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The Banks, The Congress and What the SEC Saw


View From the Cheap Seats

The Banks, The Congress and What the SEC Saw

Well, the banks and other big businesses continue to do their very best to avoid oversight and dodge accountability. Our corporate “citizens” spend huge amounts of money on undisclosed political contributions and on Washington lobbyists to make sure that none of their misdeeds are noticed or punished.

The SEC is considering a rule change that says that corporations must disclose to their stockholders what political contributions they have made to their stockholders. The idea is that stockholder’s have a right to know how their money is being spent. Indeed, in the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy cleared the way for unlimited corporate expenditures in campaigns, Justice Kennedy suggested that “shareholder objections raised through the procedures of corporate democracy” could provide accountability for the new political powers. The SEC has received over half a million signatures, notes and emails urging them to adopt this rule, the most ever for an SEC rule.

S.E.C. Is Asked to Require Disclosure of Donations

From The New York Times

Fight Over Political Donations: The Securities and Exchange Commission has been flooded with calls to require publicly traded corporations to disclose to shareholders all of their political donations.



A loose coalition of Democratic elected officials, shareholder activists and pension funds has flooded the Securities and Exchange Commission with calls to require publicly traded corporations to disclose to shareholders all of their political donations, a move that could transform the growing world of secret

S.E.C. officials have indicated that they could propose a new disclosure rule by the end of April, setting up a major battle with business groups that oppose the proposal and are preparing for a fierce counterattack if the agency’s staff moves ahead. Two S.E.C. commissioners have taken the unusual step of weighing in already, with Daniel Gallagher, a Republican, saying in a speech that the commission had been “led astray” by “politically charged issues.”

A petition to the S.E.C. asking it to issue the rule has already garnered close to half a million comments, far more than any petition or rule in the agency’s history, with the vast majority in favor of it. While relatively few petitions result in action by the S.E.C., the commission staff filed a notice late last year indicating that it was considering recommending a rule.

Local Boys Do Good!

Texans Together Education Fund Alief Organizers Brendan Laws and Francisco Garcia received the Alief YMCA 2013 Partners Campaign "Partner in Social Responsibility" award. They have been recognized for their outstanding work in Voter Registration drives, Kaboom playground build, Pre-teen social justice workshops, creating the Alief Leaders Coalition, Apartments Are Communities project, and engagement of youth on local community issues.

In addition, they have been active in our Got Coverage?, Occupy the Vote and our Save Texas school campaigns. They are always ready to lend a hand and represent the best in community organizing. We thank the YMCA for being outstanding supporters of Texans Together Education Fund and congratulate both Franciso Garcia and Brendan Laws for this outstanding achievement.


Testing the Waters

The View From The Cheap Seats

EPA Samples Well Water at the Bonta Ranch

It was a cold, overcast day when the EPA arrived with an entire alphabet soup of agencies to test the well water on Pamela Bonta’s ranch.In addition to her well, the EPA tested 5 others in the area north of Highland proper. This February 20th visit by the EPA was prompted by a number of factors. Pamela and her family have tested positive for heavy metal poisoning from hair, nail and urine samples.  In addition to common metals like lead they also tested positive for 18 other heavy metals including rare earths like caladium, iridium and uranium.

The family has suffered from poor to serious health issues; bone loss, seizures, weakness, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, joint pain and cancer. One of the factors that prompted this testing was the number of cases of a relatively rare form of cancer: multiple myeloma.  

San Jacinto Waste Pits

Border of San Jacinto Waste PitsIn 2010, Texans Together headed up a canvassing effort in the Highlands, Baytown and Channelview area.  The purpose of the canvass was to  inform residents of the high levels of dioxin in the area that borders the San Jacinto Waste pits, an Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) designated superfund site, in the San Jacinto river.   According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences,  dioxins are the most toxic ma

Why Texas Needs the Medicaid Expansion: One Man's Story.

The View From The Cheapseats

With roughly a 1/3 of the population in Harris County and Texas being uninsured and the state poised to cut school budgets again, some people ask why Texas should expand Medicaid to cover 3 million additional Texans and 300,000 people in Harris County. Why should we spend more money on the uninsured?


