Pharaoh Adler, Let My People Go!

In a 9-2 vote in February, Austin City Council banned outside assemblies of seven or more people between the hours of 7 a.m and 10 p.m., effectively outlawing backyard BBQs, birthday parties, bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, bar mitzvahs, Quinceaneras and family reunions at Short Term Rental properties. People that have paid high dollars to rent these private properties will be forced to comply with the ordinance or receive a fine, or worse, have their private events & vacations interrupted by City of Austin code compliance and a visit from Austin Police department.

Austin City Council has official run amok with Short Term Rentals. Council Member Don Zimmerman will be there to discuss all of this at our Our July 25th meeting. Details below.

The ordinance also bans inside gatherings of more than 10 people at any one time, regardless of a rental’s square footage or how many people the property can accommodate. This not only makes large family gatherings an awful affair, but also punishes owners of large properties who can no longer legally rent to capacity.

What is even more outrageous, in order to make sure that citizens are doing what they are told, the City of Austin has given its code officials the ability to conduct warrantless searches, at all reasonable times, of “all buildings, dwelling units, guest rooms and premises” in search of possible code violations. Since some of the restrictions do not go into effect until after 10 p.m. it is possible that officials could show up in the dead of night to search every nook and cranny for a Short Term Rental property looking for any sign of bad behavior, all without a search warrant.

Pharaoh Adler, Let My People Go!

Speakers include Council Member Don Zimmerman and Michael Cargill. Others will be announced shortly.

This is TAG’s July 25th meeting, which is held from 7pm to 9pm. All ages are welcome and get there early if you’re interested in ordering dinner.

Event will be hosted by Michael Cargill of Texans for Accountable Government.

Event is Free

7PM TO 9PM: Scholz Garten 1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, Texas 78701

Scholz Beer Garten (Austin)

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Mayor Steve Adler’s $720 million Austin “Transportation Bond” package.

The City of Austin has a large debt. Servicing this debt is a significant part of high property taxes. But every year we retire several hundred millions of bond debt. If Austin stopped selling new bonds, the property tax rate would begin going down. Or, if Austin would only sell as many bonds, $300 million worth, so as to equal the amount being retired, the property tax rate would remain flat.

Mayor Steve Adler has proposed a $720 million “Transportation Bond” package. That would lead to a mandatory property tax increase but Adler says, with a straight face, that his proposal would make Austin more affordable. Several council members have proposed changes to Adler’s plan to put in some of their pet projects. When the smoke clears, it’s likely that the council will vote for a bond package somewhere north of $800 million.

At our June meeting, Vince will explain that raising taxes never increases affordability, and also examine the “road projects” that will be built with the bond proceeds. Hint: If you drive a car, you will not be happy with this transportation bond package.

When: July 27th, 2016 7PM TO 9PM: Scholz Garten 1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, Texas 78701

>> Facebook Event

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June 27th: 2nd Annual Civil Forfeiture Panel with Institute for Justice, TPPF, and TAG

Civil Forfeiture has also been called ‘Policing For Profit’ because it is the ability for law enforcement agencies to take a person’s property and keep it without a criminal conviction. Civil Forfeiture underwrites the budgets of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies as well as prosecutors, and though this practice ostensibly expedites crime fighting, it is now apparent that there’s more harm being done to innocent people than we could’ve ever anticipated.

The Texas State Supreme Court has ruled on the merit of Civil Forfeiture and has stated that even if one’s 4th and 5th Amendment rights are violated, their property may still be seized. Is there still room for reform, or must Texas abolish Civil Forfeiture entirely, as New Mexico has, in order to ensure that people are secure in their person and property.

Should local and state agencies be allowed to continue the practice ‘equitable sharing’ with federal agencies, or should Texas assert its independence and prevent the subversion of state law?

Who will champion these reforms during the next legislative session?

Our panelists include members from Institute for Justice, Texas Public Policy Foundation, and Texans for Accountable Government.

This is TAG’s June meeting, which is held from 7pm to 9pm. All ages are welcome and get there early if you’re interested in ordering dinner.

Moderated by Justin Arman, Executive Director of Texans for Accountable Government.

Event is Free

When: June 27th, 2016 7PM TO 9PM: Scholz Garten 1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, Texas 78701

>> Facebook Event

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An update on the APD Body Camera Policy

Austin City Council will consider Austin Police Department’s $17 million proposal to hire Taser as its body camera contractor this Thursday, May 19. The City Council meeting starts at 9:55 a.m. on Thursday May 19. The items are 30 and 31 on the agenda.

You can review the APD Body Camera Policy here. The city council is not voting on the policy this week, but we do need to start the conversation.

Some concerns:
Footage cannot be shown to “embarrass” an employee of APD, a restriction that might be used to withhold footage that shows an officer doing something wrong.
Officers are not required to notify people when they’re being recorded.
Officers are given a lot of discretion in deciding when to turn the cameras on.
There should be a process for deleting footage, unless it’s required for an on-going investigation.
We also need a clearer process for releasing footage under public information requests.
Please contact Austin City Council and the Public Safety Commission and ask them require a more thorough policy that takes into account community input.

