For Immediate Release February 8, 2017
Are UT Dell Medical School and Sen. Kirk Watson
Misspending Central Healthcare Hospital District Funds?
Austin, 2:30 pm: UT Dell Medical School appears to be misspending taxpayer dollars committed to the Central Healthcare Hospital District. If they are, this raises serious questions about potential violations of law and the public trust, so says longtime reform attorney, Fred Lewis and former State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos (D-Austin). Linda Curtis of Independent Texans is raising questions about her own State Senator, Kirk Watson’s law firm having benefited from it.
From UT’s own financial records, the reports shows 84% of all UT Dell Medical School compensation is paid for with Central Health funds and the vast majority of these expenditures are going to personnel who do not provide any health care of any kind.
Linda Curtis of Independent Texans PAC said, “Everyone knows that Senator Watson has been the leading cheerleader for building the medical school, which is fine. However, when he failed to pass legislation in 2011 (SB 821) to authorize Central Health to help pay for medical education, I believe he continued to find ways to get his way. Senator Watson nor UT can now claim that in 2012, when Travis County voters gave the Health District the right to increase property taxes, they also gave them the power to do what SB 821, in its failure, did not do for them. Spending tens of millions of dollars per year — for things other than health care — is a rip off of low-income citizens, not to mention all who are paying for it.”
Lewis remarked that, “No other hospital district in Texas, to our knowledge, has funded a medical school’s non-health care services. Hospital districts typically contract with medical schools to provide health care for the poor, but no hospital district other than Central Health funds non-health care services of medical schools.”
Former longtime State Senator for the Austin area, Gonzalo Barrientos, helped draft the bill that passed in the 2003 legislative session to allow for the creation of the Central Healthcare Hospital District. Barrientos commented, “My intent in passing the law that we passed in the legislature was to create a district that medically treated poor people, not tomorrow, not next week, not next year but right now when they’re hurting.”
Senator Kirk Watson is a partner at Husch Blackwell LLP. The firm represents Central Healthcare Hospital District and has paid the firm over $3 million.
For More Information:
Linda Curtis, 512-657-2089
Fred Lewis, 512-636-1389
By Linda Curtis, just my independent opinion
“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” George Washington, Farewell Address, 1797
A funny thing happened on the way to the 2016 presidential election. Populism in America had George Washington turning in his grave.
Populism, the rising up of we commoners, is arguably the most powerful political tool on the planet. It’s also a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get. Millions sent in their small donations hoping and praying for the presidential candidate most in keeping with the history of American populism, Bernie Sanders. What we got was a big surprise — the European-style populist Donald Trump.
I understand fully why Donald Trump has angered millions of Americans. As a Texan, I had a “Twilight Zone” moment when he nominated Rick Perry as Energy Secretary. In 2006, rural Texans led an urban-rural electoral revolt behind Carole Strayhorn’s independent run for Governor defeating Perry’s legendary pay-to-play scheme — the $200 billion Trans-Texas Corridor. Now that Perry is Energy Secretary, would anyone like to wager a $1.1 million bet that he pushes another toxic special interest deal on rural Texas with nuclear waste in West Texas?
That said, I am urging that we all take a careful look into the box of chocolates being served up by populism, including Trump’s. That box is also full of real possibilities for positive change. Just this week, Trump refreshingly hit a nerve on the pathetic hypocrisy of Fox News pundit, Bill O’Reilly, goading him on how he could respect Putin — “a killer”. Trump’s response was, “What, you think our country is so innocent?” Personally, I love it. Politically, we have to understand the true value of having a President willing to spill the beans on people operating behind the curtains all these years and offing people in the name of the American people.
That is big stuff because after a 50-year decline in electoral competition, American voters are more than ready to get out of both parties. In this way, Trumpism has huge (to steal a word) benefits. He is doing more to bust up both parties and the two-party arrangement than anyone in my lifetime. I didn’t vote for him, I don’t like many of his policies and I don’t even like him as a person, but I must give him this credit as a self-respecting independent.
