Open line Saturday

January 19, 2019

It’s open line Saturday.

Tell us what you are thinking.

Keep it clean and please don’t get personal.

Brutus


Property tax cap

January 18, 2019
This came in the other day:
Brutus.
     [P]  Here is another website you might consider adding to your list — since in this ongoing Texas Legislative Session — legislators will be looking at reducing the property roll back cap trigger down from it’s current trigger level of 8-percent  to a 2-percent trigger cap.  See — https://www.gregabbott.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PropertyTaxReform.pdf
     [P]  Our local legislative delegation members will fight against lowering the cap — and Sunday night on the KVIA TV News Extra program — Senator Rodriguez indicated he is against it.  As he goes, the other members of the delegation will follow.  In addition, the city, county, UMC and school districthired lobbyists — will also raise objections and fight against any lowering of the cap.  The reality is — individual voters’ and property taxpayers — do not have hired lobbyists and others fighting for their interests.  Bottom line — that’s where your blog can create an impact!
     [P]  The 2-percent level is most likely too low — so that cap trigger level may possibly be only a negotiating point — so legislators can compromise at a 4 or 5-percent trigger cap.
     [P]  Since many of your faithful blog followers’ and creatively blunt posters — are pissed about always rising local property taxes, plus associated stupid spending — here’s a chance for them to get their ‘oars in the water — and let those state legislators outside El Paso who are pushing this issue — know there are El Paso voters’ and property taxpayers — who approve, plus appreciate and support their efforts.
————————————  Old Fart.
POST SCRIPT:  Since you keep your blog updated each day — with a fresh topic for public thought and discussion — it is certainly better than the stale blogs of David K, Max Powers, Zorro and some of the others.  Therefore, it certainly seems you have a daily opportunity — to make your blog an action site — by posting interactive web links as you have just started to do.
*************************************************
He is of course right.
We need to speak up and let the legislators know how we feel.
We deserve better
Brutus

Tell the city manager what you think

January 17, 2019

The city web site does have a way the public can communicate with the city manager:

The city manager probably has an employee handle the messages that are sent in.

Hopefully he takes this seriously and communicates back to the sender.

We deserve better

Brutus


Another tax increase coming from the city

January 16, 2019

City council is in the process of approving ordinances that will allow them to issue new debt.

In 2017 the prior council raised the maximum debt rate to 35 cents per $100 of property valuation.

They evidently intend to bring us to the brink of that:

Don’t worry.  They can always raise the limit again.

We deserve better

Brutus


A message from our former congressman

January 15, 2019

A loyal reader sent in this note from Mr. O’Rourke:

The government of the greatest country the world has ever known, the wealthiest, most powerful nation on the planet: closed until further notice.

This shutdown – hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans working without pay during the holidays, basic government functions no longer available to the taxpayers who fund them – didn’t have to happen. The Senate passed a compromise government funding bill two days ago, 100–0. The men and women who can’t agree on what to name a post office were able to unite and unanimously agree on how to fund the entire government.

But maybe it was intended to happen.

Maybe in the face of an investigation that seeks the facts surrounding allegations of collusion with a foreign government and obstruction of justice within our own government… as one aide after another pleads guilty… as the stock market tumbles… as men and women intent on keeping their dignity and their conscience flee his administration… perhaps the President calculates that by adding to the blizzard of bizarre behavior over the last two years and shutting down the government at Christmas, while his own party still controls each branch of it, the institutions that we need for our democracy to function (and to ensure no man is above the law) will be overwhelmed.

From a President who promised action, we got distraction.

But my concern for the country goes beyond the immediate pain and dysfunction that this shutdown will cause. Beyond even ensuring that this President is held accountable. What’s happening now is part of a larger threat to us all.

If our institutions no longer work, if we no longer have faith in them, if there’s no way to count on government even functioning (three shutdowns this year alone), then perhaps ultimately we become open to something else. Whatever we choose to call it, whether we openly acknowledge it at all, my fear is that we will choose certainty, strength and predictability over this constant dysfunction, even if it comes at the price of our democracy (the press; the ballot box; the courts; congress and representative government).

