News you'll be interested to know


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reconsidering the "Texas Miracle"

The entrance of Texas Governor Rick Perry into the already swift moving presidential race for the 2012 nomination in the Republican Party prompted stories about the so-called "Texas Miracle."  At the heart of the case for proving up the miraculous performance of the Texas economy stands jobs creation data that appears impressive.  On the other hand, we find quality of life issues that concern growing numbers of hard working Texans. 

Consider the following from the Texas Legislative Study Group, "Texas on the Brink":
  • Tax revenue raised per capita--46th in U. S.
  • Tax expenditures per capita--47th in U. S.
  • Sales tax per capita--15th in U. S.
  • Public school enrollment--2nd in U. S.
  • Average salary of public school teachers--33rd in U. S.
  • Expenditures per pupil in public schools--44th in U. S.
  • % of population 25 and older with HS diploma--50th in U. S.
  • High school graduation rate--43rd in U. S.
  • % of uninsured children--1st in U. S.
  • % of children living in poverty--4th in U. S.
  • % of population without health insurance--1st in U. S.
  • % of low income population covered by Medicaid--49th in U. S.
  • Per capita spending on mental health services--50th in U. S.
  • % living below federal poverty level--4th in U. S.
  • % of population who visit a dentist--46th in U. S.
  • % of pregnant women receiving prenatal care in first trimester--50th in U. S.
  • % of women living in poverty--6th in U. S.
  • Median net worth of households--47th in U. S.
  • Amount of carbon dioxide emissions--1st in U. S.
  • Amount of toxic chemicals released into water--1st in U. S.
  • Amount of cancer-causing carcinogens released into air--1st in U. S.
  • Income inequality between rich and poor--9th in U. S.
  • Median household income--34th in U. S.
  • % of households with Internet access--42 in U. S. 
  • Number of executions--1st in U. S.
  • Rate of incarceration--9th in U. S.
  • % of voting age population that is registered to vote--43rd in U. S.
  • % of voting age population that votes--45th in U. S.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The following appeared as a post on my good friend Randy Mayeux's blog pageTested:  How Twelve Wrongly Imprisoned Men Held Onto Hope  was written by a long time supporter of CitySquare.  I hope my post will encourage you to buy a copy and read!  CitySquare has been involved with many of those exonerated here in Dallas County and we continue that involvement. 

I have just finished reading each and every word of the book Tested: How Twelve Wrongly Imprisoned Men Held Onto Hope by Peyton Budd in collaboration with Dorothy Budd — Photographs by Deborah Luster. (Published by Brown Books Publishing Group in Dallas). I say it this way to make a point – though I thoroughly read the books that I present, at times I have to move through the text pretty fast. This one was one to read slowly – and I did.

It chronicles the stories of some men who sat in prison, some for decades, while innocent of the crimes they were sent to prison for. They were wrongfully accused, wrongfully convicted, wrongfully imprisoned. There is now no doubt of the wrongfulness of their convictions. They have been exonerated. The courts admit the wrongful convictions. They are now free.

But, of course, they will never be free. As exoneree Eugene Hinton put it: “There are no psychiatrists who’ve done twenty years in prison for a crime they did not commit, so they really couldn’t offer me a solution.”

The book is written by mother and daughter writing team Peyton Budd and Dorothy Budd. Here’s Peyton’s observation:

These men changed me.

I am a different person now, a better person, for having the chance to know them and tell their stories. Every moment I spent with them altered my view of the world and demonstrated the resilience of the human spirit. They also taught me that our judicial system is broken and must be fixed.

And then, this sad note:

Countless, unimaginable numbers of innocent people still sit in prison and will never be freed.

This must stop.

I frequently share insight on this blog from books I have read. Occasionally, I strongly suggest that you read the book yourself. I do so with this book. It will make you sad, yet hopeful, all at the same time. It will do your heart good. It did mine.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Football time in America!

So, needing a little help in figuring out what professional football team to support as the NFL prepares to kickoff another season? 

Click here.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

If you're on the street. . .

In recent conversations with Dallas City Council Member Angela Hunt concerning the challenges of homelessness in Downtown Dallas, our outreach workers at CitySquare researched and compiled a listing of resources for persons without housing in Dallas.  What follows is a summation of the report on that research.  These are the emergency shelter assets of the city along with their varying schedules. 

As you read, imagine what it would be like to "live" on the streets of a city like Dallas, Texas. 

Additional note of reality:  yesterday the temperature reached 113 in parts of the city. 

