June 22, 2010
I love going to summer camp.
That’s what I’m doing most of this week. I’m at a lacrosse “shooting” camp in South Carolina. I know, you’re probably thinking, “Man, that’s going to be very hot. You’ll burn up. Be sure to wear lots of sunscreen and hydrate.” Of course. I appreciate your concern.
You also might be thinking, “What kind of dummy goes to a lacrosse shooting camp at his age?”
That’s the beauty of this deal. I’m out here with my younger son, Cooper. He sees it as only slightly mortifying to let his old man sit on the sidelines watching the practices, cheering during the scrimmages, and going through some summer reading. Such a good boy.
As you may recall, lacrosse is pretty much the official sport of the Watson household. So this couple of days is basically my summer vacation.
We left Saturday morning and are having fun. It’s great to be able to spend this time with him. Made for an excellent Dad’s Day on Sunday.
And, yes, as you requested, I’m hydrating and wearing sunscreen. Plus, with my new sunglasses, I look just as cool as Bono.
This coming weekend, I’ll be headed down to Corpus Christi for the Texas Democratic Convention. It’s always a chance to catch up with old friends and talk about the issues facing Texas – in this election and for the next couple of years.
This year, I’m going to try something a little different. On Saturday morning, I’ll be hosting and moderating a panel on social media tools and strategies – things like Facebook and Twitter along with blogs and Google ads. We’ll have a terrific group, including:
— Andrew Roos, a Google account executive who specializes in elections and issues advocacy.
— and Aimee O’Malley, the new media director for Annie’s List who’s doing so much to help great candidates across Texas.
I and others have been saying – frequently and for a while – that these new media tools will define grass-roots organizing efforts in the 21st Century.
The candidates and advocates who know how to use them effectively will do well; the ones who don’t, won’t. It’s as simple as that. And I’m proud to be a member of a political party that will take time during its convention to discuss these new ways of not only running for office, but also reaching out to everyday Texans and getting them involved in the political process.
If you’re going to be in Corpus this weekend, you should come by. The panel will run from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the American Bank Center, where the convention is being held. Please RSVP here, and we’ll see you down there.
For a little more than a month, I’ve had a feature on my website called Texas Questions.
The idea was that in this day of poll-driven politics, political campaigns often miss the point. They revolve around pre-packaged questions and predetermined answers that have little or no bearing on the real opportunities and challenges facing Texans.
Like I said last month, these simplistic questions and easy answers aren’t usually about you.
I launched Texas Questions to give you an opportunity to ask the meaningful questions that reflect your own concerns about Texas and where it needs to go. And the response has been impressive. This is no “Ask the Senator” column – you’ve responded with big questions that, in how they’re ultimately answered, will define what it means to be a Texan in the 21st Century.
Here are some highlights:
• How will the state fund public services this coming biennium and in the future? It seems that the response to revenue shortfalls is to just further starve public services. I hear people complaining about how long it takes to get state services such as a new driver’s license. They blame the “bureaucracy” without understanding that poor service is the outcome of reduced resources for state agencies. – Jane McFarland, Manchaca
• I would like to know what we are going to do for the children of Texas. How will we bring up educational standards, increase high school graduation rates and make sure that these kids (and their families) are insured so that they don’t have to worry about being sick and not being able to go to school, or their parents having to choose between doctor/meds or food and rent? – Karin Thrift, Georgetown
• In light of all the yelling and shouting about border security and illegal immigration, what is actually going on with our Texas border with Mexico? If you listen to our governor, it’s a dire situation, but what is he doing? If you listen to the latest propaganda from John Cornyn, he’s got it covered: he’s asked for stepped-up federal help to get more people patrolling the border AND his A-Number One proposal was to use drones (as in, those used in Pakistan and Afghanistan!) to patrol the border. And do what? Shoot ’em from the air? I’m ready for someone to cut through the bull and tell us the real truth about our border: who’s there? how many? is it doing any good? what’s being done (not proposed!) to interdict drug traffickers? I’m not too keen on the Arizona solution to their immigration problem and do not want it here in Texas. But we need some God’s honest truth about the situation and real solutions on what can be done. Thanks. – Bonnie Millican, Bend
• Looking ahead, we will be a state where Anglos are a minority of the population, and we will need well-educated young men and women who are minorities today to govern and lead our state. How do we do that with our current education system and the dropout rate for minority kids? – George Strong, Crystal Beach
• Why are the “powers that be” so cowed by the insurance industry that we in Texas have some of the highest rates in the country? – Curtis Bauter, Mansfield
• The state has an obligation to provide means of transportation, as this is not a project local governments can accomplish due to multiple jurisdictions’ involvement. The transportation issue in areas like the Metroplex, Austin, Houston (I really don’t know where to stop the list) and others is at a critical stage. Try driving down I-35, or pick a state highway (how about 156 or 121 or 183), and you waste your life away in traffic! This requires a statewide solution. Mass transit has to be considered a top priority and soon. – Steve Newcom, Fort Worth
• Redistricting is around the corner. What can be done to reshape districts that make sense for the people of the state and not just the parties? The concept of “safe districts” adds to the political polarization that is happening. If every district was more balanced, there would be less us-and-them and more “we.” But my real gripe is what a waste it is. It is not ‘green’. Widespread districts mean more travel, more offices and poorer representation. What can be done to have a smarter system? – John Rosshirt, Austin
• I retired in 2003. My employer was the State of Texas. My pension has remained the same since I retired. Health care costs were raised a few months before I retired, and I got a notice from ERS to expect higher health care costs from the legislature in 2011. Why does the legislature hold state retirees in such disdain? – Barry Clar, Bryan
• Since we, as well as future generations, all need safe water to survive, what is being done to address our water issues? Is anyone in Texas government studying sustainable industries that use less water than unsustainable industries? Has anyone prepared legislation addressing agricultural methods of using 1/8 the water that commercial now uses? (John Jeavons has taken his bio-intensive mini-farming ideas to Africa where water is in short supply, and it works there as well as it would here). There are countless ways that individuals, families, communities, businesses, and governmental agencies can conserve water. … Please consider sponsoring legislation that would move Texas forward on serious water conservation in a vast number of arenas. – Gayle Hudgens, Buda
• From the northern tip of the Texas Gulf Coast to the southern end bordering Mexico and beyond, there are warning signs posted at every public boat ramp about eating the bay seafood. It is stated not to eat more than 8 oz of any bay or estuary fish, shrimp or mollusks per month, and that children under 12, pregnant women and the elderly should bypass all seafood-eating. We can’t consume the healthiest food created! How will Texas lead the way in cleaning up its environmental practices and become a model of balancing commercial necessity and human rights for the environment? Our track record is dismal at best. – Ghana Serapis, San Antonio
These are the kinds of questions Texans are asking. They’re the kind of questions our leaders need to be answering. And through this year’s elections, next year’s legislative session, and beyond, I’ll work to make sure you’re getting the answers that you want and that Texas needs.