I have already had a couple of productive interviews…more to come later!
Now for some picture taking!
I have already had a couple of productive interviews…more to come later!
Now for some picture taking!
This weekend, I’ll be covering the Texas political process as an embedded reporter at the Democratic Party convention in Houston, Texas.
I wanted to cover both the Republican and Democratic conventions, but they occur during the same time. So I had to choose a convention. Either probably would have their share of interesting stories. However, I am working a couple of stories that I feel will be of interest to my readers within the Dem’s sphere of influence.
Additionally, I will be upgrading the content level here at BlackFlagMedia.com, beginning with the convention coverage.
More forthcoming…gotta get some rest. Big day tomorrow!
It is Saturday and the election was over for you as of Tuesday night!
Come get your signs off the courthouse square…they are an eyesore!
Just received word that Texas Representative-District 144 Ken Legler has died, apparently of a heart attack.
He recently decided not to run for a third term and return to private life. Austin and The Lege lost a fine member, but Texas lost one of “the good guys!”
I have known Ken since 1971, meeting as students at Andrew Jackson Intermediate, in Pasadena, Texas. He was friendly, well liked by most and lived the typical life of a teen aged boy growing up in Pasadena. We both attended the same high school, where after Ken completed his school day, he started his work day…at Sears.
Ken was one of the many kids in the 70′s that maintained a job while in high school. Ken was able to balance both school and work pretty well. Ken married his high school sweetheart Barbara.
Ken went to work for Barbara’s dad company, Houston Wire Works and eventually worked his way up to President and bought the company. Under Ken’s leadership, Houston Wire works opened new markets overseas and helped export American made products to new international markets.
In 2008, I heard that Ken was running for state representative and I thought he had taken leave of his senses to want to deal with that unruly mess known as the Texas House. However, Ken didn’t like the status quo in Austin and wanted to do something about it. He did by getting elected and serving Texas for two terms at the Representative from District 144, which contained some of his home town of Pasadena. During his tenure in the House, Ken authored several bills that dealt with the needs of Texans and Texas.
In early 2011, I toured the Capital Building in Austin as a guest of another state representative. During that tour, I was permitted on the House floor, and found Ken’s desk in the chamber. I imagined what it felt like for Ken on his first day as a member of the House. Had to have been a great feeling, especially having Sam Houston, et al. looking down on you!
I haven’t seen Ken all that much since 1977 until last year. In November of 2011, I had a chance to speak with Ken on two successive nights about his time in the Lege, and his feeling about the direction things were headed. He was disturbed by the actions of others on both sides of the aisle when it came to the redistricting fiasco of 2011-2012. He also said that even in the Republican Party ranks, there was a struggle between ideological differences that sometimes bothered him.
Not too long after that, Ken decided not to run again. Ken left Austin…now he leaves us. Condolences to his lovely wife Barbara, his children and their family.
Ken Legler was a person who typified The American Dream.
Viya Con Dios, Ken!
Well it is here, Primary Election Day-Texas 2012!
Schwertner vs. Bius. The smooth talking doctor from Georgetown vs. the businessman bully from Huntsville.
Before we announce our recommendation, let’s look at the facts that our decision is based upon.
Our investigative efforts against Ben Bius alone would have given any voter reason to doubt that his “ethical compass” points in the right direction, however one thing stands out as a reason to eliminate a potential vote for Ben. This guy goes around waving the flag and saying he values the Constitution, but tried to threaten and intimidate this blog’s editor to keep us from publishing information about him and his campaign…in other words, he tried to “suppress” our First Amendment rights. Additionally, he did it in a manner of a true coward! Texans don’t deserve a senator like this guy!
Charles Schwertner, by all appearances is the “heavy favorite” to walk away with the Texas Senate District 5 Republican ticket tonight.
BlackFlagMedia.com (BFM) looked at the voting record of Schwertner as the State Representative of District 20. According to the ratings of a conservative rating service provided by Heritage Alliance, Schwertner scores a 76% on their composite scale rating the voting records of all Texas legislators on holding to conservative principles. BFM’s editor knows two current state representatives on a personal basis. Schwertner scores between these two gentleman’s scores of 71 % and 81%. In fact, when compared to the entire Republican makeup of the state house, the good doctor scores in the bottom of the top half…in other words, the “middle of the road”.
