Self-governance requires constant vigilance

tfrFrom, by Michael Quinn Sullivan, 07/14/14 –

Our system of self-governance requires citizens to be constantly vigilant, we must spend lots of time asking questions. We must be asking questions about taxes, handouts, and, yes, especially about the powers politicians give themselves.

Sometimes, just asking the right questions can cause a change in behavior of government officials. Other times, simple questions can provoke the worst of response from those in government with something to hide.

The case of Wallace Hall provides just such an example.

Appointed to the unpaid University of Texas’ Board of Regents, Mr. Hall began asking tough questions about finances, revenues and admissions… the kinds of questions all citizens should ask of our tax-subsidized institutions.

Yet those questions, especially questions about lawmakers using their power to get individuals with sub-par academic qualifications admitted to our state’s universities, were met not with gratitude but with scorn. Despite this week’s resignation of UT president Bill Powers, Wallace Hall inexplicably still faces impeachment charges for the “crime” of investigating malfeasance and abuse.

Not coincidentally, leading the charge against Hall are those seemingly most interested in covering up evidence of wrongdoing. The lackeys appointed to (mis)use legislative power in the impeachment of Hall are doing so at the bidding of House Speaker Joe Straus. A review of UT admissions by the national news organization found that Straus himself was among those seemingly bypassing the normal admissions process to help sub-par students.

(So was his boyhood friend, State Rep. Dan Branch, who voters rightly rejected for the office of Attorney General.)

The cancer of political corruption remains. Texans must be asking even more pointed questions of their state representatives. What are you going to do to stop the abuse of admissions by legislators? How are you going to protect whistleblowers like Wallace Hall? When will you remove the corrupt leadership that brought us here?

Most legislators have been in the dark about the abuse of power and privilege seemingly rampant among the Democratic and Republican allies of Straus. Many have complacently followed a path of least political resistance. Yet they become complicit in the corruption if they continue down that path once aware of the problems.

That serves no one; we should want our public servants to be successful in doing the jobs to which we have elected them.

As Texans, we want legislators to be bold advocates for truth and warriors for justice. For them to do so, we must start asking more questions of them and ourselves.

That, after all, is our job as citizens.

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