Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dept. Of Insurance Reveals State Farm Rate Hikes

Carrier Seeks To Block On-Line Revelations Through Lawsuit

Insurance consumers will be able to get rate setting information
from a website maintained by the state regulatory agency that
rides herd on carriers.

State Farm Lloyds petitioned a Travis County state district
court to keep the Texas Department of Insurance from disclosing
rate setting information on its website.

Officials have said these revelations are pubic information.

Terming as "unprecedented" the practice of revealing the
processes of the company's record double rate hikes of 4.5
percent and 8.8 percent over the past year, State Farm sought
relief in court.

According to the TDI website:

"(March 2010) On March 2, 2010, State Farm Lloyds made a rate
filing for a 4.5% increase in its homeowners’ insurance premium
rates. The filing states that the new rates will be effective on
May 1, 2010 for new business and June 1, 2010 for renewals.
A link to this rate filing, along with supporting information, is
available below. Portions of the filings deemed confidential by
State Farm are temporarily excluded from the online posting. The
company has petitioned the Travis County District Court for an
order declaring that the excluded information is confidential and
not subject to public disclosure.

"On July 15, 2009, State Farm Lloyds made a rate filing for an
8.8% increase in its homeowners premium rates (effective
September 1, 2009)."

The state insurance department explained the new practice in an
on-line article.

"In order to provide more information to the public regarding
rates, TDI will now post rate filings for homeowners insurance
companies on its website. The ultimate goal is to provide greater
understanding of the regulatory process, and promote rate
responsiveness and price competition in the market. Initially,
the rate filings of market leaders in Texas will be posted. As
resources and time permit, rate filings of other companies
writing homeowners insurance may be posted."

State Farm has been ordered to repay $331 million in premiums, a
figure negotiated down from a record of $1 billion ordered

O-Man Goes With Offshore Drilling In Va., Fla.

"VICTORY is getting what you are willing to accept at a
price you are willing to pay." - Col. Dave McIntyre

President Barack Obama employed classic bait and switch
tactics, saying he will allow offshore drilling in Virginia
and Florida, but prohibit the same in certain prized Alaska

A complete reversal of his campaign rhetoric, the move is
obviously a stab at reconciliation with conservative
petroleum interests. He had insisted upon a complete
reduction of reliance on carbon fuels during the campaign,
then augmented his posture in the State of the Union
Address, calling for biofuel and renewable energy source
development above all else.

The mechanics of the deal are these.

The Administration is willing to allow offshore drilling 50
miles from the Virginia coastline and 125 miles from
Florida's Gulf of Mexico shores.

He and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that
proposed leases in Alaska's Bristol Bay will be cancelled,
along with a reversal of earlier announced plans to open
leases in parts of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

In these areas, scientists would conduct further studies to
see if they are suitable for future drilling.

The come to Jesus energy move is apparently not working
among conservative energy professionals in the central Texas

Reached for comment, two knowledgeable College Station
sources responded in this way.

Bill Flores, former CEO of Phoenix Exploration, a man who
has raised as much as $350 million from investors groups for
Gulf Coast offshore driling operations, called the
President's decision a "baby step" in the right direction,
something that "mirrors" cap and trade.

He is a runoff candidate for the Republican nomination to
oppose Chet Edwards for House of Representatives District

"If elected to Congress, I intend to draw on my decades of
energy industry experience to advocate for sensible energy
policies, to create jobs, and to grow our economy," said Mr.

Calling for more details, he added, "This was a nice sound
bite from the President. But his Administration and this
Congress have shown an alarming prejudice against producing
more energy from America’s vast natural resources. We will
wait to see if this is one more promise from President Obama
that is not kept."

Flores spent the last 20 years in senior roles at energy
services and oil and gas companies, retiring in December
2009, as CEO of Phoenix Exploration.

"Today’s announcement, which does not open up the Arctic
National Wildlife of Alaska and which ensures that China
will remain the only country developing oil resources off
the coast between Florida and Cuba, will provide a limited
benefit for the country," said Mr. Flores.

A recent report issued by the National Association of
Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) found that efforts
to limit natural gas production onshore and wider oil
production from offshore drilling in places like ANWR will
decrease America’s Gross Domestic Product by $2.36 trillion
over the next 20 years. "The Obama administration’s proposal
keeps many of the current offshore limitations in place,"
said Mr. Flores.

"My fear is that, if you step back and look at the larger
initiative embedded in the President’s proposal, which
mirrors Cap and Trade, President Obama and Speaker Nancy
Pelosi both want our country to go down yet another path of
enacting legislation that will destroy our economy," said
Mr. Flores.

His plan for energy development:

1) Greatly expanding access to domestic supplies of energy
to create tens of thousands of American jobs by producing
American energy, lessening our dependence on foreign sources
of energy;

2) Greatly increasing the availability of baseload
electricity generation from nuclear power;

3) Encouraging Americans to find innovative ways to conserve

4) Over time, expanding the use of alternative fuels,
including solar, wind, biofuels, and other renewable sources

Colonel Dave McIntyre, a candidate for the same office who
was eliminated in the Republican Primary, coming in third to
Rob Curnock's second place, said, "Over the last year to 14
months, the Obama Administration has been coming to grips
with reality. In area after area, they have been starting
to change their perspective to reflect that reality. This
looks like one more area in which they're doing that. At
one time, during the campaign, they had made the statement
that they wanted to completely eliminate a reliance on all
carbon fuels, but that is obviously no longer a part of the

He is a Homeland Security Expert who taught at the National
War College and served in the Office of the Chief of Staff
at the Pentagon during a 30-year U.S. Army career that
started at West Point and in the Airborne. He quit his
position at Texas A&M University directing a doctoral
program in Homeland Security to seek the office of
Congressman and is now actively consulting on such issues as
border security and bioterror. His website is at

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Flak Catcher Handles Angry Citizens, Senate Candidate

BRA's Matt Phillips meets Open Records request - on video

Look out, kid; they keep it all hid. - Bob Dylan, ca. 1965

His job is to handle relations with governments and
customers. A young man with about 4 years experience as a
manager, he is very professional and in command of the
facts. To his left and right at the massive conference
table sat seven staff members who helped him round up the
records his questioners had come to examine.

The confrontation came soon as the questions emerged.

The young official leveled his gaze across the conference
table at the Brazos River Authority offices on Waco's Cobbs
Drive and regarded his questioners, a couple whose Lake
Granbury property has been steadily appraised with higher
and higher value and yet has seen a steadily receding

"Reservoirs are designed to be used," Matt Phillips told Joe
Williams and his wife. Developed in 1964, Lake Granbury "is
not a recreational lake. Recreation is one of the purposes
for the lake, but its primary use is as a reservoir."

Of needs, he patiently explains, the lake levels rise and
fall accordingly.

"We have tried to influence the real estate developers to
not tell people that Lake Granbury is a constant level lake.
But we can't make them not say it."

A special purpose district, the Brazos River Authority does
not have taxing authority, though there is legislative and
executive oversight through the Governor's appointment of
its 21-member board and the state laws that govern its

"Our puropse is to operate outside the state's budget
process," Mr. Phillips explained. "So we don't get any tax

The authority is empowered to control the flow of the Brazos
River and sell its raw waters "for any useful purpose."

Joe Williams and his wife are members of the steering
committee of the Lake Granbury Waterfront Owners
Association, a civic group that is watching with concern as
the design thrust of the lake, from their point of view,
seems to be shifting in unison with the development of a
massive $35 billion State Water Plan.

In periods of wet weather conditions, when the lake is full,
the agency is obliged by law to pass through every acre foot
above flood stage through its dams' sluice gates and on

In periods of drought, Mr. Phillips explained, the authority
is charged by state law to conserve water and sell it for
any useful purpose to all customers.

The outlook is uncertain as to what will happen to the state
of waterfront properties in the three-lake system managed by
BRA - Possum Kingdom, Lake Granbury, and Lake Whitney.

Everyone concerned is awaiting an engineering study by the
Ft. Worth consultants, Freese and Nichols. The engineering
study regards everything from docks and boat ramps to the
future of the hydroelectric facilities at Possum Kingdom and
the status of Lake Granbury as a reservoir. The BRA board
ordered the study on September 29 at its regular quarterly

"This could result in the decommissioning of the Possum
Kingdom hydroelectric generating station," said Darren
Yancy, a Burleson insurance and venture capital specialist
who is a candidate for State Senate District 22 running
against former Senator David Sibley for the unexpired term
of Senator Kip Averitt, chief sponsor of the massive new
state water plan.

The Williamses are angry. Plenty angry. They have driven an
hour and a half from Granbury to meet with Mr. Yancy, The
Legendary and seven members of the authority's staff to go
over documents supporting the maintenance and upkeep of the
Morris Sheppard Dam at Possum Kingdom.

After the Tuesday morning meeting, Mrs. Williams spoke up
outside the authority's headquarters building.

"The voters of Texas have not awakened yet. They're still
asleep...By George, Kip Averitt pulled out of the race and
they still voted for him. Why? 'Oh! I think I've heard of
that guy. I think I'll vote for him.'"

She speaks of she thinks of as a slide into a socialist
morass that may redefine the limits of private property as
it has been known for centuries.

"We got a clear picture of what does actually go on in the
day to day maintenance of the dams."

