Friday, May 13, 2016

Prospects for Reclaiming Texas' US Congressional Districts

By Faith Chatham - CFO Texas Federal Blue Seed PAC - May 13, 2016
LINK to donate: bit.ly/5forTX

Democratic Nominees are running in 29 of Texas' 36 U.S. House Districts this year.A state where less than 8% of the Federal Delegation women but is over 51% of the population is female, Texas voters have the opportunity to add five more women to their Congressional delegation.

THE WOMEN
The Texas female Democratic Nominees who are challenging GOP incumbents for seats in Congress include:
Shirley McKellar PhD.
Dr McKellar is a retired officer in the US Army Nurse Corp A nurse clinician, McKellar led in the implementation of women's health services for the US Military in the European Theatre. Shirley is challenging GOP incumbent Louie Gohmert for the 1st Congressional Seat.

Tawana Cadien, RN.
Tawana is also a nurse clinician nursing administrator. She is one of the first graduates of the Thurgood Marshall School of Public Affairs to earn a Masters of Public Administration. Tawana is challenging GOP incumbent Mike McCaul for the10th District seat.

Jan McDowell, CPA. Jan is a community activist who understands the dollar and cents value of clean air and water. We need someone in Congress who can read a balance sheet and has understands the difference between short term cuts which cost more in the long run. Jan is challenging GOP incumbent Kenny Marchant for the 24th District Congressional seat.

Ruby Woolridge is challenging GOP incumbent Joe Barton for the 6th Congressional District Seat. Ruby is an ordained (Methodist) Minister who is currently serving at the Potter's House and is a public school teacher. She is a strong advocate for veterans. Her son Troy was injured on active duty in the middle east when he was in his twenties. He died of his injuries last year after years of rehab and disability. Ruby was his caretaker.

Kathi Thomas is a business owner and former county chair. She is challenging GOP incumbent Roger Williams for the 25th District Congressional seat.

Democratic Incumbents Congresswomen Shelia Jackson Lee (District 18) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (District 30) are running for re-election in "safe Democratic majority districts."

To donate directly with one click to the campaigns of these women congressional challengers and Hillary Clinton and the federal pac which supports progressive candidates running for Federal offices on the ballot in Texas go to: www.bit.ly/5forTX. You can also choose to give more or nothing to some and less to others. You are given the option of making a one time donation or splitting you gift into monthly installments

Link to Donate: www.bit.ly/5forTX

THE LANDSCAPE

Texas is frequently dubbed a “red state” but demographically, it is much more blue than is reflected in the election results. A combination of apathy, savvy marketing/outreach by deep-pocketed special interests, and gerrymandering with an abandonment of the fight by most progressive donors has enabled some of the most obnoxious Texas politicians to win and retain seats in the state and federal government. Being under indictment for fraud, bribery or political corruption seems to be a plus for many of the State’s GOP incumbents. Yet there is a bright ray shining through the darkness in the Lone Star State.

Democrats turn out in higher numbers during presidential election years. All of the 11 current Democratic US House members except Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson were initially elected in Presidential election year. Texas has 11 districts that are majority Democratic and one truly swing district (23). Most of the other districts have had no serious resources devoted by progressives in Congressional challenger races for many election cycles. In 2014 on average apx. 2 ½ cents per voter was all the funding received by non-incumbent Democratic nominees who were challenging GOP/TeaParty incumbents for Congressional seats in the primary and general election combined. For 2 ½ cents it is impossible to even effectively communicate with those who already know they want to vote for you, let alone convince others that you are the best candidate. Most GOP incumbents in Texas have gotten a free walk to re-election for decades. They amass large war chests and use them to help fund down-ticket candidates. The outcome of most election in Texas have little to do with “merit” or “integrity” and more to do with non engagement from the left and business “as usual” from the right.

Democratic "normal GOTV efforts" in Texas

Examination of voter rolls shows that as Democrats stop running in contested Democratic primaries for state and local offices, Democratic voters stopped voting,. Most did not become Republicans. As spending and outreach ceased by progressives, apathy won and more and more Texans appeared on the rolls as folks who used to vote but do not any more, In presidential election years more will show up than in other election years. The state Democratic Party has a long history of focusing more attention on internal party affairs than on prioritizing winning General Elections. However, there are some encouraging developments this year.

2016 is a year of opportunity for reclaiming seats from GOP incumbents in Texas. It will require funding. In 2015 Republican candidates for Congress in Texas received $4 to every $1 donated to Democratic Congressional Candidates, During the FEC financial report ending March 31, 2016 the gap had narrowed. Republican received $2.82 dollars for every dollar donated to Democratic candidates. The gap is still deplorable, but the trend is headed in the right direction. The quality of the Democratic Nominees is substantial. Their challenges can be addressed by generosity from donors — large and small. Outside money will not come gushing in to Texas Congressional races. However, Texans have the resource to fund these races. Small donors and deeper pocketed donors uniting with the unique synergy of the 2016 Presidential race and the impact of both of the top of the ticket candidates on the electorate can realistically turn additional districts blue.
Source: FEC.gov

Factors for Optimism

1. A push on increasing Democratic turnout for by mail ballots paid off in the 2016 Democratic Primary. Significant increases in Democratic voters by mail occurred in the counties which invested in the BY MAIL campaign. Historically, Republicans have had by mail margins high enough to claim numerous seats in Texas. This improvement removes the GOP/Tea Party’s advantage in several of Texas’ largest counties.

2. Texas State Law was changed allowing the State Party to hold primaries in counties without Democratic County Chairs. Glen Maxey worked tirelessly to get legislation passed which allowed every registered voter in Texas to vote in a Democratic primary this year even if there were no county chair in their county. Once the law was passed, Glen faced the monumental task of getting the paperwork filed and to recruiting workers and polling places in counties without a chair, Although the actual number of voters involved is rather small, the change is enormous. At the last SDEC meeting several new county chairs were sworn in who stepped up and volunteered to serve from counties where they previously had been unable to vote in a Democratic Primary. It is a constructive beginning. For decades Democrats have ignored most of the rural counties. Cumulatively, rural voters determine the outcome of many elections. To overcome the GOP incumbent advantage, reaching out and increasing Democratic turnout in rural counties is essential.

3. Demographic shift in population, age and income impacts the state. Texas’ white majority is dwindling. The Republican base is aging and dying off faster than the Democratic base in Texas. The percentage of Latino and Black Texans is increasing. Both Democratic and Republican parties try to enlist Hispanic voters. Republicans have skillfully used social issues to depress Hispanic voter turnout. In the 2014 Governor’s race many Hispanics were conflicted between their religious beliefs regarding abortion and the Republican hardline anti-immigrant posturing. A percentage of them simply stayed home. In 2016 Republican rhetoric repels and motivates many who stayed home to get involved. Blacks and Texans of Hispanic lineage are among Hillary Clinton’s most enthusiastic supporters. With Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket, it will be much easier to engage Tejano, Hispanic, Muslim and Black voters in Texas.

