First Lady Plans Fundraising Trip To Houston
October 17, 2011

A few days ago, President Barack Obama announced his re-election campaign raised $70.1 Million.

Now we’re hearing that First Lady Michelle Obama is coming to Houston to add to the campaign coffers.

Local democratic party fundraisers are sending out notices urging people to start writing checks for a chance to meet FLOTUS and contribute to the re-election effort.

Here’s a copy of one I received from LaRence Snowden, a personal friend of Barack and Michelle Obama:

Yes, it’s that time again…

I am extremely honored to be a part of the committee bringing my friend, First Lady Michelle Obama to Houston on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 for two events! (it brings back memories of the campaign travel for 2008)
First, please consider joining us for a Reception at the Westin Oaks Galleria, at 3:30 pm. You can attend this event for $250 with the opportunity to hear Mrs. Obama speak about the important issues we are facing today (she is the ultimate surrogate for our President). Also, there will be a VIP reception with local dignitaries and a photo opportunity with the First Lady, at higher contribution levels.
The reception link provides details and contribution levels
Reception: my.barackobama.com/November1HoustonReception
The second event is a Private Dinner at a home in Houston. Each dinner guest will have the opportunity for a photo with the First Lady.
The dinner link provides details and contribution levels.
Dinner: My.barackobama.com/november1houstondinner
Two great events, one exciting evening…I hope you are able to attend one of them. Join me in making this a great evening as we welcome OUR First Lady to Texas. You will be inspired! Please make your contribution today so that we can show Texas size support for OUR President for the upcoming campaign…we must keep moving forward.
If you are able to attend, please let me know. In addition, I would be grateful if you would enter my name, LaRence Snowden in the box asking “who encouraged you to make this contribution.”
If you have any questions, please email me (thesnowdengroup@aol.com) or give me a call at 713-302-1463. If you know of others who might be interested in either event please forward their names to me, and I will contact them as well (letting them know that you provided the connection). It will be a day to remember in Houston!!!
I am counting on you – join me on November 1st.

Wildfires Force Gov. Perry to Leave Campaign Trail and Return to Texas
September 5, 2011

After taking part in several presidential campaign events, Governor Rick Perry announced he is returning to Texas to oversee the state’s response to the devastating wildfires near Austin.

The flames have consumed three hundred homes and scorched more than fourteen thousand acres.

Governor Perry did cancel one appearance he was scheduled to make with several of his GOP challengers and South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint.

The governor’s office released this statement a little while ago:

Gov. Perry: All Necessary State Resources Made Available to Protect Lives, Property

Urges Texans to Heed Warnings of Statewide Wildfire Threat

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry continues to closely monitor the ongoing wildfires with updates from his staff and State Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd. He will return to Texas this afternoon. The governor is urging all Texans to closely monitor conditions and reports, and heed all warnings from local officials as extremely dry and windy conditions are expected to continue fueling wildfires that continue are raging across the state.

“The wildfire situation in Texas is severe and all necessary state resources are being made available to protect lives and property,” Gov. Perry said. “I urge Texans to take extreme caution as we continue to see the devastating effects of sweeping wildfires impacting both rural and urban areas of the state. Our thoughts and prayers are with the first responders who are working around the clock to keep Texans out of harm’s way, and with the families across our state who are threatened by these wildfires.”

Over the weekend, the Texas Forest Service (TFS) responded to 63 new fires that have burned approximately 32,936 acres, including new fires in Bastrop, Travis, Henderson, Limestone, Caldwell and Colorado counties, among others. TFS also continues to battle existing wildfires, including major fires in Palo Pinto, Briscoe, Coryell and Montague counties.

Additional state resources assisting with wildfire response include:

· Texas Forest Service, with 15 single-engine air tankers, 12 helicopters, and 13 aerial supervision aircraft assets deployed to multiple fires;
· Texas Military Forces, with 2 CH-47 Chinook Aircraft and 2 UH-60 Blackhawks staged in Austin to fight central Texas fires, 2 UH-60 Blackhawks in San Antonio assisting with the fires in Colorado County, and 3 ground wildfire support packages consisting of 4 dozers and 16 personnel each;
· Texas Department of Public Safety emergency management personnel, highway patrol troopers, air assets and a mobile communications center deployed to Bastrop County; and
· Texas Department of Transportation is providing personnel, equipment, and fuel to responders.

Additionally, the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS), a network of Texas fire departments willing to provide emergency resources to neighboring communities during the threat of disaster, is activated. TIFMAS resources deployed statewide include 13 command vehicles, 50 fire engines and 121 personnel (Central Texas resources specifically include five command vehicles, 19 fire engines and 47 personnel).

