November 8, 2016 Travis County and City of Pflugerville, Texas Voter’s Guide

I’ve compiled this guide, like the others I’ve posted here before, for my benefit.  These are the notes I made for myself, for the races where I live
http://www.votetravis.com/vexpress/display.do

November 8, 2016, Joint General and Special Elections

Straight Party  – Only vote straight ticket if you are a fool.This should not be a thing that voters can do.

President
Donald J. Trump/Mike Pence, Republican – Please hold your nose and vote for Donald Trump for President. I know he’s a jerk and not a great person, but the next POTUS will be appointing *at least* half of the supreme Court. The list of people Trump is thinking of appointing is a list of good judges. Based on her track record, Mrs. Clinton is as likely as not to *sell* her nominations. Besides which, Trump is less likely to throw us into WAR with Russia and/or China. He ran a mostly-successful business to become personally wealthy, which used to be something we looked up to in the USA. Question why you don’t, if you think Trump = rich = bad.
Hillary clinton/Tim Kaine, Democratic – This is arguably the most-wicked person who has ever come this close to the Presidency. If you are thinking about voting for Hillary Clinton, you are either an ignoramus or a fool. Do the rest of us a favor and look into the merits of the accusations against her. You will find she has been deeply wicked since before William became the governor of Arkansas, and accomplished nothing of any public benefit along the way. She did become personally wealthy though, so she’s got that going for her, which is nice. What’s not nice is she got rich by selling influence as a public official.
Gary Johnson/William Weld, Libertarian – a very Libertarian. If you’re a Libertarian who doesn’t mind Hillary Clinton being the President, or a Republican who doesn’t mind Hillary Clinton being the President, or a Republican who just can’t stand the thought of someone coming from outside the party to be the head Republican, vote for Gary Johnson. Otherwise vote for Trump.
Jill Stein/Ajamu Baraka, Green – the Green party ticket is, as always, a radical left-wing ticket. If you are that sort of person and you don’t mind seeing Hillary Clinton become the next President, then vote for Jill Stein. Otherwise, vote for Trump.
Write-in – this is going to be extra popular this year, I think. I encourage people who are considering writing in someone who is 100% guaranteed to not be elected, to instead consider that a candidate who gets over 5% of the vote this time, will get public funding for their party for the next election. If you want to see more parties with a shot at winning elections, then this should probably be the year you vote Losertarian. The Green party is polling very poorly indeed (as it should) but the Libertarian party maybe just maybe might maybe break 5% and get some funding for a legitimate 3rd party for *next time*

Just be aware that every vote that isn’t cast for Donald Trump is half a vote cast for Hillary Clinton.

District 17, U.S. Representativethis is a tough call for me. Flores has continued to be a dependable (R) voter and attempted to nibble at the edges of the problems our country is facing. Patterson, as a Libertarian, *sounds* like he’s ready to come in with a scythe and chop out waste left and right. He has no legislative background. How many times have you said you wanted to see all the Congressmen replaced? If it’s more than zero, maybe vote for Patterson. If it’s zero, vote for Flores. In the end, this is probably going to be an easy win for Flores, which is okay with me.
Bill Flores (R) – An easy choice for Conservatives and Republicans alike. He isn’t shaking the world up with his bold new policy initiatives, but he’s on the right side of enough issues to catch a vote.
William Matta (D) – Is for universal health care and increased minimum wage. Those are enough to disqualify him as a person who doesn’t understand that *free stuff* doesn’t come from nowhere.
Clark Patterson (L) – Check out this: http://votesmart.org/candidate/political-courage-test/139603/clark-patterson/ – he might agree with you on more than you think. I disagree with him on several points that are important-enough for me to not vote for him, but it wouldn’t really hurt my feelings if he were to win.

Railroad Commissioner
Wayne Christian (R) – will win, by a lot, which is unfortunate. Christian is an okay second choice for me in this race. It’s unsettling that he doesn’t seem too keen on implementing the Sunset recommendations, especially since Miller seems all about getting *all* the recommendations put into practice. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess he hasn’t improved very much as a person since he was put on the Texas worst Legislators list (twice) for being a jerk.
Grady Yarbrough (D) – gives the impression of not knowing what is the purpose of the Commmission. That’s bad, especially compared with the two other men running who seem to have a decent grasp on the concept.
Mark Miller (L) – Please vote for Mark Miller for Railroad Commissioner. He seems like a reasonable person, intelligent to be sure and thoughtful. A degree from a hard college in a related field is nice, but his campaign showing a man who understands the industry, the Commission, and what ought to be done, is even nicer. Last time he was running for a seat on this Commission, the Republican candidate was a better choice. That’s not the case this time.
Martina Salinas (G) fracking/injection = earthquakes and (I quote) “we need to stop it.” I don’t think you get to be on the oil and gas regulatory commission in Texas on a platform of “stop producing the lifeblood of our economy” Also, and possibly even more of a concern, she sometimes stumbles *very* badly behind a microphone. Like her brain freezes up or something (?) not as bad as H. Clinton but it’s not a great thing in somebody so young seeking high public office!

Place 3, Justice, Supreme Court
Debra Lehrmann (R) – Please re-elect Justice Lehrmann. Aside from keeping an incumbent which means keeping the in-process cases in process instead of having to be re-learnt, she appears to be far-and-away the most qualified person for this position.
Mike Westergren (D) – every response to the Dallas Morning News questionnaire was less-impressive than the one given by Lehrmann, but the one that concerned me the most was that he *hasn’t written any opinions* and would rely heavily on his *clerks* to write for him! In addition, I don’t think someone who said he wanted to “out-Bernie Bernie Sanders is going to be a good fit for traditionally-conservative Texans.
Kathie Glass (L) – appears to be running against a corrupt system that I somehow didn’t know was a problem, with just a touch of cognitive dissonance. This is similar to her attempt to become Governor in 2014
Rodolfo Rivera Munoz (G) – surprisingly, the Green party candidate does NOT appear to be an environmentalism-first whacko. No, this guy is SUPER butthurt about the fraudulent annexation of Texas into the United States and his rambling rants about his perceived racist mistreatment are not exactly the sort of thing I want from my candidates trying to take positions on an *impartial* court!

