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Burgess Gets One Right: Healthcare Price Transparency

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2012/5/31 22:07:17 (1429 reads)

Open in new windowFor those who read regularly, you know that we're often at odds with the philosophy and votes of our Congressman, Dr. Michael Burgess (R, Lewisville). A fine example is his crusade to save antique light bulbs. Just today, the Texas Tribune posted an interview with Burgess, explaining his opposition to the provision of the energy act that required light bulbs to have increased efficiency. It's entirely reasonable for government to regulate energy efficiency, since we all share the same grid, and pay the costs of peak demand.

But this post is not about light bulbs, or any of the other loony bills the right-wing extremists have been pushing on Capitol Hill. This post is about healthcare.

Burgess, along with three cosponsors, all from Texas, have filed a bill (H.R.5800) that would increase price transparency in healthcare by requiring hospitals to provide price information to consumers. The cosponsors are Gene Green (D, TX-29), John Carter (R, TX-31), and Mac Thornberry (R, TX-13). The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, on which Burgess sits.

Although healthcare is not a market segment that responds well to classic free market inputs, and I'll argue forever that single-payer care would be more cost-effective, I do think that there are some decisions that consumers make that could benefit from transparency in pricing. None of us is going to comparison shop hospitals while being rushed to the E.R. after a heart attack or stroke. But for those who have a little more time to ponder medical decisions, it could be quite useful to have state-wide standardized pricing information that would allow consumers to comparison shop. In some cases, knowing the price up-front - even if the price is paid by insurance - might allow a patient to choose other less-costly alternatives, or pursue a second opinion.

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SBOE Member Gail Lowe Loses Primary to Newcomer

Local News, Notes and Events
Posted by Runfellow on 2012/5/31 14:40:00 (909 reads)

Open in new windowThe primary battle to represent District 14 on the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), which includes a wide strip that stretches around Fort Worth from Denton County to Waco, didn't receive much attention during this election season. The lack of attention, however, didn’t make the results any less surprising.

Newcomer Sue Melton, a retired educator and former president of the Association of Texas Professional Educators defeated Gail Lowe, a Lampasas Republican who had been on the board since 2002. Lowe had served as chair of the SBOE from 2009 to 2011. Though she was considered less vocal about the controversial curriculum changes pushed by her predecessor, she associated most commonly with the social conservative bloc of the board. No Democrat filed to run in the race, but Melton will face Libertarian candidate Stephen Hawkins in the general election in November.

The Texas SBOE is in charge of writing the curriculum required in Texas public schools, which often in turn affects the content of published textbooks sold in other states. Since former member and chair Don McLeroy was featured in a New York Times article in 2010, the board has attracted much national attention for its attempts to change science and social studies curriculum to reflect a more conservative perspective.

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Thoughts on Wednesday Night

Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2012/5/30 23:19:39 (623 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new windowOpen in new windowOpen in new windowOpen in new windowI'm short on words right now, and just mentally tired. I'm up here in Ohio neck deep in a client project that is stretching the limits of my knowledge and creativity. This week, like last, I'm trying to give some training on this new method of web programming that my company does. I love sharing knowledge with people and watching them get it, then seeing what they can do with it. What wears at my nerves is when I don't have all the answers readily at hand. Today was spent moving a development environment from a Windows server to an HPUX 11 server. I wish it had been Linux, but HPUX is what we have to work with. What we discovered today is that the service processes that normally take up about 20 MB in memory were rocketing up to 400 - 700 MB, and bringing the server to its knees. I suspect it has something to do with JVM, but troubleshooting that is way outside of my specialization, so I feel pretty helpless. My beautiful, useful, innovative programming must run on this service, so a failure to fix the problem pretty much negates everything I've been working on this year. It's do or die.

Last night was spent watching election returns, and updating our tallies, along with Max Miller of the Cross Timbers Gazette. It was great to be able to share the labor on what is normally a very tedious undertaking. As far as the results, I guess I'm disappointed in a few, but like I said in another thread, nothing that the Republican base does surprises me anymore.

The primaries just basically drive home my belief that our political system is broken, and does a really poor job at representing the average citizen. The two party system is constructed in a way that favors extremism. Of course, I have a lot more to say about that, and I actually started writing it last Friday on the airplane home. Hopefully I'll have time to finish that.

Anyhow, my point is that I'm pretty busy this week and have not had time to do much with regards to researching and writing news stories or columns. So I'm just going to post a few links for now, and hopefully within the next couple of weeks, I'll have more time to follow up on the numerous things I've been researching for local stories. (Now that I think about it, the elections yesterday rendered at least 2 of them moot)

Here are some links:

This is why we are fat.

Lewisville firefighters recently assisted with a brush fire in Northern Denton County.