Dallas Life Foundation and The Salvation Army are allowing the residents in the shelters to stay there all day if they already have a bed. At both facilities, new folks can come in at 4:00 pm to try to get a bed until the facilities are full.

The Salvation Army has a cooling center from 11:30 am to 4:00 pm each day for those not staying in their shelter.

The Bridge opens at 5:30 am each morning for breakfast and day services. Folks are allowed to come and go with their Bridge ID or a day pass until 5:00 pm. The Bridge closes its doors at 5:00 pm for new mats. Those that have mats have until 10:00 pm to check back in.

Union Gospel Mission takes the overflow from The Bridge. New folks line up at 4:30 pm at The Bridge and are then transported to Union Gospel to get a bed until they are at capacity. Union Gospel lets all their folks go at 5:30 am, transporting them back to The Bridge for breakfast. Only those 55 and older are allowed to stay at Union Gospel all day.

Austin Street Centre allows women to check in at 11:00 am and men to check in at 1:00 pm until they reach capacity. They let out at 6:00 am each morning and then go through the check-in process again each day.

The Stewpot opens at 8:00 am and is open all day as a cooling center until 3:45 pm Monday through Friday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Standards of treatment. . .

Monday, while waiting for a decision at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the deportation case (threat) involving my young friends, Monica and Jose, I listened as they recounted their horrifying experience four years earlier. The two first cousins (their fathers are twins) remembered everything about being taken into custody by ICE officers while attending an end of school party at a farm outside Greenville, Texas.

They were hurried back to Dallas on that Friday afternoon, and before anyone knew what was going on, ICE transported them to a private, for-profit facility, Rolling Plains Regional Jail in Haskell, Texas. I knew all about this experience, or so I thought.

Let's be clear. Entering the US and remaining without proper documentation is a civil law violation, not a criminal act. Still, Monica told me how her captors roughed her up, tried to intimidate her into signing papers she didn't understand, and even handcuffing her very harshly so that they hurt her arms. They lied about how the two family members would be separated and about how her cousin, Jose, had signed the papers in question, also an untruth.

In short, the two then high school students were handled harshly, inappropriately and unjustly.

I asked their attorney why would a person in violation of civil law be handcuffed and treated like this. She told me ICE claims that people like Monica "pose a threat to the safety of the US."

Are kidding me?

So, when ICE "tickets" (that's what they do) business owners who employ undocumented workers, why don't they 'cuff them? Why not haul them off to an incarceration facility over 200 miles away? If it's good for the kids, why not the adults?

And what about bail? Our young friends had to put up a $50,000 bond in cash to get out of that Haskell jail. They were able to come up with it thanks to one of our board members who's stuck with them all the way.

Justice?  Hardly.

What are expected standards of treatment for young people brought to the US by their parents as small children?

How is jail time even possible?




Surely not here.

No, sadly, yes, here.

We're studying the matter. Stay tuned.

We think we can change the policy back of this kind of behavior.

Part of the process is to simply inform rational, fair-minded people.  You are out there, right?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tears for the children. . .

Yesterday was a day of tears for me.

Owen, my third grandchild, went off to Kindergarten!  I expect his parents shed a tear or two.  I know I did just looking at his photograph!  Time gets away so quickly.  Everything changes so fast. 

Then, Gracie and Wyatt, two of my other grandchildren, went off to 4th and 2nd grade respectively.  I bet a tear or two rolled down a cheek over at that household as well.  Again, I confess, my eyes filled up as I viewed their photo. 

Sweet children!  Blessings, every one beyond words.  And, I didn't even mention little Henry--his time will come! 

But, there were other tears as well.

My day began in the office of a great immigration attorney as we prepared to deliver two other children from two other families to the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) here in Dallas.  These other young people had to appear for consideration of deportation.  [Again, if you are interested, use the search tool above and type in "Monica" and "Jose" to read more about them and read my post from two days ago.]

As we prepared to leave for the drive to ICE, these families melted into each others' arms.  The tears flowed like a river.  Parents telling their children good-bye, not knowing what would happen to them next. 

Thankfully, the Executive Order issued last Thursday by President Obama provided the platform my young friends needed to see their "stay of orders" documents accepted by the ICE officials. 

What a grand relief we experienced.  Reunited with family members, the tears flowed again!

These young people are so wonderful.  So eager for a better life.  So willing to learn.  So ready  for greatness.  So wanting to make a difference in and for their nation, the only country they've ever known, having come here with their parents when they were very small children. 

