Category Archives: local news

Toby has ‘issues’

More than a few readers of this blog have inquired over the years about the pooch whose face you see here. He is Toby the Puppy and he is my constant companion.

Well … I have some news to report about my Puppy. He is going to undergo aggressive treatment for cancer. That’s all the bad news I have. I have plenty of good news to report regarding my furry pal.

The illness is contained in one spot. He is showing zero signs of discomfort. Toby the Puppy continues to exhibit a voracious appetite and his thirst is virtually unquenchable … meaning that he’s drinking a lot of water.

That’s all very good news, according to the board certified veterinary oncologist who saw him today.

What’s next will be determined in the next day or two. He’s going to get a CT scan. The doc asked me to take him back to spend the day so she and her staff can collect a generous urine sample.

I want to share this news with you only because so many readers of this blog have seemingly enjoyed reading about his travels with my bride and me. We have taken him all over this great land and through half of Canada. He’s seen all of it and enjoyed along with his parents.

We, of course, lost my bride — Kathy Anne — in February. Toby the Puppy has stepped up to fulfill the role that falls on those of his species. He has become this “man’s best friend.” 

The doctor isn’t making any promises on the treatment and whether it will rid him of the disease. She is optimistic, though, that the aggressive path she intends to pursue will produce positive results. “We absolutely can control this thing,” she told my son and me today.

And I have made it abundantly clear — several times, in fact — that I want her to deploy any method she feels is possible to control it and, hopefully, to get rid of it.

Toby the Puppy is a trooper of the first order. He is my champion.


Dallas mayor joins GOP … so?

Why the hubbub over Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson announcing he now belongs to the Republican Party?

I heard about this morning and thought immediately: big, fu**ing deal!

Johnson serves as mayor of the state’s third-largest city. But you know what? He serves as a “non-partisan” elected official. That’s how it generally goes in Texas. Municipal officeholders don’t run under a partisan banner. We don’t elect these folks because they are Democrat, Republican, independent, Libertarian … whatever. We elect them because they might pledge to do something that we could support: street repair, more cops on the beat, more efficient trash pickup … those kinds of things.

It took Gov. Greg Abbott no time at all to “congratulate” because of his party switch. Again … BFD.

Why did Mayor Johnson make such a big deal of his partisan switcheroo? He might be considering a run for higher office, which requires candidates to run under a partisan banner. If that’s the case, well, it’s his choosing. He did serve as a Democrat in the Legislature before running for Dallas mayor.

Oh well. I will not spend another minute even thinking about it.

Dan Patrick: no surprises

The more I think about it, the less surprised I should be about Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s in-your-face reaction to Attorney General Ken Paxton’s acquittal in his two-week-long impeachment trial.

Patrick has called for a full audit of the expenses incurred during the impeachment of the attorney general that ended up in the laps of 30 Texas senators. Patrick accused the House of Representatives of acting in a political manner when it impeached Paxton on multiple charges of corruption.

When you think about, Patrick’s assertion is as absurd and laughable as it gets. Why is that? Because 121 House members voted to impeach Paxton, and that number includes a lot of Republicans who crossed the great chasm to impeach the AG. Which begs the question: Did the Republican House members fall victim to their partisan instincts? Hardly! They voted their conscience.

Yes, Patrick stayed out of the way during the trial. I am grasping for a reason, though, why he chose to level the audit threat against the House for doing its constitutional duty.

The dude got the outcome he seemingly wanted, which was an acquittal of Paxton, who became the subject of the GOP-led House impeachment probe after several top AG department legal eagles quit in disgust … and then blew the whistle on what they reportedly witnessed.

Why did it surprise me, then, when he started hurling accusations at epithets at the Texas House? I guess I expected more from someone who arguably occupies the most powerful elected office in Texas. Lt. Gov. Patrick damn sure didn’t need to throw his weight around … or so I thought.

Silly me.

Patrick fills me with regret

Dan Patrick quickly made me regret that I issued a compliment to him over the way he had presided over the impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The lieutenant governor, who presides over the Texas Senate, received a bouquet from me because he seemed to be impartial and unbiased in his handling of the trial in the Senate.

Then came Paxton’s acquittal by 30 senators … and what did Patrick do? He shot off his pie hole by declaring that the Texas House that had impeached Paxton had wasted Texans’ tax money by alleging that Paxton had committed impeachable offenses. Paxton was impeached overwhelmingly, I must add, in a bipartisan vote among House members.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a fellow Republican, was having none of that, telling Patrick that the lieutenant governor only has revealed his bias. I’ll go with Phelan on this one.

