Taking a gamble with building names?

Princeton’s public school system is in the midst of presenting a bond issue to voters in this North Texas community that they hope will result in the addition of several new campuses to the burgeoning school district.

What’s more, a citizens committee charged with working out the details of the $797 million bond package has come up with names for all the campuses under consideration.

That leads me to this point: The Princeton school district is going to name the buildings after living, breathing individuals. Why is that kinda strange? Because I believe it’s a bit of a risk any governing entity takes when they name permanent structures after fallible, living human beings.

You see, the district is going to hope that individuals being honored in this manner do not mess up and make the district regret inscribing the individuals’ names on the walls of these structures.

For many years I have taken a dim view of this practice. I’ve actually seen it backfire. For example, the Beaumont Independent School District put the name of a former superintendent on a football stadium, only to take it down after it was revealed that the superintendent had run the school system into financial ruin.

I know of some school systems that name buildings after long-deceased historic figures, or even after physical characteristics within the community, you know, names like Mesquite, or Evergreen, or Canyons … get it?

I am not predicting anything of the sort that occurred in Beaumont will occur in Princeton ISD. The names being proposed belong to stellar individuals who have contributed much to the life of the community.

I am just saying, though, that no one is perfect … you know?


Princeton is growing up

I want to share a bit of intel on the city my wife and I now call home: Princeton, Texas, is beginning to show some signs of municipal maturity.

It is growing up before our eyes.

How do I know that? I am seeing “Open” signs on windows of newly built businesses along U.S. Highway 380. A donut shop chain store is opening. So is a pizza joint a bit west on the highway. The city recently welcomed a new coffee shop. A major chain motor fuel station/store is under construction at the U.S. 380-Monte Carlo Boulevard intersection. Strip malls are being completed.

Roadwork is proceeding along several thoroughfares, with more work planned along U.S. 380.

Is this the beginning of the final phase of Princeton’s upbringing? Hardly. I hear talk of a new major grocery store on the way. We still need a movie theater and more eateries, allowing us to stay closer to home.

The maturation will take time. I can wait.


We’re waiting on AG … patiently

A nation’s patience appears to be running a bit thin as it awaits some key decisions by its chief law enforcement officer … the attorney general of the United States.

AG Merrick Garland is a meticulous man and I am glad to have someone as thoughtful and as deliberate as Garland on the job at the Justice Department.

Am I among those who want Garland to act sooner rather than later? Not really. In truth, my mind and my interests are drawn to more personal matters these days, as my wife struggles with a serious medical condition.

However, were I free to think more frequently about Garland’s probe into the activities of Donald J. Trump my belief would be to let the man proceed at his own pace and at his discretion.

He already has appointed two special counsels to probe Trump’s pilfering of classified documents to his glitzy joint in Florida as well as the classified documents found in President Biden’s home in Delaware. I’ve declared already that I do not consider the incidents to be equal; the Trump matter is much more egregious than what I believe the president allowed to occur.

Garland, though, came to the DOJ after serving for many years on the federal bench. President Obama wanted Garland to take a seat on the Supreme Court, but Senate Republicans made sure that wouldn’t happen. His reputation as a jurist was that he was fair, dispassionate and — well — judicious.

He brings those traits to the Justice Department.

Garland also has declared that “no one is above the law” and has affirmed that statement merely by repeating what he has declared that “no one” can escape justice. By “no one,” I am going to presume he means that even former POTUSes are in the crosshairs.

Let us remember, too, that Garland has received a referral from the House 1/6 committee to pursue criminal indictments relating to the insurrection. He’s working on that matter, also with all deliberate speed. And … we have the Fulton County, Ga., district attorney, Fani Willis, who is examining whether to indict Trump on election tampering in the 2020 presidential election.

All of this requires patience, folks. I happen to possess plenty of it. How about you?


GOP changes formula for fitness

What am I missing as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy doles out committee assignments for the 118th Congress?

Republican House members lost committee seats in the previous Congress for a number of legitimate reasons. Marjorie Taylor Greene likened COVID-19 mask mandates to the Holocaust; Paul Gosar thought it was funny to depict the murder of a Democratic colleague. Now the new speaker has decided to return them to key committee assignments. Oh, and then he seats a pathological liar, George Santos, on two key committees while he is under investigation by the House ethics panel for possible violations of House rules.

Then the speaker boots Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell off the House Intelligence Committee for — get this! — impeaching Donald J. Trump.

How can one set of hideous transgressions be reversed while dropping the hammer on Democrats simply for doing their constitutional duty?

I don’t get it.