Mr. Yancy pointed out that if David Sibley is elected, he
will regain all his former seniority as a State Senator who
served for 11 years in that chamber working on such thorny
issues as electrical deregulation, insurance costs of doing
business as pass through expenses to consumers, toll road
authorities, eminent domain and telephone deregulation and
interface fees.

"With his seniority, he could become the head of any
committee he wants. Potentially, he could be the next
Lieutenant Governor of Texas."

He and the Williamses decried the fact that the BRA has in
effect stopped using a "green" source of electrical energy
generation in its Possum Kingdom power station.

They had been poring over the hard copy documents inside the
building while the seven authority employees sat and watched
them and captured their images on video and audio tape.

They were given two CD's with the expense records of the
authority's maintaining the hydroelectric power generating
equipment. The Granbury couple and Mr. Yancy left with the
electronic records with the intentions of poring over them
to discover all they can about the way the penstocks and
turbines that generate electricity when the system is on-

It was built by the WPA in 1938 and was put on-line in 1942.

"We didn't find any evidence to show what had or had not
been done," Mr. Yancy concluded. "If they decommission the
hydroelectric power project at Possum Kingdom it will affect
Lake Granbury. You're looking at something that could have
a devastating effect on the economic life of Hood County.
After all, Lake Granbury is Hood County."

The records did show that $5.9 million in bond funds had
been allocated and spent with an additional $1 million in
receipts for other expenses relative to the Morris Sheppard

On another interesting note, in passing the team of interest-
ed citizens who inspected the documents asked how audits of
BRA's operations are performed. They were told there are
two separate audit processes, one performed by outside ac-
counting firms, the other by an internal auditor.

A couple of weeks ago, the authority's internal auditor
moved on down the road, vacating his position.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Will elections be suspended, martial law declared?

80 Percent Disapprove of Congressional Job Performance

As of last weekend, Congressional job approval polls are

As many as 80 out of every 100 voters polled disapprove of
their Congressman's job performance, according to a Gallup

The best approval figures hover in the range of 24 percent
for a disapproval rating of 72 percent in a poll
commissioned by the "Washington Post" and as many as 77
percent in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that shows only
17 percent of voters approve of their Congressman's

Voters are even more adamant about Obama Care.

Rasmussen Reports racked up a disapproval rating of 54
percent for a 10.1 percent edge over those who approve of
the massive new program, which it is estimated will cost
$1.4 trillion over the next 10 years.

Fox News' poll topped that figure with a disapproval rating
of 55 percent. The best approval ratings came in a NBC
News/Wall Street Journal and a Pew Research quiz, both of
which showed 48 percent disapproval.

There is no question that the American public is angry,
disillusioned - even frightened - and they are making known
their disapproval of a 10 percent jobless figure, a 44
percent bigger federal budget and a steadily climbing rate
of federal debt and budget deficit that is expected to be
equal as much as 90 percent of the gross domestic product
within 10 years in the year 2020, according to the latest
Congressional Budget Office figures in a report released
late last week.

Some critics put the disapproval rating even higher.

One such is Aaron Zelman, founder of Jews For The
Preservation of Firearms Ownership, a Wisconsin man from a
Milwaukee suburb who served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam
as a Navy Hospital Corpsman. Mr. Zelman accompanied troops
into battle as their first line source of medical help when
they were wounded.

He estimates the approval of voters for Congressmen as low
as 11 percent in a release he issued today.

Even more disturbing, he has the opinon that, based on the
behavior of Congressmen and Senators, "the bums would be
tossed out" if elections were held tomorrow.

That's why he has made the flat out statement that he
believes there will be no 2010 mid-term elections.

"Are there even going to be elections in 2010? And, if
there are, will they be honest?"

It's a good question, one he acknowledges would have been
viewed as extremist and smacking of the kind of nutso
conspiracy theory entertained only by the lunatic fringe of
the American political spectrum as recently as a year ago
when the Obama Administration first took office.

"Two years ago, describing what has taken place in this
nation recently would have been waved off as the wildest of

Now, however, he insists that his argument has credibility.

He asks a series of incisive questions:

1. Why is our military spread all over the world right now?

2. Why are our local police being wooed and seduced with
sophisticated military hardware by federal agencies like
Homeland Security, the FBI and BATFE?

3. We now officialy have no right to privacy while speaking
on a cell phone. Why is it no longer necessary to seek a
warrant after first presenting a probable cause affidavit?

4. When will the other boot drop on the internet? "Is
everyone who'd like privacy in their personal communications
and web research a kiddie porn purveyor or a 'hate
criminal', or a drug dealer, or a terrorist?"

5. How long can the Second Amendment remain relevant when
our military and police forces keep getting equipped with
high-tech "crowd control" weapons that are prohibited to the
rest of us?

6. Vast detention camps are being built on U.S. soil. He
cites reports in "The New York Times" and Fox News.

7. What kind of "suicidal lunacy" allows Islamic Jihadists
to come here and get a foothold in our nation?

8. "What do you call ten million illegal aliens in America?
Why can't we call it what it is? It's an invasion."

9. Why hasn't computer vote counting been completely
abolished in America? "The Pentagon's computers have been
hacked. The FBI's computers have been hacked. The Social
Security Administration's computers have been hacked. But we
are supposed to assume that vote counting computers cannot
be hacked?"

Stay tuned. Let's see which of these dire predictions come

Flores Hits Pelosi, Edwards For Increasing Debt

Bill Flores called a Congressional Budget Office report
released last week "grim," blaming the "loyal support" of
Congressmen Chet Edwards for a 44 percent increase in the
federal budget.

Mr. Edwards would not comment.

He cited a prediction from CBO that total federal debt will
be 90 percent of the gross domestic product by the year

"Our current annual deficit is projected to be about 10
percent of annual GDP. To give you something to compare this
with, at the height of the Great Depression, our annual
feeral deficit was only 5 percent of GDP.

"If ever the American people needed an illustration of how
deep our deficit and debt problems are, this is it."

He furthermore blamed Mr. Edwards' support in the Pelosi
House of Representatives passing "two disastrous federal
budgets and the failed $862 billion stimulus bill ($75
billion higher than its original estimated cost) - the most
expensive legislation in our country's history."

He decried the additional $1.2 trillion added to the budget
by the Obamacare health reform package passed weekend before
last and pointed out that the unemployment rate is now
hovering at 10 percent.

If elected, he promises tax cuts,

* a freeze on the stimulus,

* repeal of Obamacare, and

* an across the board cut in federal spending.

"We need to look at every agency and program and determine
if it is Constitutionand and if it is effective. If not,
we must cut it...we must kill the earmark program in
Washington that wastes billions of taxpayer dollars."

In 30 years of private sector experience, said Mr. Flores,
"I have balanced more budgets, met more payrolls, and
borrowed and repaid more debt than my primary runoff
opponent and Chet waards combined."

Reached at his capitol hill office, Mr. Edwards' staff said
he was unavailable for comment.

Bill Flores called a Congressional Budget Office report
released last week "grim," blaming the "loyal support" of
Congressmen Chet Edwards for a 44 percent increase in the
federal budget.

Mr. Edwards would not comment.

He cited a prediction from CBO that total federal debt will
be 90 percent of the gross domestic product by the year

"Our current annual deficit is projected to be about 10
percent of annual GDP. To give you something to compare this
with, at the height of the Great Depression, our annual
feeral deficit was only 5 percent of GDP.

"If ever the American people needed an illustration of how
deep our deficit and debt problems are, this is it."

He furthermore blamed Mr. Edwards' support in the Pelosi
House of Representatives passing "two disastrous federal
budgets and the failed $862 billion stimulus bill ($75
billion higher than its original estimated cost) - the most
expensive legislation in our country's history."

He decried the additional $1.2 trillion added to the budget
by the Obamacare health reform package passed weekend before
last and pointed out that the unemployment rate is now
hovering at 10 percent.

If elected, he promises tax cuts,

* a freeze on the stimulus,

* repeal of Obamacare, and

* an across the board cut in federal spending.

"We need to look at every agency and program and determine
if it is Constitutionand and if it is effective. If not,
we must cut it...we must kill the earmark program in
Washington that wastes billions of taxpayer dollars."

In 30 years of private sector experience, said Mr. Flores,
"I have balanced more budgets, met more payrolls, and
borrowed and repaid more debt than my primary runoff
opponent and Chet waards combined."

Reached at his capitol hill office, Mr. Edwards' staff said
he was unavailable for comment.

A Cityscape: The Pavilion

A fabulous practical and participatory sculpture in bronze,
sheet copper, sculpted gardens and native stone paving, The
Pavilion stands in a circular greensward of about 10 acres
in the middle of an open park in a great modern city.

It is dedicated to news, the first edition of history.

Encircled by an elliptical drive, the blocks of the
community bound its outer reaches with sidewalk cafes, book
stores, clothing shops, banks and cinemas. In an outer ring,
there are food and discount stores served by auto parking.

In the interior of the park there are multiple antennas in
symmetrical and tuned array to support WiFi connections, HAM
radio frequencies, cell phone transmissions and commercial

The pavilion itself is circular, supported by cast iron
columns and surrounded by a fence filigreed with ivy leaves
made of sheet metal, all of it coated with epoxy resin and
painted black. Its roof is surmounted by a copper dome made
of vanes of sheet copper and protected by a lightning rod
with an integral weathercock built in.

