Monday, April 16, 2018

Be careful of the Power to Choose website

I've said this before.

Take a look at this "deal" on the power to choose website, a site provided by the Public Utility Commission to provide a tool to compare electricity prices. It can be very deceiving.

Just as an example of how incredibly deceiving the Power to Choose website is, look at this rate provided by Gexa Energy. 6 cents, 3 cents, and 9.9 cents/kWh for 500/1000/2000 kWh used. This is called the "Smart Choice 1000" Sound like a great deal doesn't it? This is why reading and understanding the Electricity Facts Label is important. Take a look at the EFL and see if you can make any sense out of it.  

The Power to Choose website isn't your friend. It is deceiving.

Fun facts about electricity deregulation

Ken Lay Enron CEO April 15, 1942 – July 5, 2006
I'm on the Nextdoor app and every now and then someone asks "I am about to change electricity providers. Who would you recommend?". The answer isn't easy. In fact it is impossible because it is extremely difficult to understand the hundreds of plans available to consumers. It's difficult to understand how much you will actually pay. And it is difficult for someone with a good plan to recommend one because the price you pay is based upon your particular usage.

It gets old hearing all the recommendations from people who think they got a good deal because they probably just think they got a good deal and really didn't. So before you ask for a recommendation, here are some points you should know. For a detailed report on electricity deregulation read The History of Electric Deregulation in Texas by R.A. Jake Dyer of Cities Aggregation Power Projects (CAPP). It's actually very good.
  1. Before deregulation. Prior to 2003 HL&P, Houston Lighting and Power,  provided electricity in the Houston area. We paid just under 8 cents/kWh. A consumer would sign up and pay their monthly bill until they no longer needed the service. The service was inexpensive, long term, and reliable. What more do you want? At the time Texas was ranked #4 in electricity affordability. Oklahoma and Louisiana was also competing for the #4 ranking.
  2. After deregulation. In 1999 the Texas Legislature began the process of deregulation with promises of more competition and lower prices. In 2003 middlemen companies came on board. These middlemen traded electricity and passed the "savings" onto the consumers. They did NOT produce the electricity. Now Texas ranks #32 in electricity affordability with Oklahoma and Louisiana still competing for #4. Electricity plans are now complicated, almost impossible to get a good deal, and short term.
  3. San Antonio. Some areas did not deregulate. They had the opportunity to opt in. San Antonio is one of those cities that did not opt in. They continue to have long term contracts at below 8 cents/kWh.
  4. Deregulation stopped. In 2009 a Senator in East Texas filed a Bill that stopped deregulation in his district citing the failure of deregulation to fulfill its intended purpose, which was to provide lower rates to consumers. The bill passed.
  5. Enron. Remember Enron? Enron lobbied for deregulation like they did in the California. California paid the price for their meddling. Enron eventually paid the price also, as well as their employees, some losing their entire retirement portfolio. (I met Ken Lay, Enron's CEO in the elevator at the Texas Capital during the Enron scandal. I always wondered why he was there.)
  6. The Power to Choose website. As part of deregulation the Public Utility Commission created the website to help consumers compare the hundreds of plans available. The website is near worthless, but don't take my word for it. According to the PUC Chairman: Donna Nelson, chairman of the Public Utility Commission, said Thursday at a public meeting. “They’ve [electricity resellers] got all these tricky little things in their prices, and whatever the fact sheets are called – the nutrition label – that makes it really difficult for customers.”  
  7. Project 45730. The PUC took action and started Project 45730 which was literally titled "PROJECT TO EVALUATE THE POWER TO CHOOSE WEBSITE". They solicited comments on how the website could be improved. They received 197 comments from individuals and organizations. Then the PUC took no action. The website is still overly complicated and is useless in comparing prices.
  8. You just can't pick and choose. Most companies require a contract, some for as long as 5 years. If by chance you found a cheaper plan, you will have to pay a fee to break your contract or wait till your contract ends and hope that new plan is still available.
  9. Your plan may be a horrible plan for others. The rates are complicated and are based upon your specific usage. Its not easy to determine what plan would work for you or if your plan would work for others.
So be careful when you are recommending a particular company. What is good for you may be horrible for your neighbor.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Sri Preston Kulkarni for Congress in CD22

Our club, the Bay Area Democratic Movement heard from Sri Preston Kulkarni who is running for Congress in CD22 against Pete Olson. I was VERY impressed. 

