I voted…..and for Prop 1 I Voted NO

Texas makes it fairly easy to vote early; the polls are even open on Sunday. So after church, I stopped by and cast my vote.
As usual, I voted for those I believe will support a small government. Or at least not growing it as fast as possible.

On the ballot is a state-wide Proposition

“The constitutional amendment providing for the use and dedication of certain money transferred to the state highway fund to assist in the completion of transportation construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation projects, not to include toll roads.”

Let’s look at what the Proposition does and then I’ll explain why I voted against it.

The additional transportation money would come from directing a portion of the state’s annual oil and gas production tax collections to the State Highway Fund. Currently, the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) receives 75 percent of the state’s annual oil and gas production tax collections that exceed the amount collected in fiscal year 1987, when it was created. If approved by voters, half of the money currently destined for the ESF would be dedicated to the State Highway Fund. The remaining half would continue to build the unspent balance of the ESF. According to estimates from the Texas Comptroller, if voters approved the Constitutional Amendment $1.7 billion would be transferred in to the State Highway Fund in the first year alone.

Okay….First reason is right there — it takes money that is supposed to be dedicated to the Economic Stabilization or “Rainy Day” Fund and directs it to transportation projects such as roads and bridges.

Second reason;

(c) Not later than the 90th day of each fiscal year, the comptroller of public accounts shall transfer from the general revenue fund to the economic stabilization fund and the state highway fund the sum of the amounts described [prescribed] by Subsections (d) and (e) of this section, to be allocated as provided by Subsections (c-1) and (c-2) of this section. However, if necessary and notwithstanding the allocations prescribed by Subsections (c-1) and (c-2) of this section, the comptroller shall reduce proportionately the amounts described by Subsections (d) and (e) of this section to be transferred and allocated to the economic stabilization fund to prevent the amount in that [the] fund from exceeding the limit in effect for that biennium under Subsection (g) of this section.Revenue transferred to the state highway fund under this subsection may be used only for constructing, maintaining, and acquiring rights-of-way for public roadways other than toll roads.

Breaking down the politician weasel wording; Each legislative session the politicians would vote for a ‘floor’ on how little money has to stay in the Rainy Day fund and then split any money (remaining  above and beyond that) and new money into the Rainy Day fund and the State Highway fund.

So letting the politicians decide how much we should keep in the rainy day fund is a bad thing (more on this later). Related to this is the tendency of politicians to vote against appropriating the necessary amount of money for the important projects and then use other money to prop it up.
Sorry folks, if the State Highway fund isn’t getting enough money; the answer is simple; either vote for more taxes or stop spending money wastefully.

 

Lastly,

The constitutional amendment would provide significant progress in addressing the state’s unmet transportation needs by providing $1.7 billion in the first year alone. However, this amendment alone does not “solve” Texas’ transportation funding challenge. Experts say Texas has at least $5 billion in unmet transportation needs each year. This measure is expected to provide $1.7 billion annually to address these transportation needs.

Yeah, won’t come anywhere close to solving the problem but it would siphon even more money off from the Rainy Day fund. Yes, this is the final problem — the Rainy Day fund is a political slush fund that politicians tap on a regular basis and it needs to stop. NOW.

I feel we need to vote against every transfer of money out of that account. I think we need to hold politicians accountable for its depletion. Our recent history in the last 5 to 10 years shows how rocky the economy can be. We need to be prepared, as individuals and as a polity, to weather uncertain or hard times.

So, that is why I voted against it.

What do you folks think; would you vote for or against?

 

Still Less Than A CHL

Mike Norman, opinion writer at the Star-Telegram, is whining about the Voter ID law. If anyone has been following the law in the media, you know it has been a confusing tale. One court strikes it down, another re-instates it. It’s been going back and forth at the legal equivalent of a ping pong match.

In fact, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi found the requirements “draconian” and ruled last week that the voter ID law passed by the Legislature in 2011 discriminated against African-American and Hispanic voters.

And, according to the evidence in a nine-day trial, that’s what the Legislature wanted.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals brushed those findings aside — didn’t even address them — on Tuesday in ruling that because voting is just days away, the state should be allowed to enforce its voter ID rules as planned.

