Rick Perry’s “Shady” Acres Deal – Three years after Gov. Rick Perry’s biggest real estate score, questions persist about whether the governor benefited from favoritism, backroom dealing and influence-buying. The Dallas Morning News found evidence that Perry’s investment was enhanced by a series of professional courtesies and personal favors from friends, campaign donors and the head of a Texas family with a rich history of political power-brokering.
Together they may have enriched Perry by almost $500,000, according to an independent real estate appraisal commissioned by The News. County tax appraisals at the time also indicated that the governor was able to buy the land below market value and sell far above it.
State Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), a friend and political ally of Perry’s, sold the lot to Perry for just above $300,000. An appraiser hired by The News determined that the land actually was worth $450,000 when Perry bought it. One of Perry’s first acts as a new property owner was to appeal his appraisal. The lot had been valued for tax purposes at $414,700.
Perry asked attorney Colleen McHugh to handle his tax appeal. A corporate labor lawyer from Corpus Christi, McHugh had just been appointed by Perry as chairman of the Texas Public Safety Commission. The appeal saved Perry about $14,000 over the six years that the appraisal district kept the value at purchase-price level. McHugh did not bill Perry for her services. Craig McDonald, executive director of Texans for Public Justice, a liberal Austin watchdog group, said McHugh’s legal services had the appearance of a gift.
Another property owner in the same development also filed a similar tax appeal, bur was denied. (Sorry, Jeff, you’re not the Governor.)
Ron Mitchell, the vice chairman of Horseshoe Bay, made an in-kind contribution of $9,725 to help put on a fundraiser for Perry at Horseshoe Bay, then helped Perry unload his lot.
Perry sold the property in 2007 to Alan Moffatt, who paid Perry $1.15 million for the parcel. The News’ appraiser, who has decades of experience in Horseshoe Bay real estate, found that price to be $350,000 above market value. Moffatt, as the owner of an aviation firm, was questioned, but never prosecuted, for his company’s international arms shipments to Africa in the 1990s for use in the Rwandan genocide. The tribal conflict may have claimed about 800,000 lives.
Perry did not pay a real estate commission on his sale to Moffatt. Mitchell said the waiver of the fee was a favor to Moffatt. The fee, typically 6 percent of the sales price, could have amounted to as much as $69,000. Real estate commissions usually are paid from the seller’s proceeds. Asked if the company would have charged a commission if the sale involved anyone else, Mitchell laughed and said, “We’re here to make money.”
Rick Perry’s Air Pollution Scheme Gets Undone – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday officially overturned a 16-year-old Texas air permitting program it says violates the Clean Air Act. The EPA’s move on Wednesday addresses Texas’ so-called flexible permits, which set a general limit on how much air pollutants an entire facility can release. The federal Clean Air Act requires state-issued permits to set limits on each of the dozens of individual production units inside a plant. The EPA says Texas’ system masks pollution and makes it impossible to regulate emissions and protect public health.
Texas has been issuing the permits since 1994 even though it never received the required federal approval. The EPA made clear at least five years ago it believed the permits violated federal air laws, warning Texas and the refinery and petrochemical industry it would take action.
EPA regional director Al Armendariz said he has instructed his staff to work closely with Texas and industry leaders to fix the permits. The EPA has been working with industry leaders to find a way to effectively and efficiently issue new air permits to the impacted plants, including the nation’s largest refinery, Exxon Mobil in Baytown, Texas. The EPA has offered them an independent audit mechanism that would allow them to correctly measure air pollutants to get the new permits, while ensuring them they would not be penalized for violations uncovered.
(Perry Motto: Who needs clean air when you’ve got good hair? – JLV)
In Rick Perry’s Texas, We Love Executions – Led by Governor Rick Perry, the believers proclaim the United States to be a Christian nation. But, if Texas were an independent nation, we would be the seventh-largest practitioner of capital punishment, just a smidgen behind Yemen, a failed state with a medieval judicial system.
Last month, David Lee Powell was executed by our “Christian” system for killing an Austin police officer 32 years ago. Powell had demonstrated his remorse and humanity by living a redemptive life for three decades. He had taught illiterate inmates how to read, write and improve their lives. He had no history of violence before his crime and none in his 32 years on death row. And he has expressed his deep remorse to Ablanedo’s family. Restorative justice called for Powell to be spared so that he could continue to address the needs and concerns of the Ablanedo family and the prison community in which he lived. While many groups and newspapers advocated for commutation of Powell’s sentence, Rick Perry and the righteous didn’t see things that way.
