Tag Archives: Dallas Morning News

Get out and vote, you young people!

Rosemary Curts has pitched a positively capital idea dealing with increasing voter participation among young Americans.

Put early voting locations in our schools, writes the Dallas Independent School District math teacher in an op-ed written for the Dallas Morning News.

I am slapping myself on the side of my noggin over that one. Why didn’t I think of it?

Curts is one of four essayists whose ideas were published in the Sunday Morning News. I want to focus on her commentary because it makes so damn much sense.

She writes that government “must make it less of an ordeal to vote. In my experience, students are willing to vote — as long as they don’t have to go too far out of their way.”

Her idea is to install early voting stations in high schools. Hey, 18-year-old citizens can vote; many of them are still in high school. According to Curts, “Government classes could take a class trip downstairs to the polls, and because early voting stretches over days, students who forgot their voter identification cads one day could simply come back the next day.”

Dang, man! This is a good idea!

We have heard a lot of talk in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School about high school students being “energized” to get out the voter among their peers. They want to make a difference. Some of those students at Douglas High have become media stars, making public appearances around the country.

I am not yet certain their outrage over the deaths of their classmates this past Valentine’s Day is going to manifest itself in a surge of voter turnout among young Americans, who traditionally vote in puny numbers compared to their elders. These kids’ grandparents came of age in the 1960s and 1970s when they were rallying against an unpopular war in Vietnam and against government shenanigans relating to that scandal called “Watergate.”

I want to salute Rosemary Curts for putting forward an outstanding idea to make voting just a bit easier for today’s young people … not that it’s all that hard in the first place.

Still, whatever works.

We’re sitting out these important decisions

What do you know about that? I have known for a long time that Amarillo, Texas, where I used to live wasn’t the only city that produced pitiful municipal voter turnouts.

I have bitched about it for a couple of decades, trying — using my forum as editorial page editor of the local newspaper — to reverse that trend. It fell on blind eyes.

Hey, it could get worse. Amarillo could be as non-involved in this most important civic act as Dallas, just down the highway from where my wife and I now reside.

An analysis in the Dallas Morning News tells me that Dallas delivers the worst municipal voter turnout among the nation’s largest cities. How do Dallas residents do? Six percent of them vote on average for election of the mayor and city council members. Six percent!

I’ll take some pride in revealing that my hometown, Portland, Ore., votes on average at a 59 percent clip in municipal elections.

Dang, man! Why can’t we get more of us to the polls at these local elections, the elections that determine who runs local government, the level of government that has the most direct impact on our lives?

It’s not as though Texas doesn’t do what it can to make it easy for us to vote. We can vote early. The state opens up many venues for Texans to cast their ballots early. Still, I have laughed virtually out loud over many years when I hear local election officials brag about the large number of early ballots being cast … as if that means a greater voter turnout. It usually means nothing of the sort. It only means that more people are voting early, period.

As Michael Lindenberger writes in the Dallas Morning News:

Some studies have even suggested that voting makes citizens healthier, and not just because they can influence health policy. Voting itself, as proof of civic engagement, boosts one’s health, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin.

More than that, even, a city that relies on only a tiny fraction of its residents to vote leaves our leaders operating on such pencil-thin support it’s a wonder they are able to be effective at all. 

Take Mayor Mike Rawlings. He was elected for his second term in 2015 on a huge margin, but with just a bit over 30,000 votes. That’s in America’s ninth-largest city, anchor to the fourth-largest urban area in the nation.

That’s ridiculous. A second term for 30,000 votes and change? What happened to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters?

This guy is speaking my language. It’s ridiculous, indeed!

I have tried to point out over many years that sitting out these important local elections leaves important public policy decisions up to the guy next door, or the dude down the street, someone who might — or might not — share your view of how your community should be governed.

Time to change this dismal voter participation

I applaud the Morning News for bringing this issue to the fore.

Will it matter? Will it bring more voters to the polls next spring when we elect our municipal officials in Texas? Probably not, but man, it needs to be said over and over again.

Why put our children at health risk?

Albert Karam is alarmed. If what he says is true, and I have no reason to doubt what he has written, he has good reason to be alarmed.

So am I.