And to be frank, I am very conflicted on whether or not I want the courts to strike this down.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I think having to show ID is a good idea. This is a right that only exists because a person is a member of the polity; so showing proof of that is not violating a fundamental right.

Where I get my confusion is how we, gun owners and pro-rights supporters, could use the case.

 

It’s not hard to get the proper ID, proponents say. But evidence showed that for hundreds of thousands of Texans — disproportionately, African-Americans and Hispanics who are poor — it is difficult.

For them, the travel time to the nearest Department of Public Safety office to get a free ID card is 90 minutes or more. When they get there, they must have the proper documentation, which typically includes a certified copy of their birth certificate.

If they were born in Texas and can make an in-person visit to the proper records office and know how to ask for it, they can get a birth certificate for the cut rate of $2 or $3.

If they need to get it by mail, need to correct errors in their certificate, were not registered at birth or need a certificate from another state, the cost is at least $22 or as much as $47.

Those costs led the judge to declare the new voter ID law an unconstitutional poll tax, although that was not the primary focus of the trial.

Emphasis mine in the above paragraph. I looked up Taxi cab rates in the Dallas Fort Worth area and assumed about 60 miles travel in 90 minutes round trip. At $2.25 for initial charge and $1.80 per mile; that works out to about $110. Add in the $3 charge in person cost to get a Birth Certificate and round up to about $115 dollars.

Still less than the basic costs of a Concealed Handgun License at $140. Plus the $10 for the fingerprints, something the Voter ID does not require. Plus the $10 or so for Photos. Plus the $35 to $150 dollars for the class, Plus the $5 Proficiency Test fee. Even if we double the costs for the taxi instead of bus fare or getting a friend to take the person to get their birth certificate — it still is less burdensome than getting a Concealed Handgun License. And let’s not forget that each and every applicant for a CHL has to have a valid form of photo identification already !!!!!!

 

In fact, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi found the requirements “draconian” and ruled last week that the voter ID law passed by the Legislature in 2011 discriminated against African-American and Hispanic voters.

Hence my dilemma. If it is based on cost and burden; it should be clear that having to get a license to carry in public would have a greater impact on African-American and Hispanic voters. But of course that assume the judge trying the case would apply the law in a logical, rational and consistent basis. Most of the time I haven’t seen that happen when we are talking about restrictions on 2nd Amendment issues.

 

I think that the legislation will get around, eventually, to making Open Carry legal with a license. Then it is a short stride from there (huge hurdle but small step) to Constitutional Carry. So I’m not putting too much hope on the courts forcing the Legislation to act.

So how do the 3 or 4 people still reading this feel? Should we require a photo id for voting? Do you support the courts striking down or keeping the Voter ID law?

Importance of Communicating

Wow…..this video is a little tough to watch because it a.) shows the shooting, b.) shows a cop who shots very quickly and c.) illustrates the dangers we face, especially those of us who carry.

 

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First, I’m not saying the victim, the driver, did anything wrong. Definitely could have, should have done one very important thing much better — communicate to the officer. Letting the officer know “My license is in my wallet which is on the seat/in the console/etc” might have prevented this. NOT saying he is at fault though.

 

I understand how much stress is involved in being a cop; I want to make the process as stress free as possible so I don’t make any sudden moves. I try not to do anything that could be misinterpreted and IF I think there is a chance, I’m going to inform the officer before hand. Yes, I’m speaking from experience. I have something of a lead foot; been stopped several times for speed violations. Deserved them so I’m not complaining. I just recognize especially as someone with a Concealed Handgun License the factors involved in a traffic stop. I think people can get conflicted by the “don’t say anything to the cops” mentality and the desire not to give too much information to the police. I don’t advocate saying anything to the police other than what you are doing or better – what you are going to do before you do it.
Don’t explain anything you don’t have to, don’t volunteer information unrelated to the exact action you are doing or need to explain regarding the interaction.

I really believe this video is a great anecdote that shows how too many officers view the people they are sworn to protect — as enemies out to kill them. Not every person they encounter is out to kill them. This guy was just following the command as fast as he could. Instead of interpreting that behavior as it was; the officer saw it completely differently. I’ve talked about this often enough here, I don’t think I need to dwell on it too much more.

It happens and will continue to happen until we make departments and officers change.

 

Please join the discussion.