If there were ever a man to exploit this precarious moment for our country and our form of government, it’s Trump. Sending 5,400 troops to U.S. border communities during the midterm elections. Organizing Border Patrol “crowd control” exercises in El Paso on election day. Defying our laws by taking children from their parents, keeping kids in tent camps, turning back refugees at our ports. Calling the press “the enemy of the people” and celebrating violence against members of the media. Pitting Americans against each other based on race and religion and immigration status. Inviting us to hate openly, to call Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, to call asylum seekers animals, to describe Klansmen and neo-Nazis as very fine people. Seeking to disenfranchise fellow Americans with made up fears of voter fraud. Isolating us from the other great democracies as he cozies up to dictators and thugs. Lying again and again. Making a mockery of the United States – once the indispensable nation, the hope of mankind.

So we can engage in the immediate fights about blame for this latest shutdown… fall into his arguments about a wall, or steel slats, at a time of record border security and in the face of asylum seekers – our neighbors – fleeing the deadliest countries in the world… we can respond to his name-calling and grotesque, bizarre behavior… or we can pull up, look back at this moment from the future and see exactly what is happening to our country.

We are at risk of losing those things that make us special, unique, exceptional, those things that make us the destination for people the world over, looking for a better life and fleeing countries who lack our institutions, our rule of law, our stability.

If ever there was a time to put country over party it is now. This is not about a wall, it’s not about border security, it’s not about Democrats and Republicans. It’s about the future of our country – whether our children and grandchildren will thank us or blame us. Whether we will lose what was fought for, made more perfect, by the men and women who risked and lost their lives at Antietam, on Omaha beach, in Jackson, Mississippi… whether we will be defined by greatness and ambition or pettiness and fear. Whether we will continue to live in the world’s greatest democracy, or something else.

In the short term – let’s pass the funding bill that was agreed to by the Senate 100–0 just a few days ago. Send it to the President with the confidence that we represent the people of this country and that we are willing to override his veto if he cannot respect their will. Show that government can work, that we can see past our immediate differences to serve the greater good. To put country over party. To put country over one man. To do what we were sent here to do.

In the longer term – we must strengthen all of our institutions at the very moment they are called into question. Some clear opportunities for Congress: Ensure that our representatives in government reject PAC money, corporate and special interest influence. Demand that they hold town halls in our communities, listen to and respond to their constituents. Show America that they are working for us and for no one else.

Take action on the most urgent issues of our day: climate change, healthcare, endless war, income inequality, immigration, the vibrancy of rural communities and inner cities, education and criminal justice reform. Define the goal in each area, build the coalition to achieve it, find the common ground (between parties, between branches of government), and move forward. Prove that our system of government – whatever its problems – is still the best thing under the sun.

It’s action vs. distraction. One will save our democracy, the other will lead to its end.


Just the facts ma’am

January 14, 2019

A USA Today reporter from their Austin Texas bureau wrote a piece in the Times last week titled “Did border fence lower crime rates in El Paso?”.

She wrote:

“In his remarks, Paxton [the Texas attorney general] said El Paso had a high crime rate before the fence was constructed and that the rate of crime dropped substantially after it was completed.

That was not the case.”

Earlier in the article she told us that the attorney general had not specified which iteration of our border fence he was referring to.

Because he referenced border barriers erected under former president George W. Bush she concluded that he was talking about fencing authorized by congressional act in 2006.  She pointed out that the construction started in 2008 and was finished by mid-2009.

She wrote further:

“From 2006 to 2011–two years before the fence was built to two years after–the violent crime rate in El Paso increased by 17 percent.”

Would it be too much to ask her to tell us where she came up with that number?  Shouldn’t a reporter cite her sources?

This chart came from the El Paso police department’s 2011 annual report:

It was the case

According to the El Paso police department crime rates went down after the fence was built.  In fact the chart does not substantiate her claim of a 17 percent increase.

I don’t know if the reporter has ever lived in El Paso.  Those of us that lived here during that period of time know that property crime rates dropped significantly after the fence was built.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

 


Tell them what you are thinking

January 13, 2019

At the suggestion of one of our readers we have added a new tab to the menu bar (at the top of the page, under the masthead).

If you click on “Sound Off” you will find a list of contact points for some powerful government officials.

The reader suggests that we take the time to contact these officials and tell them what we are thinking.

So sound off please.

We deserve better

Brutus


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