Friday, May 30, 2008

Health Insurance Reform

There are still new ideas going through the Republican Party. In Florida, Governor Charlie Crist recently scored a victory when the state Legislature approved some health insurance reforms that go in the opposite direction from what lots of people are thinking. If you get health insurance today, in a lot of places, the minimum policy you could purchase would cover everything from regular doctor visits to chiropractic care to acupuncture to the ER. The reform in Florida would de-package all the different types of coverage. Don't believe in chiropractic? Then don't order it. Don't have any allergies for which you need shots? Then why pay for that coverage? According to the article, this could reduce prices for a policy to $150/month or less. That could definitely work to expand coverage to people who can't afford it now.

More ideas like this--where the government gets out of the way rather than throwing money at a problem--would be good for the economy, good for the country, and good for everyone.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What's next for the GOP?

Alex Castellanos has some excellent thoughts on where the GOP should go next. Here's an excerpt:

Conservatives do not hate government. We never have. We love life when it is well-governed. We respect the flag, our country, and traditional authority. We like a world where rules are observed and regulations are respected. We revere the order of the church. We respect the lines on the playing field and we stop at traffic lights. We want things to work. We want trains to run on time. We want our lives to be ordered. We want our lives to be governed — just not by others. We want our lives governed by the face we see in the mirror. We want our lives governed by ourselves.

I am trying to teach my children the same thing. If you cannot govern yourself, you must be controlled by others. I admit there are some people who cannot or choose not to govern themselves, so there is a role for what we traditionally think of as government. But as John Quincy Adams said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Morals and religion make it much easier to instill that self-government that keeping a country free requires.

if the GOP can capture this vision, not of "big government" and "small government," but of "self-government" versus "external control," it stands a chance to recapture the imagination of the American people and reorganize our ideas of what our society should look like.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Utility Advisory Board

From the Morning News:

Volunteers needed for advisory board

The Garland City Council is accepting applications for the new Utility Advisory Board, which focuses on the city's electric utility.

Applications – available at or from the city secretary at 972-205-2000 – are due by July 1.

My house is served by Oncor, so I don't think it would be appropriate for me to regulate others. I'm also not qualified. From this article:

Under the new structure, each of the seven Garland residents appointed to the Utility Advisory Board must have specific qualifications:

One member must be a residential GP&L customer; one must be a commercial GP&L customer or employee of a customer; three must have backgrounds in professional fields such as accounting, finance, marketing, law, engineering or commercial development; and two must have been or still be employed in the energy industry.

Police Blotter, May 25, 2008

1. Apollo Road, 2900 block

8:30 p.m. May 14: Burglary of a vehicle

2. Castle Rock Lane, 3100 block

11:53 p.m. May 11: Criminal mischief

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Great summary of our oil trouble

The writers at PowerLine have published an excellent account of what happened in the Senate committee hearings regarding oil prices. It makes me wonder if the politicians are even pretending to listen and learn, or if they're just trying to grandstand.


That family whose two year old passed away in an accident lived either in or right next to our precinct. Please offer them your prayers and help.

Entitlement Reform

Why is it that Republicans can come up with lots of good ideas, but they have a hard time implementing them? Paul Ryan (R., Wisconsin) has put out an entitlement reform plan that Peter Ferrara has commented on in National Review. The main points are personal accounts for Social Security, and then providing vouchers for private insurance for Medicaid and Medicare.

While all this is probably fruitless for the time being, I think it's a set of good ideas that will make things sustainable for those programs. You can submit your comments here.

Police Blotter, May 18, 2008

1. Flagstone Drive, 2900

8 a.m. May 8: Burglary of a residence

2. Village Green Drive, 2100 block

1 p.m. May 5: Theft

3. Wyrick Lane, 5700 block

12:30 a.m. May 4: Criminal mischief

Starting well in Dallas County

I like this headline:

Dallas County looking for cuts to avoid tax hike this fall

They're looking at the right place first. Rather than immediately hike taxes, they're looking to cut the budget to the bone before anything else.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Gay Marriage in California

I can't say I am really surprised, but this is no good news for the country.

