Tag Archives: High Plains Blogger

Legislators don’t need a full-time salary

Blogger’s Note: This post was published originally on KETR-FM’s website — www.ketr.org. Your blogger wanted to share it here as well.

I actually have wrestled with this issue on occasion, but I cannot shake my belief in my original thought about it.

What is the issue? Whether to pay Texas legislators a working salary to serve in the state Senate and the House of Representatives. I kind of get the argument in favor of paying them a salary on which they could live.

I keep coming back to the idea that I really like the idea of a “citizen Legislature.”

So, let’s leave the salary issue alone.

The 86th Legislative Assembly has adjourned sine die. It completed its 140-day cycle and, near as I can tell, Gov. Greg Abbott won’t summon them back for a special session this summer.

That’s fine with me. Our legislators can get back to work on their day jobs.

Texans pay their legislators a whopping $600 per month, who also get an expense allotment of $190 per day when the Legislature is in session. That amounts to around $33,900 when the Legislature is in session, and about $41,000 for a two-year term for a member of the Texas House of Representatives.

Is that enough for someone to live on? Of course not! But that isn’t the point.

The Texas Constitution ostensibly allows for regular folks to take a break every odd-numbered year for about five months to write laws, to argue among themselves and to persuade each other to support their legislation.

When they’re done, they go home and resume whatever it is they do when they aren’t in Austin.

The Legislature also appropriates money for staff, some of whom serve between legislative sessions. When the Legislature is in session, House members and senators hire additional staff to handle the deluge of business that occurs from January to May every odd-numbered year.

I like the principle of a citizen Legislature. It gives at least the appearance that our elected lawmakers have an understanding, a kinship, with the people they represent. They are bound to return home and under the strictures of the laws they enact.

I am acutely aware, too, that often the chintzy salaries we pay our legislators might shut out actual working men and women from serving. It costs a lot of money to give up one’s day job to head to Austin for five months every other year. That means those elected to the House and Senate might be, oh, lawyers or physicians who have the financial means to serve in the Legislature.

What’s more, the lieutenant governor who presides over the Senate and the speaker who presides over the House also receive essentially the same salary as the legislators they manage in either legislative chamber. Plus, the lieutenant governor and House speaker essentially hold down full-time legislative jobs.

My version of reality tells me the state system of paying legislators a chump-change salary works well for the state.

As the saying goes, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Besides, even if it is broke, paying legislators more money isn’t likely to be sufficient to repair what needs fixing.

Getting worn out by lying, conniving POTUS

I told my sons many years ago that I would not offer them unsolicited advice. I would give it if they asked.

My concern over offering that advice with no request was that I had grown tired of repeating myself. I harbor that dislike to this day. I don’t like saying the same thing repeatedly.

To that end, this blog is going to cut back on its criticism of Donald John Trump. Your blogger — me, actually — has grown weary of the repetition.

You know how I feel about Trump’s supreme unfitness to be president of the United States. I have stated it many times ever since this clown became a politician. I won’t say it again here. You get my drift.

There might be a compelling issue that arises to tug at me beyond my strength to resist. Trump’s siding with the murderous tyrant Kim Jong Un’s criticism of former Vice President Joe Biden qualifies; so … I might have something to say about that in the immediate future.

This blog will discuss issues. My bias is clear. I don’t shy away from it. In fact, I am proud of my bias and my life experience that built it over time.

But I just am worn out — at least for the time being — by the president and his hideous conduct, his utter ignorance of government, his disdain for the dignity of his high office and his relentless demonstration of his unfitness to lead this great nation.

Don’t count me out as we move on down the road, but for the foreseeable future I intend to take a bit of a breather.

Some critics actually do hand out credit

I had a fascinating exchange of messages recently with a gentleman who is a frequent critic of this blog. He lives in Amarillo and he thinks I am too harsh and hateful toward Donald Trump . . . and he tells me so quite frequently.

I don’t have a problem with this fellow’s comments. During our brief private exchange of messages, though, I did tell him something I want to share with the rest of the readers of High Plains Blogger.