If St. Paul had been a Texan, the ruling “Christians” of this grand Republic would have executed him.
St. Paul, originally known as Saul, was an accessory to the murder of Stephen, one of the original church Deacons. Among the groups involved in his stoning were the “Freedman.” Today they would be FOX News commentators. Before his Damascus road conversion St. Paul (then Saul) was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” Saul had received warrants from the Supreme Court to search the synagogues for Christian disciples whom he would arrest and drag to prison.
Because Saul was afforded the opportunity for redemption, he became Paul, the greatest evangelist in the history of the Christian faith.
If Saul were a Texan he would have never become St. Paul. Before he had a chance to print up his gospel tracts, our pious officials would have executed him just like they did David Powell. The crude and cruel irony is that in so doing they likely would not have the honor of calling themselves by that noble name: Christian.
More information on David Lee Powell:
Republican National Committee Event Co-Stars Professional Liar Andrew Breitbart – The Republican National Committee has a party fundraising event coming up in August that is scheduled to feature a very special guest: Conservative media activist Andrew Breitbart. It’s certainly some odd timing for the RNC to be working closely with Breitbart, who, of course, has made headlines recently for circulating an edited video clip that misrepresented then-Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod. Breitbart was also involved in the faked-up ACORN video tapes that got the organization defunded.
Republican Candidate: Me Loves the Tea Party, Me Hates the Tea Party – Ken Buck a self-proclaimed tea partier who trashes tea partiers when he thinks no one is looking. The Republican candidate in Colorado said in June, “Will you tell those dumbasses at the Tea Party to stop asking questions about birth certificates while I’m on the camera. God, what am I supposed to do?” Another time, Buck said people should vote for him because he doesn’t wear high heels. His opponent is female.
Republican Candidate Says Islam May Not Be a Religion – A Republican running in Tennessee’s gubernatorial election made comments earlier this month questioning whether Islam is a religion. Ramsey, who has been endorsed by 20 Tea Party organizations, said he is a supporter of religious freedoms but such protections may not extend to facilitating “shariah [Islamic] law into the state of Tennessee . . . into the United States. “Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, a cult, whatever you want to call it,” he continued.
Big Money Guy Says It’s Time for Poor to Get Less, Rich to Get More – Back during the financial crisis, Neel Kashkari sat at the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Financial Stability, where he was in charge of implementing George W. Bush’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)– the fancy name for a wheelbarrow full of $700 billion in taxpayer money that went to revive the do-not-resuscitate banks of the world, which is exactly what those banks asked the government to do. Now he’s on the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, with a message for the rest of us: You need to stop being so “Me, first!” You need to have your Social Security, Medicare, etc. cut for the common good. But he also wants us to know that “Me, first!” works great for business and rich people, so please don’t ask for them to give up anything.
Another Republican Says You Need to Have Your Social Security Privatized – The Republican bosses have put out the word – everybody loudly repeat: The poor should pay more, but not the rich, and forget about Social Security, Medicare, etc. Former US Comptroller David_M._Walker and Pete Peterson, Austerity Pimp, appeared on MSNBC to warn all of the peons that we’d better get ready to be paying more in taxes because heaven forbid we can’t dare to ask the rich to do any more to reduce the deficit.
He also had some new snake oil to sell all of us with his description of privatizing Social Security; we need to make it “more savings oriented.” That just sounds so much nicer than saying let’s turn it over to Wall Street, doesn’t it?
The truth is that Social Security is a pay-as-you-go program which funds itself. All Social Security needs to stay 100% funded through the next 50 years is to remove the cap on earnings placed there under Ronald Reagan as a perk for the well-to-do, and raise the rate by one percent.
Republicans Feign Deficit Angst, Tout Policies Sure to Increase It – After years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, the same people who didn’t have any problem spending hundreds of billions of dollars on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are now saying we shouldn’t offer relief to middle-class Americans. Republicans want to extend the Bush tax cuts of 2001 & 2003 — an initiative which would deprive the government’s balance sheet of $678 billion over the next ten years — while simultaneously screaming about the perils of the budget deficit.
The hypocrisy is apparent; but, more importantly, when Republican lawmakers publicly defend these policies they put their insincerity on display along with their flippant disregard for the facts.