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This is the second in the series of articles on the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. The background of this fund is set out in this article. The entirety of the following post is based on the report from John Keel, CPA, of the State of Texas State Auditor’s Office. It was completed April 2011, and is know as “An Audit Report on The Emerging Technology Fund” Report No. 11-029. This report was compiled by a Certified Public Accountant from the State Auditor’s Office. It was not the result of a political adversary of Rick Perry, but an official state audit of a fund promoted and “overseen” by Rick Perry. The following are the Overall Conclusions of the Auditor:
“The Emerging Technology Fund (ETF) should make significant improvements to promote greater transparency and accountability.
Issues in a number of areas impair the ability to administer the ETF in the best interests of the State. It is important to hold recipients of funds accountable. Auditors identified the following weaknesses:
Decision making related to the ETF and recipients of funds is not open to the public.
The ETF conducts limited monitoring of recipient’s performance and expenditures of funds.
The Office of the Governor does not report the value of the State’s investments through the ETF on its financial statements.
The ETF does not administer its contracts with the seven Regional Centers for Innovation Commercialization (RCICS) and the Texas Life Science Center for Innovation and Commercialization…”
As of Aug. 31, 2010 a total of 153 grants and awards totaling $342,336,567 had been awarded to recipients.
The ETF application is considered confidential while an application for an award or grant. Ten other states with similar programs that auditors surveyed allowed significantly more public access to meetings and documents related to the award of public funds. (pg. ii)
The code of ethics policy for the Advisory Committee does not prohibit Advisory Committee members from accepting compensation from or investing in ETF recipients. (pg iii) ( This means that a person on the Advisory committee who recommends a company receive millions of dollars from the EMT could be the CEO of the company.)
The majority of annual reports required in 2007, 2008, and 2009 were NOT submitted.(pg iii)
The office of the Governor did not report the value of all investments held by the ETF on its annual financial report or on its annual report to the Legislature; the only investment that was reported was from the single award from which the ETF has profited. (pg. iii)
The ETF has not developed substantive criteria for the RCICs and the Texas Life Science Center to use when receiving and evaluating applications. (pg 3)(This means there are no standards to determine which companies receive grants, or any guidelines to determine how much money will be awarded.)
Because there is a lack of consistent documentation of votes and recusals, it can’t be determined whether board members appropriately addressed conflicts of interest. (pg. 3) (This means that there is no way to determine if the very people considering an application had a financial interest in the approval of the grant.)
RCICS and Texas Life Science Center do not follow consistent processes for evaluating and receiving applications. (pg 5)(This means that there is no uniformity in how an application is evaluated.)
Meetings of the Advisory Committee of the ETF are not open to the public, and the Advisory Committee does not even document its decisions in meeting minutes.
The Advisory Committee has been inconsistent in terms of which applications it will accept for review. (pg 7)
There is no documentation of how members voted, which members recused themselves, or any disclosures made. (pg 8)(This means that there can be no accountability for any action taken.)
The advisory committee has no written policies and procedures for how it receives, reviews, or recommends funding. (pg9)
While others may nominate people to serve on the Advisory Committee, it is the Governor who make the final determination regarding all appointments to the Advisory Committee.(pg 11)
There are no policies for the ETF application process. This has led to uncertainty in various areas. (pg 13)
The ETF doesn’t perform a credit check on award recipients, or a criminal background check. (pg 13)
Auditors were unable to determine from the documents available for the 21 applications tested whether the ETF Office performed any due diligence or independently verified the information provided by the applicant, such as intellectual property or financial information. (pg 15)
The ETF has not ensured that ETF recipients comply with requirements to submit reports. (pg 18) (This means there is no accountability by the recipients of the millions of dollare given by Texas.)
Three recipients declared bankruptcy or ceased operations in 2010 but failed to submit even one annual report. (Pg. 18)
In 2007 60% of recipients didn’t submit reports due.
In 2008 67% of recipients didn’t submit reports due.
In 2009 59% of recipients didn’t submit reports due.(pg 18)
The ETF does not require recipients to submit (1) financial information in their annual reports or (2) supporting documentation for expenditure of funds. Thus the ETF can’t verify whether recipients make expenditures only for authorized purposes. (pg 20)
The Office of the Governor is not reporting the value of the ETF investments as assets, and it is not reporting the net increase or decrease in the value of these investments on its annual financial reports.
One RCIC reported to the ETF that it spent $59,731 on “Meals and Entertainment” in fiscal year 2010. RCIC is not required to separate funds for the ETF and its operating funds. (pg 28).
Several conclusions are evident from this audit:
1. There is no criteria for the award of money from the ETF, and therefore Rick Perry is able to give state money to any company he chooses.
2. There is no documentation of any value received by Texas for any of the companies who received state money through the ETF, with the exception of a single company.
3. There is no attempt to independently assess the financial viability of a company receiving an award from the ETF, and thus a shell company could receive a gift of money from the ETF and immediately declare bankruptcy after the funds from the state are disbursed. Supporters of Rick Perry could be in a position to receive payment directly from the award of money by the state to their company through the ETF with the only benefit to the individual and/or Rick Perry, and the State of Texas might not realize any benefit!