It is heated by natural gas-fired braziers and radiant over-
head heaters, cooled by ceiling fans driven by solar cells
and wind power.

Naturally, the entire area is served by very large atomic
repeater clocks, all set to Greenwich Mean Time and easily
read by anyone with competent vision.

Who pays for it? The people who use the internet and all
its attendant space age communications technology pay for it
through their subscriptions to Internet Service Providers,
telephone and cell rates.

It is a common area for the good of the public through
enhanced communications.

If it is unfamiliar to the reader, there is a good reason
for that.

It exists only in the mind of The Legendary Jim Parks, a
chronic erector of memory palaces after the fashion of
Matteo Ricci.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pistol-Toting Strawberry Blonde Stumps For Legislature

Waco Representative Jim Dunnam's Republican rival for re-
election to his House of Representatives seat hit town
Sunday afternoon in her trademark yellow and black Mini-

Marva Beck is a cattle rancher from Centerville who supports
Second Amendment rights, carries a concealed licensed
automatic and another pistol in her car, and prefers the
.270 caliber to the .243 her late husband supplied her for
hunting red deer.

A fiscally responsible Republican business woman who co-
founded a construction company with her husband in 1969, she
sums up her sense of family values this way.

Their area of specialization: water treatment plants.

"I love Willie Nelson...Ray Price recorded song after song
after song that old boy wrote and that was all just years
and years and years ago."

She was seated at a table in the smoking and dart room at
Crickett's Bar & Grill in downtown Waco, a tiny and trim
strawberry blonde dressed in a black business suit, talking
about the impact of the Obama Care health reform bill on the
American economy and small business.

"I'm for not making it harder. I want to return Texas to a
right to work state. Don't tell me who I have to hire.
Don't tell me I have to provide insurance unless I want to
provide it."

People can afford health care if they will spend their money
on it and not on the frills, she insists.

"I know this entrepreneurial couple in my district and they
say they don't have the money to get elective surgery. Now,
I know what they make and I know better. He's an businessman.
She works for a public agency. They've got everything they
want. They spend their money for it. All she has to do is
spend her money on her surgery and she'll be just fine."

Her son asked her why he can't have all the Disney movies,
just as the children in a neighboring family had.

She straightened him out quickly.

"It's about choices. What do you want? Do you want to sit
around and watch these movies and not know the lights will
be on?"

That's the kind of fiscal responsiblity she's talking about
- in her family, her extended family and her great big
family, the people of Texas and its 57th Legislative

"Shoot, people in Centerville don't even know who Dunnam is.
We never see him."

The 57th District covers Falls, Leon, McLennan, Madison and
Robertson Counties.

Sibley Hoists A Brew, Watches Game At Crickett's

One eye cocked to the Baylor-Duke game, the other on his
interlocutors, David Sibley hoisted a glass with the Blue
Collar Republican Club at Crickett's Bar & Grill in downtown
Waco Sunday afternoon.

He made no political statements and took no questions from
the assembled voters.

A former State Senator with 11 years of experience, he
started swapping Bobby Bullock stories with The Legendary.

He revealed that he has been working on a biography of Mr.
Bullock now off and on for several years. In fact, he
tried out a prospective title that was appropriate and pro-

Lt. Governor Bobby Bullock was one of three people "Texas
Monthly" Magazine once said everyone in the state know
automatically by their first name - Ann, Bobby, and Willie.

First on his list was the one about how Mr. Bullock
locked he and two other Republican Senators up with three
Democratic Senators in the small apartment behind the
President's rostrum in the Senate chamber.

"Sit yourselves down," Mr. Bullock told them. Mr. Sibley
mimicked his gestures - smoking and blowing billows of smoke
out in a broad half moon over his shoulder, stabbing his
forefinger at the ground. "God, how he cussed me. I mean,
I've been cussed before, but I think that was the limit,
that cussing.

"Baylor was playing Texas that night - down there - and I
was supposed to go to the game with Governor Bush." He hung
his head. "I never did get down there."

He is a 6-foot, 6-inch former Baylor varsity cage man.

By the time the weekend was over, the six senators and the
Lt. Governor had emerged from the smoky back room with a
brand new workers' compensation insurance package for Texas

"That's when he said to call in the lawyers. He never called
the lawyers in until he had the big stuff settled; then he
would call the lawyers in to handle the details."

Premiums went down in certain high risk occupations; claims
were settled quickly and the new regulations tightened up
the possibility of long-term, drawn-out tort lawsuits.
Lawyers won't even listen to prospective clients who were
injured on the job.

Mr. Bullock often told his constituents that David Sibley
was the best man he ever worked with in the Legislature.

Mr. Sibley remembered a Rotary luncheon they held in
Hillsboro where he was debuting as a candidate for the State
Senate. Before they called him to the podium, he said,
long-time insurance and real estate man Will Bond stood to
ask the throng of business men if he could say something.
He raised Bobby Bullock after his mother and father parted
in a divorce. Mr. Bullock lived in the Bond family's home
while he went to high school and junior college, then went
on to the University of Texas.

"He told those people, 'This is Bobby's man, right here.'
And, good God, I won in Hill County by - what was it - 60
percent? Something like that."

Mr. Bond, a scion of a pioneer family that specialized in
hardware and windmills, was at one time a member of the
State Welfare Board and a frequent visitor to the State
Capitol where he had much influence in the Legislature over
insurance regulation.

In another Bobby Bullock story, he recalled how the stormy
Lt. Governor once sent a bag of steer manure to a newspaper
editor who he said had lied about him in print. "He said,
'Hey, this will go with the rest of the B.S. you put out.'"

Then there was the time he saw Mr. Bullock order a State
Senator out of a closed caucus for the same reason. He
seems to have set a lot of store by the truth.

It's been a long time. In the intervening years, Mr. Sibley
has redone the laws governing life, property and casualty
insurance, electrical power services, transportation issues
concerning toll roads and the way the state's water managers
such as the Brazos River Authority do business with their
customers - cities who buy water, farmers' co-ops who need
irrigation, electrical companies who buy hydroelectric

It's all been part of a series of bills either authored by
himself and sponsored by then Representative Kip Averitt, or
authored by Mr. Averitt and sponsored by Mr. Sibley, then
signed into law by Governor George W. Bush. Until recently,
he was the paid lobbyist for 11 power companies, State Farm
Insurance, and the Brazos River Authority. He dropped those
commitments to run for the Senate again.

He is vying against three other candidates to fill the
unexpired term of Senator Averitt.

They are Darren Yancy, a Burleson insurance and real estate
man; Brian Birdwell, a retired U.S. Army Colonel who was
injured in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon and now makes his
home in Grandview; and Gayle Avant, a Baylor University
Political Science professor who makes his home at Waco.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Jail Won't Have Country Club Atmosphere

Inmates will be controlled and surveilled by video cameras

"Why do we have to build a hotel for these people?" - indignant taxpayer

You are a resident of the Metroplex, out to have yourself a
ball playing at Lake Whitney with family and friends over
the weekend.

Somehow, you forget yourself and get caught speeding down a
country road on the Bosque side of the lake, an open can of
cold beer between your legs. You've been drinking steadily
since Friday afternoon.

You are arrested for DWI, given a field sobriety test, taken
into custody, your car towed. You submit to a breath-a-
lyzer. The test shows you are well on the guilty side of
.08 breath alcohol content.

You are booked into the new Bosque County Jail, possibly to
be completed by the winter of 2011 as an unfunded mandate of
the Texas Commission on Jail Standards at a projected cost
to taxpayers of $9.75 million.

You bail is set by a Justice of the Peace. But no one back
in Big D or Cowtown is at the house and you are stuck for
the rest of the weekend in jail.

What will it be like to spend time in the new Bosque County
Jail now under consideration?

It won't be pleasant, by any means.

The proposed lockup will be far from a hotel or a country

In fact, it will be a cheerless reinforced concrete bunker
in which every aspect of an inmate's life is surveilled,
videotaped, recorded by audio microphones, and the bare
bones details of your period of incarceration preserved for
future reference.

An inmate's movements will be completely controlled by
electronic means. Other than the entry and exit doors, there
will be few barriers to movement, but that movement will be
tightly controlled from a bullet-proof, fire-proof central
control booth staffed by officers with their eyes on the
monitors, their ears cocked to the speakers, and their
attention completely focused on what the inmates are doing
from moment to moment.

The whole thrust of architect Jeffrey Heffelfinger's design
is to save taxpayers money that would ordinarily be spent on
increased staffing requirments for officers who must be
certified both as corrections specialists and peace

That's why the floor plan is laid on an "open" basis,
requiring no staff to shift prisoners from the bunking cells
to the visiting department, the medical facility, the dining
room or the recreational area.

Designed to hold 64 inmates to start with, the proposed
$9.75 million facility is fully expandable to 96 beds to
meet future requirements based on projections extrapolated
from daily arrest and lockup records maintained for the
Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

Air conditioning can be turned off or, if it becomes
inoperative, supposedly won't be missed much by inmates and
staff who occupy the structure under its heavily insulated
roof and within its eight-inch thick solid steel-reinforced

Electrical power will be maintained by a diesel generating
system should commercial electrical service be interrupted.
The facility will have its own well for the purpose of
watering the lawns and doing routine chores such as washing
patrol cars, clothing and cleaning. Should water services
fail, it will serve as a backup.

