December 01, 2005
Texan of the Year: State Rep. Carter Casteel
Well, the nominations are in, the judges have voted, and the winner is State Rep. Carter Casteel. As PinkDome puts it:
Representative Carter Casteel was selected, in part, for her outstanding courage and hard work during the legislative session to support public education. Representative Casteel, a Republican, was overwhelmingly selected by a group of "progressive" and "liberal" bloggers in Texas for her ability to break ranks with Republican leadership that was widely seen to ignore the pressing issue of school finance. We believe, as a group, that Representative Casteel embodies the spirit of statesmanship and reminds all of us what a true leader does to stand up for Texas. We're pleased and encouraged by her ability to work with leadership from both sides of the aisle for the common good.
It's always easy to laud someone on the other side of the aisle for doing something that you and your allies support, and "bipartasinship" is a virtue that's often praised more than it's worth. What I respect about Rep. Casteel, and what I wish I saw more of in the Lege, is a sense that we share many of the same basic goals, even if we may see different paths to accomplish those goals. I've reproduced beneath the fold a series of questions that we bloggers sent to Rep. Casteel and her answers. In one of them, she says:
What concerns me is how public education became a liberal issue! That’s a conservative value.
To me, public education isn't a conservative value any more than it's a liberal value. It is, or at least I hope it is, a universal value. It's a recognition by society that everyone benefits when knowledge and learning are accessible to all. We can argue about how best to implement that, and frankly I think we're best off when we have many perspectives in that argument, but we all need to agree that we have to implement it somehow before that argument can be a productive one. With people like Rep. Casteel in Austin, I feel like that's possible.

I salute Rep. Casteel for being true to the universal value of public education, and for withstanding the pressure to compromise that value in the name of political expediency. For that, and for the effect she had on this defining debate of the 79th Lege, she's an outstanding choice for the first Texan of the Year award.

Other salutes to Rep. Casteel can be found at In the Pink Texas, Eye on Williamson County, By the Bayou, Brains and Eggs, TPRS, Appalachia Alumni Association, and of course PinkDome. I'll point to the other participating bloggers' post as I find them.

UPDATE: And Common Sense.

UPDATE: And The Jeffersonian.

UPDATE: And Annatopia, and The Agonist.

UPDATE: BOR joins in.

UPDATE: WyldCard joins in.

UPDATE: Just Another Matt joins in.

I always run a campaign like I've got a challenger. I've not heard of one so far.

Not to my knowledge.

I don't think they are being targeted by the leadership.

That's fine. That's an admirable goal. Depending on how you count it. But here's the question…what is the classroom? Are you talking about the teacher, the aide, the nurse, the librarian, the counselor? You have to include some of the support for the teacher so the kid is in the classroom in the first place.

I've got a brain and a background so I know that's important to use. I'm also in a district I've lived in for thirty something years. I have a fair understanding of my district, but it is critical that I communicate with my district. It is a struggle because you going to vote your district and your conscience and every two years you have to answer to them. I’m comfortable with my party platform.

What concerns me is how public education became a liberal issue! That's a conservative value.

I balance all those things and make my decision. It can offend people, but I can stand by my decisions. Don't forget, I listen to the debate.

I think adequacy is still on the table and will come up in the next special session.

Competitive teacher pay and health care benefits. I don't think it’s fair to ask our teachers to help shape the future of Texas and not compensate them in a fair way.

I think everything is on the table. I've met with John Sharp and I believe we are all eager to see solutions that are fair from district to district. I think there is a growth and interest among the people of Texas that are paying attention and I think that is a good thing. People are concerned about our lack of progress and stepping up to the plate to get in front of the right people.

First of all, you just have to be honest about how you conduct yourself. You have to be a straight shooter and have the willingness to get along with people. You can't agree with everyone all the time, but you have to be willing to talk and to listen. If God had intended for us to talk all the time he’d given us two mouths and one ear. Lastly, you have to have humor. You have to have the attitude that "I don't care who gets the credit" you just have to care that it gets done. Dig in the mud and not care who cares who find the diamond ring.

How in the world can the Ed. Community communicate with the legislature without coming up there and talk to them. If you want to call it lobby, fine. But people go on their own time and write letters. People have made the same complaints against everybody that comes up to the legislature. That being said, I'd rather see my tax dollars being used to educate children. If that's not happening, then I want my tax dollars to communicate with the legislature on behalf of what’s not happening. I don't know what the rule is, but we’ll see if a rule is going to be proposed.

How is it being done? Can we invite the Education Community to the legislature in a different way? They've been shut out so maybe a lobbyist is the only way to get in the door.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 01, 2005 to The great state of Texas | TrackBack

This is a Rep who stabbed her constituents in the back by voting against vouchers and backing that moronic Hotchberg amendment.