CD22 contains a small part of the Bay Area, mostly west of I45. The club endorsed him in the primary. Residents of CD22 would be very lucky to have such a talented individual representing them in Congress.

Sri could useful from more fundraising but other than that, he has some great experience. He is young. He speaks 6 languages including Spanish, Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, Hebrew, and Russian. Following college, Sri was commissioned as a Foreign Service Officer by Secretary of State Colin Powell and served his country for 14 years, with overseas tours in Iraq, Israel, Russia, Taiwan, and Jamaica. In 2015, Sri accepted a Pearson Fellowship to serve as a foreign policy and defense advisor on Capitol Hill, assisting Senator Kirsten Gillibrand with her work on the Senate Armed Services Committee. (From his website)

What more could voters ask for in a candidate for Congress? Experience in Congress. Young. Exciting. Very well spoken. I would absolutely love to see a debate between Olson and Sri. I think he would give him a run for his PAC money. Sri is in a tough district but if all the stars line up and voters realize the talent of Sri Preston Kulkarni he would be a very valuable asset to the community.

Sri Preston Kulkarni. Visit his website at Oh did I say he was a teasip? Damn it.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

It's hard to feel sorry for Steve Stockman

Former Congressman Steve Stockman representing the Clear Lake area was convicted today on 23 felony counts. Stockman only served two terms, once in CD 9 and another in CD 36 separated by 16 years. He wasn't a very good Congressman. In fact he is just like Trump. He is an asshole.

Stockman would had fit right into the Trump Administration. He invited Ted Nugent to a State of the Union Address with President Obama. He thought that bringing another asshole like Nugent was cute. It was funny to him.

When he learned to use twitter, he found a new way to be an asshole, again, much like trump. Here was one of this favorites:
There were more. Many more. Stockman was convicted on 23 of 24 charges. He will spend his days in jail as he awaits sentencing. After the verdict he was escorted out of the courtroom by the US Marshals. From the Texas Tribune:
That verdict puts Stockman — a firebrand conservative who served two nonconsecutive terms in the U.S. House before losing a 2014 challenge to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas — at risk of decades in federal prison. And in the immediate future, it sends him into federal custody, where he will remain pending sentencing in August. U.S. Marshals took him into custody shortly after the verdict was read, over the objections of his lawyers. The prosecution had warned that he might be a “flight risk,” Buckley explained.
That sound you hear is the sound of liberal tears as I cry........with laughter. That's mean. Isn't it?

Monday, April 09, 2018

Dear Democrats, Nothing will change until we change Congress

It's not that hard to understand.

Take the House. Take the Senate. Then start moving in your specific direction. If you want immigration reform, gun reform, women's rights, worker's rights, restoration of our leadership in the world, restoration of a working Congress, etc, etc, then work towards November 6 and take the House and Senate.

Calling on our candidates to take on divisive issues and giving the Republican Party ammo to defend their seat will not help us win in November. As an example, demanding "medicare for all" or "Single Payer" at this point is not productive. How about advocating for health care for your sick child or health care for your loved one that has cancer. Instead of advocating for a specific solution that yells SOCIALISM, advocate for issues everyone can agree to. Everyone wants their children to be healthy and cured if they become sick, but many are scared to death of socialism or anything that sounds like socialism.

Single payer is just one of the many issues that needs to be resolved after we take over Congress. Until then we need to quit bitching to our candidates about every single issue that we are concerned about. We, as a party, understand what is screwed up in this country but nothing, absolutely NOTHING, will change until we change out Congress.