If anything is killing American democracy it is partisanship — the allegiance to party over the power of the citizenry to self-goverment. We, the American people, must seize the moment brought to us by Donald Trump himself and unite despite our disagreements for this one purpose — to dismantle two-partyism to bring about truly competitive elections.
Trump the Independent
Donald Trump is the first president that I recall to challenge members of the “military-industrial complex” that President Dwight Eisenhower warned about:
Read the famous excerpt below – or watch this 3-minute video:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address, 1961
Independent writer, Charles Hughes Smith, wrote about the differences that have emerged between the “Neo-con” security elites (he calls the “deep state”) in the CIA, NSA, FBI and the DNI and the more “progressive state” – the working men and women of the U.S. military. These security elites together with the partisans in both parties are the “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men” that the father of our country warned about. Together they have created the mess in the Middle East.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t worry – a lot — about Trump and Steve Bannon’s foreign policy intentions. However, I do agree with AntiWar.com’s Justin Raimondo who called out progressives for failing to sufficiently challenge how President Barack Obama carried “our bipartisan foreign policy of perpetual war”.
I am no foreign policy expert, which is why I recommend these excellent news blogs. Caution: Please take off your ideological and party blinders. I find the differences of opinions in these sites most useful in developing the critical thinking so necessary in the Trump era.
A Win-Win for the American People…put this to Congress
What we, ordinary Americans, must do now is a united call on both parties in Congress to check the executive’s power to take the country to war. This would force the hand of the “limited government” Republicans and the “anti-war” Democrats who, have put party before country and made America – the world’s model democracy — into the world’s interventionist deadly police.
What is more likely to happen: Factions within the two parties in Congress will move for impeachment and keep rearranging between them the deckchairs on the Titanic. In fact, the narrative for this started long before the Trump inauguration and is now in play.
Our country’s democratic process has been in decline for over 50 years as we have seen fewer and fewer people running for office and increased coronations of incumbents because of only ONE choice on the ballot.
I highly recommend this paper, “Death by a Thousand Signatures” by attorney Oliver Hall, Executive Director of the Center for Competitive Democracy who explains how we got here today.
Democracy is unraveling, folks. I believe there is simply no way out but independent. The 43% plurality of American voters and 50% of Millennial voters who identify as independents must self-organize an independent electoral revolt!
We are more than thrilled that there is now a three-way race for San Antonio Mayor, now that Manuel Medina jumped in. Medina is positioning clearly against Vista Ridge. Watch the debate tomorrow night online here at the Rivard Report. (Note: Rivard has already been bashing independent-minded Medina, so don’t be surprised if the debate isn’t as fair as it should be.)
You can watch the debate here on The Rivard Report Facebook page.
Thanks to the Freedom of Information Foundation and the League of Independent Voters, citizens were able to get in to the water lobby schmoozefest, aka the “Water for Texas Conference” on January 23-25, a privatized event sponsored by a state agency, the Texas Water Development Board. It was at this event that Patrick and his water lieutenant, State Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), made plain that they fully intend to roll right over rural Texans’ property rights (groundwater) and a united urban/rural citizen call to “conserve first, convey later.”
Here you can listen to Evan Smith, Texas Tribune CEO one of best interviewers in the country, trying to moderate a panel with Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) running roughshod over him. (Hear Larson’s ceaseless rant about how landowners are “balkanizing” their water by refusing to “share” it). At the end, I called Sen. Perry out for holding closed interim hearings on water. His response? He did that politician dance otherwise known as refusal to answer the question.
Here you can listen to Dan Patrick’s luncheon speech He began with defending his decision to appoint then freshman, Sen. Perry, to chair the committee on Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs in 2016. At the end Patrick declares:
“I’m a big believer in property rights, if it’s on your land, it’s yours. But we’re going to have to work together to find a way to ensure that all of Texans have the water they need for whatever their needs are.”
Of course, Patrick didn’t define what he meant by water they “need”. Does he think San Antonio needs the massive Vista Ridge/San Antone Hose? They don’t.