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Mommy, Where Do Independents Come From?

Everybody talks about us in the third person, as if we — the independents – aren’t in the room. That’s because we rarely are in the room, except come election time when politicians on either side of the aisle need us.

We independents used to think we had to have a leader to guide us. There was Perot, Nader and Jesse Ventura, or more recently in Texas there was Carole and Kinky. They made a contribution, but their political careers got the best of them and they too began talking about us in the third person or not at all.

President Barack Obama? He spoke to us powerfully with his post-partisan message before election day, but since then hasn’t made an effort to reach out to us. Instead, his political crew made a decision to build Organizing for America within the confines of the Democratic National Committee, even when his campaign ground game guru, Marshall Ganz (a brilliant political organizer) advised him not to.

It’s the same old story. There is the rush to get elected. They tell us, “Trust us, we will include you.” Some of them even sincerely mean it.

Howard Fineman wrote in the latest edition of Newsweek about how the President can win back independents. Fineman says for independents “it’s all about process.” But then he goes on to quote budget hawk and moderate Democrat, Evan Bayh who says the President is, “to the left of the mainstream.” Does Evan Bayh or Fineman have any clue that most Americans either do not know the difference between politically left and right or simply don’t give a rip? This out-dated paradigm makes no sense to most independent voters who hold a variety of views on issues. For example, many Texas independents, though we are largely understood as conservatives, believe that the banks rule the world and they should be overthrown. That is a left-wing idea supported by the right-wing John Birch Society!

So here is my advice as someone who has been out there for 30 years walking the walk of independent politics. First, why don’t you just ask us? We want to be part of the political conversation in our country. We cannot be part of the conversation when our participation is choked off by unfair restrictions and regulations designed to limit competition to the two-parties like impossible petitioning requirements, government apparatus’ like the Federal Election Commission (3 Democrats and 3 Republicans) and Redistricting committees that have representatives from the two parties only. We need open primaries in all 50 states (one of the few progressive features of Texas elections) and the right to petition to place issues on the ballot (initiative, referendum and recall) at all levels of Texas government – not just municipalities Texans are limited to currently. Government should protect our rights to petition rather than participating in criminalizing such a fundamental right to organize in our country. Independents will never forget the Democratic Attorney General of Oklahoma’s recent criminal arrests of petitioners, which was thankfully overturned by the courts. And how ’bout those term limits?

Texas politicians naturally do things bigger and badder than most. That is why Texans desperately need the right to recall politicians at the state level. If Texans had the right to recall state officials, Rick Perry would have had to “get on down the road” years ago for his outrageous manipulations of state laws and state agencies to carry out the largest land seizure in US history related to Trans-Texas Corridor. Not long after the Governor pronounced the Corridor DOA (in large part because Republicans fled to the independent movement based on this issue), it became apparent the Governor was involved in covering up the fact that he allowed the execution of an innocent man (Todd Willingham). Our legislature would never impeach Rick Perry based on these “high crimes and misdemeanors”, but you can bet that ordinary Texans would have pulled the political recall trigger if we could get our fingers on it.

I wish I could say these ideas are new. Perot in 1996 said that the problems in government are vertical not horizontal. In other words, the conflicts in America are increasingly between the few people at the top with the people at the bottom, who are the vast majority of Americans. In other words, the left-center-right paradigm that keeps ordinary Americans fighting amongst each other rendering us vulnerable to the manipulations of the parties and their corporate backers, was DOA 14 years ago!

The Massachusetts upset will pale in comparison to what Texas independents can do in the Texas gubernatorial where we have the opportunity to ‘recall’ Governor Rick Perry. That is why Independent Texans, the state’s only voter association seeking recognition for approximately 4 million independent Texas voters, is urging Texas independents to vote in the open Republican primary, to send Rick Perry down his toll roads once and for all. Watch for our endorsement shortly before early voting starts on February 16th. We can shop the ballot in November between the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian nominees. (Don’t forget to go to http://BootPerry.org/give-him-the-boot and give ol’ Rick a kick right) now and donate to our just cause!)

