Monday, December 10, 2007

Should she face the legal consequences?

Should a person who was driving intoxicated and caused a wreck ending the death of another be prosecuted? What if that drunk driver fled to another country to escape possible charges? What if ten years has passed? These questions are all too familiar to those who have been reading the Austin American Statesman newspaper.

In response to a fellow classmate of mine, and in regard to the post “Woman to be extradited to the US to face charges; parents of victim clash on punishment for crime”, I would like to add my personal opinion as well as pose some questions for readers to think about.

The young woman who was driving drunk in 1996 was Evelyn Mezzich. Once she realized the consequences and severity of killing 18 year old Lindsay Brashier while driving intoxicated, Evelyn fled to Lima, Peru. At the time, the treaty between the US and Peru did not allow her extradition. However, in 2003 the treaty was ratified and Travis County is now requesting an extradition of Evelyn.

There are many disagreements about the extradition of this woman. Lindsay’s dad believes that since Evelyn has apologized, she should be left alone to get on with her life. And, Lindsay’s mom feels that Evelyn should pay the price for her decision to drive drunk. I, personally, believe that Evelyn should be extradited and tried as an adult for driving while intoxicated as well as for vehicular manslaughter, and any other law she may have violated by fleeing the country. Yes, Evelyn was young when she killed Lindsay. But, I truly believe that the justice system was being fair by offering her six months jail time and ten years probation (before she decided to flee). She was old enough to make the decision to drink and drive, knowing that the consequences could cost another person her life. Evelyn fleeing to Peru further shows her ability to make decisions – poor decisions, at that. She should be held accountable for driving while intoxicated and for killing another person because of her drunk driving. She should also be held responsible for leaving the country, which just shows her attempt at skirting her consequences. Lindsay’s dad wants the defense to drop their case and allow Evelyn to get on with her life. But if Evelyn really wants to get on with her life, shouldn’t she have dealt with her consequences ten years ago? In that case, her probation would be nearly finished! If she did apologize to Lindsay’s dad, as he claims, then she should be responsible enough to take her consequences. I almost see her alleged apologies as false in that how can she truthfully apologize for a crime she committed, yet run from the legal system and her consequences? I truly feel that if Evelyn is not extradited and tried for the crimes, this will just open the door for more youthful escapees. If other teenage drinkers see Evelyn’s case, wouldn’t the idea of fleeing to another country be tempting (especially if there are no real consequences)?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Higher Education in Central Texas

An article in this week’s Austin American’s Statesman, titled “Higher Education” caught my eye when reviewing articles surrounding local news. The article featured the University of Texas’ plan and goal of reaching out to Central Texas’ High Schools with low-income rates and low college-attending rates, in hopes to motivate more students from those areas to enroll in college. The University’s plan is to sit down with the student’s parents over coffee and a pastry, CafĂ© con Leche, to discuss financial aid, scholarships, and fundamental test preparations that are available to the student. The University has been awarded over half a million dollars for this cause, with $166,000 allotted for need-based scholarships.

After reading this article and with much thought and research, I can honestly say that I truly believe that this is an exceptional example of how the Government is finally taking a stand for educational reform. Let’s face it – something has to be done! Statistics prove that the largest ethnic minority in the state of Texas is the Hispanic culture. Statistics have also proved that Hispanics have the highest high-school dropout rate in the state of Texas, with more than 50% of Hispanics not completing a high school degree. Hispanics are also labeled (through polls) as being some of the lowest paid workers in society as well as being some of the state’s lowest-income families. I believe that UT’s plan to start encouraging the students from these local, low-income areas is just the beginning of a remarkable opportunity for those less- fortunate to embrace a hope for success. I truly believe that the funds made available for need-based scholarships are just an extra incentive in motivating students to attend college. As proven through statistics and polls, there is an exceptionally strong relationship between students living in low-income areas and a lack of education; thus, the University of Texas’ passion to see students continue their education will eventually come to pass.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Top Ten Percent Rule

In response to my classmate’s Government blog, “talking texas politics”, and to the post "Texas' Top Ten Percent", I would like to add some thoughts and make some suggestions. My classmate defined Texas’ Top 10% rule by explaining that a high school student that graduates in the top ten percent of their class is guaranteed automatic acceptance to any Texas college of their choice. This Texas law was instituted to increase minority attendance in colleges, but has seemed to lead to other problems as well. While my classmate has very valid points, I would like to extend an additional point of view.