It's a self-contained prison with video and electronic
surveillance twenty-four hours a day. What services are not
immediately provided, such as "Tele-Court," where inmates
need not be transported to the courthouse for hearings,
arraignments and motions; "Tele-Visiting," which will be
accomplished by an inmate sitting in a certain seat in his
cell and facing a video camera where they can see a
television screen upon which friends, attorneys and family
members are electronically depicted from a remote area of
the law enforcement center; and telephone communications
provided from an area of the lockup that does not require an
escort to a special place to make calls. All this will be
pre-wired and ready for installation of the business end of
these devices when necessary.

It's a lot cheaper to have the cables in place when you

From the moment an inmate arrives in the back seat of a
patrol car wheeled into the "sallyport" area - secured by
electronic locks and under video surveillance - he will be
under the tight control of corrections officers. No
contraband or weapons will ever get inside the jail because
all searches and booking will be made in the limbo of outer
area and the inmates then led into the open spaces of the
inner lockup. An inmate can't get out and he can't get in
without the officers inside releasing the locks from the
central control booth.

The sallyport will also double as a search area for
impounded vehicles while crime scene specialists go over
them with a fine toothed comb.

Medical visits will not require a trip to the local health
care facilities. Most escapes take place when an inmate has
been taken to a medical facility.

Nurse practitioners and physicians will come to the jail and
perform their services in the medical room located inside
the lockup.

"Everything is designed to save expense for staffing," Mr.
Heffelfinger says as he presents each new detail. Aside
from the costs of construction and debt service on
financing, the single largest expense is staffing the
facility 24 hours a day, weekends, holidays and staff
vacations included.

Night dispatching for county deputies, city police and
volunteer fire departments combined may be handled by
corrections staff who never really have to leave the
security of their control booth.

Having stayed in a number of luxury hotels, The Legendary
knows that none of them even remotely resemble this planned

In the first place, at country clubs and hotels, the guests
have the privilege of choosing with whom they will and will
not associate.

At the new jail, one will have to take pot luck with whoever
comes through the sallyport in cuffs, belly chains and leg
irons. One totally loses the freedom of association
guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution once he or she has been
placed in custodial detention.

Friday, March 26, 2010

"Old Five and Dimer" Billy Joe Shaver In Court

His attorney Dick DeGuerin vows to take his case to trial

Bright and early Friday morning famed Houston attorney Dick
DeGuerin and his client Billy Joe Shaver were sitting in
spectator seats of the 54th District Court.

They were there to answer a docket call for a pre-trial
hearing before State District Judge Matt Johnson.

Mr. Shaver is charged with assault with a deadly weapon and
carrying a firearm on premises licensed to sell alcoholic

The charges stem from a shooting on March 31, 2007, at a
Lorena road house where he got into a dispute with another
patron regarding his wife's honor. Witnesses said he asked
the man "Where do you want it?" before he fired a bullet
that passed through his cheek and exited without hitting

At the age of 71, Mr. Shaver is facing a possible prison
term of 10 years. He is the author of such hit country tunes
as "I'm Just An Old Chunk Of Coal" and "Fast Train To
Georgia," "Old Five And Dimers Like Me" and many others.
His work has been covered by such luminaries as Bob Dylan,
Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Bobby Bare,
for whom he wrote under a contract between the two of them
for a number of years in the early days of his career. He
is from Corsicana and lives in Waco.

When the prosecutor came in and set his books and trial
brief on the table, Mr. DeGuerin spoke up, calling him by
name, and said, "Now, as soon as we get out of here, I'm
going to want to see the evidence in this case."

The much younger man looked around him and then peered
through his large reading glasses; under dilated nostrils
and the sardonic smile of one who knows his footing very
well, he said, "Fine. We have it."

Earlier, Mr. DeGuerin had left pleadings on his table and
placed copies on the Court Coordinator's desk in the corner
of the courtroom for insertion into the file.

He and Mr. Shaver, who was dressed in his signature denim,
sporting a fawn-colored brown Beaver hat with a high-crowned
bull rider's crease and a five-inch brim and a jean jacket
embroidered with "Texas Country Music Hall of Fame," had
earlier schmoozed with the Court Coordinator, members of the
bar others making appearances in court. They discussed the
weather on Mr. DeGuerin's drive up from the Bayou City, the
patchy ground fog in the Brazos Valley and the fact that he
saw the sun rise.

"Any day you see the sun rise is a good day," said Mr.

He is famous for defending many people accused of very
heinous offenses and obtaining acquittals for them. He was
an associate of famed Houston murder trial lawyer Percy

He obtained an acquittal for Mohammed Muneer Deeb, who was
convicted and sentenced to death for the mistaken identity
murder-for-hire killings of three teenaged youths at Lake
Waco. Mr. Deeb obtained a reversal because of the extensive
admittance under strenuous objection of hearsay testimony in
his original trial. From death row, he obtained a new trial
through an appeal he prepared himself before the Court of
Criminal Appeals.

Mr. DeGuerin obtained an acquittal, arguing the case put on
by a special prosecutor in a Ft. Worth state district court.
He had earlier obtained change of venue motion he argued
before the court of original jurisdiction at Cleburne,
where it was tried on a change of venue motion from Waco,
granted due to extensive pre-trial publicity.

The talk turned to various songs of Mr. Shaver's used in
movies produced and directed by Robert Duvall, a star of
"Lonesome Dove" whose work stretches back over many decades
in such films as "To Kill A Mockingbird," "Tender Mercies,"
"The Godfather" and "Bullit."

Asked by an acquaintance, a fellow member of the defense
bar, as to his plans, Mr. DeGuerin said, "We're going to
take this to trial."

The case is set for April 5 at 9 a.m.

Homeland Security Expert Debuts New Website

Colonel Dave McIntyre Back On The Consultation Trail

Dr. Dave McIntyre debuted a new website concerning national

Long a consultant to the Department of Homeland Security who
worked for the Office of the Chief Of Staff at the Pentagon,
Dr. McIntyre is a retired Army Colonel who quit his job
running a doctoral program in the subject at Texas A&M to
make a run in the Republican Primary for Congressional
District 17.

He was edged out by contenders Rob Curnock and Bill Flores.

The first article in the new website concerns the cost and
logistics of setting up a rapid reaction force of Blackhawk
helicopters and crews to fly and maintain them so that
troops may be put at any point on the U.S. - Mexican border
within 15 minutes of a breach in security. The program is in
emulation of the Israeli solution to border security in that
troubled nation.

It will be part of a continuing series of write-ups
concerning the exigencies of defending America against
enemies in a rapidly emerging war against this nation
involving terrorism, currency manipulation and such illegal
activities as drug smuggling, weapons trafficking and human

The article may also be read at the website of the Hispanic
Republican Club of Mclennan County,

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shock, Outrage at Town Hall Meeting On New Jail

Shock, Outrage at Town Hall Meeting On New Jail

Taxpayers expressed anger and fear over having to finance a
new jail at a Town Hall meeting in Meridian.

Jail construction committee members and the County Judge and
Sheriff explained to about 70 concerned citizens that the
task is unavoidable.

The architect showed them a power point presentation to
explain the devastating effects of the state's commission on
jail standards closing the present jail and forcing the
Commissioners' Court to ship prisoners to neighboring
counties where jails come up to standards. This forces a
$9.75 million project in the best case scenario. Estimates
of anywhere from $.75 million to $l.5 million if there is
a delay for a bond election and an additional year of
waiting for construction to begin.

Southwest Architects' Jeffrey E. Heffelfinger explained that
if everything is done on schedule, the tax burden would be
about $.037 cents per $100 assessed valuation, plus $.06 - a
total of $.103 cents - for debt service on certificates of
obligation issued by the Commissioners' Court, something
that would cost the average taxpayer anywhere from $60 to
$100 on a typical Bosque County home.

One concerned taxpayer said he can't understand how come a
solution similar to the one used in Maricopa County, Arizona,
by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, that of housing prisoners in
tents under the baking Phoenix sun and making them work hard
in striped suits.

"Why do we have to build a hotel for these people?"

Sheriff Anthony Mallot responded very quickly.

"Arizona doesn't have a jail standards commission, okay?
Sheriff Joe's best friend is that federal judge...And one
thing they don't tell you about Sheriff Joe is he done paid
out better than $30 million in lawsuits over the way he
treats those prisoners."

And then racism reared its ugly head.

"And I was just wondering how come there are so many people
throwed in jail every week," the interlocutor said. "Looks
to me like in the paper every week most of them is Mexicans.
Most of them's illegal. If they're illegal, don't throw
them in jail. Take them back to Mexico."

Said Sheriff Mallot, "To be honest with you, we don't deal
with that many illegals. We have a few just every now and

"I noticed every time I get the paper, that's what half of
it is," the man persisted.

But the Sheriff and the County Judge countered his argument,
saying that of the few illegal aliens arrested, those few
are turned over to immigration officials.

The sheriff conceded that overall population of Bosque
County has increased very little since the sixties.

However, according to Judge Cole Word, the population
appears to as much as double on weekends with sportsmen
and recreational visitors to Lake Whitney.