For more information on body camera policy recommendations by groups like Center for Constitutional Right, ACLU, Cato and the Urban Institute, visit www.atxbodycam.com.

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TAG Hosted Two Drug War Panels On Saturday

TAG hosted two Drug War panels at the Republican Liberty Caucus State Convention and Huston Tillotson University. Panel included Rev. Alexander Sharp, Dr. Bryon Adinoff, and Texas Judge John Delaney

From Justin Arman, TAG’s Exec Director: “Texans for Accountable Government hosted another great panel on Saturday. I actually learned a lot listening to our speakers and feel confident that the next legislative session will bring some major drug law reform. I was especially impressed by Judge Delaney for speaking out against the criminal justice system itself. Usually, the only advocates for prohibition are law enforcement and those on the government payroll, because their budgets depend on criminalizing nonviolent actions. I loved that this event focussed on ending prohibition for ALL drugs, and not just the easier conversation about decriminalizing weed.”

justin arman

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ON FEB 13TH: TAG Hosts Panel To End Drug War with Texas Judge, Reverend, and Doctor

Contact: Justin Arman

For Immediate Release: Friday, February 5, 2016

Justin.Arman@tagexas.org

 

 

TEXAS JUDGE JOINS DOCS, CLERGY TO DISCUSS DRUG WAR EXIT STRATEGIES WITH TEXANS FOR ACCOUNTABLE GOVERNMENT

 

Next weekend, Texans for Accountable Government will feature a special panel on drug policy called Cops, Docs, and Clergy: Speaking with One Voice Against the War on Drugs. The panelists will each present and discuss the ethical and practical failures of the drug war based on their professional expertise. Featured panelists include Judge John Delaney (Ret.), a representative of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a nonprofit group of police, judge, prosecutors, and other criminal justice professionals working to end the drug war. LEAP is committed to ending decades of failed policy that have created dangerous underground markets and gang violence, eroded trust between communities and police, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction.

 

“The drug war is unconstitutional and has no moral or legal justification. Alcohol and cigarettes are two of the most lethal drugs, yet we realize prohibiting them would worsen the problem. It’s time we extend these conclusions to all drugs. Love, community, and support, are what people with addictions need… not incarceration,” said Justin Arman, Executive Director of Texans for Accountable Government.

 

Who:  Judge John Delaney (Ret.), Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Rev. Al Sharp, Clergy for a New Drug Policy, Dr. Bryon Adinoff, Professor and Distinguished Professorship of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research at the University of Texas

 

When: Saturday, February 13th at 2:00 PM

Reception to follow at 4:00 PM at Easy Tiger 709 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

 

Website: https://www.facebook.com/events/190962317923580/

    

Where: Agard – Lovinggood Auditorium, Huston Tillotson 900 Chicon St, Austin, TX, 78702

 

Event Contacts: Lindsey McCalmont lindseymccalmont@gmail.com – 512-987-0125, and Justin Arman – justin.arman@tagtexas.org

 

Hosted by Texans for Accountable Government and Sponsored by Pi Gamma Mu, Clergy for a New Drug Policy, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

 

This event is free and open to the media.

 

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KXAN Interview: Why we support Ann Kitchen’s recall.

Kylie McGivern at KXAN news contacted Justin Arman, TAG’s ED, to ask for comment about TAG supporting the effort to recall Austin City Council Member Ann Kitchen, of District 5.

This aired yesterday on KXAN 6 O’CLOCK news, which you can watch here.

Here’s the extended interview which didn’t make the news.

Why do you support the recall of CM Ann Kitchen?

Texans for Accountable Government supports the recall of CM Ann Kitchen because she’s representing lobbyists rather than her constituents in District 5. Look on Page 41 of Ann Kitchen’s October 2014 Campaign Finance Report, you can see a bundled donation from Lone Star Cab of $4,000. It’s a clear cut case of the taxi lobby greasing the palms of lawmakers to insulate themselves from market competition. Also, if you look at CM Kathie Tovo’s, you’ll find thousands of dollars coming from the taxi lobby, this is completely ridiculous, and it’s undeniable what is going on here. Source: View p. 23 and 24 Kathie Tovo’s Campaign Finance Report 12/8/2014 and p. 90 of Tovo’s Campaign Finance Report from 10/6/2014.

Rideshare companies operate in over 100 cities in the US, and in over 300 cities worldwide without fingerprinting, and according to sexual assault complaints here in Austin, a person is 6 times more likely to be assaulted by a cab driver: 913 cab drivers and 3 complaints; 15,000 drivers and 7 complaints with zero criminal charges. Kitchen’s 12-page ordinance has nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with power.

