It’s Not a Game, Governor

Today, Governor Rick Perry launches his latest political stunt: he’s calling on lawmakers and candidates to sign a pledge promising that they will continue failed Tea Party Republican budget policies.

The Texas Budget is NOT a game, Governor.

Quite simply, Perry’s pledge says: we can’t spend the Rainy Day Fund to help struggling schools, we must starve the health care system at the expense of millions of uninsured and underinsured Texans and we must keep cutting spending, even though Texas already ranks last or near last in virtually every category of per-capita funding in the nation.

And in a Texas Tribune story previewing today’s stunt, Perry says this: “I think we’re at a unique time that we can reset the budgeting game in Texas.”

The budget is a moral document that demonstrates the fiscal responsibility, compassion and strategic thinking of those in government – or the lack thereof.

 The budget is not a game.

It’s not a game to Carolyn, a woman I met last week in East Arlington, who is worried about her two grandchildren who have no health insurance. She told me they keep getting cut off of Medicaid, and she didn’t know why. The reason why, I explained, is that under the Perry Administration, kids are intentionally cut off of Medicaid every six months.

It’s not a game to the elementary school principal I met at church yesterday, who sees firsthand that increasing class sizes are having a very real and detrimental effect on the quality of children’s education.

And it’s not a game to the southeast Arlington woman who works for the state. She and other hard-working state employees are frustrated that as they go years without pay increases, Perry is double-dipping at our expense by collecting a pension and salary at the same time.

 The budget is not a game – it has very real and direct consequences for each and every person who lives in the state of Texas.

Texans deserve a budget that honors our priorities and prepares for our future by investing in education, healthier families and infrastructure. Texans don’t deserve more budget gimmicks and trickery from Rick Perry and Tea Party Republicans.

If you agree, I hope you’ll help me win this race by contributing $100, $50, $25 or $10 today.

 

A call for justice

Chris Turner spoke at a rally for education and awareness surrounding the Trayvon Martin case on Wednesday, March 29, 2012 at Tarrant County Community College Southeast Campus. 

Organized by TCC students, LaTarsha and Marqus Smith, the rally featured several speakers including student Florisa Esquivel, student Dennis Swanson, Pastor Dwight McKissic, Professor Eric Salas, Professor Bradley Borougerdi, NAACP Arlington Chapter President Silk Littlejoin-Gamble, and community activist Bridgette Davis.

Turner’s remarks, as prepared, are below:

“Good afternoon.  In 1963, while he was sitting in a jail in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  And that is why we are here today – our sense of right and wrong tells us that a great injustice has been committed, one for which we want justice done.  But it is also an injustice that demands a close examination of how we got here, and where we will go from here.

Like you, I am outraged at what happened in Sanford, Florida last month.  I’m angry that a young man, holding nothing but a bag of Skittles and a can of tea, would be gunned down on a city street in the United States of America.  I’m angry that a self-styled vigilante would ignore the authorities and pursue Trayvon Martin – a pursuit that ended with the death of that 17-year old boy.

Now, in large part due to rallies like this one all across the country, and the outrage we have seen about this case in the media, we see local, state and federal authorities investigating this case, as they should.  And we all hope that there is some measure of justice that will be realized when that process is complete.

Last week, President Obama said that the Trayvon Martin case is cause for our country -to do some soul-searching.  The president is right.

And I think we have to soul-search not just how this could have happened and how we keep it from happening again, but we need to look inward at ourselves as a nation and examine how we are reacting to this tragedy.

It is my hope that as America has a frank discussion about this tragedy and its aftermath, we use it as an opportunity to come closer together, not an excuse to be further divided.  And when I hear rhetoric from some in this country – talking about what Trayvon Martin’s school attendance record was, as if that somehow justifies or explains away what happened to him, I am saddened that, despite all our progress on the issue of race in America, we still have so much further to go.

When I was about your age and a student at the University of Texas, I had the opportunity to hear then-President Bill Clinton speak on our campus.  It wasn’t just any speech either, it was a major address on the state of race relations in our country.  That speech, in October of 1995, came just weeks after the verdict in the OJ Simpson case and in a similar time tinged with racial tension.

The president said, “Today we face a choice — one way leads to further separation and bitterness and more lost futures. The other way, the path of courage and wisdom, leads to unity, to reconciliation, to a rich opportunity for all Americans to make the most of the lives God gave them. This moment in which the racial divide is so clearly out in the open need not be a setback for us. It presents us with a great opportunity, and we dare not let it pass us by.”

I think today we are presented with another great opportunity.  We are all Americans, and there is so much more that unites us than divides us.  And our diversity is a great strength – a diversity we understand and experience more than most living here in Texas, here in Southeast Tarrant County and right here on this campus.  We have so much to learn from one another – understanding one another’s different backgrounds, life experiences, and culture helps us all become better people.  We can respect, appreciate and celebrate our differences – but we don’t have to fixate on them.