Karam is a Dallas pediatrician who writes in the Dallas Morning News that too many Texas children are being denied vaccinations by parents who are exercising what is commonly referred to as “non-medical exemption.”

For the life of me, I don’t understand the so-called “logic” of forbidding vaccinations of children in school.

He writes about encountering sick children at the hospital where he was working. He was just out of medical school. The kids’ illness were severe. Why were they so sick? They hadn’t been vaccinated.

As Karam writes: In today’s pediatric world this is unheard of because of one thing only: immunizations. This marvel of modern medicine is truly one of man’s greatest accomplishments. Yet, our state is moving in a disturbing direction, putting us in danger of losing this protection especially for our most vulnerable — babies too young to be immunized or those who are immune-suppressed because of disease or medication.

Read Karam’s full essay here.

He adds: Unfortunately, those opposed to immunization have made inroads into spreading misinformation and falsehoods about the disproven notion that vaccination causes autism and other disorders.

How can parents convey this kind of mindless demagoguery and, in the process, endanger their children’s health and well-being?

Yet they do. They deliver frightening — and false — messages that spread like contagion throughout the nation.

Disgraceful.

Let’s see how can I say this clearly and without equivocation: Our children need to be vaccinated against childhood illness. Refusing to do so on the basis of lies amounts to child abuse.

That is unforgivable.

Here is why early voting sucks

A major Texas newspaper has just validated my reasons for hating early voting.

The Dallas Morning News has rescinded an editorial endorsement it had made because a candidate for a Dallas County Commissioners Court seat was revealed to have set up a trust fund for his children if they married white people.

The candidate is Republican Vickers Cunningham. The revelation came to light on the eve of the runoff election for the commissioners court seat. The Dallas Morning News was so incensed at the racially loaded matter that it pulled its endorsement.

This is what I’m talking about! I have said for many years that — banning my actual absence from my voting precinct on Election Day — I always choose to vote on that day. Why? Because I hate being surprised by learning something terrible about my candidate after voting for him or her.

The matter involving Vickers Cunningham falls into that category of unwelcome surprise.

The Morning News said it backed Cunningham because of his experience as a district court judge. It didn’t know about the compact he made with his children until “the final days of this campaign.”

I know that Election Day voting doesn’t prevent such surprises. I merely want to minimize to the best of my ability the impact of such a surprise by waiting until the last day of an election campaign to exercise my right as a citizen.

Obscene tweet a ‘breaking point’? If only …

a-texas-official-is-walking-back-an-obscene-tweet-about-hillary-clinton-png

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s obscene tweet about Hillary Rodham Clinton is the “breaking point” for at least one Texas voter.

Is it for others who have been entrenched in the Donald J. Trump camp since the zillionaire business mogul announced his Republican presidential candidacy?

Do not take it to the bank.

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2016/11/02/agriculture-commissioner-sid-millers-c-word-tweet-hillary-clinton-breaking-point

A tweet that went out under Miller’s name referred to Clinton as the “c-word.” It’s too vulgar to repeat. As Jacquielyne Floyd of the Dallas Morning News writes in her blog, Miller came up with a package of lame excuses: a staffer did it; someone hacked his account.

Miller said he didn’t do such a thing. The tweet was pulled down right away, which I guess is saying something about the commissioner.

Then again, this guy has been making a spectacle of himself ever since he took over the TDA office from fellow Republican Todd Staples in 2015. I wish Staples was still on the job, frankly.

Miller has emerged as Trump’s chief Texas cheerleader.

Floyd writes: “My weary, overworked outrage meter is idling in low gear, like persistent background static on the radio. I can only summon a tired wonder that Miller, whose newest contretemps is perhaps the most egregious but far from being the first rodeo of disgrace and embarrassment he has attended, is the kind of damage Texas keeps inflicting on itself.”

Texas, though, seems bent on inflicting these wounds. We have sent a number of folks to Congress who keep spouting off without engaging what passes for their brains.

Now we have an agriculture commissioner — who ought to be focused primarily on promoting Texas farm and ranch products and helping them improve their harvest yields and getting the most money they can from the livestock they send to market.

The voter — Kathleen Lyle of Rowlett — who was offended beyond measure by the tweet, wrote a letter to Miller. According to Floyd: “Lyle demanded an apology for every woman and every schoolchild in the state of Texas: “‘You are obligated to behave decently in public once elected,’ she told him.”

