Saturday, May 26, 2012

Blue Dot Blues has moved to Wordpress

After a lot of wrangling on the backend, I've finally exported all of Blue Dot Blues to Wordpress.  This is a move I've wanted to make since 2009.

I know a lot of you had trouble viewing the blog this last week - I had it shut down and the only way to do that was limit access to "private."

This site will stay up for a little while until everyone updates bookmarks, etc.

Please update your links, etc to the new Blue Dot Blues:  http://mjsamuelson.wordpress.com/

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Austin City Council Election Results - Just the Same Old Song

I wish I had good news tonight, but as results trickle in from this very poorly attended city council election, I get that same sick feeling I get every time we talk about the Austin City Council.  No councilmember lives south of the river; none of them live north of 2222, either.

This blog was rather bereft of my usual blabber about the city council races; I did a lot more over at Facebook and elsewhere.  But what it came down to was this:  3 seats, plus the mayor, were on the ballot.  All were contested.  So that was Leffingwell, Martinez, Spelman, and Cole, and all were challenged.  Spelman attracted the most competition.  The 10-1 (single-member district) proponents for city council were Laura Pressley in Place 2, Dom Chavez in Place 5, and Shaun Ireland in Place 6.  With 200 precincts reporting (of 237) at the time of this writing, none of those three cracked 50%, and all the incumbents, including Leffingwell, have been reelected.

And we're hearing that at just barely 10%, turnout for this year's city council election was at an all-time low.

There was no legitimate reason why this election had to take place in May, confusing already discouraged voters from turning out.  By holding this election now when they had the option of moving it to the uniform election date in November, the Austin City Council practiced blatant - and expensive - voter suppression in an attempt to hold on to the status quo.  In one precinct, 208, where 6200 registered voters reside, only 59 votes were cast between early voting and election day.  59 votes!  For just election day, there were 18 votes cast - so essentially, those 18 votes cost the county at least $20 each.

This is reckless and absurd, and the people who did this and who cost us this money have been reelected.

This should make you very, very ill, Travis County.  (And I won't even get into what it must have cost per vote in the Williamson County side of the City of Austin - I'm sure that would make me violently ill)

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Parent PAC defenders on the attack

I'm a bit surprised it has taken this long, but the Texas Parent PAC's staunch defenders (those happy few) have come out of the woodwork, swinging axes because they had their feelings hurt when I posted about just who the PAC's major donors are.  A friend - a parent, as it happens, in a local school district - emailed me this morning to tip me off about this post over at Educate for Texas.  Go ahead, take a look.  I bet you can guess what's there though - apoplexy at the thought that advocates for fiscal responsibility and parental choices in education might have an opinion as taxpayers!  Gasp!  The horror!

I was going to leave this alone, because it isn't usually wise to throw fuel on a fire.  However, this election cycle is too crucial to leave to rhetorical chance.  I do my research, and I wasn't going anywhere other than the Texas Ethics Commission to do it.  I've written about the Parent PAC for the last six years, and usually here on Blue Dot Blues, a blog I am not paid to maintain (my modest attempt at monetizing it has yielded exactly zero, come to think of it).  Repeatedly, this is an organization with one goal - spend more on education, and do right now dang it!  They've teamed with Texans for Economic Development (another "innocuous" name) in the past, taking aim at legislators for nothing more than believing in school choice (and in TED's case, being against gambling).  In 2006, their target list included anyone who took money from James Leininger.  They were positively shameless about it.  And the donors of the group are repeatedly school administration bureaucrats and lobbyists (Elna Christopher from the Texas Association of Counties, for instance) and despite their rhetoric they are not merely a group of concerned parents.

Why have I picked on them for having Charles Butts of HEB as their primary donor?  Butts has one issue - he's against school choice, in every form.  With all the money he dumps into the Parent PAC, I often wonder why his candidates, and the parents who rally behind this group with everything but their checkbooks, aren't asking for that money to be redirected to purchase textbooks or white boards or other school supplies (imagine what $10k could buy in one semester).

With "spend more" being the driving force of Parent PAC's rhetoric and purpose, you have to stop and ask what exactly they want "more money" for.  With so many superintendents on their top donors list, it is worth looking at salaries and what has been going on in those school districts.  Round Rock ISD, for instance, where the superintendent, a Parent PAC donor, just got a substantial raise despite presiding over a significant drop in academic achievement in his district.  It is also a worthy question to ask and have answered - are these superintendents from districts whose boards of trustees are suing the state?  Are they asking about efficiency - or are they just upset because there isn't more money being dumped into their coffers without accountability?

I have one more note for today, regarding former State Senator and Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff.  It is true, he's a parent who gives money to the Parent PAC.  Parent PAC in turn gives money to his kids - SBOE board member Thomas Ratliff, and according to the 30-day reports for this primary cycle, his son Bennett Ratliff, seeking a seat in the Texas House of Representatives.  Gotta love that, right?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Randy Samuelson for SREC SD 14

The last 48 hours at my house have been extremely busy, as we hit the ground running with a pretty exciting project.  My husband Randy is running for State Republican Executive Committeeman for Senate District 14.

Back in 2004, at the Republican Party of Texas state convention, Randy and I met at the booth for the Young Conservatives of Texas.  He was running the booth, and I was a volunteer sergeant-at-arms.  Ever since then, I've known Randy to be a tireless champion for the conservative cause, and to be especially passionate about empowering grassroots activists.  His decision to run for this position comes from the desire to grow the Republican Party and to improve communication between the grassroots, party leadership, and elected Republican officials.

We face unique challenges in SD 14, and as a native Austinite with roots in the area going back six generations, Randy is in a great position to recognize, articulate, and take on those challenges.

I hope we can earn your support, if you're a delegate or alternate to the State Convention from SD 14.  For more on Randy and this race, please go to http://www.samuelsonforsd14.com.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Statement from RRISD Board Member concerning April 24 meeting

Statement by Terri Romere, Round Rock ISD Trustee, Place 4 regarding the Special Called Meeting dated April 24, 2012:

 “Last week, I was the sole vote against the contract extension of the Round Rock ISD Superintendent. Earlier this year, I voted in the minority against the ISD proposed boundary realignment recommendations. Neither position has proven very popular with many of my fellow trustees or the school district administration. During the boundary realignment consideration, several board members took exception to an email I forwarded in an effort to foster communication between constituents and referred the matter to the County Attorney for criminal investigation. Now, some of those same board members want to go behind closed doors to discuss censuring me for something that has not been disclosed to me or my attorney. I would opine that the fact that I was the lone dissenting vote may be a factor in the timing of this proposed censure. I will not agree to a closed door meeting and have sent notice to the Board demanding that any discussion about a possible censure of me be conducted in an open meeting format, which is my right under Texas law.

 My dissent is a constitutional right and a duty I have to the citizens who elected me. No amount of bullying, intimidation, or harassment is going to silence what I feel is my moral responsibility to my office or my constituents. My fellow board members may take whatever action they feel is necessary, but I will not be taking part in further wasting the Board’s time or our ISD resources. Instead, I will be spending the evening with my critically ill mother who is being transferred to another hospital.”