First let's be clear, the Harvey historic flood was going to be a problem even if we had gotten everything right, because of the biblical scale we suffered.
Both the City of Houston and Harris County are talking about spending a lot of money to deal with our problems. Great, but before we jump let's make sure we have a well thought out, regional approach to flooding, restricting development in the flood plain and other critical issues.
Let's take a closer look at Mayor Turner's plan to raise taxes. The Mayor wants an emergency property tax increase of 8.9% and that's on top of the appraisal increases already built-in for most homeowner property taxes.
The big problem is it appears he is following Rahm Emmanuel's motto as Chief of Staff to President Obama, "never allow a crisis to go to waste."
Some questions that need to be answered and haven't yet:
- The request is for emergency funding to meet FEMA city's share, yet according to a City of Houston insider, the funding from tax increases will not be available until the Spring of 2018. So why now?
- When is the city going to go to zero based budgeting, establish and fund priorities like public safety and infrastructure and eliminate ancillary non-core spending?
- If flooding abatement is so important, why is the City looking for new and creative ways to spend money we don't have on things we don't need, comparatively speaking, like an almost $1 million a year homework help line?
- Are there other funds available unspent to meet the flood emergency? Again, our City Insider says yes, the city has about $150 million in a ready savings account not allocated from last year and around $50 million from the current budget. If so, isn't this more than the proposed emergency tax rate increase?
- Do you propose to dedicate all new funds to flood abatement and flood control projects, if so, why are you proposing to put the money in the general fund? Why should we trust the city after the misallocation of the rain tax to pay public works salaries?
As Ronald Reagan said, "trust but verify." In this matter the city needs to prove we should trust them before giving them even more money to spend.
As for Harris County, Judge Emmett is correct that you need to reexamine: the region's flood control strategy, upgrading of aging dams, building a new storm water reservoir and ramping up regulations to control development in flood-prone areas. With a solid regional plan, taxpayers and developers are prepared to do their part after we review county spending and figure out how much is needed after a reallocation of county funds from non-propriety spending.
Senator Ted Cruz - Flat, Simple, Fair
Income Tax Reform Great For America
Almost all Conservatives agree that fundamental tax reform is needed for the good of the country and for keeping our promises to the American people. Texas Senator Ted Cruz recently outlined seven critical elements of fundamental tax reform, so here are his great ideas:
- Create a Low Flat Rate. Currently there are seven individual tax brackets with rates as high as nearly 40 percent. We should have one low flat tax rate.
- File Taxes on a Postcard. Each year, more than 90 percent of taxpayers seek help to prepare their returns, either through tax preparers or tax preparation software, costing them $99 billion. Simpler, flatter taxes will save Americans time and money and allow them to file their returns on a postcard.
- Allow Immediate Expensing. Domestic capital investment increases productivity, which results in more jobs and higher wages, and that means higher living standards for American families.
- Lower the Corporate Rate. Companies are leaving the United States in droves and taking their jobs with them. By lowering the corporate rate to 15-20 percent, America becomes competitive with the rest of the world.
- Encourage Repatriation. Current law discourages companies from bringing home foreign earnings. Moving to a territorial system would ensure foreign earnings are not double-taxed.
- End the Death Tax. More than 99 percent of U.S. employer firms are small businesses, many of them family-owned. The death tax establishes a burden that prevents families from being able to keep their businesses running from one generation to the next, and should be put to an end.
- End the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT): The AMT applies to four million households and requires millions of taxpayers to calculate their taxes twice, once under the regular tax code and again under the AMT. Ending the AMT will drastically simplify taxes for millions of American families.
Senator Cruz's plan will get our economy booming, create better jobs for our people and strengthen America.
Conservatives In America,
Like Marranos In Medieval Spain
Guest Commentary By Dennis Prager
For those unfamiliar with the term, Marranos was the name given to Jews in medieval Spain, especially in the fifteenth century during the Spanish Inquisition, who secretly maintained their Judaism while living as Catholics in public.
There is, of course, no Spanish Inquisition in America today - no one is being tortured into confessing what they really believe, and no one is being burned at the stake. But there are millions of Marrano-like Americans: Americans who hold conservative views - especially those who hold to conservative positions on social issues and those who voted for Donald Trump for president.
