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Voting, circa 2012

People still write letters to the Chronicle editors ...

Regarding "Time to cast a ballot" (Page B7, Monday), law enforcement should be competent, never partisan. To protect the safety of our community, please vote for Democrat Adrian Garcia for Harris County sheriff and Republican Mike Anderson for district attorney.

Both are respected professionals who can manage others to a high standard. I respect parties, but crime is a basic violation of civil rights and criminals do not discriminate based on party affiliation. When you call 911 you want a qualified responder; victims and jurors want an effective and fair prosecutor.

Democrats, join me in voting for Mike Anderson for DA. Republicans, keep our strong and honest sheriff, Sheriff Adrian Garcia, in office.

Bill White, former mayor of Houston

I can't say that I disagree with him on this score. I held my nose and voted for Anderson. I left a handful of judicial ballots blank. Oh, and I voted for this guy earlier in the AM ...

The line at Bayland Park was wrapped around the front of the building 10 minutes prior to opening and I was done with my random act of democracy by 8:15. Pick your own spot to vote early if you feel similarly inclined.

Among the tougher choices on the ballot for me was one that's usually pretty easy: President. Yes, I voted for Obama again. But there was a temptation to leave the spot blank this time around. Obama wasn't my choice and I can't say I'm won over by his style of leadership. It'd be a cheap and easy free shot to make some minor form of a statement by doing such a thing. Texas, after all, is not in play. But one over-riding issue convinces me that it's worth sticking with my own traditions and principles by voting for him regardless. And that's the fact that I fully support Obama to be the one appointing judges for the next four years as opposed to just about any Republican.

As far as bonds and referendums go, I voted for the city charter fixes, the parks bond, and the library bond. For everything else, I'm willing to consider second offers.


Belated News Coverage of the Budget Shortfall

No time like the present. At least they go to a good source of information for detail rather than zippy talking points.

Bill White's Opinions on Budget Crunch:


KLRU: “Austin’s Future”

For your weekend viewing pleasure, a panel of Texas mayors (former and current) discussing the future of Austin. That covers a spectrum of issues, but among them are the move to single-member districts at a time when Austin is considering moving from an all-At Large system of electing members of council.

Civic Summit: Planning the Future from KLRU-TV on Vimeo.


Bill White on Higher Ed and Employment Growth

» Dallas Morning News: Employment growth and higher education (Bill White)

My old boss ...

In the next decade, young Texans will account for almost 40 percent of our nation's total growth in public school enrollment. Two years ago, business leaders on our state's Select Commission on Higher Education and Global Competitiveness reported: "Texas is not globally competitive. The state faces a downward spiral in quality of life and economic competitiveness if it fails to educate more of its growing population. ... Unlike states with higher average incomes or growing economies throughout the world, in Texas, young workers, under 34, now have a smaller percentage of degrees than older workers."

Public investment in university research also helps attract the grants and philanthropy needed to strengthen and expand the number of Texas' Tier 1 research universities, which serve as magnets for new businesses and economic growth.

The state government invests about 70 cents a day per resident in support of higher education. Other business-oriented states have found a way to do more. North Carolina and Georgia, with a combined population far less than Texas, together invest substantially more than Texas each year in higher education. North Carolina has long used universities to spur high-wage job growth and in the last five years has increased its full-time college enrollment at a much faster rate than Texas.

For all the talk of Texas Exceptionalism that a certain governor likes to take credit for, we've been doing a terrific job of wasting that away in recent years. I'm not sure how much of my own personal bandwidth I might have for diving deeper into public and higher education issues, but it strikes me that there's a lot of easy-to-tell stories from the data available to see how Texas compares to other states. For years, the focus has been on the deregulation of tuition. And as dumb as I think that move was, I think a more appropriate spotlight might need to be shined on comparing what the outcomes of our education policies have gotten us in the past decade.


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