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San Jacinto News-Times - Local News
Stories Added - March 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company


White vows accountability to people
San Jacinto News- Times

COLDSPRING -- “Now who’s going to take credit for the amazing weather here?,” asked Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White, speaking before the San Jacinto County Democratic Party in Coldspring last week. More than 160 attended in hopes of meeting the former mayor of Houston who took time to shake hands with each before leaving for his next meeting in Cleveland. After being introduced by San Jacinto County Judge Fritz Faulkner, White said, “I’m a southerner with generations that go back in Texas. It’s great to be in Coldspring. A couple of you know it – I know Dale [Everitt] knows it – this is a special place in my heart. My wife and I, when we got married 25 plus years ago now, we went for a honeymoon on Lake Livingston and it was a very nice honeymoon. Her dad had a place there and I was always in awe of her dad. I guess we can say we have some seniority on this Earth. They say that women tend to marry men that remind them of their dad. I don’t know whether that’s true with Andrea and I. I know in one respect it was a whole lot different because AJ Ferguson, who passed away about two years ago at age 90 and lived a long life, worked for Exxon in the oil fi eld for a long time – he built his house and the boat pier with his own hands before Lake Livingston was Lake Livingston and he just had the tow boat maps. First of all, AJ was very good at what he did and very precise. As a person that has been mayor of Houston for six years and lived there for a long time and during the time I lived at my house, we had two 50 year fl oods. I wouldn’t put much credence in a tug boat map. He was a man of enormous faith.” Getting down to business, White said, “I’m here because I want to work for you, as the next governor of our state. We need a governor who is more interested in preserving the jobs of Texans that just preserving his own job. Rick Perry is in the re-election business, he’s run for reelection time after time and has been in statewide offi ce for 20 years. If you vote for me and I get to work for you and serve you, I will be in the solutions business – not just in the reelection business. I know from my business experience and the hands-on responsibility for being accountable for the citizens in local government the difference between results and rhetoric. Sometimes career politicians think an accomplishment is giving a good speech or having conferences. If you’ve run a business like I have or been mayor of a city, you know that proof is in the pudding. You expect results. You expect accountability. You want to know that your tax dollars are being spent wisely and are not going to be given to some political friend. Doesn’t that make sense to you?” Talking more about his family, White said, “I’m a proud Texan. My family goes back generations in this state, and in the Southwest United States. We’re proud of our background and we’re proud of our heritage. Each generation wants to make sure that the next generation did better. Like my dad, he was a disabled vet, he came right off the farm, they didn’t have electricity until ’39 and he went off to war a couple of years later. His fi rst active duty was in a place called Omaha Beach and they got pretty far in. His family moved to San Antonio off the farm when he was in the service and there was a church service when the girls of Hotwells Baptist Church came to see the injured veterans. Thank God because one of them liked him and became my mom. “He was able to go to school with the GI Bill and then she, because of the hard work of her momma – a single parent – and the work of my dad, was able to go to college, and they had a dream. Their dream, just like their parents’s dream was that every generation of Americans would have more opportunity than the last. We have more potential in Texas than ever before, because now, to an unprecedented extent, people are not held back by stereotypes based on their gender, based on their ethnicity, based on what their fi rst language was. So, we have more human potential when people aren’t limited or confi ned by somebody else’s of what they can achieve. But we’ll never be as great as we could be in this state, the Lone Star will never shine as bright in this great state, unless we recognize that in the future we have to do a better job of preparing Texans to compete for good jobs in a competitive global economy. Let me just tell you what I’m talking about. I won’t throw any punches. We have drop out rates in this state that exceed 30 percent and it used to be that maybe you could get by without a high school education or a skilled trade, but in this world economy that’s not a good game plan. We need to reach out and bring those young people back to school. I don’t say we can solve all of the problems, but we have shown how we can do it in Houston with Expectation Graduation, Reach Out to Dropout Walk, and Start Early. For the people who have to work, why can’t we have an opportunity for the people who must work during the school day to have some ways they can actually go to class in the evenings or on the weekends and pick up some of those credits without having to choose between going to school and helping their family? So they can keep up with their car payment and their apartment payment? Then when we do that, we need more people in skilled trade. If everybody has a JD or an MBA, I’ll tell you this, we sure will have a lot of unemployed Americans. We need a lot of people who has the skills that the economy desires. There is something wrong in the state of Texas, when year after year under Governor Perry, we have to import nurses from other countries, rather than educate them right here in Texas. “Gov. Perry gave a highway contract away where the contractor was contracted to get green cards for welders from Italy. Why can’t we be training our own welders? I’ve been in the oil and gas service industry when that industry was booming just a couple of years ago, there was a shortage of skilled trade. People were making $80 – 90,000 a year who had a skill. I tell you, in the modern economy you better have some computer skills. Because when you work on a rig or almost anywhere, if you don’t have some keyboard skills then some doors of opportunity are closed to you. People who want to pursue higher education ought to be able to pursue higher education. This young lady asked me a question, right here in the front row as I was coming up, and she said, with a slow economy and all these taxes, if my dad didn’t have enough money in savings for me to go to college... It’s a fair question, and I’ll tell you why: college tuition at state universities have gone up by 82% in the last 6 years. That is eating our seed corn. When people are better educated, it’s not just for her--although that would be enough for me--but when adults attending community colleges, refreshing their skills, or young people get more skills and more education, they can make more money. Everybody knows that. And spend more money, save more money, and invest more money, and we all benefit from that. “Look: I know what accountability means. I’ve been mayor