Monday, March 27, 2006

More Catch Up

Two via Off The Kuff:

First on the lack of ethics accountability from the Ethics Commission, You don't need to know:
The Texas Ethics Commission decided Friday that public officials who receive cash or other gifts don't have to disclose the value, stunning open-government advocates.

"This is absurd, dangerous and completely undermines the reform legislation," said Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth.

The seven commission members, appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker, wrestled with disclosure laws that compel public officials to report gifts over $250. The law calls for a description of the gift, and some commissioners said indicating simply "cash" - without an amount - satisfies the statute.

But government watchdogs told the commissioners that they are failing to enforce the clear meaning of the law, rendering it useless.

"This ruling leaves a big enough loophole to drive an armored truck full of money through," said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, which advocates for public disclosure. "All you would have to say is 'a truck.' "
Democratic State Representative Lon Burnam deserves all the credit for this. Here's Rep. Burnam's editorial from Friday on this subject, The elephants in the dark:
From Austin to Washington, Republican politicians and their cronies are destroying the public trust. For democracy to work, public business must be conducted in the light of day. Secrecy and nondisclosure have no place in honest and open government.

The ongoing controversy over Republican crony Bill Ceverha is a perfect illustration of the endemic secrecy and corruption in the Republican Party.
And Second a link to an HChron article on the declining state of women's health issues in Texas and the response form our Senator Steve Ogden, Who needs health care, anyway:
One of the House's most conservative Republicans, veteran Panhandle Rep. Warren Chisum, who helped pass the state's ban on same-sex marriage and longs to outlaw abortion in Texas, joined efforts to thwart the provisions before they passed. He's still hoping Panhandle funding will be restored.

"I'm not for abortion. I'm pro-life. But I'm not anti-women's health," Chisum said. ''You have your mixed emotions about it, but actually, in the Texas Panhandle, they don't perform abortions, so it's unfortunate that they're one of the ones that got their funds cut."

Yet Republican Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden is skeptical of the outcries, saying the complaints seem more about "turf protection and employee protection" than denying women services.

"There is not a single piece of evidence that anybody has offered to suggest that those changes have hurt an individual out there," said Ogden, of Bryan. "I would argue that it could have conceivably helped."

Health department officials, for their part, still are evaluating the effects of the provisions and say they may reallocate unspent funding as early as May.

Critics fear that might be too little, too late.
That's a great back-and-forth. Chisum, who authored the same sex marriage bill cannot even go as far as Sen. Ogden is willing to go. Is Sen. Ogden anti-women's health?

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