The American people that politicians and pundits like to banter about so much are in one particular way woefully culpable in the political predicament in which we find ourselves. We are like parents who don’t want to admit our role in raising irresponsible children. We vote for our “children” (or ignore them by not voting) – politicians in both parties – and we complain about them endlessly. Maybe American voters are ready for a new role in political life. That would be a change for sure. And that is one change that we, the people, can do for sure.

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Texas Gubernatorial Debate-What's Your Feedback?!

We — Independent Texans across the state — would like to know what you think about the first Republican candidates debate for Governor. Let us hear from ya!

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Vote No on Prop 3: It makes an already rotten appraisal system completely rank

Early voting is underway on 11 statewide propositions and lasts through Friday, October 30th. Election day is Tuesday, November 3rd.

Independent Texans, the only voter association in the state for independent and non-aligned voters, has come out against Prop 3, one of the three ballot measures being touted as property tax appraisal reform.

Jeff Harper of Ft. Worth, Texas, one of the founders of Independent Texans

Jeff Harper of Ft. Worth, Texas, one of the founders of Independent Texans

Jeff Harper, one of the leaders of Independent Texans, a commercial property owner and a real estate agent said, “The ballot language of Prop 3 is misleading. It says, ‘The constitutional amendment providing for uniform standards and procedures for the appraisal of property for ad valorem tax purposes.’ The fact is that we already have laws requiring appraisal districts to follow uniform standards and procedures.”

Many Texans are asking what’s really behind Prop 3. Moreover, many want to know why the legislature isn’t doing something about the truly rotten aspects of the appraisal system. Texas is one of only 5 states that allow property sales prices to remain secret. Four years ago the Texas Association of Appraisal Districts released the fact that large-scale commercial properties and speculative raw land across the state is being under-valued on average by 40%. They recommended sales disclosure as one remedy. Instead we got Prop 3.

I interviewed a seasoned Texas lobbyist who closely followed this issue in the last legislative session. He preferred to remain anonymous but said, “State Representative Otto wheeled this thing out last minute at the end of the session. What he’s really after is this: he wants the state to run the appraisal system with 9 regional offices. Local control will vanish. And when you get a screwy appraisal you might wind up driving a few hundred of miles to protest your appraisal. It just makes a rotten system completely rank.”

Remember the 2001 proposition establishing the Texas Mobility Fund? It never mentioned that it was the first step toward enacting Perry’s toll road and corridor schemes.

Harper continued, “This could be a similar deal unless citizens nip it in the bud. The further away the decision makers are, the less accountable they become.”

Send Prop 3 back to Rep. John Otto (R-Dayton) and tell him to bring us back some real reform. Pass this on!

For more on the property tax/appraisal mess and solutions, go here: http://www.costofgrowth.com/

On the remainder of the amendments, here are things you might want to read:

From the League of Women Voters: http://www.lwvtexas.org/2009VG/2009CAVG%5BFINAL%5D.pdf
(If you have trouble with the League’s link above, google for Texas League of Women Voters and scroll down the page for the link to 2009 Constitutional Amendments.

From the Texas House Research Organization: http://www.hro.house.state.tx.us/focus/amend81.pdf

From Texas Farm Bureau on Prop 11 (Eminent Domain)*: http://www.txfb.org/newsmanager/templates/TXFBTemplate.aspx?articleid=5422&zoneid=1

*No matter how you vote on Prop 11, just remember the Governor has stood in the way of putting fundamental eminent domain reform legislation on the ballot.

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URGENT: Suing TxDOT, CAMPO & SAMPO

Dear Members & Friends:

Below my signature is a message from CorridorWatch.org which explains that, in fact, TxDOT’s “decision” to recommend the “no build” alternative for TTC-35, was forced on them by the Federal Highway Administration! This — from our point of view — goes to underscore that Perry must go! Thanks to Linda and David Stall, as always, for providing us with important details of the continued dishonesty running the state and TxDOT.