I came away from the day considering the stark contrast in the reason back of all of the tears.  I also realized that the tears were all really the same.  They came from loving parents, grandparents and siblings.  Good tears, as it turned out. . . at least for now. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

The fight of faith. . .

The truth of our particular struggle pushes us beyond ourselves to the truth of other struggles…. Human beings are made for each other and no people can realize their full humanity except as they participate in its realization for others. The Jesus of the biblical and black traditions is not a theological concept but a liberating presence in the lives of the poor in their fight for dignity and worth (pp. xii-xiii).

God of the Oppressed
James Cone

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Monica and Jose

We received word late Friday that officials in our immigration court here in Dallas, Texas are "reviewing" the case involving two of our young people, Monica and Jose. 

Thankfully, President Obama's executive order on Thursday regarding children and youth who pose absolutely no threat to our nation caused authorities here to be willing to reconsider action to remove these two fine young people from the country. 

Talk about an answer to prayer!

Critics of Mr. Obama and those who so often disagree with me here need to reconsider their positions. 

If these two children were your children, what would you want for them? 

Remember all that we have invested in them to this point in public education, health and other community benefits, such as those we've shared with them from our community development organization's efforts. 

Why would anyone want to throw away such a long-term investment? 

Pray for Monica.

Pray for Jose.

They need to stay in the United States. 

Three years ago, I flew to Washington, DC with these two great young people.  They spoke with Senator Hutchison's staff.  Unfortunately, Senator Cornyn would not allow them in his office.  Disgusting. 

They toured the national monuments. 

They stood where Dr. King stood on the marble slab that marks his presence on the day of the 1963 March on Washington and his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. 

I observed their tears. 

I listened to their fears and hopes. 

They are part of my family. 

We must find a way for them to stay here.

[For more information on these young people and their terrible situation, read my post from yesterday.]

Friday, August 19, 2011

Justice and Mercy

The nightmare is back.

If you follow this page, you may remember the stories I've posted about Monica and Jose, cousins and the children of twin brothers who came to the U. S. when their children were very young.  No one in the family possessed the proper documentation when they crossed the border into this country, including the children. 

To read more about Monica and Jose click here and here.   You might also use this page's search feature to read other posts on this situation and about the need for immigration reform by entering "Monica." 

Just yesterday, these wonderful young people received a notice to appear for deportation on Monday. 

Both are model adults.  Monica has continued on in college.  Jose has never been in any trouble.  And now, or so it seems, they will be taken into custody and sent back to Mexico where they have no real connections. 

The past 24 hours have involved us in a campaign to move our political leaders to intervene on the behalf of these wonderful young people. 

They are not the kind of people who need to be shipped away out of the country. 

U. S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, one of our members of Congress here in Dallas, has been lobbying hard on behalf of Monica and Jose, for which we are most grateful.  We've been on the phones working to gain support for the cause of these two amazing people.

But, it may not be enough.

It makes no sense whatsoever.

Since the DREAM Act stalled yet again in the Congress, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have adopted a much harsher enforcement policy toward all undocumented persons, including students who are an asset to their communities here in the U. S. The plight of Monica and Jose serves as a case in point. 

All of us who know Monica and Jose have been very distraught by this latest development.  My family has shed many tears for our dear friends, both the children and their parents.

Last night a bit of light broke, almost miraculously. 

No, that's not right, the timing was beyond miraculous. 

A report in The New York Times and published in today's editions of The Dallas Morning News described President Obama's executive order to ICE instructing the agency to end deportations of students who pose no threat to the safety of their communities or the nation.  Further, ICE will now be reevaluating thousands of cases that involve children and youth like my dear friends, Monica and Jose. 

While it may still not end well on Monday, the President's action gives us hope.  I'm grateful for him.

What's needed in the case of people like my two young friends will not be supplied by law. 

What's needed here is justice and mercy.

Please pray for both.

100,000 Homes

CitySquare is a member of the "100,000 Homes" movement.  Proud of this important work seen in this CBS news report. . .

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Colin Powell on Leadership

Lesson #13 "Powell's Rules for Picking People":  Look for intelligence and judgment, and most critically, a capacity to anticipate, to see around corners.  Also look for loyalty, integrity, a high energy drive, a balanced ego, and the drive to get things done.

