Community Forum: RFID Tracking of Students in Government Schools

For the first time since being implemented in August 2012, the “RFID Student Locator Pilot Program” will finally be vetted by parents, students, and community members.

In San Antonio’s Northside Independent School District (NISD), nearly 4,000 children have been issued “Smart ID” badges implanted with an active RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tracking device. NISD has refused to offer a public forum for parents to ask question and voice concerns, so TAG has organized one.

Presentations will be offered by a number of subject matter experts, including Dr. Katherine Albrecht- a Harvard graduate who has done extensive research on RFID, Mike Wade- (RFID manufacturer contracted with NISD), Matt Simpson with the Texas ACLU.

The second half of our event will offer attendees an opportunity to ask questions of our presenters.

All NISD board members (including Dr. Wood, Superintendent) have been invited to this event in addition to the Principals of the schools which have implemented this pilot program.

Leon Valley Community Center
6421 Evers Road
Monday, February 25th
6:30-8:30pm

Travis County Incumbent Suspected of Theft as Election Day Approaches

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2012
Contact: Heather Fazio
Phone: (512) 825-9142
Email: heather.fazio@tagtexas.org

Travis County Incumbent Suspected of Theft as Election Day Approaches
The “Cocaine Constable” Reverts to his old Criminal Antics?

AUSTIN– In what has quickly become one the most heated contests of the Democratic Primary, the Travis County Constable’s race in Precinct 2 has gotten downright ugly.

After falsely accusing his challenger, Michael Cargill, of theft, Adan Ballesteros and his campaign now appear to be suspected of that very same crime. According to a report (T12001183) filed with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office last night, signs which read ‘Cocaine Constable.com’ with a large red arrow pointing at Ballesteros’ campaign signs were stolen from five different locations throughout Pflugerville.

CocaineConstable.com was created by Texans for Accountable Government (TAG), local political action committee, in an effort to expose Adan Ballesteros as one of the crooked politicians which plague our system and allow corruption to rear its ugly head.

Heather Fazio, Executive Director for TAG, suspects that it was “Ballesteros and/or one of his cohorts” who stole the signs because the website brings to light “his criminal history–including being fired from [the Texas Department of Public Safety] for allowing the trafficking of drugs and taking money from informants, the Texas Public Safety Commission sustaining the firing, and his lawsuit against them being thrown out of court for being ‘baseless and retaliatory.'” TAG’s claims were validated and independently documented recently by PolitiFact.com.

“It is no surprise that someone like Adan Ballesteros would be willing to break the law in order to keep voters from learning about his shady past,” says Fazio. “His history of participating in illegal activity has already demonstrated his moral stature. Now it’s up to us to educate voters so we don’t make the same mistake of re-electing the Cocaine Constable in Precinct 2.”

TAG’s signs have since been replaced and are being watched by volunteers to ensure that voters have the opportunity to learn about an incumbent whose criminal past raises serious concerns about integrity, accountability, and precedent for the kind of individuals elected to public office.

TAG has endorsed Michael Cargill, a veteran, personal safety instructor, and challenger in this race.
###

Texans for Accountable Government is a trans-partisan Political Action Committee focused on local politics to create a Free and Prosperous Texas where government is transparent, decentralized, and accountable.

For more information about the “Cocaine Constable” or theft of TAG’s property, please contact Heather Fazio (heather.fazio@tagtexas.org OR 512-825-9142).

Download the police report here.

Learn The Truth About Adan Ballesteros

Source: cocaineconstable.com

  • Allowed thousands of pounds of cocaine to enter Texas
  • Accepted cash gifts from drug informants
  • Was fired from DPS because of his involvement in smuggling cocaine into Texas

Ballesteros claims that he was fired because of a sexual harassment suit, so he sued for wrongful termination. Two separate courts upheld his termination.

Ballesteros then worked for the Constable’s Office in Travis County and did not disclose his termination from DPS when he applied for his job.

Ballesteros was fired from the Constable’s office in 2007.

Documents and Facts:

Department of Public Safety Documents:
“It is my belief that Lt. Ballesteros has proven himself unfit to continue with this Department and that he be terminated.”
-Walter C. Eeds, Commander, Narcotics Service.
Download Full Complaint Here (pdf)

Testimony Before The Drug Enforcement Administration:
Download Ballesteros Statement (pdf)
Download Armando Ramirez Statement (pdf)

More Official Government Reports:
Download The Investigator’s Report (pdf)

Revoking of Ballesteros’s Policing Powers:

“You are to take absolutely no action whatsoever under any authority that you may previously have had as a peace officer of the State of Texas…You will surrender all departmental property to your supervisor immediately upon receipt of this letter.”
-Thomas A. Davis Jr., Chief, Criminal Law Enforcement Division
Ballesteros’ Authority Revoked (pdf)

The Department of Justice was going to prosecute Adan Ballesteros but decided not to because:

  • The age of the case
  • The perceived credibility of the two witnesses testifying against Ballesteros
  • (because they were criminals and drug smugglers)
  • The lack of prosecution against the two witnesses

To read the official letter from the U.S. Department of Justice to DPS, click here:

Letter from Us Attorney Decision to Decline Prosecution-1.pdf

Adan Ballesteros Smuggling Cocaine into Texas

Ballesteros and the charges against him for smuggling cocaine into Texas have been documented by the media.

The Austin Chronicle reported in 2008:

“According to DPS, Ballesteros, while working as a narcotics investigator in the Valley in the early Nineties, acted without authority to allow several shipments of drugs – including several thousand pounds of cocaine – to be smuggled into Texas…Ballesteros sued DPS for unlawful termination but lost.”

For the full article, click here:

http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2008-02-22/594840/

Burnt Orange Report in 2008:

“A formal complaint was filed against Ballesteros for five counts of allowing confidential informants to import cocaine without interdiction, accepting cash gifts from a confidential informant, and failing to make accurate and truthful reports to his supervisors regarding his activities.

“In October of 1997, the director of DPS decided that Ballesteros was to be terminated. Ballesteros sued claiming EEOC violations, and lost. He appealed to the 5th Circuit, and lost again.”

For the full article, click here:

http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/5038/

Get Involved Exposing Adan Ballesteros

If you have more information on Ballesteros regarding his assisting the smuggling of cocaine into Texas or his getting fired from DPS or the Constable’s office, please contact us.