Place 5, Justice, Supreme court
Paul Green (R) – In the absence of any compelling arguement *against* keeping him, please RE-elect Justice Paul Green!
Dori Contreras Garza (D) – She may be a good judge, but she can keep being a judge in her current position. Argues that the *elected* judges on the supreme court don’t reflect the opinion of the people – falling into the (not-unusual) Democrat position that a bunch of white men can’t do right by a racially-diverse populace.
Tom Oxford (L) – has ZERO previous experience as a judge! This is not the place I want my judges to be trained in judgin’! Fortunately the people of Texas have rejected his attempts to get on this court for the last FOUR elections in a row.
Charles E. Waterbury (G) – also not a Judge. Oddly, appears to be trying to campaign against the insurance industry instead of his opponents in this race.

Place 9, Justice, Supreme Court
Eva Guzman (R) – Please RE-elect Justice Guzman to the supreme court! She has been active in causes that need attention, in addition to being an uncontroversial Justice on the court.
Savannah Robinson (D) – has never run for anything before, and her campaign consists of “be a Democrat on the ballot”. Sorry sweety, you gotta want it enough to actually reach for the brass ring.
Don Fulton (L) – Another candidate for the most-important kind of judgeship who has never been a judge. And this one is indiscreet enough to take strong stands on positions that might conflict with interests which might appear before the court!
Jim Chisolm (G) – Here’s hoping he loses for a third time in his attempts to get onto this court. Yet another not-a-judge seeking to jump right into the most important kind of bench. No thanks.

Place 2, Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals
Mary Lou Keel (R) – Please vote for Mary Lou Keel – she’s just what you want: A highly-regarded criminal judge with loads of experience.
Lawrence “Larry” Meyers (D) – currently on the court, and recommends Mary Lou Keel. What more could I say? http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/2016/09/18/recommend-mary-lou-keel-texas-court-criminal-appeals-place-2
Mark Ash (L) – on the ballot again, without running any sort of a campaign, again – and still not a judge. Next.
Adam King Blackwell Reposa (G) – possibly an insane person, also not a judge – so, no, let’s NOT elect him to one of our highest courts kthanks. According to one questionnaire I saw, he’s running as a Green because they called and asked, and it affords him the opportunity to advertise for his private practice without running afoul of lawyer-advertising rules.

Place 5, Judge, court of Criminal Appeals
Scott Walker (R) – Vote for Scott Walker.  His campaign website of course paints him in a good light, but so does thishttp://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/2016/09/18/recommend-scott-walker-fortexas-court-criminal-appeals-place-5 and that also speaks poorly of Betsy Johnson.
Betsy Johnson (D) – As far as I can tell, she has even less of a campaign going than William Strange, and that’s really saying something.
William Bryan strange, III (L) – to quote myself from a couple of years ago, after searching online for anything about him again this year: “I am not entirely sure this guy even exists and/or is still alive”. Dude, seriously, you have to do more than get on the ballot, to be elected!
Judith Sanders-Castro (G) – To say that I found out more about her than about Strange online is both true and not saying much. Both of these seem to be token candidates 😦

Place 6, Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals
Michael E. Keasler (R) – As I said in my Voter’s Guide in 2010: “Re-elect Judge Keasler. He knows and is doing the job. Why interrupt his cases in progress?” He is set to run into our age-based mandatory retirement during this term, and his replacement would be appointed by the (elected) Governor of Texas to serve out the rest of his term. Keasler’s stated preference for putting judges in place is appointment followed by election, so this campaign for re-election makes sense for him.
Robert Burns (D) – Appears to be a good second choice. If Keasler weren’t on the ballot I would be for Burns
Mark W. Bennett (L) – As I said in my Voter’s Guide in 2012: “Spouts off personal opinions on matters about which he might have to issue court opinions. Horrible judgement for a JUDGE candidate.”

District 10, Member, State Board of Education
Tom Maynard (R) Please RE-elect Member Maynard. In 2010 I said “Please vote for Tom Maynard for SBOE District 10. He puts time, time, and time into children to train them in more than just the core subjects. A country boy with good sense who made it big in the national FFA leadership, he has a breadth of experience that goes beyond the classroom. A teacher AND a leader and then some is the impression I get. Add on top of that his expiring term on this Board, and all the knowledge and experience he’s gained there.
Judy Jennings (D) – here’s hoping she fails to get on the Board of Education again (for the THIRD time) this year. These days, a doctorate in Education is a red flag for someone who shouldn’t be trusted with our children. Throw in a desire to NOT teach different theories about unproven theoretical science, and you’ve got a recipe for someone to vote *against* in my book. It doesn’t commend her to me, when I see her endorsed by an organization that hopes ‘the religious right’s corrosive influence over public education will weaken’.

District 46, State Rep.
I will be abstaining from this ballot. Nobody here is worth a vote and there’s no villain doing exceptionally well in the polls to vote against.
Gabriel Nilla (R) His position statements read like those of a modern Democrat. No thanks.
Dawnna Dukes (D) This woman is retiring “for health reasons” and to “spend more time with family” (ahem) in JANUARY. She’ll work long enough to be sworn in, and then the Republican governor *may* call a special election – or he might appoint somebody to the post. Seriously, Democratic party? THIS is how you serve your voters?
Kevin Ludlow (L) Doesn’t like the idea of a Child Protective Services program AND corporal punishment? Has supported “homosexual marriage” and is pro-abortion. That, and the traditional Libertarian desire for open borders and to legalize drugs, will hopefully sink his campaign.
Adam Michael Greeley (G) It’s nice when autistic persons are able to participate in society, but I’m not sure I’m ready to elect one to congress. Especially one who wants to abolish private schools and who has only been in Texas for a couple of years!

