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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Supreme Court issues an Eminent Domain Tsunami - Now What?

I have to agree with the letters to the editor in today's Houston Chronicle who said: "

"The Supreme Court ruling about the legality of governments' using the power of eminent domain to take private property for private development is a scary development."

Another writer said:

"NOT since 9/11 has "liberty" been so openly attacked as seen this week when the Supreme Court justices perverted the definition of "public use"— a term that was important to the Framers of our democracy — for the benefit of corrupt developers and politicians."

I can only agree with the local citizens who wrote letters to the Chronicle. Emminent Domain was supposed to be the taking of private property for PUBLIC use - NOT private.

When will your house be taken for a hotel or golf course owned by someone making big donations to local politicians? Where does this end?

Our rights are being eroded by both Congress and even the Supreme Court! We need to fight to get them back before it is too late. The Supreme Court ruling was 5-4. It DOES matter who is the next replacement on the court.

I want someone with Constitutional common sense...

P.S> Today is the six month anniversary of the Tsunami that killed over a quarter million people. Note that the American image in Indonesia is a high 79% (unlike many other countries) --because we helped with aid.

America can win, when we do the right things in the right way...Trade and aid are more powerful than weapons in winning over people. More on that another day...

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Lobby Loophole -Showing Congress the World

“A lobbyist can’t legally pay for members of Congress to spend a lavish weekend in California’s wine country” (or foreign country) “but a group of lobbyists apparently can.”

This interesting legal issue appeared in a USA Today article on June 22 (sorry, I don't have the link.)

My question is this: Why hasn’t Congress changed the law to outlaw mass influence peddling by lobbyists operating as a group (and paying for Congress travel) when it is illegal to do it one-on-one? These Congress trips paid by lobbyists are getting out of hand.

I do not need a lobbyist to give me a gold plated tour of the world, be at to Russia, Saipan, golf in Scotland, etc. I’ve already been around the world, thank you. I was lucky enough to get a global education as a young negotiator for large companies and small ones (after starting out on a farm in Iowa, which is as far from foreign as you can get). I know what is happening in these countries, instead of believing what someone tells me over a fancy dinner in a foreign place.

A fancy dinner in Saipan, paid by lobbyists, was enough for Mr. DeLay to overlook substandard working conditions in that country –guaranteeing them a “Made in USA” label when it was sold in the U.S. I would never vote for such a thing, trip or no trip.

I don’t need a junket paid by special interests to convince me anyone should get a “Made in USA” label when they have the item produced in an offshore, sub wage sweatshop. I’d vote against it every time.

Congress and its leadership are skirting the law on illegal travel by lobbyists, by allowing groups of them to do what one cannot legally do. Funding of a lavish trip for our Congressman to play golf in Scotland did nothing to avoid 9 11. Did it? I call for Congress and its leadership to stop allowing the this circumventing of the law by groups of lobbyists.

Fact: Since 2000, the number of lobbyists in Washington has more than DOUBLED, now totally over 34,000!

Where is the leadership on this ethical loophole by our Majority leader?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Teachers and Our Future

Teachers are the future of America. They are educating the next generation of Americans.

So why are get treated so badly by their elected U.S. representative?

Last year we lost over 5,000 teachers in Texas because Mr. DeLay changed the rules on them -- and pushed through a bill called the "Windfall Elimination provision."

Basically it said that if you worked in the private sector then became a teacher you had to give something up in benefits. Housewives who lost their husbands didn't lose their death benefits even if they never worked, but teachers did. Why should teachers be treated worse than housewives?

After that bill passed, Mr. DeLay allowed himself a pay raise as thousands of teachers in their prime had to retire early to save their benefits.

How does this translate into being "for children"...? I talked to many of the teachers, a large number of them in District 22 are (or were) Republicans. Their pain was great.

In fact I attended a town hall meeting in 2004 in Rosenberg and watched as Mr. DeLay stood before 1,000 teachers to talk about the “Windfall” bill and heard him declare: "I'm going to tell you why I'm right and you're wrong!"

Ummm. And I thought a Congressman's job was to listen!

I don't see teachers as "double dippers." I see them as underpaid heroes who do extraordinary things on a shoestring. They make less money than paralegals, yet they perform a much greater service to our country and its future than someone fighting over a car wreck or dog bite.

As a result of the pension changes, our education system has been damaged. Our kids will have to compete in a Global Economy. Running off talented teachers will not help us. Underpaying them does not help us. Kids from Asia are dominating math and science. We are dominating “reality” TV shows. Guess which will make a bigger difference to our future prosperity?

If I run, teachers, kids and education will come first, not last. I would fight to eliminate the so-called Windfall Elimination provision.

In the meantime, Congressional pay raises need to be stopped until they balance the budget! Now that would be fiscal responsibility - something Republicans are supposed to care about in government!

I do. Am I the only one?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Fliers in Bad Taste

I was at a Randall's today and was surprised to find out from a group of men that someone put fliers on people's cars at Williams Trace Baptist church in Sugar Land, listing all the things they didn't like about Tom DeLay. They jokingly commented that I might support such a thing.

I don't.

Leaving political fliers on church property is in bad taste and I do not support that kind of campaigning.

Yes, I disagree with Mr. DeLay's actions on many things but that doesn't mean you paper people's cars at their house of worship. If you want to do that, rent a billboard or mail something.

Another gentleman said he got one of these fliers at another location as well. Whoever is doing this, stop. It is not helping your cause.

I favor talking about real policies instead of resorting to name calling and negative ads...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Remembering Vets

May 31, 2005

On Memorial Day, upon an invitation from a veteran, I went to a ceremony held in Sea Wolf Park in Galveston. Representatives of each military branch spoke and a wreath was dropped from a Coast Guard helicopter into the water off the bow of the submarine Cavalla.

No politicians spoke. Not even this one.

In Sugar Land, however, Rep. DeLay did speak at a Memorial Day ceremony in front of the new city hall. He called in a week ago to get included on the speakers list.

I would not have thought much about it except for two votes that he made days ago on veteran’s issues that are really shocking. You can check them yourself at the Chronicle "How They Voted" page.

In the first vote, DeLay voted AGAINST a motion to qualify National Guard and Reserve personnel for TRICARE, the main military health plan, to the extent that active duty troops are covered. Forty percent of our forces in Iraq are Reserve and Guard personnel. Because this motion failed, Reserve and Guard soldiers will continue getting fewer benefits while facing the same risks of being killed or injured for their country as the regular military combatants they are fighting side by side with.

But that is nothing compared to the other vote.

In the second vote, DeLay voted AGAINST increasing spending by $53 million for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, including $8 million for treating combat trauma; $9 million for prosthetic research; and $6 million for telemedicine to remotely serve National Guard and Reserve veterans. The money would have come from savings from base closings. So now an injured Guardsman with a missing limb will have less essential care.

Is this the definition of “supporting” all of our troops? Sending them into fight without adequate body or vehicle armor and when they come back injured, minimizing their benefits.

I would have voted “FOR” (“YES”) each of these measures. It would have been the "right" thing to do.