TAG 2012 City Council and Primary Endorsements

May 12th City Council Election

Mayor – Clay Dafoe
www.claydafoeformayor.com/

Place 2 – Dr. Laura Pressley
www.pressleyforaustin.com/

Place 5 – John Duffy
electduffyatx.com/

Place 6 – Shaun Ireland
irelandforaustin.com/

May 29th Primary Election

District Attorney – Charlie Baird (Dem)
charliebaird.com/

Travis County Constable Pct. 2 – Michael Cargill (Dem)
www.cargillforconstable.com/

Travis County Commissioner Pct. 1 – Richard Franklin (Dem)
www.richardfranklinforprecinct1.com/

Travis County Sheriff – John Sisson (Dem)

Hays County Commissioner Pct. 3 – Sam Brannon (Rep)
www.samforhayscounty.com/

Hays County Sheriff – Tommy Ratliff (Rep)
sherifftommyratliff.org/

Texas House District 7 – David Simpson (Rep)
davidsimpson.com/

Collect 10 signatures on the CD 10-1 petition and you could win $100!


What’s CD 10-1?

Citizens Districting (CD10-1) is an election system in which each Austin city councilmember will represent a geographic district made up of approximately 10% of Austin’s population. The 10 council districts will be defined by a truly non-partisan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. Just as today, the mayor will be elected to represent all of Austin. The CD10-1 plan would replace Austin’s current “at-large” election system, under which all 7 councilmembers are elected by all of Austin, but end up representing the needs of special interest groups.

Do you feel like the folks at City Hall are representing your needs?

Join us for an evening of dancing, food and fun with citizens working to make our city council fairer – and geographically representative- for all of us!

When: Friday, April 27th 6pm-9pm
Where: in the outdoor venue next to Mexitas Mexican Food and the pink bingo parlor, 12th and E IH-35

All you need to enter the door are 10 signatures that you gathered for the Citizens Districting 10-1 petition or $10.

***Remember, we need 20,000 signatures to ensure that our plan makes it on the ballot! Take that petition to work with you or bug your friends and family. It’s easy to get 10 signatures and doesn’t even take that much time!****

We’ll have dance contests and petition contests. You could win prizes! Will you be:

– the endorsing organization that gathers the most signatures?
– the City Council Candidate?
– the elected official?

The person that brings the most signatures to this event will win $100!!!

Will it be you? Show up to find out!

Backed by the NAACP, LULAC, Texans for Accountable Government, the UT Student Government, and many more civic and community organizations, you’ll be joining a diverse group that advocates for a fair, simple, representative, legal and broadly supported plan to change the way our city council is elected. Geographic representation brings government and people together!

RSVP on Facebook here:

What are you waiting for? Download petitions to fill out here (be sure to read the instructions):

http://citizensdistricting10-1.org/support-the-10-1-petition/

Join the party. Let’s change our city for the better!

AA4P Peace Rally April 14th @ Noon

austin alliance for peace

There is a great misconception in our society concerning what the current government, like the past administration, is doing in the Middle East. The majority of Americans have been deceived into believing that our military campaigns overseas involve combating terrorism, but once the conduct of the operations and the details of the fighting are examined, it becomes clear that the war that we are prosecuting is the real terrorism. Indeed, U.S. foreign policy actually tends to perpetuate so-called terrorism in the countries that we audaciously invade and subsequently occupy.

While the government’s imperialistic endeavors grow, the government manipulates the people at home under the guise of protecting our freedoms by encroaching on our civil liberties. More and more we are seeing the effects of these never-ending wars here at home. The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) is feeling us up and taking nude pictures of us, our local police forces are investing in tanks, helicopters, heavy armor, and other war-like materials while at the same time it seems that more and more people are being arrested and/or brutality attacked by the police for such peaceful, nonviolent activities as filming them in public areas. The fact that those who are supposed to be serving and protecting us seem to be increasingly arresting and attacking us is an extremely unsettling one that we are now forced to live with.

Despite all of this, there is hope. A new organization called the Austin Alliance For Peace (AA4P) has been founded. We are a trans-partisan organization that seeks to promote peaceful solutions in an era where violence and threats are too often employed. By educating the public on the violations of peace, mobilizing them to bring peace wherever it is absent, pursuing the redress of grievances in alignment with the tradition of nonviolent resistance, and building a constituency whose main priority is to practice diplomacy and to strive to solve problems without the use of violence, AA4P hopes to create a more peaceful, loving world now and for future generations.

The first event that AA4P is putting on will be Saturday, April 14 at noon at the south steps of the Texas Capitol and is the first annual AA4P Peace Rally. There will be
speakers discussing the various forms of violence in our society, including the multiple wars that our nation is engaged in and the growing militarization of our local police forces. Keynote talks will be delivered by Iraqi-American medical doctor turned full-time peace activist Dahlia Wasfi, and host of Antiwar Radio Scott Horton. Other speakers scheduled to appear include local Austin activists such as Iraq War veteran and victim of police abuse Antonio Buehler, and Texans for Accountable Government Executive Director Heather Fazio.

The rally is rapidly growing as more and more people are getting excited about attending and standing up for peace. Students from over ten universities from across the state have committed to attend, from such diverse groups as Libertarian Longhorns, the Israeli-Palestinian Alliance, and Amnesty International. In addition to the large amounts of students that are going to be in attendance, many people from throughout the state and from all different walks of life will also be there. Organizations from Code Pink to Texans for Accountable Government to Texans for Peace will also be in attendance, making this event as large as it is diverse.

Peace is a popular message that everyone can get behind. The Austin Alliance For Peace is the first truly trans-partisan peace organization in the state that is determined to build bridges and form a diverse alliance of people dedicated to bringing peace to a violent world and it begins in Austin on April 14! Please, stand in solidarity as we spread the message of peace and compassion for those who have suffered from violence.

TAG’s First Austin City Council Candidate Forum

Austin City Hall

TAG's First City Council Candidate Forum

We will host our first City Council Candidate forum at our regular meeting time, the last Monday of March!

Rather than asking the same old, unimportant questions about “what will you do for me?”, TAGsters will be asking the questions that most effect our community. For example, “Will you support APD’s cooperation with the Federal Government when they enforce the deplorable provision of NDAA which allow a person to be detained indefinitely without a charge against them?” Or “Have you done any independent research on the health risks associated with water fluoridation?”