I hate having regrets over what I spew on this blog. But I’ll be damned if I am feeling them now, with Patrick suggesting that he was able to hide his bias.

Oh, and now he wants to conduct an audit of the money spent to impeach the attorney general and then put him on trial. What does he hope to find? That the money went to partisan interests whose mission was to enough evidence to convict the AG?

Sounds as if Patrick has ripped a page out of the congressional GOP caucus’s playbook as it seeks to find a reason — any reason — to impeach a U.S. president.

Constituent service comes through

You have heard it said that “there’s a first time for everything.” Well, I experienced something for the first time and I want to offer a good word to my congressman and his staff for helping me resolve an issue important to me.

I recently changed the financial institution that receives my monthly Social Security payment. It was supposed to have arrived early this week; it didn’t. I called the office of U.S. Rep. Keith Self, R-McKinney and asked the young man who took the call if he had “someone there who works exclusively” on Social Security matters. “Yes we do,” he said and then hooked me with up a colleague.

I told the Social Security guru about my issue. I asked for some help. He referred me to a website link to Self’s online info page. I filled it out.

The staffers could not have been more receptive to my concern. They pledged to get right on it. I believe they did,

Oh, but wait. My Social Security benefit arrived overnight at the bank. Problem solved. I just was a bit premature, I suppose, in seeking help from my congressman.

Then I got an email with an attachment that contained a note from Rep. Self. “Dear John,” the noted stated, adding that he was working to resolve the issue. Another staffer called me later in the day and I informed her that my issue is resolved.

I had never called my congressman for help on a matter such as this one. I discovered that at least one member of Congress is serious about tending to constituents’ needs when they arise … and I want to thank him for his staff’s response.

Next trek delayed

For those who have any sort of interest in my travels and my recovery from the passing of my beloved Kathy Anne, this brief blog post is for you.

I had planned on shoving off soon for points west with Toby the Puppy. That excursion has been delayed. Not by any sort of emotional meltdown on my part. No, it has to do with Toby the Puppy.

He needs a bit of medical attention. Toby has been suffering from a urinary tract infection that we cannot shake. He’s feeling fine. His appetite is good. He’s drinking lots of water. He’s full of vim and vigor.

In other words, he’s his usual hysterical self. Our veterinarian in Princeton, though, referred Toby to a diagnostic clinic in Plano. So … he checks in tomorrow for a through going-over. The clinic has the resources and the equipment required to look at him carefully.

We’re going to get to the root of this UTI, going to fix it.

Then … we’ll hit the road. That’s the latest.

College stands tall

Someone will have to help me solve a mystery about a community my wife and I called home for more than 23 years.

Of all the public institutions with which we dealt over the years, only one of them — Amarillo College — has remained unscathed by tension, turmoil, tumult. AC recently bid adieu to its latest president, Russell Lowery-Hart, who has become chancellor of the Austin Community College System.

He received a rousing sendoff from the college and the community that supports it. Contrast that with the recent departure of Amarillo City Manager Jared Miller, who basically got canned by the City Council over differences between Miller and council policy direction.

I will acknowledge it hasn’t always been this smooth at AC. I arrived in Amarillo in early 1995 and became acquainted immediately with former AC president Bud Joyner. Fred Williams and Steve Jones followed Joyner; Williams’ tenure didn’t go quite so well. Then came longtime AC administrator Paul Matney’s turn as president. He restored the college’s standing in grand fashion, guiding the school to expanding its presence in communities outside of Amarillo.

You want some more contrast? How about the dust-up with the Canyon ISD over curriculum and books being offered to students? Then we have the 2019 brouhaha in the Amarillo ISD over the resignation of a high school volleyball coach and her assertion that an AISD trustee had meddled in the way the coach was doing her job.

Meanwhile, Amarillo College has continued to flourish, continued to expand its reach into the community. It has restored intercollegiate athletic offerings to its students, plastering the Badger image all over the main campus on Washington Street to remind us of the school’s athletic team nickname and mascot.

AC has selected an interim president. The board of regents will look for a permanent president in due course. The good news for the regents, I’ll venture a guess, will be that it won’t be in a huge hurry to find a permanent president, given the school’s current solid condition.

