My Fellow Texans Politics, the way we’d like to hear it
I pause in this hectic session of the Texas Legislature to bring you up to speed on what your own lawmaker, me, Rep. T. J. Shady, is doing to protect you against Godless communism, higher taxes, bureaucrats and the danger of recounts.
First, a little old business. The 23 indictments stemming from my last election campaign were thrown out by the judge after discovering that he has to run for re-election next year and has hired my former campaign manager, food taster and bodyguards. Besides, oppositional research is as old as American politics. So is blackmail and intimidation. The charges against me were groundless, simply an attempt by my political enemies to play the facts card. Just ask my campaign adviser, Talmadge Heflin.
As for me again being named by Texas Monthly as one of the 10 worst legislators, that has happened so many times the editors are retiring the trophy. The magazine’s accusations that I am ethically challenged are proof that the liberal media are just out to get me. My reply is that of all politicians under fire, “blame it on the press.”
Getting down to business in this session, some of you have asked what I am doing to clean up Houston’s pollution. Mainly, I am part of the solution by staying in Austin year-round. You won’t find my SUV belching carbon dioxide emissions into your lungs. Yes, our district has foul air and water, but what you refer to as “pollution” I call “campaign contributions.” You think those lobbyists from the SmoKoMo Refinery & Toxic Dump support me because they’re philanthropists?
This brings us to lobbyists or, as we legislators call them, “hosts.” There have been questions involving my dealings with SmoKoMo, especially the campaign contributions, special interest laws, my bill authorizing Smog Week and my efforts to abolish the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Let me set the record straight. While some hosts have been extremely generous, my old colleague and former fellow Texas legislator Tom DeLay has assured me everything I do (and take) is legal. Actually, he wrote his opinion on a postcard to me from a country club in Scotland. The Texas Ethics Commission has ruled state officials need only to report donations of $250 or more and the name of the donor, but do not need to state the amount of the money. Therefore, I won’t. Some of you say that is a stupid ruling. I say it is close enough for government work.
Immigration is a top priority with many of you. So, you will be happy to know that I have introduced the Great Wall of Presidio Bill, which would install a 45-foot-high electrified fence from Brownsville to El Paso. This should stem the tide of immigrants, as I was telling my nanny, gardener and driver — through an interpreter, of course. They don’t speak English and tend to hide when the authorities come around.
I have taken the lead among my colleagues in working for a better Texas in other ways, as well. As chairman of the House Committee on College Stuff, I have ensured that legislators sit in luxury suites on the 50 yard line during all UT and A&M football games. This was done by my enthusiastic support for higher education, the constant pursuit of scientific research and by threatening to cut off state funding.
We want to do something about school finance by ending the Robin Hood plan some day, maybe in yet another special session when the weather gets better for golf. As for capping property taxes, it’s on our to-do-eventually list, right behind authorizing Louisiana as Texas’ Official State Orphan.
Some of you have questioned me about term limits. A few even trot out my first campaign speeches in which I declared that I would run for no more than three terms. “I am not a professional politician,” I said many times. True, I am now in my 15th term, but my constituents need my background knowledge and veteran skills as a lawmaker. Besides, as the late Sen. Bill Moore of Bryan, the Bull of the Brazos, so aptly noted, “Honesty is no substitute for experience!”
At this point, you may be wondering how I have time to write and send out a newsletter in the midst of this busy, busy time — especially a newsletter that contains 15 color photographs of me shaking hands with the governor, welcoming the All-Houston Curling Team and, in at least one case, actually voting. The reason I have a moment off from the hurly-burly of a Texas legislative session is because right now on the floor of the House the members are debating some dumb thing about prisons or maybe the state budget. Who cares?
Since most of you haven’t a clue as to who I am or why I am here, I can pretty well do anything Ronnie Earle allows. My mail shows that many of you are totally ignorant of the Texas Legislature. The other day some idiot sent me a letter demanding that FEMA be abolished. Another didn’t want U.S. troops under a NATO commander, and still one more constituent complained about global warming. Hey, this is the state government here.
Legislators deal with such minor issues as education, highways and health care. We determine, to a large extent, your school taxes, sales taxes and how filthy your air will be. Most of you didn’t vote for me, or for anybody else. We like it that way. Actually, most of you won’t even read this newsletter, but will just toss it away unopened. That, too, is fine. Just keep sending me back to Austin till my state pension kicks in.
Your faithful servant,