Tag Archives: Dallas Morning News

Here is the ‘enemy of the people’

Take a look at this picture. What you see in this image is the enemy of the people. This is an example of the actual enemy of decent Americans who fear for their lives when faced with monsters such as this.

However, in the mind of Donald Trump, the fellow who snapped this picture — a Dallas Morning News photojournalist named Tom Fox — is the “enemy” he detests.

I won’t identify the shooter. He is dead, killed by federal security officers who answered the call when shots rang out Monday morning at the Earle Cabell Federal Courthouse in downtown Dallas.

Fox was there, too. He hid behind a wall while this madman was pouring bullets into the courthouse. He managed to poke himself and his camera out long enough to snap this memorable image of the gunman.

I just feel compelled to point out that Tom Fox is a hero. He did his job of chronicling the news of the moment with cool professionalism; his picture now will be logged into the nation’s historical archive.

As for the shooter, he represented the worst in our society. He is the enemy we should fear. The fellow who snapped the image should be hailed as a hero.

This conservative stands on principle … how about that?

Jeff Leach calls himself a true-blue political conservative, an avid pro-life politician who opposes abortion fervently.

The Plano, Texas, state representative, though, does see the wall that separates conviction from political fanaticism.

Such is the case when he withdrew his support for a piece of legislation that was considered in the 2017 Texas Legislature. Leach co-authored a bill two years ago that would have made abortion a crime, it would have made women who obtained them criminals and would have subjected them potentially to the death penalty for terminating a pregnancy.

He pulled his support for the bill in the just-concluded 2019 Legislature. As he told the Dallas Morning News:

“Very candidly, when I signed onto that bill … I did not understand the criminal implications on the woman and the possibility of that woman being convicted of homicide and subjecting her to the death penalty … I think it’s the wrong direction for the pro-life movement in Texas to be criminalizing women and I decided very strongly not to support it this session. And I’m pro-life through and through and will not apologize for that, but this is the wrong direction for the pro-life movement.”

Well. How about that?

The Morning News asked Leach this question: What would you say to purists or idealists who might call that kind of flexibility cowardice instead of compromise?

“It’s not cowardice or compromise, it’s conviction. I am a conservative through and through … My values are deeply rooted. It’s who I am and political strategy and legislation changes, but my core convictions, my core values do not.”

Read the DMN interview here.

I believe Rep. Leach represents one of the struggles occurring within the Republican Party and the conservative movement over this abortion matter.

Several states have enacted strict laws banning abortion. Some of them have criminalized the act, subjecting women who have to make the most difficult decision imaginable to prosecution. And, yes, the death penalty is in play in some of those instances.

Does a politician who proclaims himself to be fervently pro-life then stand by while a woman who — for whatever reason — cannot carry a pregnancy to full term? Does that politician then want to punish that woman by killing her in the name of the state where she ended the pregnancy?

This kind of legislation has drawn considerable reluctance among some GOP politicians who, like Leach, say they are reaching too far.

State Rep. Leach tilts too far to the right to suit my political tastes. On this matter, though, he is demonstrating a commitment to reason and to a higher principle than legislating punishment for women who face decisions that not a single male human being can ever imagine having to face.

Once more about hiring Briles at Mount Vernon HS

I got raked over the coals for an earlier blog post critical of a hiring decision at Mount Vernon High School in East Texas.

A fellow who criticized my blog post stood behind the hiring of former Baylor University head football coach Art Briles as the head coach at Mount Vernon HS.

He said this: You are talking about one of the best coaches our state has ever seen. He deserves a second chance. Yes he made mistakes but a college coach cannot babysit all of their players.

I feel the need to respond briefly with — yep! — another blog post.

Briles was fired in 2016 as Baylor’s head coach after he covered up allegations of sexual assault by his players on women at Baylor. The scandal swallowed the campus damn near whole. It also swept away the university’s chancellor, Kenneth Starr, who resigned.

Here is what I cannot accept about the idea that Mount Vernon Independent School District was looking for a first-rate football coach before hiring Art Briles: Texas is a gigantic state chock full of fine football coaches who aren’t tainted by the indelible stain of a sex scandal!

Football is a big deal in this state. Isn’t that what we all recognize? Sure it is!

Therefore, I am baffled, puzzled and utterly astonished that Mount Vernon ISD would turn to a guy with the baggage that Art Briles brings to this job. The Dallas Morning News noted today in an editorial that while Briles is likely to coach his team to a lot of wins on the field, the football program well could be sullied by the history Briles brings to his new job.