4. There is no accounting required of a recipient of ETF funds, and thus any misuse of state money would likely never be reported.
5. Members of the Advisory Committee which recommend approval of an award may be financially connected to the applicant company and they are not required to disclose or report the conflict.
6. Rick Perry has ultimate control over any and all funds awarded by the ETF.
7. There is no expectation by the ETF that any funds will ever be paid back to the State of Texas.
8. Because Rick Perry is given the power to appoint every member of the Advisory Committee, “at his pleasure” Rick Perry controls the recommendations of the Advisory Committee “at his pleasure.”
9. There is a complete lack of accounting to the citizens of Texas, and the country, for the monies given to companies.
10. While Texans are deprived of basic services of Government, including education and fire fighting services, the State of Texas is giving away millions of dollars to Rick Perry supporters. This year alone Texas cut funding for public schools in Texas by 2 Billion Dollars. Dallas alone will suffer cuts to its education budget of 87 Million Dollars, which is less than half of the funds given away to Rick Perry supporters through the ETF
It is no wonder that Rick Perry is serving in his tenth year as governor and is the longest-serving chief executive in Texas history. Given the financial backing Perry has achieved using taxpayer money, he will likely continue to be re-elected for as long as he desires. Now the entire country is saddled with the effects of Rick Perry’s corruption.
He is among the top political fund-raisers in the country through his “vast network of wealthy supporters eager to bankroll his presidential ambitions.” In three campaigns for governor, Mr. Perry has raised $102 million, including more than $39 million during his successful 2010 bid for re-election. The Republican Governors Association, of which Mr. Perry is chairman, raised a record $22.1 million during the first half of this year. If allowed to occupy the White House, imagine the wealth he could transfer to his supporters at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.
This is first in a series of posts dedicated to revealing the truth behind the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. The breadth of the corruption facilitated by Rick Perry is so extensive that multiple articles will be necessary.
“The Emerging Technology Fund (TETF) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2005 at the urging of Gov. Perry to provide Texas with an unparalleled advantage in the research, development, and commercialization of emerging technologies.”
TETF grants are awarded in the following three areas:
• Research Superiority Acquisition — funds for Texas higher education institutions to recruit the best research talent in the world.
• Commercialization Awards — funds to help companies take ideas from concept to development to ready for the marketplace.
• Matching Awards — funds create public-private partnerships which leverage the unique strengths of universities, federal government grant programs, and industry.
In order to receive a TETF payment, the first step is to contact one of seven Regional Centers of Innovation and Commercialization (RCIC). RCICs receive applications for TETF awards each calendar quarter from companies within their regions and help guide companies through the application process. Applications are reviewed quarterly and TETF awards are granted throughout the year. Companies across the state have won TETF awards.
During the three fiscal years from Sept 1, 2007 through August 31, 2010 the TETF made 113 awards in the total amount of $259, 543,000.00. During the same time period, while Texas was giving away over $259,000,000 to companies employing supporters and donors of and to Rick Perry, Texas received $6.4 billion in federal funds from the Recovery Act money allowing Texas to retain $9.1 billion in its Rainy Day Fund. During this same time period Rick Perry advocated secession of Texas from the U.S. He also advocates less involvement of the federal government in state affairs, unless of course he is asking for money. Texas was the state most dependent upon stimulus funds to plug nearly 97% of its shortfall for fiscal 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. On the very same day Governor Perry asked for the funds, he set up a petition titled “No Government Bailouts.”
During that same period, Texas was also unable to financially sustain much of its volunteer fire departments. During the same time frame Texas was ravaged by 21,000 deadly and devastating wild fires which have burned 3.6 million acres.
II. MAKE UP OF THE TETF
Section 490 of the Government Code of Texas establishes the method for appointment to the TETF Committee. Section 490.051 provides that a committee of 17 people will be appointed by the GOVERNOR. The Governor appoints the presiding member of the committee. (Sec. 490.053). The length of service for each member is at the “pleasure of the governor.” (Sec. 490.540). The Committee only makes recommendations ( 490.056). The final approval of any money to be paid from the fund is made by the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Sec. 490.056)
III. EQUITY POSITION OF TEXAS
Texas Government Code Section 490.005 requires the Governor to provide “a brief description of the equity position that the Governor, on behalf of the state, may take in companies receiving awards.” It was obvious that each of the companies receiving the award of money from the TETF would not be successful. The majority of new businesses fail in the first four years. However the express provisions of Section 490.000 contemplate the sharing of profit if it should occur, and repayment of the monies awarded by the state, creating the relationship between the state and recipient, of an investor in a business enterprise. If other investors realize profit from the company, then the state of Texas should likewise be a beneficiary of the success of that company. The TETF was clearly formulated with the expectation that the fund would be used to support companies that had a very promising future, and would likely result in a return on investment to Texas. Section 490.203 expressly states:
“An entity receiving funding or another incentive under this subchapter shall guarantee by contract with the governor’s office that the entity will perform specific actions that are expected to provide benefits to this state.”
“If an entity fails to perform an action guaranteed by contract under subsection (a) before a time specified by the contract, the entity shall return the funding received by the entity under this subchapter.”
