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The quote below from this blog caught my attention because it expresses a common sentiment with which I am not in agreement. It is essentially that voting for voting’s sake is to be encouraged. Anything that gets people to vote is therefore considered good. I disagree. I’m all for convenience. I would very much like to be able to go online
and cast my vote at an accessible web site, but not at the cost of
opening the door to the rampant voter fraud such a system would invite.
My wife and I did use mail-in ballots one year. Obviously anything that makes it easier to commit fraud is not good. I do wonder if that plays a role in Obama’s lead, but that isn’t the issue I’m interested in here. The point is that if what it takes to get someone to vote is just to make it convenient enough for them, I am not at all sure I want them voting. If our goal in making it easier to vote is to attract those who won’t bother unless we make it that easy then our goal harms the society rather than helping. Voting should be undertaken with diligence and forethought. That’s not the kind of voter that will do it just because it’s easy. If you think voting is too much trouble, please do stay home. I’m not for making it any easier for you.
Some have suggested that early voting should be curtailed because it doesn’t give the voter a chance to change their mind if circumstances are altered. This may be true, but if it gets people to vote, it’s hard to argue against it.
I wish I had taken the time to write down my experiences sooner, but I feel like I’m still catching up on everything I didn’t do that weekend. Life goes on and doesn’t stop to let you catch up. I went to the Republican Party of Texas state convention as a delegate from my district for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It was an interesting experience. As expected I did lots of voting, but I think I did a lot more learning. I have a lot more to learn, and I look forward to the opportunity to do so.
I don’t think i know anyone who loves to go to meetings. I’ve had a theory for some time that there comes a point at which adding participants to a meeting begins to decrease the effectiveness of that meeting inversely as more are added. Being in a meeting with over 6,000 people hasn’t done much to challenge my theory. There’s no intelligence test before someone takes a microphone, and there’s no test of parliamentary procedure knowledge. I have to credit our chairman, Steve Munisteri, for handling the madness well. I’ve heard it was actually better than in previous years. Maybe there is something our local chapters could do to educate delegates a little better before they hit the floor.
Another thing I learned is that the real decision making happens in the committees. That’s true at both the state and local levels. It is the local resolutions committee who decides what makes it to the district level conventions, and it is the platform committee who decides how much of that ends up the platform that we all end up voting on. Though anyone can submit changes from the floor, there are practical limits to how much of what is presented can be changed.
We have a very good platform. I would have changed a few things, but there’s nothing there that I can’t abide. Therefore, I am not bothered much by the way things went, but I suspect a lot of others might be. By the time we got to the platform we were in a late session. I didn’t check the time but I figure it was around 10:00 p.m. before we even got started. We fussed over the immigration plank changes for most of the remaining session time, then someone moved we accept the whole thing as written, including the changes we just made. The motion was seconded and and overwhelmingly affirmed. Thus, what the committee did went largely unchallenged.
The caucuses were interesting for other reasons. We elected various people to represent us in different ways. The positions are fuzzy to me now, but I remember thinking that sometimes the reasons given by people who spoke for a particular nominee were specious. I suppose I understand rewarding the party faithful. I’m glad they are thought of as nice people. I would certainly appreciate testaments to their character. If the job carries some prestige and doesn’t require much else, I can even support sending someone to do it out of appreciation or good will. However, if they are being asked to represent me, I want more relevant information. I want some assurance that they are going to vote the way I would vote. That’s the idea of representation. Some of those were committee picks. Others were nominated on the spot, though not necessarily without forethought.
There again I see the importance of the committees. A delegate selection committee at the district level was responsible for naming the slate of delegates in the first place, though again anyone could have applied at our local convention and I seem to recall that a couple did. at that level all that is required is that you breathe and vote Republican, but this should be our first line of defense against influences that are contrary to what we say we stand for.
I found the whole process intriguing. Unless they decide to run me off I’ll be back again next time and hopefully take a greater roll. If you have the time and the will, what has come to be called the “grass roots” is the place to be. We complain about the intrenched party leadership, particularly at the national level. If all we do is complain we are going to continue to be disappointed. Texas is a pretty conservative state. We’re probably never going to be entirely satisfied with what comes out at the national level, but if we don’t work to change it, we never will.