Candidates have been asked to answer a questionnaire, which will be provided for all forum attendees. In addition to these questions, TAGsters will be asking follow up questions and, if time permits, we will be taking questions from the audience.

Please join us Monday, March 26th for what is sure to be a great event! The forum will be held at Sherlock’s Pub & Grill on Burnet Rd./ Hwy 183 (7pm) and will include candidates from all 4 places up for election in May. We are especially excited about TAGster, Dr. Laura Pressley going head to head with the incumbent in Place 2, Mike Martinez.

Come early for drink specials, to order food, and for networking with local activists and Liberty Lovers!

You can RSVP here.

TAG Secures Another Major Victory for Privacy and Civil Liberties!

Texans for Accountable Government brings stronger privacy and civil liberties safeguards to the Collin County Fusion Center

AUSTIN — Most Texans probably couldn’t tell you what a fusion center is. But a fusion center could tell you a lot about any Texan, including who they are … and what they’ve done.

The extent of what information is made available to these Fusion Centers is what leaders of Texans for Accountable Government (TAG) and Operation Defuse (ODF) had in mind when they met with the director of the North Central Texas Fusion System recently.

A fusion center is a multi-jurisdictional law-enforcement apparatus which seeks to centralize and standardize the information gathering and intelligence sharing practices   of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

In July, TAG officers and ODF Activists met with the Collin County Homeland Security office — which manages the North Central Texas Fusion System (NCTFS)– as the Fusion System was drafting a privacy policy to be submitted for approval to the Institute for Intergovernmental Research, the Department of Homeland Security, and eventually the Collin County Commissioners Court . TAG director John Bush, also the co-founder of the group OperationDefuse.com, said such discussions led to the inclusion of protections for non-criminal information and constitutionally protected rights into the center’s official policy. As a safeguard, a privacy oversight committee is being considered by the center’s executive advisory board, and Collin County ‘s Commissioners and County Judge , Bush said.

“The NCTFS has had a couple of major controversies in the past concerning political profiling and privacy issues. We are very pleased to see the center taking proactive steps to ensure such abuses do not occur in the future.” said John Bush.

Bush said TAG officers and ODF activists enjoyed their tour of the center and found the staff accommodating. Following the tour, Bush shared his suggestions with the North Central Texas Fusion System’s staff about the Austin Regional Intelligence Center (ARIC) and its privacy policy improvements — which include protections for non-criminal information suggested by TAG.

“While this is an excellent safeguard against first amendment abuses,” Bush told fusion center staff, “it is lacking something.  Notice there is no protection afforded to non-criminal information. Non-criminal information can come in the form of a suspicious activity report collected on someone who is ‘espousing extremist views,’ as occurs with LAPD, or when someone is ‘distributing radical literature in public places’ or ‘makes claims regarding government conspiracies’ …”

Bush said TAG was instrumental in adding the following language to the Austin center’s policy:

“The ARIC will not seek, collect or retain information about an individual or organization, and originating agencies will not submit such information, solely on the basis of religious, political, or social views or activities.”

Bush also noted that TAG would pursue a legislative remedy to back privacy concerns in the upcoming 82nd Texas Legislative Session.

For further information on fusion centers, or the possible privacy rights violations they represent, Bush may be contacted at (512)773-6102.

Austinites Rally Against the Parking Meter Extension

Anti-parking meter extension group to hold press conference/happy hour; Morrison, Tovo promise to introduce agenda item to repeal, modify, or delay parking meter ordinance

AUSTIN — Local group A.A.M.P.E.D. (Austinites Against Metered Parking Extension Downtown) will be holding a press conference at its first weekly happy hour this Tuesday, July 19th, at J Black’s Feel Good Lounge, from 4 to 7 pm.  The press conference will begin at 4:45 pm.  The happy hour will be a time for the group to network and discuss issues that affect downtown.

A.A.M.P.E.D. has over 870 members currently and continues to grow.  The group has secured the promises of council member Laura Morrison and newly-elected council member Kathie Tovo, to cosponsor an agenda item to repeal, modify, or delay the meter extension ordinance.  Currently, the meter extension is set to go into effect on September 6th.

“A vast majority of Austinites and a vast majority of downtown businesses are against the meter extension,” said Travis Snavely, A.A.M.P.E.D.’s founder.  “Six of the 7 council members voted this through against the will of the people.  We are working to repeal this ordinance before it takes effect.  We support a delay in the implementation of the extension in order to give downtown workers, musicians, volunteers, and churches a role in the decision process.”

In January of this year, over 8,000 Austinites took the city’s public survey, which found that 76% of the respondents said free parking is more important to them than “convenient” parking.  81% of these 76% said they would be less likely to visit downtown if the meter hours were extended.  Even 41% of the 24% who said they choose “convenient” parking over free parking said they would be less likely to visit downtown if the meter hours were extended.

A.A.M.P.E.D. volunteers have been calling and canvassing downtown business owners, managers, and workers, and found that a vast majority are against the meter extension.

“We’re all concerned about the impact the extension will have on us,” said Misty Anderson, bartender at Halcyon.  “I personally will not be able to afford to stay at the job I’ve had for almost three years once the extension goes into effect.  I’m sure the rates at downtown parking lots will increase as well, which will eliminate that option for us.”

“When people leave the bar to feed the meter, they have a decision to make: Should I pay the meter and go back to the bar or should I just go home,” said Reagan Noble, manager at J Black’s Feel Good Lounge.  “Many people will decide to just go home.”

In addition,   Musicians are opposed to the meter extension as they feel it will hurt their bottom line, as well as the downtown music scene that Austin is known for internationally.

“It’s funny to me that the city is supporting an ordinance that will further hinder an industry which brings hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy,” said Drew Thomas, guitarist and singer for Twilight Broadcast.  “The bands themselves are playing for a couple of beers and ten percent of bar sales.  This would be like charging athletes for parking at their own games.”

A.A.M.P.E.D. plans on having weekly happy hours to rally and network with people concerned with the parking meter issue and other issues that affect downtown.  A.A.M.P.E.D. hopes to include speakers ranging from local politicians to musicians at future happy hour events.

