Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

Followup: Villalba Pulls Police Filming Bill

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

It turns out that even the supposed beneficiaries of state Rep. Jason Villalba’s unconstitutional and ill-conceived H.B. 2918 are opposed to it as well.

“Dallas Rep. Jason Villalba withdrew his proposal — which would incriminate independent bloggers who film police activity within 25 feet, or 100 feet if they carry a handgun — from a committee meeting Thursday.

“That came a day after he heard complaints from the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas.”

Given the nigh-on-universal opposition, one wonders why Villalba came up with such an appallingly stupid bill, and why he foolishly defended it from widespread criticism for so long.

(Hat tip: Push Junction.)

Texas vs. California Update for March 26, 2015

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • Forget all those snide liberal cracks about Texas’ public education system, since we have some of the highest graduation rates in the country.

  • “San Bernardino has defaulted on nearly $10 million in payments on its privately placed pension bond debt since it declared bankruptcy in 2012.”

    The missed payments illustrate the trend among cities in bankruptcy to favor payments to pension funds over bondholder obligations, which has increased the hostility between creditors and municipalities.

    San Bernardino declared last year that it intends under its bankruptcy exit plan to fully pay Calpers, its biggest creditor and America’s largest public pension fund with assets of $300 billion.

    The city continues to pay its monthly dues to Calpers in full, but has paid nothing to its bondholders for nearly three years, according to the interest payment schedule on roughly $50 million of pension obligation bonds issued by San Bernardino in 2005.

    If you’re a bank, a retirement fund, or a hedge fund, why on earth would you buy California municipal debt when there are safer alternatives? (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ Doom roundup.)

  • So how’s that San Francisco minimum wage law working out? Exactly like everyone who understands economics expected. “Some restaurants and grocery stores in Oakland’s Chinatown have closed after the city’s minimum wage was raised. Other small businesses there are not sure they are going to survive, since many depend on a thin profit margin and a high volume of sales.” Plus this: “Low-income minorities are often hardest hit by the unemployment that follows in the wake of minimum wage laws. The last year when the black unemployment rate was lower than the white unemployment rate was 1930, the last year before there was a federal minimum wage law.”
  • California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office suggests phasing out state health care for workers entirely.
  • California is dead last in spending transparency among the 50 states, with an F rating and a piddling score of 34. Texas ranks 13th with an A- and a score of 91. (Hat tip: Cal Watchdog.)
  • “North Texas gained an average of 360 net people per day from July 2013 to July 2014, a testament to the job-creating machine in the Lone Star state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau…North Texas and Houston were the only metropolitan areas to add more than 100,000 people during that one-year period.”
  • Just because California has some of the highest taxes in the nation doesn’t mean that the state’s Democratic legislature doesn’t want to add still more.
  • Meanwhile, the Texas Senate just passed a $4.6 billion tax cut.
  • California is rolling out more subsidies for Hollywood.
  • The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power not only has the highest employe costs in the country, it also ranks last in customer satisfaction. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • While Texas is certainly in much better shape than California on public employee pensions, things here are not entirely cloudless either. “The Texas Employee Retirement System is reporting unfunded liability of $14.5 billion in 2014, compared with liability of just $6.3 billion in 2013. By comparison, all of the state government’s general obligation debt as of 2013 was $15.3 billion. The Texas Law Enforcement and Custodial Officer Supplemental Retirement Plan is reporting unfunded liability of $673.1 million in 2014, compared with $306.7 million in 2013.”
  • Unlike California, Texas looks to get ahead of the curve on pension concerns with House Bill 2608, which restores control of pension funds to the local level by eliminating legislative approval for pension changes. I”nstead of locking up significant benefits in state statute, HB 2608 would allow city pension systems, like the Houston Firefighters’ Relief & Retirement Fund, to solve pension problems at the local level by changing benefit structures, if they so chose.”
  • “Support for the “bullet train” is ebbing across California, except, perhaps, in the Governor’s mansion.”
  • California raisin packer West Coast Growers files for Chapter 11.
  • American Spectrum Realty, a real estate investment management company that operates self-storage facilities under the 1st American Storage brand, has somehow managed to file for bankruptcy in both California and Texas. I think it’s safe to say that financial shenanigans are involved…
  • Lawsuit over misappropriated funds in a Napa Valley winery leads to a murder/suicide. It’s one of those stories that sounds too strange not to link to…
  • Ted Cruz’s Presidential Race Announcement Speech

    Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

    Here’s Ted Cruz’s full kickoff speech for his 2016 Presidential campaign:

    Ted Cruz Announces Presidental Run With a Tweet

    Monday, March 23rd, 2015

    Despite advance word that Cruz would announce his run today, he actually did so with a tweet Sunday night:

    Cruz had a very strong social media team for his 2012 Senate race, so this move isn’t a big surprise. Now we’ll see if it, and his early jump, can get him any separation in a very crowded field…

    Ted Cruz to Declare Presidential Bid Tomorrow

    Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

    Texas Senator Ted Cruz is expected to announce his 2016 Presidential bid tomorrow at Liberty University in Virginia.