of Houston, which is a strong mayor form of government. Andrea and I have had our telephone number in the phone book all the time that I was mayor. I’ve been through hurricanes and crises and I’ve been tested. Some of you followed TV during Hurricane Ike, you keep up, you know what I’m talking about. People have seen how I react under pressure and that I take responsibility. When we have 200,000 fellow Americans come to our community, when New Orleans is wiped out by Hurricane Katrina, I wasn’t into finger pointing, I was into how we organized that, put a shelter over somebody’s head so that they can be pursuing work and independence and a life with dignity rather than dependency in these trailer cities that they did in other parts of the country, where people are looking back all the time, instead of looking forward. If we had to wait around for the Federal Government to do that, my God! “I know what accountability means. Look, you can ask Jim McReynolds (State Representative) where money in state government goes. The biggest chunk goes to public education and higher education, and that’s the principal job of state government. When your college tuition is going up 82 percent in six years, and when you have dropout rates that are 30 percent, then there’s--it’s OK, my parents were teachers for 70 years (combined), and there are educators and retired educators here I believe. Professional educators don’t mind accountability, they’re used to accountability, they have parent-teacher conferences, they know what accountability means. If there’s a non-performer maybe they ought to do something else. But what kind of leadership does it show when the top guy in the educational system, the governor, doesn’t take accountability for poor results? You can call yourself moderate, you can call yourself libertarian, I’m a fiscal conservative and there are many like that here, I don’t care what you call yourself, accountability is central to the democratic process, where the people in government should be servants, and not the masters. “That means when I’m governor, when I appoint people to boards and commissions, and I’ve done it in Houston, I don’t check their voting record when I appoint them to the board and commission. And I sure don’t check how much they contributed to my campaign. And if you look at the pattern and talk to people who know what’s going on in state government, there’s something wrong when a sitting governor has his underlings pressure people to resign from boards because they look at all their election contributions and they say “oh well, they backed Kay Bailey Hutchison, they’re going to have to resign.” Those are public offices! And no public office should be used to advance the political agenda of any citizen. “Democrat or Republican, tell your friends and neighbors, I need your help if you want good, servant leadership in this state. I need your help because it’s easier to sell fear than results and performance. It’s easier to claim to govern by passing a law, or an unfunded mandate on local government, than it is to really solve a problem. It’s easier to complain about somebody in Washington putting an unfunded mandate on the state than it is for the state to accept responsibility. Every county judge, every mayor, every city council member, and every school board member in this county knows that the number of unfunded mandates coming out of Austin, the requirements every year, have been piling up under Governor Perry year after year after year. I’ve been a mayor, I know what I’m talking about. If you want somebody who’s more interested in getting results, then I need your help. You don’t need to do it based on how good a speech I gave. I hope I don’t do too bad. But what I’m running on is on my record of getting things done. That means bringing people together. Real leadership is not dividing the state into a red team and a blue team and playing them off against each other. Real leadership is finding common ground. “The spin-mongers and the political consultants that Perry uses to try to destroy opponents, like he did with Senator Hutchison, with Debra Medina, Republican or Democrat, if you oppose him, you’re against Texas--that is what he says, that’s his tactic. Please remind people that if they take credit for everything good about Texas, then they’ve been in office way too long. Because Texas--I don’t care who the governor is, it’s still a great state. Generation after generation we’ve grown faster than other states, generation after generation. But you can point to my track record. We cut crime rates to the lowest in decades in Houston. We tripled the number of community health clinics in our city. We fought the polluters and the levels of worst pollution--benzene and butadienes came down by more than 50% when I was the mayor. Ozone smog came down by dramatic amounts. I don’t know about you but I believe in property rights. And property rights means that nobody has the right to chemically alter the air that you and your grandmother and your grandchildren breathe in a way that endangers them without your permission. That’s basic property rights. We have more parks and libraries than we ever had within the city of Houston, and I cut the property tax rates five straight years, and raised the senior exemption. “One other thing that I take great pride in: we were recognized nationwide by veterans’ organizations, and by the Department of Defense, by the Military Affairs Council for something I started called the Returning Veterans Initiative. Shouldn’t we treat every returning veteran as a VIP? It doesn’t just mean you greet him at the airport and you have a flag in front of the house, it means that people coming back who did a good job for this country, who did what we asked them to do in circumstances that we didn’t have to, there ought to be a real plan. If they’re having fights with the VA bureaucracy people ought to help them fill out the forms. We put a lot of medical records on this, so they could get their Department of Defense records to the VA people. The big one is helping with employment. That’s a critical part of it. When people say we do too much for our veterans, I have a good solution for you: volunteer. “I just want to conclude by saying I hope you can help me spread the word. We deserve a government in this state who’s good to the people of this state. We need a government for our future. I pledge to you that I will work every day for the future of all people of our state, and not just for my own political future. And if we’re able to sound clear throughout this nation that the state of Texas is more interested in leading this nation than leaving this nation, if we have somebody who can bring people together and get things done, and work across party lines in the legislature, just like I’ve done in Houston, then I’ll tell you what: Texas’ best days are yet to come, and that star will shine bright in the Lone Star State, and you will be part of really taking this state back for the benefit of all people in this state, and tell the career politicians that you may not want to limit your own terms, but we sure can in the ballot box. Nobody’s entitled to a job just because of how good they look on TV. That’s what democracy really means. Thank you and God bless you.”

 

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