We don’t have to fear them.

And we don’t have to let them divide us.

But where we see the differences between us that we know are not right, we all have an obligation to make changes.  I’m talking about the injustices that we have all lived with for far too long, the injustices that don’t dominate the cable news shows or show up in our Facebook news feeds.

I’m talking about the injustice of income disparity – where we see African Americans and Hispanics earn less than white Americans.

I’m talking about the injustice of poverty, where here in Texas, 66 percent of Latino children and 59 percent of black children live in low-income families.

I am talking about the injustice of our educational system, especially in Texas, where underfunded public schools see the minority drop-out rate soar, closing the door of opportunity to thousands of young Texans.

And I am talking about the injustice that comes with the inaccessibility of health care – where 59% of the uninsured in our state are Hispanic.

So my hope is that as we remember Trayvon Martin and demand justice in his tragic case, let us not stop there.  Let us all join together to advocate for justice in all aspects of our society.  Long after the Trayvon Martin case has faded from the headlines, let us have the strength, the courage and the fortitude to continue our individual battles for justice and the end to inequality.  And until that day comes, it is my hope that we will not rest.

225 years after our founding fathers gathered to create our nation’s constitution, we are still working to “form a more perfect union.” Our Founders recognized that this democracy would never be perfect because, we the people who form it are not perfect.  But at the heart of the American ideal is the promise that we can always be better.  And as we honor the memory of Trayvon Martin and we pray for his family, let us all commit ourselves to the betterment of this country and all who live in it.”

Join Us for a Grand Opening and Bring the Family for Lunch

What: Chris Turner Campaign Office Grand Opening
Where: 214 Billings St., Suite 210, Arlington, TX 76010 (map)
When: Saturday, March 17, 2012, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Why: Kick off the 2012 election season by visiting with fellow Democrats and learning more about our campaign. And feel free to bring the entire family – the event is free and lunch will be provided.

Click here to RSVP or call (817) 561-4900 or e-mail kate@votechristurner.com

You can also RSVP through our Facebook event page.

 

*Please note: The Abram Street and Division Street exits located on the southbound side of Hwy 360 will be closed due to construction.  Please use the Park Row Drive exit just past the closed Abram Street exit and loop back northbound using the service road on the eastern side of the highway.

 


 

 

March 5, 2012 Comments are off Admin2

Building a Just and Fair Society

On February 23, Chris joined members of the Grand Prairie community for the annual NAACP Freedom Fund Scholarship Banquet.

The money raised from this event will fund educational scholarships for local students.   The evening featured performances from the youth at Mt. Gilead Missionary Baptist Church in Italy, TX as well as from students of Truman Middle School in Grand Prairie.

The event’s keynote speaker was Rev. Preston Dixon, pastor at Mt. Gilead, and 1st Vice President of the NAACP Grand Prairie Branch.  He delivered an inspiring speech which touched on the banquet’s theme, “NAACP: Obsolete or Still Necessary?”  In his message, Pastor Dixon encouraged all in attendance to remember their past, take every available opportunity in their present, and keep an eye on their future.  He also reminded the audience about the importance of unity and community.

Several members of the Grand Prairie community were presented with 2012 President Awards for their work on behalf of civil rights and equal opportunity.

“The NAACP has been on the forefront of the battle for fairness and opportunity for all Americans for 103 years,” Chris said. “It continues its important mission today, and I am proud to support its efforts.”

The next evening, on February 24, Chris and his wife, Lisa, were honored to attend the birthday celebration of Pastor N.L. Robinson and First Lady Pearl Robinson which was given by their congregation at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Arlington.  The luau-themed party celebrated their 91st and 89th birthdays, respectively.

“Pastor Robinson and First Lady Pearl continue to inspire us every day, and Lisa and I wish them both the happiest of birthdays,” Chris said.

Pastor Robinson and First Lady Pearl have been major community leaders in the civil rights movement in Arlington and have been ministering to the Arlington community for over 40 years.  Pastor Robinson was called to pastor Mount Olive Baptist Church in 1966 and since that time has grown the congregation from 17 to over 10,000 members.

A Wall of Honor and an Opportunity

Chris attended the Tarrant County College District’s official unveiling of its Veterans’ Wall of Honor on February 20, 2012.

This new feature of TCC’s Southeast Campus pays tribute to veterans who are current students, alumni, faculty and staff of the Tarrant County College District.  Featured speakers at the event included State Senator Wendy Davis, Tarrant County College District Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley, and TCC Southeast Campus President Dr. Bill Coppola.   Each delivered a message of gratitude for the service of our nation’s veterans and expressed a strong desire to continue the remarkable outreach and support that TCC offers to veterans.