 

T.A.B.C. Withdraws Alcohol/Gun Show Proposal

It’s a short notice on their website

TABC Staff Recommends Withdrawing Proposed Gun Show Amendments.

The proposed amendments to TABC Administrative Rule 36.1 (Possession and Sale of Firearms on Licensed Premises) are being placed on the agenda for the September 23, 2014, Meeting of the Commissioners. The Commission Staff is recommending that the proposed amendments be withdrawn. The decision on what action to take will be made by the Commissioners. If the Commissioners vote to withdraw the proposed amendments, the current rule will remain in place.

Other sites do have a little more coverage of the issue though.

Staff at the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has recommended withdrawing last month’s proposal at the panel’s next meeting on Tuesday.

Alcohol sales would have come with strict conditions, such as banning the sale of live ammunition, a requirement that firearms be disabled and not allowing a buyer to walk out with their weapon.

It was, in my opinion, a combination of the banning the sale of live ammunition and preventing a buyer from walking out with his/her purchase that was the main sticking point.

Beck said the rule was drafted to address the Dallas Safari Club’s annual convention, a massive event that draws up to 50,000 people that is mostly designed as an exhibit and may include only a few booths with weapons.

While it may have been designed to address the Safari Club’s convention; it would have hit dozens of other events like the Friends of the NRA banquets or even my gun club’s Annual Banquet. These events are often either great fund raisers or opportunities to increase membership. This was not a ‘gun friendly’ proposal.

 

 (f)   A location that has a license or permit authorizing the on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages may only allow a gun or firearms show or display at the location if:
   (1)   the location is owned or leased by a governmental entity or nonprofit civic, religious, charitable, fraternal, or veterans’ organization;
   (2)   the location is used for a gun or firearms show or display only on an occasional basis; and
   (3)   a written agreement between the operator of the show or display and the permittee or licensee is filed at the commission’s district office and approved by the commission 30 days prior to the gun or firearms show or display and the agreement includes the following:

If nothing else, this section was worth defeating because it greatly limited where gun shows could be held.

Great job folks, I do have to mention the spin put on this by the state.

The commission asked for public feedback and hundreds of responses poured in from all sides.

“It was for the most part negative,” agency spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said Friday. “They were either against it because they didn’t think alcohol and guns should mix, or there was feedback against the restrictions.”

Yeah……..notice Ms. Beck ‘casually’ lumped those two very different reactions together. I’m betting there were many more comments against the restrictions then anything else.

 

Think All Felonies Are the Same?

A Georgetown teenager is facing a felony charge after police say he rubbed his private parts on a customer’s pizza.

Austin Michael Symonds 18, is charged with one count of tampering with a consumer product.

According to the felony complaint, a customer called in an order to Papa Murphy’s on September 2nd. When he walked in that’s when he saw Symonds rubbing his testicles on the family sized pizza he ordered.

The customer told police he asked Symonds how old he was.

“18,” Symonds said.

“So you are old enough to know better than to put your balls on someone’s pizza,” the customer said.

Symonds apologized to the customer. He told his manager that he did it because the customer called in the order right before closing.

 

Disgusting and wrong in so many ways but a felony? Seriously this is insane folks.

I am glad he was fired. I’m glad there were criminal charges filed. Hopefully, but doubt it will, make others think twice before doing something stupid like this. This may seem like a minor issue isolated to a single case but it is a common practice to charge people with the highest crime possible instead of something more appropriate like criminal mischief.

This could ruin the kids life for a very long time.

The teen told detectives he would have probably given the pizza to the customer if he hadn’t been caught. Symonds was released from the Williamson County Jail after posting bond. If convicted of the felony he faces between two and 20 years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

He faces two to twenty years in prison for a imbecilic act. He faces the lose of many of his rights; including the right to keep and bear arms. I’m not saying it was a harmless act but is it really worth a felony ?

 

Please join the discussion.

David Barajas — ACQUITED

A jury on Wednesday acquitted a southeast Texas man of murder in the fatal shooting of a drunken driver who had just caused an accident that killed the man’s two sons.

David Barajas cried after the verdict was read and he hugged his wife, Cindy, who was also crying. He could have been sentenced to up to life in prison, if he had been convicted.

 

 

I haven’t talked about this case much, if at all, because like most of the time I wait until the facts are known. In this case there didn’t appear to be many facts known.