Taxis lost over 1 million rides in the first year after TNCs starting operating in Austin. Instead of innovating and adapting to the desires of the market, they have come to the government to put in place regulations that will drive out TNCs, removing competition.

Some are concerned about the precedent this could set – council members potentially making tough decisions knowing it could result in a petition for their recall. What are your thoughts?

That is exactly why Austinites have the power to recall their representatives. Council members should always be concerned with losing their jobs when they abuse their power. This is an historic recall, and I hope this sends a clear message to the rest of the council, including the Major.

What more do you think needs to be known about Austin4All?

I don’t speak for Austin4All, but I do speak for Texans for Accountable Government. This recall effort is a coalition of many organizations and activists that are tired of corruption and backroom deal making, and that desire to hold politicians accountable. What makes Austin the greatest city in America is our freedom – social and economic – and we need leaders that respect our cultural fabric. As far as I’m concerned, this recall effort is a win regardless of what happens at the ballot box, because thousands of concerned residents in Kitchen’s district have expressed their disapproval, and though Kitchen will try to spin this like a typical attorney, there’s no question she’s been shown the power of grassroots activism, and she knows she’s made a mistake.

Update: Sign the petition to recall Ann Kitchen.

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65k Signatures Collected To Combat Regulations On Ridesharing

The signature petition drive was a success. Congrats to Ridesharing Works as well as the many TAG activists that collected signatures over the last couple of weeks.

New Coverage:
>> Texas Tribune
>> TWC News

From Texas Tribune:
“With less than two weeks to go before Austin’s stricter vehicle-for-hire ordinance goes into effect, Ridesharing Works — a group supported by Uber and Lyft — says it has collected 65,103 signatures on a petition to overturn the new regulations or force a public vote on them.

If enough signatures are certified, the petition would force city leaders to choose between reverting to looser ridesharing rules adopted in 2014 or putting the new ordinance up for a vote on May 7. Once the city clerk’s office has validated the signatures, the Austin City Council will have 10 days to make a decision.”

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TAG Hosting Panel Against Drug War: Cops, Docs and Clergy Event on Feb 13th

Cops, Docs and Clergy: Speaking with One Voice Against the War on Drugs. Decades ago, the War on Drugs was championed as an effort to prevent drug abuse. Since then, this war has cost the United States over a trillion dollars and millions of lives. Today, 1 in 35 American adults is under control of the criminal justice system, with arrests, convictions, and lengthy sentences impacting Blacks and Latinos disproportionately. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 44,000 people each year, and tens of thousands of people in Mexico and Central America have been killed, disappeared, or displaced because of drug war violence.

Now, with a united front, we band together to bring forward a sensible approach to drug policy, with a focus on public health and compassionate rehabilitation, rather than incarceration.

Join us on Saturday, February 13th for a community event focused on the negative impact of prohibition. Hosted by Texans for Accountable Government at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin and co-sponsored by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Clergy for a New Drug Policy, the event will feature a panel of expert speakers including a Rev. Al Sharp, Dr. Bryon Adinoff and retired Narcotics Detective, Russ Jones.

In addition to a moderated discussion, panelists will take questions from the audience, offering an opportunity for community participation. A primary objective of this event is to empower attendees to make a difference in Texas, and offer them the resources and confidence to do so.

**Free and open to the public.**

Where: Agard – Lovinggood Auditorium, Huston Tillotson (150 seats)
Parking: Map Attached
When:February 13th from 2pm – 4pm
Reception at Easy Tiger to follow 4pm – snacks provided

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TAG Joins The Austin Fight To Defend Ridesharing Technology

Generous pay and volunteer opportunities are available for those willing to blockwalk and gather petition signatures to stop a destructive Ordinance (ORDINANCE NO. 20151217-075) that goes into effect in the City of Austin on February 1st, which will force Uber and Lyft to leave. These rideshare companies provide millions of rides in hundreds of cities worldwide, and there is no rational cause for this sudden ‘public safety concern.’

This 12-page ordinance is not about public safety, it’s about consolidating Power. >> Read the ordinance here.

We are looking for activists who will help gather the 20k needed petition signatures. The coalition, Ridesharing Works, has taken on this cause, however we need our experienced activists to support this effort – no organization can get the job done alone. TAG has changed laws at a local and state level, and it’s time to use our experience and influence to defend the freedoms that make Austin great, and… Keeps Austin Weird.

Training is available and you’ll be provided with all the tools needed to run a successful signature gathering effort.

Petitions may only be signed by registered voters that live in Austin, and must include: full name, address, date of birth, and or voter registration number. >> Download the petition here.

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TAG Endorses Rep. Simpson for Texas Senate

TAG is delighted to endorse Rep. David Simpson for Texas Senate.

In the 84th Texas Legislature, Rep. Simpson introduced bills to repeal marijuana prohibition and civil asset forfeiture.

