Sunday, July 08, 2007

Rick's Strange Veto Follows His Odd Executive Order

Two West Texas legends, Elmer Kelton and Jerry Lackey took digs at government actions that hurt the little man. Acclaimed Western writer Elmer Kelton wrote of the distortions of farm programs on the rancher in The Time it Never Rained. Protagonist Charley Flagg saw where corporate farmers would benefit at the expense of the small producer.

San Angelo Standard Times agricultural writer Jerry Lackey noted the same slant in Texas Governor Rick Perry's recent veto of eminent domain legislation. The bill would have provided fairness and compensation when private property is taken for public use. The bill passed both Republican dominated houses in overwhelming fashion. So why did Rick Perry veto it?

The governor claimed it would enrich condemnation attorneys by causing more litigation and increasing their fees. How could all but 25 Texas legislators miss such an obvious flaw? Maybe because it wasn't there. A legislative director of the Texas Farm Bureau stated the bill would do the opposite by "reducing the need for attorneys". Taking a Charley Flagg like stance, given the Governor's veto what benefits might enure to corporations wanting more welfare?

Governor Perry already gave $35 million in state funds to a subsidiary of The Carlyle Group while he waved goodbye to a Goodyear plant in Tyler. Did those Vought Aircraft PAC donations of $8,576 and $3,130 in 2004 help the governor make his decision? Eventually Vought's government assistance reached some $100 million from federal, state and local sources.

Somehow even with all this help, the Carlyle sub couldn't fund its pension obligations or its retired employees health and life insurance benefits as of December 2006 despite receiving $17.4 million in government grants in 2006, $52.2 million in 2005 and $35 million in 2004. The same annual report highlights Vought's selection of South Carolina for its new manufacturing plant and a reduction of 1,000 jobs in contrast to its promises to grow Texas employment by 3,000. Carlyle seems to leave a number of broken promises in its wake. Will they live up to their commitments to South Carolina for $67 million in assistance?

Rick's recent Executive Order requiring school girls to get the HPV vaccine came after a donation from the pharmaceutical company manufacturing the shot. Given his track record of acting on behalf of large, politically connected corporations, who might want to get public land at lower cost?

The Carlyle Group started a public infrastructive division last year. It's Australian counterpart, The Macquarie Group, is already a partner with lead Trans-Texas Corridor developer Cintas on an Indiana toll road. Last year Macquarie purchased a chain of Texas newspapers whose ciculation area strongly overlaps the route of the corridor. I did a piece on Macquarie's connection to Bush's Transportation Department in January of this year. It appears more of Elmer's "government" is headed our way and Jerry Lackey has the foresight to see it coming.

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