***************************************

**A.A.M.P.E.D.’s Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/AAMPED-Austinites-Against-Metered-Parking-Extension-Downtown/123468907727518?ref=ts

Austin Public Safety Commission Meeting – Fusion Center/DEA/DPS Updates

The PSC was scheduled to hear an update from ARIC, the DEA, and the Texas DPS at their meeting in June. This meeting ran over on time pushing these reports to the August meeting.

Meeting is Monday, August 1st at 4pm–You don’t have to testify…JUST SHOW UP!!

(PARKING FREE in city’s parking garage. Bring your parking ticket to get validated.)

Speaker Straus, What Happened to “The Will of the House?”

Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus Breaks Major Campaign Promise, Stops Bill Supported by Governor, Lt. Governor, Entire House, Majority of Senate, Majority of Texans

(Austin) – In a stunning turn of events, Speaker Joe Straus today went back on a fundamental campaign promise during the Speaker’s race to allow the will of the House to work itself out on the floor. Instead of allowing HB 41, a bill to stop the federal government from groping innocent travelers without probable cause that had previously passed the House unanimously on both second and third reading, to come up for a vote, Straus interjected his own will into the process. The Speaker unilaterally halted a bill supported by a majority of Texans, coauthored by 111 members of the House, approved by a majority of the Senate, vetted by Attorney General Greg Abbott, requested by Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, and called by Governor Rick Perry.

Speaker Straus stated in his inaugural address that, “The will of the House should guide this House. And the will of the House does not begin in the Speaker’s office…. It begins with the 25 million people who are proud to call themselves Texans.” But he didn’t give the will of the people or the House an opportunity today. Instead he acted alone and enforced his own will upon the process, bringing to a halt the efforts of over one hundred coauthors and many thousands of individual Texans who have called, emailed, faxed, and rallied in support of this bill.

Contrary to Speaker Straus’ allegations that Simpson would not compromise on any of the language of the bill, Simpson had prepared an amendment incorporating all suggestions by Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office and those requested by the Speaker’s team, leaving just one item to the will of the House-the proposal to lower the standard for performing searches that touched private parts from probable cause to reasonable suspicion.

Speaker Straus’ duplicitous intrigue continues. He told reporters that there was not a quorum present so the bill could not be brought up. Yet, just a few minutes before telling reporters that there were not enough members present, he had called the House to order, stating: “Quorum is present.” The House Journal confirms that a quorum was in fact present.

Speaker Straus claimed that “[t]he bill…appears to me to be nothing more than an ill-advised publicity stunt.”  Representative David Simpson (R-Longview), the bill’s author responded, “I’m curious whether the Speaker thinks that the Bill of Rights is a publicity stunt? Did the framers of the Constitution of the State of Texas and the Constitution of the United States write in protections against unreasonable search and seizure in order to be cute?”

Straus’ erratic pronouncement prompted Austin-American Statesman reporter Jason Embry to comment, “If I’d been at Straus briefing I would have asked why he let the TSA bill out of the House in the regular session, if he hates it so much.”

Simpson continued, “I am gravely disappointed at the Speaker’s disregard for the will of the House and the will of the people. While innocent travelers, including several members of our own House of Representatives, are being violated by government officials simply to be able to access public transportation, our Speaker is content to call attempts to stop this outrage a ‘mockery.’ The true mockery that is being made is of the people.”

“Apparently the Speaker thinks his wisdom above that of 111 coauthors and even the entirety of the House, which previously voted unanimously to pass this bill,” Simpson stated. “Given the duplicity of Straus’ position and the sudden break from his traditionally neutral stance on the Speaker’s dais, it appears that the Speaker is staging his own publicity stunt.”

The Washington Times today lauded Governor Perry for calling the bill, as well as for other stances he has taken against federal overreach, calling it “an impressive display of political resolve.” The Speaker of the House, however, lacks that resolve.

http://davidsimpson.com/blog/?postid=78

Special Legislative Update: REAL ID and TSA GROPING

We have two primary issues this week: REAL ID and TSA Groping. After 6 months of work in the regular legislative session, we are now in the final stretch during the special session, which began last Tuesday. We have already proven tomake a huge impact on policy when we show up and TAKE ACTION… let’s KEEP IT UP!

Read more for an update on each issue followed by action you can take every day this week to help make Texas history!

REAL ID

Senate Bill 9 was added to the special session last week and will be heard Monday (6/13) morning at 9am by the Transportation & Homeland Security Committee. This bill will give the Department of Public Safety the authority to create and implement rules to maintain compliance with federal driver’s license/identification regulations. This includes, but is not limited to REAL ID, an unconstitutional federal mandate which nationalizes our Texas driver’s license. Plus, compliance with REAL ID means that DPS will be collecting and maintaining an unprecedented amount of biometric information. Every DL applicant will have their face scanned and all of their fingerprints collected.

Additionally, DPS will be creating six “mega-centers,” also known as Temporary Visitor Stations to take on the responsibility of immigration status verification. New equipment and staffing is anticipated to cost $63 MILLION the first year and nearly $75 MILLION every year after that.

Facts about SB 9 and REAL ID

Current Texas GOP Platform: “Real ID Act – As the Real ID Act effectively creates an unconstitutional and privacy-inhibiting national ID card, we hereby call for its immediate repeal.”

Dishonest Fiscal Policy: Raising fees through the Department of Public Safety’s administrative policy, rather than through the transparent legislative budget process, disallows taxpayers their say in the rate at which DL fees increase.

Personal Biometric Information Collection: If passed this bill will allow DPS to collect and maintain an unprecedented amount of personal biometric information from every INNOCENT DL applicant, as well as suspected non-citizens. This is a violation of the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution.

DPS “Mega-Centers”: Also known as Temporary Visitor Station, the centers will provide DPS with the resources needed to take on the federal responsibility of immigration enforcement.


TSA GROPING

During the regular session, HB 1937, Representative Simpson’s anti-TSA groping bill, passed the Texas House UNANIMOUSLY. Without delay, the bill passed UNANIMOUSLY by the Senate Committee. Regrettably, the night before a vote on the Senate floor the US Attorney from the Department of Justice threatened to shut down all Texas air traffic, effectively creating a domestic “no-fly zone” over Texas. Unfortunately, the empty threat was enough for 10 senator to withdraw their support, which successfully prevented HB 1937 from being sent to the governor’s desk for signature.