"Then we wake up on Monday morning and every'body's gone and
our jail's full," he said. "It's hard to gauge our

Actually, the proposed jail is hardly a hotel. Walls and
floors will be made of heavily reinforced concrete. The
overhead will be steel. All prisoners will be under 24 hour
video and audio surveillance from the time they are booked
until they are released or transferred. One wonders about
claims that if the air conditioning stops, the temperatures
inside the facility will not vary more than a couple of
degrees over a two-day period. Wouldn't the air get very
stale and stagnant in just a short? It's not a bad reason
to try to stay out of jail. Also, television sets will be
inside steel boxes with Lexan covers so one cannot harm the
set or adjust its volume or programming.

Another man said he fears that people will lose their jobs
because of the increased tax expense of building the jail.

A fellow citizen responded from the audience, saying that
from his calculations, his increased tax expense at his
Meridian place of business will be just $60 per year, hardly
a reason to lay off or fire staff.

The debate and discussion will continue until April 13 when
the Commissioners' Court will reconvene to possibly take
action on the matter, voting for one of two proposed
facilities - either a 64-bed jail fully expandable to 96
beds, or a 96 bed jail - both to be financed on either a 20
or 25 year term.

Finally, two members of the citizen committee stood up to
defend their year-long project of finding the best solution
to a problem that is not likely to go away unless they take

Said George Hallmark, "We can throw our money down a rat
hole, or we can spend it in our own county."

Dr. Tom Bratcher, Bosque County Republican Chairman Elect,
said "The question is how do you want those taxes to be

Meanwhile, there will be several more Town Hall meetings
throughout the county for presentations and questions by

Town Hall meetings will be held on:

* Tuesday March 30 at the Westshore Community Center

* Thursday April 1 at the Old City Hall in Valley Mills

* Tuesday April 6 at the Walnut Springs Community Center

* Thursday April 8 at Bettis Auditorium, Clifton Elementary

All meeting times are at 6:30 p.m.

Dub-yah, Sibley & Averitt Jacked Up Utilities Rates

Governor, Senator and Representative Ramped Up Costs, Made
History, Took Control, Lobbied And Got Their Mojo Working


A triumvirate of two Republican legislators and a governor
worked together hand in glove to completely alter regulation
of what it costs Texans for electricity, property, casualty
and life insurance, water and transportation during the late

Bills involving the expense of taxpayer money were authored
by Representative Kip Averitt, co-sponsored by Senator David
Sibley and signed into law by Governor George W. Bush.

Those laws that affected only the policies of cost
accounting, revenue sharing between state agencies, or rate
setting were often authored by Senator Sibley, sponsored by
Representative Averitt and then signed into law by Governor

Either way, the power center headed up by the three
politicians wagged the dog and changed the landscape of
insuring property, lives and casualties amongst motorists
and workers, the wholesale production and trading of
electrical power, water and state real property, eminent
domain and toll-collecting powers of the newly formed
Department of Transportation, and the allocation of pass-
through costs to set insurance rates based upon investment
performance, reinsurance and other costs of doing business
in the insurance industry.

A stupendous feat accomplished in a very short time, this
pattern of law-making and state regulation, something which
affects quality-of-life economic issues in the Lone Star
State for every consumer and every family, deserves the
scrutiny of voters in this crucial year of decision, the
mid-term elections of 2010.

As in any examination of public policy and its evolution,
the thing to remember is the bottom line reality of control.

Cui bono? Who benefits? Follow the money trail and make
your own conclusions.

There is really nothing new about the tactics and overall
strategy involved. All these techniques have been used by
political systems used by anyone from the Pharaohs to the
Phoenicians, Persians, Chinese, Greeks, Romans, British,
French, Germans, Portuguese, Spaniards, Americans and the
odd assorted war lord and potentate.

To tax, control, manipulate and pass the costs on to the
people is the ultimate goal of any system of government.

Loosely speaking, the art was whetted and honed to a fine
point by the Senatorial forces of the Imperial Roman Legions
in their occupation of the known world of the European and
Mediterranean regions. In historic evolution, similar
practices have been employed by colonial European powers in
global expansion and the American globe-straddling post-war

It may be seen in the participation by super powers in such
international political organizations as the United Nations,
NATO, SEATO and other treaty-based foreign policy
enforcement vehicles.

Quite naturally, internation energy cartels, currency
speculators, investment bankers and multinational
corporations take advantage of these systems to their huge

All references below may be studied at either of two
websites -

The Texas Legislature Online,

or, The Texas State Legislative Reference Library,

75th Legislature:

SB249 - created Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund, a
huge tax.

SB1915 - allowed the TIF to be passed through to consuemrs.
It is estimated to represent 30 to 40 percent of each cell
and land line bill. Mr. Sibley was the architect of the
bill, the historical record shows.

SB369 - laid the groundwork for the Trans Texas Corridor.

HB909 - co-sponsored by Representative Kip Averitt and
Senator Sibley, allowed life insurance companies to invest
in riskier investments, something that has cost consumers
millon in pay for bad investment strategies.

76th Legislature:

HB924 - Co-sponsored with Kip Averitt, this law reduced
coverage for Texans in the Texas Insurance Pool.

HB3042 - Sponsored with Mr. Averitt, allowed property and
casualty insurance carriers to invest in riskier
investments, the same as life insurance companies.

HB3793 - Co-sponsored with Rep. Averitt, the law allowed the
Brazos River Authority to have what many utilities experts
have described as the authority to have access to the funds
of any state agency and removed the $100,000 cap in excess
of which previously required legislative approval. This law
establishes a stong link between the two veteran
legislators. Mr. Sibley later wound up representing the
Brazos River Authority as a lobbyist, a contract he
dissolved two weeks ago, prior to announcing he is a
candidate to fill the unexpired term of Mr. Averitt in
Senate District 22.

In the previously cited online legislative history
libraries, one may access either the "engrossed" or
"enrolled" summaries of the bills for detailed legislative
analyses prepared by Commmittee Staff which explain exactly
what the laws do and how they affect the consumers and rate
payers in Texas.

CD 17 Candidates Hit Earmark Budgeting In Debate

Lower taxes, reduce spending, restore confidence

To control spending for the sake of the survival of the
American economy, stop Congressional budgetary earmarks,
said both candidates in a run-off debate last night in Waco.

Houston oil man Bill Flores called attention to the Rep.
John Murtha Airport in Pennsylvania.

"You have an $80 million airport that serves 20 passengers a

Why? The Congressman needed an airport that would get
him directly to D.C. from his mountainous Pennsylvania

It's part of "a series of 13,000 bribes that we use to get
Congressmen and Congressladies to get along with each
other," said Mr. Flores.

Candidate Rob Curnock, a video tape business operator who
was at one time a sports anchor at the local CBS outlet
KWTX, said earmarks are "bank robbery," something that
Congressional practitioners point to as if they should be
commended for only taking a thousand dollars when they could
have had $100,000.

He called local Veterans Administration efforts to
rehabilitate returning warriors "vaccination programs for
wounded soldiers." He ridiculed a federal government that
will "do two mailings to let you know there will be a
census, then sends you a follow up mailing to let you know
the census was here."

The two will face one another in an April 13 election to
settle which will have the opportunity to face incumbent
Congressman Chet Edwards in the November 2 contest.

Health care?

Mr. Curnock criticized the Congressman for saying on Monday
he would vote against the Obama care reform measure, then
turned around later in the week and voted for the resolution
that would suspend the rules to allow the law to be "deemed
accepted" if all the amendments added by Senators passed
House scrutiny.

He called that move on Mr. Edwards' part "disingenuous."

The health care program is not only a bid for government
control of a critical industry, said Mr. Curnock, it is
potentially a bid to control people's lives, their diets,
their exercise programs, their personal habits.

They both agreed that the system is sick. Very sick.

To accompanying laughter, Mr. Flores asked the audience of
about 100 people in the Palladium on Austin Avenue if they
are better off than they were before the "ROPE Gang" (Reid,
Obama, Pelosi, Edwards) took control. He pointed out that
the administrative cost of running Congress has risen from
a budget of $2.8 billion to something in the neighborhood
of $4.7 billion.

"Do you think that Congress is that much more efficient,
that much more responsive, or capable?"

His mantra for economic recovery is to reduce taxes, reduce
deficit spending and restore the business sector's
confidence to the point where companies have the idea it's
safe to add jobs and put people back to work.

Asked privately about the impact of a lowered oil depletion
tax allowance, he said he has the sense that it was
diminished in the economic stimulus package sought by the
Obama Administration early in 2009.

Would a re-establishment of the depletion tax allowance help
independent oil operators see their way to uncapping wells
and beginning to produce more domestic oil? It's a matter
critical to domestic petroleum producers, who were at one
time allowed a much larger break on taxes if they do not
import or refine petroleum, but only produce it and ship
crude from the well head.

"I don't know enough about it," he said, in passing.

When quizzed about the importance of the Hispanic vote in
Texas, Mr. Curnock said, "I think we need to get away from
this political correct garbage that every group has to have
a hyphen behind their name." We're all Americans, he said.
"We share the same values."

To emphasize ethnicity is something the Democratic Party
does constantly.

Mr. Flores, on the other hand, agreed with the thrust of the
question, saying he attaches great significance to the
notion that Hispanic values of family, neighborhood, hard
work and education are the core issues of Republican

What about amnesty for Hispanic illegal aliens?