If you agree that our country is headed in the wrong direction both economically and socially and that we must turn around quickly and completely, I hope you’ll join me in the fight. I don’t know what form that will take even for me. I don’t believe many of our traditional methods work so I am reluctant to perpetuate them. I believe we’ve got to come up with ways to build relationships before our message will be heard. I don’t know about you, but calling me in the middle of dinner or interrupting any part of my day for that matter to give me a sales pitch makes me less likely to buy. That’s the opposite of what we want.
Now I speak to Christians specifically. We can’t fix this with politics. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do what we can in the political arena so that conditions are as favorable as possible for the triumph of good over evil, but it does mean we’ve got to do more. We live in a country that is governed (at least by design) by its citizens. If we are corrupt, then our government will be corrupt. It falls to the ones who know the Truth to share that Truth at every opportunity. If we hope to save our nation, then God must save its people first. We are His messengers. In all that we do, let us never lose sight of that commission. Otherwise, nothing else we do will matter.
For the last few months in my local TEA Party, we’ve been talking about the upcoming elections and how we should be involved in them. Though we are expressly non-partisan, our views are most closely represented by the Republican Party, so that is where our discussions have been focused. We were taught about how the process works, how voting is done, and how our precincts function among other things. Each time we met volunteers would be called for as various needs were brought up. I sat there taking it all in, not sure how or even if I wanted to get involved on the party level.
I have not always been happy with the Republicans, particularly at the national level. Yet when it comes time to vote, where else am I going to go? I believe there are more than enough principled people in the Republican Party that we can move it in the right direction rather than try to form something entirely new that doesn’t have any real power. We can only do that by participating in the process.
So when the call went out once more for delegates to participate in the local district convention and go to the state convention in June, I decided to at least investigate the possibility. This is the place where the party platform is created and where state party leaders are chosen. I began asking questions of people who had been involved. I looked at the online material provided by the Texas Republican Party. I watched a mock district convention video they have on the site. The only remaining concern I had was based on that video. They agreed not to read resolutions since they were visible on screen. What if something like that was done in my district? What if printed material was presented that I could not access? I wanted to be able to make informed decisions and I didn’t really want to put the hard-working organizers to more trouble making accommodations for me. I went ahead and asked the question. No definitive answer was forthcoming, but it turned out not to be a problem.
I was encouraged to come, so I filled out the delegate application sent to me via email and ended up at the district convention. Everything was read aloud, and I am sure I could have requested any clarification I needed. A couple of times I almost got up the nerve to speak out on something, but there was no need. I think next time I’ll be more likely to do that. From time to time proceedings would be interrupted by a candidate for office swinging through on his or her multi district convention campaign run. This is common and provides a way to get some exposure to lower level candidates you might not know anything about otherwise.
I will be involved at this level from now on, and I think I’d like to be part of the resolutions committee. That’s the first stop for anything that someone wants on the platform. In a couple of months I’ll be going to the state convention, and I’m looking forward to the experience. I think this is the right approach rather than trying to start something entirely new. If you haven’t read the platform, go here and do so. I can’t speak for other states, but in Texas we’re on the right track. When I read the platform I decided I wanted to be part of keeping it that strong.
Watching the political maneuvering over the national debt, I keep having the same thought. When so many of us live beyond our means, why wouldn’t government officials think they are free to do the same? Only as the consequences of our behavior loom large do we stop to consider that maybe we shouldn’t borrow so much. I read some statistics this morning that suggest we may be waking up as individuals, but the message certainly isn’t getting to our leaders, at least not the democrats. These thoughts were in my mind when I set out to write this morning, but I keep coming back to one that I have expressed before. We elected this mess!
Again I must state that I believe we have the best form of government in existence today, but that is not to say it cannot fall victim to the weakness of all governments. That is the people. Elected governments are particularly telling of the state of the people, since the people choose them. We got what we asked for. In 2008 the democrats rode in on a wave of discontent and sentiment, and that wave has become a tsunami. 2010 brought us some relief, but not enough. As we fight to keep from drowning, we may make some better choices than we have in the past, but how long will that last? As long as we keep making those choices based on the whim or circumstance of the moment, more often they will be bad ones. For this reason I will say again that our problems are not primarily political. Our problems go to the heart. We will not make better political choices until we start making better personal choices, and we will not be able to make the best personal choices until we submit to Yahweh and allow him to help us make them. This is my prayer for our country. In a nation with an elected government, the governed must lead the way. We have largely abdicated that responsibility in favor of comfort, handouts and false security.