4. Hillary at the top of the Democratic ticket will draw more minority voters that Sanders. During the primary in Texas, despite the large number of older white women which remain a strong part of Clinton’s base, larger numbers of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians turned out as delegates for Clinton at senatorial conventions than for Sanders. In the Tarrant (largest part) of Senate District 9, in the Clinton delegation:

60% minority; 40% whlte
60% female; 40% male
11% under age 36
14% LGBT
in the Sanders Tarrant Senate District 9:
74% white; 26% minority
59% male; 41% female
24% under age 36
18% LGBT

This is a snapshot of 3/4th of one urban Senate District (Tarrant 9). (Dallas Senate 9 did not break down their delegates demographically.)

Hillary attracts more minorities and women than Sanders. Hillary attracts young voters but Sanders attracts twice the number of younger voters. Hillary’s following among women is 1/3 larger than Sanders. Sander’s following among men is 1/3 larger than Clinton’s. Both resonate with LGBT voters. Hillary has fewer problems with minority voters than Sanders (74% for Clinton and only 26% for Sanders.)

With Clinton at the top of the ticket, the large minority population of Texas should place more races in play in the state if the “coat tail effect” carries over to down-ticket (especially Congressional) races. The party is working to enlist younger and minority voters into the Party. Older female voters remain the most loyal dependable voting block of Democratic voters. The majority of this “most loyal” voter demographic group are Clinton supporters. This is a good sign for down ticket candidates, especially for older, educated, highly qualified candidates who are challenging GOP incumbents.

Despite the spin that “Sanders is defining the issues”, there is solid evidence that Clinton delegates have more education than the majority of Sanders or Trump voters. Clinton supporters value “problem-solving” and pragmatic incrementalism. They trust her experience, the through vetting given her, and appreciate her ability to get policies and programs implemented. Many of Clinton’s supporters do not think that Bernie has changed Hillary’s positions substantially. They see her as a progressive political leader who has always worked to increase minority voter participation, fought for accessible affordable health care, denounced discrimination by championing the rights of women, minorities, LGBT and handicapped individuals throughout the world.

National Pattern


In the Primaries and Caucuses held thus far this year, more Republicans turned out in their primaries than Democrats in theirs in states where Sanders had more votes than Hillary. In the states which Clinton carried, she got more votes than the leading Republican and more Democrats turned out to vote than Republicans overall. This is a very good sign because she has carried more states than Sanders and she has carried larger states than Sanders. It is unlikely that she will carry Texas in the General Election. Having Cruz off of the ticket is beneficial. If she selects a young, Latino favorite son from Texas as her running mate, that may bring Texas into play. A Clinton/Castro ticket may not turn the state blue enough to garner the electoral votes from the Lone Star State, but the activity may be a shot-in-the-arm for some Congressional races and help Democrats gain a few additional seats in Congress in Districts the national pacs are not targetings as Red to Blue.

THE MEN

Texas has also nominated several strong, highly qualified Democratic men for Congress this year. In addition to the 8 Democratic Congressmen who are running for re-election, there are men running in 12 of Texas’ Congressional Districts. One district is a truly Democratic majority district (15). Congressman Hinojosa is retiring so that is an “open” seat in a majority Democratic District. Vicente Gongalez and Juan "Sonny" Palacios are in a run-off for the Democratic Nomination for US-TX 15 Congressional District on May 24th.

Former Democratic Congressman Pete Gallego is challenging far right-wing Tea Party incumbent Wm. Hurd for the seat in Texas’ only truly swing district.

The 23rd Congressional District has more land mass than any district in Texas. The land mass of 9 states will fit into this incredible Congressional District which runs from the outskirts of San Antonio to the outskirts of the City of El Paso. It includes National Parks and most of the Texas/Mexico border. Gallego has continued as a private citizen to work to further the interests of the people of the district.

Hurd has focused only on divisive religious positions and has ignored the economic and environmental needs of the District. Gallego, as a private citizen, is credited with bringing passenger air service back to a poorly served part of the district. Despite Gallego’s deplorable vote on the Three State Nuclear Waste pact while he was an incumbent, Gallego is much more of a champion for the District's National Park (Big Bend) than incumbent Hurd. Gallego has proven to be much more responsive to the needs of the people of the district than incumbent Hurd. This race is targeted by the DCCC as a Red to Blue District and will probably be the only non-incumbent challenger Congressional race in Texas to receive funding from the DCCC and the Democratic Majority PACs.

James Cargas qualifies as an environmental/developmental rock star. Cargas is one of our state’s leading pragmatic visionaries. An Oil and Attorney, James worked on Capitol Hill as an intern as an undergraduate and returned, after he graduated from the University of Michigan, during the Reagan administration while Jim Wright was Speaker of the House to serve as Press Secretary to a Michigan Democratic Congressman. He graduated from The American University’s Washington College of Law where he served as President of the Environmental Law Society and Article Editor of The American University Journal of International Law and Policy and The American University International Law Review) in 1992. During law school, he was law clerk to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Admitted to practice law in Texas, West Virginia, Washington D.C, and Michigan, he represented large interstate pipeline companies before leaving the private sector to join the Clinton administration on the President’s Council on Sustainable Development, promoting clean wind and solar energy, hybrid vehicles and sustainable resource development. He left to work on the Gore Presidential campaign and returned to serve under Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. He was hired in 2008 by former Houston Mayor Bill White as the City of Houston’s energy counsel, and continued as counsel to Mayor Parker. During his stint with the City of Houston, Cargas has negotiated energy contracts and helped the City of Houston become recognized as the governmental entity that has purchased the most sustainable energy in the nation, exceeding the purchases of the DOD and EPA. Cargas is married to a medical research scientist doctor and is especially cognizant of the roadblocks facing medical research in the USA. Cargas is the Democratic Nominee challenging GOP incumbent John Culberson for Texas' 7th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Bill Matta, PhD is challenging GOP incumbent Bill Flores for the 17th District US Congressional Seat. Matta is one of three Democratic Nominees in Texas who are retired military officers with doctoral degrees. A navigator in the USAF, Matta served with NATO in Bosnia, at the US Air Force Academy and at the Pentagon. A graduate of UT Austin, Matta has pursued a dual career track, blending his military service with teaching. Currently he is the chair of the Linguistics, Speech and Engilsh at McLennan County Community College.