How often do our recruitment and hiring processes tap into these attributes?  More often than not, we ignore them in favor of length of resume, degrees and prior titles.  A string of job descriptions a recruit held yesterday seem to be more important than who one is today, what they can contribute tomorrow, or how well their values mesh with those of the organization.  You can train a bright, willing novice in the fundamentals of your business fairly readily, but it's a lot harder to train someone to have integrity, judgment, energy, balance, and the drive to get things done.  Good leaders stack the deck in their favor right in the recruitment phase. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Speaking of taxes. . .

Earlier this year the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy published an analysis of state tax policy in the United States.  The study found that the tax system in Texas was one of the 10 most regressive in the nation. 

In Texas families in the bottom 20% of the income scale pay more than three-and-a-half times as great a share of their earnings in taxes as do the top 1%.

The poor in Texas pay 12.2% of their income on taxes, the 5th largest percentage in the U. S.

Monday, August 15, 2011

For your calendar: Emerging Christianity Conference

Emerging Christianity Conference

Friday, September 30 & Saturday, October 1, 2011

Brian McLaren has said, "People aren't seeking religion-they're seeking spirituality."

In this conference, the EXPERIENCE of learning and sharing in community will likely be as memorable and enriching as the teaching and inspiration from the keynote speakers. By sharing with others in small group encounters, participants will deepen their understanding and practical knowledge of Emerging Christianity.

FRIDAY: All participants will gather to hear internationally respected theologians and teachers Nadia Bolz-Weber, Brian McLaren and Suzanne Stabile. While sharing about the current state of Emerging Christianity, Nadia, Brian and Suzanne will discuss the thrilling and sometimes uncomfortable realities of standing in liminal, sacred space. They will set the stage for discussion and sharing the following day.

To read more about this unique event, click here.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Perfect Teacher

When asked to speak at the Richardson Chamber of Commerce's 53rd Annual New Teacher Luncheon, I decided to enlist the help of my granddaughter, Gracie Toombs, in my presentation.  After talking about the importance and power of "just one teacher," I invited Gracie to the stage to read her essay, "The Perfect Teacher."  Gracie wrote the essay about her teacher last year at White Rock Elementary School.

The folks at the Richardson Chamber captured her on this video.  I had to share it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Colin Powell on Leadership

Lesson #12  Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

The ripple effect of a leader's enthusiasm and optimism is awesome.  So is the impact of cynicism and pessimism.  Leaders who whine and blame engender those same behaviors among their colleagues.  I am not talking about stoically accepting organizational stupidity and performance incompetence with a "what, me worry?" smile.  I am talking about a gung-ho attitude that says "we can change things here, we can achieve awesome goals, we can be the best."  Spare me the grim litany of "realist," give me the unrealistic aspirations of the optimist any day. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Colin Powell on Leadership

Lesson #11 Fit no stereotypes.  Don't chase the latest management fads.  The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team's mission.

Flitting from fad to fad creates team confusion, reduces the leader's credibility, and drains organizational coffers.  Blindly following a particular fad generates rigidity in thought and action.  Sometimes speed to market is more important than total quality.  Sometimes an unapologetic directive is more appropriate than participatory discussion.  Some situations require the leader to hover closely; others require long, loose leashes.  Leaders honor their core values, but they are flexible in how they execute them.  They understand that management techniques are not magic mantras but simply tools to be reached for at the right times.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


"Many of the things you can count, don't count. Many of the things you can't count, really count."
Albert Einstein

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A required "letter of reference"

A Prophetic Mantra about the Poor

Fr. Ron Rolheiser

Nobody gets to heaven without a letter of reference from the poor! That's a quote attributed to James Forbes, an interdenominational pastor in New York City, and it wonderfully captures something that the ancient prophets of Israel underlined many centuries ago.

The great prophets of Israel had coined this mantra: The quality of your faith will be judged by the quality of justice in the land. And the quality of justice in the land will always be judged by how "widows, orphans, and strangers" are faring while you are alive. That phrase, "widows, orphans, and strangers", was code for the three weakest, most-vulnerable, groups in society at the time. For the great prophets of Israel, ultimately we will be judged religiously and morally on the basis of how the poorest of the poor fared while we were alive.

That's a scary thought which becomes scarier when we see how Jesus strongly endorsed that view. While this needs to be contextualized within Jesus' message as a whole, we have in Matthew's Gospel the famous text about the Last Judgment where Jesus tells us that, at the end of day, when we stand before the great King on the day of judgment, we will be asked only one set of questions and they all will have to do with how we treated the poor: Did you feed the hungry? Give drink to the thirsty? Welcome the stranger? Clothe the naked? Visit the sick? Visit prisoners? I doubt that any of us would have the raw courage to preach this, just as it is written in the gospels, from any pulpit today. And yet Jesus meant it. Nobody gets to heaven without a letter of reference from the poor.