Place 2 and 4 on the 34d Court of Appeals, several Judicial Districts have no competition :/

District Attorney, 53rd Judicial District
This one is almost a toss-up for me. Here we have two women who both appear qualified and who have even both worked in associated government attorneys’ offices. But one has a vision and the other only has qualifications. Check out the videos here: http://www.mauraphelan.com/2016/10/25/video-candidate-platforms-2016/ and/or flip a coin, but I will be voting for Maura Phelan in this election.
Maura Phelan (R)
Margaret Moore (D)

A few judges and an attorney are also without opposition <:(

Sheriff
It really is too bad Sheriff Hamilton is retiring. What we’re left with is a few people who start up front claiming they won’t obey federal immigration law, and one who will. Note: the D, L, and G candidates ALL say they won’t hold a person **for a few hours** until ICE can come and pick them up. What. The. Fuck.
Joe G. Martinez (R) – by default, you have to go with Martinez. Everyone else is hoping to *start* their career at the head of Travis County law enforcement by announcing their intentions toward lawlessness!
Sally Hernandez (D)
Eric Guerra (L)
debbie Russell (G)

County Tax Assessor-collector
Bruce Elfant (D) Please re-elect Tax Assessor-collector Elfant. He is the incumbent and I haven’t really heard about the terrible job he’s been doing. Actually it could be argued he’s doing a decent job. And in this race, he is up against:
Steven Haskett (L) a programmer/petroleum engineer who thinks Taxation is Theft wants to be our tax collector. Ooookay no.

Precinct 1, County Commissioner
Pat McCord (R) – Please vote for Pat McCord. A veteran, small business owner, career employee at a magor manufacturer, and formerly a member of a local city council. Standing for: Sherriff department equipment and staffing, Fire and EMS resources to reduce response times, including badly needed fire stations in the eastern reaches of the county, and road and water infrastructure improvements.
Jeff Travillion (D) – Standing to remove tolls from Hwy 130, increase mass transit options, expand access to community clinics, to give families access to parks, clean water and open space building community policing relationships as an alternative to juvenile justice. Formerly president of the local chapter of the NAACP, which is as good as a racist organization in my book. Also he was vice-president of a government employee union, and former President of Black Austin Democrats.
Ashley “Flashe” gordon (G) a left-winger if ever there was one. Standing for (among other things): sustainable food options, control and modification of transportation options to reduce carbon footprint and automobile-related deaths, special competitive tax programs/tax breaks for local businesses, Multiple-language accessibility, closure of detention centers for undocumented persons, diverse [skin color] representation in local government, transient population support services, preservation of cultural monuments, dual and triple language education…and she rubs elbows with the Nation of Islam and other “it’s not racist when we hang out with our own color” groups. No. Thanks.

Precinct 2, Constable
Deke Pierce (R) – Please vote for Deke Pierce for Constable. He seems like a decent human being. This impression was reinforced for me when I learned that he was endorsed by the (Democrat) Travis County Sheriff (whom I know to be a Good People) AND by the (Republican) Bastrop County Sheriff.
Adan Ballesteros (D) in 2012 I said “Almost anyone would be a better candidate than this guy.” and the (D) voters re-elected him anyway. This year, I found this: http://www.precinct263.com/adan/Ballesteros_vs_DPS_Dismissed_with_Prejudice_Appeal%20Denied.pdf where we read that Ballesteros was fired from DPS because he allowed an informant to import 2,000kg of cocaine to the country, accepted cash gifts ($18,000 at least) from an informant, and (surprise) didn’t tell his supervisors what he was doing – then he filed a frivolous lawsuit trying to make other cops look bad in an attempt to get his job back. Tell me again why he deserved to be allowed back into law enforcement? http://www.precinct263.com/adan-ballesteros/

Mayor, City of Pflugerville
Phil Osars-Emia dude. You’ve been here how many decades and you can barely speak the language well enough to be mostly-understood. What the actual fuck how are you going to conduct business if people can’t even understand the words that are coming out of your mouth?
Victor Gonzales – campaigning for the blue-hair voters. He wants to increase transit options for the old people and wants to start a Veterans services office (as if there weren’t already great ones all over the region).  That said, he’s far-and-away a better choice than Emia and probably would also be a good Mayor.
Brad Marshall – Please vote for Brad Marshall for Mayor. He’s already been on the City Council helping to lower our property tax rates. He’s campaigning to stay ahead of growth through smart infrastructure planning while not neglecting the other issues. http://bradmarshall4mayor.com/issues

Place 1, Council Member, City of Pflugerville
Doug Weiss – I’ll be voting for Doug Weiss this time around. He has lots of experience in the City and his time on the Community Development Corp. Board will probably help him when it comes time to consider important city government-related stuff as a Council Member.
Victor To – I wish him all the best and maybe in a few years he’ll be ready – but this man is 20 years old. Two zero. He may have a bright future ahead of him, but I think 20 is just too young.

City of Pflugerville charter Amendment Election
Prop. 1, city of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to change the structure of the City Council from six to seven members, allow the Mayor to vote on all matters and remove the preparation of City council agendas from the Mayor’s rights and responsibilities?
YES I like all 3 of these changes

Prop. 2, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its charger to clarify that the Municipal Judge does not have to be a resident of the City?
NO

Prop. 3, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to require the Municipal Judge to be a resident of the City?
NO

Propositions 2 and 3 work against each other and it will be sad and amusing if they both pass. Right now we don’t say whether a municipal judge has to live here or not. I like the idea that judges should sleep in the beds they make, but I also like the idea that people should be allowed to live where they want (and where they can afford to buy a house). We live in a metro area. It’s all one big city from here to there. As long as a judge can do their deal I think it’s probably ok for them to not live inside city limits. In addition to that, this sort of requirement is being struck down by courts all over the country these days. If the proposal was a requirement that a judge has to live within (e.g.) 15 or 20 miles, I would be all over it. But just “in the city” may be too restrictive. Not that I would be a fan of a non-resident judge, but living on the wrong side of an imaginary line shouldn’t be a disqualification IMO.