THE FOLLOWING IS AN URGENT MESSAGE FOR ANYONE YOU KNOW
LIVING IN TRAVIS, HAYS AND WILLIAMSON COUNTIES:

We have been asked to assist the Texas Legal Foundation in locating plaintiffs for a lawsuit against TxDOT, CAMPO & SAMPO (the transportation planning organizations in the Austin and San Antonio areas). TLF believes these MPO’s are in violation of the “separation of powers” clause in the Texas constitution. We will leave the explanation of this for a later date.

TLF is specifically looking for plaintiffs in the counties of Travis, Williamson and Hays Counties who fit in to any of these categories:

1. You are an individual who is burdened by having to pay tolls enacted by CAMPO.
2. You are a landowner who’s land has been devalued or has experienced diminished access, due to CAMPO’s decisions,
3. You are a business owner whose business has been negatively impacted by CAMPO’s decisions.

If you fit in to any of the above categories, please reply right away to this message with your phone number and we will call you. Or, feel free to call us anytime between now and October 14.

Our deadline is on or about October 14th, to gather the information in time to file papers.

Linda Curtis
Independent Texans
http://IndyTexans.org
ljcurtis@IndyTexans.org
PO Box 6718
Austin, TX 78762
512-535-0989 home office
512-657-2089 cell

TxDOT Recommends the “No Build Alternative” For Their TTC-35 FEIS

You might have seen the headline,
but what exactly does that mean

Is the Trans-Texas Corridor dead?

No it is not dead. But it is mortally wounded and expected to die.

Criticism of the TTC has recently developed into a high profile campaign issue (again) making the timing of this “No Build Alternative” announcement highly suspect as being politically motivated.

The problem is the TTC can’t die soon enough.

Highways developed using federal funds are required to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Because of the extensive legal process involved, the final decision called the Record of Decision, can’t be issued until sometime in 2010 at the earliest. In any case it just can’t happen before the March primaries next year, and maybe not even before November general election.

Running for reelection in 2010, the Governor who devised, championed, and made every effort to force the construction of the TTC now needs voters to forget about it.

Has the contract with Cintra-Zachry been cancelled?

No, it has not been cancelled. It won’t be cancelled until a “No Build Alternative” Record of Decision is issued.

The “No Build Alternative” recommendation – forced, not volunteered.

Overwhelming public and legislative opposition to the TTC has forced TxDOT to act. [letter]

It is a common misconception that the required environmental impact study (EIS) is limited to endangered species and pollution. It is not. NEPA requires an examination of the project to include economic, social and community impact as well. Public opposition is a specific element of the EIS. The number of negative comments received on the TTC created a tremendous obstacle to overcome.

Add to that a dramatic lack of support in the legislature and a pending Sunset review.

Also consider the long list of issues related to TxDOT’s handling of the NEPA process. CorridorWatch and other organizations have filed numerous comments and complaints that are yet unresolved. Several of those issues would likely lead to legal action if the TTC move forward.

And, there may be even more significant problems hidden from public scrutiny.

Apparently TxDOT still does not believe honesty is the best policy.

TxDOT would have us believe that they are being genuinely responsive to public comment. New information now contradicts that and indicates that the Federal Highway Administration itself motivated the “No Build Alternative” recommendation.

In a notice filed yesterday (10/8/2009) by Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte, S.A. (Cintra) with the Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (market regulator) in Spain, Cintra reported that TxDOT’s “No Build Alternative” recommendation is the result of comments received from the Federal Highway Administration. That was omitted from what TxDOT said at their press conference. Either Cintra has it wrong or they know something that TxDOT has avoided disclosing to the public.

Commissioner Houghton just doesn’t get it!

Transportation Commissioner Ted Houghton participated in Wednesday’s “No Build Alternative” press conference. At the podium he introduced himself as “the most arrogant commissioner of the most arrogant state agency in the history of the state of Texas.” Anyone seriously concerned about the public perception of TxDOT would never had stood in front of an assembly and uttered those words, joking or not.