Over the years, Rep. Simpson has proven how dedicated he is to transparent, accountable, and small government.

rep. david simpson senate race

Katie Brewer presenting Rep. David Simpson with a campaign contribution and TAG endorsement for his Senate race.

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November 30th TAG Meeting – Scholtz Garten

Location: 1607 San Jacinto Blvd. Austin, Texas 78701

Time: 6:30pm to 9pm

All ages welcome.

There is a lot to cover at this meeting.

The theme of this meeting is police accountability and how we can create change on a local level.

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San Marcos Official Ends Fluoridation on Nov. 12th, 2015

The City of San Marcos announced that today, Nov. 12th, industrial waste will no longer be added to the water supply, and that their water will drop to natural fluoride levels within 3 days.

san marcos fluoridation

San Marcos Officially Announces End of Fluoridation


“At the request of the City of San Marcos, the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA), operator of the City of San Marcos Water Treatment Plant (WTP), will terminate the practice of adding fluoride to the drinking water treated at the plant. Fluoride addition is planned to stop Nov. 12 and fluoride levels will drop to natural levels within a few days throughout the City distribution system.”

Our victory extends to Kyle and Buda as well.

“The San Marcos WTP also supplies water to other municipalities and water utilities through its I-35 pipeline. GBRA officials have notified those customers, including Kyle, Buda, Sunfield, Goforth S.U.D., and Monarch of the fluoride changes precipitated by the San Marcos vote.”

Official Announcement: http://www.ci.san-marcos.tx.us/index.aspx?recordid=3739&page=102

From Justin Arman, TAG ED., “I wanted to personally thank the City of San Marcos for working expeditiously to transition to a Clean Water City as well as yielding to this new charter amendment without any funny business. I also wanted to thank Sam Brannon for his watchful eye making sure the City delivered on its requirements.”

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Press Release: Austin Groups Sponsor Film Screening

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

What: Austin Groups Sponsor Film Screening to Increase Awareness of Police Militarization

When: Nov. 9th, 2015

Where: 6:30pm Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar 1120 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, Texas 78704

Contact: Justin Arman, Texans for Accountable Government Executive Director – C. 830-730-8065  – E. justin.arman@tagtexas.org

November 9th, 2015

Texans for Accountable Government

 

Austin Groups Sponsor Film Screening to Increase Awareness of Police Militarization

 

Austin, TX: This evening, Texans for Accountable Government (TAG), a multi-partisan Political Action Committee based in Central Texas, has partnered with America’s Future Foundation, to host a sold-out special screening plus Q&A panel of the SXSW award winning film, Peace Officer. This film follows a former law enforcement officer as he investigates the shooting death of his nephew, as well as the growing phenomenon of violent, no-knock SWAT raids and government immunity laws gone amok in the War on Drugs. Law enforcement agencies are routinely armed with military surplus weapons and equipment, and there are federal incentives to use what they are given. All of this has led to a 15,000% increase in SWAT team raids in the United States since the late 1970’s. [from: http://www.peaceofficerfilm.com/about/]

 

Immediately following the screening, there will be a Q&A panel with the filmmakers, Austin City Councilman and Chair of Public Safety Don Zimmerman, Texas ACLU Political Director Matt Simpson, and Lakeway Police Chief Todd Radford, who was the first Chief of Police in Texas to equip his officers with body cameras.

 

“We sent special invites to APD, Austin City Council, elected officials, think tanks, policy makers, activists, and community leaders, to this event. Film has the ability to bring us together, put our political differences aside, and share a common experience,” Justin Arman, Exec. Dir. of Texans for Accountable Government. Arman continues, “There isn’t a day without a victim of police brutality – whether accidental or not – and this problem has grown to a point where systemic reform is necessary. With an understanding of the history of law enforcement, and a genuine desire to examine our present condition, we can start asking the right questions and have the courage to arrive at conclusions that may contradict decades old policy.”

 

“With a video surfacing on Nov. 6th of Austin Police Officers beating and arresting alleged jaywalkers, this film screening could not be more timely.  We hope to foster conversation between Austin residents and law enforcement so that we can all work together for a safer community, instead of pitting police officers against peaceful Austinites.” Said TAG Steering Committee member, Carly Rose Jackson.

 

Peace Officer will be shown at 6:30 p.m. at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar.

 

https://drafthouse.com/austin/show/tag-aff-present-peace-officer

 

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TAG and AFF Host Special Screening of ‘Peace Officer’

Texans for Accountable Government and America’s Future Foundation – Austin Chapter, and Liberty on the Rocks- Austin cordially invite you to a special screening of “Peace Officer”, winner of the Grand Jury Award at SXSW 2015.

When: Monday Nov. 9th at 7:00 pm at the Alamo Drafthouse on Lamar First 50 people get free drink tickets! Doors open at 6:00 pm!

Immediately following the movie, we will host a 30 minute panel and Q+A with local officials, law enforcement and policy analysts and the “Peace Officer” filmmakers Scott Christopherson and Brad Barber.