Prop. 4, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to change the Parks and Recreation Commission to a project specific advisory board which reports to the City Manager and provide for a process to appoint seven regular board members?
YES. This makes city government a little more efficient, I think.

Prop. 5, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its charter to provide that an affirmative vote of a majority of the voting members of the city council shall be required to terminate a city manager?
YES. You shouldn’t be able to piss off a couple of dudes and be fired. You should have to actually suck, so the majority want to see you gone.

Prop. 6, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its charter to provide that a violation of the prohibition to interfere with the Administration by a City council member be grounds for removal from office?
YES. This means the city council members can’t go meddling (personally, directly) in city administration – the city employees work under the City Manager and the council members need to deal with the Manager instead of mucking about in daily city work.

Prop. 7, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to add as grounds from removal from office as a City Coucilmember violation of the nepotism provision of the Charter?
YES. Networking is good. Nepotism is bad. I don’t mind hiring family but only if the new hire is *also* qualified for the job!

Prop. 8, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to specify a hearing process and procedure for removal from office as a City Council member?
YES. There is currently -no- process for formally removing a council member. God forbid we should need one but we should have one if we need to get rid of a terrible member.

Prop. 9, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to change the prohibition on holding other compensated appointive city office or employment to prohibit all other compensated and/or contracted services and extend the prohibition time period from one year to two years after the expiration of a term of office?
YES. Not that it’s a huge problem, but in theory it’s a really bad thing for a city employee to leave work at the City and hey look I just landed a cush job at a firm I was just approving this fat contract for! I think 5 years would be better but 2 is better than none, which is the current (non-)limit.

Prop. 10, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to change the requirement of how often it meets with boards and commissions from “at least once a year” to an “as needed basis”
NO, get together and get on the same page.

Prop. 11, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to clarify its process whereby the City Council may approve an ordinance without the need to consider and vote to approve the ordinance at two separate meetings, as provided by the City Charter?
NO. This is gobbledygook. I’ve read it a bunch of times and it doesn’t make sense. Re-word it and ask me again next year.

Prop. 12, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to clarify that an emergency ordinance can be considered for adoption, amendment, and rejection at the same meeting?
NO I don’t think so. I’ve been in enough rushed meetings to know something is always being forgotten or accidentally left out. If it’s a bleeding/exploding kind of emergency, I’m pretty sure the city will be run by the doers and the Council’s “emergency” is going to be more of what I would consider an *exigency*.

Prop. 13, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to require the City Manager to become a resident of the city within 180 days after appointment?
NO. See my comments for propositions 2 & 3, above – this should be “within a few miles” if we want to be able to win a legal challenge. Sometimes City Managers come from other *States* but I don’t see how they could do their job and still live in another State.

Prop. 14, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to provide that Acting City Managers are appointed by the city manager rather than the City Council?
YES I think this seems okay. If it becomes a problem, we can change it back again.

Prop. 15, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to provide that the City Manager shall annually submit a five-year capital improvement plan to the city council at least one hundred and twenty days before the beginning of the budget year listing projects in order of preference and with a recommendation of the year of construction for each project?
YES, a deadline is fine.

Prop. 16, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to reduce the required number of petition signatures for initiatives, referendums and nonbinding referendums from 20% to 15% of qualified voters of the City?
YES. On the one hand, if you can’t get that extra 5% then your cause probably isn’t that important to the people or you aren’t trying hard enough. On the other hand, this is just to get something considered – you’re not getting an election *result* with a petition, you’re just getting an election.

Prop. 17, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to allow a signatory to a petition to provide their date of birth or their voter registration number?
NO. Right now you have to go ALL THE WAY to your filing cabinet and find your voter rigeistration card, *OR* you can go to votetravis.com (which is also linked from the county clerk’s website) and fill in your name and birthdate, and it will tell you your voter ID number right on your phone. There should be some minimal effort required to participate in government. Knowing a random person’s name and date of birth is NOT enough. You should demand that your scamming petition-riggers come up with matching names and voter registration numbers, at a bare minimum! But sadly I think this probably passes.

Prop. 18, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to extend the response time of the City Secretary to issue petition certificate copies from immediately to the next business day?
YES, this sounds reasonable and “immediately” can be anything from impracticable to just vague. Get the vague out.

Prop. 19, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to change the powers of the planning commission to include zoning proposals in its recommendations to City Council; to revise meeting requirements; and to include parks, transportation and utilities in its five year capital improvement plan?
I’m ambivalent on this one but i’ll go with the recommendation of the Committee and vote YES.

Prop. 20, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to reduce the number of alternates for the zoning board of adjustment from four to two?
I’m voting YES on this one.The Charter Review Commission thinks this is enough alternates, and it was suggested by city staff. I’m okay with this but if it becomes a problem we might increase the number again later.

Prop. 21, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to reduce the required number of meetings of the zoning board of adjustment from each quarter to one annually?
I’ll vote NO on this one just because I like the idea of not having to wait A YEAR to have an issue heard.

Prop. 22, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to require the City Manager to meet quarterly with the representatives of the police association regarding working conditions and compensation?
I’m going with NO on this one. Yes the Police should be meeting with the City Manager. NO, they don’t have to meet *every quarter* to talk about how much the cops get paid. The wording is unclear to me, but this smacks of unions muscling their way in. In case you missed it, public employee union-negotiated benefits packages are the reason why many big cities in our country are going BANKRUPT. If there is a need, surely the relevant people will meet often enough to get the work of the people done with no need to amend the city charter.

