Category Archives: local news

You tell ’em, Kel

Kel Seliger’s status as a lame-duck Texas state senator appears to have given the veteran Republican legislator some gumption as he has delivered a harsh reality to the state’s efforts at redrawing its legislative districts.

Seliger, who hails from Amarillo, said in a court deposition that the GOP-controlled Legislature broke the law in redrawing the boundaries in Senate District 10. “Having participated in the 2011 and 2013 Senate Select Redistricting Committee proceedings and having read the prior federal court decision regarding SD10, it was obvious to me that the renewed effort to dismantle SD 10 violated the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution,” Seliger said in his remarks to the court.

According to the Texas Tribune: Under the map passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature, some Black and Hispanic populations previously in District 10 were split into two other districts with majority-white electorates. The Black and Hispanic voters who remain in the newly drawn District 10, in urban areas of south Fort Worth, were lumped in with several rural, mostly white counties to the south and west that drive up the district’s population of white eligible voters while diminishing the number of voters of color.

GOP Sen. Kel Seliger says Texas violated federal voting rights law | The Texas Tribune

Well … isn’t that what many critics of the Legislature have alleged against Republicans who control the body?

Now we have one of the Legislature’s top GOP senators saying that he agrees with the critics. Is that what I am reading? I believe that’s the case.

To which I say only that it would have been good to hear such candor coming when Sen. Seliger was still in the thick of the fight. As it stands now, he is on the sidelines and is heading for the exit at the end of the year.

I say this as a friend of the senator. I consider him to have been an effective representative for the Texas Panhandle, where I lived for more than two decades. Seliger and I go back a while and I have long admired him for his independent streak and his pluck while serving in the Senate.

I mean, any guy who can piss off fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, as Seliger has done, is OK in my book.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We’re in good hands

An interview I had with a young man reminded me of what I have known intellectually for a very long time, but at times gets lost in the melee of the moment.

I have known in my heart and my head that the next generation that will succeed us as we pass from the scene will do a stellar job of taking care of the world we leave behind. Indeed, it likely will make it better.

The young man is a Farmersville High School senior. He is a straight-A student. I asked him whether his good grades put him in the running for valedictorian or salutatorian. He scoffed at the suggestion. “Oh no,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of kids who are doing better than I am.”

This young man, Matthew Day, built a trailer from scratch as part of a Future Farmers of America project. It is magnificent vehicle he will use to haul equipment.

I mentioned this young man’s accomplishment to someone, who said, “It gives me hope.” Me, too.

I am reminded of the temptation we all have to denigrate the younger generation. I hear it all the time from those who say, “Kids today … ” don’t do this or that. Or that “kids today” are — pick the epithet you want — spoiled, entitled, lazy, shiftless.

Baloney!

The younger generation is just like all those who preceded them throughout all of human history. They will rise to meet whatever challenge rises up to confront them.

I reminded my friend, the one who said she has “hope” that the future is in good hands, of something that Plato said about four centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ. Plato lamented that young people possessed bad manners, that they lacked respect for their elders and worried that the world was heading straight for hell. The Greek philosopher was a smart man, to be sure, but he missed the boat on that one.

I met a wonderful young man the other day and I remain as committed as ever to the notion that he merely symbolizes the best of his generation … and that our world will be just fine once we old folks check out.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Puppy Tales, Part 93: He dresses himself

It’s been far too long since I have bragged about Toby the Puppy.

So … here comes another tidbit about our smart puppy. He has learned to virtually dress himself. Yep, that’s right. Here’s what I mean.

We like putting shirts and/or sweaters on him during these cold snaps. His fur is light and he is a bit prone to the shivers when the temperature drops too significantly.

What do we do? We fetch his sweater, slip it over his head and one front leg at a time, he lifts the leg so we can slip it through the opening in his garment; we do the same thing with the other front leg.

There you go.

It wasn’t all that long ago that we had to struggle to get Toby to cooperate with us as we sought to keep him warm from the cold weather. Those of us who have raised children know what I’m talking about. If a kid doesn’t want to wear something, it’s a serious chore getting him or her to comply. Same can be said about puppies.

Toby the Puppy was one of those problem “children.” Until now.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Peel off those labels

Driving this morning along U.S. 380 to McKinney, Texas, I noticed the highway is festooned with campaign signs in advance of the March primary election.

One sign caught my attention, not because I support the fellow whose name is on it. The sign said “Cris Trevino … Republican” for constable in Collin County.

I don’t know Cris Trevino from the Man in the Moon, but what caught my interest was the term “Republican” on a sign pitching a candidacy for constable.

My first thought was: Why should I care whether this guy is a Republican or a Democrat?

My second thought was: What is the difference in the way a Republican or Democrat serves court papers to individuals, which is what constables generally are assigned to do? 