This is the forum that was sponsored by the League Of Women Voters of Richardson. I tried to summarize the main thrust of each question. Notes are incomplete in places. They were typed on a netbook by a typist with a broken finger. If anyone finds inaccuracies or would like to add detail please post a comment. My notes are not entirely unbiased. The forum video is on the city’s web site. One thing became clear to me as I listened to the candidates. If you rely on forums like this without knowing the underlying issues that prompt the questions and the dynamics of the local government you will not come out much the wiser. These are not the best notes but because early voting is upon us and not everyone will have time to watch the video I thought they might help a little. I myself do not have the time to re-watch the forum to make the notes better. For that reason I’ve also provided a link to the video and the following table of contested races with web site and contact information taken from the Dallas Morning News voter guide and also available at the Richardson TEA Party web site. For responses to questions sent by email from the Richardson TEA Party to the candidates, see http://dc-tm.blogspot.com.
Mark J. Solomon
Laura Gibbs Maczka
Kendal D. Hartley
Q & A
1. How would you make city finances more transparent?
WG said many of the funds are not available online. He said what is online doesn’t have enough detail. It is good but can be better.
BT said they have provided transparency through video council meetings and online check register. Sites state award for transparency.
MS also thinks city has done great job and said more will be done.
JD agrees with what has been said. We need to go further with detail on budget
LM said me too. Next step communicate availability and notes that budget hearings are public
KV also said good job but wants to see more including votes summarized in a concise summary
KH? Missed name said budget retreats should be televised
DC good start, but need more detail. Need independent audit. She wants to see citizen input on budget items.
AO Council listened and acted on transparency concerns. He references online video with televised sessions and checkbook availability online. He cites perfect score on checkbook.
2. What if any initiatives would you propose to help seniors?
JD favors additional 10% reduction on taxes.
MS said already offer discounts on water and trash. He said he’s one and wants these things for himself. Said they’ll keep working
KV said what’s good for seniors is good for all of us budget properly
LM said seniors are valuable resource. Need more housing options for seniors if they are to stay.
DS said tax exemption should be increased to 57.5%.
KH also wants more senior housing
AO said senior population highest in area. Praises exemption said they have considered housing options and will continue. No mention of his failed tax freeze.
DC wants to see research to diversify business to increase tax base and thereby reduce property taxes for seniors and everyone.
BT committed to 30% exemption existing praises senior center said housing concerns real no elevators?
WG just said seniors vote so we will take care of them. Honest politician?
3. What will you do to bring in new business?
LM said real need and incentives are the way to do it but they should be performance based
KV said grow tax base by recruiting businesses. Said we are good place without incentives Sometimes necessary but should not be offered up front.
KH said incentives are necessary need to evaluate case by case bring in quality.
DS incentives must be performance based. If requirements are not met incentives should be withdrawn. He noted lots of empty space for them to occupy.
DC favors performance based incentives and no upfront cash. Make companies live up to deals. Need to consider creative ways for incentives that demand performance. Need to focus on getting smaller businesses as well.
AO said we’re based on tech companies. He wants to choose companies that draw in other companies. Said we need to diversify.
WG We should use abatements but need to know we are giving our tax money to private company. Need to be responsible. Companies do look at taxes and city amenities but what draws them is relationship.
BT said incentives are necessary. Competition is tough. Plano budgets for it. Frisco uses money that would have been for public transit.
MS ditto incentives necessary. Said they continue to perform.
JD said incentives good but we’re not using them well. Sites Ti plant said need smaller companies too.
4. Would you support a citizens’ charter review board.
All say yes
5. Two opposing PAC’s are involved with this election. What is your opinion given this is a non-partisan race?
DC said her support comes from one and is glad for citizen concern. She pointed out two other PAC’s. Said they see we need change. They want Richardson to be a place for their children in the future. She’s glad so many are present at the forum. Local government has much to do with quality of life.