There have been two bills filed this special session regarding the intrusive “security” procedures used by TSA, HB 41 and SB 29. Rep. David Simpson’s HB 41 already has over 100 Representatives signed on as co-authors, demonstrating a consensus among the People’s House of Representatives! Having been referred to the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee last week, HB 41 will likely have a hearing this week. The bill will surely pass considering that 7 of 9 committee members are co-authors. THIS IS GREAT NEWS!!

Sen. Patrick’s SB 29 has no co-sponsors in the Senate and neither HB 41 nor SB 29 has been added to the special session call…yet! This is something we will need to work on this week.

Governor Perry has announced that he will add this bill to the call once there is a consensus in both the House and Senate.

That’s where we come in!

ACTION You Can Take!

Sunday 6/12/11 (Support Travelers’ Dignity, SB 29)

Please take 5 minutes to call and email your Texas Senator about the Anti-TSA Groping bill. Find your Senator’s contact information here: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/

Phone calls will lead you to a voice mailbox; please leave your Senator a voicemail. Sample message:

“Hi, my name is __________ and I live in ___________. I’m calling regarding the TSA pat-down bill, SB 29. This bill is very important to me and my family, I’d like for my Senator to add his/her name to the list of co-authors of this bill to demonstrate support for the dignity of innocent Texas travelers. Thank you for your service.”

Send an email to every Texas Senator, Lt. Governor Dewhurst, and Governor Perry with on simple form here: http://stopaustinscanners.org/come-and-take-it/

We strongly recommend that you personalize your message. Let them know why this is important to you and your family.

*HUMANIZE*

 

Monday 6/13/11 (REAL ID, SB 9)

Senate Bill 9- Committee Hearing

Please join us at the Texas Capitol on Monday morning to participate in the Transportation & Homeland Security hearing for Senate Bill 9 at 9am in Room E1.016. For a last minute update and an overview about the committee hearing process, meet us in Room E1.022 at 8am.

At the committee hearing you can:

1) Register Your Position on the Bill- You will not have to testify before the committee (simple show up to fill out a “Witness Affirmation Form,” which is usually on the back table in the hearing room.

2) Provide Written Testimony- This can be a simple letter to the committee members about why you are against this bill (print 20 copies, one for each committee member, and one for their staff)

3) Provide 3 Minute Oral Testimony- Do your best to stay on topic, referring to specific objections or concerns about the bill, and providing solutions.

Suggestions to be most effective:

1) Dress to impress, business casual is best

2) Prepare 3 main points you’d like to make to the committee

3) Write a hand written note to each committee members, the governor, and your Senator to be delivered to their offices after the hearing

4) Don’t forget to speak from your heart!

Can’t make it for the hearing? YOU CAN STILL HELP!

Please make phone calls and send emails to the Transportation & Homeland Security Committee members. Contact information listed below.

Phone calls will take a total of 10 minutes, and make a huge difference! Let’s keep those phones ringing off the hook!

“Hi, my name is ___________. I wasn’t able to attend the committee hearing this morning. But I wanted to encourage Senator _________ to oppose Senate Bill 9.”

Emails can be simple and straight forward and should only take about 5 minutes. Your arguments will be strengthened if you include links and references (news articles, Texas GOP platform, documents from states that have opted out of REAL ID) to support the points you are making. And remember, you can simply copy and paste the same email to each Senator.

Transportation & Homeland Security Committee Members

 

Tuesday 6/14/11 (Support Travelers’ Dignity, SB 29)

Phone Call and Email Blitz!

Below are the phone calls needed TODAY to bring the Travelers’ Dignity Act to the special session.

*All action outlined below will take an estimated 10 minutes.*

 

1) Call Senator Dan Patrick’s Office —(512) 463-0107 — and let him know we have confirmation that 18 senators now support the Anti-TSA Groping Bill, SB 29. Tell him we have the simple majority that is required to pass the legislation during the special session, and ask what you can do to help ensure SB 29 makes it to the special session.

2) Call the following Senators who’ve indicated support the Anti-TSA Groping bills. Urge them to continue to support HB 41 (formerly HB 1937) and ask them to join Senator Patrick by co-authoring his Senate Bill 29. Co-Authorship shows great strength and unified support to Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Governor Rick Perry.

Sen. Brian Birdwell – (512) 463-0122                       Sen. John Carona – (512) 463-0116

Sen. Wendy Davis – (512) 463-0110                         Sen. Bob Deuell – (512) 463-0102

Sen. Rodney Ellis – (512) 463-0113                           Sen. Troy Fraser – (512) 463- 0124


3) Call Lt. Governor David Dewhurst’s Office
— (512) 463-0715 — and let him know we have confirmation that 18 senators now support the Anti-TSA Groping Bill, SB 29. Tell him we have the simple majority that is required to pass the legislation during the special session. Ask what you can do to help ensure that HB 41 (formerly HB 1937) and SB 29 make it to the special session.

4) Call Governor Rick Perry’s Office — (512) 463-2000 or (512) 463-1782 — and let him know we have confirmation that 18 senators now support the Anti-TSA Groping Bill, SB 29. Tell him we have the simple majority that is required to pass the legislation during the special session. Ask what you can do to help ensure that HB 41 (formerly HB 1937) and SB 29 make it to the Special Session.

5) Send an email to every Texas Senator, Lt. Governor Dewhurst, and Governor Perry with on simple form here: http://stopaustinscanners.org/come-and-take-it/

We strongly recommend that you personalize your message. Let them know why this is important to you and your family.

*Speak from your Heart*

Thanks for doing your part!!

 

Wednesday 6/15/11 (Support Travelers’ Dignity, SB 29)

Phone Call and Email Blitz!

Below are the phone calls needed TODAY to bring the Travelers’ Dignity Act to the special session.

*All action outlined below will take an estimated 10 minutes.*

1) Call Senator Dan Patrick’s Office
—(512) 463-0107 — and let him know we have confirmation that 18 senators now support the Anti-TSA Groping Bill, SB 29. Tell him we have the simple majority that is required to pass the legislation during the special session, and ask what you can do to help ensure SB 29 makes it to the special session.

2) Call the following Senators who’ve indicated support the Anti-TSA Groping bills. Urge them to continue to support HB 41 (formerly HB 1937) and ask them to join Senator Patrick by co-authoring his Senate Bill 29. Co-Authorship shows great strength and unified support to Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Governor Rick Perry.