I just believe that Mount Vernon ISD could have done so much better than to hire a guy who got fired from his college coaching job because the young men he was assigned to lead toward adulthood became involved in a case of serial sexual assault!

This is the best that a public school system could do?

Hardly.

Low turnout: It’s infectious and it needs to end

I guess Dallas municipal and school board voters are infected with the same disease that has plagued those in many other communities throughout the state. They don’t turn out to vote.

In today’s Dallas Morning News, columnist Robert Wilonsky notes the disinterest in the 2019 municipal election in south Dallas. “Despair is a hell of a disease,” he quotes a south Dallas resident in a column about the growth explosion that is underway in north Dallas regions. “It’s prevailing here. It doesn’t have to be. It shouldn’t be. It’s just here. And it’s in the way.”

Indeed. It’s in the way of progress.

I now will cast my gaze northwest from Dallas to Amarillo, another community about which I’ve commented frequently relating to its usually dismal municipal and school board election turnout.

Hey, guess what. That might change this weekend. What is the driver? It might be the Amarillo Independent School District board of trustees election, where two incumbents from an embattled school board are standing for re-election.

AISD has gone through a tumultuous time starting with the resignation of Kori Clements as head coach of the Amarillo High School Sandies girls volleyball team. The school board has gotten an earful from constituents — and from this blog — about how it conducted itself prior to and in the wake of Clements’ resignation.

Clements said the school board and the administration didn’t back her while she fended off alleged interference from a parent who was upset over the playing time being given to her daughters.

Two incumbents are running for re-election. This election has the potential of producing a judgment from voters about how the board has handed this matter. When there’s controversy, I’ve noted over many years, there’s bound to be ramped-up voter interest.

I hope that’s the case in Amarillo.

Will it spill over to the City Council election that also occurs on Saturday? One can hope that the city and the school system will decided its local leadership with far more than a single-digit turnout, which too often is the case.

I long have noted that local elections are most meaningful for voters. They mean more in terms of decisions that affect voters directly than any other electoral level.

I am sorry to read about Dallas enduring the moribund turnouts that affect communities in Texas. I will continue to argue for greater turnout at this level of government.

Moreover, I will hold out some hope that Amarillo might shake itself loose from this desultory trend in just a few days.

Hey, if it takes some voter anger to awaken the “bosses,” the folks who pay the bills, then so be it.

Still hoping to serve on a trial jury

I am mildly envious of Jennifer Emily, a reporter for the Dallas Morning News.

Why? Not because she’s working and I am not. I enjoy my retired life and I trust she enjoys her gig at the DMN covering crime and the courts.

My envy is the result of Emily being selected to serve on a trial jury. She sat on a trial involving a murder case. Wow! That’s fascinating in the extreme, given that — as she wrote in today’s newspaper — she has covered more criminal trials than she can remember.

But she got the call anyway. She earned $6 for her first day in the jury box and $40 for every successive day.

Why the envy? I’ve never served on a trial jury. I want to do so in the worst way. Every time I get a summons, I call the office the day before I’m supposed to “report,” but then I’m told all jurors have been dismissed.

Damn! I have lived in five counties in two states since becoming an adult: Multnomah and Clackamas counties in Oregon; Jefferson, Randall and Collin counties in Texas. None of those jurisdictions has seen fit to seat me on a trial jury.

Emily’s story today notes that she believes her job excluded her from serving on a jury. She knows too much about the court system, she noted. I long believed I had the same cloud following me around during my years as a journalist in Oregon and Texas.

I know that my exclusion is mostly just blind, dumb luck.

Emily does note, though, that too many Texans are finding excuses not to serve. They seek excuses from the state to avoid service. She believes it’s their duty as citizens to sit in judgment of their “peers” when the call comes.

I agree with her wholeheartedly. “They want someone else to make the tough calls and take responsibility for punishing that person,” Emily writes in describing those who shirk their civic duty.

The way I look at it, good citizenship requires more of us to participate, not fewer of us. It’s much like voting. We don’t take part in elections for any number of reasons, leaving these decisions to people we don’t know . . . and those who might not share our view of where government should take us.

Jury duty is a big deal. Except that it doesn’t require too much of us.

I’m glad to see that Jennifer Emily got the call to serve. I am delighted to see that she answered that call.

I’m still waiting for my chance.

Customer service must be Priority No. 1

It’s no secret that American newspapers are in trouble. They are struggling to remain competitive in the ever-changing mass media market.

They need advertisers to spend money to keep the newspapers afloat. Ad representatives work hard — or at least they should be doing so — to keep their clients happy.

Newspapers also need subscribers to buy their publications. How do they gain subscribers to read their content and then keep them well into the future? Customer service, man. They need to put customer service at the very top of their standard operating procedure.