Restore Congress to a working body then manipulate this idiot of a president into signing legislation. Then focus on 2020. Until then, let's quit bitching and continue working towards Nov 6.

November 6, 2018. Clean House.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Town Hall for our Lives, El Lago, Texas

Congressman Babin has been invited but don't hold your nose. He ain't coming.

In the City of El Lago park Pavilion

Town Hall For Our Lives El Lago Saturday April 7
To discuss the issues of gun reform and school safety

Saturday April 7, 10:00-11:30
McNair Park
418 Lakeshore, El Lago Texas

Organized by Bay Area Students Demand Action and Moms Demand Action

Hundreds of thousands of us marched across the country on March 24. But that’s only the beginning. To take this message directly to lawmakers, we need them to hear us directly--and soon. Every single member of Congress is back in their district on District Work Period--better known as “recess”--between March 23 and April 9. So March for Our Lives has raised the call for a congressional Town Hall in every district in America on April 7.

Confirmed and invited elected officials and candidates:
Dayna Steele, Texas CD 36 Democrat candidate
Adrian Garcia, Harris Cty Comm, Pct. 2 Candidate (and former sheriff)
Alex Karjeker, State House, District 129 Democrat candidate
Brian Babin, Texas CD 36 Congressional Representative
Kim Ogg, Harris Cty District Attorney
Jack Morman, Harris Cty Comm, Pct. 2

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Primary wrap-up. The Good. The Bad and the Ugly

I'm catching up.

The Good
We have some great candidates running in the general election. CD29 will be represented in the by Senator Sylvia Garcia. She has the experience and a history of dedication to her constituents and would continue that in Congress. CD29 is lucky to have her on the ballot.

CD7 had some great candidates who ran good campaigns and were serious about raising money. The residents now have to select a winner come May 22 between Lizzie Fletcher and Laura Moser.

Dana Steele won her primary and has brought some excitement to the district. Dana is the former DJ on 101 KLOL, the rock station of the 80’s.

Adrian Garcias, the former Harris County Sheriff won his primary for County Commissioner Pct 2. Another great candidate for those of us in Pct 2.

CD2 has Todd Litton who raised $500,000. Litton seems to be a serious candidate for Ted Poe's open seat.

The Bad
Javed Tahir ran against Sylvia Garcia and raised over $1 Million but $800,000 came from his own pocket. I understand why candidates will jump start their campaigns with a personal loan, but his loans came late in the game. It was as if he was attempting to buy the seat much like the republican Katherine Wall attempted to do. Wall, a republican, spent $6 Million of her own money to come in 3rd place. I hope Javed would consider supporting local Democratic clubs in the Beaumont area for other races.

Another young candidate raised only $53,000 which included a $27,000 loan to himself. This is like having a car payment without being able to drive the car. Hopefully he will not be burnt out and will continue to be politically active.

A candidate challenging Adrian Garcia for Commissioner raised enough money to buy a boat load of signs. He has learned that signs do not win elections.

And The Ugly
Remember when Sanders encouraged people to run for office, for school boards, city council, state office, congress, and United States Senate? For many, that didn’t work out well.

Sanders did a disservice to young people who wanted to become politically active after the 2016 election. Encouraging someone to run for office is easy. All you need is a few bucks and the time to put your name on the ballot. Unfortunately it is much harder to actually run for office, especially if you do not know what to do, you have no experience in doing it, and you have no ability or urge to raise the money to do it.

We had a slew of such candidates across the state. A candidate for Senate raised only $6,000 for a race that will require $40 Million. In CD23 two candidates are in a runoff. One has the ability, experience, and can raise money. The other raised just $24K in a district that will require at least $2M to be competitive. The same goes for CD7 where 3 of the 7 candidates were not viable but took time and money away from the serious contenders. Again this race will require millions to be competitive. CD2 had a couple of non contenders, spirited, but still non contenders. One candidate raised nearly half a million, the other 6 raised a total of $51,000. In CD29 there was a candidate that lent himself over $27,000 of the $53,000 he raised. He decided to jump in the ring to challenge “the establishment”. That didn’t work out very well. 