Since the beginning of wildfire season, local and state firefighters have responded to more than 20,900 fires that have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and burned more than 3.6 million acres. Gov. Perry has reissued his disaster proclamation nine times this wildfire season; it was originally issued on Dec. 21, 2010.

In addition to the state proclamations in April, the governor sent a letter to President Obama requesting a Major Disaster Declaration, which would have made the state eligible for Direct Federal Assistance and Emergency Protective Measures from the federal government. The Obama Administration denied this request on May 3. Gov. Perry appealed the president’s decision on May 26, and received partial approval of relief on July 1. A request to expand the scope of federal relief is still pending.
To view the governor’s renewed disaster proclamation, please visit

http://governor.state.tx.us/news/proclamation/16543/.

For more information on preparing for wildfire threats, please visit http://governor.state.tx.us/wildfires.

President and Mrs. Obama Meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
May 24, 2011

They weren’t invited to the royal wedding, but President and Mrs. Obama did have a chance to meet with Prince William and his new bride, Kate Middleton Tuesday morning.

The President is on a weeklong trip to Europe.  He plans to visit tornado ravaged Missouri on Sunday.

What Texans Are Saying About President Obama’s Visit to Texas
May 10, 2011

President Obama will make a quick swing through the Lone Star state today. His first stop is in El Paso where he will make a speech on immigration.  His second stop will be in Austin, where he will attend two political fundraisers.

A spokeswoman for Governor Perry told me Monday that the Governor requested a meet and greet with Mr. Obama in El Paso, but was turned down by the White House.  No surprise really. 

A longtime critic of  President Obama, Governor Perry has been turning up the heat ever since FEMA denied his request for a disaster declaration to help the victims of the Texas wildfires. Republicans released this video on Monday: 

http://youtu.be/ET6rOBSGCms

Meanwhile,  Congressman John Culberson (R-Houston) released a statement ahead of  President Obama’s visit:  “The President doesn’t often visit our state, so it is understandable that he would’ve missed the successful bipartisan work my colleagues and I have done to implement and fund Operation Streamline. Under this strict enforcement policy, everyone caught crossing the border illegally is arrested, prosecuted, and jailed for up to six months. We have had great success in the Del Rio and Laredo Sectors and are working to expand it from Brownsville to San Diego,” said Congressman Culberson.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) has been invited to attend President Obama’s speech on immigration reform in El Paso.  She issued the following statement:

“The President will make a very important announcement…in my home state of Texas, and I am pleased to be invited.  Further, I am delighted to join Congressman Silvestre Reyes, the former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, an expert on national security and border security, and who served for many years at the Customs and Border Protection agency, in his district.  I have worked for years on immigration reform, and I have continuously introduced the Save America Comprehensive Immigration Act, including in the 111th Congress.  That bill has a clear road map for access to citizenship, which includes penalties and fines, in addition to a waiting period along with the responsibility to not jump in front of other applicants for citizenship.”

I’m travelling to Austin today. Look for my live reports this afternoon on KPRC Local 2.

Fema Says “No” To Presidential Disaster Declaration for Wildfires
May 3, 2011

Is it politics or a practical response?

Late Tuesday night, FEMA denied a request  from Governor Rick Perry to declare parts of  Texas a Major Disaster so that property owners could get help to recover from the devastating wildfires. 

After a frustrating wait for an answer, the Governor last week blasted President Obama for moving quickly to declare tornado ravaged Alabama a major disaster, while leaving Texas in limbo.

  Early Tuesday, Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn sent a letter to the president asking for assistance.

Late Tuesday FEMA notified Perry’s office that it had denied the request.

Politics or a practical response?

(news release)

Gov. Perry: FEMA Denies Presidential Disaster Declaration for Wildfires

 AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today criticized the Obama Administration for its denial late Tuesday of the state’s April 16th request for a federal Major Disaster Declaration to assist with the ongoing wildfire season, which has burned more than 2.2 million acres, an area roughly greater than Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Since the wildfire season began in November 2010, Texas has responded to more than 9,000 fires across the state that have destroyed or damaged more than 400 homes.

“I am dismayed that this administration has denied Texans the much needed assistance they deserve. It is not only the obligation of the federal government, but its responsibility under law to help its citizens in times of emergency,” Gov. Perry said. “Our state has become a model for the nation in disaster preparedness and response, but Texas is reaching its capacity to respond to these emergencies. We will immediately look at all of our options, including appealing the denial, so Texans can receive the resources and support they need as wildfires continue to threaten life and property across our state.”

The State of Texas has continued to provide assistance to communities threatened by the raging fires this season, including deploying hundreds of Texas Forest Service personnel and air assets to assist with multiple fires; Texas Military Forces personnel and Blackhawk helicopters to assist fire suppression efforts; Texas Department of Transportation bulldozers and other resources as needed in the affected areas; and deploying Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol and multiple communications trailers to the Texas Forest Service Incident Command Post in Merkel, Texas and other areas across the state. 

