The major candidates for Mayor of Houston agree, we have a public pension problem.
First, let's look at the origin of the problem. According to the Houston Chronicle, the problem with Houston pensions occurred after significant benefit increases occurred in the early 2000's. Since 2002, the city has met the recommended funding once. So in other words, we have underfunded pensions, which are also overly generous in light of the current available returns in the bond and stock market.
At the origin of the problem, Annise Parker was the City Controller and a Google search reveals she did nothing to stop the reckless expansion of benefits and underfunding in her six (6) years as Controller that she now complains about.
So what are the solutions? Challenger Ben Hall suggests copying a private sector idea, defined contribution for new hires, in essence a hybrid system. Annise Parker likes a defined contribution option and the end of automatic cost-of-living adjustments. During her three (3) plus years as Mayor and six (6) years as Controller, she has successfully advanced neither of her ideas.
One other thing, the Texas legislature is involved in the regulation of Fire and Police pensions. Parker has unsuccessfully sought decontrol by the state. TCR's take is the state can be involved, if it provides funding. Otherwise, it's no different than the federal government dictating policy to Texas without providing the money, and it needs to butt out.
Why Are Our Roads Deteriorating When We Passed A New Dedicated Tax A Few Years Ago?
In Houston, this hotly contested Drainage and Infrastructure fee, "The Rain Tax", passed in 2010. The money was supposed to be placed in a fund to repair or replace our streets and fund flood projects. What happened? A report in the next issue.
Obama's Syrian Deal Backsliding Already
Let's see, President Obama trusts the Russians and the Syrians to get rid of their chemical weapons, yet the Russians are threatening to veto any UN resolution to give teeth to the effort.
Now we hear the backsliding has begun and Obama is now proposing to use this method to cut a deal with Iran that allows them to keep their enriched uranium and nuclear components and what does it get us? Sure, we can trust Iran. Next, they will sell Obama a non-existent bridge! Can we survive three plus more years of foreign policy ineptitude?
New Super PAC Fights
Democratic Lies With The Facts
Enter the Fight for Tomorrow PAC which is to focus and attack the Democratic smear machine recently used against Republicans in Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, and now Virginia.
According to Kim Strassel, in the Wall Street Journal, the PAC is responding:
"The concept behind FFT's ad is to give Virginia voters a context in which to view the Democratic (Governor) candidate McAuliffe attacks. The group's TV spot notes that there is a 'gang' supporting Mr. McAuliffe: the leaders of the Democratic Party; an elitist media; Wall Street liberals; outside partisan groups; and Hollywood."
"The Spot goes on to explain why the groups want Mr. McAuliffe to win: To impose an agenda that Virginians truly would view as nuts. Employing a potent list of 'geography verbs,' and the ad finishes: 'Tell these McAuliffe puppeteers, this is Virginia. We won't let you Detroit us with taxes and debt. You will not bring District of Columbia tax and spend to our state. Tell them: You can't have Virginia.'
"Another attribute is that it switches voter attention away from the wild Cuccinelli (GOP Candidate) caricature and onto all the failed Democratic policies - like the ones that produced soaring energy prices, health-care rationing and huge deficits - that Mr. McAuliffe seems desperate to avoid discussing.
"Indeed, the whole idea here is to turn the tables to get the GOP back on the offensive."
A TCR shout out to Matt Mackowiak, Executive Director of the PAC, and a recent guest of Red, White, and Blue.
Tom DeLay Update: Eight Years In Limbo For A Non-Crime, Enough Is Enough!
Last week it appeared Tom DeLay's long ordeal was over when the Austin Court of Appeals three-judge panel overturned his conviction. The Travis County D.A. Lehmberg (who had her own criminal problems this summer) decided last week to appeal the ruling to the Court of Criminal Appeals, so it will continue.
A brief reminder this case is about the criminalization of politics. It took the Travis County D.A. six times to get an indictment after failing five times. The case was about contribution swaps, which both parties have done for a long time. Tom did not negotiate the donations. The prosecution, led by then Democratic D.A. Ronnie Earle, was the most expensive prosecution in Travis County history.
Tom was convicted five years after indictment by a hostile pro-Democratic jury, again, for a non-crime. This vendetta was all about politics and Tom's work for a fair redistricting plan.
We owe Tom a debt of gratitude as his good deeds have been punished over and over again.
TCR is left with one question: Why, to this day, has the legislature not removed the Travis County D.A.'s office from jurisdiction of state government prosecutions? Last session Gov. Perry, to his credit, essentially defunded them, but that is not enough. With a long list of GOP victims prosecuted unfairly, it's long past time.
COMING SOON: A Forum with the Harris County District Clerk Candidates, the City of Houston 2013 Election Questionnaire Results and Voters Guide.
TCR on the Air
Red, White & Blue featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland, liberal commentator David Jones and moderator Linda Lorelle on Fridays at 7:30 pm on PBS Houston Channel 8.1, replaying Sundays at 12:30 p.m. on Channel 8.1, Mondays at 11:30 pm on Channel 8.2 and on the web at www.houstonpbs.org.
METRO in Houston area, is it working?
Women in Politics
The current show as well as past shows are available on YouTube.
About Your Editor
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 fifteenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last twelve years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 10 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 twelfth year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on PBS Houston. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.