Floyd continued: “It was a letter that summed up not only one woman’s frustration over one elected official’s outrageous violation, but spoke for countless Americans who are appalled by the ugliness, the unhinged vulgarity, the puerile bullying shoutdown to which the political conversation has devolved.”

The tweet that went out under Sid Miller’s name is just the latest example of all the above.

If only more of us would feel as outraged as Kathleen Lyle.

No real surprise; Texas high court endorses do-nothing school policy

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At one level — had I been following this case more closely — I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Texas Supreme Court had ruled the state’s public school funding system to be “constitutional.”

I’ll admit that I haven’t been as avid a follower of this issue as I should have been.

The court ruled this week that the state is doing all it should be doing to finance public education. Never mind that previous courts, previous judges and educators across the state have said the state does far too little to support public education.

Not so, said the state’s highest civil appellate court.

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20160513-editorial-school-finance-decision-could-spell-disaster-for-texas-education.ece

The Dallas Morning News editorial I’ve attached to this blog post lays it out pretty well. The Texas Supremes have set an amazingly low bar for state public education.

The court has declared in its unanimous ruling that taking care of public schools rests exclusively with the Texas Legislature.

Here is what I do know about the state of public school financing in Texas.

The Legislature has dramatically cut state spending on public schools over the past several sessions. Do the Supreme Court justices now believe the Legislature is going to reverse itself, that it’s going to find more money to distribute equitably among the more than 1,000 independent school districts around the state?

Of course, the political ramifications must be factored in.

Republicans control — by wide margins — both legislative chambers. They also occupy every statewide office in Texas. That includes the nine individuals who comprise the Texas Supreme Court.

Who out there really thinks the justices ever were going to buck the policies set by their GOP brethren in the other two branches of state government?

Here’s part of what the Morning News said: “In refusing to intervene, they’ve placed an enormous responsibility to fix our system of school finance on the shoulders of state lawmakers, the same lawmakers who have refused for decades to do what is needed. As a result, Texas’ 5 million public school children will be the ones who most directly bear the costs of the high court’s refusal to fix a system that it concedes requires ‘transformational, top-to-bottom reforms.'”

The justices have recognized the state’s public education system is broken but they won’t do anything to fix it.

The ball’s back in the Legislature’s court. Again.

Do something, lawmakers, to repair the system you’ve broken.

Texas AG slams door on transparency

paxton

Ken Paxton’s tenure as Texas attorney general has gotten off to a rocky start.

First, a Collin County grand jury indicted the Republican politician on charges of securities fraud, accusing him of failing to report income he derived from giving investment advice to a friend. The Securities and Exchange Commission followed suit with a complaint of its own.

Bad start, man.

Then the attorney general accepts the resignations of two top aides and agrees to keep paying them. What’s worse in this case, according to the Dallas Morning News, is that the AG isn’t explaining why he’s continuing to pay the ex-staffers.

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20160509-editorial-ken-paxton-should-answer-our-reporters-questions.ece

The Morning News accuses Paxton of bullying the newspaper’s reporters who keep asking questions about the payments. He’s not willing to explain why he’s using these particular public funds in this manner.

The newspaper has blistered Paxton in an editorial. It demands, correctly in my view, that he hold his office — and himself — accountable for the actions he has taken regarding the resignations of these individuals.

The Morning News asks a pertinent question, noting that state law allows public agencies to grant paid leave when it finds “good cause” to do so. Paxton decided to categorize their departure as paid leave, thus justifying the continued payments to folks who no longer work for the state. The paper asks: What’s the good cause? The attorney general isn’t saying.

The paper offers this bit of advice to the public as it ponders the AG’s behavior: “Voters should take note.”

 

Hatred won’t end just because we demand it

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Leona Allen has written a terrific blog post for the Dallas Morning News.

Sadly, though, it won’t accomplish what she has demanded: an end to the racist epithets aimed at the family of Barack and Michelle Obama.

http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2016/05/enough-of-this-racist-and-insensitive-tripe-about-the-obamas-interracial-marriage-from-trump.html/

Allen has taken appropriate note of the hateful reaction from those who commented on Malia Obama — the older of the Obamas’ two daughters — deciding to take a year off before entering Harvard University. She writes: “Instead of celebrating the kid’s hard work, anonymous trolls took it upon themselves to disparage her with racist epithets.”