Sen. Chris Harris – (512) 463-0109                            Sen. Jan Nelson – (512) 463-0112

Sen. Glen Hegar – (512) 463-0118                             Sen. Robert Nichols – (512) 463-0103

Sen. Joan Huffman – (512) 463-0117                       Sen. Florence Shapiro – (512) 463- 0108

3) Call Lt. Governor David Dewhurst’s Office — (512) 463-0715 — and let him know we have confirmation that 18 senators now support the Anti-TSA Groping Bill, SB 29. Tell him we have the simple majority that is required to pass the legislation during the special session. Ask what you can do to help ensure that HB 41 (formerly HB 1937) and SB 29 make it to the special session.

4) Call Governor Rick Perry’s Office — (512) 463-2000 or (512) 463-1782 — and let him know we have confirmation that 18 senators now support the Anti-TSA Groping Bill, SB 29. Tell him we have the simple majority that is required to pass the legislation during the special session. Ask what you can do to help ensure that HB 41 (formerly HB 1937) and SB 29 make it to the Special Session.

5) Send an email to every Texas Senator, Lt. Governor Dewhurst, and Governor Perry with on simple form here: http://stopaustinscanners.org/come-and-take-it/

We strongly recommend that you personalize your message. Let them know why this is important to you and your family.

*Speak from your Heart*

Thanks for doing your part!!

 

Thursday 6/16/11 (Support Travelers’ Dignity, SB 29)

Phone Call and Email Blitz!

Below are the phone calls needed TODAY to bring the Travelers’ Dignity Act to the special session.

*All action outlined below will take an estimated 10 minutes.*

1) Call Senator Dan Patrick’s Office
—(512) 463-0107 — and let him know we have confirmation that 18 senators now support the Anti-TSA Groping Bill, SB 29. Tell him we have the simple majority that is required to pass the legislation during the special session, and ask what you can do to help ensure SB 29 makes it to the special session.

2) Call the following Senators who’ve indicated support the Anti-TSA Groping bills. Urge them to continue to support HB 41 (formerly HB 1937) and ask them to join Senator Patrick by co-authoring his Senate Bill 29. Co-Authorship shows great strength and unified support to Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Governor Rick Perry.

Sen. Kirk Watson – (512) 463-0114                           Sen. Tommy Williams – (512) 463-0104

Sen. Jeff Wentworth– (512) 463-0125                    Sen. Judith Zaffirini – (512) 463-0121

Sen. Royce West – (512) 463-0123                            Your Senator: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/

3) Call Lt. Governor David Dewhurst’s Office — (512) 463-0715 — and let him know we have confirmation that 18 senators now support the Anti-TSA Groping Bill, SB 29. Tell him we have the simple majority that is required to pass the legislation during the special session. Ask what you can do to help ensure that HB 41 (formerly HB 1937) and SB 29 make it to the special session.

4) Call Governor Rick Perry’s Office — (512) 463-2000 or (512) 463-1782 — and let him know we have confirmation that 18 senators now support the Anti-TSA Groping Bill, SB 29. Tell him we have the simple majority that is required to pass the legislation during the special session. Ask what you can do to help ensure that HB 41 (formerly HB 1937) and SB 29 make it to the Special Session.

5) Send an email to every Texas Senator, Lt. Governor Dewhurst, and Governor Perry with on simple form here: http://stopaustinscanners.org/come-and-take-it/

We strongly recommend that you personalize your message. Let them know why this is important to you and your family.

*Speak from your Heart*

Thanks for doing your part!!

Friday 6/17/11 (REAL ID, SB 9)

Please take 5 minutes to call and email your Texas Senator about your opposition to Senate Bill 9. Find your Senator’s contact information here: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/

Call your Senator’s Office and tell them:

“Hi, my name is __________ and I live in ___________. I’m calling regarding the Senate Bill 9. I am opposed to this bill because it will facilitate the implementation of REAL ID in Texas, which is an unconstitutional federal mandate. Thank you for your service.”*

*It’s always a good idea to use your own words when making calls and sending emails*

Emailing you Senator can be simple and straight forward and should only take a minute. Your arguments will be strengthened if you include links and references (news articles, Texas GOP platform, documents from states that have opted out of REAL ID) to support the points you are making.

Thanks for doing your part!!

Representative Simpson catches heat for standing up to the establishment!

Representative David Simpson’s integrity and commitment to serving the greater good of Texas is above reproach. He was elected in a wave of voters seeking less government and more liberty. Republicans use “we need smaller government” as a mantra, yet few put that mantra into practice. Simpson knew he was a “marked man” because of his Tea Party affiliation, but he did not tread softly his first legislative session. He has boldly and unapologetically opposed big government at every turn. His level of honesty and commitment to the issues and policies he has pursued in the 82nd legislation should leave people in awe.

Public surveillance cameras in Austin a PR-driven boondoggle

The Austin City Council today appears likely to approve new police surveillance cameras downtown supposedly to prevent crime, though there’s no empirical evidence cameras in public places will achieve that goal.

Reports KVUE-TV:

The Austin City Council will vote on a measure Thursday that would add 23 surveillance cameras in downtown Austin.

Austin police would place the cameras in “hot spots” in downtown. Police will consider crime data, expected crowds, and community requests to determine the exact locations.

KVUE adds that “privacy advocates say the cameras are a bad idea. Texans for Accountable Government say Austin is turning into a surveillance state.” But to me, privacy concerns aren’t nearly as big an issue as the mere fiscal and managerial stupidity of the idea. News 8-Austin reports that “The cameras will cost around $600,000, but the Downtown Austin Alliance is offering to foot $250,000 of that bill.” But even $350k isn’t exactly a bargain, and cameras create ongoing costs for the city that the Downtown Austin Alliance won’t pay for. After all, they serve no purpose at all unless the city pays for staff to watch them, and even then in most settings, cameras in public rarely prevent or solve crime.

Camera systems are incredibly staffing intensive from several perspectives. First, they can’t stop crime unless somebody is watching monitors in real time and also has authority to immediately deploy officers based on what they see. So there are staffing costs for monitoring and also for the officers who will now be deployed more frequently at spots the cameras are located. (Essentially cameras usurp deployment decisions by police supervisors, resulting in an unplanned overallocation of the city’s limited policing resources.

