Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Green Roots, Smart Growth: Judicial Review

Green Roots, Smart Growth: Judicial Review

My Comment:
I have to agree that the Texas Court System is incredibly complex. I had to read about each level of the justice system several times in our textbook and online before finally gaining a basic understanding of what each courts purpose was. Even after reading and re-reading several times, I found myself confused still during test 3 for our class when it asked questions about each court. I kept getting them all confused and mixing up each level. This problem, in a way, links back to the Texas Constitution being outdated and disorganized as we learned at the beginning of the class. Instead of taking the time to rewrite and correct our constiution we have simply tried to amend it and made the problem worse. Our state needs to simplify and update its government.

I have never really thought about judges being voted into office vs. appointed before this class. However, you make a good point that the justice system should separate itself from outside influence from interest groups in order to make fair decisions in court. I had never realized we were only one of few states that still vote judges in as opposed to appointing them. From now I'll be sure to pay more attention to the impact that has on our court system.

Should EVERYTHING Be Bigger in Texas?

Our state constitution is one of the longest and most confusing constitutions in the country. Because it is so poorly written and organized, it is constantly having to be amended and added to. How can this document truly manage our government when it is so hard to follow? With our changing times we also need a changing, updated constitution.

The Texas Constitution has not truly been re-written since the late 1800s. It's over one hundred years later and we are still following a regime of something that was barely enough for the government to get by on then. This Constitution was quickly rewritten and only amended after that. Since then, our constitution has become one of the most amended and longest constitutions in the country. It is scattered and unorganized and deals with topics that should be handled by counties and cities, such who certain land belongs to or what it can be used for. People complain about our state being behind in education and women's rights or having so many uninsured children and families. I believe the first step to a better government and state and therefore the first step towards fixing a lot of our biggest problems, is a more organized government. Legislatures need to understand exactly what their role is and what they are in charge or managing instead of being given a broad spectrum or things. This way, they can better understand who they are helping and why. All this begins with a new constitution for the state of Texas.

I know that a convention to re-write a state's constitution is more than rare in this day and age, however I see it as a fresh start and a step in the right direction for our state. With a new constitution, the writers can concentrate on what's important and what tasks need to be delegated out to smaller governments within the state. By condensing our constitution, we would focus our government in the direction we want to move in, instead of being stuck on where our government was several decades ago. The answer to the poorly organized structure of the document is not to keep amending it and making changes, this does not make it easier to understand. Instead, it makes it more complex and confusing for everyone.

I also realize that a Constitutional Convention is tedious and time consuming, however the time is well worth our while to spend focused on such an integral part of our state. The last attempt at rewriting our constitution was very unsuccessful. It turned into legislatures looking out for their own good and pushing alternative ideas not pertaining to the topics. This resulted in several (more) amendments instead of the outcome that was hoped for. We need to invest interest into our state and its future and find people who are capable of writing such a document that also really care. Texas is one of, if not the, most recognizeable states in this country. The phrases, "Don't mess with Texas" and "Everything's Bigger in Texas" are popular across the entire country. This state has more pride than any other state also. You don't see many people from Missouri walking around with the shape of their state tattooed on their body or wearing jewelry in the shape of their state? However, the Texas government does a poor job living up to this standard. We are poorly ranked in many categories compared to other states and our legislature only regularly meets every other year to solve these problems. For a such a big state with such high standards, the constitution doesn't do such a 'big' job.

Friday, July 27, 2007

What's Next for Education?

Faculty and staff of community colleges across the state are up in arms because their funding is about to be cut, significantly. The state government is considerably lowering the allocations the colleges will receive in the upcoming year. Community colleges are fighting for more money but they must turn in their budgets by September 1st. Will the state legislature make a decision in time?

I find this article astonishing. Education always seems to be such a big deal to everyone, however the government is contradicting themselves by cutting the budgets of community colleges. What message does this send to the students who may not be able to make it to a public or private, four year university? That their education will suffer from lack of funds meaning less resources and bad learning environments? Community colleges are an important stepping stone for many people to step out into the real world. They provide classes at night and online, that are more convenient and not to mention cheaper for those who want to pursue their education but are not able to attend a large school for whatever circumstance they may have.

Community colleges across the state also offer opportunities for students to pick up hours while they are home for the summer from school or for high school students to gain college credit before they actually get there. They are imperative to the average college student's career for whatever reason they may have. For the state to cut their funding the the benefits of the professors is a step backward in education. If anything, the state should be looking into all the things community colleges can offer a person and be increasing funding. This would keep tuition down and allow the colleges to get their hands on better resources. Both of these things will encourage more people to attend community colleges and boost our states college enrollment rates, for the newly graduated and not so newly graduated that wish to go back and take some classes to advance in their career or just for the sake of learning.

If education is as important to the government as they claim it to be, then they need to step up and prove it. Actions speak louder than words.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

History in the Making?

Governor Rick Perry sends a message that he may be running for Governor of the state...again. If the winner of the election, Perry will have held the office for the longest amount of time ever. What does this mean for others who are considering running for office and for the future of Texas?

This article will spark a lot of debate within yourself about what is better for the state; electing a governor who has history and understands what he's trying to do and has been trying to do, or a fresher face and take on things for Texas?

So often people get wrapped up in the war and everything going on in our lives that we forget about elections and don't pay close enough attention to what is going on in our government. Then, come election time, people don't feel educated enough on the policies or people to vote. Start educating yourself now so when the time comes, you can make a decision and cast your ballot.