No company in the history of the fund has ever returned the money given by the state, and the state has never demanded the refund of any funds.
IV. ONLY ONE COMPANY, CARDIOSPECTRA, INC. HAS RETURNED ANY MONEY TO TEXAS.
The January 2011 Annual Report to the Texas Legislature covers a period of three years. This report identifies 120 different companies that received millions of dollars from the TETF. The amount of money awarded to the 120 different companies varied between $500,000 to $ 50,000,000 which was awarded to TAMU. The average amount awarded was $1,000,000. The total amount of all awards was $259,543,000.00.
For each of the 120 companies identified in the annual report there is a reference to the “intended outcome,” and the “actual outcome.” Of all the companies listed that received money from the TETF only one company is reported to have paid any money back to Texas. At pg 26 of the report, “CardioSpectra, Inc.” is reported to have been bought by another company for $25,000,000 in cash, and a promise to pay an additional $38 million upon the achievement of certain milestones. The state of Texas was paid $2,277,792 in cash upon the sale, and stock “valued at $1,984,749.” Thus Texas received only 9% of the proceeds from the sale of CardioSpectra Inc. More importantly, less than 1%, or .008% of the companies funded by Texas paid back ANY of the monies given to them. This would be an indication of, at best, gross incompetence on the part of Texas employees running the TETF, or more likely, corruption.
V. LACK OF TRANSPARENCY FROM THE TETF FUND
The TETF identifies itself as having 7 employees. They are:
1. Jonathan W. Taylor, Director
2. Yvette Sanchez-Ramirez, Executive Assistant
3. Patrick Boswell, Investments Manager
4. Bryan Poe, Investment Analyst
5. Ashley Randall, Investment Analyst
6. Emily Vorlant, Investment Analyst
7. Laurie Rich, Special Advisor
On Oct. 6th, 2011 I called each of these people. The purpose of the call was to simply confirm that CardioSpectra Inc. is the ONLY company that received money from the TETF to ever pay any money back to Texas. I spoke with Jonathan Taylor and he said he didn’t know the answer. I asked him as the Director of the fund, who would be in a better position to know. He responded by defiantly saying that any such information would have to come from the press office. When I asked him if that wasn’t part of his job description, he hung up the phone on me. I have spoken to two different people in the press office for the Governor’s office ” Lucy” and “Veronica”, and each explained that they didn’t know the information and would get back to me. I then followed up with Ms. Ramirez, Mr. Boswell, and Mr. Poe to ask the same question, and each were unwilling to discuss the matter with me. I left voice mail messages for Ms. Randall, Ms. Vorlant, and Ms. Rich, none of which have been returned three days later. I have sent an e-mail to each of the people listed above, setting out my request for confirmation that CardioSpectra Inc. is the only company in the history of the TETF to return any money to the state. The only response I have received to those simple e-mail requests is to advise me to talk with the Governor’s press office.
The inevitable conclusion is that there is only one company in the history of the TETF to pay any money back to the state in the history of the fund. In the span of over 5 years only one company returning money on the state’s investment is pathetic. In articles that will follow, there is clear lack of accountability of the TETF for over $200,000,000.00 of tax payer money that has been given away. It is criminal that at a time when Texas is in desperate need of funds for public education and basic services, like fire fighting, that the state of Texas, under the guidance of Rick Perry is GIVING away money. Later posts will also establish that the TETF has been used to give money to companies associated with donations to Rick Perry. The obvious conflict of interest and corruption is transparent, blatant, and inexcusable.
It appears that Rick Perry adheres to the philosophy that he can tell a lie, and nobody will notice. How stupid does he think we are? Recognizing that education is critically important to the future of the country, he has told a bold faced lie about education in Texas. The Governor’s web site, under the tab “the Governor” says:
“On the education front, Governor Perry has worked to improve the quality of Texas schools from top to bottom by increasing accountability, raising expectations and funding programs that work. In addition to introducing the largest teacher incentive pay program in the country, Governor Perry has overseen a 43 percent increase in total spending on public education in Texas. He also signed a school finance reform package that provided a 33 percent school property tax reduction, a $2,000 pay raise for teachers, record funding for classrooms and a reformed business tax.” Based on the self promotion, I would love to be a teacher in Texas and send my kids to public schools in Texas. Unfortunately for the teachers and students in Texas, Rick Perry lies.
Reality is far from the declaration of the Governor of Texas.
1. Perry’s education “standards” are exemplified by $4 billion in budget cuts to education for the upcoming budget cycle.
2. Because of the budget cuts by Perry’s administration schools in Texas will have to lay off an estimated 49,000 teachers.
3. Due to budget cuts by the Perry administration in the education budget Texas is estimated to have at least 43,000 college students without financial aid. Indeed, scholarships for 29,000 low-income college students will be completely eliminated. What’s more, Perry’s axe to the education budget has forced local school districts to impose fees on school programs and services for students and families, universities to find outside money to continue high-level research, and some universities to consider imposing higher tuition or fees on students
Here are the facts which statistically demonstrate just how bad the schools are in Texas.