This award is just another nail in her political coffin.

Posted by: ttyler5 on December 1, 2005 2:01 PM

I note as well that she received an award this year from the Texas Municipal League, next to the school bureaucrats organization and the Texas democratic party the most anti-taxpayer organization in Texas.

It's amazing --- or is it? -- that the left bloggers would give an award to people who turn against their own principles, screw the little guy and listen to parasitical lobbies with their hands out for more more more.

Posted by: ttyler5 on December 1, 2005 2:06 PM

Rural Republicans and urban Democrats are increasingly becoming allies in education issues. Vouchers are handouts! Education is a right, not a privilege.

Posted by: Marie on December 1, 2005 2:25 PM

Oh yeah, right. Let's get this straight. It's a "handout" when you give taxpaying parents a choice as to what school they want their kids to go to, but it's not a "handout" when you raise taxes to pay for a football stadium. That's "education," and it's a "right" : The right to play football in new stadium! :^D :^D :^D :^D :^D What a hoot!

And it's a "handout" when you give a voucher to taxpaying parents to exercise school choice, but it's not a "handout" when you give a "free" education to kids in the public schools.

Get this straight, so you won't be too surprised at the outcome of the elections next year.

We Rural Republicans are emphatically ***not*** your allies.

Casteel is a member of the teachers union, and she has turned her back on the people who actually elected her and sided with two of the most parasitical groups in the state.

She and Fred Hill, along with a number of anti-taxpayer democrats like Hotchberg, will be looking for a real job again come next November.

Posted by: ttyler5 on December 1, 2005 3:03 PM

I'd like to ask how voting against a voucher program screwed her constituents in her RURAL district. Additionally, could you elaborate on how she turned on her own principles and screwed the little guy? From what I saw during session she stuck to her guns in regards to what would be best for her distrct.

Posted by: Ray on December 1, 2005 3:26 PM

Ms. Casteel's district isn't all that rural anymore. Good luck taking her seat. You couldn't blast her out of it. As far as I can tell, what you mean by "Rural Republican" is backward, anti-democracy (who do you think elects your school boards -- why, that would be YOU), anti-government neanderthals. Taxes in this state unquestionably need reform so the tax burden falls less on the "little guy," but your party plutocrats are the ones that cratered to the fat cat business interests. Look in the mirror, baby.

Posted by: Don't Mess w/ Pink on December 1, 2005 3:45 PM

Off topic: Your pasted quotes are full of euro symbols again -- it looks like it is probably smart quotes (e.g., in I've, I'm, that's, etc.).

Posted by: David on December 1, 2005 3:47 PM

Tyler - YOU are not a Legislator and I certainly would never confuse you with one.

Posted by: Marie on December 1, 2005 4:36 PM

Marie, is that supposed to be an insult? Anyway, good, I'm glad you don't, as long as you don't confuse me with someone who is on your side! Concerning your other confusions, you are welcome to them.

Pink, all the GOP primary voters in Casteel's district need to know is how she voted on the property tax cut and the CAD caps, and how she joined the democrats in the leg on these votes. They will do all the blasting necessary.

As well, your ridiculous name-calling is a clue to how you really feel about the taxpayers, all those "anti-government neanderthals."

And what is this, we are to take a lecture on supporting democracy from someone who opposes the effort to create democracy in the middle east? I don't think so. Again, what a hoot you guys are!

You could care less about the taxpayers, and that is why your party ceased to be the voting majority long before we finally redrew the district lines to represent the actual political majority in Texas.

So keep the insults flying, you just prove with every comment why the great majority of us don't support your viewpoint or your candidates.

Posted by: ttyler5 on December 1, 2005 6:18 PM

Public schools are not social services. The only reason neo-cons hate public school is because there's no profit to be made for themselves.

Posted by: Marie on December 1, 2005 6:49 PM

Ray, sorry, did not mean to ignore you above.

Vouchers will help poor students get out of lousy Texas public schools, regardless of where the student may be located, and into private or better-performing public school districts and charter schools. The voucher itself is only part of the deal, the right to cross school district lines at will is part of the package.

How did Casteel screw the little guy? She sided **with** three of the biggest taxpayer-funded lobbies in Texas politics: the Texas public education bureaucrats --- that is, the very people who have so badly mismanaged the public schools --- as well as with the Texas Municipal League, the Texas association of county governments and the Texas democratic party, and **against** every property taxpaying homeowner in her district by voting down a propery tax cut and a new lower cap on CAD property assessments.

It's the statewide organizations of the public education bureacrats and the city bureaucrats who pull her strings, not the people of her district.

Posted by: ttyler5 on December 1, 2005 6:57 PM

Oh yeah, right, Marie!

It has nothing at all to do with the fact that public schools waste hundreds of billions of dollars on footbal stadiums while half the kids in them can't read or do math and flunk even the simplest assessment tests.

