The liberal majority running Harris County Commissioners Court has wasted so much taxpayer money - from state and federal coffers - that it is hard to just pick ten examples of the worst instances of wasteful spending.
So many bad decisions have been made and it's not by accident. Just look at the big picture: More than $300 million in contingency funds meant for disasters has been blown, and that is with almost $1 billion in federal dollars coming to Harris County because of Covid.
Even with that, budget forecasts from the bloated county bureaucracy say the county will be anywhere from $100 million to $150 million short in the new fiscal year with just the current level of services maintained.
Law enforcement and prosecutors have been defunded, while violent crime has terrified our community. The jail is overcrowded and the courts are backlogged.
New and unnecessary departments have been created and salaries for handpicked cronies of County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia have skyrocketed.
All this has happened while political cronyism has led to the indictments of three senior staffers for Hidalgo who are accused of improperly swinging an $11 million Covid outreach contract to a political operative who once worked for Garcia.
Here are just a few examples of waste and unnecessary spending:
- $2 million committed to the defense of illegal immigrants.
- $50 million to planting trees, painting fences and mending sidewalks as part of a "crime fighting effort" called "Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design." The only way this works is if one of the trees falls on a criminal one day.
- $48 million earmarked for early childhood education - not a core county function - with as much as $111 million on the books to spend.
- $162 million for emergency rental assistance to turn Harris County into a welfare state.
- $97 million in "direct assistance" loans - $65.4 million to families and $32.1 to businesses - as new welfare programs.
- $15 million for "violence prevention" efforts run by the health department, not police. These involve sending counselors into situations where police are needed.
- $26 million to outsource inmates to other county jails because the Harris County Jail is so overcrowded.
- $2 million to offer to other taxing entities with their own revenue streams to do disparity (equity) studies on procurement.
- Giant salaries to folks like David Berry, the county administrator who makes $385,000 a year, and for Rodney Ellis' chief of staff, who makes $295,000 annually.
- The exploding Public Defender's Office budget, which has grown from $10.7 million for Fiscal Year 2018-19 to $29.2 million in Fiscal Year 2021-2022, while the case load is either level or declining.
And these are just some of the boneheaded, leftist agenda-driven decisions being made at Commissioners Court by the liberals.
Now, toss on top of that an unneeded $1.2 billion bond issue (vote for it and you are voting to raise your taxes on top of the 2022 increase due to massive appraisal increases) that will be on the ballot in November, courtesy of Garcia and Hidalgo.
Declining Houston Chronicle Is Now Running
Political Dog Bites Man Story
The fact that the Houston Chronicle ran with the non-story that a business - Bettencourt Tax Advisors - received a PPP loan from the U.S. Government like thousands of small businesses impacted by the shutting down of the economy and the forgiveness they received for keeping all their employees (the goal of the Congressionally-enacted program is stunning - thus the dog bites man analogy!)
The Chronicle basically aided and abetted a political hit job on Paul Bettencourt, State Senator, pushed by the embattled crime enabler Adrian Garcia. Further, it appears the online views at the papers website are so low as to confirm no one cares.
The bigger story is the Chronicle continues to act as the wingman for the woke left. Give this to them, they are consistently wrong about crime increases. See Bill King's excerpt in this week's issue, wrong about crime fighting, and wrong in attacking respected minister Ed Young. Shame on you, the Houston Chronicle, it's sad how far a once good newspaper has fallen.
Independent Bill King Analysis, The Defunding The Police Issue, Hidalgo And Garcia Vs. Mealer And Hegar
Thanks to Bill King's recent release, Harris County funding for law enforcement has and is declining. This week we get the facts on this critical issue. And for Hidalgo and Garcia (both on the ballot in November), it is bad news.
1. Lina Hidalgo claims we spend 2/3 of the county budget on law enforcement. NOT TRUE.
"According to the County's most recent audit, about 34% of the County expenditures were for the 'Administration of Justice,' of which law enforcement would be a subset. Therefore, the County's spending on law enforcement is clearly less than one-third, not two-thirds, of its total spending."
