Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the U.S. will move its embassy there just like we do in every country in the world that we have relations with. Russia took the step of recognizing this fact last spring.
So, what is with the complaining from Europe, the Middle East and Democrats who are flip-flopping on the issue? Is the threat of violence the reason for complaining? Why? Will it derail the so-called "peace-process," not really, there isn't one going on presently. Jerusalem is a big metropolitan area and certainly has the room for the capital.
So, congratulations to President Trump, he kept another promise.
Are We The Spending Party
Or The Party Of Fiscal Restraint?
A Debate Between Republicans
We are a party with diverse opinions. At a recent Austin conference of the Texas Taxpayer and Research Association (TTARA), Senator Paul Bettencourt continued to champion fiscal conservative standards against bigger-government advocates within our own Republican party. It was three to one and the "Taxman" won the debate. Speaker Straus (R-San Antonio), Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, and House Ways & Means Chairman Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) see things differently and continue calls for higher taxes under the guise of fiscal responsibility (see more in the Houston Chronicle at http://bit.ly/2iZU79H). Although Judge Emmett is also pushing for additional needed funding for flood control where consensus is emerging, taxpayers know better about rising property taxes.
According to Senator Bettencourt the premise is simple: As appraised values increase; taxing entities should lower their property tax rates. Harris County has held their overall property tax rate the same, and the result is that Harris County collected over $400 million more, or a 36% increase, in property tax revenue from 2013 to 2016, not even counting 2017 increases. Since Harris County, led by Judge Emmett, has not voted to lower their property tax rate in this time, the average Harris County home has endured a 36.4% increase on the county portion of their property tax bill. This is unsustainable for taxpayers and far above the rate of personal income growth. In contrast, Democratic run Travis County Commissioner's Court offers an example of how this can work. Between 2013 and 2016 they voted to lower their property tax rate by roughly $0.11, or 22%. This means that an average home in Travis County actually saw a slight reduction on the county portion of their property tax bill, despite appraisals increasing.
This trend is repeating itself all across the state, for example, Dallas, Bexar, and Tarrant County have seen 25.5%, 24.3% and 19.1% property tax bill increases respectively for the average home in the same time period.
In regards to the Special Session, Chairman Bonnen had the audacity to argue that the Senate was to blame for the failure of the Texas Property Tax Reform and Relief Act, authored by Senator Bettencourt. What the Chairman left out was the fact that he refused to take any floor amendments to the legislation. Additionally, his "boss", Speaker Straus, refused to appoint a conference committee to discuss the legislation with the Senate, (so none took place) and then decided to adjourn the House a day early, effectively ending any chance of property tax reform and relief in 2017.
Speaker Straus has opted to retire, which removes one major impediment to property tax reform in Texas. If you want it, it will be up to the Republican primary voters in 2018 to vote for property tax reform measures and candidates that support them on the Republican primary ballot.
Friendly Suggestion For County Judge Emmett, You Can Accomplish Much With A Positive Approach
Harris County Judge Emmett, while not in the best of health, was an inspiring leader during Hurricane Harvey.
In its aftermath, he has correctly outlined programs and policies we need to prevent a future similar catastrophe.
In his State of the County speech he addressed many of these issues. He also took to task a number of the State of Texas GOP leaders.
TCR's suggestion to the Judge is simply this, we can accomplish much by being positive and encouraging our state leaders to work with us on the projects we need to fund.
How about challenging the state to match $250 million, to be put up by the county and together challenge the U.S. government to step up and do its part to jump-start the projects.
We can accomplish much with teamwork, without it we will be involved in petty disputes and nothing will get done.
Questions That Need To Be Asked
About The Mueller Special Counsel
While pondering the slow driving trainwreck of the Special Counsel's office, we at TCR have a few questions:
Filing Has Ended And Harris, Galveston, Fort Bend And More Counties Have Interesting Races
- Why was the Special Counsel appointed without any limits on areas of inquiry?
- The Special Counsel is only brought on because of perceived conflict of interest. Mueller's Special Counsel has more conflicts of interest, less oversight.
- How can we expect a fair investigation from a team of Democrats?
- Why is there an apparent coordinated effort to thwart Congressional investigations into the role law enforcement played in the last election?
- Why did Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein appoint Mueller as opposed to a Special Counsel that would be above politics?
- Isn't this investigation essentially a partisan witch-hunt designed to reverse the results of the 2016 Election?
The filing deadline has passed and we have some interesting races. For Republicans, it will be a challenging year. We need innovative leadership, an aggressive campaign that reaches the voters and motivates them and a great set of candidates to be successful.
In Harris County, the historic failure in 2016 calls for new leadership. It's past time the leadership of the last cycle's campaign be sent packing. For TCR, one historic defeat is more than enough.
Where Are The Precinct Chair Troops?