• Public School Enrollment – 2nd ( very high)
• Average Salary of Public School Teachers (2009-2010) – 31st (low)
• Percent Change in Average Salaries of Public School Teachers, 1999-2000 to 2009-2010 – 38th (low)
• Current Expenditures per Student – 38th (low)
• Percentage of Revenue for K-12 Schools from Local Governments, 2009-2010 – 24th (average)
• Percentage of Revenue for K-12 Schools from Federal Government, 2009-2010 – 3rd (very high)
• State & Local Expenditures per Pupil in Public Schools – 44th(very low)
• Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) Scores – 45th (very low)
• Percent of Population 25 and Older with a High School Diploma – 50th (worst in the country)
• High School Graduation Rate – 43rd (very low)
• Percent of Adults with at Least a Bachelor’s Degree – 31st
• Percentage of Higher Education Enrollment – 9th
If Rick Perry had the audacity to lie about something so well known and obvious in Texas, consider what he might lie about on a national scale.
Sarah Palin spoke this weekend at the Oil Palace in Tyler, Texas, a small town in East Texas. She was introduced at the event by Texas Governor Rick Perry, who referred to half-term-ex-Governor Palin as one of the “great Americans of our time.” Certainly Perry and Palin have many things in common, not the least of which is a total lack of respect for the truth.
Consider the similarity in the willingness of Palin and Perry to lie. While many examples of the lies of Palin have filled pages of this blog for months, I have worked hard to limit my comments to Palin. I have intentionally refrained from sharing my feelings about Rick Perry. Perry’s description of Palin at the Tyler event has come close to putting me into a coma. My doctor has indicated that the only potentially therapeutic treatment for my condition is to write. Thus I ask you to consider the similarities between Palin and Perry:
1. Both Have Been On the Cover of Newsweek Magazine
Palin: “Saint Sarah” graced the cover in June.
Perry: Perry was featured with the title “Don’t Mess with Texas”.
2. Both Claim to be “Fiscal Conservatives”
Palin: Palin has described herself as a “fiscal conservative”. Palin said she was opposed to federal earmarks for Alaska, but she hired a lobbyist for Wasilla and received millions of dollars in federal funding. Palin said she opposed to the Bridge to Nowhere, but she originally favored it. She said she opposed to earmarks, but the truth is that she accepted millions of dollars to study the genetics of harbor seals and the mating habits of crabs.
Perry: Before Palin quit her job as Governor of Alaska, she endorsed Rick Perry. Palin described Perry as a “true conservative”. She cited one of Perry’s top campaign issues as his opposition to federal financial bailouts. The truth is that Texas, under Perry’s fiscal conservative leadership, has accepted $16 billion in federal stimulus funds. The state of Texas is in the throws of a financial crisis, with approximately $18 billion in debt. Given the financial crisis in Texas, and given the identification of the financial crisis as a “top issue”, one would expect the Governor to be devoting extra time to his job, and to solving the financial problems of the state. In 21 weeks of work, Perry enjoyed 16 long weekends and worked an average of seven hours per week. Do you think he has solved the financial crisis yet?
“How long will the folks in Washington keep spending money that they don’t have, for solutions they haven’t thought through, for problems they really don’t understand?” Perry asked.
The Wall Street Journal noted that the stimulus is the reason that Texas has a balanced budget. State debt has doubled during Perry’s term as Governor, but fortunately for him he has had time to write a book by the title, “Fed Up.” His publisher described the book as describing federal policies as a “legitimate threat to America’s continued leadership in the free world.”
Rick Perry, the true fiscal conservative, has spent taxpayer’s money for items including:
- Over $130,000 for parties, food, drinks and cable TV.
- At least $18,000 for “consumables” such as household supplies and cleaning products.
- A $1,000 “emergency repair” of the Governor’s filtered ice machine.
- A $700 clothes rack.
- A little over $70 for a two year subscription to Food & Wine Magazine (probably to give him ideas on throwing all of those lavish parties at our expense!).
- Maintenance on the heated pool has cost taxpayers at least $8,400.
- Grounds and lawn maintenance has topped $44,000.
- A 6,386-square-foot rental home located on three acres of land and which was advertised in 2007 for sale at $1.85 million. The Governor’s mansion only had 2,750 square feet.
- He has only one housekeeper, on full-time chef, one part-time chef, a mansion administrator, and a steward. The salary for these servants is $195,770.00.
3. Both SAY They Advocate Transparency in Government
Palin: Sarah Palin has explained the importance in making the financial matters of public record.
Perry: Perry also says he demands transparency in government, but ignored state law, and his own executive order, that required all state agencies to be “accountable and transparent.” It was the stimulus spending information that he conveniently failed to post. Perhaps “opaque” would have been a better choice of words for Rick Perry’s budget.
4. Both Sued the Federal Government on Environmental Matters
Palin: Before Palin resigned as Governor of Alaska she sued the Federal Government seeking to remove polar bears from the endangered species list.
Perry: Rick Perry sued the EPA over its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.
5. Both Shoot Animals for Pleasure
Palin: Palin and her parents have a long history of killing animals. Both Palin and her parents surround themselves with proof of the animals they have killed.
Perry: Perry has been known to jog with a laser cited pistol, and shoot animals during his morning run. Even Fox “News” reporters found this story a little frightening.