There seems to be a dispute between the students who attend “stronger” schools, graduating below the top ten percent line while taking harder courses, and the students who attend “weaker” schools, graduating in the top ten percent while taking the minimal required courses and while also maintaining a much lower GPA. Many are frustrated because the student who graduates in the top ten percent of the class at a “weaker” school is guaranteed acceptance regardless of his GPA, SAT or ACT scores, or extra curricular activities. Many students feel this is unfair, due to the fact that there are many students carrying 3.9 and 4.0 GPA’s, mastering the SAT’s, and holding leadership positions in many activities, but yet are not guaranteed admission to the college of their choice. While I understand the frustrations of some students (and I will present a solution in a moment), I also can see how some assumptions can create this tension.

First, it is important to define “weak” schools. Are people referring to a school zoned in a low-income area? Or, is “weak” in reference to a small school? If referring to a small school, where the competition may seem less, thus giving some students the opportunity to make their way to the top of their class, I have a personal testimony to bring some misconstrued ideas to rest. I, personally, graduated from a small 3A school with only 89 in my graduating class; the competition was intense, to say the least. I managed to graduate eighth in my class with a 3.87 GPA. This success did not come from just taking the minimal course requirements, but rather- it was the victory at the end of a long, hard road that took much dedication and hard work on my behalf. Coming from a family to be the first in many generations to even hope to attend college, I worked sacrificially in order to land myself a place in the top of my class. Not only did I keep good grades, but I took advanced placement classes, held three leadership positions in extra curricular activities, volunteered in the community, worked a twenty-hour work week outside of class, and managed to make somewhat decent SAT and ACT scores. With only graduating eighth in my class, having so many accomplishments, the competition was tough. I hope this sheds some light on the fallacy that graduating in the top ten percent of a 3A school class is easy. Needless to say, I was admitted to the Texas school of my choice, Texas A&M University. Do I feel that I was able to attend a college of my choice at the expense of someone else? I absolutely do not.

Those that view “weak” schools as those schools located in low-income areas, full of minority students, must also consider the atmosphere those students live in. One might complain, stating that a student that attends a low-income school could graduate valedictorian with a 3.6 GPA. Is this not note-worthy? Forgive me, but a 3.6 GPA from a person who may be the first in their entire family to ever pursue college is a pretty good grade! Although a student who graduates in the top ten of a low-income school may not have taken advanced placement courses nor have participated in as many extra curricular activities, does not determine his/her readiness for college or determine whether or not they deserve college acceptance. It is important to note that schools zoned in poverty stricken areas, have students who may not have the motivation and confidence to succeed. The teachers may not be as motivated to teach or to encourage the students to pursue their dreams through furthering their education. I see it as exceptional that students from these communities soar to new heights through their own personal motivations. And, I applaud our Government for allowing these students opportunities to be accepted to the university of their choice.

Now, do I feel that there should be restrictions on the amount of students allowed to attend each University? Yes! I suggest the idea of universities only being allowed to accept top ten percent students estimating fifty percent, nor more than sixty, of their incoming freshman class. This would allow for fifty percent of the freshman class to consist of those other, hardworking and dedicated students who maintained high GPA’s and good resumes, but were not able to graduate in the top ten percent of their class.

I can understand the frustration among students who see no hope of attending the college of their choice due to overpopulated schools (because of the top ten percent guaranteed admission rule). I present the idea of setting limits on the number of top ten percent students a university can accommodate. In return, I hope that students who do not graduate in their top ten do not disregard the hard work that other students, who did graduate in the top ten, have contributed.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

What Can Be Done to Enforce Safety in Public Schools?