Neither candidate favors the concept. Mr. Flores likes the
notion of control through strict visa requirements.

Mr. Curnock said, "If you do not have borders, you do not
have a nation." Democrats, he said, want to stand at the
border and hand out voter registration cards. Republicans,
on the other hand, "are afraid they will insult Hispanics
and they won't vote Repubican." He calls for an adherence
to the rule of law.

About a supposed erosion of moral values, Mr. Curnock said,
"Hollywood sets moral values?...Let's go back to the time
when 'Leave It To Beaver' was a good program."

He said he disagrees with President Obama's estimation that
America is no longer a solely Christian nation. The founders
of the nation were solidly Christian, he recalled.

Mr. Flores said, "Our first problem began when we took God
out of our lives." The fact that prayer is not allowed in
schools is a glaring indicator.

"We've got to do more to protect the foundation of our

He decried his perception that America has turned into "a
nanny state" such as the ones found in Europe.

Mr. Curnock agreed there is a decline in the moral malaise.
"It starts when you put man in charge." He espouses a value
system that depends upon guidance from God.

His plan for recovery. Get business people in charge in the
federal government. The business of America is business.
"If they ran a business, they would be bankrupt in one day."

Mr. Flores' plan, to restore business confidence by lowering
spending, cutting taxes and reducing government regulation
is based on the bottom economic line. "Socialism is great
until you run out of somebody else's money." He demands an
end to funding such programs as the "pornographic" National
Endowment For the Arts, an agency that often sponsors
controversial graphic displays that deal with homosexuality
and sado-masochism.

The score: Too close to call. The only substantial
difference is in style and delivery, experience and

In his closing statement, Mr. Flores said that if not
thwarted by conservative Congressional forces, "The ROPE
Gang is going to slam the door on the future of our
children and grandchilren."

He pointed to Mr. Edwards' support of a 44 percent
increase in government spending.

Mr. Curnock said, "You as Republicans are going to have to
make a decision. Who do you think can beat Chet Edwards in
November?" He pointed out the fact that he battled Mr.
Edwards to within 4.5 points of victory in 2008, leading the
way to an involvement by the Republican National
Congressional Committee. "I fought when no one else was
willing to fight. We got no help from the Republican

Hispanic Republican Club of McLennan County and GOP Is For sponsored and produced the debate.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

TEA Party Activist, Baptized in Fire,

Home From Midnight Vigil Surrounding the Capitol

By Jim Parks and Toby Marie Walker

Sing a song of America.
Once she was a young girl with her heart on fire.
Born in the magic and the dust of history
and the dream goes on, yes, it all goes on...

- Jefferson Starship

Let there be no mistake.

It is true that once upon a time there was a House
Resolution 1190, "providing for consideration to suspend the
rules," passed in the House of Representatives late last

Presumably, these are the same rules followed in a knife
fight; however, the resolution suddenly metamorphosed from a
lion into a lamb, lost its teeth and retracted its claws.

Had the resolution been applied, the lower chamber of
distinguished gentlemen and gentlewomen could have simply
approved the amendments the Senate had made to the Patient
Care Reform Act of 2010 and gone on their way, the new law
being "deemed approved" under the provisions of the
Slaughter Rule.

But a funny thing happened on their way to the office and
thence to the floor of the House.

They were surrounded!

Toby Marie Walker, a co-founder of the Waco Tea Party,
arrived at D-FW with the express desire to "wash off some of
the D.C. grit" and get a good night's sleep.

"I swear, you have no idea how dirty it is in that town,"
she said as she drove America's Main Street, I-35 East, back
to Six Shooter Junction, Jerusalem-on-the-Brazos, and made a
commitment to tell her side of the story the next day.

This much is clear.

When she called in a little after the Saturday morning
McLennan County Republican Convention, she told her fellow
operatives who were in caucus at the South Waco Public
Library that at about 10 a.m. there were perhaps 10,000
people wandering the corridors of the Rayburn House Office
Building and the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.

By mid-afternoon, the throng had swollen to more than 50,000
and it was growing, rising like the waters of a flood tide.
The building was surrounded, the doors were locked and life
became much, much more complicated for those on the inside.

The switchboards were jammed. You couldn't even get to the
threshold of Representative Chet Edwards' office, much less
through the door.

This is what it was like, according to Ms. Walker, an
individual who joined the ranks of the TEA Party long before
Tax Day 2009 and has been there ever since, showing up on
cue on certain downtown street corners and in caucus in
library and church meeting rooms in emulation of the finest
traditions of the ancien regime of the common man, the
Committees on Correspondence and Committees on Public Safety
of 18th century colonial America.

However, this is an America in its maturity, nurtured in
infancy by the insulation of two great oceans, forged by
civil war and two great world wars, tempered by the Pax
Americana of cold war and brush fire holding actions
worldwide. It's an America situated on a globe that
suddenly shrunk with the advent of jet travel, then shrunk
again with the introduction of satellite transmissions and
instant television, then found itself fed into the maw of
the twin streams of the great reduction valve of internet
intermodal streaming communications and the ubiquitous cell

Within one year, this fledgling organization has gained the
muscle and sinew necessary to put boots on the ground within
hours of the hue and cry going up, over and out of the great
surrounding fuddy duddy drone of business as usual.

Toby Marie Walker set aside time to tell The Legendary just
what it was like to go flaps down, hit town, put boots on the
ground, and get busy with the psy-war, TEA Party style,
in the Seat of Government, Washington, D.C.

The Legendary - So, tell me about your trip there. What was
that like?

Toby - Well, Thursday Grass Roots Coalition organized fifty
different groups around the nation to organize rallies
around the Capitol. So Thursday night Waco TEA Party had a
meeting and we discussed making the trip. We were going to
drive, but we didn't have time to get in the car and drive
there. So, we decided we were going to pool money and send
somebody...We decided we would do it if we could raise
enough money by noon on Friday to do it. So we sent out the
e-mail and raised enough money to do it.

L - How much?

T - I don't know. I'm not the treasurer, but it was enough.
It was over a thousand dollars. And that was by 10 o'clock
in the morning. And this was for somebody to go up and
represent and watch what happened.

We don't lobby. I mean, Chet won't meet with us, anyway.
He'll meet with a lot of people, but he won't meet with us.

So we sent somebody to go and watch the vote, to watch
what's going on, to come back - because sometimes the media
doesn't get the whole story, or doesn't get it accurate, or
misses things that we find important. So I got up there late
Friday...And the next day we had a rally at the Capitol.
That section of lawn, accoridng to the Capitol police holds
50,000 people. So it was from there between those two
walkways and down to the statue. Then there are the two
sides and those hold 10,000 people.

L - In less than 24 hours.

T- Yeah, really - in less than 48 hours. Where people just
dropped everything and came in.

L - In the expensive time of the week to fly, too.

T - Yes. People rented buses. I think Tennesee or Kentucky
had five buses that they filled in less than 24 hours.
People paid to get on the bus and go. They drove all the
way to D.C. and went to the rally, got on the bus and went

L - Did you know that while you were away Bert Hernandez got
a petition signed by the majority of people employed at
Bird-Kultgen Ford - he's the general manager - to sacrifice
$280 a month of their pay? To keep their jobs? That's what
it's gonna cost, this bill. It's either take a pay cut, pay
it, or get fired. So they signed up - $280 a month. Your

T - Well, Americans need to keep their jobs. What Obama did
was pass a tax increase on Texas and all Americans. Because
they're going to have to take pay cuts or pay more in taxes
or both. And, to me, a time when our economy is so
sluggish. You know, that's something that costs jobs, not
creates them. And in Texas, it's an even larger problem
than it is in other states because we don't have a state
income tax. So how are we gonna pay the Feds the $28 billion
over 10 years that it's gonna cost us? You know, where's
that money gonna come from? It's gonna come out of the
pockets of Texans. It may be $23.5 and it may be around
$24.5, or it's around $28.5, but it's around $28 billion.

What's a billion here and there? I can't even imagine a
billion dollars, you know... (laughter)

L - It's a thousand million.

T - Yeah. They talk about billions of dollars in Washington,
D.C., like you and I talk about a hundred dollars or ten
dollars. To them, they just drop that figure left and right.
Understandably, because it's a very large budget, a very
large economy, you know, a much grander scale. To say it
without - so flippantly - oh, that was only a billion
dollars. It's shocking...

L - So you were actually experiencing some form of culture

T - They think a lot differently on both sides. There's
like a D.C. bubble that they live in. They live in that
bubble and I think that's part of the problem that they live
with. They get so disconnected whether it's Texas or Alaska
or Maine or Ohio or anywhere else. They get disconnected
from home. I think we have some very, very good people in
Congress, but they live in that bubble and when you live in
that bubble, that kind of isolation, I think it's very
difficult for them to see how the average American sees it.

L - Do you think the design of the city, you know, the way
it's laid out for that kind of mass protest or rally, does
that have any cultural significance on the way people behave
or think?

T - I think it depends on who you're talking to. You know,
we had that rally and all the garbage cans were overflowing,
but we left it very clean. Five hours later you would have
never known that anyone was ever there. It was unlike the
inauguration when it took them days and days to clean it up.
The Capitol police were extremely polite and, you know,
friendly and smiling at us, and extremely good ambassadors
for our country. And it's a shame that - you know, some of
our Congressmen have the same attitude. You know, they were
smiling and shaking our hand and thank you for coming, you
know, and this is our lawn. This is our building...