Mark Gibson JD is a retired Colonel and Brigade Commander with the US Army. He earned is Juris Doctorate from South Texas College of Law, and his Master’s in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He earned his BBA in Management Information Systems from University of Houston, As a Senior IT Manager and small business owner, Mark Gibson, understands the challenges facing business owners. He fights for veterans and military families, is committed to fighting for equal rights for women, pledges to”push for absolute assurances of banning weapons from schools, synagogues or worship centers, shopping malls, stores, and our schools” and will fight for breaks for small businesses and term limits.

Gibson is challenging GOP incumbent Pete Olson for Texas' 22nd District Congressional seat.

Mike Cole, Democratic Nominee for Texas’ 14th US Congressional District running for U.S Congress in Texas. Cole is challenging GOP incumbent Randy Weber for the 14th US Congressional Seat. An educator, Cole’s struggle with onset juvenile diabetes gives him insight into medical challenges which reach far beyond what is normal for a young man. He is skilled at engaging others in projects that enhance and improve people’s lives.

He is running an energetic campaign against Randy Weber which involves college students and senior citizens.

The 14th is a coastal district. Challenged by natural disasters and the aftermath of BP’s Horizon Blowout/Oil Spill, the district requires diligent service by a Representative who will balance the economical developmental needs with the environmental challenges facing people of the district.

Mike Cole, Tawana Cadien, James Cargas and Pete Gallego are the Democratic Nominees who are positioned to give better service to the people of the Texas Gulf Coast and US Mexican Border. You can help them directly with one click using this link:
http://bit.ly/4TXCoastDs

To split your donation between the four coastal candidates and the federal PAC which supports progressive challengers for federal office on the ballot in Texas use this link http://bit.ly/4TXCoastDs

It is not necessary for Texans to live under the skewed worldview of the Tea Party and the state's GOP incumbents. We do not have to continue subjecting this nation and the world to the stupidity that passes between many Texas so-called public officials. It will not be easy, but it is definitely "worth it!" The key is setting aside defeatist attitudes, stepping forward and doing what we can when we can and enlisting and welcoming others to do what they can.

Friday, June 6, 2014





Downright Scary | Cole Ballweg

Downright Scary | Cole Ballweg



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

DMN: Cancer Prevention and Research Institute derailed by favoritism and corruption

Read the accompanying investigative report in the Dallas Morning News

Publisher's Note:

By Faith Chatham: May 6, 2014 Today several versions of the same news clip are appearing in this blog because it is exceptionally important. I urge readers to refer to the Bill Slater's story in the Dallas Morning News. Perry Dorrell in Brains and Eggs provides an excellent timeline. Although the u-tube is produced by a pro-Wendy Davis superpac, the content hits the issue square in the stomach where many cancer survivors, (a term for many which means still struggling in living with cancer) and those of us who have lost loved ones to the unwon battle of cancer "live, breathe and have our being!" This is too important to ignore. It goes to the credibility of those we entrust with state funds. It goes to the integrity of those we entrust to oversee state laws. It speaks to the credibility of those who are entrusted to oversee cancer research. It speaks to the credibility (and possibly the criminality) of those who seek higher office. It spiritual terms, "May that which is hidden become seen and known. May those who seek to distort and confound be bound. May those woh seek to steal and destroy be restricted from harming others. May that which is intended for good be directed to its purpose without delay or detour." IN these days of dwindling newspaper resources, corporate mergers and destabilization of daily news organizations by acquisition debts, exceptional journalism still prevails. Special tribute of appreciation on coverage of this story goes to the Houston Chronicle team and to James Drew and Sue Ambrose Goetinck of the Dallas Morning News.

Brains and Eggs: Greg Abbott's Scandal O' Week, shared with Rick Pe...

Brains and Eggs: Greg Abbott's Scandal O' Week, shared with Rick Pe...: It's an old scandal , but as new details emerge, the boil continues to fester and ooze.  Wayne Slater , tying all the latest strings to...

Abbott and Perry misdirect Cancer Funds

Dallas Morning News Report

Bay Area Houston: Greg Abbott stealing funds dedicated for cancer re...

Bay Area Houston: Greg Abbott stealing funds dedicated for cancer re...: This is low even for Abbott. The Dallas Morning News issued an investigative report concerning the Cancer Prevention and Research Inst...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Obamacare: A Midterm Report Card

by Charles Ornstein ProPublica, Jan. 14, 2014, 11:01 a.m.

The first half of the Obamacare open enrollment period is over, and yesterday, federal health officials announced sign-up figures from the first three months.

After a disastrous start, HealthCare.gov (which handles enrollment for 36 states) began functioning properly. It, along with state-run insurance exchanges, netted more than 2.1 million signups between Oct. 1 and Dec. 28.

But are sign-ups on pace to meet the Congressional Budget Office's projection of 7 million this year? And is there an adequate balance between young and old, sick and healthy, to keep costs in line? That's harder to say.

Here's what we know:

  • Some states are performing much better than others. Connecticut has already exceeded the target the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wanted it to have by the end of March, according to acasignups.net. New York and Rhode Island are also on pace to beat expectations. But other states are lagging. They include Maryland, Oregon and Massachusetts, which run their own exchanges and continue to be plagued by website problems. Also far behind are New Mexico and Mississippi, which rely on HealthCare.gov.
  • Enrollees are skewing older. Currently, 33 percent of enrollees are 55 to 64 years old, compared to only 30 percent who are under 35. In Arkansas, Maine, Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin, at least 40 percent of enrollees are over 55. A higher proportion of younger enrollees are going to have to sign up before the end of March in order to help offset the costs of older ones. CMS officials say younger enrollees tend to sign up later in the process, as they did several years ago when Massachusetts implemented its individual mandate.
  • The vast majority of those signing up qualify for financial assistance. About 79 percent of the early sign-ups will receive financial assistance, just a bit less than what the Congressional Budget Office estimated (86 percent 2013 see page 3). That ranges from an implausible low of 9 percent in Washington D.C., to 100 percent in Oregon.