Please purchase your tickets here: https://drafthouse.com/austin/show/tag-aff-present-peace-officer

Texans for Accountable Government Peace Officer

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We defeated the Austin Courthouse Bond

TAG worked with the Travis County Tax Payers Union to defeat the courthouse bond, with a margin of 1064 votes. Coverage here.

Congrats to Councilman Zimmerman, Bill Worsham, Leland Freeman, and the rest of the TAG team that fought hard against this.

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Ending fluoridation: Another great victory.

TAG fought hard with Fluoride Free San Marcos to end fluoridation through the Prop 1 ballot measure. We stood victorious with 61% in favor of stopping this irrational policy.

TAG stands against fluoridation on ethical grounds, “Taking an ethical stance against fluoridation is not a judgment on the efficacy of the practice itself, rather it’s a consideration of whether government should have rights that medical doctors don’t have, and whether medical treatment should be the role government at all.

“It is compatible to believe in the benefits of fluoride while being against the fluoridation of public drinking water, on the grounds that it is always an individual’s right to choose his medication. Fluoridation violates this natural right.” – Justin Arman, TAG’s Exec Dir.

ending fluoridation Texans for accountable government

Victory Party Nov. 3rd

Here’s press coverage from this great victory:

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Ethical Argument Against Fluoridation.

Texans for Accountable Government takes an ethical stance against fluoridation.

Taking an ethical stance against fluoridation is not a judgment on the efficacy of the practice itself, rather it’s a consideration of whether government should have rights that medical doctors don’t have, and whether medical treatment should be the role government at all.

It is compatible to believe in the benefits of fluoride while being against the fluoridation of public drinking water, on the grounds that it is always an individual’s right to choose his medication. Fluoridation violates this natural right.

Currently, city governments are medicating residents without their consent – if medical doctors treated patients without consent, they would lose their license and potentially face imprisonment. Outside the limited role of government to protect life, liberty, and property – what is wrong for individuals, ought to be considered bad policy for government.

It is irrational to prescribe the same dose of medication for a baby as one would for a 250lb man; or the same dose to the elderly with compromised immune systems as athletes in their prime. Fluoridation is a one-size-fits-all prescription which cannot account for the vast diversity of any given population.

If one were in favor of giving government power to mass medicate their residents, then we ask where the line may be drawn between the opinions of politicians and their lobbyists, and conclusive evidence that will show benefits for every member of a population at all times?

Politicians have used tactics to side step dealing with medical ethics by calling fluoride an essential nutrient rather than a medicine:

  • Fluoride and fluoridation is intended to prevent tooth decay. Medicine is intended to prevent and treat disease – the CDC defines tooth decay as a chronic disease. It cannot be refuted that fluoride is a medicine, and that fluoridation is mass-medicating.
  • If an animal or person is deprived of an essential nutrient, death or disease follows. There is no conclusive evidence that fluoride is a nutrient, rather fluoride is an ostensible intervention to fix a problem human biology couldn’t handle on its own.

When dealing with issues of serious complexity, it is always best to turn inward and use the gift of reason. Starting from the premise of self-ownership, a simple string of inferences will guide you through the fog.

Sincerely,

Justin Arman,
Executive Director
Texans for Accountable Government

Nov. 2nd 2015 – Fluoride Free San Marcos Campaign.

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Citizens Commission on Human Rights Honors TAG

On September 26th, Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) held their annual dinner and fundraiser. TAG was recognized for our success during the legislative session and for participation in the coalition which supported Governor Abbott in his veto of SB359.

Justin Arman, TAG’s Executive Director, testified with Lee Spiller, policy director for CCHR, before the senate during the 84th Legislature. The two of them rallied their constituents and fought hard to educate citizens and law makers alike; but the force of the lobby and sheer money behind this bill was too great to conquer. However, Rule of Law and Governor Abbott’s constitutional knowledge prevailed; the coalition provided a detailed veto-request letter with documentation on background, the contradictory nature of the bill, and the extra-constitutionality of the bill itself. The veto was a success because we all did our part: the phone calls, the letter, the persistence, and the diversity of groups that joined together to get this done.

Justin Arman Texans for Accountable Government CCHR Award

Justin Arman receiving award on behalf of Texans for Accountable Government

This is what Justin Arman had to say about the CCHR event, “What a wonderful evening with Citizens Commission on Human Rights. Texans for Accountable Government was recognized for the work we did with CCHR and our coalition partners. I’m very inspired by this organization and it was an honor being able to speak on behalf of TAG to such a solid group of freedom fighters.”

Justin Arman Texans for Accountable Govenrment CCHR

Justin Arman spoke to CCHR about the power of single issue coalitions, looking within and employing reason to find nonviolent answers to complex issues, and leading a purpose driven life. He thanked Lee Spiller for his guidance during the legislative session.

