Tag Archives: Greg Abbott

DPS getting thrust into even more dangerous work

I have made an important acquaintance. He is a young man who serves as a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper.

He also has been tapped to serve — along with other DPS troopers — alongside Dallas Police Department officers in some of the high-crime neighborhoods of the state’s third-largest city.

One of those troopers got involved in a shooting today in South Dallas. Residents are calling for a thorough investigation; they deserve to know what happened and I hope DPS and Dallas PD are forthcoming. A Dallas City Council member wants DPS to pull the troopers out.

Well, count me as a Metroplex resident who endorses DPS’s presence to assist Dallas PD combat the rash of violent crimes that have struck the city.

My DPS friend told me he and his trooper colleagues work on traffic enforcement, enabling Dallas PD officers to concentrate more fully on the crime wave.

Gov. Greg Abbott ordered DPS officers to assist Dallas police, expressing concern about the crime spree that has been taking far too many innocent victims’ lives. The governor should be concerned. So should the residents of those neighborhoods affected most directly by the criminals who are doing them harm.

To that end, I stand with DPS — especially my young friend — as they lend a needed hand to quell the spasm of crime that has frightened many Dallas residents.

Is ex-state Sen. Davis, um, a carpetbagger?

I was a bit surprised to hear that former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, who used to represent Fort Worth and Tarrant County in the Legislature, is running for a congressional seat … way down yonder in San Antonio. 

She wants to run in the fall of 2020 against Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, who damn near got beat in 2018 as Texas Democrats became energized by the candidacy of Beto O’Rourke in his race against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. Roy ran for he seat vacated when Lamar Smith decided against running for re-election.

I believe Wendy Davis is a fine public servant. She is smart, well-educated, capable and might prove to be a lightning-quick study on the issues pertaining to the 21st Congressional District. I don’t know much about Roy, other than he is a solid Donald Trump sycophant, er, supporter. Any effort to remove someone of that ilk is OK with me.

But I do wonder whether Davis’s opportunism isn’t revealing itself.

She burst on the national scene in 2013 when she led a Democratic filibuster in the Legislature against a stringent anti-abortion bill that eventually got passed by the Senate and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. She then ran for governor the following year and got trounced by the incumbent.

Davis earned her political chops, though, by representing the Fort Worth area. I am now wondering if she isn’t opening herself up to critics who could suggest that she’s merely looking for a public office to occupy, so she found a potentially vulnerable Republican a good distance away from her home.

Politicians have been called “carpetbaggers” by employing that kind of tactic. I know Davis is not the first pol to do such a thing. She won’t be the last one, either.

Hey, Davis is a grownup. She likely is well aware of what lies ahead for her, presuming she wins the Democratic primary. I’m just looking ahead to what could become a bruising, bitter and bellicose battle for power in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Welcome back to the arena, Mr. Speaker

I am so glad to see this bit of news about a former speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.

Joe Straus has kicked in $2.5 million from his campaign treasure chest to form a political action committee that is going to fight for the “soul” of the Texas Republican Party.

What does that mean? It means that Straus is going to use his influence to persuade Texas GOP politicians to concentrate more on actual policy matters and less on divisive social issues. He wants the money he has pledged to promote GOP candidates who will be more focused on reasonable issues.

He cites health care and public education as the issues he wants the Republican Party to focus on going forward.

This is good news. Why? Well, I am one Texan who will be forever grateful for the kill shot that Straus — from San Antonio — fired during the 2017 Legislature that took down a ridiculous piece of legislation that cleared the Texas Senate but died a quick death in the House.

I refer to the Bathroom Bill, an item pushed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. The Bathroom Bill would have required people to use public restrooms according to their gender at birth; the aim, quite obviously, was to disallow transgendered individuals from using restrooms that comport with their current gender.

Gov. Greg Abbott placed the Bathroom Bill on the 2017 Legislature’s special session agenda after the regular session adjourned. Straus was having none of it, to which I stood and applauded the then-speaker.

He wants to restore some additional sanity to the political discourse in Texas. He is taking aim at his own political party, which I am presuming he believes has been hijacked by social conservatives who want to enact discriminatory legislation … such as the Bathroom Bill.

As the Texas Standard has reported: Brandon Rottinghaus, professor of political science at the University of Houston, says Straus’ new PAC is likely part of a larger Republican movement toward the center.

“That’s been a result of some campaigns and the election that just passed where a lot of soul searching has been done in the Republican Party,” Rottinghaus says. “I think that’s the subtext for this.”