Chris also had the pleasure of visiting with a retired member of the Marine Corps who served in Operation Desert Storm and was one of the veterans honored at the event.  By supporting programs such as tuition assistance, career counseling, financial planning guidance, housing support, and college admission workshops, Chris will work hard to ensure that today’s veteran has access to the educational opportunities they have earned and deserve.

Chris has a proven record of leadership on veterans’ issues: he was the author of the bill that created the veterans scratch-off lottery ticket, which has raised more than $16 million for veterans’ assistance programs in just two years.  Chris also authored and passed legislation requiring Texas colleges and universities to have a designated financial aid officer for veterans, so that returning service members are able to fully access the benefits they have earned under the new Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and the Texas Hazlewood Act. With more than 250,000 Texans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last ten years, it is more important than ever that Texas have strong support systems in place so veterans – and their families – can take advantage of education and workforce opportunities.  Honoring the service and sacrifice of today’s veterans both in word and in deed will continue to be one of Chris’s top priorities.

End the Perry Pension Loophole

Late Friday, The Texas Tribune reported that Governor Rick Perry “retired” in January. If only that were really the case.

Perry, as we know, is still governor.  But he found a loophole in state law that allows him to “retire” and collect a state pension while he is still in office.   We, the taxpayers of Texas, pay Perry a salary of $150,000.  Now we learn he is double-dipping an additional $92,000 per year from the Employee Retirement System of Texas – for a total of $242,000 annually.

This is just wrong. Very wrong.

It would be wrong even if times were good. But in a year in which so many families are struggling and in which Perry and the Legislature passed a draconian budget that forces public schools to lay off teachers and other employees, cuts college financial aid loans for middle class families, and further shreds Texas’ flimsy safety net for our most vulnerable citizens, it’s just outrageous.

You would think that Perry would have the judgment to not game the system and double-dip a salary and a pension. No chance.

It’s this kind of politics-as-usual, sweetheart deal that justifiably makes people so cynical about government. These are the kinds of practices we have to end – and that’s one of the reasons I am running for the Legislature. So today I need your help:

  1. Sign this petition, which demands an end to the Perry Pension Loophole. I’ll file legislation to make sure no politician can ever do this again – and I’ll take your voice with me to Austin.
  2. Contribute to my campaign today. We need your help to reach our end-of-year goals and to win the Democratic primary election (now set for April 3, 2012).
  3.  Forward this email to your friends, post our petition on Facebook, and share it on Twitter. We need to bring more people into our campaign to change the way business is done in Austin.

Let’s put an end to the Perry Pension Loophole – you can lead the way by joining our campaign today.

Tarrant Commissioners Court urged to create third minority JP/constable district

BY STEVE CAMPBELL | Fort Worth Star-Telegram | Sep. 20, 2011

FORT WORTH — Democrats and community activists pushed Tuesday night for the creation of a majority-minority justice of the peace/constable precinct at a public hearing on Tarrant County redistricting.

County commissioners were presented with a proposed “minority opportunity” map that carves out a compact Precinct 7 in east Arlington and Grand Prairie that would be made up of 57 percent minorities.

Precinct 7 currently anchors the southeast quadrant of the county. The proposed map would turn it into a long, slender slice of eastern Arlington and south Grand Prairie.

Democrats as well as NAACP and LULAC representatives said that under the current precinct map, only two of eight precincts give minority voters a chance to elect a justice of the peace and constable.

Opponents said the new map would create unwieldy administrative districts by stretching the current Precinct 2, now centered in central Arlington, from Grand Prairie to the southern edge of the county.

Before the public hearing, Commissioner Roy Brooks, the lone Democrat on the commissioners court, vehemently denied rumors that he was involved in drawing the new map.

Wendy Burgess, a Mansfield City Council member, said the changes would cause unnecessary administrative expenses and noted that Precinct 3 is represented by a minority constable and justice of the peace.

Former Democratic state Rep. Chris Turner of Arlington supported the new map.

“In a county where the bulk of the population growth has occurred in minority populations, it’s only fair that minority voters have increased opportunities to elect the candidates of their choice,” Turner said

Kelly Cannon, a tea party member from Arlington, said the proposal is racially motivated.

“It is a sad day when skin color motivates district lines,” she said.

After the public hearing, Commissioner Andy Nguyen, the first county commissioner of Vietnamese heritage, drew an ovation when he told the crowd that the real challenge for minority communities is the lack of engagement, not the lack of representation.

“If we increase the number of voter registrations from the minority community by about 5 percent and if we learn to work together, then we will have representation and that is really the challenge,” he said. “It’s about the quality of your idea and the quality of your leadership — it’s not about the color of your skin.”

