Category Archives: local news

Sen. Seliger takes aim at veto power

By John Kanelis /

Kel Seliger already has antagonized Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Now he has drawn a bead (so to speak) on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The Amarillo Republican state senator has filed a bill that seeks to overrule the governor’s line-item veto power.

According to Amarillo Matters, a political action committee based in the Texas Panhandle: Senator Kel Seliger filed a bill to remove Governor Greg Abbott’s line-item veto power. The move comes after Abbott used his Executive Power to veto Article X of the State’s budget, which includes funding for House and Senate lawmakers, their staffers, and those working in nonpartisan legislative agencies. In a tweet, Seliger said, “Out of frustration, the Governor vetoed all funding for the Legislative Branch because Democrats broke quorum. But, vetoing this funding doesn’t punish legislators who left. It punishes regular, hard-working folks who have nothing to do with voting for or against bills.”  

My hunch is that Seliger isn’t going to align with legislative Democrats in their dispute with the GOP over voting restrictions proposed in legislation. Democrats bolted the Legislature to deny the quorum required to enact legislation.

However, Seliger is correct in identifying Abbott’s motives and his hideous overreaction to what Texas legislative Democrats did. He isn’t punishing Democratic politicians. Abbott is taking his anger out on the hard-working staffers who have done nothing to incur the governor’s wrath.

A silver lining in the vote fraud scam?

By John Kanelis /

I want to make a declaration I never thought I could make, as it involves the 45th president of the United States, aka the ex-Moron in Chief.

All this scandalous nonsense about the security of the 2020 presidential election is going to produce future election cycles that no one is likely to be able to challenge at any level.

I credit the 45th POTUS for the security we will witness in real time of future elections: for president, for Congress, for state legislatures, for countywide office, for municipal and school district office.

Our attention has been riveted on the issue of election security. Granted, I do not buy for one second the veracity of the allegations that the 45th POTUS has leveled at the 2020 presidential election. I do, though, buy into the notion that our state and county elections officials’ alert levels have risen to unprecedented levels.

The future of our electoral system, I submit without reservation, actually looks brighter because we have spent so much time in this post-election period discussing the issue of ballot security.

I cannot begin to predict that there won’t be some crackpot in the future who will raise the noxious stink that POTUS 45 has raised since losing the 2020 election. He lost it bigly: 7 million ballots and a 306-232 tally in the Electoral College. He keeps yammering about vote fraud, but produces not a shred of evidence to substantiate his slanderous attacks on the electoral process.

There has been a positive result, though. I am quite certain the ex-Numbskull in Chief has elevated electoral security awareness all along the political chain of command. I have known many county clerks in Texas and Oregon who have worked themselves to near-collapse seeking to protect the integrity of the voting process. They have done their jobs well and with honor. Thus, they do not deserve to be slandered in the manner they have suffered from the mouth of POTUS 45.

They will no doubt redouble their efforts in the future.

I am certain our electoral process will remain secure, safe and legal.

These men are true heroes

By John Kanelis /

While watching the four D.C. and Capitol police officers testify before a House committee on the harrowing events of Jan. 6, I was drawn back to an experience I once had while working in Amarillo, Texas.

I also was reminded of something I have believed for as long as I have believed anything: police officers perform heroic acts every day. 

In 2003, I attended a citizens police academy hosted by the Amarillo Police Department. It was an 11-week course that acquainted class members with many aspects of police work.

I long have believed in the heroism that officers perform while protecting us. I also am aware of the heat many of them have gotten in recent years over the manner they have behaved and the injustice they have delivered at times in the performance of their duty.

The men who spoke to the House select committee about what they experienced during the Capitol Hill insurrection brought much of that belief into vivid view as I recalled my brief exposure to police work during my academy stint.

These four men demonstrated their heroism on that terrible day. They have earned our eternal respect and gratitude.


Speak up, Mac!

By John Kanelis /

There is no way on God’s good Earth that this will happen, but I am going to ask it anyway of a man I know fairly well.