In a facebook status update, Lee Spiller wrote, “Such a pleasure to share the stage last night with Justin Arman and our other honorees. It has been a great experience watching Justin come into his own as ED of Texans for Accountable Government. Heather Invictus Fazio cannot be an easy act to follow. We will post more pictures as they become available. In the mean time, we count ourselves lucky to have friends who truly exemplify the concept of treating others the way one would want to be treated. At root, that’s the way Liberty is supposed to work.”

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CenTex Flood Victim Donation Drive

Our neighbors are in need; many have lost everything. Will you help?

Contact form below.

Donations can be dropped off at Brave New Books 1904 Guadalupe Street, Austin any time between 9am-9pm. (Items needed listed below.)

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED to help sort donations and to deliver them to Wimberley!!

Needs:
Clothes racks
Hangers
Tarps
Paper towels
Paper plates
Dish soap
Duct tape
Sponges
Scrub brushes
Big push brooms
Regular brooms
Box cutters
Gallon size baggies
Squeegees
New underwear and socks
Plastic tubs/bins
Laundry baskets
Rubber boots
Empty spray bottles
Face masks
Antibiotic ointment
Bandages/bandaids
Wheel barrows
NO MORE CLOTHES except new underwear and socks

These donations still should go to Wimberley High School Bridges Gym at this time.

>> Facebook event page here. Help promote.

Donation Contact Form

 

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Justin Arman Testifies Before The Natural Resources Committee | Fluoridation Transparency

Texans for Accountable Government

Testimony of Justin Arman, Ex. Dir. of Texans for Accountable Government

IN SUPPORT of HB 1581,

Before the Natural Resources Committee on April 15th, 2015

        Thank you Chairman, and members of this committee, my name is Justin Arman, Executive Director of Texans for Accountable Government, and we are testifying in support of HB 1581. This is a common sense bill because it increases transparency and informs the public on the condition of our most precious resource.  Regardless of whether one is for or against the benefits of fluoride dealing with this chemical is extremely dangerous, hence all the precautionary measures used in transport and handling.

        It is common practice for Texas municipalities to fluoridate their public water with fluorosilicic acid, which is upcycled from industrial producers of fertilizer, aluminum, and steel manufacturers, and is much different than the pharmaceutical-grade sodium fluoride found in toothpastes and dentist offices.

        For instance, on Feb 27th, 2014, the Austin City Council authorized a 24-month supply contract with MOSAIC CROP NUTRITION, LLC, for the purchase of fluorosilicic acid for the Austin Water Utility in an amount of $2,220,900 in total[1]. On MOSAIC CROP NUTRITION’s website, they provide a material safety data sheet (MSDS) for their fluorosilicic acid, which I’ve attached to this document. If you look at the “Health Hazards” on this MSDS, they include these warnings: “Corrosive to the skin, eyes and mucous membranes through direct contact, inhalation or ingestion. May cause severe irritation and burns, which may not be immediately apparent. Handle with extreme care.”[2] 

        Being in favor of this bill does not equate to being against water fluoridation, it just means that you’re in favor of having an informed public. I have a baby on the way, and I would have felt violated if I were exposing my pregnant wife and family to water that contained chemicals that I didn’t know about.

        We place very serious label requirements on private companies that provide nutritional supplements and food products, it’s time we hold public water providers to the same standard.

        On behalf of Texans for Accountable Government, we thank Representative Simpson for his dedication to empowering the people of Texas.

        

        


[1] (Page 2) Link to source: Agenda Item #19 http://austin.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=509&doctype=agenda

[2] (Page 3) Link to Fluorosilisic Acid MSDS: http://www.mosaicco.com/products/industrial_products.htm

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Jessica Arman Testimony – HB507 Decriminalizing Marijuana

Watch video here: http://tlchouse.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=37&clip_id=10586&entrytime=16888

Texans for Accountable Government

Testimony of Jessica Arman, Steering Committee of Texans for Accountable Government

IN SUPPORT of HB 507,

Before the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on April 8th, 2015

Thank you Chairman and members of this committee, my name is Jessica Arman and I’m testifying today in strong support of HB 507 and representing Texans for Accountable Government. More importantly, though, I am here on behalf of my family and myself as a Texas business owner, wife, and mother of four wonderful children – one of which is due very soon. It was quite difficult making my way here, so please bare with me.

I’ve come to the Capitol today because this issue matters dearly to me, and I see how much harm current marijuana laws have on good people. My heart hurts when I think of the countless young people whose lives have been derailed or ruined because of our state’s unfair and harsh penalties for marijuana possession.

I’ve never found logic in these policies, which say something like, “If someone uses a substance, let’s throw them in a cage and ruin their future.” Where in our private lives would we condemn someone to a life of misery for making choices that we don’t agree with but that don’t actually harm anyone else.

I do not use marijuana, but I am opposed to jailing those who do.