Candidate filing has closed for the March 2018 primary elections. We are facing a woefully low number of Republican precinct chairs in Harris County. Faith in the current leadership under Paul Simpson has sapped the commitment from hundreds of precinct leaders across the county. With the debacle of 2016, the one where Democrats took everything, and where the current general of the Republican forces promises the same battle plan for 2018, the soldiers are uninspired and have declined to re-enlist. And who can blame them?
Simpson has not been out front, in the media, to be a champion on the issues that matter to the grassroots. Using his own metrics to justify a change in leadership when he ran, he comes up miserably short. Citing the 2012 results, when about half our local judges lost their races, Simpson said that was unacceptable and the chairman didn't deserve re-election. If so, how is losing all the county races in 2016 acceptable? Simpson also had cited the lack of precinct chairs as a serious problem he was going to rectify. Here we are, going in to 2018 and after the contested precinct chair races are concluded, there will be less than 400 Republican precinct chairs across all of Harris County, an abysmal total reflecting a demoralized team.
We note the irony of Simpson's re-election announcement on December 7th, an anniversary of a disaster. This disaster, however, we can avert by electing new leadership in March, 2018.
TCR's First Five Endorsements
For the last few months we at TCR have been interviewing scores of candidates. We are impressed with the quality, diversity and significant amount of next generation candidates.
As we have for over a decade, we endorse the best and brightest, and tell you why. There is no quid pro quo, as our endorsements were given freely. We will as always publish an election guide, where advertising is open to all, but required of none.
Our first five:
Harris County Republican Chair - Chris Carmona
This race is first because new, innovative leadership is desperately needed in the key county for Texas and the nation to stay Republican. Chris Carmona brings grassroots experience, youthful exuberance, and the fresh ideas and vision that we will need to defeat the Democrats, who are energized by their unprecedented crushing defeat of a lethargic and ineffective Harris County Republican Party under the discredited incumbent Paul Simpson.
U.S. Congress CD-2 - Kevin Roberts
There is no question that conservative icon Ted Poe will leave huge shoes to fill in Texas' 2nd Congressional District when he retires next year. Kevin Roberts is TCR's pick to fill those shoes. Roberts, after just one term in the Texas Legislature representing the citizens of House District 126, has already made quite a name for himself amongst the conservative leadership and ranks alike. His legislation requiring that state agencies eliminate one existing regulation for every new regulation implemented is groundbreaking and an example of the kind of conservative leadership TCR expects from him in Washington, D.C. representing the people of the 2nd District. Roberts' executive level experience in the private sector combined with his conservative legislative experience makes him the clear choice in a crowded field of 11 candidates.
Texas State Senate District 17 - Joan Huffman
Joan Huffman is a consistent and conservative voice in the Texas State Senate. A laundry list of awards that include "Taxpayer Champion," "Law and Order Award," and "Faith and Family Champion" by the most conservative organizations in the state leave her conservative credentials unassailable. Add to that a lifetime of experience in criminal justice as both a prosecutor and a district judge, Huffman's value in the Senate is apparent.
Harris County Criminal Court No. 8 - Dan Simons
As a child growing up in poverty and then in foster care, many people may not have predicted success for a young Dan Simons. But then they would have overlooked the heart of a champion that beat in that youthful chest that would eventually lead him to overcome adversity and achieve success. Simons' first victory was graduating high school which then led to enlistment in the U.S. Air Force that fulfilled a promise to friends who cared for him after the age of 12. Simons then used the G.I. Bill which was part of his benefits of military service to earn a degree from Sam Houston State University where he graduated first in his class before going on to earn his law degree. Simons has seen the law from both sides of the table - both as a prosecutor and a defense attorney - which only bolsters his innate sense of fairness. There is no doubt that Dan Simons has a unique background and experience that will serve us well at County Criminal Court No. 8.
Galveston County Judge - Mark Henry
In 2010, Mark Henry was elected the first Republican County Judge in Galveston County history. This former Air Force officer wasted no time implementing a conservative agenda and achieving success by a variety of metrics. During his tenure as County Judge, he has cut the county tax rate by 11% (achieving the lowest tax rate in over 15 years), eliminated 40% of county debt and reduced the overall size of government by 7%. Judge Henry has also introduced innovation to county government with programs such as his Veterans Court Diversion Program, provides additional support and assistance to troubled vets who get into a run-in with the law. Judge Mark Henry has been an innovated conservative leader with an extensive record of results who deserves re-election to keep innovating and succeeding for the citizens of Galveston County.
TCR on the Air
Red, White & Blue featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones on Fridays at 7:30 pm on PBS Houston Channel 8, replaying Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 8, Monday at 11:30 pm on Channel 8.2 and on the web at www.houstonpublicmedia.org.
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 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.