Back to my initial inquiry at the top of this post. Is there a way for AC to market its formula for success and pitch it to other public institutions that have struggled with maintaining the trust of its constituents?

GOP gap widens with acquittal

Dan Patrick wasted no time in displaying his partisan stripes after the Texas Senate acquitted Attorney General Ken Paxton of the charges leveled against him by the House of Reps that impeached him.

The lieutenant governor blasted the House for “wasting” taxpayers’ money on an impeachment that didn’t produce a conviction on any of the 16 charges examined by senators.

Fellow Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan fired back, calling Patrick’s remarks unseemly while defending the House for acting on a legitimate complaint brought by the House panel charged with investigating wrongdoing in state government. Phelan said this in a statement:

Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial escalates Republican civil war | The Texas Tribune

OK, I’ll go with Phelan’s view of this intraparty civil war that now appears ready to burst into full-throated venom.

From my seat in North Texas, the House acted within its purview. The Senate acted, too, within its own set of rules. I disagree with the Senate’s findings and its conclusion, which of course shouldn’t surprise anyone.

As for the process being a waste of time and money, it was nothing of the sort. If anything, the Senate well might have been the major wasters by closing its collective mind to what the House investigators determined when they recommended impeachment.

AG goes back to work … but how?

Well, I guess Ken Paxton goes back to work as the chief law enforcement officer in Texas.

But how in the world does he do that, given all he has been through and all the negative exposure his conduct has brought to the state?

The Texas Senate acquitted Paxton on 16 charges brought against him by the overwhelming House decision to impeach him. Fourteen senators voted to convict, with 16 voting to acquit; only two Republican senators crossed over to convict Paxton. Paxton’s impeachment forced the state to suspend him from his job.

The AG remains heavily damaged goods, no matter the outcome of this unprecedented Senate impeachment trial. He still faces state charges of securities fraud and will stand trial — eventually, I suppose — for those alleged crimes, which were delivered in 2015 by an indictment handed down by a Collin County grand jury.

Has he done anything to mend the damaged fence between the parties? Here is what the Texas Tribune reported: “The sham impeachment coordinated by the Biden Administration with liberal House Speaker Dade Phelan and his kangaroo court has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, disrupted the work of the Office of Attorney General and left a dark and permanent stain on the Texas House,” Paxton said in a statement. “The weaponization of the impeachment process to settle political differences is not only wrong, it is immoral and corrupt.”

There are no heroes to be found in this proceeding. I would congratulate the attorney general, except that his presence on the state payroll sickens me. He personifies the type of so-called Republican who is more loyal to a man — Donald J. Trump — than he is to the constitutions of the nation and the state.

Several of Paxton’s key legal assistant AGs quit after blowing the whistle that brought about the impeachment articles. Make no mistake, either, of the fact that many Texans disagree with the findings of the Senate, that they believe — as I do — that Paxton is unfit to hold the office of attorney general.

That is the environment to which Paxton is returning to work.

God help the state that now must repair the damage brought to its reputation by this individual.

Paxton wins, integrity loses

On the day that the Texas Senate voted to give suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton a pass on a litany of allegations filed against him, I got a flier in my mailbox that said something quite different.

Texans Against Public Corruption sent it out with brief testimonials from four prominent Texas conservatives who say that Paxton has destroyed public integrity with his willful conduct as the state AG.

Who are these folks? Former Gov. Rick Perry, former U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, U.S. Rep. Chip Roy and former state Sen. Konni Burton. Perry shames the Texas GOP for seeking to “delegitimize the impeachment process”; Roy said Paxton “must resign”; Burton wonders how a man who cheats on his wife can tell the truth to his constituents; Gohmert says bluntly that “the guy is corrupt.”

Sigh …

A two-week impeachment trial ended today with acquittals on 16 impeachment counts, with just two Republicans joining Democrats to convict a guy whom the House impeached in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote.

The acquittal means Paxton can return to his job as AG, returning to the same sleazy atmosphere from which he was suspended after his impeachment.

I clearly was hoping for a different outcome, given the shame that Paxton has brought to the office he has disgraced since 2015. I won’t surrender totally to the political gods, though. He still has a state charge of securities fraud for which he eventually will stand trial and the federal government is continuing to examine other corruption allegations.

Just maybe there is a semblance of justice to be found. I was hoping it would arrive today in the Texas Senate chamber.