Here's what we don't know:

  • How many of those who signed up for coverage previously had plans canceled by insurance companies If the policies are merely replacing coverage that individuals already had, the law won't make the dent in the uninsured that proponents hoped for. In New York, for example, only 44 percent of the early enrollees had been uninsured.
  • The health status of early enrollees. While some people consider age a proxy for health status, in truth, it isn't a very effective stand-in. Experts say they need to know more about the health of those who enrolled to know if the insurance risk pool will be balanced, keeping premiums from exploding in the years to come. Health insurer Humana reported last week that the mix of its early enrollees was "more adverse than previously expected," in part because the Obama administration gave those with canceled policies the ability to stay in them for another year. That assumes those who chose to stay were healthier than others.
  • Whether enrollees have paid their first month's bill. Coverage does not take effect unless consumers pay their initial bill. There has been plenty of confusion about the deadline to sign up 2013 and confusion about when the first payment is due. Dates have changed and vary from state to state, insurer to insurer. Some insurers set a deadline of Jan. 10; others have set other dates in January for coverage that began Jan. 1. "It's been pulling teeth," Shaun Greene, chief operating officer of Utah-based Arches Health Plan, told the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper reported that, as of Thursday, Arches had collected about 60 percent of premiums for people who signed up for coverage that took effect Jan. 1.
  • How many people have signed up for coverage outside of the exchanges. In order to receive a premium tax credit to offset the monthly cost of coverage, individuals have to sign up using one of the health exchanges created under the law. But those who do not qualify or don't want to bother can sign up directly with an insurance company. Ultimately, those figures will be publicly reported, but that will take months, or even years.
  • Will the open-enrollment period close strong as it did in Massachusetts? Supporters of the Affordable Care Act regularly point to the experience of Massachusetts, which implemented a similar individual mandate in 2007, and saw a late surge of enrollment, particularly among the young. The open enrollment period for Obamacare runs through March 31, leaving plenty of time for folks to sign up.

Editor's Note: This post is adapted from Ornstein's "Healthy buzz" blog. Have you tried signing up for health care coverage through the new exchanges? Help us cover the Affordable Care Act by sharing your insurance story.

Obamacare: A Midterm Report Card

by Charles Ornstein ProPublica, Jan. 14, 2014, 11:01 a.m.

The first half of the Obamacare open enrollment period is over, and yesterday, federal health officials announced sign-up figures from the first three months.

After a disastrous start, HealthCare.gov (which handles enrollment for 36 states) began functioning properly. It, along with state-run insurance exchanges, netted more than 2.1 million signups between Oct. 1 and Dec. 28.

But are sign-ups on pace to meet the Congressional Budget Office's projection of 7 million this year? And is there an adequate balance between young and old, sick and healthy, to keep costs in line? That's harder to say.

Here's what we know:

  • Some states are performing much better than others. Connecticut has already exceeded the target the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wanted it to have by the end of March, according to acasignups.net. New York and Rhode Island are also on pace to beat expectations. But other states are lagging. They include Maryland, Oregon and Massachusetts, which run their own exchanges and continue to be plagued by website problems. Also far behind are New Mexico and Mississippi, which rely on HealthCare.gov.
  • Enrollees are skewing older. Currently, 33 percent of enrollees are 55 to 64 years old, compared to only 30 percent who are under 35. In Arkansas, Maine, Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin, at least 40 percent of enrollees are over 55. A higher proportion of younger enrollees are going to have to sign up before the end of March in order to help offset the costs of older ones. CMS officials say younger enrollees tend to sign up later in the process, as they did several years ago when Massachusetts implemented its individual mandate.
  • The vast majority of those signing up qualify for financial assistance. About 79 percent of the early sign-ups will receive financial assistance, just a bit less than what the Congressional Budget Office estimated (86 percent 2013 see page 3). That ranges from an implausible low of 9 percent in Washington D.C., to 100 percent in Oregon.

Here's what we don't know:

  • How many of those who signed up for coverage previously had plans canceled by insurance companies If the policies are merely replacing coverage that individuals already had, the law won't make the dent in the uninsured that proponents hoped for. In New York, for example, only 44 percent of the early enrollees had been uninsured.
  • The health status of early enrollees. While some people consider age a proxy for health status, in truth, it isn't a very effective stand-in. Experts say they need to know more about the health of those who enrolled to know if the insurance risk pool will be balanced, keeping premiums from exploding in the years to come. Health insurer Humana reported last week that the mix of its early enrollees was "more adverse than previously expected," in part because the Obama administration gave those with canceled policies the ability to stay in them for another year. That assumes those who chose to stay were healthier than others.
  • Whether enrollees have paid their first month's bill. Coverage does not take effect unless consumers pay their initial bill. There has been plenty of confusion about the deadline to sign up 2013 and confusion about when the first payment is due. Dates have changed and vary from state to state, insurer to insurer. Some insurers set a deadline of Jan. 10; others have set other dates in January for coverage that began Jan. 1. "It's been pulling teeth," Shaun Greene, chief operating officer of Utah-based Arches Health Plan, told the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper reported that, as of Thursday, Arches had collected about 60 percent of premiums for people who signed up for coverage that took effect Jan. 1.
  • How many people have signed up for coverage outside of the exchanges. In order to receive a premium tax credit to offset the monthly cost of coverage, individuals have to sign up using one of the health exchanges created under the law. But those who do not qualify or don't want to bother can sign up directly with an insurance company. Ultimately, those figures will be publicly reported, but that will take months, or even years.
  • Will the open-enrollment period close strong as it did in Massachusetts? Supporters of the Affordable Care Act regularly point to the experience of Massachusetts, which implemented a similar individual mandate in 2007, and saw a late surge of enrollment, particularly among the young. The open enrollment period for Obamacare runs through March 31, leaving plenty of time for folks to sign up.

Editor's Note: This post is adapted from Ornstein's "Healthy buzz" blog. Have you tried signing up for health care coverage through the new exchanges? Help us cover the Affordable Care Act by sharing your insurance story.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sen Wendy Davis Asks Gov. Perry to Remove Insurance Commissioner

By Faith Chatham - DFWRCC - Sept. 5, 2012
Texas State Senator Wendy Davis responded to constituents complaints about arbritary actions by Texas Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman by calling on Governor Perry to remove Kitzman from her appointed post. In a letter to Gov,. Perry Friday, Aug. 30,  Sen. Davis calls for transparency and accountability in the Texas Insurance Commission and cites anti-consumer actions by Kitzman which cost Texas taxpayers money.