If a candidate can’t or wont raise money they should reconsider running. Raising the most money does not guarantee winning but not raising money guarantees losing. You can't get your message out if you do not have money. It is just that simple.

God bless everyone for running but their losses should send a message to those who wake up one morning and decided to run for office: Think before you wake up. Running for office, especially Congress is serious business. It’s not a game. It requires more than having a good reason for running. It requires money, large amounts of money, which means you, the candidate, are required to raise this money. It means long, long hours on the phone cold calling donors. It requires a plan to win, an understanding of the district, an estimate of the number of votes needed, and an understanding of how much money you need to win those votes. On top of that it requires volunteers, large amount of dedicated volunteers.

Getting wiped out because a candidate refuses to do their homeowner before waking up does a disservice to donors, supporters, and to the candidate. It may curb their enthusiasm to donate or volunteer, or to run again. It does no one any good.

But, again, thank you for running. I hope you will continue to be politically active, throw your support behind the nominee, and consider running again. (after you wake up and do your homework)

Happy Easter rabbit and Melania

Melania: Shut mouth. You look like idiot.
Easter Rabbit: Blow it out your ears Melania!
Melania: I wasn't talking to you, rabbit.

Friday, March 23, 2018

City in Texas names sewer water facility for Texas Congressman

Municipal waste water facility named after long term Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas

March 23, 2018 Pilo, Texas. The new waste water facility of Pilo, Texas will celebrate it's long awaited re-opening along with renaming the facility after Congressman Louie Gohmert. The facility has completed a massive refurbishment but has continued to serve the community in a limited, but effective, capacity.

"I'm am thrilled that the refurbishment has been successfuly completed and the facility will be at 100% capacity." said the facility manager, Cecile Budai. "I am also very proud to announce that after long deliberations we have decided to bestow the honor of renaming the Pilo Sewer Treatment Plant after our own Congressman, Louie Gohmert."

"Congressman Gohmert, over his long tenure in Congress, has demonstrated his ability to represent this facility in a manner that would make any Pilo resident proud to wake up to. We searched far and wide looking for an individual who was capable of representing the essence of this facility. Gohmert has the necessary skills to sit down and make shit up. His has what it takes for many of his constituents to refer to him as simply as an asshole. He is known to search deep into the bowels of government to crap on the less fortunate and to take a dump on those he disagrees with. Gohmert, like the treatment plant is just full of shit."

These are the traits the Pilo facility managers were looking for when renaming the sewer plant after Gohmert. Congressman Gohmert was asked to respond but was backed up at the moment. His chief of staff released a short statement "Ain't that some shit".

The grand opening will be held at approximately 8:15 am in the bathroom. Please bring your own paper or iPhone if you intend to tweet about the event.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Kathaleen Wall. $6 Million down the political drain

Maybe it was Kathaleen Wall's mousy voice. Or her constant ads coming across your TV. Or her poorly timed gun nut ad right after the Florida shooting with an AR-15. Whatever it was for Wall to come in third place and miss the runoff for the republican nomination for Congress it cost her a boatload of money. About $6 Million to be exact.

$6 Million she isn't going to get back. Wall is probably the only Congressional candidate in history to self finance a campaign like she did. She only raised about $10,000 from other individuals so she was basically buying a Congressional seat. Unfortunately the voting republicans weren't buying her. Her opponents used the line "Buying a seat" many times and it probably resonated with the low information voters.

Buying a seat in Congress probably did her in but maybe she didn't lie enough for the republicans. Or wasn't perceived to be a racist. Or wasn't an assh*le enough like Trump. Maybe that would have changed their minds but in the end she is out. After all, they do have their limits.

Wall was Greg Abbott's endorsed candidate. The $6 million woman. She deserved the loss. So did he.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Let them have their assault riflesI

Don't expect the republicans in Congress to tackle the gun violence issue anytime before the mid term elections. It's not going to happen. Their reluctance to have a discussion on possible ways to avoid another Columbine, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Orlando, Sutherland, Killeen, Fort Hood, or Parkland shows how strong the vice grip of the nra is on their balls. They can't breath, much less govern.