Fox News took down the comments after its website was filled with comments from the racist haters who took time to disparage Malia’s accomplishment.

The president’s policies are open to criticism, as are the policies of all presidents. It goes with the territory. They all know their public policy record is fair game.

What is not fair game, though, is the hate that is thrown at public officials — and their families.

We’ve seen far more than enough of it for the past nearly eight years. As Allen notes, the Obamas have done an admirable job of maintaining their dignity in public in the face of the comments that have been hurled at them.

If only the blogger’s demand to cease and desist the hatred would be met.

Of course, the Obamas are the only targets of the hatred. The blog notes that others have taken aim at interracial couples. Allen noted that U.S. Sen. John McCain’s son, Jack, is married to an African-American woman and has lashed out at the haters simply by posting pictures of himself and his wife on social media.

We’ve all heard about the “toxic” political atmosphere in Washington.

Many of us salute the progress we’ve made in the realm of race relations.

This latest spasm of hatred aimed at an accomplished young woman who happens to be the daughter of the president of the United States only shows us how far we have to go.

 

Trump’s innuendo will live on

cruzandfamily

Donald J. Trump has done many seemingly “impossible” things while getting to the brink of the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

Heck, just getting to this stage of the campaign — as the presumptive nominee of a once-great political party — ought to stand as the premier impossible accomplishment.

It isn’t, though. Instead, Trump managed to make Sen. Ted Cruz a sympathetic figure.

How did he do that? By tossing out the innuendo that Cruz’s father had some kind of relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who shot President Kennedy to death in 1963.

Cruz’s campaign for the presidency is now over. But the utterly hideous assertion about the senior Cruz’s supposed “role” in the JFK murder lives on.

http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/

Dallas Morning News blogger Jim Mitchell calls it a “new low” in a campaign full of new lows.

Trump used a National Enquirer story into a talking point on his campaign. That’s correct. A supermarket tabloid offered grist for Trump to assert something about a member of an opponent’s family.

As Mitchell writes: “What Trump did is what makes him such a loose cannon. He reads or hears something and then repeats it as the truth. Imagine President Trump making policy on hearsay, or an outright lie, or a plotline he picked up from a television show the night before. I can imagine waking up and having a President Trump explaining why he ordered a nuclear strike with this rationale.”

In truth, I cannot even imagine the words “President” and “Trump” next to each other in a written or spoken sentence.

The Cruz/Oswald innuendo is likely to stand out in the endless list of ghastly assertions Trump has made on his way to becoming the Republican Party nominee for president of the United States.

Unbelievable.

 

Kasich gets the nod from a major media outlet

kasich

Newspaper editorial boards have at times been accused of being “homers,” sometimes favoring the home-town or home-state candidates over more qualified challengers.

The Dallas Morning News has chosen, however, to make its recommendation for the Republican presidential nomination — and it’s not U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

The DMN’s nod goes to Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

The paper likes Kasich’s record of accomplishment and believes it would suit him — and the nation — well if he were to be elected the next president of the United States.

What’s most compelling — to me, at least — is the paper’s nod to Kasich’s ability and willingness to work with Democrats. He did so while serving in Congress, where he chaired the House Budget Committee and helped craft a balanced federal budget.

One does not do such a thing in a vacuum, and Kasich showed his bipartisan chops in that regard.

I’m glad to see the Dallas Morning News climb aboard the Kasich bandwagon, such as it is in Texas.

* *

But what does a newspaper endorsement mean?

More than likely not a damn thing, at least not in this election season.

The leading Republican candidate for president says outrageous things about his foes, other politicians in general, the media, the voters, women — he uses amazingly grotesque language to describe one of his leading opponents — but, what the heck. That’s OK. He scores points for tossing aside “political correctness.”

Kasich remains one of the grownups in this GOP primary contest. A newspaper editorial board endorsement likely won’t be singularly decisive in determining whether he wins the state’s primary on March 1.

I just hope Texas Republicans heed the rationale behind the recommendation.