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The New District 101

Due to dramatic population growth, Tarrant County has gained another seat in the Texas House – the new District 101. While redistricting has yet to be settled – there are numerous pending lawsuits challenging the validity of these districts due to the discriminatory and unfair manner in which Republicans drew the new maps – I was proud to announce my candidacy for District 101 in case the Tarrant County portion of the map stands.

District 101 is a microcosm of Texas – it’s a diverse community, made up of hard-working people who want the best for their children and their families. Including much of east and south Arlington and the Tarrant County portion of Grand Prairie, District 101 truly represents the values, ideas, and aspirations of all Texans, not just those offered by Rick Perry and out-of-touch politicians in Austin.

District 101 is truly representative of the diversity of Texas:

District 101 is also a solidly Democratic district — in fact, in 2008, President Obama received 62% of the vote here. District 101 deserves a state representative who will be a strong and effective voice for the priorities we share – more jobs, good schools, affordable health care, dignity, and fairness for all Texans – priorities that are currently being ignored in Austin.

With your help, we can give District 101 a unified voice – a unified voice for voters who are fed up with draconian cuts to our children’s public education, insensitive attacks on women’s health care, and irresponsible accounting tricks that only worsen our state’s budget crisis.

Over one-third of District 101 was previously in District 96 – an area I proudly represented in the Texas House from 2009 until 2011 – and I look forward to working again on behalf of families, teachers, veterans, and small business owners. Lisa and I have deep ties to Arlington, having lived there for almost a decade, and we are excited to be a part of a community that reflects the Democratic values that I’ve been fighting for since my days at the University of Texas. Over the next few months, through conversations with you, your family, your friends, and your neighbors, I’m looking forward to helping unite our diverse new district under the same Democratic priorities and principles that we all share.

Since announcing my candidacy earlier this month, I continue to be humbled by the outpouring of support and encouragement I’ve received. I hope you will sign up to volunteer or contribute to the campaign when you visit my website. Your time and your talent are critical in the work that lies ahead. I update my Facebook page frequently, so please check in daily for the latest campaign news and follow me on Twitter.

With your help, we can win this race and build a better future for all Texans.

About Chris

080717-1658

Lifelong Texan

Chris Turner is a lifelong Texan who has spent his adult life working for the basic principles of the Democratic Party: expanding opportunity for all Texans to have access to good jobs, quality schools and affordable health care and protecting the civil rights and workers rights of all Americans.

The son of a teacher and grocer, Chris grew up in a middle class family in Dallas.  Chris attained the rank of Eagle Scout at 16 and attended Skyline High School, where he served as senior class president.  Chris knew early on that he was drawn to public service, so he majored in government in college and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin.  It was at UT that Chris worked on his first of many Democratic campaigns.

Working for Democratic Principles

Not long after graduating, Turner returned to North Texas to become the executive director of the Tarrant County Democratic Party.   It was in Arlington that he met Lisa, whom he would marry in 1999.  Lisa and Chris lived the better part of a decade in South Arlington and their two kids graduated from Mansfield Summit High School.

Chris served as a campaign manager for Congressman Chet Edwards in four tough elections – successfully directing the campaigns that gave Edwards the distinction of representing the most Republican district in America to be held by a Democrat.  Chris also served as Edwards’ district director in his congressional office.

Serving Tarrant County in the State House

In 2008, Chris ran for the Texas House of Representatives in southern Tarrant County and unseated a three-term incumbent in a district that had been in GOP hands for two decades.  As a state representative, Chris’s priorities included reforming our insurance system to protect the interests of consumers, providing veterans the benefits they have earned, fighting for better funding for public schools, making college more affordable, strengthening DWI laws to protect families from repeat offenders, and lowering utility rates for Texas families.

Making a Difference for Texas Families

Chris had significant legislative successes in his first session: he passed the landmark law that established a dedicated lottery scratch off ticket to benefit the Permanent Fund for Veterans Assistance, generating up to $9 million per year to pay for much-needed benefits for Texas veterans and returning soldiers. Chris also wrote the law that requires electric utility companies to provide notice to consumers when their contract is about to expire.

His work on veterans’ issues led to Chris receiving numerous awards including: “Legislator of the Year” by the Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars, “Legislator of the Year” by the Vietnam Veterans of America, Texas State Council and the bi-partisan Legislative Veterans’ Caucus’ “Freshman of the Year.”  He was also given the “Leadership Award” by the Texas Veterans Commission.

In addition, Chris was named “Freshman of the Year,” by Texas Watch for his work on consumer protection issues and “Best of the House” by the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT).

Chris’s primary focus as a representative was attending to the needs of his constituents and district.  He attended hundreds of community meetings in his term in office and he hosted numerous town halls and seminars to provide constituents with information on how to pay for college, lower utility bills and get help with veterans benefits.

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