With the latest shooting the nra congress have given up their right to propose a solution. They need to simply be quiet just like they have since the first mass shooting and let others decide how the 70% of Americans, who do not own a firearm, want to live. As an idea, one the nra congress will never consider, let Americans buy assault weapons and high capacity clips with just a few restrictions.

Owning an assault weapon should be a felony unless that weapon is securely stored at a gun range. If you want to buy an assault weapon, have it shipped to a secure gun range. If you want to shoot, go to the range. If you want to show it off, go to the range. If you want to fondle it, go to the range. If you want to move, have it transferred to a new secure gun range.

An assault weapon should ever be stored at home or be available on the street. A violation should be a felony with a mandatory minimun sentence of 2 years in jail.

The nra congress will not like this idea but they don't like any idea like keeping weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill or background checks or any common sense legislation. There is only one way for common sense reforms or any reforms to be proposed, debated, and voted on. The nra has to be voted out of congress.

November 6, 2018

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Raising Campaign Cash (From your own wallet) Kathaleen Wall

There ought to be a law....

Kathaleen Wall is one of the republicans running to replace Ted Poe in Texas Congressional District 2. A quick look at her fundraising numbers might make one say something like "Needless to say the republican candidate has millions." but looking beneath the surface tells a different story.

According to her FEC single fundraising report Wall raised a whopping $2,744,692.79 but that includes $2,733,801.79 from the candidate  herself leaving only $10,891 raised from 14 other donors. So Wall is literally trying to buy an election. Her closest primary opponent Kevin Roberts raised $531,311 including a $270,000 personal loan. Rick Waller raised $367,492 including a $300,000 loan.  David Balat raised $155,000 with an $85,000 loan and Johnathon Havens raised $111,000 with an $80,000 loan. None of the republicans are capable of raising money on their own. 

Here is the FEC report on the candidates:

Kathaleen Wall did not list her $2,733,801 donation as a loan but as a candidate contribution. I know if a donation is listed as a loan then it could be paid back, with interest, from campaign contributions but if it is listed just as a self financed campaign donation then it might not be refundable. Regardless there ought to be law preventing people from buying a race like this.

You can view her entire report here.

Raising Campaign Cash: Texas Congressional Districts (Harris County) (UPDATED)

As I said yesterday:
Candidates need money to introduce themselves to the community, to buy literature, to pay staff, to buy resources like internet access, signs, media buys, and campaign headquarters. If you can't get your message out you can't expect voters to vote for you.
You can review all the fundraising information for all candidates in the Congressional Districts of Texas by visiting this link. So with a bit of commentary, here are the numbers from the website:

Congressional District 2
Needless to say the republican candidate has millions, $2.7 million to be exact, but it is all of her money! See my post here. Democratic candidate, Litton, has raised $367,492 to date. More than any other candidate, republican or Democrat excluding any loans or self financing. Some candidates do not have any data on the FEC site. I do not intend to update later. They are not actively raising money and should regroup and run at a later date.

Congressional District 7
Wow. Lots of money being raised in this period. Alex has raised nearly $1 Million. 4 of the 7 candidates look viable. Moser brought in a considerable amount this period mainly from ActBlue which is how it is reported. I thought that the contributions had to be itemized with who actually contributed the money via ActBlue, but I may be wrong. The bottom 3 Candidates should consider dropping out, endorsing someone, then put their resources into the winner of the primary.

Congressional District 29
Notice that Muhammad Tahir Javed has an incredible amount for a single reporting period of $647,775 but......that includes a $400,000 personal loan from his own pocket.The bottom 4 candidates have about $39,000 combined which includes a $27,683 personal loan by Roel Garcia into his campaign.The bottom 4 might consider dropping out. As I have said "This is not a game".

Congressional District 36
Jon Powell has raised a total of $78,920 with a $20,000 loan.