AO also mentioned fire fighters and realtors PAC’s. It’s part of the process. Everyone wants their voice heard. Look to see who is behind the PAC to see if they are interested in good of city.
WG appreciates PAC’s because citizens are involved.
BT wants to go back to the old days with no "negativity." PAC’s are a reality of today. Echoes Omar and said look for the positive people.
MS doesn’t like the PAC’s either said look who’s behind them.
JD: PAC’s do what the people want. If there was no need they wouldn’t be there. Good that they get the voters involved. PAC’s are good.
LM: PAC’s are formed by people with high ideals and common interest. The danger is in being forced to pick sides. Said she doesn’t like being asked to favor either of them.
KV notes that the Richardson Coalition sent out mailers with L’s picture on it. He points out that candidates are aligned with them. Voters should check out everything they read and vote their conscience.
KH is glad citizens are taking active rolls. He also questions the people behind the PAC’s.
DS supports right to have PAC’s and said do your homework rather than believe what they tell you.
6. What should be done about water conservation?
BT is committed to work with the water board to provide water for the future said it’s complicated.
GW: water conservation important.
JD: long term planning is needed.
MS said city is already taking measures to conserve this season. Water needs must be addressed as part of economic development. He will work with water district. Long range planning needed.
KV: long range planning is underway; need to get water from east Texas if possible. It will take negotiation. In the meantime we need to conserve but there’s a problem because the city is under contract to buy a certain amount whether we use it or not.
LM supports long term water conservation and also other environmental conservation.
DS: conservation is necessary. Need to go after Austin to get reservoirs built. It takes too much to get things changed.
KH conservation of all resources important
AO is on environmental commission. City now has water capture regulations on books. Some of the excess water the city must purchase is used in community gardens.
DC concerned about future water needs. Noted that Tree the Town will take from what we have because of irrigation requirements.
7. Why are you running?
MS interest in serving citizens. He has done so 8 years in different rolls. Said he works at it all the time and enjoys it.
JD: Richardson is a great place. The Council is too reactive and not proactive enough. Cites plans he presented while on planning commission that were not acted on. He wants to make it better
LM grew up here and wants to make it better. Appreciates what city has done and feels her experienced with service is needed.
KV has a vision for financial stability. He sees governments going broke everywhere due to poor planning and doesn’t want that to happen here
KH has service experience and owns a business and wants to help.
DS enjoys public service. He was on police force 25 years. He is disappointed in the low interest in local elections that affect our lives. Said he won’t take the pay if elected.
DC lived here 32 years and involved in community. She believes the council needs to listen to the people. She is very upset by recent zoning changes. She considers her roll that of a servant.
AO said he’s passionate about public service and cites extra things he’s done.
WG is running for economic development and job growth. Said that’s the way to protect the future.
BT focused on mixed use developments and wants more of the same.
8. Do you want to sell the golf course or Eiseman Center?
KV: we couldn’t sell them. They lose money. We need to find ways to make them at least break even.
LM: don’t sell; make them profitable. Said they provide amenities citizens need.
DS points out that they are amenities rather than necessities. He likes them and said council needs to help them.
KH: they are important. If we shut them down shut down parks and pools too. Companies consider these things when choosing location.
AO: need them to bring people into city.
DC said they are valuable for citizens and others. They draw corporations. Wants to review golf contract and do more to promote Eiseman Center to others who might use it.
BT agrees with KH and said they make city home.
WG said we need to sell naming rights to IC as creative way to bring in money. We need to make it profitable. Golf course needs management outsourced.
Reporter lost track of who was speaking and doesn’t want to misrepresent MS or JD.
9. Will you raise taxes or “gut” things like library, etc.?
KH? Said no but we’ll use bonds. (I guess BT’s positive vibes will pay the interest on them.)
DS notes bad question. Nothing will be “gutted” and taxes will not be raised.
DC does not support raising taxes. Need to bring in business. Be prudent using bonds. Do need to maintain and improve infrastructure. Anything but taxes.
WG manage finances
BT put it to a vote if raising taxes.
JD Things like library insignificant part of debt problem. Need to optimize what we have
LM: no, financial management good but can look at them
KV: no. Consider that bond not a good idea either. Eventually it will raise taxes. We will be spending money paying interest.
