Tag Archives: Texas Tribune

Beto’s early burst needs a boost

Beto O’Rourke burst on the national public political stage with a near-miss loss to a Republican U.S. senator in Texas in 2018.

Then the former El Paso congressman launched his presidential campaign and hearts started fluttering beyond Texas’s state line. He raised a lot of money in the first 24 hours of his 2020 presidential candidacy.

But then . . . O’Rourke plateaued. Other Democrats — and there are a lot of ’em out there — began stealing Beto’s thunder. They spoke in many more specifics than O’Rourke has offered.

So now, according to the Texas Tribune, O’Rourke is now finding himself looking for a bit of a reset. He is settling in for the long haul. The Tribune reports that O’Rourke is still campaigning “aggressively,” but he’s now just one among a large field of politicians who want to become the next president of the United States.

Yep. It’s going to be a long one, no matter how O’Rourke finishes this campaign.

The RealClearPolitics poll average has former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the runaway frontrunner for the Democratic Party nomination. Biden stands at 41 percent among all the announced candidates; Sen. Bernie Sanders is next at something like 16 percent. Beto stands at 4 percent, according to the RCP poll average.

It’s way too early to write Beto off, just as it way too early to anoint Joe Biden as the next Democratic Party presidential nominee.

I guess O’Rourke’s recent struggles tell us about the fickle nature of the voting public and offer an example of how a candidate cannot rely solely on a prior campaign . . . that he lost!

Red-light cameras appear on their way out; what a shame

Texas legislators appear ready to pull the plug on cities that want to do more to protect motorists and pedestrians from those who break the law by running through red lights.

Yep. The Texas House of Representatives has approved a bill written by Rep. Jonathan Strickland, R-Bedford, to disallow cities from deploying the devices.

This, I must say once again with emphasis, is a huge mistake. It’s big, man!

Strickland believes — and this is rich — that the cameras violate constitutional provisions that guarantee accused citizens to face their accuser. Pardon me for saying so, but Strickland is full of crap!

The cameras do not deny anyone any rights as citizens. Those who get cited by the cameras that catch them running through red lights or taking off from a dead stop through an intersection are entitled to appeal their citation to a municipal judge.

The cameras that are used in cities all across Texas take pictures of license plates on the offending vehicles and the citation is sent to the vehicles’ owners. The fines run $75 for a violation.

Let me disclose something: I got caught by one of those cameras in Amarillo several years ago. I made a mistake by racing through an intersection; I was a tad late and I got caught. I paid the fine. That was it.

I am troubled by the Legislature’s motives in repealing the law enabling cities to use the devices. Republicans control both legislative chambers. GOP politicians traditionally have ceded power to local authorities, acknowledging that the locals know best what their communities need.

Many cities, such as Amarillo, determined that the red-light cameras would deter motorists from running through the red lights. City officials have determined that the cameras do their job. They give the city extra sets of “eyes” to monitor the behavior of motorists driving vehicles along public rights-of-way.

The Legislature is considering an amendment to the repeal effort that would allow cities to retain the devices until their contracts with vendors expire. It won’t soften one bit the lack of wisdom the Legislature is demonstrating by ordering cities to take down these devices.

I’ve heard the arguments for and against the cameras. I signed on early as a proponent of the devices. My support for them hasn’t waned. I only wish the Legislature would reconsider this unwise idea.

If cities — which are governed by municipal charters — feel the need to use them to reduce hazards to motorists and pedestrians, let them make that call without legislative interference. 

Texas seeks comprehensive solution to school gun violence

Texas state Sen. Larry Taylor was hurting nearly a year ago, along with many of the rest of this state, not to mention the rest of America. A gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High School in his Senate district, killing 10 people and wounding 13 others.

Taylor, a Friendswood Republican, sought to do something to at least mitigate such tragic events in the future. He has produced a bill that isn’t perfect, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to protest it here.

Senate Bill 11 — which the Senate approved 29-2 and heads for the House of Representatives — seeks to strengthen mental health initiatives in Texas. According to the Texas Tribune, it gives teachers access to telephones and other electronic communications, and establishes threat assessment teams to help identify potentially dangerous students while determining the best ways to intervene before they erupt.

The bill also “requires school districts to appoint school safety committees that meet once a semester to provide their boards of trustees with recommendations for updates to their districts’ multihazard emergency operations plans,” the Tribune reports.

Does the legislation deal with the purchase of firearms, or the access that bad folks have to obtain them? No, but to my way of thinking it seeks a comprehensive approach to seeking out and identifying those who might be prone to producing the kind of insanity that has shown itself too often.

“We cannot afford to do nothing,” Taylor said, adding that too often legislators let “perfect become the enemy of the good.” So, the bill isn’t perfect. It is, however, a good start.

“Multiple young people’s funerals back to back in a few short days is very difficult,” Taylor said. “That’s why we have to get this done.”

