PastorGram: News & Issues from the TXPC

Friday, October 14, 2011 Issue 409   VOLUME 1 ISSUE 409  
Current News
Pastors' Corner
Citywide Pastor Briefing Draws Over 200
Church Voter Resources Available
Recall lawyer: Churches helped circulate petitions against El Paso mayor, city reps
Neo-carnality - a new challenge for the church?
How tight is Houston's drainage tax 'lock box'? Bike trails funded by Rebuild Houston money for streets and drainage

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Citywide Pastor Briefing Draws Over 200
Dr. Ed Young, Bishop Robert Jefferson, Dr. Walter August, & Dr. Steve Riggle Challenged and Inspired Pastors

Church Voter Resources Available
Bulletin Insert, Action Steps, Candidate Information & More!


Recall lawyer: Churches helped circulate petitions against El Paso mayor, city reps
by by Marty Schladen / El Paso Times

A lawyer representing a recall group admitted in court on Wednesday that churches were used to circulate petitions against Mayor John Cook and city Reps. Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega.

But the lawyer, Joel Oster, said that did not mean the group violated Texas election law. And even if they did, the law is unconstitutional, he said.

Oster made the admission during a hearing in which County Court-at-Law 3 Judge Javier Alvarez denied a request to throw out Cook's lawsuit against the recall group.

Oster's disclosure may bolster Cook's argument that signatures were gathered in violation of state election law, but it also appears to set the stage for a constitutional argument that some experts have said could go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The recall group, El Pasoans for Traditional Family Values, has gathered enough signatures against Cook, Byrd and Ortega to have a recall election in May. Its members are incensed that the three voted this year to restore health benefits to gay and unmarried partners of city employees after voters last November passed -- by a wide margin -- a ballot initiative ending the practice.

Cook is suing, claiming that the group, led by Pastor Tom Brown, acted illegally by using churches to help conduct the petition drive.

In a related development, the recall group is countersuing Cook...

Neo-carnality - a new challenge for the church?
by Dr. Robert "Robby" Dean, Jr.

A somewhat serious situation has developed over the last 15-20 years in our lives, that has not necessarily gone unnoticed, but has not been as fully addressed by pastors, ministry leaders, or seminaries, as it should have. This is the case of sin related to the use of the internet and email. I am not talking about porn, which is certainly the other white elephant in the room, but the use of email to spread gossip, malign people, spew anger, split congregations. Now, with the ubiquity and impunity of Facebook, new privacy problems are generated rising from the emotional and psychological exhibitionism of social networking.

The under-thirty generation abdicates all sense of privacy, which is a legal and cultural time bomb. I currently am aware of several problems pastors face due to these kinds of things. One maladapted, angry person, off the meds for 48 hours (or not), can spew forth an email rant which goes viral and destroys a congregation, a reputation, or a ministry within hours. The old game of gossip is now on steroids, virtualized with full color, music, and complete with surround-sound in a 3D game.

On another front, the narcissistic high from the psychological exhibitionism on Facebook leads pastors to confront new issues. People seem to have no discretion on Facebook pages or blogs. In the pre-facebook era, who knew how many people in a congregation might have secret lives of adultery, co-habitation, or homosexuality.

But now, via the self-disclosure of Facebook...

How tight is Houston's drainage tax 'lock box'? Bike trails funded by Rebuild Houston money for streets and drainage
by Steve Miller

It was passed by Houston voters as a tax to address the city’s decrepit drainage system and Third World streets. But $857,000 of the new Proposition 1 fund --- which Mayor Annise Parker pitched as a "lock box that can only be spent for street and drainage improvements" --- is slated for hike and bike trails. (emphasis added)

The money will pay for "design, acquisition and construction" of trails as part of an overall plan to provide "an alternate route of travel for bicyclists and/or hikers away from street traffic," according to the city's latest capital improvement plan.


Shown the budget item, a chief proponent of Proposition 1 was baffled.


“The money was not supposed to go for hike and bike trails,” said Bob Jones, part of the successful Renew Houston effort. “This is not the intention for the money that we voted on.”


Voters approved Prop 1 in November by a 51 to 49 percent marginThe fund, also known as Rebuild Houston, draws from four sources: drainage fees on property owners, developer impact fees, property taxes, and government grants.


The city’s infrastructure has for decades groaned under increased use and been put on the back burner by politicians. As far back as 1989, road funds were cut in favor of the more politically-appealing police and fire staff increases. More recently, the city's overall budget increased by more than half in the six years to 2010, and critics of Prop 1 questioned why the city needed a new revenue stream.


“With a fee and placing that in the city charter, we would be prohibited from spending this money on anything other than streets and drainage," Parker promised in an interview on the eve of the vote. "In an age of teabaggers and activism, this is forcing compliance from government....

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