Rod Dreher has some good thoughts. Professor Elizabeth Fox-Genovese did some excellent thinking in her last book before she passed away. These two writers sum up my thoughts very well. What are your thoughts on this?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

More RINO Hunting

Pat Toomey of the Club for Growth has written an excellent article on why the CFG PAC (Political Action Committee) targets Republicans who are soft on fiscal policy. Many of the same things could be said about those who are soft on social policy as well. If you have a choice between Democrat and Democrat-Lite, why not go for the real McCoy? Again, this is why we fight for people who are conservative on all fronts--taxes, spending, and social issues.


So what's with the alphabet soup? The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Child Protective Services have brought you what I'm leaning towards believing is one of the all time biggest screw-ups of government. From believing a fake phone call to not even attempting to undo the damage done (yet) after the raids were done on the basis of the fake phone call, to coming close to forcing moms to abandon either their religion or their children, things seem to be going from bad to worse here. Admittedly, the information I get is filtered through the media, but the state has to meet a larger burden of proof than usual for me to trust them on this. What are your opinions on this case?

Friday, May 16, 2008

RINO hunting

So California how has gay marriage.

And the Governator won't support an amendment to the state Constitution to undo the court decision.

This is why it's important to elect true Republicans, and not those who just take up the mantle, to office. Elect conservatives, and you're a lot more likely to get conservative government. Elect unknowns, and you get unknown results.

The solution? More taxes, of course!

In this video, Dr. Curtis Culwell, the superintendent of GISD, talks about some of the upcoming issues for the school district. One thing he touches on is revenue per student and the cost of various things. Specifically, he talks about the price of gas and how the district needs to increase its revenue to cover that cost.

Did your family increase its revenue to cover the increased cost for commuting? Or did you make adjustments to decrease spending?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What's in a name?

The City of Dallas has put out six names to replace Industrial Boulevard on the west side of downtown. Among them are two named for people:

  1. César Chávez Boulevard
  2. Eddie Bernice Johnson Parkway

So does it strike only me that they couldn't mention anyone like Ronald Reagan or Bill Clements?

Police Blotter May 11, 2008

Ambrose Court, 800 block
9 p.m. April 27: Criminal mischief

Apollo Road, 1700 block
8 a.m. April 30: Burglary of a residence

Churchill Way, 2700 block
4 a.m. May 3: Burglary of a vehicle

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

$2 billion in a surplus, so what should be done?

Does the phrase "Give it back!" exist in the Legislature's vocabulary?

The Appraisal Racket

Hmm. My house appraisal went down 5% this year. But that's not the case with land in downtown Dallas. The sites that Dallas wants to buy for the Convention Center hotel went up by 432%.

It's interesting what happens when you need a very specific piece of land. The case I'm most familiar with is when a cellular company needs to buy a place to erect a tower. I'm thinking the same principle applies.

Another thing to be disgusted at

This story tears my heart out. This is a legitimate function of state government that should be done with compassion, and there are people in there who abuse those who are not in a position to help themselves. It should be adequately funded--and more than adequately policed.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

School Board Results

  1. Cindy Castañeda - 47.53% (2033)

  2. Stephen W. Stanley - 13.54% (579)

  3. Jeff Johnson - 38.54% (1665)

And in Precinct 2104:

  1. Cindy Castañeda - 74.07% (20)

  2. Stephen W. Stanley - 18.52% (5)

  3. Jeff Johnson - 7.41% (2)

I'm trying to determine if there will be a runoff. School boards can be decided by plurality (in which case Dr. Castañeda has already won) or by absolute majority (in which case there would be a runoff between her and Jeff Johnson).

Saturday, May 10, 2008

School Board Election May 10

UPDATED 2 May 10:18 pm with an endorsement for Mr. Stanley.

UPDATED 29 April 10:14 pm with Dr. Castañeda's and Mr. Stanley's answers.

I endorse Mr. Stephen Stanley. See the post below for more information.

Early voting is now open for the School Board election where election day will be May 10. The closest polling location is the GISD Student Service Center at 720 Stadium Drive. See here for early voting dates and times, along with other locations.

Election Day Voting will be held at Hickman Elementary School at 3114 Pinewood on May 10, 7 am to 7 pm.

Here's an article in the Dallas Morning News with mini-profiles. Here's one from the Sachse News.