6. Both Have Been Associated with Seceding from the U.S.
Palin: Todd, Sarah husband, was a member of the Alaska Independence Party for 6 years. The primary focus of the party was secession from the United States. The Alaska Independence Party was founded by the “rabidly violent” anti-American Joe Vogler, who is quoted as saying, “I’m an Alaskan, not an American.” “I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions,” Palin herself provided the opening remarks to the Alaskan Independent Party Convention of 2008, saying:
“I am delighted to welcome you to the 2008 Alaskan Independence Party Convention….I share your party’s vision of upholding the Constitution of the State…Your Party plays an important role in the State’s Politics… We have a great promise to be a self-sufficient state…Keep up the good work, and God Bless You.”
Perry: Rick Perry made national headlines when he said:
“We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”
7. Both Sound More Like Preachers than Politicians
Palin: Of course Palin is no longer a politician. In an interview she was asked:
“Do you think the mainstream media and the left understands your religious faith, Governor Palin?” Her answer: “I think that there’s a lot of mocking of my personal faith,” she said. “And my personal faith is very, very simple. I don’t belong to any church”.
Palin has repeatedly advocated prayer as a solution to the countries many challenges. Her solution is to seek divine intervention. In religious gatherings she has asked the congregation to pray that the war in Iraq is “God’s plan”, and she has asked the congregants to pray for a $30 billion national gas pipeline. Sometimes with Palin it’s hard to remember if you are in a prayer meeting or a legislative session.
Perry: Perry has been compared to a “tent revival preacher.” Perry has said:
“We are in a struggle for the heart and soul of our nation…Do we believe in the primacy of an unrestrained federal government? Or do we worship the God of the universe, placing our trust in his eternal, natural laws, and defending his children?”
8. Both Are In Bed With BP
Palin: In spite of the many examples of the violations of safety standards by BP in Alaska, Palin has blamed the environmentalists for the Gulf Oil spill. In her Facebook post Palin made reference to the “extreme greenies,” and used the BP spill as a reason to justify drilling in ANWR.
Palin’s history with BP is extensive. Of course her husband worked 18 years for BP. As early as 1995 Palin was aware that BP admitted to felony charges for environmental crimes on the North Slope (Palin 95). She was also aware that BP had actually injected illegal and hazardous substances into wells to save money (95). Palin’s history of knowledge of the atrocities committed by BP is long and colorful.
Before resigning as Governor, Palin admits that she knew:
“…that BP had been trying to save money for years by cutting corners on oil pipeline maintenance on the North Slope. This was very serious: leaks and spills from corroded pipelines were all too common and harmed the environment…” (153).
The largest land spill in the country occurred at the BP Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska, in 2006. An estimated 212,252 gallons of oil leaked from a BP Oil Transit Line. Even today the consequences of that spill still linger. Palin was sworn in as Governor in December of 2006. Thus not only was she aware of BP’s history of conscious indifference to safety regulations, but she was Governor during the time of the clean up, and the suit by the EPA. In March of 2009, before resigning as Governor, the EPA sued BP for a string of violations related to the spills in Alaska. The EPA alleged federal violations related to numerous problems with BP’s operational practices at Prudhoe Bay. That suit, seeking tens of millions of dollars, alleged that the company failed to implement an acceptable spill-prevention and control plan and was delinquent in repairing pipelines which they were under federal orders to fix.
Perry: Perry has suggested that the Gulf Oil disaster was:
“…just an act of God that occurred… From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented.”
Perry’s first instinct after the explosion was not to blame people responsible, but to indicate it must have been an act of God. Rick Perry went on to say that BP has “historically had a very good safety record from my perspective.” He must have just forgotten about the largest explosion in the state of Texas, which occurred in 2005, during the time he was Governor. The families of the 15 people killed and the 170 people injured in that explosion probably wouldn’t describe the safety record of BP as “very good”.
The Texas refinery was one of two BP refineries that accounted for 97% of all “flagrant” violations in the U.S. refining industry. Not only was BP responsible for virtually ALL of the refinery violations in the country, but most of the violations cited were classified as “egregious willful,” according to a Center for Public Integrity investigation of Occupational Safety and Health Administration records.
Here’s a look at how those violations breakdown:
- 760 egregious willful
- 69 willful
- 30 serious
- 3 unclassified
Most violations came, according to the Center for Public Integrity, because BP failed to fix the problems identified as the cause of the 2005 Texas City refinery explosion. “The only thing you can conclude is that BP has a serious, systemic safety problem in their company,” Jordan Barab, deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, told the Center for Public Integrity.
As if the explosion and the people killed or injured, on the day of the Texas City tragedy were not sufficient to get Governor Perry’s attention, OSHA imposed the largest fine in history against BP as a result of its many failures at the Texas City plant. In October 2009, just six months before the Gulf Oil explosion on the Deep Water Horizon well, OSHA imposed a record $87 million fine against BP for lack of compliance with safety regulations, and for failure to make agreed-upon improvements at its Texas City refinery. The US Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis, reported that during 17 inspections since the explosions four years ago, OSHA found 270 cases where BP failed to comply with changes; BP had previously agreed to make. Additionally OSHA found 439 “willful” violations involving pressure release systems on units at the Texas City refinery.