2. The District Attorney is adequately funded per Hidalgo, Garcia and Ellis. NOT TRUE.
"Since the Democrats have taken control of the Commissioner's Court, they have increased the District Attorney's budget by 26%. During the same time, they have increased the budget for the Public Defender's office by 217%."
3. The county funding for law enforcement is increasing significantly after inflation. NOT TRUE.
"The proposed budget for next year rolls back about half of those increases (2022) ... funding available to law enforcement next year will be less than what they have this year."
4. Harris County received around $1.4 billion in Federal Covid money and they used significant portions to aid law enforcement in the midst of a historic crime wave and that continues in the new budget. NOT TRUE
"The current Democratic majority on Commissioners' Court has clearly signaled their intention to continue funding law enforcement at minimal levels if re-elected. I think that is why you see virtually every law enforcement group lining up in opposition to the Democratic candidates in the upcoming election."
So in conclusion, if you are about crime prevention and public safety, the only choice is to vote out Hidalgo and replace her with veteran Alexandra Mealer and say goodbye to Adrian Garcia and support pro-public safety candidate Jack Morman (Precinct 2) and re-elect Jack Cagle as County Commissioner, Precinct 4.
The Pro-Life-Abortion Debate
The new world of the pro-life-abortion debate has emerged. While this new world has complicated matters, most Texans want to see them rare and safe.
Positions based on polling indicate that a small minority supports abortions up until birth, or no abortions ever.
It is anticipated this will be debated in the next Texas legislative session.
So who is a moderate on this issue in Texas? Not Beto O'Rourke or Lina Hidalgo who both support the heinous partial birth abortion or abortion until birth.
Texas law needs to be clarified and reflect where the vast majority stand, and not the radical O'Rourke-Hidalgo position.
What Do Conservatives/Leftists Believe - 2022
There has been a general lack of clarity of what we conservatives believe in. So thanks to friend Gary Bauer (former Chief Domestic Advisor to President Ronald Reagan) here we go:
- Conservatives generally believe that our rights come from God, not government.
- The left believes that rights come from government, and there probably isn't a god.
- We believe in smaller, limited government. The left believes in big, powerful government.
- We believe in freedom of religion. The left believes religion must bow to government demands and mandates.
- We believe everyone has a right to defend themselves. The left believes guns should be confiscated and that only the government should be armed.
- We believe in free speech. The left believes speech they don't like should be banned as "hate speech."
- We believe in equal justice under the law. The left are creating a two-tiered system of justice - one for leftist elites and one for everyone else.
- We believe all life is sacred and deserving of respect and protection. The left believes human life isn't special and can be discarded like a Styrofoam cup.
- We believe in borders, and that our immigration laws should be enforced. The left believes they can ignore laws they don't like.
Please note our values are the ones that Joe Biden this last week called fascist.
Michael Ramirez' Cartoon Of The Fortnight
Reducing Crime In Harris County - What's Your Point?
TCR Comment: We have a problem with crime and it starts with Lina Hidalgo and Adrian Garcia. I found this on NewsBreak: Reducing Crime in Harris County - What's Your Point?
Click here to read the full story
Biden Paying Off Loans For Gas Guzzling Cars
By Bruce Bialosky, Contributing Editor
In an announcement that shocked many, the Biden Administration has announced they will be paying off all car loans and leases for people who have internal combustion engine cars. This is their biggest move yet to migrate Americans from their gas guzzlers to EVs.
President Biden made the announcement saying "We had to take this bold move to achieve our goal of getting my fellow Americans to transition to electric vehicles. As long as these people are burdened by these financial obligations, they will be blocked from making the decision they want to make - a clean, energy efficient vehicle. We are unleashing the power of the American economy."