However, a more detailed look at Schwertner’s voting record reveals much to the observer. For example, one of the bills that Schwertner had a hand in authoring in the 82nd legislature was House Bill 5, which pertains to health care. In this bill, Texas would join other states in an Interstate Healthcare Compact. This would be a potential alternative to “Obamacare”. If this compact is approved, the member states that sign the Compact would get monies that were appropriated at the Federal level to fund their own program and the right to regulate heath care in their respective states. This would mean increased opportunities for health insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, physicians, hospitals and medical equipment suppliers, especially given the increasing population and changing demographics of Texas.
When one considers the makeup of the special interests donors to the Schwertner campaign, combined with the fact that his campaign has received money from at least four major lobbying firms registered in the state of Texas, it gives a voter reason to wonder how much influence others will have on Dr. Schwertner’s vote. Judging by the overwhelming amounts of political donations from these donors, it gives one pause. We are not stating that one should believe that Schwertner would not take into account the needs of individual citizens of this state versus the of the wishes of special interests. However, like they say in Texas that…”ya’ dance with the one that brang ya”!
In other words, how strong is the good Doctor’s convictions?
If more politicians and wannabees would adopt the “Ron Paul standard” of no donations accepted from lobbyist, an individual voter would have more faith in the person they elect.
So reluctantly, BFM recommends Dr. Charles Schwertner for Texas Senate in the primary election. However, we will be “dogging” the winner of this contest all the way to Election Day in November.
Remember, no Democrat ran in the primary election for SD-5 this year.
However, BFM will be taking a look at the Libertarian candidate, Jeffrey Fox to explore his ideas and positions on the issues.
As I start my morning ritual of scanning the world via the wonderful thing that is the World Wide Web, I read two articles that reinforce one of the core beliefs of myself and this publication; the First Amendment is under siege from all sides, including our own government.
The first article was a blog post in the Village Voice by a former Los Angeles Times reporter named Chuck Philips. Mr. Philips shared a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on corruption in the entertainment industry. He received a prestigious George Polk Award for his reporting on black art and culture. Additionally, he received an honor from the National Association of Black Journalist for his in-depth reporting on the rap music scene.
The post is his story about investigating one of the biggest stories in popular culture of the 1990′s, the murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls (aka The Notorious B.I.G) and part the Los Angeles Times played in the downfall of his career as a result of his reporting. During the sourcing of his story, Mr. Philips relied on documents from a Florida court case that were supposedly authored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, known as FD-302′s. A FD-302 is the form that an FBI agent fills out that is a summary of an interview they conducted during an investigation. These interview documents were certified as admissible into evidence by a Florida judge. However, these documents were later determined to be forgeries. Due to this development. Philips came to his editors right after the 302′s were determined to be forgeries and offered to acknowledge that he had been fooled by the fake documents and apologize for his error. His paper instead had another reported write a retraction of Philip’s story and literally push him out the door along with other reporters being downsized at the time. It came out later that the paper “caved” under pressure from a target of Philip’s investigative efforts with a very questionable reputation, who threatened to sue the paper. In respect to the story, The Times and reporter Philips were protected not only by the First Amendment, but a California law that permits journalists to publish and report upon any document filed in a judicial proceeding — even those later found to contain exaggerations, lies or fabrications. I wonder if Philips worked for that “other paper” called the Times on the east coast, would the outcome have been the same? However, due to the actions of The Los Angeles Times, Chuck Philips still can’t find work as a reporter anymore.
If a reporter can’t trust documents supposedly authored by the FBI and certified into evidence, what does constitutes a “verifiable source” in today’s litigious crazy, media addicted world?
The second story involves the federal government itself potentially engaging in censorship.
On Salon.com, columnist Glenn Greenwald relates a story of Pakistani film student, who along with his producers was denied a visa to enter the United States in order to accept an award from the 2012 National Film Festival for Talented Youth in the category for Audience Award for Best International Film. Muhammad Danish Qasim’s film deals with the drone attacks by the U.S. military and CIA on the tribal areas in North Waziristan. It is told from the perspective of a school aged boy whose neighborhood gets bombed, loses friends and loved ones and eventually falling under the influence of terrorist who exploit his feelings of loss and despair. The film’s main premise argues that foreign powers do not have the right to violate the airspace and rights of innocent citizens in his country. Is the government denying this filmmaker’s visa application due to the fact that it considers this work terrorist propaganda? It will probably never be known, due to the fact that the U.S. Government does not comment on visa denials.