Mac Thornberry no longer serves in Congress; he retired at the end of 2020 after serving for 25 years as a congressman representing the 13th District in the House of Representatives. He hails from Clarendon and represented the Texas Panhandle.

He was succeeded — certainly not replaced — by a blowhard right-winger, Ronny Jackson, who now says that President Biden should resign because he doesn’t have the mental acuity to do the job.

My request of Mac Thornberry is this: Will you issue a statement condemning the antics of the moron who succeeded you?

I have no direct contact these days with Thornberry. I don’t even know where he lives. Some of his key former congressional aides and allies do read this blog. Perhaps they will forward this request to him. I got to know Thornberry well, working for 18 years as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News. Mac and I started our new gigs during the same week in January 1995: he as a congressman and me at the AGN.

I am simply astonished and appalled at Jackson’s conduct since taking office. He has become a Twitter troll who models his public pronouncements after the 45th POTUS, a fellow he served for a time as White House physician. The ex-POTUS wanted Jackson to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, but then pulled his nomination when it was alleged that the retired Navy admiral drank on the job and issued prescriptions to individuals whom, um, didn’t need them. He earned the nickname “Candy Man,” if you get my drift.

Now he’s in Congress and has become a favorite of right-wing media talk-show hosts because of his incessant criticism of President Biden. He has launched a senseless, mindless, brainless, thoughtless campaign against the COVID vaccine campaign, declaring as recently as this past week that the “pandemic is over.” Well, it ain’t over … doc!

As for Thornberry, he is enjoying retired life somewhere these days. I just wish he could expend some of the political capital he acquired by condemning the blather that keeps pouring forth from the guy who took his seat in Congress.

Soddies have firm grip on fans

By John Kanelis /

Amarillo’s Central League baseball team, the Sod Poodles, are struggling a bit on the field this year. They are in last place in their division.

But … there’s some good news to report on the team that won the Texas League pennant in their first year of existence in 2019.

The fans are still flocking to Hodgetown, the shiny new ballpark that sits along Buchanan Street in downtown Amarillo. How do I know that, given I now live in Princeton, a suburb of Dallas?

I get the Sunday Dallas Morning News each week. I went out this morning to pick it up off my driveway. I opened the sports page and turned to the Central League box scores. I saw that the Sod Poodles had lost a game Saturday night at home to the Frisco Roughriders. However, they played before a packed house at Hodgetown.

This is good news on at least one important level. It tells me that the Sod Squad — a social media group — isn’t just a gaggle of fair-weather fans who cheer the Sod Poodles on only when they win. They’re with ’em through thick and thin. Let’s face it, they’ve hit a “thin” patch this season after sitting out all of 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

I remain proud of the baseball community in Amarillo, where my wife and I lived for 23 years before relocating to the Dallas ‘burbs.

Retired Amarillo College President Paul Matney, a vocal proponent of bringing minor-league ball back to Amarillo, once referred to his hometown as a “baseball city.”

That means they’re in it for the long haul with the team that many folks fought hard to bring to the High Plains.

Pride causes stir

By John Kanelis /

Pride has shown itself in Princeton in a manner – depending on your point of view – that presents a positive or a negative image for a rapidly growing Collin County community.

The term “pride” refers to gay pride and a movement among those to declare one’s pride in their sexual orientation. Princeton was the site of its first LGBTQ+Pride celebration on June 26 … and organizers intend for it to be the start of an annual event.

It caused more than a little bit of an uproar in the community, according to Mayor Brianna Chacon and those on both sides of the divide over the manner in which the event took place.

It occurred at Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Princeton. Chacon said it was “not a city-sponsored event.” It was attended by slightly more than 200 people who came in the name of gay pride. There were the usual food and drink vendors found at such community events. There also was an array of entertainment – namely a show featuring “drag queens” — that some folks found offensive; others said it was no big deal to put on a drag show.

The Princeton City Council amended an ordinance at its July 12 meeting that tightens the permit process for staging community events. According to Chacon, the city previously did not require a permit for a non-profit organization, such as the one that staged the LGBT+Pride event. Now it does. The amended ordinance would subject all groups to the permit process, including non-profits.