Sen. Davis released sent this message to constituents:

From day one, you have heard me talk about the importance of government accountability and full transparency. Some recent decisions made by Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman were anything but transparent.
Over the course of just a few months, Ms. Kitzman has proven that she is only concerned with protecting insurance companies and has shown complete disregard for protecting Texas consumers. That’s why I’ve called on Governor Perry to remove Kitzman from her appointed post. 
Kitzman has already managed to roll back years’ worth of consumer protection for Texans:
  • Without asking the opinion of taxpayers or elected officials, Kitzman arbitrarily announced she would remove important rules that protect health insurance policyholders from being charged certain fees that could otherwise be avoided;
  • Kitzman removed from TDI’s website a list of insurance companies found to have used deceptive or illegal practices against policyholders; 
Texans deserve an Insurance Commissioner who works for them and not against them.  Eleanor Kitzman should be protecting Texans’ household budgets rather than making it easier for insurance companies to fill their own pockets.
Please know that I will continue fighting to protect the rights of Texas consumers by working to see that failed and irresponsible appointed officials like  Commissioner Kitzman are not allowed to stay on our state’s payroll.Your friend, and proudly, your state senator,Wendy
Wendy

 Senator Davis updated her website and included this background:

Following her request to Perry, Davis said, “Commissioner Kitzman’s actions reflect a pervasive anti-consumer, closed-door culture at the Department of Insurance. And, unfortunately, this hostility toward consumers spreads beyond TDI and into the Legislature.”
In 2009, and again in 2011, legislators were tasked with performing a constitutionally required “sunset review” of the Department. Unfortunately for policyholders, special interests carried the day.
More concerned with lining their donors’ pockets than protecting consumers, dozens of State House members, including Fort Worth’s Mark Shelton, repeatedly voted against the constituents they were elected to serve.
Shelton and his cohorts voted to protect insurance companies by:

  • Allowing them to raise rates on consumers without State oversight;
  • Blocking full accountability at the Department of Insurance by allowing the Commissioner to continue being a Perry appointee, versus an elected official chosen by voters at the ballot box.
  • Allowing insurers to deny coverage based on applicants’ credit scores;
  • Allowing insurers to deny coverage for losses incurred when residents evacuate during natural disasters.


Unlike her opponent, Wendy Davis championed legislation that would protect Texas consumers by:

  • Requiring insurers to refund excessive premiums to policyholders;
  • Creating an online “apples-to-apples” comparison of Texas insurance rates, which would allow consumers to identify the most competitive rates available;
  • Allowing voters to elect the Insurance Commissioner;
  • Requiring insurance companies to give policyholders notice of pending rate increases;
  • Requiring health insurers to pre-file rate increases with the Department of Insurance for review before implementing increases.

Davis is a strong advocate for government transparency and accountability. “Texans deserve better than what they are getting from the current majority in Austin,” she said. “State officials are supposed to be representing Texas’ hard working families, not insurance companies and other special interests.”
Davis pointed out the fact that, under the Texas Constitution, the Texas Senate will be responsible for confirming or denying Kitzman’s appointment during the upcoming 83rd Legislature.
“Commissioner Kitzman was appointed during the interim, when the Legislature is not in Austin,” said Davis. “Her qualifications have not been reviewed by the Senate. When we return in January and begin the confirmation process, I think the odds are very high that Commissioner Kitzman will not be confirmed.”

Petitions to the Department of Insurance have gone unheeded from constituent upset by the Commission requesting exceptions to allow Texas Insurance Companies to apply more than the mandated 20% maximum  of premium costs toward Insurance Company profit and administrative cost for medicare payments. One of the reforms passed by Congress (and frequently discounted by insurance industry distractorss as "Obamacare" requires that no more than 20% of the premiums paid for health insurance can be diverted from health care costs and pocketed by insurance companies as profit or applied to administrative cost.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

AIR POLLUTION CAN MAKE YOU SNORE, DISRUPT SLEEP

By Michael Reilly - Discovery News - June 16, 2010

Everyone knows air pollution is bad for you, your kids, trees, and the planet. Small particles of partially burned car and truck exhaust are particularly insidious, and can get into your lungs, your bloodstream, even your brain.

Now a new study suggests it can mess with your breathing while you sleep, too, and put you at higher risk for a host of serious health problems.

People exposed to high levels of "microparticle" pollution -- mostly those living near roadways and/or in urban areas -- can have higher rates of asthma and other lung afflictions, but they just as often show no ill effects, even after years of exposure.


It isn't until researchers look at data from thousands of people across a whole city, or many cities, that patterns begin to emerge -- high microparticle concentrations increase risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Antonella Zanobetti of Harvard University and a team of researchers put a new twist on this type of work -- they looked at whether air pollution could interfere with sleep. They matched a dataset of 6,000 people monitored for the Sleep Heart Health Study between 1995 and 1998 to air pollution measurements from the same time and locations.

The team found that "sleep disordered breathing," -- a catch-all term for snoring and any other interference with normal breathing during sleep -- increased 13 percent with elevated levels of pollution. Blood oxygen levels were depleted for 20 percent more time in people sleeping in high-pollution environments, too. This was primarily seen during the summer, when high temperatures are known to exacerbate the effects of air pollution.

The researchers' work appears in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Zanobetti was quoted in an article on PhysOrg.com:

"Particles may influence sleep through effects on the central nervous system, as well as the upper airways," wrote Dr. Zanobetti. "…Poor sleep [associated with poor health outcomes] may disproportionately afflict poor urban populations. Our findings suggest that one mechanism for poor sleep and sleep health disparities may relate to environmental pollution levels."


Poor sleep habits have also been shown to increase risk of cardiovascular diseases, so this study presents a kind of double whammy. Not only are people exposed to high levels of microparticle pollution already at risk for heart attack, stroke, and the like, but the pollution is preventing them from sleeping well, exacting yet more punishment on their bodies.

As if we needed another reason to clean up air pollution, this is a pretty good one.

Source: American Thoracic Society, via PhysOrg
Read more in Discovery News

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

AMA: 1 in 5 insurance companies inaccuraely process claim

By DEAN TRAVINSKI - WFAA - June 14, 2010
The nation's largest doctors' group says one in five medical claims is processed inaccurately by commercial health insurers, often leaving physicians shortchanged.
The American Medical Association released its third annual report card on insurers Monday. Medicare performed well in how quickly and accurately it paid doctors.
Commercial insurers such as Aetna Inc. and Anthem Blue Cross matched their payments to what they agreed to pay doctors about 80 percent of the time.
The group's report card is an effort to reduce the cost of claims processing for doctors.
The AMA is meeting in Chicago in its first annual meeting since the passage of President Barack WFAA

Monday, April 19, 2010

Presidential Memorandum - Hospital Visitation

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Presidential Memorandum - Hospital Visitation

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

SUBJECT: Respecting the Rights of Hospital Patients to Receive Visitors and to Designate Surrogate Decision Makers for Medical Emergencies

There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean -- a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them.

Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides -- whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay. Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives -- unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.

For all of these Americans, the failure to have their wishes respected concerning who may visit them or make medical decisions on their behalf has real onsequences. It means that doctors and nurses do not always have the best information about patients' medications and medical histories and that friends and certain family members are unable to serve as intermediaries to help communicate patients' needs. It means that a stressful and at times terrifying experience for patients is senselessly compounded by indignity and unfairness. And it means that all too often, people are made to suffer or even to pass away alone, denied the comfort of companionship in their final moments while a loved one is left worrying and pacing down the hall.