Millions of Americans who hold conservative and/or pro-Trump views rationally fear being ostracized by their peers, public humiliation, ruined reputations, broken families, losing their job, and being unable to work in their field. Under these circumstances, they have decided that coming out as conservative or pro-Trump is not worth the persecution they would.
In terms of the percentage of the population affected, there is no parallel in American history. Coming out as a homosexual prior to the 1960s-70s, or publicly announcing that one was member of the Communist Party in the 1950s would have often led to similar dire consequences in one's social, work and family life. But gays and Communist Party members comprised a tiny percentage of the American population. And one of them, Communists, supported true evil.
I wish I could share all the emails sent to me from professional musicians who play in some of the premier orchestras of America. They wrote to me following the nationally publicized attempts by left-wing members of the orchestra and of the Santa Monica city government to prevent me from conducting: they publicly called on members of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra to refuse to play, and members of the public to refuse to attend, when I conducted a Haydn symphony at the Walt Disney Concert Hall three weeks ago.
These emails were written to encourage me, and to tell me how they are compelled to hide their conservative views - how they live, in effect, as Marranos.
A violist with one of the most prestigious orchestras in the country (I figured out which orchestra using the Internet; she was afraid to tell even me) wrote to me last week about how quiet she is about her conservatism. While she could not be fired for it, she said, she would be socially ostracized within the orchestra with which she has played for decades.
Another middle-aged professional musician told me that he wears his hair very long in order to appear hippie-like as a decoy to camouflage his conservative politics. He is no more likely to tell fellow musicians that he supports President Trump than a Marrano in medieval Spain would have gone public with his Jewish beliefs.
And here's part of an email to me from a musician in Minnesota: "I was a professional musician from the age of 17. I wanted you to know that I, too, lost my career because of my views. My choice, actually; I just could no longer take the abuse."
I'm fortunate. As a radio talk-show host and columnist, I'm paid to express my opinions. And as to my avocation of conducting orchestras, I'm lucky there, too. Because the permanent conductor of the Santa Monica Symphony and the orchestra's board remained principled, and because so many people support me and my values, the efforts to thwart me failed. Disney Hall, all 2,000-plus seats, was sold out - a first for a community orchestra in that venue.
Of course, American conservative Marranos don't only live in the world of music. They are in every profession. We know about the high-profile cases, the conservatives whose careers have been ruined by saying the "wrong" thing or supporting the "wrong" candidate or ballot proposition; we know about the conservative speakers who have been physically attacked and prevented from speaking on college campuses. But we don't know about the millions who are just afraid to speak up, who remain silent in a business meeting or at a dinner party when someone casually expresses a view that they strongly disagree with. These Americans live in fear, legitimately so in many cases, that if they do speak out, there will be severe consequences - a job lost, a promotion not given, even a child who will no longer speak to them.
This is all new in our country.
Had anyone ever predicted that in America - the land renowned more than any other for liberty and free speech - the word "Marrano" would ever accurately characterize any of its citizens, let alone close to half the voting population, that individual would have been regarded as a charlatan.
But, given the intolerance and hatred on the left and its dominance over almost every area of American life, such an individual would have been a prophet.
This column was originally posted on Townhall.com.
TCR Comment: Dennis Prager is a longtime friend, nationwide radio host on the Salem Network and in Houston on AM 1070. He is also a best selling author. Dennis is a thoughtful conservative whose commentaries are most insightful.
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About Your Editor
09-22-2017: Harvey's impact on Southeast Texas with Mayor Jeff Wagner of Pasadena, City of Richmond Mayor Evelyn Moore and Jeff Brian, Director of Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management.
09-29-2017: Bayou City Under Water - Solutions with flood experts Jim Blackburn and Dr. Philip Bedient of Rice University.
10-06-2017: Veterans - What are we doing and what should we be doing? With Judge Marc Carter and Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs Director, Carl Salazar.
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his twenty-first year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last sixteen years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 13 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary is also in his 15th year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on PBS Houston, longest running political talk show in Texas history. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.