It does not make sense to arrest people for marijuana possession. We know that it’s safer than alcohol and that the real danger exists with the enforcement of the law — not using the plant.

My husband and I teach our children that maturity means that your actions lineup with your needs, and that just about anything can be harmful when you don’t exercise moderation. I believe it is the role of the parent to cultivate an open and loving relationship with their children, and to educate them, both through communication and by setting a good example, to become autonomous adults that have the ability to make responsible choices. I don’t want my children to smoke cigarettes and these are sold on every corner, however I would never defer my parental responsibilities to the State – to outlaw cigarettes – because I know that if I don’t do my job, my children will find them regardless.

My extent of participating in activism is only where I think I can make things better for my community and for my children, including the baby growing inside of me. HB 507 is a bill that honors the role of family and restores the greatest virtues espoused by the framers of this nation: liberty, self-determination, and personal responsibility.

Our family motto is “Make the world a better place because you’re in it.” This is what we live by, and I can honestly say that Representative Moody and the supporters of this bill, are trying to do just that.

Thank you for your consideration.

 

 

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Justin Arman Testimony – HB 2263 Require Warrant for Geolocation

In Summary
On the digital privacy front, Texans for Accountable Government stood with the Texas Electronic Privacy Coalition, to testify in support of HB2263, which would require local and state law enforcement to get a probable cause warrant for cell phone geo-location tracking. The first four testimonies were from our coalition, the second four included DPS and law enforcement officers. It’s completely worth watching them attempt to make a case against this bill. At the end of their testimony, Matt Simpson, of the ACLU, essentially cleaned up and demonstrated why their concerns were essentially irrelevant.

>> Watch video click here: http://tlchouse.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=37&clip_id=10586&entrytime=7418

 

Texans for Accountable Government

Testimony of Justin Arman, Ex. Dir. of Texans for Accountable Government

IN SUPPORT of HB 2263,

Before the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on April 8th, 2015

Texans for Accountable Government supports HB2263 because this bill encompasses many of the principles we stand for — limited government, accountability, transparency, and protection from government overreach. We cannot have liberty without privacy. Our privacy is sacred, and we wanted to extend our gratitude to Representative Hughes for authoring this bill and goodwill to the several members of this committee for co-authoring. I can tell you truly care about protecting your constituents.

Currently the law offers no protections for people with wireless devices who are being subjected to surveillance technology without their knowledge. The egregious surveillance programs on the federal level are common knowledge now, however there is something this legislature can do to protect its citizens at home.  

We strongly believe the law must be updated to include new technologies so people’s privacy rights — their Fourth Amendment rights — are protected.  We must have some kind of open and transparent oversight involved; a warrant with probable cause issued by a judge is an important and necessary standard that must be applied to new technologies. The reporting requirements in this bill also offers transparency and accountability.

The framers knew the sanctity of privacy, however they could not have conceived of a digital age.

HB2263 is a rational and much needed solution.

With gratitude for your consideration.

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Justin Arman Testimony – HB 2165 Repeal Marijuana Prohibition

>> Click here for Video: http://tlchouse.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=37&clip_id=10586&entrytime=16888

 

Texans for Accountable Government

Testimony of Justin Arman, Ex. Dir. of Texans for Accountable Government

IN SUPPORT of HB 2165,

Before the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on April 8th, 2015

Thank you Chairman and members of this committee, my name is Justin Arman and I’m the Executive Director of Texans for Accountable Government. We strongly support Representative Simpson’s bill which offers the greatest correction to one of the biggest mistakes the State of Texas has ever made.

The facts show that Texas is leading the charge with seventy-four thousand arrests in Texas per year for simple possession, millions of dollars of wasted resources, and countless lives moved into the prison industrial complex; you all know just how bad the War on Drugs really is. And simple logic tells us that for every dollar spent throwing nonviolent people behind bars, a dollar is diverted from defending people against actual violence.

The market demand for marijuana will exist whether it is prohibited or not, and when the State of Texas outlawed this plant, it pushed this market underground. Law abiding citizens and business owners will not do black-market business because there is no means for arbitration, so the market – which is there regardless of whether or not it’s legal – will attract cartels, muscle, and the worst of society to meet the demand.

In the time I’ve been addressing this committee, two Americans have been arrested for marijuana possession. In 2011, marijuana possession arrests exceeded arrests for all violent crimes combined.[1] And by the end of today, Texas will have spent $725,000 on the incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders.[2]

As there is now more science backing benefits of this plant than the majority of supplements and even FDA approved drugs, and with the culture changing so quickly, eventually Texas will completely liberate this plant, as well as end the War On Drugs, which is really a War On Us, a War On Texans.