10. What will you do about the traffic created by the 190 @ Renner project?
AO: question misleading. Studies have been done and they’ll handle it. Proud of what was done.
DC opposed form based zoning because developer had too much latitude and no accountability for handling the traffic problem
BT: number of apartments overstated. Traffic won’t be a problem.
WG: transit oriented development will overload already crowded dart
JD: new development was biggest mistake ever. Apartment numbers not overstated because there are other apartments planned for the area. Crime will go up. This is not like Shops at Legacy.
MS is proud of what council did. We can do better than others. We don’t know how many apartments will really be built.
KV DART is already maxed out; makes no sense to build. Cars will be a problem
LM: traffic was considered. Developers were required to make changes said city will monitor.
DS: concerned for apartment potential. Good that study was done but accessibility for traffic is going to be a problem
KH trusts the work of the staff; development will be great and bring in sales tax.
11. How can underfunding of retirement be prevented?
WG doesn’t have an answer
BT said city employee’s part of retirement system. City has to follow guidelines to keep it funded. City did make reduction in compensation.
MS picked up the argument. There’s no problem. City has made changes. He said projections of underfunding faulty. He cites our good ratings.
JD We are underfunded. City is working to fix. Cited publicly available figures saying that simple math on budget page 1 shows the problem.
LM: we have to do what we have to do to stay competitive.
KV: It’s a problem taking down cities everywhere. City is taking action. That is good but concerned we have promised more than we can deliver.
KH didn’t say much.
DS benefits from retirement compensation as a former police officer. A state dictated plan is in place and the city is following it.
DC concerned about the future. We need to look at investments. We need to figure out how to keep the promises we made.
AO acknowledged the liability. The city has done something about it.
Unopposed council members were given an opportunity to make closing statements as well.
AO thinks the council did great the last two years. They provided open government, took on Spring Valley project, brought in business. We need to market city to next generation. We need to focus on economic opportunities. He thanked us for 2 years and asked for 2 more.
DC is running for her granddaughters. She wants the city to be a place they will want to raise families. She doesn’t think the council has taken care of the neighborhoods. She wants to keep living here and wants Richardson to grow. She wants home ownership rather than rentals. She is not planning to run for future office beyond the council. She just wants to help the city.
Steve Mitchell is honor to have served as former mayor and councilman. He serves to bring Richardson to the next level. He praised the work on new developments and recruiting of new business. Said bonds are good.
DS said that the citizens deserve experience and as a former councilman and longtime public servant he has it.
KH didn’t say much.
KV: we can do better. Stop deficit spending. We have too much debt. We can’t keep doing that. Every budget item needs studies for efficiency. We need to increase the tax base. We shouldn’t give away too much when trying to attract new business. We need to focus on our infrastructure. We need to revise the city charter and get rid of executive sessions.
LM: Richardson is still a great place to live. Focus on job creation. Again praises UTD. She wants people to live and work here. She wants good neighborhoods and green space preservation.
DS is running for strong neighborhoods and business, improved infrastructure and services. Keep the good staff. He mentions credit rating and wants new retail.
JD praised council and said we can do better.
MS: I’m not sure what he said.
BT is proud of what the council has done. He brings up our ratings again.
WG: attacks BT for running again when he said he wouldn’t. Focus on neighborhoods and jobs,
I’m sure that Scott Dunn also spoke but either had nothing of significance to say or I missed it entirely while catching up.
Last election season, some of my new political acquaintances suggested that I should volunteer at the phone banks, calling our neighbors to urge them to get out and vote…Republican, of course. I demurred. It’s true that I’m not good at cold calling strangers and don’t like doing it, but that’s not the reason I declined. I try not to make decisions based on what I like, but what needs to be done. My problem is that I don’t want people calling me to sell me anything, including their ideas. We recently dispensed with our home phone altogether. I have a line for my home office, but our private line became nothing but a nuisance. We call out on our cell phones. Our friends have our cell phone numbers. The only people who ever called our home phone were people we really didn’t want to talk to. Based on the do-not-call laws we have now, I don’t think we’re unique in that. So, why would I do to someone else what I don’t want done to me. I have serious doubts as to the affectiveness of such a strategy today, if it ever worked.