Now there's a whole series of challenges in this.

To read on, click here!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Colin Powell on Leadership

Lesson #10  Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing.

Organization charts are frozen, anachronistic photos in a work place that ought to be as dynamic as the external environment around you.  If people really followed organization charts, companies would collapse.  In well-run organizations, titles are also pretty meaningless.  At best, they advertise some authority, an official status conferring the ability to give orders and induce obedience.  But titles mean little in terms of real power, which is the capacity to influence and inspire.  Have you ever noticed that people will personally commit to certain individuals who on paper (or on the organization chart) possess little authority, but instead possess pizazz, drive, expertise, and genuine caring for teammates and products?  On the flip side, non-leaders in management may be formally anointed with all the perks and frills associated with high positions, but they have little influence on others, apart from their ability to extract minimal compliance to minimal standards.

Sunday, August 07, 2011


I believe in prayer, even when I have doubts about just about everything else. 

I pray.

But, I don't really value public displays of prayer.  Even less, formal prayers or expected prayers. 

Not long ago a young guest to my office asked me if we prayed at CitySquare

Easy to answer that one:  yes. 


All of the time. 

Moment by moment lots of the time.

But, when in the midst of my deepest prayers, no one would notice, nor do I think they should.  Usually this is because no one else could observe me, and not because I'm typically hidden away somewhere (though sometimes that is true), but because most of my prayer life takes place as I move about my day. 

My prayers are very simple. 

The most common theme is mercy, as in "Have mercy on me, O Lord!"

I've long ago abandoned lists.  No reason to go into that here or now. 

I think my young friend asked about our prayer lives because he wanted to pray with me.  That would have been fine.  I understand his motives, all pure. 

But I guess I was tired as we talked, so I launched off on a homily about how we need less prayer time and more action time.  Or better, simpler prayers and more commitment to mission so that it becomes our highest expression of communication with the divine. 

Jesus didn't say much about prayer, especially public prayer. 

I've always been drawn to his advice in the Sermon on the Mount.  His direction to not pray in public to be seen, but rather, to retreat to the closet to converse in private with God brings clarity to the subject for me. 

I like that. 

I need mercy.

My city needs mercy.

My nation needs mercy.

My world needs mercy.

So, I've decided to pray that simple prayer throughout the day wherever I happen to be.  Feel free to interrupt me.  Falling in and out of prayer is not that hard, especially if formality and visibility are no longer real concerns.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens--a parable?

The just-released movie, Cowboys and Aliens presents the most fanciful, unlikely storyline imaginable. 

Here's how the entertainment website, Monsters and Critics sees the new film: 

The Old West.. where a lone cowboy, Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) leads an uprising against a terror from beyond our world. 1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don't welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). It's a town that lives in fear.

But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation.

As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he's been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveler Ella (Olivia Wilde), he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents-townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors-all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.

I saw and enjoyed the movie.  I know, I know.  Call me superficial and prone to the enjoyment of a thriller of an action flick--boy, I can tell you this guy Jake Lonergan knows how to handle an opponent!  Tough, fast, direct and endlessly! 

But, in reflecting on this really weird film, a strange realization caused me to think more deeply about the plot. 

The monsters from another galaxy/world show up with a two-dimensional mission.  One is to study earthlings to discover their weaknesses so that attacks can be more efficient and effective.  More important to the invaders is gold.  That's right.  They love gold.  They came to get gold.  They set up an elaborate station for extracting gold from the ground outside the town. 

As I watched the locals respond to the challenge presented by their horrible guests and as I observed the aliens' gold mining operations, the realization of my possibly being in the midst of a parable of sorts hit me. 

I mean, the folks from earth who battle the outside menace aren't exactly prepared for the challenge.  Beyond their obvious technological and physical disadvantages, they lack any sense of community.  To say the least they are completely divided, hopelessly, hatefully divided.

Presented with the threat of certain death, they get their collective act together right before viewers' eyes! 

The newly formed community's mission?  To unite to destroy their enemies before they are destroyed. 

Not exactly the highest of motives, or is it? 

People, previously divided now coming together to overcome old differences for the sake of embracing a higher, common concern:  that is always right and usually produces magical results.  And, it's important to note, the hero of the story is a tough, no nonsense "community organizer," to use contemporary vocabulary. 