Critics of the pride event say the amended ordinance doesn’t go far enough in establishing who can apply for a permit. They told council members that the city should be able to ban certain groups from staging events in public places. Those who stand with the gay pride movement have suggested the city acted in response to the criticism it got from social conservatives. Chacon denies the accusation that the city was responding to LGBT+Pride critics. “We were considering changes in our permit ordinance before the event took place,” Chacon said.

Charlise Lee, a Princeton resident and a co-founder of the non-profit organization that staged the event, said the enactment of ordinance “seems like a huge coincidence” coming as it did after the protests emerged from the pride event.

Chacon considers herself an “LGBT advocate” and denies any attempt on the part of the City Council to get back at the pride event organizers by amending an ordinance covering public events; the council voted unanimously to approve the new rules.

“The previous ordinance was too vague,” she said. “It consisted of just six pages. Now everyone needs a permit issued by the city” for gatherings in publicly owned places, such as Veterans Park, she said.

The non-profit that staged the event, PTX Diverse, disputes the criticism leveled at the celebration. The drag show was not “lewd” or “obscene,” as some have contended, they say.

Lee co-founded PTX Diverse, and said the drag queen show bore no resemblance to the criticism that some have leveled against it. She said the entertainers were “fully covered,” some with “nude-colored leggings,” which she described as an “illusion.” Lee, a 36-year-old mother of eight children, said she has seen “more sexualized activity at a high school football game.”

Lee said she and her husband moved to Princeton a couple of years ago from Dallas. She added that one of her children, 16-year-old Brandyn, has come out as “pansexual,” which she described as someone who is attracted to both men and women. She said her son has a “trans boyfriend” who is in the process of transitioning from female to male.

The Princeton Herald reported in its July 15 edition that some residents were offended by what they understood occurred at the park. According to the Herald: “Princeton ISD board member Cyndi Darland said she was out of town when the event occurred, but she did watch a video of it and began a petition to prohibit lewd behavior in public. ‘I saw several alarming things,’ Darland said. ‘You have to be 21 in Las Vegas to go to something like this.’”

Lee said PTX Diverse intends to stage a LGBTQ+Pride event next June 26, but likely will move it to the site of the former World War II POW Camp next to J.M. Caldwell Municipal Park.

Lee said she and fellow PTX Diverse founders – John and Brandy Kusterbeck, also of Princeton – formed the organization to “educate people on the needs of those who seek acceptance for being who they are.” PTX Diverse has a Facebook page that Lee said currently has 561 followers, which she considers to be a sign of growing acceptance of the message that PTX Diverse seeks to deliver.

She said next year’s pride event will be “bigger and better” than the first-ever event that occurred this past month. Lee said that as a non-profit, PTX Diverse is seeking money to help pay expenses associated with future events. One of those expenses involves paying for off-duty police officers to provide protection. The amended ordinance, which is still to be written, would allow for non-profits such as PTX Diverse to pay for police protection.

Lee also said she plans to enact rules for future pride events that require entertainers to avoid the “perception” that some might have that they are engaging in what critics describe as “lewd behavior.”

Lee also said she intends to “hold Brianna (Chacon) to her word that she is an ‘advocate’” for LGBT rights. “We are going to send teams out there to counsel these kids,” Lee said. “They need someone to talk to.”

Note: This blog was published initially on

We do not need POTUS 45 in office

By John Kanelis /

I have believed this for some time, but it needs to be said anyway.

U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Amarillo, is out of his fu**ing mind! He is nuts. Bonkers, Loony. Certifiably nuts.

He pushed out a Twitter note this morning in which he said that the 45th president of the U.S. of A. “needs to return to the White House.”

Umm. No. He doesn’t. He needs to be committed, sent away, banished from the halls of power.

POTUS 45 is an existential threat to the government of the country he once led. He is a liar, an insurrectionist, a seditionist, a morally bankrupt con man.

But he’s got his friends in Congress. One of them is Rep. Jackson, who now represents the congressional district where I once lived.

