill he left behind for taxpayers on his way to Washington.

This DPS policy and all state agency policies are subject to review, revision and abrogation by Farrar and her colleagues in the House and the Senate.

Courageous Republicans, too, have come to the aid of taxpayers, flaying the cost of security for the Democrat-in-chief as he frolicked with his family on Hawaiian beaches.

Clearly, the cost of security for our candidates is out of control, as any Democrat can tell you when there are Republicans to protect or when important Democrats need protecting.

And just as clearly, it won’t be the Republican or the Democratic national committees relieving our burden.

Perhaps the more important question is whether or not candidates need all this security to begin with. The answer might come from the remaining Texan in this presidential race.

During the Iowa caucuses in December, a reporter for the National Journal was taking advantage of the breakfast buffet at the Embassy Suites hotel when in walks Ron Paul. Alone.

Paul made his way along the buffet line and sat down for breakfast, just himself and a copy of USA Today. When the reporter walked over to get an exclusive, Paul executed his own security at no charge to any taxpayer.

"Right now, the only thing that bothers me,” he told the reporter, “is people who don't respect my privacy enough to leave me alone for five minutes when I'm eating breakfast."
 
***
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 Gov. Rick Perry in Iowa by flickr user IowaPolitics.com, used via a Creative Commons license.
Split primaries possible in Texas
Tuesday, Jan 24, 2012, 10:26AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
voting sign

Unless the legal combatants can agree on a map of districts by Feb. 6, Texas voters should be prepared to come to the polls twice during the primaries.

A panel of three federal judges in San Antonio is trying to create a new map of voting districts acceptable to plaintiffs who sued in objection to and the state Attorney General defending the map approved last summer by the Legislature.

The panel’s own voting district maps were sent back to San Antonio for retooling by the Supreme Court on Friday. And to make things even more complicated, another federal judicial panel, this one in the District of Columbia, is holding hearings weighing the legitimacy of the original legislative map.

Time is not an ally of any of the parties involved. The San Antonio judges have asked to meet with all of the aggrieved Friday to see if a map can be agreed upon to preserve an April 3 primary that has already been pushed back a month, the Texas Tribune is reporting today.

The panel said it will most likely push back the deadline for candidates filing for office from Feb. 1, but did not suggest a new date.

Without some agreement, the judges suggested holding only a presidential primary on April 3, leaving the state’s political parties to continue to quarrel over a second primary for congressional and state candidates sometime before their state conventions in June.
 
***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of 'vote here' sign by flickr user lakelandlocal, used via a Creative Commons license.
Taxpayers shell out for Gov. Rick Perry’s temporary housing bill, mansion restoration; Iowa, Connecticut also fixing up living quarters for govs
Wednesday, Nov 23, 2011, 11:41AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
For Rent

Gov. Perry was right. This certainly ain’t Arkansas.

Texas taxpayers have a housing boom on their hands, a sort of controlled detonation centered around the present and future living arrangements of the Texas governor and his family, according to a pair of stories, the latest today by the Texas Tribune.

Seems citizens have been billed about $800,000 or $16,667 a month over the past four years for the Perry clan to live in a 6,386-square-foot home on 3.3 acres in a lovely neighborhood west of downtown Austin.

Among the decorations contributed by taxpayers were a $700 coat rack and $1,000 Neiman Marcus curtains.

The rent alone has cost nearly $500,000, and the governor’s family has spent another roughly $144,000 or $3,000 a month in campaign funds for other various sundries, according to the story.

At the same time, taxpayers are on the hook for $21.5 million for the nearly completed restoration of the governor’s mansion, which was nearly destroyed by an arsonist on June 8, 2008, the initial Tribune story reported. Private donors have contributed another $3.5 million.

The good news is that with the eventual completion of the mansion restoration, Texans might go back to paying for a single governor’s residence. The bad news, according to the Tribune, is that it cost $27,000 a month to live in the mansion before the fire.

And while those numbers might result in taxpayer boggle, it is difficult to gain perspective when so few governor’s mansions are burned nearly to the ground by a Molotov cocktail hurler.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee once generously offered to the Perrys a suggestion that they might live in a trailer, or “modular mansion” as his wife called it, on the mansion grounds as he and his family did in 2000 during a $1.4 million renovation.