Prop. 23, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to change the Charter Review Commission to hold a minimum of six (6) and a maximum of eight (8) meetings, two (2) of which shall be held jointly with the City Council?
YES, this seems fine. This time, the Committee met 6 times on a monthly basis. Involving the City Council directly in the meetings would probably make the process longer, so 2 more meetings is okay. I’m not sure why they want a maximum number of meetings, but it will probably be enough if that’s what the people who do this recommend.

Prop. 24, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville strike portions of the Charter due to repetitiveness with Texas law regarding general powers of the city; eminent domain; zoning; actions which require an ordiance, and city elections?

Prop. 25, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to allow for annexation and disannexation consistent with Texas law?

Prop. 26, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to provide a process for filling a vacancy on the City Council consistent with the Texas Constitution?
YES on all three of these, it seems like good sense to have our charter match up with State law.

Prop. 27, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to provide that the City Council determines by resolution the uniform election date for city elections instead of the date closest to the second Saturday in My as allowed by Texas Law?
YES finally. This is something that I’ve wanted for a while. City elections aligned with State election dates.

Prop. 28, City of Pflugerville
Shall the City of Pflugerville amend its Charter to be consistent with Texas law as to who may request alternates to attend a zoning board of adjustment meeting?
YES on this as well, it seems like good sense to have our charter match up with State law.

March 1, 2016 Travis County, Texas Primary Election Voter Guide

The usual preface: These are my notes, published for your benefit in case you want to see what a fellow voter is thinking. I have put in many, many hours trying to decide where to cast my vote and these are the very short version of my thinking process in most cases.

********

Preference for Presidential Nominee
Jeb Bush – dropped out already. This campaign was doomed from the start, and currently he has zero chance.
Rand Paul -dropped out already
Lindsey Graham – dropped out already. A real jerk, this guy.
Mike Huckabee – dropped out already.
Donald J. Trump – Swears up and down that he’s turned into a for-real Conservative in the last few years when he spent the previous many decades as either an agnostic or a Democrat-ish businessman. You can hardly hold it against a big businessman to have associated with the Clintons, but that he praised Hillary shows a gaping hole in his judgement.  If he’s converted then I’m super happy for him. But I don’t trust him. If he continues to be a solid conservative in private life for the next 8 years of President Cruz’ tenure, I’d be happy to support him as our next President after Cruz. But he’s too new to the Red side of the aisle to be trusted, in my opinion
Marco Rubio – flipped the biggest flop on immigration, which was The Big Deal when he was running for Senator.  He was elected because he would never ever be for amnesty for illegals, then tried (as part of the “Gang of 8”) to get modified amnesty passed into law.  Notably, it was T. Cruz who was at the head of the resistance to the Gang of 8 Bill, and got it shot down in flames.  M. Rubio would be better than H. Clinton by a mile, but not as better as T. Cruz.
John R. Kasich – who? He’s done some good where he came from. Let him go back there and do some more.
Ted Cruz – PLEASE vote for Ted Cruz. I have supported him since he was “just” a local guy and his (solid conservative) positions have been the same since the beginning of his public life. He was an activist for conservative causes at an age when most people don’t give a damn for politics.  If you want someone with a track record of standing up against the status quo and even the leadership of his own party in Washington, D.C. you need look no further than T. Cruz.
Chris Christie -dropped out already
Carly Fiorina -dropped out already
Ben Carson -maybe the nicest person here. Arguably a cultist. Does not have the money or the votes to keep campaigning, and so he will lose.
Rick Santorum – dropped out already
Elizabeth Gray – who? No really, who? – nevermind anyway, she dropped out already. She can say she was a candidate for President forevermore, but that and a few dozen (hundred?) votes are all she’ll get from this election.
Uncommitted – I think Uncommitted will get more votes than E. Gray, and I am okay with this.

District 17, US Representative
Kaleb Sims – Please vote for K. Sims in this primary. Do you want change toward the more stalwart flavor of Conservative? So does he.  A private citizen who sees the need to do what he thought would be done for us in 2010 and following. His website could use some help but his heart is in the right place. Read this: http://kalebsims.com/why-kaleb-sims-for-congress/
Ralph Patterson – a solid second choice. Here is an interesting interview.
Bill Flores – A conservative, which is good to have in Congress, but he’s been going along to get along, which is not what i want. K. Sims sounds enough like a fire brand compared to Flores.

Railroad Commissioner – This very powerful 3-person commission currently has oil and gas lawyer Christi Craddick, the chairwoman, and Ryan Sitton, founder and operator of an engineering and technology firm that serves oil and gas industry, sitting on it. I think a scientist would be a good addition to round out the backgrounds of the people on this commission that has nothing to do with railroads. This pick was a tough call for me because it looks like several of the candidates would be good choices to serve in a statewide elected office.
Ron Hale Oil Worker, Engineer – runs an anti-terrorism security firm for oil and gas producers – I could vote for him in the general, but his campaign needs work. Like a school project that got merely okay grades, not amazingly impressive to me.  He *also* didn’t win a bid for state senator during the 2014 election cycle.  I’m for letting him keep doing what he does now.
Doug Jeffrey Businessman, USAF Veteran – seems like a good guy, not sure what qualifications he has specifically to serve on railroad commission though. In looking through his facebook page, there is a disturbing amount of meetings he has had with *just* women. It’s a little creepy, I’m not gonna lie. He has a hefty list of endorsements from organizations with conservative-soundig names.
.Gary Gates wealthy real estate investor and cattle rancher  – His campaign has an actual website, but it’s one bullet point deep. As I don’t understand what they all would entail in practice and some of them sound a little sketchy, Imma keep looking.  He looks like a nice guy though. If it makes a statement about his personality to you, be aware he has THIRTEEN children, some of which are adopted – he’s past middle age and if he can support them, more power to the family. He’s lost several races for election to high public office before, none of which were for railroad commission.
.Wayne ChristianEx-State Representative, Financial Advisor – I didn’t remember the name, but I knew I didn’t like something about the look of him.  Then I checked the VFD archives. In 2014, I said “Made the Texas Worst Legislators list – twice – for being a jerk when he doesnt have to be.  No”
.Weston Martinez Republican activist, on the Texas Real Estate Commission – also a hefty list of endorsements from solid-sounding organizations. Not impressive as a candidate for the Railroad Commission – let him stay on the TREC if he wants, for now.
.John Greytok –  longtime Austin attorney and lobbyist, GOP Activist – I like the look of this man. He seems like someone I would like to have in government in any position, but I think I would rather round out the commission with a scientist if we can, which leads us to…
.Lance N. Christian – I’ll be voting for L. Christian this time – He’s a geological scientist who works with the Railroad Commission currently. His campaign is pretty severely limited by having to work a full-time job where the law says he is forbidden to campaign during work hours. Despite that, he has managed to get quite a few endorsements for himself. Here, read this.