The more Houghton spoke the more he demonstrated the vast disconnect between the Transportation Commission and the message TxDOT management was trying to present.

TxDOT executive director Amadeo Saenz said their announcement shows that the process works. Houghton said it was the result of TxDOTs failure to market the project.

Saenz said citizens performed their civic duty by participating in hearings and voicing their concerns. Houghton divided citizens objecting to the TTC into four broad groups and proclaimed that only those in the landowners group had any valid concerns.

Houghton continues to build the case for dismantling the Commission and adopting some other form of accountable leadership.

David & Linda Stall, Co-founders
CorridorWatch.org

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Rick Perry's Depraved Indifference: Has the Governor finally gone too far?

To constitute depraved indifference, the defendant’s conduct must be “so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime.”

Anti-TTC, Anti-Perry Protest, Nacogdoches, 2007, Pineywoods Alliance Members

Anti-TTC, Anti-Perry Protest, Nacogdoches, 2007, Pineywoods Alliance Members

Depraved indifference is what many of the state’s most conservative constituents, some of them still Republicans and many of them who have since “gone independent”, would have liked to have seen the Governor criminally charged with. Texans or all political hues have learned to despise this Governor for conspiring with the big wigs at TxDOT, various road contractors and developers, and the Spanish toll road consortium, CINTRA, to take our land for the Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC). In fact, if Perry’s land takings for the TTC had gone forward fully (some of it is still planned) it would have resulted in the largest land seizure in the history of the United States—and created a massive scar across Texas.

You gotta hand it to Rick Perry. He never ceases to one-up his own depravity. That is why not many in Texas were ‘shocked’ as Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project put it, when Rick Perry decided to boldly in plain view cover up what we all who are following this latest scar on Texas, in our heart-of-hearts, know to be true. An innocent man, Cameron Todd Willingham of Corsicana, was put to death in 2004 in Texas. The evidence of his innocence was in Rick Perry’s hands before the execution with well enough time to delay if not stop it. The Governor chose to ignore the truth.

The Governor has proven his own culpability and now everybody’s talking about it, from ABC’s Nightline to practically every newspaper in the state. The Governor used (or more accurately, abused) his power to cancel a hearing on the sham science used in the arson investigation of the Willingham case. This was to be presented last week before the Texas Forensic Science Commission. Rick Perry fired his own appointed chair of the Commission and refused to re-appoint two others. All three supported bringing out the facts in this hearing. Perry’s new appointee quickly canceled the hearing.

A reporter today wrote that no Texans will care about Rick Perry’s depravity in this case, I gather because Texans love the death penalty. What might be more detrimental to the Governor’s reelection chances, this reporter speculated, is his rudeness and tackiness towards Kay Bailey Hutchison who is a “lady”. Perhaps. But I like to think that Texans do care about such things as innocence and guilt, not to mention the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Private property rights and the right to life are intertwined in the minds of most Texans I know. Rick Perry is not anything like them.

Here’s all the evidence you need to understand what’s going on here:

This is a long, very disturbing and detailed account of the entire Willingham case. Don’t let the fact that it was in the New Yorker allow Rick Perry to manipulate you: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/07/090907fa_fact_grann

Or, if you’re in a hurry, this gives you the background quickly: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cameron_Todd_Willingham

This will show you that the Governor knew the truth about Willingham’s innocence before the execution:http://www.innocenceproject.org/docs/Willingham_foia.pdf?phpMyAdmin=52c4ab7ea46t7da4197

The Governor’s explanation of his actions are here in the Dallas Morning Newshttp://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/politics/state/stories/091809dnmetperrycorsicana.19263f09c.html

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Austin is Not Developers’ Monopoly Board

Sign it, if you live in Austin

Austin is Not Developers' Monopoly Board

Dear Mayor Adler and Austin City Council Members:

[signature]

Why don't you share this with your friends, please:

Make Growth Pay for Itself

No Vista Ridge/San Antone Hose

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