Perry demurred. “Texas ain’t Arkansas,” he said.

Civic-minded Iowans want to renovate want to renovate their governor’s mansion, estimating the cost, if you include the brand new geothermal heating and cooling unit, at $1.6 million. They intend to raise the money through donation rather than taxation.

And don’t even get the people of Connecticut started on the governor’s mansion. Connecticut Cottages & Gardens magazine in August announced it would pay to gussy up the mansion for Gov. Dannel Malloy and his family. But the people there are still riled up about the $57,000 they’ve been asked to pay for a new air handling unit, water heater and refinishing the hardwood floors.

Connecticut, we can say with some certainty, ain’t Texas.
 
***
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 'For Rent' sign by flickr user Charleston's TheDigitel, used via a Creative Commons license.
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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:2 years 9 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:2 years 9 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:2 years 10 months
Grits for Breakfast
Priorities The headline from the Victoria Advocate declaring that the Texas Legislature prioritized mental health treatment over incarceration is...
Update:2 years 10 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:2 years 10 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:2 years 10 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:2 years 10 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:2 years 11 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:3 years 1 week
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:3 years 1 week
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:3 years 2 weeks
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:3 years 3 weeks
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:3 years 1 month
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:3 years 1 month
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:3 years 1 month
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:3 years 1 month
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:3 years 2 months
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:3 years 2 months
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:3 years 2 months
Mike McGuff
VIDEO: KPRC 2 10pm newscast (1-24-99) ...
Update:3 years 2 months
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:3 years 2 months
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:3 years 2 months
Mike McGuff
Tweets
Karen Townsend | 7 years 10 months
"Patrick F. Kennedy is a career foreign service officer" - http://t.co/GOrCe0IS
Peter Corbett ✈ | 7 years 10 months
I'm at McCarran International Airport (LAS) w/ @almacy http://t.co/KvmId07i
KERA Public Media | 7 years 10 months
TONIGHT at 7pm on KERA TV: Presidential Debate: Learn more at PBS NewsHour. http://t.co/Z9kYdun8
PBS MediaShift | 7 years 10 months
Tech Snafus Make Bill O'Reilly/Jon Stewart 'Rumble' More of a Stumble http://t.co/4OfeBlrG (@kegill | @pbsmediashift) #rumble2012
Will Sullivan | 7 years 10 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 | 7 years 10 months
I-35W/North Tarrant Express #constantcontact http://t.co/QDzrQumu
keyetv | 7 years 10 months
Serial shotgun robbers suspects arrested. http://t.co/ka8T4U9B
Karen Townsend | 7 years 10 months
Aren't State Dept career people suppose to be non-partisan? Not the political appointees, the career people. #Libya
San Antonio Current | 7 years 10 months
Go ahead, chalk it up http://t.co/YMWpC5wM #satx #chalkitup
Caller.com | 7 years 10 months
Scanner: Bathroom on fire in 600 block of Virginia, CC fire dept. on the way
Ballotpedia | 7 years 10 months
Does your state offer early voting? Do you qualify? Find out! #election2012 http://t.co/eodxBYVD
Dallas Morning News | 7 years 10 months
Why a Dallas-area cycling coach believed Lance Armstrong was drug-free (video) http://t.co/gURdYkj1
Caller.com | 7 years 10 months
Dozens of illegal waste dumpers sentenced in Jim Wells Co.; others on the run: http://t.co/NgerCdsQ
Karen Townsend | 7 years 10 months
Consistently impressed w/raullabrador when I listen to him in Congressional hearings. #Libya
Cory Crow | 7 years 10 months
Diigo: United raises fares by up to $10 per round trip - Business - http://t.co/kWY8gwPV http://t.co/bw25JP5R
News 4 WOAI | 7 years 10 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 | 7 years 10 months
Mining Houston Garbage for Recycling and Compost Gold http://t.co/HMMBArMX
swamplot | 7 years 10 months
Daily Demolition Report: Tulane Highway http://t.co/JXmkSx11
KFDA NewsChannel10 | 7 years 10 months
Obama and Romney: Where they stand on the issues http://t.co/y3VrPfkM
Williamson County | 7 years 10 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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