Archive for June 3rd, 2011

In a recent NPR show, former Labor Secretary and political commentator Robert Reich addressed the potential executive order by President Obama to require government contractors to disclose their political spending. Reich wants to take the executive order a step farther by eliminating all political contributions from government contractors. Reich explains that contractors such as Lockheed Martin get a large portion of their contracts from the federal government and then use that money to lobby members of Congress.

However, not everyone is as much of a fan of the proposed order as Reich. Texas Congressman Jeb Hensarling was scheduled to attend a breakfast yesterday morning hosted by a PAC fro Fluor which is a major government contractor. Last week Rep. Hensarling voted in favor of an amendment to counteract President Obama’s executive order. Adam Smith of Public Campaign wrote on his website ” I wonder if Hensarling discussed his concern about the influence of money in our political process with the government contractor lobbyists handing him money this morning.”

In addition, this cycle has left many Congressional staffers feeling as though Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has changed the game in Congress as showed in a recent Public Citizen survey. Furthermore, as Stephen Colbert demonstrated, the Citizens United ruling made it much easier for unlimited funds to flow into politics.

Colbert proves just how dangerous the Supreme Court ruling can become. He jokes about the implications, but in Texas it is very real. In Texas, individuals as well as corporations have always had a major impact in elections and legislation. Most recently, a new Texans for Public Justice report shows that Bob Perry along with two conservative PAC’s gave substantial amounts of money to opponents of the new Home Owner Association Reform bill. Anther report by Texans for Public Justice shows that the Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons gave money to more than 61 percent of the Texas House of Representatives. Of that group, 83 percent of them voted in favor of the out-of-state nuclear waste bill. Public Citizen advocates for the government to serve the voters and not corporate special interests such as Bob Perry’s Homes or Harold Simmons‘ corporations. Public Citizen Texas fights for clean and fair elections through public financing, not corporate funded elections. We also want greater accountability in government. The public should know where political contributions are coming from, especially when corporations are involved. Because as Stephen Colbert said that the American Dream is about people working hard enough so “someday they can go on to create a legal entity which can then collect unlimited funds [for elections].”

Read Full Post »

Free trees for Texas!

Odwalla is donating $100,000 to plant trees in the United States this year. You have a vote in where those trees will be planted! Visit Odawalla and  plant your tree in Texas.

Each tree planted online equals $1 your state will receive to plant real trees in Texas State Parks. Last year more than $15,000 was raised for trees at Garner State Park. This year’s contest ends when there are 100,000 votes, so place your vote today! Texas ranked fourth in votes last year, being topped by Maryland, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Let’s put Texas in at the top this year!

Plant your tree today! www.odwalla.com/plantatree

Read Full Post »

Drought plagued cotton field in Lubbock, Texas just two weeks ago - photo by Betsy Blaney, AP

More than half the state of Texas is now gripped by the most extreme level of drought measured by climatologists and as I look out my window at the lush green strip of lawn in front of the office building across the street, I wonder how long they will be able to keep watering to maintain that look.

A report released Thursday by national climate experts shows that Texas saw the highest levels of drought — rated as “exceptional” — jump from 43.97 percent of the state to 50.65 percent of the state.  Folks living in these regions of the state are experiencing thousands of wildfires, dried up grazing land needed for cattle, and the loss of thousands of acres of wheat and other crops.

It has been estimated that Texas farmers and ranchers have already lost $1.5 billion in revenues this year, and officials say if the drought continues into June, losses will top $4 billion, making it the costliest season on record, impacting the entire nation since Texas is the nation’s second largest agriculture producer .

Texas could be well on its way to breaking the record of 2006 as we contemplate this May’s estimated rainfall totals, which were only about 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 inches of rain across the state.  This would make the March-May spring period the driest on record once the totals are confirmed.

Texas has a long history with droughts,  but it is still early and we will have to wait a bit to determine how this year ranks in the history of Texas droughts, but it is not looking good and so far the governor’s call for prayer for rain has yet to be answered.

The persistent drought in the south comes even as too much rain has been falling to the north with flooding prompting wide-spread evacuations, and tornadoes spawning as disturbances move through from Dallas north and eastward, devastating communities in their wake.  How much weather related devastation do we have to endure before our governments begin to seriously consider means to mitigate the effects of climate change?

Read Full Post »