Place 3, Justice, Supreme Court
Debra Lehrmann – please re-elect Justice Lehrmann.  Even her opponent acknowledges she is doing a good job (last papragraph)
Michael Massengale – This man has crazyeyes. It may not mean much to you, but it has been fairly a reliable sign for me. My impression is that he’s a good judge who wants to be on the Supreme Court, but not that he thinks he is drastically better than D. Lehrmann. He wants the job, is all.

Place 5, Justice, Supreme Court
Paul Green – Please re-elect PAUL green to this position.
Rick GreenYou can remember who not to vote for here, because you don’t want to be RICK rolled.  YGTBFKM this guy isn’t even a judge, and he wants onto the court in place of the guy who is currently sitting in the position? Not just no!

Place 9, Justice, Supreme Court
Eva Guzman – Please re-elect Justice Guzman to this position. She would be a solid candidate even if she had a legitimate primary opponent, but this isn’t the case. Pool is a tool and needs to be defeated in a big-numbers loss. This race by itself is worth showing up to vote in this primary election!
Joe Pool – what the hell? Why do we have TWO people who aren’t even judges trying to get onto the supreme court? And this one appears to be at least suspiciously RINO-ish to boot:

Place 2, Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals
Ray Wheless – both his opponents say they would rather see the other person take this seat than see Wheless elected. His background (civil law) would seem to suggest this is not the right kind of court (criminal law) for him.
Chris Oldner – I’ll be voting for Oldner. Zero reversals in over a decade is nice. The onliest real argument I could find against him is that he received the complaint against K. Paxton, which has been branded as a “railroading”…Oldner then recused himself, saying it was just another suit and he was just applying the law.
Mary Lou Keel – I could vote for her over a Democrat, depending on the Democrat – the main complaint against Keel is that she presided over the grand jury that let the Planned Parenthood butchers walk and indicted the messengers in that case. I’m not sure about this one but I’m going for Oldner here.

Place 5, Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals
Scott Walker – can’t be bothered to campaign for office, so I can’t be bothered to vote for him
Brent Webster – he cares, which is nice, but I’m not sure his campaign matches being a judge more than his current career. He’s a defense lawyer who wants to defend your rights – which is nice, but it’s not exactly what a judge does.
Steve Smith – keeps running for office after office and keeps not winning. He was on a court for a couple years following an appointment, then lost his election. One more to lose, sorry Steve!
Sid Harle – Please vote for S. Harle. Everybody heaps praise upon Harle as a good judge and competent in the forensic sciences that are so important in cases he might hear on this court.

Place 6, Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals
Michael E. Keasler – I’m voting for M. Keasler again – in 2010 I said “Re-elect Judge Keasler. He knows and is doing the job. Why interrupt his cases in progress?” He’s been on this court for a while, and there are several new justices there who might benefit from his experience as well. Keep him one more time.
Richard Davis – May be a fine lawyer and might make a fine judge, but his campaign seems to be about 50% “Keasler will be forced to retire in 4 years” at which time the Governor will appoint his replacement. I’d rather have the benefit of four more years of Keasler’s experience, than to see a non-judge elected to this high court.

~There are a number of uncontested seats in this primary. Vote for them. If nothing else, it shows you cared enough to show up for your party at the primary.~

County Chairman
Robert Morrow – His tin-foil hat may be screwed on too tightly for him to run a campaign. All I could find in his support was a blogspot blog that is a bit closer to the kooky fringe than I like!
James Dickey – Please help me re-elect Chairman Dickey

Republican Propositions – these tend to be red meat issues and are agreed-to by a majority of the party. I expect this year will be no different.

Proposition 1 – Please vote FOR Prop. 1
“Texas should replace the property tax system with an alternative other than an income tax and require voter approval to increase the overall tax burden”

Translation: We want some kind of a state-wide sales tax to replace the current system. The alternatives are an income tax to penalize work, and a property tax which steals your land if you can’t pay enough to live there. I prefer the Fair Tax proposal, so Prop. 1 is a step in the right direction for me.

Proposition 2 – Please vote FOR Prop. 2
“Texas cities and counties should be required to comply with federal immigration laws or be penalized by loss of state funds”

– In other words, no more “sanctuary cities” where illegal immigrants are not turned over to the feds in accordance with existing federal immigration law.

Proposition 3 – Please vote FOR Prop. 3
“Texas should prohibit governmental entities from collecting dues for labor unions through deductions from public employee paychecks”

-That is to say, the people who pay the dues will be the union members. This sounds like a great idea. If people realize how much they are paying to their unions, hopefully they will want more than *membership status* from their unions.

Proposition 4 – Please vote FOR Prop. 4 – this should be a no-brainer for most Texans.
“Texas and its citizens should strongly assert 10th Amendment Rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution withch states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.””

-this sounds like red meat propaganda to stir up the base, but I like it, anyway.