I told this fellow — who, by the way, I don’t really know — that I appreciate that he is willing on occasion to give me credit for the blog posts with which he might agree. I also mentioned to him that I have a number of critics who don’t extend that courtesy.

Why mention this? I do so to illustrate, I suppose, the ups and downs of writing this blog. Sure, I appreciate the kind words I get from those who might lean in the same political direction that I do. I also appreciate the criticism of those who tilt in the other direction. Many of their critiques are thoughtful and I do heed them.

I adopted the philosophy quite a while ago when I started this blog that I would avoid (most of the time) engaging in a back/forth dialogue with critics. The way I look at it, this blog gives me a forum to throw out my point of view and offers those who care to respond to do exactly that. I believe that once is enough, whether it’s from me or from someone who wants to challenge a point of view I have expressed.

I told my critic, too, that arguing with those with contrary views usually is unproductive. I won’t change their mind; they won’t change mine. So, there’s next to zero point in trying to persuade someone I am totally virtuous and that they’re full of sh**.

This individual and I have expressed a desire to meet one day. That might happen. My wife and I get back to Amarillo on occasion. I do hope our paths cross one day.

As for his criticism, keep it coming . . . especially if he’s willing to give me some credit even once in great while.

What would Molly say about Trump?

I wrote a blog piece the other day recalling a fabulous meeting I had with a legendary Texas journalist by the name of Molly Ivins.

Today I am left to wonder: How would this flaming liberal columnist respond to the idiocy we see and hear hourly from the president of the United States, Donald John Trump?

Ivins, who died in 2007 at the age of 62, enraged Texas conservatives with her constant criticism of two Texas governors, George W. “Shrub” Bush and Rick “Gov. Goodhair” Perry.

I am left to wonder what kind of pejorative nickname would Ivins hang on the president. And how in the name of political punditry would she respond to the chaos that keeps roiling the West Wing?

Time of My Life, Part 32: In the company of media greatness

My strong hunch is that she would have driven Donald Trump to near-insanity with that brilliant, biting wit that was her hallmark.

If only . . .

Planning to keep hammering until the end

Critics of High Plains Blogger ask me on occasion why I keep criticizing Donald Trump. They think I “hate” him. They accuse me of suffering from something called Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Some of them even have challenged me to stop criticizing him.

I’ll deal with that final item with this brief response.

No. I will not stop. I won’t stop calling this individual what I believe he is until he steps out of the Oval Office for the final time. Whether it’s after his current term or after a second term (please, no!), or whether it occurs at some point between those dates, I’ll keep harping on what I have long believed about this president.

Such as . . .

He is unfit for the office. His entire professional life has been geared toward self-enrichment. Trump has no moral compass. The president demands loyalty from his subordinates, but gives none of it in return. He lacks empathy. Trump has no understanding of history. The president lacks any understanding of his office, or the government, or the Constitution that was crafted to create that government. Donald Trump has no sense of decency, decorum, dignity.

I cannot sit quietly and watch this man seek to dismantle the infrastructure on which this government stands.

So, to my critics I want merely to advise them: I intend to keep speaking out against this president at any opportunity that presents itself. I will do so even if I have to look for those opportunities.

I want him removed from the Oval Office.

Silicon Gulch not exactly fully connected

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas — Yours truly’s string of consecutive blogging days came dangerously close to ending this week.

How could that happen? Here’s how: We hauled our fifth wheel recreational vehicle to Pedernales Falls State Park, set up our campsite and then discovered that our site had zero Internet accessibility and damn near no cell phone service.

Is that a bad thing? Not at all. Except that I want to keep the streak alive. It has survived. Here, though, is the quandary.

Pedernales Falls is near Austin, which I’ve always been led to believe is one of the most “connected” communities on Earth. Hey, it’s the hub of what they call the Silicon Gulch, that stretch of real estate between Austin and San Antonio. High-tech firms continue to sprout all over the region.

I didn’t anticipate being disconnected from rest of the planet, being that we are vacationing in this highly connected, 21st-century community.

There might come a day when I no longer want to keep this blogging streak alive. I have occasionally enjoyed being disconnected from the Cell Phone Universe.

The good news, though — if you want to call it that — is that we are to travel to my brother-in-law’s house in this suburban Austin community. It is from here that I am able to post these musings.