These idiots deserve each other.

Puppy Tales, Part 91: Still learning about skills

By John Kanelis /

Toby the Puppy cannot speak English, at least as I understand the language. He does, however, “speak” in a unique way that I have learned to comprehend.

He answers “yes” to questions by doing something in the moment that he does not do any other time.

“Are you hungry?” I might ask. “Do you want to go for a walk?” “Do you want to ride in the truck?” “Do you want to go see Emma?”

If the answer is “yes” to any or all of those queries — which almost always is the case — he responds by grabbing one his many chew toys that he has thrown around every room in our house.

He then shakes the toy. He throws it in the air. He growls at whatever toy he grabs. He might even bark at it.

That is how Toby the Puppy communicates his agreement with whatever question my bride and I would pose to him.

Oh, how do I know when he says “no”? No sweat. He doesn’t do anything. He might offer us a hang-dog look. What question produces something akin to a negative response? “Do you want to take bath?” He doesn’t fight the bath, but clearly it isn’t among his favorite things to do.

He joined our family more than seven years ago. We learn more about him almost daily. I am quite certain Toby the Puppy has his Mommy and me figured out.

Seen: a live armadillo!

By John Kanelis /

MARTIN DIES JR. STATE PARK, Texas — You know the saying about there being “a first time for everything.”

This particular “first time” took many decades to present itself.

My wife and I saw a live armadillo scampering along a park road in this lovely state park deep in the Pineywoods of East Texas.

You see, we moved to Texas in 1984. That was — gulp! — 37 years ago. The armadillos I had ever seen — until we got here — were those that had been, um, reduced to road kill along our many thousands of miles of highways and bi-ways.

I once wrote a column for the Beaumont Enterprise — where I worked for nearly 11 years after arriving in Texas — about my frustration in never seeing a live armadillo. The only such critters I had seen had been of the type I described a few seconds ago.

We moved to Amarillo in 1995 and I was utterly certain we would see them a-plenty along the arid Caprock. Hah! Fat chance! Indeed, I noticed far fewer armadillo carcasses than we had seen along the Gulf Coast.

Over many years we have traveled the length and breadth of this vast state. Live armadillo sighting? Not a chance.

Until we ventured to Martin Dies Jr. SP.

My hope now for the little critter is that he/she stays the heck out of the way of oncoming traffic.

CPAC loons stand out

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By John Kanelis /

If only this message could get to a former Texas congressman who retired at the beginning of the year and has been succeeded by a certifiable nut case.

I will post this rebuke anyway in the hope that Mac Thornberry sees what one of his former constituents thinks of the lunatic who took his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ronny Jackson, a Republican (of course), attended the Conservative Political Action Conference festivities this weekend in Dallas. He then promptly made a case — from my vantage point — for why he should be stripped of his medical license.

The doc decided to offer a “diagnosis” of President Biden that, shall we say, was unflattering in the extreme. He asserted — without ever examining the president — that Joe Biden suffers from cognitive decline; that he has dementia; that he is unfit for office.

Jackson is now the 13th Congressional District representative in Congress. He tweets what he calls his brains out daily. Then he shows up at these right-wing feeding frenzies and says patently untrue things about the commander in chief.

Why mention Mac Thornberry? Well, I know Thornberry pretty well. I covered him while I worked as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News from 1995 until 2012. He took office the same week I reported for duty in the Panhandle. Not one time did I ever see or hear Thornberry use the kind of incendiary language that pours forth from Ronny Jackson’s pie hole. Did I agree with Thornberry? No. I didn’t. My point is that Thornberry conducted himself with a certain quiet dignity that clearly is missing in the loon who succeeded him.

Ronny Jackson, the former Navy rear admiral, is appealing to the same rabid fanatical base that supports the disgraced 45th POTUS. What’s more, he is offering medical diagnoses without any basis for them. For that reason alone this nut job needs to surrender his medical license.

Mac … are you out there? Speak to us! Tell us that your successor — not the current president — is unfit for his job!