Additionally, the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) is currently activated. TIFMAS is a network of Texas fire departments willing to provide emergency resources to neighboring communities during the threat of disasters. 

A Major Disaster Declaration would make the state eligible for response and recovery assistance from the federal government. Texas’ original request included:

  • Direct Federal Assistance including aviation assets and wildland, structural and wildland/urban interface firefighting resources to state and local agencies in support of firefighting operations, and
  • Emergency Protective Measures – measures taken before, during and after a disaster to save lives, protect public health and safety, and protect improved public and private property.

The governor issued an Emergency Disaster Proclamation on Dec. 21, 2010, which was subsequently renewed on Jan. 19, February 17, March 18 and April 15. This proclamation remains in effect as extreme wildfire conditions persist.

The State Operations Center has been partially activated and continues to work closely with the Texas Forest Service, National Weather Service and other state and local entities to monitor this severe wildfire threat.

Burn bans are currently active in 210 counties. To see the list of these counties, please visit http://tfsfrp.tamu.edu/wildfires/decban.png.

For more information on preparing for wildfire threats, please visit http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu/main/article.aspx?id=8512.

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Excerpts from President Obama’s State of the Union Address
January 25, 2011

The White House has released excerpts from President Obama’s State of the Union: 

As Prepared for Delivery-

 With their votes, the American people determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics. 

At stake right now is not who wins the next election – after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world. We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again. 

But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children.  That’s the project the American people want us to work on. Together. 

Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we’d beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t there yet. NASA didn’t even exist.

 But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

 This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.

Rep. Culberson to Obama: Lift Ban on Offshore Drilling
June 9, 2010

With the cleanup continuing on the devastating BP oil spill, President Obama is standing firm on his order to halt offshore drilling.

Houston Congressman John Culberson today sent the President a letter urging him to lift the six month moratorium.

 I’ve posted the full text of the letter that Representative Culberson sent to the President:

 “This shortsighted moratorium is harmful to America and our fragile economy, and it will mire domestic energy production in a confusing and ineffective bureaucracy. I implore you to lift the moratorium and allow responsible drilling off of our coasts to continue.” Yesterday, Congressman John Culberson (R-TX-07) sent the following letter to President Obama: The President The White House Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I write to express my strong opposition to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. I am concerned that the decision to impose the moratorium is based more on emotion than fact. The Deepwater Horizon incident was a terrible human tragedy with devastating environmental consequences, but it must be viewed in the proper historical context as a statistical anomaly. The government’s own records show that since 1985, more than 7 billion barrels of oil have been produced in federal offshore waters with less than 0.001 percent spilled – a 99.999% record for clean operations. That 35-year record of safety should not be ignored in the haste to respond to public discord. Analysis from the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association shows the moratorium would put as many as 1,400 jobs per platform at risk, and lost wages could reach $10 million per month per platform and up to $330 million per month for all 33 platforms. Our economy is struggling mightily, and this drilling halt will adversely impact small businesses down the entire supply chain. The effect will extend far past the oil industry and be most damaging in the Gulf region, where a range of businesses from restaurants and cleaners to hardware stores and garages depend on a robust offshore industry. The Gulf Coast is already suffering from the emotional and physical trauma of the Deepwater Horizon incident, and this moratorium will only add financial trauma to their plight. According to the Minerals Management Service, 80 percent of the U.S. supply of oil developed offshore comes from deepwater drilling. That amount is projected to rise dramatically in the coming decades, and any moratorium on domestic production will only increase our dependence on foreign nations that are often hostile to America’s interests. Adding to the volatility is the fact that transporting oil is extremely dangerous and poses a much more serious threat to our environment than drilling in U.S. waters. Further complicating matters is the current confusion over the Interior Department’s freeze in approving any shallow water drilling permits. While I understand the Department has stated that such permits may go forward as soon as operators can demonstrate adoption of enhanced safety standards, the industry requires further clarification from the administration as to exactly what those standards will be. Companies will then need additional time to understand the changes and deploy new standards and technology to meet the requirements. I fear the delay equates to a de-facto moratorium on shallow water drilling, only adding to the economic uncertainty and instability in the Gulf region. These companies, their workers, and all Americans who depend on the energy they produce need swift action from the department to get back to work. I strongly encourage you not to punish the entire oil and gas industry because of any mistakes that were made on Deepwater Horizon. This shortsighted moratorium is harmful to America and our fragile economy, and it will mire domestic energy production in a confusing and ineffective bureaucracy. I implore you to lift the moratorium and allow responsible drilling off of our coasts to continue.

Sincerely, John Culberson Member of Congress