One of the early pronouncements of The Obama Administration is that it would bring about “transparency” in government activities, however that has been far from the reality of things. I recently listened to someone who has been deemed a “credible” government whistle-blower that claims the government is now classifying hundreds to thousands of documents that deal with the subject of terrorism on a daily basis, many having no strategic importance to the ongoing “War on Terror”. If one wants to control the perception of what constitutes terrorism and its factors, what better way than hiding information behind a cloak of government secrecy?
The American people depend on the Fourth Estate, a free and active press, coupled with the freedom to speak out against what they feel may be injustice or wrong doing by their government. Given fair and impartial information, a good portion of the American population can make a reasonable judgement to what constitutes “The Truth”! To quote a line from one of my favorite movies…”People should not fear their government, government should fear The People.” Does our Government fear The People thinking for themselves?
The triumph of The First Amendment is the only thing that will prevent We The People from resorting to their avenue of last resort, The Second Amendment of The United States Constitution.
Editorial Note: Here is a link to the trailer of the Qasim film entitled, The Other Side. Watch and judge for yourself. I have always believed in listening to all pertinent information, before making a decision on matters of my beliefs. However, this trailer doesn’t provide enough information to make a decision….valid documentary story telling or terrorist propaganda? I will though, look for the full documentary short to watch and make up my own mind, as is my right as a free thinking American.
In a rebuke to The Obama Administration and the dark forces in this country that wish to further erode the constitutional rights of American citizens, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest issued an order that blocks enforcement of a controversial provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
A group of reporters sued President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and The Defense Department over a provision in the NDAA that would have allowed for potential indefinite incarceration by the military of journalist exercising their First Amendment right to report the news and the detention of activist who may be participating in protest against the government.
It is interesting that Judge Forrest was appointed last year to the bench by President Obama. In this writer’s opinion, Barack Obama did something very rare…made a wise choice!
We here at BlackFlagMedia.com salute Judge Forrest for her strength of character and her defense of First Amendment rights on behalf of the American people.
As it says on our masthead…“DON’T TREAD ON THE FIRST AMENDMENT!
The major players, the bit players, the influencers, the spectators…all important pieces to the puzzle. Then there is the money…because ladies and gentlemen, believe you me, it is ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!
However, one of the factors I noticed early on about this particular senate race was there was nobody running in the Democratic Primary for this important seat in the Texas Senate. Senate District 5 is home to some of the largest state institutions with large demands on the Texas treasury. The University of Texas, Texas A&M University, Sam Houston State University and The Texas Department of Criminal Justice are just some of the state institutions in this district.
Being the inquisitive fellow, I decided to pay a visit to the local Democratic Party headquarters. I went to the Walker County Democrats headquarters and spoke with a Ms. Cindy Blaylock, the chairperson for the party’s county office. She was very cordial and explained that since the senate race was a “state race”, that I needed to contact the state Democratic party office. She referred me to a Ms. Cindy Flint. I placed a couple of calls and an e-mail to her attention, but after more than a week, I got no response. I saw on the Texas Democrats website, that Ms. Flint is in charge of the primary race, so she would be the one to possibly answer the question of why no Democrat running in the 2012 primary race.
I then e-mailed each county chairperson of the Democratic party in SD-5 (with the exception of Ms. Blaylock), and put the same question to them, thirteen in all. Then, as before, I waited for a response. Not one of these people answered back! I must admit, I was starting to get frustrated that I couldn’t get an answer to a simple little question!
I then contacted the Communications Director, Rebecca Acuna at the state office. After an initial contact, she got back to me! I am sure that her response was vetted by some of the “higher ups” in the party, however I had my answer, none the less. The official answer was that after placing a call for candidates within the senate district, “no one expressed an interest in running.” Really!
She went on to say that after looking at their election analysis, that the party’s resources would be better utilized in other races. I thanked her for promptly and professionally handling my inquiry. She went on to give me her cell number for any future inquiries. A very fine choice for that position by the Dems in my opinion!