“The fact that there are so many still outstanding, life-threatening problems at this plant indicates that they still have a systemic safety problem in this refinery,” Jordan Barab, acting assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, said.
If Perry didn’t know about the safety record of BP, then he was grossly negligent. If he knew, then he lied when he indicated the BP had a “very good” safety record. Consider these facts to help you assess whether you think he was consciously indifferent, or that he lied:
1. BP donated $250,000 to restoration of the Governor’s mansion. When Rick Perry needed to raise money to restore the Governor’s Mansion after a major fire, he turned to his friends at BP. According to the Austin American-Statesman, “The largest donation is $250,000 from energy giant BP America.” (Source: Austin American-Statesman, January 30, 2009)
2. Perry paid BP for jobs already in Texas. Perry gave BP $750,000 to create 150 jobs in League City, Texas. It was soon revealed that, “50 already work for BP and live in the area.” One expert called it, “a classic case of getting paid for doing what you’re going to do anyway.” (The Houston Chronicle, January 13, 2005)
3. Perry has been widely criticized for his Texas Enterprise Fund after a report revealed that almost half of the companies that received taxpayer dollars have, “failed or struggled to meet job goals.” The companies, including key player in the subprime mortgage market Countrywide Home Loans, have been given a total of $363 million taxpayer dollars. (Source: Austin American-Statesman, January 28, 2010)
If you still have any doubt about whether Rick Perry truly thought BP had a “very good safety record”, please watch this two minute video.
Of all the people who are, or have been, politicians, can you think of anyone who would have been in a better position to anticipate the worst environmental disaster in the history of our country than Palin and Perry?
9. Both Are Losing Popularity
Palin: By the time Palin resigned as Governor, her popularity had declined from an 89% approval rating to 54%.
Perry: Rick Perry is an unusually weak incumbent, and his opponent, Bill White is an unusually strong challenger. Only 36% of voters in Texas approve of Perry and 49% disapprove. Independent voters are particularly dissatisfied with Perry, with 55% indicating he is doing a poor job. White meanwhile is better known and better liked than most challengers running across the country this year. Thirty-seven percent of voters have a favorable opinion of him compared to 25% with an unfavorable one, and he posts positive numbers with independents at a 35/24 spread.
There is one difference between Perry and Palin. Palin resigned as Governor, and Perry is still the Governor. Surely if people know the facts, we won’t re-elect Perry. Please help me make people aware of all the facts, about both Palin and Perry.
Jon says what we were all thinking after hearing from Joe Barton.
The Palin family seems to have difficulty understanding the meaning of words, not words that might be unfamiliar to most adults, but words like “rogue” and “virgin”. For example, “rogue” is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “a wandering beggar or tramp; a vagabond…a rascal or scoundrel.” Either Sarah doesn’t understand what that word means, or she was rather foolish to refer to herself by that word. Bristol seems to have the same limitation, referring to herself as a “born-again-virgin.” http://www.examiner.com/x-30616-LA-African-American-Conservative-Examiner~y2010m1d24-Bristol-Palin-is-now-a-born-again-Virgin. Webster defines “virgin” as a young woman who has never had sexual intercourse. Either Bristol has previously had sexual intercourse or her baby was the result of an immaculate conception.
Sarah Palin has just announced that she will be coming to Dallas in April to raise money for the purchase of a beautiful white colonial style house, complete with black shutters, which is featured on the website, Palin4Life.com. I had the impression from the website that this home would provide a place for unwed mothers to live during their pregnancy. However after great effort, I have learned that this organization does not even provide housing for teenagers who are pregnant, and certainly isn’t focused upon pregnant girls in Dallas of limited financial means.
Caroline Klein of the Downtown Pregnancy Center (the organization that Palin purports to benefit by her appearance at this dinner), confirms that the house is not intended to provide a place to live for ANY teenager who is pregnant. The purported reason for the Uptown location is to meet the needs of Southern Methodist University (SMU) college students. For those readers who don’t live in Dallas, SMU is located within Highland Park, which is home to some of Dallas’ wealthiest people. The current facility run by the Downtown Pregnancy Center is not staffed by a medical doctor and the current facility does not provide contraceptive services or abortion services. Services it does provide consist only of pregnancy testing, sonograms, and they provide “counseling services” to pregnant teens regarding options of adoption, keeping the baby, and abortion, but they refuse to provide any reference to any clinics that perform abortions.
By limiting contraceptives and education regarding them, we are necessarily increasing the national debt by promoting dependent mothers and children. Palin has made hundreds of thousands of dollars speaking to right-to-life organizations, yet her grandchild, the product of an unmarried teenage pregnancy, receives health care through public assistance. The hypocrisy of this gesture is enough to induce morning sickness.
