Friday, August 10, 2007

Round Rock Texan's "The Law of Parties"

Choose your friend's wisely... I was unaware of the details of the Law of Parties and was surprised at it's implications. Round Rock Texan presented a convincing argument for the application of the law as it stands. I agree that it should be applied to offenders facing conviction. Adults should be held accountable for their actions and for being in situations with others that involve criminal activity.This should apply even in cases where the criminal activity escalates beyond that which the person intended.
As for the example that kseago gave, I would add that the gang of offenders would be culpable for their actions as a group. The gas station, the attendant and any witnesses to the comment "We're gonna kill tonight" would not be criminally responsible. They would have an ethical responsibility to report what they heard and let the police decide to follow up.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Money = Power Intact

The July 30th article highlighting Governor Perry's recent fundraising caught my attention. The information is relevant to our recent class discussions regarding our legislator's spending habits and the previous articles we've read from The Dallas Morning News about the north Texas legislators. One wonders if the legislator's financial and ethical boundaries are influenced by their governor's fund raising haul and the wide choices of its disposal allowed by Texas law?

Immediately following "sine die" Gov. Perry focused his attention on something he does very well: raising campaign cash. Perry raised more than $880,000 from June18th through June 30th for a total of $1.4 million to spend on campaigns. The high profile office of the Texas governor attracts more campaign contributions compared to other state officials, and incumbents have an additional advantage. Gov.Perry is an adept fundraiser and spender ($28 million in 2002 ).

There is much speculation as to whether the Gov. will run for an unprecedented third term in 2010. His summer fund raising suggests he may seek another term, but there are several other ways he can spend the money. Perry pays for most of his official travel with his campaign account, not his state government budget. In his fund raising letter to potential donors he announced his plans to hit the road this fall "to take the debate out of Austin and to the people of Texas." So he'll be traveling and using the bully pulpit to spread his message prior to the next regular session ( Perry's last one) in 2009.

Like-minded Republicans might receive campaign donations from the Governor as they seek election in 2008. This would help cement Perry's power base in office and beyond. If Perry doesn't run again, he has up to six years to spend the money from his campaign fund. Since the money was raised for a state campaign, it can't be diverted to a federal campaign or party, so he would not be able to use that money to run for President. There are no limits on the size of contributions for non-judicial state campaigns, so Perry could make a sizable donation to his choice as his successor. Which would mean that person would owe him, and so on. The political backscratching seems endless.

Other options for the money include returning it to the donors; giving it to charities or a university (any guesses which one?); or handing it over to the state treasury. Perry could also donate to legislators' campaigns to pave the way for himself as a Capitol lobbyist. Even as a lobbyist, he would still have the six year window to maintain the campaign money. What would be a conflict of interest in the private sector seems to be "business as usual" in Texas politics.

In the meantime, the money means power, which prevents Perry from being viewed as a lame duck. It's a reminder that he's got time left on his term and a "signal to other Republicans that he's still a player."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Rebuilding of Gruene Bridge is Matter of Safety

The 98 year old Gruene bridge in New Braunfels is a hazard. The waters near the bridge attract many tubers, rafters and boaters of varying skill levels. The low-slung concrete bridge is a danger zone for people on the river and those who cross over it because the walkways are too close to traffic lanes. The most recent drowning occurred in mid July. The death of the 49 year old man was reported by Austin American Statesman writer Molly Bloom in the Tuesday edition.

So, why isn't a drowning death enough impetus for the Texas Historical Commission and the state Transportation Department to work out a solution? Safety should take priority over preservation. As the author succinctly states ,"the words "old" and "historic" are not synonyms, and the commission has yet to fully explain its historical significance to New Braunfels or Central Texas. " In 2003, the commission determined the bridge to be unworthy of a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places because of previous renovation in 1950. That cleared the way for the bridge to be raised and rebuilt, but plans stalled as the commission said the bridge "is unique and should be preserved if modifications can be developed that would lessen any safety concerns."

Clearly, as the author reports of the recent drowning and the dozen people who have been injured already this summer , there is a compelling case to rebuild the bridge.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Kudos to all my fellow classmates. Your blogs are very informative.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Judge Signs off on Plan to Improve Healthcare Access for Kids

U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice approved a settlement on July 9, 2007, that will improve access to medical care for more than 2 million low-income children in Texas. The agreement, which was drafted by state and plaintiff's attorneys, ends a 14 year case that stemmed from a class action suit filed against the state in 1993. The original class action suit claimed that the state did not provide adequate care for children enrolled in Medicare.
State lawmakers have already agreed to more than $700 million necessary to satisfy the terms of the settlement. Most notably, rate reimbursements for doctors and dentists will increase up to 50% to dentists and varying rates for physicians based on the treatment provided.This measure will increase preventative checkups and primary care with an anticipated decrease in need for hospital care and fewer cases of severe dental disease (preventable) that require general anesthesia in an operating room.
The settlement requires the state to hire more Medicaid caseworkers, improve transportation options to help parents get to medical appointments and implement family outreach initiatives to inform parents what services and checkups are available for their children. Efficiency of toll- free hotlines and availability of prescription drugs will also be addressed. Most of the changes will take effect September 1.

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