Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why YOU Should Vote November 6th

Many will not vote November 6th. Some will not because they feel their votes do not count in the grand scheme of it all. Others may simply feel that there is no need to get to the polls because there is no presidential or gubernatorial position up for grabs. Whatever their reason - they are far from correct with this reasoning. While electing officials into office is certainly vital, there are other issues that can be addressed by the everyday Texan next week if they go to the poll. As both Americans and Texans we should become more involved and cast our ballot because this constitutional election deals mostly with our money. As Secretary of State (and also the state's Chief Elections Officer) Phil Wilson puts it, "If we want to protect democracy in this state, we must get more Texans involved in the elections process. Our right to vote is one of our most important rights as Americans and I hope that all Texans will join me in casting their ballot to let their voices be heard."

What is on the ballot you might ask? Well, let me fill you in. Some deal with education, such as Proposition 2 that promises to provide for the issuance of $500 million in general obligation bonds to finance educational loans. Others deal with equipment needed for the state; Proposition 4 will authorize the issuance of up to $1 billion in bonds. Proposition 6 gives a tax exemption of one motor vehicle for individuals. My personal favorite, Proposition 9, would authorize a tax exemption for a disabled veteran's residence. Proposition 12 wants to give up to $5 billion for highway improvement project funds and Proposition 16 would promise up to $250 million in assistance to economically distressed areas. Twelve of the sixteen propositions deal with money in one way or another. And this leads to the big question: Where will the money come from? From our taxes of course, so as citizens and tax payers we all should have a say as to where our money goes. So before you completely write off taking part in the election process this coming week, I ask that you become informed and cast your vote. The only way democracy can ever reach its full potential is for everyone to participate and not just a select few.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Vicente Fox: Revolutionist or
Just Plain Ridiculous?

Recently in the Houston Chronicle former Mexican president Vicente Fox’s new book tour was discussed. (For the article, see link at bottom of page.) Written by Dane Schiller, the article touched on various interviews Fox has done during tour stops. So far it seems his main fight is for rights for Mexicans to become permanent American residents.

While everyone is entitled to their own opinion on immigration, I take issue with the way the article was written and the way Fox was presented. The first sentence stated, “Former Mexican President Vicente Fox doesn’t get many breaks these days.” The article went on to build sympathy for the former president, even giving a quote from a former Mexican citizen now living in America saying he is the “greatest.” The author feels that the news programs Fox has been on have not given him a break; alleging they hammered away to harshly at him concerning the immigration issue. What I cannot seem to understand is why the article caters to him but does not have any real data to back up why we should listen to and agree with Fox. Instead the writer attempts to sway the readers with emotion. The article also fails to mention how illegal immigration negatively affects America. Instead Americans are portrayed as xenophobes who are fearful of immigrants and view them as terrorists. The article gives examples of Fox naming the good qualities of Mexico; furthering the argument that he is a man who loves his country. The way I see it the big questions should of been: If one loves their country and wants to see it thrive, why would they encourage their people to go to another country to live and work? Why would they not instead want to build the economy, strengthen the school system and get rid of the corruption present in the government? These are some of the questions the author should have asked instead of making Fox sound like the revolutionist he believes he is.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Proposition could mean a more open government

Proposition 11, put forth by Rep. Dan Branch (R-Dallas) could mean a more open government for the state of Texas. If approved in the November election, Texans would add a piece to the current constitution that would require lawmakers' votes to be recorded and subsequently placed on the internet for public viewing. Both sides of the issue are passionate about their stance. Those for the proposition feel that this would serve the public better and ensure a more open government. Those against the proposition feel that it is unnecessary because the House and Senate already have an unspoken rule concerning recording votes. They also argue that mandated vote recording would increase partisanship and only weaken lawmakers’ ability to work together across party lines.

I agree with proposition 11. By voting 'yes' the public would be voting for a more accountable and open government. As citizens we decide who we place in the state legislature. If not for our votes, state senators and representatives would not be able to hold their respective offices. That said, they should have no problem owning up to the votes they cast. If I vote someone into office it is based on my own beliefs and therefore I expect them to carry out the platform promises on which they ran. The article stated that there are three different times votes are cast within the legislature. Proposition 11 only covers the final vote. I believe it is necessary to have full disclosure at all levels; hopefully someone will argue for this sometime soon. I completely disagree with the argument that record voting would increase partisanship and hinder lawmakers' ability to work together in a bipartisan form. As elected officials, they should be open and honest about their stances and still be able to maintain a civil and productive work environment. Excuses should not be made for grown adults. Government should be open and honest and so should the people we place in it.