    This should not be a surprise to anyone following this blog, or keeping track of his travel schedule.

    Probably more on the announcement tomorrow…

    Jason Villalba, The King of Thin-Skinned Twitter Blockage

    Saturday, March 21st, 2015

    Texas State Rep. Jason Villalba, ostensibly a Republican, seems to be going out of his way to alienate actual Republican voters.

    First he was among the (sadly many) Republican Representatives to vote to reelect Joe Straus Speaker, then got caught praising Straus’ progressive agenda.

    Next came Villalba’s introduction of H.B. 2918, which attacks the rights of photographers, bloggers and CHL holders under the guise of protecting police from being assaulted by cameras.

    Naturally, this has lead to a raft of criticism on Twitter and elsewhere. (There’s aeven a Recall Jason Villalba Facebook group. Since Texas does not have any recall election mechanism for state-level officials, I presume they mean to back a primary challenge to him in 2016.)

    So what has Villalba’s reaction to this criticism been?

    Villiba Block

    So go ahead and add “thin-skinned” to the list of Rep. Villalba’s flaws…

    LinkSwarm for March 20, 2015

    Friday, March 20th, 2015

    Another Friday, another LinkSwarm. There’s almost enough news here to break out a separate “UK child rape cover-up update,” but I found the idea too depressing…

  • UK Police told not to investigate child rape in Sheffield, which was “bigger than Rotherham.” (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • Indeed, child gang rape in the UK evidently evidently occurred on an “Industrial scale.”
  • More from the UK pattern of ignoring or downplaying underage rape, and punishing whistleblowers of same.
  • Collectors! Priceless antiquities can be yours at low, low prices thanks to Bernie’s Islamic State Discount eBay Shop! (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • “The Left that seems to believe Israel’s primary duty to the world is empowering Arabs that seek it harm.”

    What set off this new round of ominous Israel concern-trolling was Netanyahu’s assertion that leftist NGOs, billionaires and consultants were making sure that “Arab voters are going to the polls in droves.”

    Which was a fact.

    The leadership of the Arab front has openly stated that it wanted to pull together any and all factions of Israeli Arabs, including communists and Islamists, for the single political purpose of removing Israel’s prime minister. Arab political forces are free to rally to unseat Netanyahu, free to aspire to dismantle the Jewish State, but if Netanyahu mentions any of this he’s a racist undermining Israel’s formerly pristine democracy. Or so we’re told.

  • Charles Krauthammer on the same theme:

  • The Obama Administration is so desperate for a nuclear deal with Iran that they’ve dropped Iran and Hezbollah from the terrorist organization list.
  • Even Democrats are balking at Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran
  • …which is apparently every bit as bad as Netanyahu said.
  • Former CIA Director General David Petraeus agrees with Netanyahu that Iran is a bigger threat to us than the Islamic State. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Michael Totten things it’s time to partition Iraq.
  • France eliminates welfare benefits for 290 jihadists.
  • “If you want to know what Hillary Clinton would be like as president, you’re seeing it right now. There is no other Hillary. This is her.” Also: “What this utterly typical PR fiasco shows is that what they’ll actually get is familiar, tired, pathetic, dishonest, and embarrassing.”
  • “Hillary, I’m not disappointed that you’re lying. I’m disappointed that you’re phoning in your lies.”
  • Scott Walker couldn’t just be the next Reagan, he could be the next Calvin Coolidge.
  • When a college student said she’d been “raped” what she actually meant was she asked her “assailant” to tie her up and spank her.
  • TED Talk, or North Korea propaganda?
  • America’s Cup boat seized?
  • Some people just can’t learn from the mistakes of others. Even when the other is Anthony Weiner. And you’re a Democratic lawmaker. And you’re hitting on the same woman Weiner hit on.
  • The new, not-improved New Republic to create stories to order for advertisers? Honestly, selling the magazine to Rush Limbaugh wouldn’t have been quite so dishonorable to the magazine’s memory… (Hat tip: Moe Lane.)
  • Bill filed in the Texas legislature to strip private toll road companies of the power to use eminent domain.
  • And that whole “Starbucks making their baristas talk about race” thing? I’m just going to leave this here:

  • Rep. Jason Villalba’s War on Photography, Bloggers and Gun Owners

    Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

    There’s been much talk about how State Rep. Jason Villalba’s House Bill 2918 criminalizes bloggers filming police officers, especially if they’re CHL holders who happen to be lawfully carrying at the time. Worse yet, it takes the “some animals are more equal than others” approach to First Amendment rights, declaring MSM employees as “real journalists” and bloggers, citizens journalists and everyone else as second class citizens.