Many States have taken steps to try to put an end to these problems. North Carolina recently amended its Patients' Bill of Rights to give each patient "the right to designate visitors who shall receive the same visitation privileges as the patient's immediate family members, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patient" -- a right that applies in every hospital in the State. Delaware, Nebraska, and Minnesota have adopted similar laws.

My Administration can expand on these important steps to ensure that patients can receive compassionate care and equal treatment during their hospital stays. By this memorandum, I request that you take the following steps:

1. Initiate appropriate rulemaking, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395x and other relevant provisions of law, to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors. It should be made clear that designated visitors, including individuals designated by legally valid advance directives (such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies), should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy. You should also provide that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national
origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The rulemaking should take into account the need for hospitals to restrict visitation in medically appropriate circumstances as well as the clinical decisions that medical professionals make about a patient's care or treatment.

2. Ensure that all hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid are in full compliance with regulations, codified at 42 CFR 482.13 and 42 CFR 489.102(a), promulgated to guarantee that all patients' advance directives, such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies, are respected, and that patients' representatives otherwise have the right to make informed decisions regarding patients' care. Additionally, I request that you issue new guidelines, pursuant to your authority under 42 U.S.C. 1395cc and other relevant provisions of law, and provide technical assistance on how hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid can best comply with the regulations and take any additional appropriate measures to fully enforce the regulations.

3. Provide additional recommendations to me, within 180 days of the date of this memorandum, on actions the Department of Health and Human Services can take to address hospital visitation, medical decisionmaking, or other health care issues that affect LGBT patients and their families.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

You are hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-memorandum-hospital-visitation

Monday, February 8, 2010

Moratorium passes in DISH

DISH, Texas is a giant of a tiny town. Tonight they passed a 90 day moratorium on new drilling permits.

Dish imposes gas drilling moratorium
February 8, 2010
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe
Dish town leaders commissioned an ambient air quality study last year, which focused on a complex of natural gas compression facilities on the edge of town and found a host of toxic substances at troubling levels. State environmental officials followed that study with a broader look at a variety of production equipment in the Barnett Shale and found many of the same toxic substances.

Chemist Wilma Subra, together with the Oil and Gas Accountability Project and its Texas chapter, followed Dish’s air quality study with a survey that showed many of the health symptoms residents were experiencing could be associated with exposure to toxic substances. Currently, state health officials have conducted biological samplings and are awaiting lab results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The emissions from all the various natural gas infrastructure continue to poison the air in DISH. Mayor Tillman said he is just getting started.

Citizens' Right to Run for Office Challenged by Bank C.E.O.'s Lawsuit

By Faith Chatham - Feb. 12, 2010
The right to compete and let the voters decide has been skewed by influence money. Now in Tarrant County, an independently wealthy candidate is using his ability to out-sue, out litigate, out spend on attorney's fees to chase his opponents out of the primary and/or drain-dry the resources of opponents.

Richard (Dick) N. Abrams filed for Justice of the Peace, Pct.6 in South Fort Worth against two other Democratic opponents. He challenged the petitions of his opponents claiming that all spaces on the form were not filled in or were incorrect. Abrams threatened to sue his opponents and the County Chair if the county chair did not remove their names from the primary ballot. One opponent, John Williams, was disqualified for filing for more than one office. Tarrant County Democratic Chair Steve Maxwell reviewed the challenge and ruled that Ms. Brooks had sufficient valid signatures of registered voters in the precinct to remain on the ballot. Abrams filed a law suit in Tarrant County District Court against Maxwell and Brooks, seeking and injunction to keep her name off the Primary Ballot and all his court costs and legal fees. All judges in Fort Worth are Republicans.

"It is absurd," said Harriet Irby, Ms. Brooks' treasurer. "I don't understand why a Democratic candidate would do this. There are no Democratic judges in Tarrant County. This matter will be settled in a Republican judge's courtroom. He knew that when he filed this suit!" She added: "He seems to be someone who likes to file lawsuits and has plenty of money to easily pay the legal costs. There are a number of them filed by him in recent months. He seems to win about half of them."


There are court records to support Irby's impression of Abrams. He sued Unity Mutual Life Insurance Company over what he claimed was a hand-shake agreement for commissions. When the ruling was that hand-shake agreements ae unenforceable, he appealed it from the U.S. Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division No 99 C 3182 to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. All rulings were that his alleged hand-shake agreement for commission on preneed funerals were non-enforceable.

Abrams' lawsuit against Tarrant County Democratic Chair Steve Maxwell and his opponent, Roy LaVerne Brooks, is worded to indicate intentions of appealing any decision which does not remove Ms. Brooks' name from the Democratic Primary Ballot all the way to the Texas Supreme Court (another all Republican body).

Mr. Abrams has established a pattern of using his financial prowess to threaten costly legal action in attempts to intimidate less affluent citizens from exercising their constitutional right to run for public office. At each stage, he threatens further legal battles. In the brief filed by his attorney in Tarrant County District Court further threats of lawsuits and costs if he does not win are included in # 4 on the last page: "Abrams' reasonable and necessary attorney's fees incurred through trial and through any appeal taken to the court of appeals and/or the Texas Supreme Court, as permitted by Chapter 37 of the Texas Uniform Declaratory Judgements Act, or as otherwise recoverable by contract, common law and/or statue;"
and "#5. Prejudgement and post-judgement interest, if any , as provided by law;"
and "#6. All cost of suit;"
and "#7. Such other and further relief, special or general, legal or equitable, to which Abrams may show himself to be justly entitled."

NEED TO STEP-UP LATE PRIMARY FUND-RAISING EFFORT


Roy LaVerne Brooks, former Vice Chair of the Texas Democratic Party, is a candidate for Justice of the Peace, Pct. 6 in Tarrant County. Roy's vision is to partner with the community to help prevent some of the situations which bring people into the JP Court. One of her opponents, a billionaire and C.E.O. of Surety Bank, filed a challenge on all of his opponents seeking to get their names removed from the ballot. Abrams alleges that they did not have enough valid signatures on their petitions. One candidate withdrew rather than to fight legal challenges.

The challenge against Roy LaVerne was reviewed by the Tarrant County Democratic Chair. The ruling was that she had sufficient names on her petition of registered voters in the precinct and her name remains on the ballot. Mr. Abrams was not satisfied with that ruling and threatened to sue the party chair and Roy LaVerne. He filed suit in District Court, asking for an injunction to keep Roy's name off the ballot and asking that she pay all his court costs should she lose. Since all judges in Tarrant County are Republicans, he knew that this Democratic Party election case would be tried in a Republican judge's courtroom. Due to snow on the original court date, Fri. Feb. 12th, the hearing has been rescheduled for Friday, Feb. 20, 12 noon in Room 236 of the Tim Curry Court Bldg. in Fort Worth.