Let’s put aside the fact that for every 1 dollar the state spends on expanding Medicaid, Washington will match it with 6 dollars, providing nearly a billion dollars a year to Harris County alone. Let’s ignore the fact that Texans will be paying federal taxes for the program whether Texas takes the funds or not. And let's not consider the fact that the feds are going to cut back uncompensated care dollars, and if Texas does not take the Medicaid funds, then our local property taxes will go up. Instead, let’s look at it from a personal cost point of view...


Got Coverage?

View From The Cheap Seats

Did you know that 1 in every 3 residents in Harris County does not have health care coverage? That’s 1.3 million people aged 19-64 who have no coverage and could end up in an emergency room, bankruptcy court or in a coffin. This could be avoided if they could get preventative care or early treatment.

But Texas may decide to opt out of the program. Texas can refuse to accept Medicaid expansion funds or establishing a state insurance exchange. Since we lead the country in every category of uninsured, our citizens would benefit more than any other state.

Would you pay 16 dollars to get 100 dollars? Most people would, but the state of Texas may decide that this isn’t a good deal. The money that Texas is willing to pass on would expand Medicaid and cover over 570,000 people in Harris County who are currently without insurance. The rest could be covered by the state insurance exchange.


Dying for a Right We Ignore

View From the Cheap Seats

It is quite telling about the apathy of American citizens of all origins and walks of life that we simply ignore the rights and privileges that others are willing to court death to obtain. While we gleefully slash educational budgets to give subsidies to all those “underfunded and cash poor oil companies”, one little girl is willing fight for an education for herself and others at the cost of her health and possibly her own life.

Malala Yousufzai, is a 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban for the audacity, no, the stubborn refusal to accept that she and other girls cannot be educated. In a unique combination of cowardice and ineptitude, Taliban soldiers shot her twice; once in the neck and once in the head. Upon realizing that they are not only the accursed of Allah, but poor gunmen, they have vowed that they will finish the job if she recovers. (Also as long as no fluffy bunnies or babies get in their way as they are not ready for such a fearsome foe.)

Malala is willing to die for her education. We are not willing to pay one extra penny to educate our children. If we closed our schools, told our children that they will not be allowed to return, would they even care? Considering how low a priority we give public education in our state, we had better hope that PBS survives. It might be the only chance they will have to learn how  to read. After all, if they can’t read how can they run the cash register at McDonalds when we order our fries?

Y’all Want Some Health Care? Too dang bad!

View From the Cheap Seats

Say Yes to Health Care! 

When you look at the numbers, they are just too big to really wrap your head around.  According to Texas Medical Association, 35% of Texans do not have health insurance.  That’s 4,886,100 people (adults 19-64) who have to go to an emergency room for a simple health problem.  It should not be necessary to point out that those with Health insurance enjoy better health. Try thinking of it this way: every third adult you see has no insurance.

Here is another number: 1,247,300 (children age birth to eighteen years old).  They have no health insurance.  Every fourth child you see is not covered. There is no excuse for this. Seriously, why can’t these kids get a job and get some coverage?

Last one: 6,234,900 people in the state have no health coverage.  That’s one quarter of the state’s total population. That’s every…well, you get the idea.

Are there any good numbers? Sure. We are number one! Yes, the great state of Texas, largest of the lower 48, 2nd largest economy in the United States,15th largest economy in the world, leads the nation in the uninsured. Ain’t we proud?

The View From The Cheap Seats

Voter ID Laws: A Cure in Search of an Illness.

It’s September 2012 and the Presidential Election is two months away.  In the last few years many states have passed voter ID laws in an effort to deal with the problem of voter fraud.  The only problem seems to be that there is very little voter fraud for them to deal with.  Instead, many citizens will be denied access to the polls in November.

Across the nation, many states have passed Voter Id Laws: Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. There is little uniformity to these laws, making it difficult to know whether you have the ID you need to vote.


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by Dr. Radut