This past Wednesday, a Stony Point High School student was arrested for carrying nine knifes to school. Although his intentions were proven pure, the question still arises.... What can be done in order to further protect out students? When conducting an internet search of 2007 School Stabbings, more than half a million articles appear. As I read through the different articles, it is apparent that youth violence is on the rise, especially within the schools' doors. As I have toured many High Schools in the local area, there are still many without metal detectors and many more without security guards in the huge parking lots or in the hallways during and between class hours. I, personally, believe that our school districts should be providing proper funding allocated specifically for the protection and security of the students. There should be metal detectors at each entry door to the school and there should be security guards circulating the hallways and parking lots. I also believe that there should be hot-line numbers where people could call and report suspicious activity or illegal carrying of dangerous objects to school authorities without having to give a name. Those hot-line numbers should be made easily assessable to all students. I also believe that school doors should be locked within five minutes after the bell rings for classes to start. During the day, all doors should remained locked from the outside, with the exception of the front entry doors located by the office. This would assist in preventing outsiders, with a motive to harm, from entering the building unnoticed. Another topic worth addressing is the ability and allowance of students to carry cell phones while on school premises. I believe there should be rules and boundaries around the use of cell phones at school. For instance, the student should not be allowed to text or call any person unless it is a justified emergency. There should be consequences and punishments established for students who choose to violate those rules. But, I believe that students should be able to carry cell phones with them in the case of emergencies. In this day in time, there have been many schools that have had terrorist or shootings, and the use of a cell phone could become essential in the protection of the students. Recently, I watched details of a tragic event unfold on the Today Show. A girl was at school when a deranged boy interrupted the class and decided to hold a few of the students hostage (including the girl), threatening to kill them if they did not meet his demands. The girl somehow managed to reach her cell phone and text her parents a simple "I love you both." The standoff between the student and the police lasted for several hours. The boy killed all of the female students. The girl's parents were thankful for their daughter's last words. I truly believe that there should be some more preventative actions in place in the school district, as well as rules and consequences when those establishments are abused.

An Additional Thought

I would like to say, that although I have personal reservations about SOME details surrounding the GOOOH political party, I admire those who are diligently pursuing a re- establishment or re-creation of a more civil and trustworthy Government. I hope that my previous blogs regarding the GOOOH party, and concerns the public could potentially harbor, have encouraged the leaders to offer more transparency through their efforts. I applaud those citizens who have thoughtfully and respectfully decided to attempt to restore this Nation to the original context in which our Founding Father's intended it be. We not only have a religious obligation to expose evil and corruption, but a political responsibility as well. Thank you for rising up and taking a chance at accomplishing such an inspiring cause.
This has been said with much research and pondering on my behalf.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In Response to Tim Cox

Hello Tim and other interested readers,
To begin, I would like to say "thank you" to Tim for his willingness to embrace my questions and suggestions in regard to his web-based "party". I would like to take this time to clarify some things from my prior posting as well as address some issues that have been brought to my attention since then.
First, I would like to make it clear that my motive in enlightening my readers to Tim Cox's standard of living was not to criticize his wealth or portray his assets in ill regard, but rather to create a sense of transparency to potential GOOOH participants or skeptics. It's important to note that my blog entry about Tim Cox's efforts were for a college Government assignment - requiring a critical analysis about a local or state issue; that is exactly what I did. My goal was to analyze the newly created, political "party" as well as investigate its purpose and founder, while including my personal perspective. I found, after reading the GOOOH web page, that there were many financial aspects about Tim Cox and the "party" that were not conveyed to the site's readers. Therefore, leading me to establish a sense of understanding to those who wondered why a person would leave a high-paying job to pursue a virtually impractical pursuit (as viewed by many). I do not negate the fact that Mr. Cox may have rightfully earned every asset of his - that does not serve an interest to me. What does raise an interest is why a high paying employee would leave a good job in order to "risk" everything - his own money and assets, when he is about to have two children in college (as commented by Tim), and does not have the certainty (certainty, not hope) that his political plan will be successful. I have many questions and suggestions that I will offer up to Tim Cox and his colleagues.
1. If there are not enough people to get the "party" process up and running, what will happen to the members' donated money? Will it be returned? If I am going to give you $100, which is a significant amount of money, I need to know where that money is going - especially if there are no candidates in the GOOOH party.
2. Is there a track record of success or a publicized plan showing the ways in which the GOOOH party will be able to raise enough money from the people to defeat the other candidates from larger parties (i.e. Democratic Reps and Republican Reps)? This is the type of transparency needed in order for people to get involved. I noticed on the site that it inferred that those who are fed up with the current state of our nation are the votes that the GOOOH leaders are counting on in order to financially, and otherwise, support their candidates and campaigns. I, personally, do not think that statistics proving that there is a large majority of voters frustrated with current conditions leads to any promise that they will support the GOOOH party out of hope of a solution. If anything, those that are already upset will look at this party and become skeptical until they see something showing PROOF that things will change.
3. How can the GOOOH leaders enforce a person to act (when elected to term) in accordance to his questionaire (showing the candidate's stances of specific issues)? How can a candidate fully foresee the issues that might arise or the bills that may be presented during term and decide on his/her stance before it actually happens?
4. I think that this plan needs to be workable to the masses - when you limit who can participate in politics, for instance the wealthy and lawyers, you could potentially be illuminating those who could be of the most help. Just as Tim Cox, himself, said that he is able to do what he is doing now because of the money he has made, wouldn't it only be fair to give other wealthy people the opportunity to at least run and expose their stances on things? Who is anyone to determine who would be a good candidate without the vote of the public?
5. Also - what is GOOOH's stand on term limits of representatives? And, where does the party stand in terms of pensions for the representatives?