Watching the "invasion" of the gold mining operation that doubles as an escape ship equipped with giant propulsion rockets and all, I came face-to-face with the all too common lure of gold (wealth) and the power of greed. 

I left the movie satisfied by an unusual story, but also convinced that greed contains the power to destroy.  Community presents the right antidote to the poisonous threat.

But then, maybe I've been working on the problems associated with poverty far too long.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Colin Powell on Leadership

Lesson #9  Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it.

Too often, change is stifled by people who cling to familiar turfs and job descriptions.  One reason that even large organizations wither is that managers won't challenge old, comfortable ways of doing things.  But real leaders understand that, nowadays, every one of our jobs is becoming obsolete. The proper response is to obsolete our activities before someone else does.  Effective leaders create a climate where people's worth is determined by their willingness to learn new skills and grab new responsibilities, thus perpetually reinventing their jobs.  The most important question in performance evaluation becomes not, "How well did you perform you job since the last time we met?" but, "How much did you change it?"

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Debt increases by Presidential Administrations

Just for the record:

Reagan 186%,

Bush 54%

Clinton 41%

Bush II 72%

Obama 23%.

Source Congressional Budget Office.


Okay, the time has come for some explaining. 

Read the following editorial from the yesterday's edition of The Dallas Morning News and explain how this could happen.  I'll be contacting my state legislators. 

As a non-profit executive, if I authorized the use of designated or restricted funds for a use not specified in the grant, award, contribution or contract to fund our work at CitySquare, I would be in big trouble with my Board, with the source of the funding and with the community.  At a minimum, I would be required to return the funds to their source. 

But for elected officials in Texas I suppose all you need to do is make up a new set of rules.  And, as usual, those who suffer the most and the most directly are the weakest, the most vulnerable, the poorest.  I'm listening for people of faith and fairness to rise up and put a stop to this sort of shameful behavior. 

As you'll read below, this is not the only program that gets cut by administrative policy and legislative slight of hand.  What makes this move so abhorent right now, beyond the obvious misdirection of funds, is the horrific heat wave that assaults the state.  Lives are at stake here, literally. 

Things need to change in this state. and in a big way.

Here's my reaction:  SHAMEFUL!

Editorial: Texans should be steamed about lawmakers' money tricks

When this month’s power bill arrives — the one pricier than your car payment — you probably won’t even notice the modest fee tacked on to help the poor and elderly keep their air conditioners on.

Six million Texas power customers pay a little each month to fund a program that provides utility-bill assistance to those who otherwise couldn’t afford to stay cool. An extra buck or so on your bill isn’t much to ask. And when it’s so hot that it feels like the sun might melt the hair off your head, who could argue with helping others survive the summer?

Texas lawmakers, apparently.

Read the entire editorial here.

For an earlier  full report on the issue you may want to click here.

Reactions encouraged.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Colin Powell on Leadership

Lesson #8  Organization doesn't really accomplish anything.  Plans don't accomplish anything, either.  Theories of management don't much matter.  Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved.  Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.

In a brain-based economy, your best assets are people.  We've heard this expression so often that it's become trite.  But how many leaders really "walk the talk" with this stuff?  Too often, people are assumed to be empty chess pieces to be moved round by grand viziers, which may explain why so many top managers immerse their calendar time in deal making, restructuring and the latest management fad.  How many immerse themselves in the goal of creating an environment where the best, the brightest, the most creative are attracted, retained and, most importantly, unleashed?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Colin Powell on Leadership

Lesson #7:  Keep looking below surface appearances.  Don't shrink from doing so (just) because you might not like what you find.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is the slogan of the complacent, the arrogant or the scared.  It's an excuse for inaction, a call to non-arms.  It's a mind-set that assumes (or hopes) that today's realities will continue tomorrow in a tidy, linear and predictable fashion.  Pure fantasy.  In this sort of culture, you won't find people who pro-actively take steps to solve problems as they emerge.  Here's a little tip:  don't invest in these companies.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Colin Powell on Leadership

Lesson #6:  "You don't know what you can get away with until you try."

You know the expression, "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."  Well, it's true.  Good leaders don't wait for official blessing to try things out.  They're prudent, not reckless.  But they also realize a fact of life in most organizations:  if you ask enough people for permission, you'll inevitably come up against someone who believes his job is to say "no."  So the moral is, don't ask.  Less effective middle managers endorsed the sentiment, "If I haven't explicitly been told 'yes,' I can't do it," whereas the good ones believed, "If I haven't explicitly been told 'no,' I can."  There's a world of difference between these two points of view.