I’ll stipulate up front that I detest the constable’s office in the first place. We don’t need constables, but we have ’em because the Texas Constitution says we should have ’em.

I dislike the partisan election of so many of our down-ballot offices. Constables need not identify with one party or the other. The only qualification they need to demonstrate is whether they are fit to serve as a law enforcement officer. I mean, why must we turn cops into politicians?

I have in the past made the argument that we can turn a whole array of down-ballot races into non-partisan choices. County clerk? County treasurer? Tax assessor-collector? District clerk? District attorney? County attorney?

What the … ?

Why must we identify these individuals by the political party to which they belong? I already have spoken on this blog about the partisan election of judges. No need to repeat myself on that one.

If we cannot get rid of the constable’s office — which owes its existence to a powerful lobby at work in Austin — then we ought at least force the individuals running for this office to do so on their qualifications and not on the party to which they belong.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Keep eyes on Empower Texans

I want to issue a stern warning to Texas residents. It is to keep all eyes on a group of political radicals that is likely feeling its Wheaties right about now.

Empower Texans is going to get involved in legislative races again this year just as it has done in several election cycles. This group presents a clear and present danger to our way of life.

I have been able to watch these clowns seek to unseat solid Republican legislators in Texas. Republicans are their targets in the primary season. Why? Because some GOP legislators aren’t conservative enough to suit these nut jobs.

So, Empower Texans recruits candidates to challenge solid GOP lawmakers, hoping to knock enough of them off to be able to steer the legislative agenda in the next Legislature.

They have been active in conservative corners of the state, such as the Panhandle. Empower Texans has drawn a bead for many years on state Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo, a man I know well. In 2018, Empower Texans recruited two far-right wingers to challenge Seliger; the senator fended them off in the primary and won that race without having to go to a runoff.

Empower Texans also went after state Rep. Four Price, another Amarillo lawmaker, a young man who has become a rising star in Texas politics. ET found a guy from Fritch to challenge Price, but he got smoked in a head-to-head primary matchup.

Seliger isn’t running this year. He’s done. Seliger has engaged in one too many disputes with arch conservatives in the Senate, starting with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, with whom he has had a testy relationship ever since Patrick got elected to preside over the Senate in 2014.

Empower Texans will seek to unseat reasonable Republicans in the ensuing primary season and replace them with American First knock-off GOP pretenders.

These clowns give me great concern, as Texas already is tilting too far to the right to suit my political taste. We need to stave off this push to move one of our two major parties onto the far-right fringes of political thought.

Women’s reproductive rights appear to be a lost cause. However, we need to protect public education, the quest for renewable energy sources and a judicial system capable of showing some compassion.

Empower Texans presents a clear and present danger to what is left of reasonable political thought in this state.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Moving day at City Hall

Princeton City Hall is about to pack up and move to a new location down the road a bit.

It figures to be a proverbial cakewalk, according to City Manager Derek Borg, who once told me he has been through this already and, thus, he expects a relatively smooth transition from the cramped quarters that City Hall occupies into a vastly more spacious and modern complex east along U.S. Highway 380.

Moving day actually will occur over the span of two days, Jan. 27 and 28, city officials announced recently. There will be a grand opening set for March 11. Mayor Brianna Chacon wants to have it during students’ spring break to ensure that residents can be available to attend and relish what the city will unveil to the public.

It’s a huge deal.

The city spent $20 million to build the municipal complex on donated land on the north side of the highway. It’s a fabulous array of office space, comprising about eight times the space the city now uses. Borg told me the new complex will bring virtually all municipal government departments under one roof.

The complex will feature plenty of glass, lots of windows as a symbolic statement of the “transparency” the city hopes to convey to the public. Future plans call for plenty of green space, retail space and an entertainment venue for residents to enjoy, according to the city manager.

But … first things first.

I don’t think Derek Borg is predicting a hiccup-free move. However, he will take on whatever challenges arise with joyful determination that once everyone settles in, they will be able to provide top-flight municipal service to the residents who are footing the bill.

Good luck to you all.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Battle set for Texas Senate District 31

A conversation I had this week with a friend and former colleague informed me of a battle for political power that is developing in the Texas Panhandle.

It involves Texas Senate District 31, which has been occupied since 2004 by Kel Seliger of Amarillo; Seliger is not seeking re-election this year, leaving the seat vacant for the next person to emerge from an expected tough battle.

I am biased, to be sure, but I hope the seat remains in the hands of a Texas Panhandle politician. Seliger served as Amarillo mayor before moving to the Senate; his predecessor, Teel Bivins also hailed from Amarillo; as did the fellow who preceded Bivins, Bill Sarpalius.

Kevin Sparks of Midland has declared his candidacy for the seat. I am looking for good things, though, to come from Tim Reid, a retired FBI agent who returned to Amarillo after retiring from the federal government.

Reid is no stranger to local political office. He served on the Canyon school district board before being transferred by the FBI to a new station back east.