And so, the streak goes on.

Our travels will take us very soon to Sea Rim State Park in the Golden Triangle region of Southeast Texas. Let us hope — or let me hope — that we have Internet available there to keep this blogging streak on course.

Retirement hobby keeps juices flowing

Time for a quick update. Here goes . . .

This blog is on an 893-consecutive-day streak. I have posted items on High Plains Blogger for those many days in a row.

I have no intention of letting up.

I want to share (boast, if you don’t) some news with you.

  • March was the second-best month recorded by this blog in terms of page views and unique visitors. I am proud to make that announcement.
  •  The second-best month followed by the best month ever by just two months. High Plains Blogger posted its most productive month in January.

Those two record-setting months have set me up for another record year of page views and visitors. I intend to seek to keep the heat burning.

I have discovered a pattern as it regards these best-ever blog performances. They usually include some comment on local matters.

The January and March figures were driven by some posts I published concerning the resignation of an Amarillo High School volleyball coach. There is intense interest in Amarillo in what prompted Kori Clements to quit the AHS post after a single season. Her resignation letter was one of the more, um, declarative such statements I’ve ever seen. She blamed the school board and the administration for failing to back her as she fended off complaints from a parent who griped at her over playing time given to the parent’s daughter.

There will be more to come as developments warrant.

I also intend to keep the heat on Donald Trump and those who serve in the president’s administration. I want to emphasize what I believe is a critical point as I continue to comment: The president and his administration work for us, for you and me. The individuals who report to the president are not paid by him; they are not answerable ultimately to him.

We are the bosses. They all are our employees.

So, I’m heading for a 900-consecutive-day streak. I want you to stay with me. I also ask you to share these musings with those with whom you share social media networks.

There. Boasting is over. Until the next time.

Learning my way through North Texas

My new gig as a blogger for a public radio station has set me on a course to learn more intimately about Collin County and much of the rest of North Texas, where my wife and I now call home.

KETR-FM, based at Texas A&M University-Commerce, has given me a chance to write for its website. I’ve submitted three posts already. More will be on the way.

The next one is going to bring a challenge or two.

Mark Haslett, news director at KETR-FM, has given me an idea to examine. It’ll be about traffic, road construction and what in the world is happening along U.S. 380, the highway that cuts through several North Texas counties. Indeed, it runs about a half-mile north of where my wife and I live.

The highway is undergoing major work at this moment, and likely for past the foreseeable future. The North Central Texas Council of Governments is the lead public agency with responsibility for all that road work.

I’ve put in a phone call. I am awaiting a call back from NCTCOG’s media relations fellow. I am confident it will come soon.

Why is this a big deal? I’ve written before how much I learned about all the communities where I lived and work. Whether it was in Clackamas County, Ore., or in the Golden Triangle of Texas or in the Texas Panhandle, I took away a good bit of local knowledge from each place.

I now intend to launch my learning curve in North Texas.

My new “career” as a blogger continues to bring rewards. They’re difficult to quantify. The knowledge I will gain about my new home still will be of considerable value.

Blog alert! Having trouble publicizing these musings

High Plains Blogger uses several social media platforms to publicize its musings, missives, essays . . . whatever.

Facebook is one of them. At the moment, your friendly blogger — me! — is experiencing difficulty with Facebook.

I have notified the gurus at Facebook trying as best I can to explain the issue. I keep getting messages that say they’re working on the problem.

I’ll continue to post items on High Plains Blogger, but will depend on Twitter as my primary publicizing platform.

Bear with me. And with Facebook.

The streak continues

Not much to say with this post, except that I want to boast briefly.

Today marks the 865th consecutive day I have written posts for High Plains Blogger. That exceeds two straight years — and then some!

I just want to let you know that I plan to continue offering commentary on politics, public policy and what I call “life experience” for as long as I am able to string sentences together.

You always are welcome to read it. Whether you agree with my musings is, well, up to you.

I won’t apologize for my own bias. Nor will I ask you to apologize for yours.

I am enjoying the ride so far. I hope you are, too.

Let’s hold on with both hands.