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August 18th, 2006:

Ron Paul’s unlovely guest

Ron Paul is throwing a little fundraiser this weekend for his re-election campaign. The featured guest at his shindig will be the vile xenophobic Congressman from Colorado, Tom Tancredo. I can’t imagine a less desireable, yet more suitable for the company intended, public figure. Vince has the details. I hope there’s some press coverage of this event. I’d like to see Paul explain in great detail why he and Tancredo are such soulmates.

UPDATE: As Chris notes in the comments, Tancredo will not in fact be there. The July Texas Libertarian Party newsletter was the source of this tidbit. From Page Four:

Aug. 20 (Sun.)1 to 4 p.m. Ron Paul’s Annual Birthday Celebration; Doyle Convention Center, 2010 5th Ave., Texas City. Tom Tancredo will be speaking. Contact Penny Langford-Freeman at 1-800-Ron-Paul for information.

Apparently, the Libertarians got this wrong, and along the way I heard about it. My apologies for the misunderstanding.

The best movie news you’ll hear this weekend

Now hear this: Pete says “Snakes on a Plane” is “simultaneously, one of the worst and best movies I’ve ever seen.” That is all you need to know.

A letter to Metro

The following is a letter to Metro, which I have been given permission to publish:

August 16, 2006

Mr. Frank J. Wilson
CEO METRO
Re: North Corridor, University of Houston – Downtown to Northline Mall

Lindale Park Civic Club Board of Directors would like to thank METRO for its commitment over the years to achieve the goals of today. Lindale Park is a quiet, well poised neighborhood four miles north of downtown. Many of our past and present board members have spent countless hours devoted to Light Rail Transit (LRT).

We would like our neighborhood of over 1,200 homes and over 4,000 concerned citizens to go on record as one voice, one VERY LOUD UNIFIED VOICE.

The change to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) with the infrastructure of taking the required right-of way, the installation of the rail tracks, and other requirements to convert to LRT in the future has been accepted; although if rail car funding is available it should be provided.

The Board of Directors for the Lindale Park Civic Club wants METRO to know our three major concerns.

  • LRT or BRT must be a part of Northside Village.
  • LLRT or BRT should take the Fulton route and not deviate.
  • Using Irvington Boulevard and Cavalcade between Cavalcade and 610 Loop will:

    • Block Emergency / Ambulance and Fire Department routes into Lindale Park and other area neighborhoods.
    • Destroy many beautiful historic trees (Ms. Lucille Nash, one of the first female Master Gardeners in the State of Texas, and her team of volunteers secured many of these trees).
    • Divide our neighborhood which Fulton Street is our western boundary and Robertson Street (one block east of Irvington Boulevard) is our eastern boundary.
  • LRT or BRT must have a stop in Lindale Park, currently called “Graceland Station”, as stated in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement dated June 15, 2006.

Lindale Park Civic Club and its Board of Directors support either mode of transportation in our neighborhood. If we can be of further assistance, please contact us at our letterhead address.

Please keep us advised of the progress of this project. Thanking you in advance.

Sincerely,

Ed Reyes
President
Lindale Park Civic Club

The actual letter will be signed by the full board of the Lindale Civic Club. The bolded passage is in the original. The underlined bit, emphasized by me, may be read as “In the event some extra funding becomes available because another project has fallen through (*cough* *cough* Universities line *cough* *cough*), we want it so we can get real rail instead of that bus thing.”

Just though y’all would find this interesting. I did.

New Texas Medicaid/CHIP director

A fellow named Chris Traylor is the new Associate Commissioner for Medicaid/CHIP at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Hope knew him back when they both were legislative aides, and she provides a bit of background on him. Check it out.

Revenue cap changes proposed

The anti-immigrant forces may not get a proposition on the ballot this November, but Mayor White intends to have one that would modify the revenue cap proposition that was passed in 2004. He had a couple of potential versions of this up for discussion in City Council.

The mayor’s original proposal was to alter Proposition 2, backed by limited-government advocates and approved by voters in 2004. It requires 60 percent voter approval before annual city revenues from all sources combined can increase by more than the combined rates of inflation and population.

White wanted voters to amend the charter to exclude from the cap the city’s “enterprise” funds, which draw their revenue from fees for airports, convention facilities and the water and sewer system rather than from property taxes. He also wanted to exclude increases in revenue used for public safety.

The revised plan strips out the public safety portion and, instead, creates a second proposition for the ballot this fall allowing the city to spend an extra $20 million over its budget for police, fire and other emergency services.

White said the changes resulted from “good feedback” from people opposed to a permanent exemption for public safety in the City Charter.

“I want to try to do things by consensus, when I can,” he said after Wednesday’s council meeting. “These are just two different approaches to accomplishing the same thing.”

[…]

Councilman Michael Berry said the revision the mayor proposed Wednesday was a start to bringing the two sides closer together.

“The more things you take out of the cap, the more support you lose from the general public,” said Berry, who offered suggestions to the mayor on the changes. “While funding the police is the most popular thing you can do, you lose the hard-core conservatives, who say, ‘Well, the cap doesn’t apply to anything.’ ”

He said he still will oppose the mayor’s proposal if it removes water and sewer revenues from the cap.

I’ll vote for either one, since I don’t believe revenue caps make for sound public policy. Ideally, I’d prefer a version that provides the bigger rollback on the 2004 referendum, but pragmatically, I want something that will pass, since that will prevent the anti-immigrationers from trying again for two years, by which time that issue may have faded.

“I still can’t support taking any enterprise funds out of the cap,” said former Councilman Carroll Robinson, who joined a lawsuit last year that forced the city to recognize Proposition 2. “If you take out convention and entertainment and water and sewer, you open a spigot to uncontrolled spending at City Hall.”

On a conference call from Austin with Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt and local businessman Bruce Hotze, Robinson said he supports letting voters decide whether to permit police and fire spending that exceeds the cap.

Hotze has voiced radio commercials attacking the mayor’s planned changes, and he pledged a campaign against them ahead of the election this fall.

As Greg notes, Robinson is also the voice of a radio ad, a rather disingenuous little number paid for by la famiglia Hotze, which you can hear at the above link. I have to say, for a 2004 DNC delegate, Robinson keeps some pretty strange company.

WiFi in the Metroplex

Just wanted to pass along a little blurb in the Wireless Report on the progress of municipal WiFi networks in suburban communities near Fort Worth.

[E]ight cities in the Northeast portion of Tarrant County now offer free or low-cost WiFi access in a number of locations around their municipalities. These cities include Bedford, Colleyville, Flower Mound, Haltom City, Keller, North Richland Hills, Roanoke, and Southlake.

Officials in these cities say these wireless networks aim to bring more people to their communities as well as promote local businesses.

I suspect Greg will be pleased to hear that about North Richland. Link via DallasBlog.