Indeed. We mustn’t have to endure such heartache.

Daylight saving or standard time? Let’s decide

Texas lawmakers appear to be on the verge of giving Texans a fascinating election choice later this year.

It will be whether to scrap the twice-a-year switch between standard time and daylight saving time and keep our clocks fixed on the same time all year long.

I like the idea of giving us a chance to vote on this matter, even though I tend to think we vote on too many issues already in Texas.

For the record, I’ll state once again that switching back and forth is no big deal to me. I don’t mind the time change, even in the spring when we supposedly “lose” an hour of sleep because we push our clocks ahead an hour at the start of daylight saving time.

But since the Legislature is going to ask us to state a preference, I guess I should weigh in.

I would like to see us stay on daylight saving time. I prefer the extra hour at the end of the day, which is what a year-long daylight saving time setting would bring us.

But . . . that’s just me.

The Texas Tribune reports that the Legislature is preparing a two-part referendum. The first part asks whether a referendum on daylight saving time can occur; the Texas Constitution doesn’t allow for it now, so approving the first part of the ballot measure would legitimize the second part. That would be whether to follow a standard time or daylight saving time all year long.

I suppose you could presume that rejecting the first part of the ballot measure would be to reject the idea of tossing out the back/forth time change. State Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, my former state legislator, sought to add a third element to the measure — keeping the time-change switch — but the amendment lost on a narrow 72-70 vote.

I do endorse the notion of putting this idea to a vote.

So, let’s settle it once and for all.

Then we cease the bitching about springing forward and falling back twice each year.

We aren’t alone in moving to the Metroplex!

This just in: My wife and I were part of a trend of those moving to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in 2018!

Who knew?

According to the Texas Tribune, the U.S. Census Bureau said more than 131,000 people moved to the D/FW area in 2017-18. The Metroplex remains the fastest-growing region in Texas, which is among the fastest-growing states in the nation.

In May 2018, my wife and I picked up our belongings and moved them to Fairview, a community tucked between Allen and McKinney in Collin County. Not satisfied with our living arrangement there, we then looked for a home to buy. We found one in Princeton, which also is in Collin County.

We have since learned a couple of things about Princeton. It is the fastest-growing community in Collin County and our investment here is going to accelerate rapidly over the next decade or so.

I have made no secret about why we moved from the Texas Panhandle to the Metroplex.

Is it at all possible that those other recent transplants to D/FW also have grandchildren they want to watch grow into adulthood?

Texas going into battle on behalf of . . . Chick-Fil-A?

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton put a message out via Twitter that said this . . .

The City of San Antonio’s decision to exclude Chick-fil-A based on the religious beliefs associated with the company and its owners is the opposite of tolerance. It’s discriminatory, and not only out of step with Texas values, but inconsistent with the Constitution and Texas law.

Sigh.

I am truly undecided on this one.

San Antonio officials have decided to remove Chick-Fil-A from its new airport terminal. Why? Because the fast-food owners have said they oppose same-sex marriage. The city said it cannot support a company that has “anti-LGBTQ” sentiments.

Paxton’s argument is that the prohibition violates the religious liberty clause in the U.S. Constitution and it runs counter to state law that bans discrimination on the basis of religion.

My own view is that I do not choose to patronize businesses on the basis of their politics. I don’t boycott films by actors whose politics differ from my own, either.

I have no particular bone to pick — no pun intended — with Chick-Fil-A one way or the other. Its food is OK. I do recall not long after the company CEO made his anti-gay-marriage comment that the lines grew long at the Chick-Fil-A in southwest Amarillo. I didn’t want to wait forever for a so-so chicken sandwich. I guess some folks in the Texas Panhandle were hot to trot over the CEO’s comment; they said, “Hell yes!” to his view and decided to demonstrate their support by waiting in line for a very long time.

It ain’t my bag, man.

This matter is much ado about nothing too much.

I think I can predict that the lines at Chick-Fil-A are going to grow long once again.

Fine. Knock yourselves out, folks.

Border shutdown does more harm than good

Donald Trump wants to make good on his boast that he intends to stop illegal immigration altogether, no matter what, no matter the measure he intends to implement.

So now he’s threatening to shut down the southern border. All 2,000 miles of it. From the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. From California to Texas. He’s gonna shut ‘er down!

OK, but at what cost?

The trade that flows between the United States and Mexico contributes billions of dollars each year in income for businesses in both countries. I long have thought that Mexico was a good neighbor.  I still do. The president of the United States acts as though Mexico is that annoying next-door neighbor who plays his music too loudly or whose dog poops on his yard.

You may spare me the comments uttered by Jeh Johnson, homeland security secretary in the Obama administration who says the border crossing numbers have reached a crisis proportion.