Their resources would be better utilized in other races…hmmm? I wonder what other races she is referring to? Currently the Democrats control 12 seats to the Republicans 19 seats in the Senate Chambers in Austin. Would strategic use of resources be to protect any further erosion of their position in the Texas Senate, or maybe the Dem brain trust feels that they have a shot at knocking off a few Republican incumbents and capturing their seats? Well, lets take a look at the facts.
According to data from Ballotpedia.org, there are also 12 other seats besides the one in SD-5 where there are no Democrats running in the primary on May 29th. Sure there are the Democrat stalwarts with little to fear, like Judith Zaffirini in District 21 and John Whitmire of Senate District 15, who is the longest serving Dem in the Texas Senate. However, the number of races being abandoned by the Democrats to the Republicans is, as Artie Johnson, from the 60′s variety show “Laugh In” used to say…”very interesting”!
Another interesting fact is that the Libertarian Party is fielding 15 candidates in races for the Texas Senate, including one in the SD-5 race, Jeffrey Fox, of Taylor, Texas. Even the Green Party will be fielding a candidate in this year’s election!
While this situation is probably making the top Republican Party officials in Austin giddy with delight, our two party system depends on spirited debate and discourse, or in the case of Texas politics, one party watching the other to make sure “they don’t take too many cookies from the cookie jar”! With the Democrats leaving 42% of the seats in the senate unchallenged in the 2012 race, it begs the question “what races do the Democrats think their resources could best be put to use in?”
In our next post, we will be taking a look at the “cookie jar factor” and believe you me, it looks like there are many Cookie Monster’s across the state ready to fight for access to that jar!
[Editorial Note: While researching this post, found an interesting little item to write about, but want to give one school superintendent a little more time to respond to our request for information.]
Yesterday, The Bryan/College Station Eagle announced some of their recommendations for the 2012 statewide primary races. In a “stinging rebuke” of the Bius candidacy, the Eagle picked Georgetown physician Charles Schwertner over Ben Bius, the real estate broker and “bully” from Huntsville.
In the article, the Eagle points out that “In both the 2010 and 2012 races, Bius has carried the not-so-subtle smell of racism.” He equated people from Mexico that were fleeing the lawlessness across the border as the cause of many budgetary problems in Texas and the lawmakers that allow illegal immigration to continue he compared to “terrorist”. We here at BlackFlagMedia.com pointed this out a few weeks back in out post covering the candidate forum in Bryan where Bius made this claim.
It will be almost impossible for Bius to get elected without receiving a large share of the Brazos Valley vote. It can’t be known how much “sway” the Eagle has over voter opinion in the Bryan/College Station area, but this can’t be welcome news in the Bius camp.
After interviewing someone who has observed how Bius reacts under pressure, this source said “he tends to blame others for his problems”. This person’s story brings to mind the famous Humphrey Bogart movie, “The Caine Munity”. For those who have not seen this wonderful classic film, Captain Queeg (played by Bogart) is an autocratic tyrant of a ship’s captain. When events start happening because of his lack of leadership, Queeg starts blaming others for his problem, all the while rolling some “Chinese health balls” (they are similar to ball bearings) round and round in his hand, a form of a nervous tic.
We here at BlackFlagMedia.com feel that Bius should get some “balls” of his own and accept that statements out of his own mouth was the reason for the Eagle’s recommendation of Schwertner for SD-5 and not the work of others.
Continuing our series PUBLIC EYE ON POLITICS, we look at the campaign efforts of Charles Schwertner to become the next State Senator for Texas Senate District 5.
Charles Schwertner is a medical doctor that lives in Georgetown with his wife, Belinda (who is also a physician), and three children. He is also the managing partner of a medical practice that employees 40 people, also located in Georgetown. Dr. Schwertner’s medical degree was earned at the University of Texas Medical Branch – Galveston. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from University of Texas. Schwertner has long time roots in the district where his family is involved in ranching and banking in Texas.
Dr. Schwertner is currently the Texas Representative for District 20, representing parts of Williamson and Milam counties. He was a freshman representative in the 82nd legislature, serving on the Appropriations and Public Health committees.