L - Did you actually witness untoward behavior from elected
officials or their direct servants, their staff members?

T - There was a Congressman that, while we were eating
dinner on Saturday night - we were eating in, like a
sidewalk restaurant - walked by - was initially very
friendly, but later became very condescending and rude. You
know, treated us like peasants, like we didn't know any
better and we were uneducated on the issues and we were
misinformed...and no one knows it but you. I mean, the
portions that were made public. Part of the problem with
legislation is that when you look at these clauses, you have
to go look at other legislation so it is very difficult for
the average American. Except for the staffers or the lawyers
or the people who wrote it, they're the only ones who
understand it because they're the ones who wrote it.

So it's a perversion of our system.

But it was, other than him, I think it was locking the door
so people could not get in to see their representatives.

L - What building was that?

T - The Cannon Building. So you could talk to the
Congressmen and see how they were voting, get their sense on
the matter. The people who represent you, how they represent
you. I mean, they're our representatives and they locked the

L - Well, I had the same impression. I was here in Waco and
I went into Chet's office to get someone to tell me what
this resolution means. (H.R. 1190 "motions to suspend the
rules) And I thought it was a fair question. And it occurs
to me that any kind of question about this is a fair

T - Yeah. There are no stupid questions. There are only
stupid answers.

L - Not when it comes to this meshugas. I mean, like, you
gotta ask...

T - Yeah. And it's very disheartening when you can talk to
policy centers or people who will explain to you what things
mean. And there are certain Congressmen who are very good
at it, their staffs are very good at explaining what a part
of the House bill is. Then there are Congressmen who don't
want you to know anything. They think you're stupid. And so
it's not that we're stupid. A lot of times we're ignorant
of how, we're ignorant of who to talk to, we're ignorant of
what to do, and that's where the TEA Party is getting people
educated on how to find out. There is a lot out there. You
can go to, you can go to policy centers and find
people who will talk to you, who will help you. And so,
it's really sad that people who represent you, who are paid
to represent you, can't hire staff who can explain something
as simple as a resolution.

L - Well Josh (Taylor, Rep. Edwards' press liaison) never
sent a statement until after deadline - television deadline
- I got a statement from him after they were off the air.
And it would have helped me and it would have eased the
situation there in town if he had just told me and embargoed
it. Said you can use it, but not until after the tv news
shows. And that's okay, I mean, who the hell cares about
television, man? I mean, what do they sell? They sell
washing powder and Frigidaires and Chevrolets, Fords.

T - Well, to me the first priority should be to the
citizens, not to television...So if a citizen calls and asks
a question, then, yeah, they should be answered. If a
citizen calls and asks what a vote is about, they should be
told. And I don't blame their office staff. I mean, they
just work there. They're doing what they're told to do.
They're very lovely, very polite, very kind. They're just
doing a job. I mean, I don't hold them responsible. I hold
the D.C. office responsible because they're just hired to do
what they're told to do. And they're playing games with
people. You know, the rhetoric that goes on on both sides of
the aisle, I mean, there's a lot of misinformation from both
sides and sometimes it's disinformation because nobody's
been clear. I mean, if you come out and say this is what it
was, this is why I did it, this is much better than giving
out false information like you're trying to hide something.

And it wouldn't happen if you weren't trying to fool people.

L - When you sit down and read the Constitution, are you
sometimes just amazed at what the Constitution says and what
you've actually seen in your life? Because there's always
been a war going on in my life. I'm sixty years old. I
don't remember a time when there wasn't a war going on.

None of them have been declared by Congress.

You know, Article 1, Section 8 says that war is declared by
a majority of both houses of Congress. The President can ask
for a declaration of war, but only Congress can declare

T - That's something I don't have the answer to. There are
other things in the Constitution that, I mean, our states'
rights are trampled on every time they pass a law that does
what this one did. I mean, we don't teach civics the way we
used to. People don't know. My kids didn't have a civics
class and they're in their twenties, but I did...We don't
teach this to kids and it's generational brain drain. They
don't know, so they can't fight. I mean, you know what you
know...So that's one thing that, this year, we're handing
out pocket Constitutions so you can read it. You can read
it on-line.

That's not a high priority in peoples' lives, but if you
don't know what your rights are, they can be taken away from
you very easily...

You're innocent until proven guilty, but even in our IRS
code, you're guilty until proven innocent...

L - Okay, they put that magnetic strip on that driver's
license and they run it through that computer in that police
car. It says right there, "He's a drunk. He's a dope
addict. And the third time's the charm. You're a felon.
You're not gonna vote. Okay, it's not a war on drugs; it's
not a war drunk drivers. It's a war on the ___ ____ vote...

Something that I see, and I really would like to hear you
talk about, is what I see from TEA Party is direct action. I
see direct action type of operations. I don't see any civil
disobedience to speak of. You know, I don't see anything
like knocking over garbage cans or breaking windows - any of
that stuff...

T - It doesn't accomplish anything...

L - Just gets you locked up...It reminds me of the things
the original TEA party did. Where they didn't try to
remonstrate or treat with the government or lobby them to
see things their way. They just went down there and
destroyed the tea...So, that's what they call direct

People come to you about specific problems - party politics,
social issues - and you say you don't deal with that. Why is

T - Well, because of our by-laws we are non-partisan. We
don't deal with Republican or Democrat or Libertarian or any
other party. Now, if you come to me and I take my TEA Party
hat off and put on my Republican hat, I can point you in the
right direction.

L - Why do you have that by-law?

T - We have Republicans; we have Democrats; we have
Libertarians; we have Independents. We don't want to favor
any one over any other. There's bad behavior on all fronts,
so we don't mix them. There are good groups out there who
do do that, and we let them do that and if they fail to do
that, it's on their shoulders...There's only so much time in
the day. Really, TEA Parties came out of taxes and spending
- not I want you to reform my party, I want you to change
who's in office, I want you to change laws. We've been
criticized because we don't take on those social issues and
they have subject matter expertise so we let them do it. We
wouldn't want the NRA to come in and tell the TEA Party how
to operate and we wouldn't go in and tell the NRA how to
operate. Even though we have an extremely large e-mail
list, a large volunteer base, there's not enough people to
handle each one of these issues separately...

L - What was the precipitating event that got you into

T - It was really a 12-minute YouTube video named "Burning
Down The House" by Mouthpiece. It's about TARP (Troubled
Assets Relief Program)...which I call throwing a tarp over
the American economy. Go watch it and Google the things it
points out. I think it will show you what has happened to
the American economy.

And so, I went and watched Mouthpiece's YouTube presentation
and I realized what caused the collapse of the housing
market and created a need for a massive bailout of the
banking, insurance and automotive industries.

It was a government program that created an opportunity for
people to borrow sums they could never afford to repay to
buy homes that were grossly overpriced, over-appraised by
lending institutions and government agencies.

I suddenly realized what the TEA Party activists came out
swinging and raising hell about a year ago.

It's all about a massive bid for power over the American
economy, a bid financed with the American taxpayers' own

Go watch "Burning Down The House" by typing in YouTube -
Burning Down The House in your web search engine.

Google the references in that documentary.

Then, go figure.

Keep coming back. If we aren't here, it will be someone
just like us. If we aren't at this location, it will be one
nearby - very nearby. Next door. Around the corner.

But we will be in your neighborhood - definitely in your

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Birdwell Residence For Senate 22 Run in Question

Stories in "Quorum Reports" and the Waco daily paper have
called the eligibility of Brian Birdwell for a run at State
Senate District 22 into question.

It seems that the native Granbury resident, a burn victim of
the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, did not move to his home
until 2007 and voted in a Virginia election during the five
year period he is required to have been a Texas resident to
be eligible for the post of State Senator.

The eligibility of both Mr. Birdwell and former State
Senator David Sibley has been challenged because Mr. Sibley
claimed a homestead exemption on his $700,000 Austin home.
Application for the exemption requires that a person declare
the property exempted as his principal abode.

Candidate Darren Yancy has declined to enter a complaining
lawsuit against either candidate and Baylor Political
Science Professor Gayle Avant has reserved comment on the

Such residency requirement complaints are rare in the Lone
Star State because, as the "Quorum Reports" writer noted, "it
is usually considered a state of mind."

Shame of it all. Shame of it all.

BRA lawyer bills $3.5K for Open Records Request

Invoices on e-files prove $6.9 mil in bond $ spent

The chief lawyer for the Brazos River Authority responded to
a Texas Open Records Act request by The Legendary and Darren
Yancy with a whopping bill for $3,602 to obtain 2 CD's with
973 invoices on them and 35 hard copies of invoices.

The billalso includes $3,000 for 200 hours to "locate,
compile and scan" the records.

The records indicate $6,933,243.33 in allocated bond money
was spent to maintain the Morris Sheppard Dam at Possum
Kingdom Reservoir up to Federal Electrical Regulatory
Commission standards.

As disclosed earlier in BRA year end reports and in these
columns, the hydroelectric plant was taken off-line due to
is economic unfeasibility, resulting in a lawsuit between
BRA and Brazos Electric Power Cooperative for a breach of
contract to provide a half million dollars per year in
electrical power. The suit is pending in 414th State
District Court in Waco at this time.