We would like to extend our utmost gratitude to Representative Simpson for holding the torch for liberty even when many still think he’s a bit ahead of his time. God surely did not make a mistake that civil government needs to fix, when He created cannabis.[3]


[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/17/marijuana-possession-arrests_n_2490340.html

[2] Data from Martin, an emeritus professor at Rice and a senior fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy – http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/gray-matters/article/Preaching-past-the-choir-6182391.php

[3] http://tribtalk.org/2015/03/02/the-christian-case-for-drug-law-reform/

 

 

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Justin Arman Before The Criminal Justice Committee | Civil Forfeiture Reform

Texans for Accountable Government

Testimony of Justin Arman, Ex. Dir. of Texans for Accountable Government

IN SUPPORT of SB 95,

Before the Criminal Justice Committee on April 7th, 2015

Thank you Chairman and members of this committee. My name is Justin Arman and I’m the Executive Director of Texans for Accountable Government. I’m testifying in support of Senator Hinojosa’s bill SB 95.

The burden of proof in these criminal forfeiture proceedings should be raised to a standard that will reduce wrongful seizures. Forfeitures underwrite a substantial part of the operating budgets of local and state law enforcement, and these forfeiture accounts even pay the prosecutors involved in these proceedings.

Our current system of civil and criminal forfeiture has created an incentive structure that leads to well known abuses here in Texas, and raising the State’s burden of proof to ‘clear and convincing’ evidence is the least this legislature can do to give Justice a chance. Millions of dollars have been expropriated from Texans and it’s time you take a stand against this egregious practice, to ensure that law-abiding citizens, and visitors, are protected by the burden of proof we demand in criminal proceedings. A ‘preponderance of evidence’ doesn’t offer the protections we’re entitled to.

I can tell that this legislature is taking this issue seriously and my organization, Texans for Accountable Government, would like to send goodwill to Senator Hinojosa for authoring this important bill.  This is pleasant stop on the road to total reform.

Thank you for your consideration.

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TAG Hosts Civil Asset Forfeiture Panel

On Monday, March 30th TAG will host a panel of experts discussing Civil Asset Forfeiture reform and total repeal.

There are a variety of bills filed in the legislature that attempt to provide us with safeguards to police abuse, specifically Asset Forfeiture, which is a practice used widely by police to seize personal property often times without any charges being filed.

Panelists and Special Guests Include :

  • Representative David Simpson, Author of HB 3171
  • Matt Simpson, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  • Derek Cohen, Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF)
  • Matt Miller, Institute for Justice (IJ)
  • Michael Searle, TAG Steering Committee

TAG will be discussing the various bills that have been filed with special focus on Representative David Simpson’s House Bill 3171. This bill, if passed, would virtually end the abuse of Asset Forfeiture. But we will need your help to make sure it gets out of committee to the House floor. This bill would require a criminal conviction in order to seize a citizen’s property while strengthening reporting, curbing Equitable Sharing, and ending the practice that allows police departments to use seized funds as they see fit.

Texans for Accountable Government Civil Asset Forfeiture Panel

From left to right: Justin Arman TAG, Rep. David Simpson, Michael Searle TAG, Matt Miller IJ, Derek Cohen TPPF, Matt Simpson ACLU

David Simpson Texans for Accountable Government

Rep. Simpson discussing his bill which would repeal Civil Asset Forfeiture in Texas

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Justin Arman Before The Health and Human Services Committee | SB359

 

Texans for Accountable Government

Testimony of Justin Arman of Texans for Accountable Government

IN OPPOSITION to SB359,

Before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Members

March 25th, 2015

I’m grateful to address this committee so that I may express why Texans for Accountable Government, and I, in a personal capacity, strongly oppose SB359.

I’m a father and business owner, so I can only make it to the Capitol when I identify threats to liberty, and when I feel that the most vulnerable among us are being put in harm’s way.

Many of us have experienced depression and high-levels of stress and anxiety, where at some point, in moments of weakness and when our emotions take over, we may be looked upon by a third party as mentally unwell. Some of us decide to seek professional help: the right amount of compassion and sometimes the right medicine will help us stabilize and overcome hurdles to our mental wellbeing.

Those suffering need a safe place to go for help, and SB359 removes the sanctity of trust we expect from ERs and hospitals.

In this bill, a person who voluntarily admits himself into one of these facilities – even if he decides to leave before his examination – may be detained against his will for 4 hours by law enforcement or hospital staff on mere suspicion of mental illness.

Picture this being enforced and know that it will be an ugly and horrific experience for the very person seeking help; this adds salt to their wounds.

How many people will stop seeking help because they’ll know that even the hospital staff will have the ability to arbitrarily recommend that they be detained? As someone that suffers from depression, I may be one of them. I will not go to a facility that has the power to detain me. And why should I allow my children to go to such an unsafe place?

Mental illness is not defined in this bill nor should it be. It is not the role of government to diagnose conditions, nor is it the role of government to give authority to health practitioners to detain individuals who are voluntarily seeking help.

Texans for Accountable Government strongly oppose this bill and we hope that you’ll consider those that will be harmed; they may very well be your family members, or even you.

With respect and gratitude for your consideration.

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