Another Texas Judge can't seem to control himself, and has made unethical statements in his re-election campaign regarding pending cases in his courtroom. Judge Trey Loftin allowed himself to rule based on partisan leanings, then used those rulings to bolster his re-election campaign. The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct should investigate, and voters should show him the door. We need judges to interpret the law, not be activists for their partisan causes. In Loftin's case, he ruled that a homeowner whose water well was contaminated with natural gas must pay the driller, Range Resources for damaging its reputation. Loftin has also ruled that blogger Sharon Wilson must turn over personal emails relating to her activism in opposing natural gas development. WFAA has more. Of course, the good news in this is that voters just un-elected him in last night's primary. Don't know if the new one will be any better or not, but it's good to see karma do its job.

Lewisville ISD is looking for participants for next year's INSIDE LISD community leadership program.

Death, Taxes, and Zombies


I meant to post this before Memorial Day: Here's a list of all the Congressional medals of honor ever awarded. Also remember PFC Ryan McCauley of Lewisville, killed September 5th, 2004 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

How the U.S. Postal Service is being destroyed by a phony budget crisis.

Over in Flower Mound, that Kroger that wanted to spend millions of dollars to expand and revamp their store, but was turned down by the previous Council has resubmitted their application to try again with the current council.

Want to play semi-pro football in Lewisville? The Savages are having tryouts.

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Election Results - May 29th, 2012 Primary Elections

Blogs and Columns
Posted by LewisvilleTexan on 2012/5/29 12:30:00 (1976 reads)

Open in new windowWe are updating election results as they come in for selected locally relevant contested races. Stay tuned.

Note: The results below will refresh on their own every few minutes for the rest of the day.

(Update: 9:27 p.m.: Having some difficulties getting data from Denton County. Suspect storms may be to blame. Also some problems with Secretary of State Data showing Michelle Bachmann with negative votes on election day)

(Update 10:27 p.m.: All Denton Co. Dem precincts have reported. Phyllis Wolper wins the chair race. Little over 1/2 Republican precincts in. Looks like William Travis will beat Sheriff Benny Parkey without a runoff, but we'll continue to watch that number. Amber Fulton picked up more votes in election day voting, but not enough. Same for Barry Minoff, whose election day results are better than early. State numbers continue to come in, but percentages there are barely budging.)

Update 10:43 p.m.: All Denton County totals are final unofficial, with all precincts reporting.

William B. Travis has won the Sheriff's race.
Michelle French has won the Tax Assessor race.
Jerry Raburn was re-elected as Constable, Precinct 3.
Tim Burch wins Constable Precinct 4.
Sherry Shipman wins District Judge, 16th District.
Pat Fallon wins State Rep 106.
Myra Crownover wins State Rep 64 and will face Mary Brown in the General election in November.
Ron Simmons wins the District 65 race for the Republicans and will face Gary Brown in the General.

State results are coming in, but percentages are barely budging. We're going to slow down our updates, but will check back every 20 minutes or so for the next hour or so, then update with final in the morning.

Update 5/30/2012 - 6:15 a.m.: Most precincts statewide are reporting - 8745 of 8779 in the Republican primary. Numbers didn't change much. There will be runoffs for both parties in several races. We'll update again tonight.

(Click through to see the results...)

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That Old New Deal

Parallel Development
Posted by Runfellow on 2012/5/28 21:48:52 (795 reads)
Parallel Development

Many people assume that residents in this area have always favored a “small government” political philosophy, especially regarding fiscal issues. Around election season, it seems as though local campaigns are often a competition between those who promise to do more with less and those who swear to do less with less.

Historically, though, Lewisville has not always been this way. The recently released 1940 United States census rolls paint a very different image of this city than the one we commonly hear. According to those records, which I have transcribed into a public database,* almost 30% of Lewisville’s workforce held government jobs in 1940:

oa = own account (business owners)
pw = private work (paid employees)
gw = government work

Let’s put this in perspective: Greece’s government, often used as an example of a bloated bureaucracy, employed 15% of its workforce in 2008. Norway has the highest percentage, with 29.3% of its workforce government-employed. In 1940, Lewisville had a higher percentage of government employees than most of these “leftist” governments today.

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Lowest Content Denominator

Blogs and Columns
Posted by LewisvilleTexan on 2012/5/27 10:40:00 (763 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new windowBy Peter Funt

Recent Time and Newsweek covers constitute last gasps in the dying newsweekly business. Of greater concern, however, is that while these magazines are already in media's rearview mirror, their turn toward tabloid-style sensationalism reflects what is happening all along the information highway.

You saw or heard about the covers that caused the fuss: Time with a 26-year-old mother breast feeding her unusually mature 3-year-old son; Newsweek with a rainbow halo over Barack Obama's head and the line, "America's first gay president." Selling magazines and tabloid newspapers with shock and schlock isn't new, but the fact that the techniques have gone viral — to use new media's favorite term — is troubling.

One day's front-page headlines on AOL: "Grandma Goes to Walmart, Vanishes" and "I Ate to Scare Classmates Away." That same day's top items were flesh-eating bugs and "Horse bolts into ocean, swims 2 miles." On the conservative Drudge Report: "Rocks Found at Beach Ignite in Woman's Pocket."