Posted by: ttyler5 on December 1, 2005 7:01 PM

I live here in New Braunfels and Casteel isn't going anywhere. She's well known in the community and i don't know who could possibly beat her. That's not to say i'm voting for her because i'm not.

Posted by: Tek_XX on December 1, 2005 11:24 PM

ttyler, I bet Ms. Casteel's constituents can do the math even if you cannot. There were no property tax cut proposals floated last session that would have resulted in a tax cut for the "little guy," about whom you say you are concerned. All of the proposals voted upon involved an increase in sales taxes, and a net increase in taxes paid by most citizens. That's what the LBB budget runs showed. The proposals would have resulted in a net benefit only to those making over I think $110,000, although it could have been $120,000. So I am left with the prospect that you are either spouting rhetoric without the facts to back it up, or you don't really care about the little guy. Fortunately, Ms. Casteel is smarter than that. And last time I checked, the voters in her district were relatively well educated, so I bet she can 'splain it all to them without too much trouble.

Posted by: Don't Mess w/ Pink on December 2, 2005 1:55 PM

Pink, your insults are laughable (" can't do the math" etc etc) especially coming from a guy who is so far outside the mainstream he actually calls himself "Pink."

There is not a grain of truth to anything you have posted in the above comment. Casteel is a traitor and when the property owners of her district find out how she screwed them -- and we are seeing to it that they do find out --- they will wrap her up in a blanket and set her on fire. As I noted above she is a tool of the education bureaucrat parasites and she forgot who sent her to Austin.

The idiotic LBB report you cite was and is pure horse manure.

The LBB completely ignored the fact that sales taxes on big ticket luxury items are much greater than the yearly property tax take from a rich man's property. Just do the sales tax yourself on a $20,000 TV set or a 36' boat, and compare it to the revenue generated by school property taxes on an $800K home, and you'll see what I am talking about. And keep in mind that the property tax was not being abolished, it was simply being cut to a dollar.

Further, the report did not even recognize that property taxes are built into the rents that renters pay. Rents go up every time there is a property tax increase, and all renters are paying the property taxes on the property they rent.

Nor did the LBB report even bother to acknowledge the sales tax exemptions we have in Texas for foods and medicines as well as the yearly sales tax holiday.

Under the original bills, our school property taxes would have been cut to $1 per, and the CAD cap would have been lowered from %10 to 5% per year.

This would have been a boon to every low skilled renter, every blue collar working family, every retired senior and every middle class white collar SFR home renter or SFR home owner in the state.

Posted by: ttyler5 on December 2, 2005 9:41 PM

Pink, BTW, we are getting way too rude with each other! :^D

I catch from some of your comments that you are really open to seriously discussing the issues without all the barbs we are trading, and me too!

Posted by: ttyler5 on December 3, 2005 12:20 AM


Landlords will reduce rent when their property taxes are reduced? Really?

Just curious, which lousy school district do the rural kids in your area attend? And why is it lousy? My mother is a rural resident in Casteel's district and the only complaints I hear from the locals when visiting are about the long commutes to school. So are the real estate ads I see about the "excellent schools" really code for very few minorities?

Hundreds of billions of dollars on football stadiums? I gotta see these stadiums!

I know there are some Hollywood folks who live in or have property in Casteel's district but just how do you think another Republican is going to defeat a coauthor of HJR6?

Posted by: Aimee Mobley Turney on December 3, 2005 8:59 AM

ttyler, OK then, truce. I was reacting to the negative tone your posts take on when people disagree with you. If you'll lighten up, so will I. And I disagree with you about the LBB runs. They were quite well done, and frankly, it was not in their interest to be as honest as they were. They are independent, but do still get pressured by the leadership. As a rule, I have a lot of respect for the LBB analysts. Finally, although I suspect you know this, this Pink's 100%, certified female.

Posted by: Don't Mess w/ Pink on December 3, 2005 7:21 PM

Aimee and Pink:

Pink, no! I did NOT know you were a girl! I thought you were some guy who goes by Pink, and I can't recall where I ran into him before, but that's what that was all about! He's a rude crude dude! (I need to apologize to Marie as well, I really copped an attitude with her!)

Anyway, I have been working since yesterday without sleep and have just been invited out for a drink here at Tiki Island, so I am gonna take her up on it. At my age, you should not pass up a drink with a good lookin' blond, you never know when you'll get asked out for one again! A drink, I mean. Not a good lookin' blond. :^D :^D :^D

I'll check in later about the LBB. I think they do a good job sometimes, but as I pointed out above they really missed the boat on this particular issue.

Aimee and Pink, later, and obviously I can look forward to an intelligent discussion!

Posted by: ttyler5 on December 3, 2005 8:14 PM