To comment on the decreasing quality of our Government and Nation, I must say that I ,too, am a parent and share similar concerns in regard to my children's future. I see the problems in our educational system and I can understand the frustration fueling the action. However, I do not believe that by overthrowing the current 435 congressmen will necessarily change our nation. Aren't we all human? We all make mistakes and every human has the tendency to lie or make mistakes, even mistakes that could effect the entire country. Just because new, innovative representatives might enter the House of Representatives, does not guarantee a change for the better.
On a final note, I do believe that the goal of Tim Cox is good at its core, but question the motive and lack of transparency of the party and its leaders. I know that the GOOOH party is in its early stages, but I see the need for it to quickly "get it together" if it desires the support of the "unhappy" citizens.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Liberty Hill Man Wants to Shake up Politics

Tim Cox, a Liberty Hill man, plans to evict 435 members of the U.S House of Representatives by creating a web-based party. Tim's theory is that today's politicians are corrupt and are not serving the common man, but rather overly focused on benefiting the people who paid for their campaign - the special interest groups. His solution to this problem is the GOOOH Party, which stands for "Get Out of Our House." It is a party without a platform and to belong to the party a candidate must go to the website and submit a detailed questionnaire about significant issues pertaining to our nation, and then submit a $100 donation. The donation of every candidate is used for campaigns. Then, after several rounds of voting there will be one candidate per district on the ballot. Tim Cox's goal is to have 1% of voters part of his party. This may sound like a great idea when you read the article posted in the Austin American Statesman. But, the research I found using other resources, one being Tim Cox's own party web page, reveals more information that may awaken concern and uncertainty.
For one, let's begin with the person who created this political party, Tim Cox. According to the Austin American Statesman, Tim left his job as a systems strategist at Dell in order to focus more of his time toward his political goals. After much research, it is learned that Tim Cox was earning a substantiating salary and currently lives in a house worth more than 500,000 dollars. To some, this may raise many questions about his motive in pursuing this political party (which we will discuss in a moment). To others, it may confirm that he has already lived the so called "good life" and may have no financial interest in his pursuit to overturn the House of Reps.
To those of you who may question Tim's motive, let's dissect what we know about him through his website and other public resources. As we just discussed, Tim lives in a nice house and HAD a nice salary. Now, he claims to have given up the nice job to pursue GOOOH. The only problem I see with this is, as noted on the GOOOH website, only 90% of the donations required per candidate will be used for campaigns. Therefore, only one could assume that the 10% difference will be going to the Political leader, Tim Cox. If his estimate were correct that he has had approximately 5,000 hits on his site and they each have contributed the required $100, GOOOH would have $500,000 already. Thus, Tim Cox would have just made $50,000. This makes it easier to understand why a person with an exceptionally high paying job and nice house would quit his job over such an uncertain political pursuit.
Another issue that raises question is how practical is it to replace 435 members of Congress? And who's to say that by replacing these Democratic or Republican congressmen with non-platform politicians will change a thing? This world will always be corrupt and even non-platform politicians are not perfect. There will always be flaws in the United States Government.
Also, I think it's fair to assess the fact that independents do not have a great trail of overcoming the major political parties in America. How in the world will candidates of the GOOOH party assume all 435 places in the House?
In conclusion, I truly feel that if Tim Cox's party is going to have a shot at its goal, it must receive more publicity. Through the media, more aspects and truths about GOOOH (and Tim Cox), its goal, and its purpose will be exposed and allow Americans to better assume their individual roles in Government through their desired political party.

Liberty Hill Man Wants to Shake Up Politics