In addition to Get Out the Vote and other campaign expense, she is now forced to hire an attorney to defend her right to run for office. Unlike her opponent, Roy LaVerne Brooks is not a woman of independent wealth. She is a hard-working Democratic activist, community organizer, who is employed as a hospice counselor.

Mr. Abrams has the right to pursue legal means, as do all citizens. He is not the only Tarrant County JP candidate to challenge his opponent this year. He is the JP candidate who has already filed lawsuits and refused to accept the ruling of the court this year. He is the one who said he'd sue instead of mediate and whose brief asks the court to have his opponent pay his cost up to and through appeals to the Texas Supreme Court if she loses. He is the candidate whose substantial wealth dwarfs that of his opponent. Just because he has the right to sue and the means to doesn't mean that suing is the right thing to do, or that it is fair for him to. Bigger, stronger "kids" can tell a weaker one what they can do and what they have done. It's intimidating when someone with a history of taking things to the mat has many more resources to arm and fight than you do. When you do something to show your strength to intimidate instead of seeking a fair resolution, that is bullying.

She has strong name recognition in the district and years of community service/activism. Many believe that Mr. Abrams knows that she will probably beat him if the election is fair and if she is given an equal opportunity to take it to the voters. He prefers to bully and sue his way, to attempt to keep his opponent enmeshed in court, attorney's offices and in last minute fundraising to pay court costs.

Mr. Abrams track-record in banking leaves questions about why he is pursuing election as Justice of the Peace. The Dallas Business Journal published an article about the sale of Surety Bank, a financial institution which Mr. Abrams served as C.E.O./C.O.B. from 2000-2007.
The former chairman of Surety Bank, Dick Abrams, remains one of the largest shareholders in Surety Capital Corp., Surety Bank's holding company.But he was barred in June by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency from engaging in banking and leading the holding company.
The number of shares owned by Abrams is in dispute, but Surety's bankruptcy filings describe Abrams as one of the corporation's largest shareholders and notes that his son, girlfriend and family trust are also significant shareholders. Abrams could not be reached for comment.
Abrams stepped down on Oct. 1 as Surety Capital Corp's chairman. Weiner, another shareholder in the bank, took that role on the condition that Abrams promise not to sue him, Weiner said.
Says Thompson: "He volunteered to do the job that nobody else wanted."
Since then, Weiner has focused on getting the institution sold and getting investors' money out of the institution.
Surety Capital Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Dec. 21.


This Fund Raising Appeal in support of Roy LaVerne Brooks is an appeal to stand up for the right of ordinary Americans to run for public office.

It is an appeal to stand with her against a man who is trying to bully and harass his way onto the General Election ballot instead of campaigning and letting the voters decide.

This is an appeal to help her defend this case in court and defend the right of all citizens to exercise their civil right to participate in the democratic process which is the foundation of our American system.

This is an appeal to let the Voters' Decide who they want as the Democratic Nominee for Justice of the Peace, Pct. 6.

Contributions of ANY AMOUNT are welcome. We welcome contributions as small as your weekly coffee money or as large as you can afford. If you can join us Saturday and show Roy LaVerne that you stand with her, we welcome your presence at the tea.

Contributions can be made securely on-line at BROOKS FOR JP6


THIS IS A CASE OF "I'll Drain You Dry in Court If My Challenge Doesn't Result in You Being Thrown Off of The Ballot."
If Mr. Abrams had a pristine registered voters petition list, we might think he was fighting over principle. However, his petition has more incomplete boxes than Ms. Brooks and many more names of people who live outside the district. If he wins and gets her thrown off the ballot on the grounds he claims in his brief, a counter-suit on the same grounds should result in him being removed from the ballot.

His financial resources are greater than the two other candidates in the race. (John Williams withdrew rather than face the challenge by Richard Abrams.

In June 2000 Richard N. Abrams Richard N. Abrams, Northfield, Illinois filed with the F.D.I.C. to acquire additional voting shares of Surety Capital Corporation, Fort Worth, Texas, and thereby indirectly acquire additional voting shares of Surety Bank, National Association, Fort Worth, Texas.

Surety had problems with the S.E.C. In the Sept. 12, 2001 Share Holder's Report Richard N. Abrams, C.E.O. wrote:

We entered into a formal agreement with the Office of the Controller of Currency in November, 1998. This Formal Agreement still remains in place, although the bank is currently in compliance with all requirements. Hopefully, we will be operating without this Formal Agreement next time I address the shareholders. However, due to the Formal Agreement, the bank can not pay dividends to the holding company. Therefore, we are unable to meet the holding company's financial obligations, i.e., debenture interest and operating expenses. I have guaranteed these payments for 2001. All loans made for this purpose are evidenced by a note payable which is convertible into stock of the holding company at $0.36 per share.


In return for meeting the Holding Company's obligations, Mr. Abrams and the board granted him (them) generous stock options. Surety's 2001 Stock Holder's Report showed Richard N. Abrams, age 60, as a Chairman of the Board, Director and C.E.O. since 2000. His bio at that time was:
RICHARD N. ABRAMS has served as a director of Surety Capital since May 2000 and was named Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer in March 2001. He has served as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Funeral Financial Systems, Ltd. (a special purpose finance company that specializes in the funeral industry) since August 1985, and of Executive Offices, Ltd. (a shared office building) since October 1986. Mr. Abrams has also served as Chairman of the Board of FuneraLeasing, Ltd. (a leasing company that specializes in the funeral industry) since December 1998. Mr. Abrams is a certified public accountant. Mr. Abrams has served as a director of Surety Bank since March 2000.


It baffles many who are watching this race. Why would a man with Richard Abrams financial interest run for Justice of the Peace??? Few can envision him actually sitting in a Justice of the Peace courtroom five days a week listening to truancy and eviction cases? Why is he doing this?

Abrams grabs power in troubled by exercising stock options.
His relative, Rodney Abrams, also increased his bank s
tock.

Following an S.E.C. investigation on Surety Holding's insurance division, this notice was sent to Surety Bank Stock Holders (signed by Richard N. Abrams, C.E.O.):

We entered into a formal agreement with the Office of the Controller of Currency in November, 1998. This Formal Agreement still remains in place, although the bank is currently in compliance with all requirements. Hopefully, we will be operating without this Formal Agreement next time I address the shareholders. However, due to the Formal Agreement, the bank can not pay dividends to the holding company. Therefore, we are unable to meet the holding company's financial obligations, i.e., debenture interest and operating expenses. I have guaranteed these payments for 2001. All loans made for this purpose are evidenced by a note payable which is convertible into stock of the holding company at $0.36 per share.