This is now the standard stuff of top Internet sites as well as cable-TV, broadcast TV morning shows and, of course, local TV newscasts. Even many of the most reputable news organizations, such as the Los Angeles Times, play it straight on their printed front pages but turn frisky on the Web. The flesh-eating bugs and burning rocks — plus several celebrity items — were front-page news on the Times' site.

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Summer Day One 2012

Raging Moderate
Posted by LewisvilleTexan on 2012/5/27 10:33:44 (573 reads)

Open in new windowOpen in new windowWill Durst - Raging Moderate

Disregard the almanac. And the calendar. Forget whatever the meteorologist or the astrology charts or your next-door neighbor with the hair growing out of a mole shaped like the state of Delaware on his nose told you. The true wormhole opening to summer is not the upcoming solstice on Wednesday, June 20th; it is, has been, and forever shall be the last Monday of May -- Memorial Day.

Memorial Day: when the world alters unalterably for every kid and teacher and parent and water-park operator across the land. By now, the cages have either sprung open or the locks are being picked, and the imprinted DNA of every true-blooded American tingles in anticipation of the ten-to-twelve weeks of school-free adventures looming ahead like a sun-kissed valley below a fog-enshrouded summit. Even those of us who don't get to stop and romp in the valley are able to recall extended days when we did, and can't help but grin wistfully.

Officially, the last Monday of May was carved out as a peaceful respite to lay a wreath at the tomb of all the young men and women who sacrificed their lives for the security of our nation, not to mention the multitude of valiant drivers tragically lost in Midwestern automobile races.

Unofficially, it's the time for the whole of America to stop in the headlong momentum of the year to lean on a freshly painted picnic table and catch our collective breath.

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Lewisville Voter Participation: A Different Approach

Local News, Notes and Events
Posted by Runfellow on 2012/5/25 11:10:21 (744 reads)

Open in new windowWe’ve heard the complaint over and over again: There’s not enough voter participation in Lewisville. In short, they’re right, but perhaps not in the way that they think. In truth, voter turnout in Lewisville has remained fairly consistent since 2009, when it jumped up by 50%:

YearLewisville VotersPercent Change

It’s important to remember that the purpose of voter participation is to make society better through democratic participation, not just to have more voters. Higher turnout does not always result in better government, because the factors that affect that rate are often beyond our range of control. Some races are more competitive, and thus attract a higher number of voters. New voters, many of whom may not return the next year, are often activated by specific issues. Setting purely quantitative goals without looking at the the specific circumstances surrounding an election isn’t practical. Short of putting some kind of alcohol ordinance on the ballot every year, there aren’t many ways to generate a spike in voter turnout. To increase overall participation, not just voting, we need to address some underlying issues:

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Memorial Day Observances for Lewisville

Lewisville Area Calendar and Events
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2012/5/23 21:10:00 (924 reads)

Open in new windowCommunity members and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9168 will both hold Memorial Day observances in Lewisville on Monday, May 28th.

Memorial Day is a time to remember the fallen heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Republic. It should be more meaningful than just a time for mattress sales and barbecuing.

Community Remembrance
We've made a yearly habit of making a personal observance at the Veterans Memorial in front of Lewisville City Hall. Again this year, we would like to invite anyone who is interested to join us at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning.

There's no agenda, and nothing formal about it. We'll just gather around for some silent prayer and reflection, and if anyone would like to say a quick prayer or few words in gratitude to the fallen, or offer any thoughts, they're welcome to do so. But this is not about speeches, and there is nothing political about it. It's just fellow Americans taking some time to stand together in unity and honor those who have given their lives for us.

Local scouts will raise and lower the City's flags in front of City Hall at 8 a.m. sharp, then we will walk to the Veterans Memorial.

Where: In front of Lewisville City Hall, 151 West Church Street by the Veterans Memorial
When: Monday, May 28th, 8:00 a.m. (Stay as long as you want; I'll probably leave by 8:30)
Who: Anyone is invited.
What: Informal remembrance of our veterans who have died in service of our country.

VFW Remembrance
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9168 (VFW) will hold their annual remembrance at 10 a.m. at the Old Hall Cemetery on McGee Lane in Lewisville. A bugler will play taps at this more formal gathering. Immediately after the observance, VFW invites the public to join them at the VFW Hall (997 E. S.Hwy. 121) for a hot dog lunch.

Where: Old Hall Cemetery
When: Monday, May 28th, 10:00 a.m.
Who: Anyone is invited.
What: Formal remembrance of our veterans who have died in service of our country.
Cost: Free

However you choose to spend this Memorial Day, we hope that you will consider taking the time to join either or both of the observances.

If you know of other Memorial Day observances in the area, feel free to leave a comment below with the details.

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Polls: Electing Law Enforcement Officers

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2012/5/23 17:50:00 (935 reads)

I'd like to ask our readers to take a moment to participate in a few polls for us, so we can see what you think about elections for law enforcement offices like Sheriff and Constable. Please share this with your friends so that we can get enough participants to get some meaningful numbers.

Also, as always, these polls are not scientific and should not influence your decision whether to vote or not.

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