Shutting down the border isn’t the way you fix a problem. You don’t punish an entire nation the way Trump wants to punish Mexico. Make no mistake, the damage he intends to inflict on our southern neighbor is going to ripple into four border states: Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

He wants Mexico to stop the immigrants traipsing through its land from Central America. They can stop it, he says. If they don’t, he intends to shut down the border. “I’m not kidding around,” the president said.

I get it, Mr. President.

It’s not going to stop the drug flow that comes into this country through legal ports of entry. You know, airports and maritime docks . . . those kinds of places. Indeed, that’s where most of it enters the United States, not on the backs of asylum seekers fleeing repression in Latin America.

Send in more agents. Deploy more technology. Round up illegal immigrants, frisk ’em and then send the bad guys back. I have no problem with that.

I simply refuse to acknowledge the existence of a phony “national emergency.” It doesn’t exist. Shutting down the border is a solution in search of a problem.

Will he or won’t he run for POTUS?

I am on pins and needles waiting for Beto O’Rourke to tell us whether he is running for president of the United States in 2020.

Well, actually, I’m not. I am amazed, though, at the excitement that a potential Beto candidacy is ginning up among Democratic partisans as the field for the presidential election keeps growing.

O’Rourke seems like a fine young family man. He represented El Paso, Texas, in Congress for three terms. Then he ran for the Senate in 2018 and came within a couple of percentage points of defeating Sen. Ted Cruz, the sometimes-fiery Republican incumbent.

That a Democrat could come as close as O’Rourke did in 2018 to upsetting a GOP incumbent still has politicos’ attention. Thus, they are waiting Beto’s decision.

He says he’ll let us know by the end of the month whether he intends to seek the presidency, which is just a few days down the road.

The political world awaits.

I remain decidedly mixed about Beto’s possible candidacy. I wanted him to win his race against Cruz. I think he would be a fine U.S. senator.

And, maybe, one day he will make an equally fine president of the United States. Still, there’s just something a bit too green about Beto.

Do his policies bother me? No. I consider myself a center-left kind of fellow. Thus, I don’t see Beto as a flame-throwing progressive bad-ass. He’s not a socialist — closeted or otherwise.

However, he seems to be trading on the excitement he built with his Senate run, believing possibly that he can parlay that into a national campaign.

I just don’t know

That all said, I’ll repeat what I’ve stated already: If he were to win the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination and then face off in the fall of 2020 against Donald John Trump, he would have my support all the way to the finish line.

He just isn’t the perfect candidate to take on Donald Trump.

I’m still waiting for Mr. or Ms. Political Perfection — or a reasonable facsimile — to jump out of the tall grass.

Pass the scented spray in the Texas Senate; this one stinks

The Texas Senate needs to be fumigated. Already!

Republican state Sen. Angela Paxton, the wife of the Texas attorney general, who is awaiting trial on securities fraud, has just introduced legislation that would give her husband, Ken Paxton, the authority to decide who is violating, um, securities fraud.

This one not only doesn’t pass the smell test, it stinks up the entire Texas Senate. Pass the scented spray!

This measure disappoints me greatly. Sen. Paxton, from McKinney, is a freshman legislator. However, she ought to know better than to step with both feet into this legal pile of dookey.

Not a conflict of interest, but it’s close

Senate Bill 860 would broaden the power to the attorney general’s office. As the Texas Tribune reports: “In doing so, the bill would grant broad powers to the attorney general’s consumer protection division, allowing it to accept or reject entrepreneurial applicants who seek to hawk innovative produces outside of the state’s current standards and regulations.”

What about the AG? Ken Paxton was indicted in 2017 by a Collin County grand jury for securities fraud in connection with an allegation that he didn’t provide proper notification that he was acting as an investment adviser. He’s awaiting trial.

Good grief! My major concern about Sen. Angela Paxton service dealt with how she might vote on matters involving her husband’s salary as a state constitutional officer. I didn’t see this one coming.

I get that AG Paxton should be presumed innocent, but why in the world would Sen. Paxton want to step so directly into this legal mess involving her husband?

This one stinks to high heaven!

Texas AG won’t probe voter roll SNAFU . . . imagine that

Something suspicious occurred when the Texas secretary of state flagged the names of 95,000 Texans on the belief they might be non-citizens who voted illegally.

It turns out many of them — particularly in five of the state’s largest counties — were citizens after all. They all voted legally. The state erred dramatically.

How could that happen? Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has said his office won’t launch an investigation into what occurred. I wish the AG would rethink that option and look deeply into it.

The erroneous flagging has drawn plenty of barbs from Latino groups and others who believe the state might have been profiling voters simply because of their last names.

A large number of those flagged voters should not have been singled out.

There’s just something about this matter that doesn’t smell right to me. It has the stench of prejudice and a premature jumping to conclusions about those who comprise a certain minority group in Texas.

According to the Texas Tribune, county officials so far have discovered “at least 20,000” individuals targeted by the state were eligible to vote. Will there be more of them?

I am one Texan who wants to know how and why these individuals were flagged by the top state elections official.