Consider the fact that Texas teens lead the nation in having babies, as reported by the Dallas Morning News, Nov. 5th 2007. Texas’ policy is to deny contraceptives without parental consent wherever possible and to push an abstinence-only sex education program. Compare Texas to California where teen birth rate dropped by 47% during the same period where the state teaches abstinence, but also explains contraception at school, and provides birth control to teenagers free, without parental consent required. Ibid. The United States has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancy in the industrialized world, which translates into over 3,000,000 unintended pregnancies each year. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/state_data/states/texas.html. In Texas 18% of women aged 15-44 have incomes below the federal poverty level and 33% of women in this age group are uninsured. Ibid. In 2005 a mere 464 publically funded family planning clinics in Texas provided contraceptive care to 540,620 women, including 138,050 sexually active teenagers. Every public dollar spent on family planning services saves the federal government three dollars in Medicare costs for prenatal and newborn care. Ibid. Given the efforts Palin has devoted to talking about the federal deficit, it seems she would be in favor doing anything we can to limit the federal funds spent on Medicare.
The most appalling thing to me about this entire event is that Palin is obviously doing this for the publicity. Yet Palin supporters seem to view her as a noble, virtuous, and the champion of the right to life movement. The reality is dramatically different. Palin herself was pregnant before she married. Her oldest daughter had a baby as a teenager, had difficulty completing high school due to the pregnancy, and now lives with her parents, upon whom she and her child are dependent. Lynn Vincent, the ghost writer of Palin’s book, has publically admitted that she had an abortion.
Other observations and questions related to this event include:
1. You may purchase a Bronze seat for dinner at this fundraiser for $1000.00; Silver seating, dinner, attendance at the VIP reception, and receive a program listing for $10,000.00; Gold seating is $25,000 for two seats, the VIP reception, and program listing; and if you are either really wealthy, or very foolish, you can purchase 4 Platinum seats for $75,000.00. Why wouldn’t you purchase two tickets separately and save $5000.00? Do they just think the people paying for these tickets are just too stupid to figure out the best way to buy the ticket, or are those involved with organizing this event just not very adept at using a calculator?
2. Maybe Palin is coming back to Texas because she is pregnant again. At least this time she will be on a private jet so if she gives birth on the plane the other passengers will be people she knows.
3. The website will only accommodate the purchase by one person of 30 $1000.00 tickets, 20 Silver or Gold tickets, and only a single Platinum ticket. I think if you want to buy more than one Platinum ticket, it would only be fair that you be allowed to do so.
4. Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Observer inquired about whether this organization was listed as a 501(c) (3) organization, and so far the organization is not listed on the IRS’s Publication 78 Web site. See, www.dallasobserver.com. I too called the IRS this morning, and consulted the IRS web site and there is currently no listing for a 503c (3) organization known as Palin4Life. Since Tom Leppert, the mayor, is going to introduce Palin, I consulted with the mayor’s office and “Ashley” with Mr. Leppert’s office didn’t know anything about the event.
Abortion is an emotional issue for many. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that if you want to prevent abortions and limit the national debt the best way to do both is to provide family planning services to teenagers. The house for which Palin purports to be raising money doesn’t provide a place to live for pregnant teens, it doesn’t provide contraceptives, and it doesn’t provide referrals to girls who might want to opt for an abortion. When so many teenage girls in Texas need help preventing unwanted pregnancies, and facilitating their independence, it seems a total waste of money to focus on buying a home to serve as a center for girls who attend SMU, and who probably already have the financial means to get the services they might need.
Bristol may have become a celebrity due to the notoriety of her mother. This is the 21st century. Ninety-five percent of people in the United States have pre-marital sex. It is so common that it has been described as “universal”. http://www.guttmacher.org/media/nr/2006/12/19/index.html It’s time to accept that in the real world, there are no born-again-virgins.
Throughout the campaign I saw websites and blogs regarding questions regarding the identity of the real mother of Trig Palin. Many strange things surrounded the pregnancy and birth of Trig. They included:
- Bristol looks more pregnant in many pictures than Sarah at a time when Sarah would have been pregnant with Trig, if in fact Palin was ever pregnant with Trig.
- Bristol evidently missed five months of high school because of “mono”, during the exact time that she would have been in her last five months of pregnancy with Trig, if she was Trig’s mom.
- Bristol was living in Anchorage with Sarah’s sister.
- Sarah didn’t tell anyone in her office that she was pregnant until she was about seven months pregnant. The amazing thing is that no one in her office suspected that she was pregnant. She must have been one of the few fortunate women who don’t have morning sickness, back problems and swelling of her hands and feet.
- Pictures appeared on the internet suggesting that the size of Sarah’s abdomen were inconsistent with a normal pregnancy. Not only does Sarah not look pregnant in many pictures, but during the last two months of the pregnancy when Sarah should have been the most pregnant, we saw some pictures that were confusing. Some taken at a later time indicated that her abdomen was actually smaller than earlier pictures.
- The most amazing part of the story was the adventure to Texas. When she was in Texas for a Governor’s conference she reportedly had her water break at 4:00 am in her hotel, yet she proceeded to give a speech that afternoon. She left the speech purportedly having contractions and traveled to the airport in Texas to catch a flight back to Alaska. Palin sat in the airport lounge reading a book while waiting for a plane with a passenger who didn’t have any idea she was pregnant or in labor. She then boarded two different flights back to Alaska and didn’t tell anyone with the airlines that she was pregnant or in labor. She knew the flights were scheduled to take at least 10 hours to return to Anchorage, and after arriving in Anchorage she got in the car and drove almost one hour to the hospital near Wasilla to give birth.