Mr. Riley Woods, senior staff counsel for the Authority,
cited Texas Govt. Code Chapt. 552 as his authority to charge
the money. If we don't put up a deposit within 10 days, the
request is considered withdrawn by default.

The only recourse is to file a complaint with the Attorney
General. We're on our way.

Watch these columns for further progress.

Decades long delay in jail construction costs millions

Citizens committee faced with task of selling a mistake

The lividity of Dr. Bratcher's white hot anger burns through
the telephone line.

His mood does not become him. He is normally a man of
extremely good cheer.

Present chores have made him a little less cheerful these
days when it comes to the subject of the jail and its

He has been tapped to spend many, many hours wrangling over
the issue of building a new jail, a hurry up and wait
project forestalled and prolonged for nearly a decade by the
obstructionist tactics of politicians and citizens opposed
to spending tax money on housing criminals when it could be
so much better used to maintain roads, bridges, buildings
and other public works that serve free men and women.

And yet, these officials insist on "transparency" as they
enter the cusp of a bureaucratic season of regulatory
condemnation of the neglect of yet another public facility,
the Bosque County Jail.

They have appointed a citizen advisory committee to study
and then sell the project to the public at a series of town
hall meetings, the first of which will take place Thursday
evening at Meridian Civic Center at 6:30 p.m.

Tom Bratcher is a busy man. He has many responsibilities.

Serving as the Bosque County Republican Chairman Elect, Dr.
Bratcher is a mathematics professor at Baylor University, a
Ph.D. who heads up a doctoral program in the pure
mathematical science of statistics.

He speaks of the truth of the matter of a jail building that
is far too small to meet minimum state standards of the
regulatory commission charged with riding herd on the
conditions of local incarceration.

Due to heavy rains, water has cascaded through the rock
strata of the hill upon which the Courthouse and downtown
Meridian is located. The flow of water chronically invades
the sewer pipes and floods the jail, causing filthy water to
percolate up through the commodes and sinks. Roof leaks
cause rainwater to stream down its pre-cast walls and soak
electrical junction boxes and circuit breakers, shorting out
emergency alarm systems for fire, smoke and escape.

Built in 1972, the building and the Sheriff's offices have
become a dungeon from hell complete with oubliettes that
overflow with the pestilence and viruses of dread disease.

In the rainy season, it's a constant project to keep it
pumped out, dried and disinfected. Hydrology being what it
is, gravity and static surface tension take no holiday when
it comes to water seeking its lowest level.

The jail was built below the 100-year flood plain of the
Bosque River bottoms.

This is the proverbial place where they throw you in jail,
but not only in jail - under the jail. Under the jail in
this case becomes part of the watercourse of a major
tributary to the Brazos River system, the Bosque. Building
or no building, the river is going to come on through.

The word bosque is Spanish for woods, less charitably known
in Spanish as the sticks. That is what the word means. The
conquistador cartographers inscribed it on the entire area,
most particularly the thickets that border the river.

"The truth is," said Dr. Bratcher, "all this could have been
fixed some time in the past - was it four, no five years

"They decided to do a patch job on the building that cost
about $250,000. It didn't work. You see the results.

"They could have built a brand new state of the art building
for about three, three and a half million dollars at the

The price tag on the best case, lowest cost solution at this
point is about $9.75 million, according to the architect,
the building contractor and the debt management and
securities specialist hired to tend to the project.

Dr. Bratcher is angry and disgusted. He can't hide it. A
reasonable man, a man of good will and honesty, he is
perplexed at the situation.

Asked if he intends to be at the Town Hall meeting, he
replies, "I have to be at the meeting. I have to be at all
the town hall meetings."

It's part of the deal. He and nine other fellow citizens
have been charged with shepherding the process through to
its conclusion, to serve as advisors to the County Judge and
the Commissioners' Court.

There is no doubt. The State of Texas will condemn the
Bosque County Jail for its inadequate space, filthy
conditions and security problems if nothing is done.

Meantime, the clock takes no holidays.

With every day that goes by, the bill gets higher and higher
due to rising interest rates on debt service, costs of
materials and weather conditions.

Citizens could force another delay if they gather the
certified signatures of 5 percent of registered voters and
petition for a bond issue election on November 2. Such a
move would trigger postponement of financing and
construction by at least a year, something that
knowledgeable observers estimate could result in an
increased cost of anywhere from three-quarters of a million
to a million and a half additional dollars in material,
construction and debt service costs.

Obama Care Far From A Done Deal:

Behold, The Reconciliation Act of 2010, HR 4872

After all the debris of all the parties has been cleaned up
and the jets have landed back safely bearing the protestors
home where they live; after the last pundit has signed off
on the last talk show; after the attention of the people has
moved on to the next great debate, there remains an echo, a
ghostly aftershock in the form of yet another bill, the one
that won't go away until the dispute is settled over health

Yes, the House of Representatives signed off on a health
care reform act and sent it to the President's desk for his
signature. Everyone saw it on television. It's a done


These laconic words put the lie to that bright and shining
idea and set the stage for yet another century of 10th
Amendment hassles over states' rights, unfunded mandates and
the immutable and obdurate anger of the common man over
being ordered by an elite body of representatives at the
seat of government, a ten mile square of Virginia and
Maryland swampland belted by ribbons of concrete and steel
and festooned with the finest marble and bronze their money
could ever buy, to take up and bear the cross of sickness
and disease of those who have not what he has.

Behold, the Reconciliation Act, amended and sent back to the
Senate for approval and "expected" to be signed into law by
the President today.

Behold these laconic words from a legislative report:

"Reconciliation Act of 2010 - Vote Passed
(220-211) The House also passed this bill that would make
changes to the health care overhaul measure they just passed
and revise student loan procedures. The bill now goes to the

The people of Congressional District 17 know that their
Representative, The Honorable Chet Edwards, D-TX, voted NO.

Have they seen the amendments to the amendments to this bill
that were voted out of the House Rules Committee?

Here is a sampling of amendments offered by just two
Congressmen, Joe Barton, R-TX, of neighboring district a
little further up Santa Fe line in Johnson County, Cleburne,
the hub of the old locomotive and car shops of that mighty
freight line, and Marsha Blackburn, a conservative of
Tennessee's 7th District.

These are just two of the
representatives who voted nay on health care reform and
offered amendments to the Reconciliation Act of 2010.

They have been selected simply because their last names
begin with the letter "B".

As you may see, the Patient Care Reform Act of 2010 is far
from a done deal...


Summary of Amendments Submitted to the Rules Committee for
H.R. 4872 - Reconciliation Act of 2010
(summaries derived from information provided by sponsors)
Listed in Alphabetical Order
Mar 20, 2010 6:20PM
Barton (TX), Johnson,
Sam (TX) #48 Would remove the provision which provides extra funds to Louisiana’s
Medicaid program.
Barton (TX), Johnson,
Sam (TX) #49 Would remove the provision which provides funds for a medical facility
in Connecticut.
Barton (TX), Johnson,
Sam (TX) #50 Would remove the provision that would allow certain hospitals to benefit
from Section 508 if it means higher Medicare payments.
Barton (TX) #53 Would prevent this bill from taking effect until the Office of Management
and Budget certifies that the federal budget deficit has been eliminated
Barton (TX), Johnson,
Sam (TX) #54 Would remove the provision that provides for increased Medicare
payments to hospitals and doctors in frontier states.
Barton (TX), Johnson,
Sam (TX) #62 Would require that all individuals under Medicaid have to demonstrate
their identity and citizenship.
Barton (TX) #68 Would strike all taxes in the bill.
Barton (TX), Johnson,
Sam (TX) #70 Would repeal a provision providing Medicare coverage to certain
individuals exposed to environmental health hazards.
Barton (TX) #74 Would prevent the bill from taking effect until Medicare and Medicaid
are solvent for the next 20 years.
Barton (TX) #76 Would repeal section 6001 of the bill, Limitation on Medicare exception
to the prohibition on certain physician referrals for hospitals.
Blackburn (TN) #4 Would require the HHS Secretary to certify that no American will lose access to his or her current health insurance due to the establishment and
operation of health plans offered through a state Exchange. This will be
an annual certification. Until certification is made, no State is required or
penalized for the failure to establish plans in an Exchange...etc.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Community organizers close down after scandals

ACORN CEO Calls Right Wing Reaction To Fraud "McCarthyism"

Conservative activists got another reality check on their
potency when ACORN shut down its operations in an
announcement from Chicago.

Referring to "a series of well-orchestrated, relentless,
well-funded right wing attacks that are unprecedented since
the McCarthy era," ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis announced that the
board decided to close all remaining field office by April

Stymied by falling revenues since the release of videos of a
Baltimore couple posing as a pimp and prostitute receiving
counseling from an ACORN operative, the executive accused
the originators of the videos of manufacturing them as a
"sensational story that led to rush to judgment and an
unconstitutional act by Congress."

The most successful operation undertaken by the community-
based organization was its work in registering hundreds of
thousands of low-income voters, a process beset by
allegations of fraud.

Though a Federal judge removed the organization from a
blacklist, citing the move as unconstitutional, the group
could no longer attract investors and thus reached a
decision to close its doors nationwide.