We are only voting in one contested race, for Place 4 on the GISD board. The three candidates are:

  1. Dr. Cindy Castañeda, an academic dean at Richland College,
  2. Jeff Johnson, President of J & A Manufacturing,
  3. Stephen Stanley, owner of RE/MAX Infinity in Sachse,,
I have sent the following questions to each candidate:
  1. What is GISD doing right that needs to be enhanced and made even better?
  2. How is GISD on track where they need to be?
  3. What about GISD needs improvement?
  4. With the housing crisis nationwide, it is expected that property values will drop. How do you see the district's tax rates and policies changing due to the changes in appraisal values? Do you see this affecting the district's budget priorities, and if so, how?
  5. Is there anything that GISD is doing now that should be reduced and shut down?
I'll keep this post at the top of the page until the election is over, and I'll update it with my endorsement when I decide on one.

Here are the answers from Dr. Castañeda:

What is GISD doing right that needs to be enhanced and made even better?
Ruth Roach Elementary School does a fabulous job and has received national recognition. In 2006, this school was selected as a Blue Ribbon School by the US Department of Education in part for achieving tremendous gains and success in TAKS while having a population in which 61% of students are from low income families, 57% are Hispanic, 18% are African American and 25% are White. Forty-five percent of Roach students are classified as Limited English Proficient. Using a highly structured curriculum all student receive outstanding, learner centered instruction that results in high student achievement. Academic achievement for low-income students identical to the overall population is outstanding and defies any expectation of an "achievement gap." Roach is doing great, it would be terrific if we could replicate the success of Roach students on other campuses as well.

Is GISD on track where they need to be?
Our country's economic future and our local economy depend on having a capable, educated work force that can communicate and calculate effectively, and learn new skills throughout their lives. Yet, only 35% of GISD graduates in 2006 were college ready in both mathematics and English/language arts. The graduation rate for the GISD is at 74.7%, using the graduation rate calculation proposed by Secretary of Education Spellings. We must do better. The future of our children, our cities and our country depend upon it.

What about GISD needs improvement?
I do not believe a 74.7% graduation rate is good enough for our residents of Garland, Rowlett and Sachse. We need to improve student success and preparation for life after high school whether students choose to enter work, military, technical school, community college or university. To do so we must first have a good understanding of any trends that may occur among that population of students that are leaving. We must first ask and answer questions such as "Do students that drop out belong to a particular demographic? Are students leaving school from all high schools or are they concentrated in one or more schools? What have we done to either retain or readmit these students? Are there already programs that have been proven to work with this at-risk population? Once we have asked and answered the questions we can then more to create programs to improve student outcomes.

With the housing crisis nationwide, it is expected that property values will drop. How do you see the district's tax rates and policies changing due to the changes in appraisal values? Do you see this affecting the district's budget priorities, and if so, how?
One certainty is that our future, economic and otherwise, hangs on a careful balance. Too much taxation limits individuals and families' expendable incomes. Too few resources and our common resources (schools, roads, services for seniors, utilities,etc.) will be negatively impacted. One thing I would work diligently to address in conjunction with other school boards, local and state representatives is to address public school finance again. HB-1 did not solve the public school finance problem - it provided a temporary, stop-gap solution that must now be fixed to a more permanent and acceptable solution.

Practically speaking the impact on the GISD is that we receive approximately $1,000 less per student in state funding than some of our neighboring school districts. This means that Garland ISD has to rise to the challenge of having more efficient physical and administrative operations, be more effective in teaching our students, and have even more beneficial staff development than some of our neighboring school districts. This drastic inequity in funding is something that Garland ISD and some other ISDs across Texas must address when the legislature convenes again later this year.

Is there anything that GISD is doing now that should be reduced and shut down?
Due to a flattening enrollment trend, the GISD has already shelved plans for building another high school and has implemented a hiring freeze. Current positions such as replacements for teachers that retire or leave will be replaced, but no new positions will be added. The Board has shown good leadership in their stewardship of public funds. While I have examined the proposed GISD budget for 2008-2009, the materials I have had access do not detail to the program level, so I am not prepared to make a statement about any programs that need to be reduced or shut down.

Closing statement
A school board sets the policy direction for the district. These policies affect the teachers, students, parents and taxpayers in our district. Improvement in the educational outcomes of our students is needed. For this reason, having the perspective of an experienced and proven leader in education is essential. There are no educators on the board. The skill set, experience and educational background I would bring to the board would be an asset for our board and our community.