The Internet is inflicting serious damage on newspapers. Cable TV is now full of commentators, pundits, news anchors, “contributors” and experts on every field imaginable telling viewers about the news as well as what all those individuals believe about the news that is occurring.

Newspaper circulation is dropping. So is advertising revenue.

Thus, newspapers are in trouble.

OK, now that I’ve laid all that out, I want to share how one major American newspaper is squandering its standing in one American household . . . mine!

My wife and I recently moved from one Dallas suburb to another one — from Fairview to Princeton.

Before we made the move, we took out a subscription to the Dallas Morning News; our subscription was for the Wednesday and Sunday editions only. It arrived at our Fairview residence just fine.

Then we moved. I called the Morning News circulation line and provided a change of address. The DMN delivers to Princeton, so we didn’t figure that would be a problem.

Wrong! I guess it is a problem. We have lived in our new home for two weeks and we haven’t seen a newspaper yet. It’s not in our front porch, or on the front lawn, or the driveway or even in the street next to the curb. Nothing!

We have called every day since we missed our first DMN. Nothing has happened. I get excuses about the paper’s inability to hire competent delivery personnel as well as promises that it would come in the next day . . . or two. Again, nothing.

I offer this as an example of how one major publication is pis**** away a chance to lure and keep a subscriber. That would be me.

Hey, I am a newspaper reader of long standing. If only the newspaper I want to read could make good on its pledge to deliver it to my home.

There’s a lesson here. Newspapers are floundering. Many of them are failing. I want the Dallas Morning News to heed the warning sirens that are blaring all across the nation.

Still steamed over Sen. Seliger getting stiffed

I should be moving on, looking forward . . . but I cannot stop gnashing my teeth over the way Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick treated a man I respect and for whom I also have a fair amount of personal affection.

I refer to state Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo, who belongs to the same Republican Party as Patrick, except they’re both Republicans in name only.

Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate, decided to remove Seliger from a key committee chairmanship, Higher Education. He also took him off the Education Committee, and put him in charge of the newly formed Senate Agriculture Committee. Then he yanked him out of the Ag Committee chairmanship after Seliger made an impolite remark about a key Patrick aide.

Why did Patrick seek to punish West Texas — which Seliger has represented since 2004? I keep rolling around some theories. I’ve come up with one that I think makes sense.

Seliger has too many Senate friends who happen to be Democrats. Patrick doesn’t enjoy that kind of bipartisan camaraderie.

I remember not long after Seliger was first elected to the Senate in 2004 when he began talking about the friendships he had forged with Democrats. He would mention Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, a South Texas Democrat, as a colleague with whom he would work on legislation.

A Dallas Morning News article published a few weeks ago noted that Democratic senators think highly of Seliger. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, is considered one of Seliger’s best friends in the Senate. Another Democratic senator, Royce West of Dallas, also spoke highly of Seliger in the Dallas Morning News feature.

Does the lieutenant governor — a fiery TEA Party conservative — get that kind of love from across the aisle? I have the strong feeling he does not.

I don’t know if Lt. Gov. Patrick is prone to petty jealousy. However, I cannot rule it out, as I don’t know the man; I only know of him and know of the highly partisan legislation he likes to push through the Senate.

Sen. Seliger isn’t wired that way. He calls himself a proud conservative. He pushes for local control and doesn’t like the state meddling in matters that are best decided by local governing bodies.

Seliger also is a champion of public education; Patrick favors vouchers funded by tax money to send students to private schools.

Sen. Seliger also stood as a bulwark in favor of the Texas Tech University school of veterinary medicine planned for Amarillo. I am not at all sure what Patrick feels about that, but his removal of Seliger from the Higher Ed Committee chair has the potential of putting the vet school in some jeopardy.

I hope for the best for West Texas. I also hope Seliger rises to the occasion and is able to have his voice heard despite being stripped of political power.

Indeed, Sen. Seliger might need to reach across the aisle now more than ever.

Keep the curfew, Dallas City Council

I’ve heard it said that “nothing good ever happens after midnight.”

To that end, Dallas city officials are wrestling with whether to retain a 26-year-old curfew the city imposed against juveniles.

They ought to do what they can to retain the curfew, which is set to expire Friday if the council doesn’t act.

I’m not a particularly harsh old geezer on this. I just believe that cities have an inherent duty to enact measures that maintain safety. Dallas’s curfew isn’t perfect, but it is a reasonable approach to seeking and keep the community safe.

