Witnessing the decline in circulation and quality of the Houston Chronicle during the Covid-19 "crisis" is breathtaking. Not only is the paper becoming smaller and smaller, but the editorial policies have led to censorship of opposing views in the news pages.
The latest example is the broad opposition to County Judge Hidalgo's idea to emptying the county jail. This bad idea (what happened to public safety?) is being discussed in a federal lawsuit Russell v. Harris County last week and continuing this week.
State Senator Paul Bettencourt and his State Representative allies, Sam Harless, Dan Huberty, Briscoe Cain, Dennis Paul, Tom Oliverson, James Murphy, Dwayne Bohac, and Valoree Swanson, filed an amicus curiae brief opposing court intervention in the Harris County jail release. In addition, on April 7, 2020, leading law enforcement officials led by Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo also strongly opposed any general release.
But If you look at the April 8, 2020 edition of the Houston Chronicle, you will find zero coverage of the opposition to the general release.
Instead, the top story is "Hospitalizations on Steady Climb." What is also incredible that on the entire front page there is no mention a single time of the number of beds being used for Covid-19. What is clear is the Chronicle is trying to sow panic. On Page 6 in the story's continuation, we learn the hospitalization numbers - are you ready? 235!
The panic pushed by the Chronicle invites wasteful public policy. The Harris County Commissioner's Court led by leftist Democrats Lina Hidalgo, Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia, approved $60 million out of the $300 million rainy day fund to build a 250-bed temporary field hospital at NRG Center. Here's the problem, the greater Houston area has around 14,000 beds with 3,300 available for use according to the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council.
We at TCR long for the day when both sides of a news story are represented on the news pages and opinion was reserved for the editorial page.
Harris County Follies
By State Senator Paul Bettencourt (SD-7)
If you are wondering what Harris County Commissioners Court is doing with the nearly $300 million of excess property tax collections in the bank, look no further than the $10 million authorized on a 3 to 2 vote that gives up to $25,000 to whomever applies, apparently. Many folks I know think it could be an illegal gift of property tax monies to those that apply. First come, first served! Then Commissioners Court bought a "field hospital" for $60 Million but the catch is it will cost $17 million even if we don't need it. Also, a former County Judge told me that local contractors offered to pay for it for FREE! Even if the Feds reimburse the county back 75% of the expenditure, a better option would have been to contract with local hotels for non-ICU space at about a $3 million expense. No way the medical equipment would cost $57 million to total the $60 million they approved, but these decisions are being influenced by current County Judge Hildago's New York connections in my opinion.
Expect the leftist progressive socialist majority of Harris County Commissioners Court to try and raise property tax rates again to the maximum the first chance they get to pay for this overspending. Because taxpayers all across the County spoke out against last year's sought after 11% average home property tax bill increase, our Republican Commissioners, Cagle and Radack, walked away from the vote saving County taxpayers $186 million!
The "Taxman" couldn't have been prouder of everyone standing up to excessive taxation in 2019, so do it again in 2020!
TCR Comments: They (Hidalgo, Ellis and Garcia) are not done sowing the destruction of the Harris County economy, public safety and government.
As Sen. Bettencourt details, gifts of public funds are illegal under the Texas Constitution. Not only that, but this is duplicative of the Federal Paycheck Protection program which would seem to have the same goals.
Understandably, the Covid-19 business shutdown is going to result in a dramatic reduction of government tax revenues. And the need to keep their hands off the rainy day fund won't be apparent. Don't be concerned, the leftists on Commissioner's Court have a plan, raise your taxes. You can't make this up. In the middle of a government induced major recession, the left want to raise your taxes. Now, if you are unemployed, underemployed or your business has been wrecked by the multiweek county shutdown, don't worry, they will take your house for not paying your taxes.
Yes, elections have consequences and Hidalgo, Ellis and Garcia need to be sent packing. They have held the majority on Commissioner Court for nearly two years and the damage they have already done is breathtaking.
Time To Plan The Reopening Of Our Economy
Every day we hear from more and more people in states like Texas, that with proper precautions, it's time to stop the siege on our economy. It's time to go back to work, with precautions like temperatures taken, hand sanitizer and masks. If you are high risk because of age and or preexisting conditions, stay away from people. There are smart people who know how to get the economy started. The choice is to go back to work or a depression.
TCR on the Air
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Red, White & Blue, Like all business and education campuses, our show is off the air as we can't meet to tape. We hope to be back as soon as possible.
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-fifth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last nineteen years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 17 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 18th year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on Houston Public Media TV 8 PBS Houston, longest running political talk show in Texas history. Gary serves on the Board of Directors of American Values, a national pro-family, pro-faith, conservative organization supporting the unity of the American people around the vision of our founding fathers and dedicated to reminding the public of the conservative principles fundamental to the survival of our nation. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.