Travis County, Texas November 3, 2015 Joint, General, and Special Elections Voter Guide

The following text of these ballot measures was copied verbatim from files found at the website of the Clerk of Travis County: http://traviscountyclerk.org/ As always, the un-American foreign language parts have been deleted to make the text easier to read.  The formatting is pretty much how it was when I copy/pasted it, and this is a bit of a rush job since the Hot Rod has been demanding lots of attention to keep me driving.

Travis County Clerk Elections Division
November 3, 2015 Joint General and Special Elections

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ELECTION All precincts

PROPOSITION 1, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ELECTION
“The constitutional amendment increasing the amount of the residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation for public school purposes from $15,000 to $25,000, providing for a reduction of the limitation on the total amount of ad valorem taxes that may be imposed for those purposes on the homestead of an elderly or disabled person to reflect the increased exemption amount, authorizing the legislature to prohibit a political subdivision that has adopted an optional residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation from reducing the amount of or repealing the exemption, and prohibiting the enactment of a law that imposes a transfer tax on a transaction that conveys fee simple title to real property.”

Vote For Proposition 1.  Prevent future taxation being imposed today.

The ONLY downside to this is in the minds of people who think you can improve government schools by throwing money at them. Prop. 1 is only good . . . except that it will make real estate cheaper for the people bringing liberalism here from Kalifornia

PROPOSITION 2, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ELECTION
“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran who died before the law authorizing a residence homestead exemption for such a veteran took effect.”

Vote For Proposition 2.

This is a small number of people and it takes a lot to be 100% disabled. The tax dollars involved are few, and the cause (getting out of peoples’ wallets who are already hard up) is decent.

PROPOSITION 3, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ELECTION
“The constitutional amendment repealing the requirement that state officers elected by voters statewide reside in the state capital.”

Vote AGAINST Proposition 3.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think people should have to show up to work.  Telecommuting, blah blah. When the shit hits the fan, I want my Elected Heroes *here* in town, so their heads can be put together when the Internet goes down. Or have you never experienced an Internet and Cell service outage in a time of emergency?

PROPOSITION 4, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
ELECTION
“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit professional sports team charitable foundations to conduct charitable raffles.”

Vote For Proposition 4.

I’m for letting private organizations do whatever sane thing they can, to raise money “for charity” or “for profit.” Let’s get out of the way on this and vote For.

PROPOSITION 5, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ELECTION
“The constitutional amendment to authorize counties with a population of 7,500 or less to perform private road construction and maintenance.”

Vote For Proposition 5.

The current law says 5,000. This increases it to 7,500.  The deal is, sometimes you can’t GET a private company to do private roadwork in the middle of nowhere, or else it’s very expensive because of transport costs.  Small counties could recoup some of their investment in publicly-owned road making equipment by charging “a reasonable charge” to a private person to do private road work. I’d be against this in a highly populous area. 7,500 in a county is not populous enough to object to this sort of thing, in my opinion.

PROPOSITION 6, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
ELECTION
“The constitutional amendment recognizing the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife subject to laws that promote wildlife conservation.”

Vote For Proposition 6.

Without the right to gather wild food, you lack the most basic means of providing for your life. I support the right to gather wild food subject to reasonable restriction, so I’m for this amendment 100%.

PROPOSITION 7, CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
ELECTION
“The constitutional amendment dedicating certain sales and use tax revenue and motor vehicle sales, use, and rental tax revenue to the state highway fund to provide funding for nontolled roads and the reduction of certain transportation-related debt.”

Vote For Proposition 7.

This is a no-brainer. Taxes on transportation-related stuffs should go to building public roadways. Duh? Yes.

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TRAVIS COUNTY BOND ELECTION: All precincts

TRAVIS COUNTY BOND PROPOSITION
The issuance of $287,275,000 of bonds for the purpose of constructing, improving and equipping civil and family courts facilities and the levying of the tax in payment thereof

PLEASE vote AGAINST this bond proposal!

This proposal to build “facilities” includes a shopping center. On the public dime, on public land. No. It has been said by people who should know, that you could build the necessary court facilities for closer to $100M than $300M.  I am certain it doesn’t take a quarter of a BILLION dollars to build a courthouse. I’m also certain it will end up costing a half-billion, knowing how dollars tend to go around local government here. I’m against this amount, not the main thing they are proposing to do with the money.

Travis County Clerk Elections Division
November 3, 2015
Joint General and Special Elections

Cedar Park is asking the citizens to put close enough as makes no difference to $100 Million on the credit card. Ouch.

CITY OF LAGO VISTA PROPOSITION 3
Shall Article III, Section 3.17, Publication of Ordinances, be amended to require that all ordinances that shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation shall also be posted to the City’s website prior to being enrolled and codified into the City’s Code of Ordinances as well as the posting of Resolutions, Proclamations, and Official Notices.
For

I love this idea all to pieces. I wish it would specify for how long before they were enrolled and codified, but almost anything (within reason) that lets interested citizens know what’s about to hit them between the eyes (or in the wallet) before it happens, I’m for it.

CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE GENERAL ELECTION
COUNCIL MEMBER, PLACE 3

Please vote for (the incumbent) Omar Peña.  They’re doing a good job, and he’s part of they.  Except that he wanted to NOT increase our taxes and push off hiring new city staff.  If someone is doing a decent job, keep em in place.