The ordinance requires youth younger than 17 years of age to be off the streets between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from midnight to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday. They may be out in the wee hours if they are accompanied by an adult. Violating the ordinance could result in a $500 fine.

I’ve heard the criticism from some who believe the curfew “unfairly” targets children who live in low-income neighborhoods. That’s a bit of a head-scratcher. Are these folks saying that children who live in low-income neighborhoods more inclined to be out past curfew than those who live in swankier ‘hoods? That doesn’t quite compute with me.

The issue for retaining the ordinance seems to revolve on whether to lessen the penalties for violators. Some residents and activists want to “decriminalize” the act of violating curfew. Hmm. How does that work? If you are breaking the law, aren’t then, by definition, a criminal?

Cities enact curfew with one intention, to protect children from late-night mischief that too often produces tragic results.

Dallas is no different. Keep the curfew.

Here is a Dallas Morning News editorial supporting the curfew. I stand with the newspaper editorial board on this one.

Beto scores endorsement from ‘conservative’ media outlet

The Texas Tribune reported recently how Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz are fighting for victory in what it called the nation’s “largest conservative county.”

Tarrant County fits the bill as a conservative bastion, according to the Tribune.

Thus, the county’s newspaper of record — the Fort Worth Star-Telegram — usually backs conservative candidates for public office. Not this year in the race for the U.S. Senate seat that the Republican Cruz now occupies.

Here’s a snippet of what the Star-Telegram wrote in endorsing O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger.

“Only O’Rourke seems interested in making deals or finding middle ground. That is why the El Paso Democrat would make the best senator for Tarrant County’s future, and the future of Texas. This Editorial Board has recommended conservative Republicans such as George W. Bush and Mitt Romney for president, along with U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison. But Cruz does not measure up. This office needs a reset. The Star-Telegram Editorial Board endorses Beto O’Rourke.”

O’Rourke also has earned the editorial board endorsements from the San Antonio Express-News, the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle and (not surprising in the least) the hometown El Paso Times.

It’s certainly fair to ask: Will these endorsements matter? I am not sure that endorsements from newspapers prove decisive. Texans are like most newspaper readers. They make up their minds on a whole host of factors: personal bias, philosophy, traditional family political history.

Still, I believe it’s instructive that the Star-Telegram, which purports to speak for the “largest conservative county” in America has decided that a self-described TEA Party conservative, Cruz, no longer earns its blessing.

Editorial boards need not reflect the community

A friend of mine challenged a blog item I posted earlier today that called attention to the Dallas Morning News’s endorsement of Beto O’Rourke in this year’s campaign for the U.S. Senate.

My friend noted that “of course DMN” would back the Democratic challenger to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. Dallas County voted Democratic in 2016, as well as in 2012 and 2008. The paper, my friend noted, was going with the community flow.

I felt compelled to remind him that newspaper editorial boards — at least in my experience — do not necessarily strive to reflect the community’s leaning.

The example I gave him involved my nearly 11 years in Jefferson County, the largest county of the Golden Triangle region of Southeast Texas.

I worked for the Beaumont Enterprise, serving as editorial page editor. On my watch, the Enterprise endorsed Republican presidential candidates in three elections: 1984, 1988 and 1992, even though Jefferson County voters endorsed by significant majorities the Democratic candidates for president in all three elections. I told my friend the following: So … newspapers do not always reflect the communities’ political leaning. They adhere to their own philosophy or — more to the point — to their ownership’s philosophy.

So it was in 1984 particularly, when the publisher told us point blank that we were going to recommend President Reagan’s re-election. There would be no discussion. A different publisher told us the same thing in 1988 and 1992: We were going to endorse George H.W. Bush for election in ’88 and for re-election in ’92.

That’s how it works. The newspaper and its corporate ownership march to their own cadence, not necessarily the drumbeat of the community it serves. I went to Amarillo in January 1995 and learned the same thing, although the Texas Panhandle is even more solidly Republican than the Golden Triangle was solidly Democratic in the 1980s and early 1990s.

What’s more, Morris Communications, which owned the Amarillo Globe-News until 2017, is far more wedded to conservatives and Republicans than the Hearst Corporation, which still owns the Beaumont Enterprise.

It is true that Dallas County has tilted Democratic in recent election cycles. It also is true that the Dallas Morning News has endorsed plenty of conservative candidates and stood behind plenty of conservative issues over many years.

The Morning News is not a doctrinaire publication. Although I do not know what transpired when the paper’s editorial board deliberated over whom to endorse in this year’s Senate contest, I know that the published record reflects an editorial board that is far from rigid in its political outlook.

Believe me, I know a rigid media organization when I see one. I’ve worked for them.