Our in-depth examination of Schwertner started with available public records. According to the Williamson County Appraisal District, Schwertner purchased his current residence located in Georgetown in 2007, then selling it to a trust controlled by Charles & Belinda Schwertner. This type of transaction is common, especially for two physicians in today’s litigious society (and an indication of prudent financial planning).
An examination of Dr. Schwertner’s Texas Medical Board records indicated that he is in “good standing” with that state agency and no malpractice litigation is pending.
Next, we examined the campaign finance reports filed by Charles Schwertner and his campaign organization, Texans for Charles Schwertner. An examination of the reports filed during his previous campaign and the current campaign appear to be in order with no irregularities apparent on the surface.
On April 30th, Schwertner’s campaign organization filed the “30 Day Before Election Report (TEC#526664)“. The report shows the following totals:
Total Political Contributions: $ 276,433.26
Total Political Expenditures: $ 148,800.83
The report shows a contribution balance maintained with a month to go of $ 310,907.17. This gives Dr. Schwertner a large “war chest” going into the final leg of the 2012 Republican Primary election against his opponent, Ben Bius. Interesting enough, Mr. Bius has a contribution balance maintained on his 30 Day Before Election Report (TEC#526825) of $ 0.00. With less than a month before the primary election, this surprising lack of campaign funding (when compared to Schwertner) makes Bius and his political effort the equivalent of that famous Texas saying “all hat, no cattle”!
[Editorial Note: We will be giving Mr. Bius' "30 Day"" report a closer look in a future post real soon]
Next we look at the “Big Money Factor” (BMF). Blackflagmedia.com defines the BMF as donations from individuals of $ 1000.00 or greater or donations from a political action committee (PAC) or other entity (such as another campaign organization) of $ 500.00 or more.
Of the $ 276,433.26 of total donations reported on the 30 Day Report by Texans for Charles Schwertner (Schwertner’s campaign organization), $ 244,618.80 are from BMF donations, which is 88.5% of the total donations received! These donations come from a spectrum of donors associated with various business interests across the state of Texas, including energy, pharmaceutical/healthcare, real estate, financial services, telecom, construction/home building and other assorted interests.
Of these industry sectors, the ones that included the largest BMF donations as a percentage of total donations reported were:
Real Estate – 15.8% (including a $ 10,000 donation from the Texas Association of Realtors PAC (TREPAC). Ed.Note: Odd that they don’t support Schwertner’s opponent Bius, who is a Texas real estate broker!)
Construction/Homebuilding – 15.7% ( Including the Associated Builders & Contractors of Texas PAC and the Associated General Contractors of Texas PAC)
The Schwertner campaign’s largest individual donor is Mr. Bob Perry of Houston, Texas, who made two reported donations totaling $ 35,000.00. Mr. Perry is no stranger to those who watch Republican races in the state. He is known for large donations to conservative Republican candidates and causes, such as the 527 group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and disgraced former Texas Congressman Tom DeLay’s PAC’s Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC) and Americans for a Republican Majority (ARMPAC), both entities no stranger to campaign finance irregularities. In fact, ARMPAC paid DeLay’s wife and daughter over $ 350,000.00 in “consulting fees” between 2001 and 2006.
Other large individual contributors to the Schwertner campaign include:
$ 10,000.00 from Curtis Mewbourne, President of Mewbourne Oil
$ 5000.00 from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a Native American tribe known for numerous political donations in Texas politics, including donations to “Governor Goodhair” Rick Perry and outgoing U.S. Senator from Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchinson.
One interesting individual donation to Schwertner’s campaign is from the current State Senator for District 5, Steve Ogden, in the amount of $ 2500.00. It is Ogden’s seat in the Texas Senate that Schwertner hopes to occupy. Ogden has also formally endorsed Dr. Schwertner as his “replacement”.
On the subject of endorsements of Schwertner, he has received endorsements from Governor Perry, various state, county and local elected officials, past & present Texas A&M Board of Regents members, community leaders and various groups such as the Conservative Republicans of Texas and the Young Conservatives of Texas. When compared to the endorsements of his opponent, Ben Bius, it appears that Schwertner has the upper hand in the donations and endorsement departments in the race for Senator Ogden’s seat in the Texas Senate.
Next time, we will look at Dr. Schwertner’s voting record in the 82nd Legislature, and his track record in crafting legislation on behalf of the people of his district and the state.