An immediate response of overwhelming joy came from the environmental community. The President of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Ray Bradbury, applauded the move. He said, "With this stroke of bold leadership we will remove millions of those environment destroying vehicles from our highways." Rachel Carson, the Sierra Club spokesperson stated, "We can't imagine a better move by the current administration to eliminate destructive CO2 gases and save our forests."
"This is going to change the lives of a lot of people," said Mark Huelsman, director of policy and advocacy director of the Hope Center, a higher education think tank. When a reporter pointed out that is the exact same statement, he made about student loan relief Mr. Huelsman blurted "Yes, but I really mean it this time."
Congressional allies of Biden loved the move. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called Biden and told him "It's the right thing to do morally and economically." He expressed how he was personally pleased that his own car loan will be alleviated by the government action. He spoke of getting an EV because of the program and how that would improve the world.
Speaker Pelosi had previously stated that it was unconstitutional as this action was outside the rights of the executive branch. She was now thrilled that her husband's Porsche was not burdened by the debt he had on it when caught drinking and driving.
The response was not nearly as favorable from the Republicans. Congressional Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy said he was stunned by the announcement. "Does Biden think he is a dictator? Where does he think he gets the authority to do this? What is next credit card debt and home mortgages?" Steve Scalise, Minority Whip, jumped in and grabbed the microphone yelling "Please don't give him any ideas."
The authorization for this debt relief as stated by the Biden Administration is the Heroes Act of 2003, the same act that was used for waiving college loans. The Biden Administration stated they were doing this due to the current status of it being a national emergency. When asked what aspect of this was a national emergency a spokesperson for the Biden Administration stated, "Every part of our administration is a national emergency."
Many people are concerned about the inflationary effect of this debt relief. Economists were highly concerned that the $300 billion or more of college loan debt that will be absorbed by the federal government was a big inflation stimulant. One of the people who had expressed concern after the student loan debt relief was Jason Furman, chair of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers. When asked about this announced debt relief Furman was very succinct in his answer, "We're screwed, we are all screwed, you can't believe how screwed we are."
Reporters asked the president's press secretary what the financial effect of this policy will be. In her answer Karine Jean-Pierre stated, ah we don't know exactly what she stated, we are analyzing her response and we will circle back to you on that once we figure it out.
There are a lot of unanswered questions yet. People are trying to figure out if they get the auto loan relief will they still be able to get the $7,500 credit off their taxes for buying an EV. Jared Bernstein, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, observed that elements of the programs have to be flushed out yet. He should know what he is talking about since he has a music degree and plays the standup bass. Mr. Bernstein noted he was instrumental in the Biden Administration decision. He said he also consulted Herbie Hancock.
It is unclear how this entire program will check out. The Biden Administration could not quantify exactly how much debt would be piled on the existing debt of the government. It is estimated the outstanding auto loans are in the $1.5 trillion range. They have no clue of how much the cost of relieving auto leases will be and whether they will be paying off the residual on the vehicles also. There are many unanswered questions.
It is clear that President Joe Biden will be a transformational president. When asked how he will be perceived in the pantheon of presidents, Biden said "I told you I could change this country more than that Obama guy."
Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former Presidential appointee. You can follow Bruce on Twitter @brucebialosky.
Tune In To What's Your Point?
On Fox 26 Sunday, September 18th at 7:00 AM
TCR Editor Gary Polland returns to Fox 26 Houston this Sunday, September 18th, on What's Your Point? hosted by Greg Groogan. The show will be a wide ranging discussion of current political issues. As always, Gary will bring a reasoned conservative viewpoint to the show. Just tune in at 7:00 am live, YouTube it, set your DVR or go to:
TCR on the Air
Gary Polland is now a regular on "What's Your Point?" hosted by Greg Groogan on Fox 26 Houston, appearing every other week. Tune in or set your recorder for 7:00 am Sundays.
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-sixth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last twenty-one years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 18 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary also for 20 years cohosted 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.