Reid is appealing for a major reason: He is not aligned with Empower Texans, the far-right conservative political action committee that has targeted Seliger for years. It has recruited candidates to run against Seliger, who in turn has spoken ill of the individuals who run the PAC. Empower Texans has endorsed Sparks to succeed Seliger. Reid is running as the anti-Empower Texans candidate. He would have my vote … if I lived in Amarillo.

I am casually acquainted with Reid. He served on the Canyon school board for a time after I arrived in the Panhandle in early 1995 to run the opinion pages of the Amarillo Globe-News. Still, since he is running as a traditional Republican in a district populated more and more by the wacko wing of the GOP, I want to offer him a good word as he seeks to hold the seat for the Panhandle.

The Panhandle already has a nut job representing it in Congress in the person of Ronny Jackson. It doesn’t need another far-right fruitcake representing it in the Texas Senate.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Feeling unprecedented anger

What in this weird world is it about Donald J. Trump that makes me respond with such visceral anger at anything that expresses support for this guy?

And what is it that makes me do things I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing in response to other politicians with whom I have disagreements?

Case in point …

I ventured into a convenience store the other evening in Princeton, Texas, where I live. I went there looking for a bag of chips to satisfy my munchy craze. I picked up the chips, turned to pay and then I noticed a rack full of Trump propaganda. There were Confederate symbols, bumper stickers that said, “Let’s go, Brandon,” one that said, “Fighting terrorists since 1861,” one that pitched a “Trump 2024” campaign. There were an assortment of other materials pronouncing support for this clown.

I put the chips back on the shelf and walked out. I have since vowed I never will darken that convenience store ever again.

So help me, I have not yet come to grips with the intense anger I feel toward this guy. My goodness, he came within a whisker of destroying the presidency, he lost an election and then sought to overturn the results of that free, fair and legal balloting. Why? Because he cannot stand the notion of losing an election to a better man.

He is vengeful. Trump is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg. He is an amoral narcissist with delusions of godhood.

Wow! OK, I feel better now that I got that off my chest.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Governor’s race presents conundrum

The upcoming Republican Party primary race for Texas governor presents a serious conundrum for GOP voters.

They will get to choose from among three top-tier candidates, two of whom are nut jobs.

We have the governor, Greg Abbott; challenging him are former Texas GOP chairman Allen West and former state senator Don Huffines. I won’t vote in the GOP primary this March, but I do have a thought or two I want to share.

Abbott is being challenged on the right by West and Huffines. Those two clowns don’t believe Abbott is conservative enough. West is the former one-term Florida congressman who moved to Texas because his political career in Florida was shot; Huffines is another far right-winger who says we need to ban all immigration into Texas.

Then we have Abbott, the guy who is fighting with the Biden administration over mask mandates.

I believe Abbott will survive this primary challenge, chiefly because West and Huffines are going to carve up the nut-job vote, paving the way for Abbott to skate to the party nomination.

It reminds me of the Texas Senate District 31 race in 2018 that enabled Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo to win his party’s nomination in a three-man race. His foes that year were former Midland mayor Mike Canon and Amarillo businessman Victor Leal. Both men sought to outflank Seliger on the far right. Seliger ran as a true-blue,  mainstream Texas conservative and won the primary fight with 50.4 percent of the vote; no runoff was needed.

Canon and Leal split the goofball vote in that year’s Senate GOP primary.

I see the same thing happening this year in the GOP primary for governor.

Texas politics is really weird, indeed.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

What will happen to this site?

I lived in Amarillo, Texas, for 23 years and worked each day for nearly 18 of those years at the Globe-News, a once-good newspaper.

My daily journalism career came to an end in August 2012. The newspaper remains, but at this point it is a newspaper in name only. Yes, the paper still publishes seven days a week. It no longer publishes at the building where it operated for many decades. The printing press is in Lubbock and I don’t know how they handle business affairs, or circulation matters.

The newsroom? A formerly vibrant working environment has been all but eliminated; they’re down to maybe two or three reporters and some stringers (I guess).

The building is vacant. It is in a state of architectural decomposition. The corporate moguls vacated the building and moved what is left of the staff to an office in a downtown bank tower.

The once-proud structure is “tagged” with graffiti. They put out a fire inside the structure a few weeks ago.

The company that used to own the newspaper is still trying to sell the building, from what I hear. I do not know the state of that effort, such as whether it is being marketed aggressively. I don’t get back often to Amarillo, but my hunch is that it is just going to rot some more.

I want to lament the demise of that structure one more time.

The Globe-News used to aspire to becoming a great newspaper. It didn’t quite get there. We did a good job of reporting the news during my time there. I tried to lend some leadership via the opinion pages during my tenure as editor of those pages.

That was then. The here and now suggests to me that the newspaper itself is fading into the community’s past. It saddens me greatly.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com