His opponent, Phil Osars Emia seems to be stretching for issues on which to campaign. He’s trying to ride the tide of “cops b hard on de minoritees” and … oh, the water is kinda icky. Plus we need to pour money like water down a bottomless hole and start a BUS system… so don’t elect someone who already knows what he’s doing, go for me, I’ll improve your TAP water? And good GOD why can’t you speak English intelligibly after being here for a decade and a half?! His nearly-impenetrable accent also speaks to his character – not in a good way.
________________________________________________________________________
COUNCIL MEMBER, PLACE 5
Please vote for Mike Heath

Mike Heath is an engineer, and wants to talk to companies to see what they think we need, to bring them here. Infrastructure, not incentives.  And in the PFCONA event I saw, it looked like he has really done his homework and knows what things the council needs to be doing

Rudy Metayer -also wants buses, which (as a taxpayer) is almost enough to kill his candidacy IMO. As I pointed out last election cycle when he LOST the race for a seat on this City Council, he is also a member of racist organizations.   I’ll pass right there, thanks.
_________________________________________________________________________
CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE BOND ELECTION

PROP. 1, CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE
The issuance of $10,700,000 tax Bonds for a new City Animal Shelter.

Vote Against Proposition 1!

$10 Million is a LOT of [deleted] money to build a kennel. [deleted] no. Do it for cheaper. Yes, the current facility is rather … poor, to be euphemistic. But $10M is WAY too much.
________________________________________________________________________
PROP. 2, CITY OF PFLUGERVILLE
The issuance of $9,500,000 tax bonds for street improvements to Weiss Lane.

I’m (somewhat hesitantly) voting For Proposition 2.  Weiss lane is already crowded with traffic to the new subdivisions and the (rather nice) Lake Pflugerville facilities.  This is only going to get worse. Let’s not be like Austin and be gobsmacked by traffic AFTER the demand is there.

Hey, I Know That Guy!

image: imgflip.com

I had a chance to spend a few hours with Greg Hamilton today.  He gives every impression of being a good guy.  The caption in the picture is almost verbatim what I told him.  He said he’s not sure he’s a democrat anymore, because of the Democrats they have these days.  I’m not sure I did anything to increase the rolls of the Republican party by pointing out the people running for President are actually not democrats, they’re Socialists.  But he’s been running (and winning) on the Democrat ticket in solidly-Republican Texas for a long time now, and he is disappointed in the candidates they have.

Like you probably are, too, if you are a Democrat voter.  Maybe now is a good time to remind everyone of the World’s Smallest Political Quiz (which you should take, if you haven’t recently).

We’re about to vote for Sheriff again.  Do us all a favor and vote for Sheriff Hamilton again.  He said he appreciates it.

********

And I now know first-hand in an amusing house-is-not-really-burning way, that the fire sensor in his house works, and his home’s security alarm is very loud.

What the Hell, Austin?!

I don’t panic.  I can recall exactly one time I started to panic, then chilled myself out.  I was stuck, trapped in a confined space where nobody would have been able to rescue me.  After collecting my wits, I extracted myself.

Then today.  This morning, I was hacking up a lung, recovering from my recent sinus infection.  I thought.  I drove to Houston for the day, and didn’t think twice about breathing clearly all day.  Then I came back to the Hill Country.  Just past Washington County, maybe about Bastrop, and I had to fight off the onset of for-real panic.  My lungs were filling up with crap and I didn’t realize it until I had to calm myself.  I thought for a moment I was freaking out about driving through the gloaming, but I LOVE driving.  Dusk, dawn, day, night, rain, hail, fair weather, whatever.  I love it.  I wouldn’t panic about it!  It was my inability to respirate.

Ugh.

P.S., the drivers in Houston ALL speed.  Even the metro buses are going 15% over the speed limit.  But they are courteous.  Unlike the jerks on the road around here.

I Don’t Care If It’s A Diesel

If your car is sitting at a red light just belching a constant stream of thick, black smoke, you suck.  I hope you get scared into fixing it, when you receive a letter from Texas saying the fines range up to $1000 for having a smoking car.  Which you should, seeing I just reported you to the Regional Smoking Vehicle Program.

Shame on this person!

The picture makes it look less bad than it was in person. This cloud was thick, all the way across the next lane.  You suck if you are letting this happen to my Texas from your car.

Good.

I’m 100% in favor of the death penalty . . . when it’s an airtight case.  That would increasingly seem to preclude executing people convicted over 10 to 20 years ago when there is any untested DNA or other un-heard evidence.

When there is an open question (in Murder cases) of what the deceased person’s Significant Other was doing that day, after threatening to kill them the way they died if the Significant Other found out the decedent was cheating as this one was . . . yeah, you can’t go without examining all the evidence or hearing the new testimony.  And in this case, there is some pretty extensive new evidence!

The Rodney Reed conviction may have been an easy one at the time, but times have changed, and the people involved in prosecuting that case have been shown to be somewhat less than the purest of hearts in public service.  I was praying to God that this case would be re-heard, and now it will.  Good.

Medically-Fragile, As If It Makes A Difference!

The Todd & Don show today opened with two minutes (before I changed channels) talking about how great it was that the Clerk in Austin has signed off on the first “gay marriage” license in Texas.  They mocked those of us who understand things better than they do:

“So now two people got married, I guess your marriage is falling apart hahaha”

To which I will respond with reductio ad absurdum:

So now someone stole grapes from the grocery store, I guess you don’t have as much fruit at your house hahaha
So now a woman got raped, I guess your vagina hurts hahaha
Someone was murdered I guess now you are dead hahaha

Just because something doesn’t have an immediate direct negative effect in my life, does not mean it is good for us to allow it to go on.  To argue that your opponent is somehow oafish or foolish to think something should not be allowed to go on “just” because it is bad for society, is to highlight your status as an oaf, fool, or both.

I take this opportunity to remind you of my excellent essay on the topic of why “gay marriage” is bad, and why it is even so much as a topic of discussion (let alone an actual thing) in the modern USAmerican political discourse.

***

They kept repeating on the radio how this one couple of lickers was granted a special case because one of them is “medically fragile” due to having cancer.  Well excuuuuuuse me I think I should be allowed to get away with robbing your house because I have cancer.  I should be allowed to walk up to you and slit your throat will screaming how my god is the best, because I have cancer.  What a bunch of jerks!