I hope he is correct. I also hope that Speaker Straus can talk some sense into his Republican colleagues, persuading them to steer away from the lunacy that too often drives them to produce legislation such as the Bathroom Bill.

Vet school set to become a reality for the Panhandle

I want to offer some hand claps to Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle for a signature they have obtained from Gov. Greg Abbott.

The governor has signed legislation that grants state money to build a school of veterinary medicine in Amarillo. It will be the second such institution in Texas. It will be operated by Texas Tech University and it will be located wholly in Amarillo, which lobbied furiously for the funds to build this much-needed project.

I had the pleasure of visiting with former Texas Tech Chancellor Bob Duncan not long before he got the bum’s rush by the Tech board of regents. Duncan came to Amarillo to make the case for the vet school and to tell the community that the state needed the second such program. Texas A&M University operates the long-standing school of veterinary medicine and had resisted Tech’s efforts to gain legislative approval for the new school.

This is a big deal, man! I am delighted that the region’s legislative delegation — state Sen. Kel Seliger and state Reps. John Smithee and Four Price, all Amarillo Republicans — flexed its collective muscle to ensure this legislative victory.

It also is heartening that Texas Tech, despite Duncan’s ouster as chancellor, managed to maintain its own momentum with a new chancellor, Tedd Mitchell, at the helm.

The Amarillo campus will enable Panhandle veterinary students to stay closer to home to get their education. One can hope, too, that they will remain at home to pursue their careers as doctors of veterinary medicine.

I had my share of anxious moments while living in the Panhandle and even after moving away. But then Amarillo’s economic development gurus lined up behind the project; so did the City Council; civic and business leaders ponied up serious money to help lighten the public burden.

I understand the vet school will open for class in a couple of years. Students will receive a first-class education that will pave the way for first-class careers.

It is nice to see the Texas Panhandle, which occasionally gets the short shrift from those in power way down yonder in Austin, score a major victory.

Red-lights cameras can stay … at least for a while

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that I wish he hadn’t signed. It was a bill that disallows cities from deploying red-light cameras to aid in enforcing traffic safety laws.

Ah, but here’s an interesting catch: An amendment to the bill approved by the Legislature allows cities to keep the cameras operating until their current vendor contracts expire. That means that while cities can terminate contracts for cause, they also can keep them operating for the length of the contract.

One city that has the cameras in place is Amarillo. I strongly supported Amarillo’s decision to use the devices to deter motorists from running red lights. I also strongly support the city’s apparent decision to stay the course until its contract with the vendor runs out.

Amarillo’s contract with American Traffic Solutions expires in September 2022. So, for more than three more years the city will be able to rely on the cameras to be on guard against lawbreakers when the police are looking the other way.

Unlike some cities knuckled under to some critics of the devices, Amarillo recently expanded the deployment locations, believing it had identified troublesome intersections; it did remove the cameras at some other intersections as well.

So, it’s a good-news, bad-news sort of thing. Some cities will get to keep the devices on duty for the length of their contracts; that’s the good news.

The bad news is that the contracts will expire eventually.

Then what? Will these Texas communities’ motorists and pedestrians be exposed to those who just don’t bother to follow the instructions to stop when the street signals turn red?

Let the kids’ lemonade flow!

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has taken up the cudgel for the state’s budding entrepreneurs.

Abbott signed a bill that makes it illegal for cities and homeowners associations to force children to shut down their lemonade stands.

Yes, I know I have been tough on the governor and the Legislature for snatching local-control issues out of locals’ hands. This one, though, makes me smile.

State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, authored the bill that prohibits the closure from cities and local neighborhood groups. Kids like to sell non-alcoholic drinks to raise money for all manner of causes: field trips, gifts for Mom and Dad, or just plain vacation money.

As the Texas Tribune reports, support for the legislation grew after two East Texas siblings were forced in 2015 to shut down a lemonade stand they had set up to raise money for a Father’s Day gift.

The injustice of it all! I’m tellin’ ya, those youngsters needed the strong arm of the state. Well, those who will come along to raise money for their own parents will have the protection of state law.

The warning now has been sent to city halls and neighborhood association busy-bodies: Leave the kids alone! In fact, you need to buy a glass of the cool drink yourselves to help the up-and-coming business tycoons meet their financial goals.

Dallas crime spike prompts needed state response

This is a story that piques my interest a bit more these days, given that I now live at the doorstep of a major American city.

Dallas has seen a huge spike in violent crime. Transgender women in particular have been killed at an alarming rate. The city registered 40 homicides in the past month, the greatest amount since the 1990s.

Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the Department of Public Safety into the fray, sending Texas Rangers — the elite DPS investigative arm — to assist in trying to solve these crimes.

It’s the kind of story we don’t hear too much about, but it’s quite obviously a serious problem that one might say is approaching crisis mode.

I am unaware of any extra precautions my community, Princeton, is taking in the wake of this major uptick in criminal activity. Then, of course, we have our granddaughter living even closer to Big D, with her parents and older brother. Yes, we worry about them, too — which quite obviously goes without saying.

Now, though, stories such as major-city crime spikes such as what is occurring in Dallas make us pay just a little more attention.

By all means, Gov. Abbott, send in the DPS to help the local cops.

It’s now law: Cities cannot use technology to deter lawbreakers

Texas has taken a step back to where it was until the Legislature decided to allow cities to use technology to assist police in deterring those who break the law.

Count me as one Texan who’s disappointed in this decision.

Gov. Greg Abbott has signed legislation that now prohibits cities from deploying red-light cameras to catch those who disobey signals’ directions to stop. Abbott listened to the complainers who said the cameras are — and this just kills me — unconstitutional, that they disallow motorists busted by the devices to “confront their accuser.”

The owners of the vehicles that are busted can appeal the fines levied by municipal courts, which gives them the chance to confront the government.

Princeton, where I live, does not use the devices. Neither do neighboring cities Allen and McKinney. Denton, which is about 30 miles west on U.S. 380, uses the devices.

The Legislature did allow for cities to keep the cameras operating for the length of their existing contract with the vendors that supply them. After that, they come down!

Cities and towns long have been thought to be the best judge of their own needs. Many cities in Texas have deemed that they need help from these devices to help police in enforcing traffic laws. Why not let the cities make that call? Why not cede “local control” to the cities?

The Legislature doesn’t see it that way. Neither does Gov. Abbott.

I believe they have made a mistake.

Hit the road, Mr. Secretary

So long, David Whitley. Don’t let the door hit you in the … whatever.

Whitley has resigned as Texas secretary of state after serving for less than half a year. His brief tenure as the state’s chief election officer will be remembered for one thing only: his botched effort to purge Texas voter rolls of ineligible voters, which turned into an embarrassing revelation that those so-called illegal voters were actually quite legal.

As the Texas Tribune reports, gubernatorial nominees usually sail straight through the Texas Senate. Whitley didn’t make the grade; he never was confirmed by the Senate. So, when the Senate gaveled itself adjourned today, Whitley had to leave. So, he did.

Whitley got caught up in the tempest over whether the state’s voter rolls were filled with illegal immigrants. His office flagged the names of thousands of Texans who were thought to be voting illegally. It turned out to be, um, false. The alarm turned out to be mostly false.

Whitley was left trying to explain why his office got it so wrong.

Senate Democrats stood firm in their opposition to Whitley and given the Senate’s two-thirds rule required to confirm nominations to executive positions, Whitley’s nomination by Gov. Greg Abbott was doomed.

Well, the governor will now look for another secretary of state.

My hunch is that the next one will not try the kind of stunt that torpedoed David Whitley.

86th Texas Legislature about to end … for keeps, maybe?

I am putting my ear to the ground but I don’t hear much of anything coming from down yonder in Austin.

The Texas Legislature is about to call it a session. It will end fairly quietly compared to recent previous legislative sessions.

I do hope Gov. Greg Abbott refrains from calling a special session to meet later this summer.

What did this group accomplish? A few things.

  • They approved a form of public school finance reform that doesn’t respond to a court order. That’s a pretty good thing.
  • Lawmakers managed to give public school teachers a raise in pay, which the good teachers surely deserve. Was it enough? Probably not. Then again, it’s never enough.
  • Legislators — and this is a big deal for Amarillo, where I used to live — approved money for Texas Tech University to build a new school of veterinary medicine in Amarillo. That’s huge, man!
  • The Legislature approved a reduction in property taxes, which no doubt is music to those who shell out growing amounts of tax money every year. I don’t have a particular issue here, given that I’m old enough to qualify for a homestead exemption that freezes my property taxes.

All told, it was a fairly productive session. It also was fairly quiet.

A special session might still occur if Gov. Abbott can find a reason to call one. Whatever. I hope it doesn’t happen.

Legislators don’t make enough money –$600 a month plus per diem expenses — to stay on the job for longer than the 140 days mandated every other year.

Go home, legislators. We’ll see you in 2021.