Prosecutors alleged that Barajas killed 20-year-old Jose Banda in a fit of rage after Banda plowed into Barajas and his sons while they were pushing a truck on a road near their home because it had run out of gas. Twelve-year-old David Jr. and 11-year-old Caleb were killed.

 

This story has received very little public attention — maybe one day the truth will come out — but even if it turns out that Barajas did it; not sure that I would be too upset.

There is very little evidence to go on; no gun found, no witnesses, no gun powder residue on Barajas…in short it seems the prosecutor brought charges because he couldn’t think of anyone else who would want to kill Banda.

 

 

What are your thoughts?

 

Example of Abuse– and Culture

This is an anecdote regarding the abuse of power and responsibility that law enforcement officers have.

The reporting officer alleged that both Ruiz and Glashoff found women’s profiles had been browsing women on dating websites like Tinder, eHarmony, and Match.com while working at the investigations bureau office of the Fairfield Police Department

Court documents allege the officers then used a police-issued computer to look up the women they found appealing in a confidential law enforcement database that connects to the DMV and state and federal records.

 

Now spending time on dating sites instead of solving crimes is a bad problem….but the major concern is the use of the database for personal reasons. This is a great example why registries for anything, especially gun ownership, is a bad idea in my opinion. The ease of abuse is frightening.

What is worse in my view is this:

Court documents go on to say Sgt. Ruiz and Detective Glashoff would perform the searches and have conversations about the dating sites in front of other officers.

The court documents allege another Fairfield officer reported the incidents to his superior back in June.

Emphasis above mine — because consider how long it had probably been happening, how they got the idea that it was okay to even run the searches and why every single officer who knew about it didn’t immediately stop it.

One — just one — officer complained when probably several or more knew about it.

The goal of the Investigation Bureau operates using two divisions: Major Crimes Division and Quality of Life Division.

Major Crimes Division

Major Crimes Division is commanded by a Lieutenant and Sergeant.
The division employs 10 detectives who handle crime in the following catagories:

The division also has a Police Probation Team Unit that addresses juvenile crime and diversion.

Quality of Life Division

Quality of Life Division is commanded by a Lieutenant and two Sergeants (Gang Unit and Narcotics Unit).
The division uses several units to address crime in the community:

How many officers knew about their activities? We’ll never know– and isn’t that a problem also — but it was probably more than 1….probably half a dozen or more. How many officers have done the same or related invasion of privacy? We won’t know and isn’t that another problem.

 

And isn’t this just lovely?

If the allegations are found true, the officers could face felony criminal charges.

Both officers remain assigned to their regular duties.

Yeah— facing the possibility of felony charges and still working — able to access the same databases….doesn’t that just thrill everyone?

And this is a relatively passive abuse; what happens when the police have other tools available to them?

 

The deputy police chief in Dallas told Fox News over the weekend that Americans had the misperception that police forces were over-militarized because departments had not painted armored vehicles blue.

During an interview about the unrest after Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro pointed out to Dallas Deputy Police Chief Malik Aziz that “the perceived militarization is a problem.”

Aziz argued, however, that police departments were not over-militarized, and that people were more concerned about the misapplication of military equipment that was procured through Department of Defense programs.

“There are a lot of applications for it,” he insisted. “What is catching so much attention is the misapplication or the misuse or the deployment of it. And I’ve heard that from around the United States.”

 

The equipment used in policing is an issue; the way it is used is an even greater problem. Deputy Police Chief Aziz is correct in that aspect. So what does he offer as a solution?

But Aziz said that local police department still needed to solve the problem of “misuse or misapplication.”

“And that comes with training,” he continued. “We’re going to have to train police departments to respond. We’re going to have to train leaders, chiefs of police to respond better for leadership and command decisions. And that way, people won’t feel like they don’t have any value or equity in the system when it looks like a war zone.”

Training — professionals involved with resolving problems well recognize how vacant and nearly worthless that answer truly is. We need to train officers in ethics, morality, not breaking the procedures and policies??

That is the solution???

So Deputy Police Chief Aziz just what is the correct training needed to deploy sniper rifles to cover a peaceful protest? What is the correct training need to roll out Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles during riots — making sure the paint scheme is correct?

There has to be a better answer.