    Texas State Representative Jason Villalba (R-Texas) has found himself at the center of controversy after filing a bill that would make it a crime for bloggers and independent journalists — as well as regular citizens — to film police officers. Despite the backlash from free speech advocates, Villalba is insisting that his bill “does not infringe on constitutional rights” or “limit liberty in any way.”

    The current law, Section 38.15(1) of the Texas Penal Code, makes it a crime if anyone “interrupts, disrupts, impedes, or otherwise interferes with a peace officer while the peace officer is performing a duty or exercising authority imposed or granted by law.”

    The bill, HB 2918, adds to the definition of what constitutes “interfering” with an officer’s duties, and would make it a Class B Misdemeanor to film, record, photograph, or document the officer within 25 feet while that officer is performing his official duties. That distance is extended to 100 feet if the person is carrying a concealed handgun. There is an exception for news media, but the current language of the bill does not include bloggers, independent journalists, or private citizens, and it is not clear whether online media outlets would be included in the exception either.

    The fact that CHL holders are statistically among the most lawful citizens, having already passed an extensive background check, seems lost on Rep. Villalba (who seems to be trying very hard to win the title of worst Republican state representative).

    The bill would also prevent people from recording their own encounters with police, which adds a due process violation cherry on top of Villalba’s disdain for the first and second amendment.

    However, the unconstitutional stupidity doesn’t stop there. If you read the actual text of the bill, there’s no allowance made for private property. So if I’m filing a police officer arrest someone in the street 15 feet in front of my house, Villalba’s proposed law says I’m committing a crime.

    Being a police officer is a difficult and necessary job, but ordinary citizens filming them aren’t endangering their lives. Rep. Villalba seems to have no understanding that the right retained by the people themselves are part of our Constitution’s series of checks and balances.

    Villalba’s bill addresses no demonstrable abuse and attempts to limit the rights of citizens for no clear gain. It’s almost certainly headed for the dustbin of legislative neglect, but one wonders why Rep. Villalba felt the need to introduce it at all…

    Texas vs. California Update for March 12, 2015

    Thursday, March 12th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • In a worst-case scenario, CalSTARS and CalPERS might need an additional $50 billion a year between them to stay solvent.
  • If you haven’t taken a look at my piece on Stockton’s latest boondoggle, you probably should.
  • A new ballot initiative to cut California public employee pensions is due out in May, lead by former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat.
  • Even Jerry Brown’s timid pension reforms are evidently too much for the Obama Administration, which is holding up funds over them.
  • A rare bit of good municipal news out of California, as Rancho Mirage declares that they’re debt free. (Hat tip: Pension Tunami.)
  • Prime Health Care pulls out of Daughters of Charity hospital acquisition. California Attorney general Kamala Harris may have just insured those hospitals will close instead.
  • Texas population to explode. (Hat tip: Push Junction.)
  • Land acquisition for California’s high speed rail boondoggle isn’t going swimmingly.
  • Malibu Golf Club files for Chapter 11. “An attorney for Malibu Associates said the company closed the golf club after defaulting on a $47-million loan from U.S. Bank, which has begun foreclosure proceedings.”
  • “In February, the Berkeley Health Center, a clinic that provided medical services to low-income patients, closed down in the wake of serious financial troubles, including allegations that it had mismanaged public funds.” They also left behind sensitive patient records…
  • Calfornia hikes water rates. Millions for the delta smelt, not one blue drop for you to drink…
  • Monolith Semiconductor relocates from Ithaca, New York to Round Rock.
  • Four Texas Congressmen Voted To Cave on Obama’s Amnesty

    Thursday, March 5th, 2015

    If you hadn’t heard, House Republicans caved in to fund Obama’s unconstitutional illegal alien amnesty.

    Even more infuriating: Four Texas Republican congressmen were among the 75 Republicans who caved:

  • John Carter (my own congressman)
  • Kay Granger
  • Will Hurd
  • Mike McCaul
  • Will Hurd at least has the excuse that he represents a majority Hispanic swing district representing San Antonio and several border counties, so it’s possible that he’s following the wishes of his constituents.

    Carter, Granger and McCaul do not.