Someone else recently said that one of the most effective things we can do to get out the vote is walk our neighborhoods and talk to people. I suppose that might be true, but if we’re not talking to them at any other time then we’re just strangers at the door, no more welcome than any other kind of solicitor. We don’t answer our door unless we have reason to believe someone we want to see is knocking. For reasons specific to our situation we’re extra wary of people we don’t know at our door. So again, why would I approach other people in a way I do not want to be approached?
Where does that leave us? How do we get our message out? Flyers? Don’t put trash on my door either. That’s exactly where it goes. I don’t even look at it. Postal mail is just about as worthless. Email? Ok if it’s opt-in, but how do you get people to do that. The first contact must be made somehow. Social media? Maybe, but not everyone uses it.
I’m asking myself, how would I get the attention of someone like me? In a word, relationship. Someone I know and have some level of respect for shares something with me and based on that respect I consider what they have to say and may act on it. It isn’t necessarily a close relationship. It’s just that I know who they are and have reason to believe there may be truth in what they say. I think there is a lesson there. If we want to be affective in sharing our vision for our country, our state, and our city, we need to establish credibility. Credibility begins with familiarity, assuming we conduct ourselves in a way that inspires trust. We need to be out at community events. We need to make a point of talking to our neighbors when we see them throughout the year and not just when we have something to sell them.
It’s not so different from the kind of thing those of us who are Christians should be doing anyway. We have a message that is much more important than anything else we might want to say. We should always be on the lookout for ways to share the truth of the Gospel and the love that drives it. So let’s get out there and share the truth, both great and small.
A couple of months ago, it seemed as if we had made our voices heard. Massive opposition across the country seemed to have gotten the attention of Congress and the first health care monstrosity died. Not so fast! Instead of acknowledging the will of the people, our arrogant elected officials doubled the size of the first bill and passed it by a close margin on Saturday in the House of “Representatives.”
I hope we got the message. Protest is not enough. Sadly there may be little else we can do for the next few months, but let’s not miss the next opportunity to make our voices heard in a way that cannot be ignored, at least as long as we continue to show at least some respect for our nation’s constitution. The process of election has already been under attack, but it still stands and is our best hope of doing anything useful in the political arena.
The 2010 primaries are crucial. If you wait until November to cast your vote, the chances are your choices will be no better than they were the last time. The truly worthy candidates are usually weeded out in the primaries. I understand a reluctance to register affiliation with either of the major parties. I am a conservative who is embarrassed to be associated with the Republican Party. Knowing the official platform of the Democrats, I don’t think there’s anything that would make me vote for one, but I’m certainly not going to vote for someone just because he’s with the Republicans.
I don’t know how other states work, but in Texas you must choose which primary you will vote in and cannot vote in the other. You are not committed thereby to vote the party line in the general election. If you want to have a real voice in the process, get out and vote next March. Protest can have value if they gain enough momentum, but these elitist socialists we have in office now think we’re fools who will have forgotten all about what they’ve done by next year. Sadly we’ve given them little cause to think differently. If you love your country, make sure that doesn’t happen. Go vote where you can still make a difference. Encourage your friends and relatives to do the same. We’ve got to have people involved in the process if we hope to change things. Be prepared to explain why it’s important.
I speak now directly to those who call themselves Christian. It is your duty to steward well the freedom and the power given you by the country you live in. Remember the parable of the talents. Pray for wisdom and discernment from Yahweh and go vote!
This is one of those articles it was hard to pick a quote from because there’s so much worth repeating. The author approaches from another angle what I’ve said here before. Our problems did not begin when Obama was elected, else we would not have elected him. Our problems began in our own hearts when we turned as a nation from Yahweh and His principles. Nothing short of repentance will redeem us now.
Barack Obama is only one man. A bad man, yes, but he is a symptom more than a cause. Without millions of fawning Americans, he would just be a community agitator, vainly preaching Alinsky principles from a soapbox. Of course, he is a symptom that exacerbates the underlying problem, and symptomatic treatment — to ease immediate pain and hardship — is certainly in order. But it is only the worst of physicians who focuses only on symptoms while ignoring the cancer eating away at the patient’s midst.