Here are Mr. Stanley's responses:

What is GISD doing right that needs to be enhanced and made even better?
One thing the District is doing right is reaching out to all the patrons of the District. With recent advancements in technology and their incorporation into the District at numerous levels, communication between the teachers and the parents is becoming a lot easier and more convenient for today’s busy households. As far as making it even better the answer will only come with time. Not everyone has a computer at home and/or they are restricted from personal use of a computer at their jobs. Another is to better educate the parents that this is available to them at there public libraries in the event they don’t have a personal computer at home.

How is GISD on track where they need to be?
With the great diversity of the District the district has made great strides in their future projections as to what the district will need into the short and long term future. By building the two “Early Childhood Centers” the District has earnestly tried to get ahead of the curve with its ESL program. By trying to get to get to these students early in their education where they are proficient in the English language from the beginning, the district can better assure that all students are receiving the best education possible. While I do concede that it would be great if every graduate in the GISD had the ability and the desire to go to college after graduation but in reality as reflected in Steve Blow’s article on Sunday only about 30% of students will actually go to college. I want the District to make sure that every student graduates where they have at least the basics to join in the work force right out of High School as well as a firm foundation if they want to attend a technical or vocational school where they can learn a valuable skill or trade.

What about GISD needs improvement?
The retention policies of the district to better attract and maintain our high quality and experienced teaching staff. With an approximate 20% turnover every year, it is obvious that it is not just about pay. The largest complaint or concern I have heard from all employees has been about the high cost of there health insurance. We need to make the insurance package more affordable to new and existing staff and not have the price break begin after 20 years of service.

With the housing crisis nationwide, it is expected that property values will drop. How do you see the district's tax rates and policies changing due to the changes in appraisal values? Do you see this affecting the district's budget priorities, and if so, how?
Our district is fortunate as well as North Texas as a whole not to have been hit as hard as the rest of the State or the Country. The way HB1 is structured the only impact in declining property values should be to the State’s portion of funding for O & M. At current ratios there is an approximately 40% coming into the General fund and 72% of debt service from local property taxes and the remainder coming from both the State and Federal level. I believe where it will have an impact is for future O & M as well as future debt service. With millions of Bonds still to be issued for new construction and remodeling for existing facilities the district will have to watch property value trends and issue voter approved bonds only if they have little or no impact on the current tax rates.

Is there anything that GISD is doing now that should be reduced and shut down?
I would like to see the continual addition of portable buildings at a large percentage of our campuses through out the district to stop. I would like to see what if any cost savings there are in setting up these facilities versus constructing the new and needed campuses today.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Voter ID

I'm impressed. The Supreme Court did something right! and led, of all the Justices, by John Paul Stevens! If you haven't heard, the Court approved, 6-3, Indiana's voter ID statute. While this won't combat all the possible voter fraud out there, it is certainly a good start! I'm looking forward to asking for a photo ID for everyone who votes. That way, fraudulent registrations are harder to obtain, and on election day, it should be harder to pass yourself off as someone you're not.

Business taxes

This is ugly. New tax plans make for businesses to pay higher taxes, while the lower property taxes are supposed to offset that tax increase. But if I was a business owner, in facing this tax, I'd increase my prices just a bit to cover my bills. This would spread through all businesses, and eventually to customers. It would hopefully hit more people than just property owners, and so spread the tax burden, but it's hidden. I can't point to a tax bill and say "This much is from tax, and this much is from the cost of doing business.

What would happen if we implemented something like the FairTax on a statewide basis? Everyone pays, everyone gets a refund. Of course, people would fight over distribution, especially the formulas to figure out how much goes to school districts, counties, and cities. What do you think would happen if this actually did make it through the Legislature and People?

Paradise Shaved Ice

Paradise Shaved Ice is a new small business in our precinct. I've sampled their goods, and boy, are they good! They have 42 flavors with a surprise at the bottom of the cup!

They are at the northeast corner of Galaxie and Beltline, in the same building as the Shop-N-Go, but at the opposite end.

If you're a small business owner in the precinct, let me know and you'll get a free ad on the blog!

Better Water at Twice the Price?

North Texas Municipal Water District is going to build a new plant that will eliminate the scent from any algal blooms that we regularly get. But is that worth twice the price? Is it to you?

School Board Endorsement

I have decided to endorse Mr. Stephen Stanley for GISD School Board place 4. He owns a real estate office, so he is familiar with the district. In his answers, he took care to point out that GISD does need to take care of its budget so as not to put additional burdens on taxpayers. Dr. Castañeda is looking towards the state to solve GISD's funding crisis. He is an active Republican and will serve us well on GISD's board.

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