But there’s another staffing aspect that camera proponents seldom publicly discuss: whenever a crime occurs, police must watch video footage (frequently many hours of it), usually with little benefit to the case. And while they’re doing that, they are not investigating other crimes. A London cop/blogger complained in 2006 that “CCTV viewing occupies a disproportionate amount of police time with very little tangible result. This fact is well known to street criminals.” That’s why cameras in public spaces arguably harm safety more than they preserve it: Proponents ignore the opportunity costs from diverting officers from their workaday duties.

Indeed, London is the most surveilled city in the world, with CCTV cameras covering virtually every public space in most of the city. But a meta-study by the British Home Office last year accumulating results from dozens of studies and years of research advised police that “The use of closed-circuit television in city and town centres and public housing estates does not have a significant effect on crime.” That’s not just true in Britain but everywhere the strategy has been used. As security guru Bruce Schneier wrote in a column for CNN earlier this year:

Pervasive security cameras don’t substantially reduce crime. This fact has been demonstrated repeatedly: in San Francisco public housing, in a New York apartment complex, in Philadelphia, in Washington, DC, in study after study in both the U.S. and the U.K. Nor are they instrumental in solving many crimes after the fact.

There are exceptions, of course, and proponents of cameras can always cherry-pick examples to bolster their argument. These success stories are what convince us; our brains are wired to respond more strongly to anecdotes than to data. But the data is clear: CCTV cameras have minimal value in the fight against crime.

I’ve railed against this idea in the past, but it’s one of those areas where people’s so-called “common sense” fails to anticipate all the on-the-ground realities of why these systems don’t work – even when the issue has been researched six ways from Sunday, as this one has. So Austin PD will spend the next few years wasting money and manpower on this boondoggle, but it’s much more a public relations ploy than an actual public safety initiative, and one that diverts police resources from more important crime fighting activities.

Originally published on Grits for Breakfast

Kathie Glass shines as Governor Perry skips out on debate ahead of November 2nd election

AUSTIN October 19, 2010 — Even before the debate between three candidates on the ballot to be Texas’s next governor began, the main issue tonight was clear: Republican candidate, Gov. Rick Perry, was nowhere to be seen, and was once again refusing to participate in a debate with Democratic challenger Bill White or any other candidate. Bill White, former mayor of Houston, would instead share the stage with two other candidates, Libertarian Kathie Glass, an attorney from Houston, and Green Party nominee Deb Shafto, a retired school teacher.

Rick Perry’s campaign has justified the Governor’s refusal to appear on-stage with other candidates because Mr. White has not released personal IRS tax forms from the 1990s when White was chairman of the Texas Democratic Party. Mr. White has made an issue of the massive debts built up by the state during Perry’s decade in office, and the looming budget shortfall of over $20 billion that is expected in 2011. The decision by Gov. Perry to avoid public debates appears to be part of a campaign strategy to prevent potential pitfalls or negative publicity that could result if he is put on the spot by his opponents to defend his record as Governor.

Tonight’s debate was broadcast on PBS affiliates across the state, and featured a panel of journalists from Texas’s largest newspapers, such as the Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, and Austin American-Statesman. This debate has been in the works for several months, but over the summer, Gov. Perry announced that he was declining to participate in any debate or forum with Democratic nominee Bill White until the ex-mayor released certain tax return information from the last decade.

Libertarian candidate Kathie Glass stole the show at certain points with some biting one-liners aimed at the absentee Governor, and with strong stands in favor of fiscal responsibility with the state budget. Green nominee Deb Shafto made her proposal for a statewide income tax on people who make more than $88,000 a core part of her plan to balance the state budget without increasing taxes on lower income residents, although she admitted this proposal would be tough to get approved.

A panel of journalists asked candidates to state their positions on the following issues:

Should the state offer financial aid to illegal immigrants to attend state colleges and universities?

White and Shafto both responded that Texas had an interest in all young residents (regardless of their legal status) being well-educated, and so this policy currently in effect should continue. Ms. Glass took an opposing stand, saying that the state should cut all medical and educational funding that goes to illegal immigrants, which she says would save the state $45 million annually.

What should the state do about the over one million Texans who are now unemployed?

Ms. Shafto suggested the state begin major public works projects to create solar and wind electric power grids, while Ms. Glass said the state should limit occupational licenses and fees that are barriers to people starting their own businesses. Mr. White drew attention to millions in taxpayer-funded subsidies that have gone to Gov. Perry’s friends and campaign donors through the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Emerging Technologies Fund, and said this money should be spent in a fairer way to create good jobs.

Do the candidates support legalizing casinos and slot machines as a way to generate money for the state budget?

Ms. Shafto responded that gambling is a “sleazy” way to bring in money for the state, and a state income tax would be a fairer way to raise funds. Bill White responded that he would not promote gambling, but did not rule it out and said voters would like to have a chance to voice their opinion on this issue. Ms. Glass said that if the legislature approved gambling, she would sign the bill, but did not think it should be legalized just to raise revenue.

What are the candidates’ stands on the death penalty, especially with evidence emerging of wrongful executions and prisoners being exonerated who were on death row for many years?

Both Mr. White and Ms. Glass voiced support for the death penalty, while Ms. Shafto said it should be abolished since this practice is “not fit for a civilied society.”

Do candidates support state Sen. Steve Ogden’s proposal for a statewide property tax to fund public schools?

All three candidates indicated that they believed property taxes were already too high, and Ms. Glass even said property taxes should be abolished, and the state should send money straight to school districts based on a per-student cost basis ranging from $5,000 to $8,000 per student in a district.

What is each candidate’s position on legalizing marijuana for medical purposes?

Bill White responded that this is not a good idea for Texas while Kathie Glass said she does not consider this a critical issue, but would sign a bill legalizing marijuana if the conservative Texas legislature were to send it to her desk as Governor. Deb Shafto set herself apart, saying all drugs should be decriminalized and treated as a medical issue, since illegal drugs are the root cause of the violence and crime along the Texas border with Mexico.

How should Texas limit the number of high school dropouts?

Mayor White proposed state funding for early childhood (pre-kindergarten) programs to get kids in public schools at an even younger age, while Deb Shafto, a school teacher for 28 years, said major changes needed to happen in how public school treat children so that it would promote their individual creativity, and not just emphasize sitting still and being quiet. Ms. Glass had a much different response, saying that dropouts are often a negative influence in the classroom, and so truancy laws should be abandoned, and young people should be allowed to learn to take care of themselves working in the real world rather than being forced to stay in the structured environment of a public school if they so choose.