Mr. Abrams acquired an option on stock at a fixed $0.36 per share which he could exercise after the price of the stock rose.

COMPENSATION OF DIRECTORS

Surety Capital's and Surety Bank's board of directors consist of the same members and both organizations hold meetings on the same dates. In 2000, the bank paid each director $500 for each bank meeting attended. In 2001, the cash compensation was stopped and each outside director now will receive 2,000 shares of unregistered common stock for each board meeting attended and 1,000 shares for each committee meeting attended.

We have adopted the 1996 Stock Option Plan for Directors and the 1997 Non-Qualified Stock Option Plan for Non-Employee Directors. Under the 1996 and 1997 Directors Plans, an aggregate of 250,000 shares of our common stock were set aside for issuance pursuant to the exercise of options granted thereunder. The 1996 Directors Plan is a formula plan pursuant to which annual options are automatically granted to our directors who are not our employees at fair market value. All options under the 1996 Directors Plan are non-qualified stock options, and vest one year following the date of grant. On the first business day of each calendar year, each non-employee director is automatically granted an option to purchase 2,000 shares of our common stock at 100% of fair market value on the grant date.

2000, each non-employee director received an option to purchase 2,000 shares of our common stock at an exercise price of $0.74 per share. The 1997 Directors Plan provided for the one time grant of 25,000 non-qualified stock options to directors who were not employees at fair market value. In 1997, each non-employee director received an option to purchase 25,000 shares of our common stock at exercise prices ranging from $4.18 to $5.375 per share. These options vest over five years.

We also adopted the 2000 Non-Qualified Stock Option Plan for advisory directors. Under the provisions of the plan, 100,000 shares were allocated for non-qualified stock options to advisory directors. Grantees are awarded 10-year options to acquire shares at the market price on the date the option is granted. The options vest and become fully exercisable based on a vesting schedule as determined by the compensation committee on the date of grant. On November 6, 2000, grantees were awarded options to acquire 28,000 shares of our common stock at $0.55 per share, which vest and become fully exercisable on November 6, 2001.


Abrams capitalized on the bank's situation:
In addition, in consideration for the extraordinary time and effort the members of the board of directors have given to the company and the bank, various members of the board were awarded shares of unregistered common stock at the August, 2001 board meeting. The awards were as follows: Mr. Abrams received 400,000 shares, Mr. Chappell received 60,000 shares, Mr. Bley received 30,000 shares, Mr. Kwentus received 15,000 shares and Mr. Morris received 10,000 shares. Mr. Abrams also received shares of restricted stock which will vest upon certain events. Pursuant to the grant, Mr. Abrams will receive 300,000 shares of common stock when the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency terminates the formal agreement entered into by Surety Bank prior to Mr. Abrams' affiliation; 200,000 shares if he remains as the Chief Executive Officer until the end of the 2002 fiscal year; and he will receive one share of common stock for every $3.00 of net profit realized by Surety Bank, as determined on a quarterly basis with a maximum of 400,000 shares over any two year period.

The following table shows beneficial ownership of shares of our common stock by all current directors, nominees for director and named executive officers individually, and together with all current executive officers of the Company as a group, as of August 28, 2001:

Amount and
Name of Individual Nature of
or Number of Beneficial Percent
Persons In Group Ownership (1) of Class (2)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Richard N. Abrams 1,266,744(3) 16.2%

Charles M. Ireland 44,583(4) *

Garrett Morris 166,749(5) 2.2%

David F. Chappell 115,555(6) 1.5%

Thomas J. Kwentus 17,777 *

Guy J. Butts 0 --

Milton M. Bley 99,000(7) 1.1%

All directors and 1,710,408(8) 21.6%
executive officers as
a group (7 persons

-------------------- * Less than 1% of all the issued and outstanding shares of common stock.

(2) Based on 7,624,511 shares of common stock issued and outstanding at August 28, 2001, as adjusted for shares convertible or exercisable within sixty (60) days which are deemed outstanding for a specific stockholder pursuant to Rule 13d-3(d)(1) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

(3) Includes 184,444 shares of common stock which are convertible from notes and 2,000 shares which Mr. Abrams has the right to acquire within sixty (60) days from the date hereof. Also includes 65,100 shares owned by Funeral Financial Systems, Ltd., a company under the control of Mr. Abrams. Does not include the restricted stock described on page 5.

(4) Includes 33,333 shares of common stock which Mr. Ireland has the right to acquire within sixty (60) days from the date hereof.

(5) Includes 19,000 shares of common stock which Mr. Morris has the right to acquire within sixty (60) days from the date hereof.

(6) Includes 55,000 shares of common stock which Mr. Chappell has the right to acquire within sixty (60) days from the date hereof.

The following table sets forth certain information with respect to our stockholders who were known to be beneficial owners of more than five percent (5%) of the issued and outstanding shares of the common stock as of August 28, 2001, except for Richard N. Abrams, whose ownership interest is disclosed in the preceding table.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Name and Address Amount and Nature Percent
of Beneficial Owner of Beneficial of Class(2)
Ownership(1)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carlson Capital, L.P. (3) 519,300 6.8%
301 Commerce Street, Suite 3300
Fort Worth, Texas 76102

Pine Capital Management, Incorporated(4) 528,647 6.9%
353 Sacramento Street, 10th Floor
San Francisco, California 94111

Cullen W. Turner(5) 471,377 6.2%

Rodney A. Abrams(6) 575,055 7.5%

With his relative, Rodney Abrams' shares, Richard N. Abrams controlled more Surety stock than the rest of the board combined by August 2001


Questions about his employment status
In January and February 2007 he made Federal Campaign contributions and listed "retired" as his employment status on the donor cards. In March 2007 he lists CEO Mortuary Financial on another Federal Campaign donor card. On June 11, 2007 the Comptroller of the Currency issued a cease and desist order to Surety Bank, National Association, Fort Worth, Richard N. Abrams, C.E.O.


S.E.C. Investigations and Cease and Desist Orders
In 2001, Surety's S.E.C. difficulties were attributed to his predecessor. However, in 2007 when Surety was issued a Cease and Desist Order by the Comptroller of the Currency, Richard N. Abrams has been at the helm of Surety Bank of Fort Worth and Surety Holding for seven years. Difficulties could no longer be attributed to any failure of leadership other than his own. He was the major stockholder and controlled more voting shares than any other member of the Board.

DFW Regional Concerned Citizens Headline Animator

DISH water contaminated - Gas Drilling nearby