- This would have been her fifth child, and the length of labor and delivery with each child tends to be less, often with fourth and fifth children having a very short labor and delivery.
- Pictures of Trig did not appear on the hospital website as would typically be the case with newborn babies.
- Sarah was the Governor of Alaska when she purportedly gave birth to Trig, but there were no photos or front page stories that followed immediately after the birth.
- A birth certificate for Trig has never been produced.
- Pictures of Sarah following the “delivery” show Sarah in shorts and looking quite fit and trim.
- Levi Johnston has stated in interviews that Sarah harassed him and Bristol about adopting their child.
- Sarah has experience with creating uncertainty about the birth date of a child. Her first son was born approximately eight months after her marriage to Todd. Given the drivers license of her first child, it appears she or her son may have intentionally created confusion about his actual birth date.
- There was at least a month lapse in declaring Trig as Sarah’s child for purposes of health insurance.
All of these facts caused me to question the real story, but I was left with many questions, and little hard evidence to support any theory. Now there is the new issue of Trig’s ears! We now have had our attention directed to pictures of Trig’s ears that show a deformity that at least one medical doctor indicates would not simply disappear. However, with no explanation, we see pictures of Trig with this deformity at birth, and subsequently, the deformity simply disappears. No explanation has been provided.
Sarah’s doctor wrote a letter to confirm that Sarah was in good health and was fit physically to run for the office of Vice President. While questions have been suggested about the lack of medical records produced, and the lack of a birth certificate for Trig, there is one more bothersome fact. A letter was produced by Sarah Palin’s medical doctor, Cathy Baldwin-Johnson. Dr. Johnson is a doctor with Providence Health & Services in Anchorage Alaska. She is on active staff at Providence in Anchorage, and has been since June of 2008. In her letter she carefully states that Trig was born in 2008 and that Sarah gave birth to her fifth child in 2008, but no birth date, or even month of birth, is listed. It is curious that Sarah reportedly drove an hour to Mat-Su after landing in Anchorage, when obviously she could have had her doctor meet her in Anchorage if time was of the essence. http://theimmoralminority.blogspot.com/2010/02/doctors-response-to-my-tale-of-two.html
Moreover, Bristol was living with Sarah’s sister in Anchorage. If Bristol was pregnant and gave birth, it would be quite convenient that Dr. Johnson was on staff at the Anchorage hospital where she could treat Bristol. Dr. Johnson does not state in the letter that she delivered Trig and doesn’t list any doctor who delivered Trig.
My simple question is how hard would it be to produce the birth certificate for Trig? Producing his birth certificate should be easy since he is only two years old. Is there something to protect or is the birth certificate so personal that Trig would care if it were produced? Last time I checked, a birth certificate simply lists the person who was born, the date of the birth, the location of the birth, and the parents. The only thing I could imagine to be personal about Trig’s birth certificate would be the identity of his parents if they were listed to be someone other than Sarah and Todd Palin! Why haven’t we seen it? Wouldn’t this be an easy way to quash any rumors about who are the real parents of Trig Palin?
I knew Palin appeared at a rally endorsing Gov. Perry. I wonder if Perry endorses Palin? If Dick Cheney and one of the organizers of the Tea Party are critical of Palin, maybe Perry is just using her. Maybe he has something written on his hand that we haven’t seen? I knew Palin wasn’t very bright, and neither is Perry. I knew Palin’s husband advocated secession from the U.S., and that Perry does too. I know Palin thinks people lived at the same time as dinosaurs, I wonder if Perry thinks that too? I think I’ll send Gov. Perry a copy of “Rebuttal to the Rogue”, and maybe he will be enlightened. I doubt he will read it, but maybe he reads more than Palin?
Perry has now sued the federal government, which is the government that represents you and me. In essence Governor Rick Perry has sued all the citizens of the United States. Thus the tax dollars of the citizens of the entire United States will have to pay for attorneys to represent us, and as a resident of Texas, state tax dollars that could be used to enhance education are being used to fund a law suit against the federal government. I wonder who will win that suit? I wonder if Rick Perry cares about the outcome of the suit, since he is running for re-election, and obviously big oil companies that pollute the air in Texas support Rick Perry.
According to some sources, Texas alone is responsible for approximately 35% of the greenhouse gases emitted by all industrial sources in the United States. Obviously it is cheaper to pollute, but who ultimately pays the price? The people of Texas pay the attorney’s fees, and pay the highest price by breathing polluted air. Wouldn’t “common sense conservatism” tell us that polluting our air is a bad thing? Shouldn’t the entire country attempt to get this problem under control? According to EPA standards, (H.R. 2764), the EPA requires Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse emissions only from large sources and suppliers which is defined as those that emit 25,000 metric tons or more per year of GHG emissions. If there is a Texas company that emits that much GHG it seems to me that we should ALL want to know, and find a way to limit or restrict those emissions.
Sarah Palin today posted on her Facebook page a comment on GHG, as if she were an expert on that too. Now we know she agrees with Perry on one more thing. Maybe she won’t need her guns anymore because the wild life won’t be able to breath very well, and she can just kill them with her sling shot.?!