How would candidates address the estimated $21-24 billion budget shortfall in 2011?

Deb Shafto again proposed her income tax on top earners in Texas, and proposed an audit of all state jobs to see if they are necessary and actually being done. Bill White said “boondoggles” like expensive vendor contracts, personnel costs, and capital expenditures approved during Rick Perry’s time in office need to be reviewed to reduce costs. Kathie Glass said to cut taxpayer funding for services to illegal immigrants, cut the budget of the Texas Dept. of Transportation, and said Texas should opt out of Medicaid, saving $45 million sent to the federal government each year. Then Texas could decide to set up its own statewide medical programs which would presumably cost less.

TAG endorses Kathie Glass for Texas Governor!

Texans for Accountable Government (TAG) has endorsed Kathie Glass, of the Llibertarian Party, for Texas Governor! TAG has also endorsed Mary Lou Serafine (R) for Texas Senate – District 14, Robert Nowotny (L) for Texas Representative – District 73, Mike Barre (R) for Justice of the Peace – Travis County Precinct 3, and Kris Bailey (L) for Texas House District 47.

TAG, ACLU, and Community Await City Recommendations on Blood Draws

In October of 2009, Texans for Accountable Government brought a resolution before the City Council which would have put a stop to Austin’s “no-refusal” weekends and prevent Austin police officers from ever being trained as phlebotomists.  While we managed to garner the support of the Travis County, Democratic Party, Republican Party, Libertarian Party, Green Party, NAACP, LULAC and many others, we were met with much resistance from the city establishment.

At the 11th hour our community-supported resolution was nixed and instead the council voted on a substitute resolution which merely called on the City Manager to come up with guidelines on how blood collection should occur on no-refusal weekends.  The guidelines were supposed to be presented to the Public Safety Commission by the 29th of January however the City Bureaucracy, as usual, is behind schedule.  The findings should be presented before the Commission on Monday March 1st at City Hall.  We’ll be there!

Pflugerville public servants to fight transparency provision

Public servants say state act violates their free speech rights.

by Suzannah Gonzales / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Date: 10-15-2009

Source: Austin American-Statesman

Pflugerville council members voted unanimously Wednesday to join a lawsuit, yet to be filed, that will claim the Texas Open Meetings Act violates their free speech rights.

“Our lawsuit is not trying to throw out the entire Open Meetings Act. We’re only asking to declare unconstitutional the criminal provision that says that council members can’t talk to each other except at a meeting,” said Rod Ponton, who is co-counsel in the matter. “We do believe that the First Amendment gives public officials the right to speak to one another or the public.”

The potential suit would come after a similar one was dismissed last month by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and others argued that the Alpine council members who challenged the act lacked legal standing because they were no longer in office. After the dismissal, public officials across the state, including in Pflugerville, contacted Ponton, who is Alpine’s city attorney, and expressed interest in joining a new suit, Ponton said.

The new suit is expected to be filed against the State of Texas and Abbott in the next month in federal court in the West Texas city of Pecos, said Ponton, who is representing the elected officials alongside Houston lawyer Dick DeGuerin.

In addition to Pflugerville Mayor Jeff Coleman and four council members — one council member was absent from Wednesday’s early morning vote — 15 elected officials from cities across the state, including Sugar Land, have joined the challenge as co-plaintiffs, Ponton said. He declined to identify all 15 officials. Ponton said cities, including Pflugerville, also will be named as co-plaintiffs in the matter, and he said he anticipates statewide organizations will also participate.

The act prohibits a quorum of members of a governmental body from deliberating in secret and is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Elected officials “don’t want to go to jail. If they’re not sure (they’re violating the act), they’re just not going to say anything. And that’s what chills free speech,” Pflugerville City Attorney Floyd Akers said.

“I understand the other side. You don’t want corruption. But at some point, it gets a little onerous and you actually have the opposite effect. If you shut people up, you inhibit the dissemination of ideas, which is the purpose of the whole democratic process,” Akers said.

“Jail time is not the least restrictive means of promoting open government,” said Scott Houston, the director of legal services for the Texas Municipal League, which filed an amicus brief in the previous lawsuit in support of Alpine city officials but has not decided whether to support or join a new suit.

But Jim Hemphill, a member of the board of directors of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and a lawyer who has represented the American-Statesman, said the Open Meetings Act and the First Amendment promote the public’s right to transparency in government.

“It’s kind of ironic that public officials are saying that the First Amendment requires government to be less transparent to the people,” Hemphill said. “It seems in some way it’s turning the First Amendment on its head.”

The earlier suit came after Alpine Council Member Katie Elms-Lawrence sent an e-mail in 2004 to three fellow council members about a pending water project. One of them wrote an e-mail response and sent it to the other three. That was problematic because four council members represent a quorum for that body. Then-District Attorney Frank Brown launched an investigation that ended with the indictments of Elms-Lawrence and Council Member Avinash Rangra in violating the Open Meetings Act.

Brown said he dismissed the cases when one of the other two council members recanted earlier testimony that he had received the e-mail.

Rangra and Anna Monclova, another council member, sued to challenge the law.

Though the 2004 incident will be mentioned and is the basis of the new challenge, Ponton said the new one will include incidents in which the plaintiffs have been threatened with prosecution for violating the act.

Akers cites this local example: Days before the May election, a supporter of Pflugerville council candidate Erica Anne Grignon filed a complaint with prosecutors alleging that her opponent, incumbent Victor Gonzales who later won, may have violated the act at a campaign event. A quorum of Pflugerville council members attended, and Gonzales spoke on various city-related topics, the complaint said.

The complaint is under review by the Travis County district attorney’s office.

The Alpine lawsuit caused a stir nationwide among media organizations and open government groups, said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which filed an amicus brief in that suit in support of Brown and Abbott. She said a new suit likewise could cause alarm.

“Sometimes the audacity of public officials and their complete lack of understanding of what it means to be a public servant astonishes me” Dalglish said. “Quite honestly, the Texas open meetings statute does not seem to be onerous. It’s very mainstream.”

sgonzales@statesman.com; 445-3616