Partisanship rules in Texas Senate

My old buddy Kel Seliger’s departure from the Texas Senate is now becoming even more clear than it was when he announced his intention to forgo another term in the legislative body.

Seliger, an Amarillo Republican, had crossed swords with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick many times since 2015 when Patrick took over as the Senate’s presiding officer.

Now we see that Patrick has tossed aside a longstanding Texas Senate tradition by appointing just one Democrat to a committee chairmanship. That would be John Whitmire, a moderate from Houston who now serves as the Senate’s most senior member; Whitmire will chair the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

Seliger has returned to private life in the Texas Panhandle, no longer having to tolerate Patrick’s petulance and his hyper-partisan approach to governance, neither of which is Seliger’s style.

Compare the Patrick method to that being practiced down hall the Texas Capitol hall in the House, where Speaker Dade Phelan — yes, another Republican — has resisted far-right-wing pressure to appoint only GOP House members to committee chairs. One of those right-wingers, state Rep. Bryan Slaton of Royse City, told me that Phelan is rewarding House Democrats unjustly because they do not hold a majority in the Texas House.

Phelan’s response. That’s just too damn bad … just live with it.

Patrick has tossed aside bipartisanship in running the Senate. As the Dallas Morning News stated in an editorial: Texas has serious business to get done to keep us moving forward as a state. Chances are the Senate will be hog-tied with business it shouldn’t be worrying about. That’s bad for Texans.

So it goes in the Texas Senate, which will be run by a lieutenant governor more interested in sticking it to Democrats than in welcoming them to cooperate in legislating matters that will benefit the whole state.

What a shame.


Get lost, Kari Lake!

When in the name of sore-loserhood is Kari Lake going to disappear from the public stage, never to be seen or heard from again?

The election-denying Republican candidate for Arizona governor hasn’t conceded that she lost to Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs and now wants the Republican National Committee to pay for part of the legal fees she is accruing by fighting the results of the 2022 election.

Memo to Kari Lake: You lost the election! There was no widespread corruption. No widespread fraud. They counted the ballots and you got fewer votes than your Democratic opponent.

Go home, Ms. Lake. Take a breather. Decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. Just stay the hell out of my sight!


Love is overpowering

I feel a compelling need at this moment to extend a heartfelt thank you to those who have reached out to my bride and me in this most challenging time in our life.

My goodness, the outreach has come from many quarters, some of them I didn’t expect. Just today, a neighbor approached my son and me as we were walking toward our home in Princeton. She asked, “Where is your wife? I have missed seeing her.” I told her what you already know, that she is in the hospital recovering from a setback she suffered the other morning when she was stricken by a seizure.

My neighbor started crying while offering her prayers.

We continue to look forward to her beginning her treatment for cancer, which will come when the top-notch medical staff at Medical City/McKinney gets her seizures “under control.”

The love my family and I are feeling has been overpowering and, of course, so very welcome. It is coming from former colleagues of mine and of my wife, people I know only through some vague social media connection, from actual friends of both my bride and me and from total strangers.

This outreach helps buttress my belief in the general goodness of humanity.

As for those who have reached out and who have extended their hope for a positive outcome — which my family and I embrace — I hope they see this brief blog post and know my thanks to them comes from my overflowing heart.

My gratitude extends far beyond any measure.


Growth brings more demands

Princeton’s public school system has made it official. It is going to ask voters to approve a bond issue to build more schools throughout a district that is growing … rapidly.

The price tag is a mind-blower: $797 million.

Don’t spit out your coffee on that number. It is a realistic assessment of where the district foresees its short- and medium-term growth. The Princeton Independent School District seeks to stay ahead of the crowd that is moving into the Collin County community each day.

I happen to witness the growth that’s occurring in Princeton because I am part of the growth. Granted, my wife and I — who moved to Princeton four years ago — don’t have school-age children; our sons are now middle-aged men.

But we do pay taxes to fund the school system. Having made that declaration, I intend to vote in favor of the bond issue when it shows up on our May 6 ballot.

I had a ringside seat when a long-range planning committee met over the course of several weeks to assess how the district should cope with the growth that is occurring here. I attended meetings and reported on them for the Princeton Herald newspaper. I have stepped away from my reporting duties, so I feel empowered to express an opinion on the proposal the citizens panel presented.

It is a reasonable request that Princeton ISD constituents ought to endorse at the ballot box. The money will pay for construction of new elementary, middle and a high school over the course of several years. The school district might have to delay construction of some of the campuses because of limited bond capacity.

However, the district has promised to accommodate the growth through this bond package … and it intends to remain faithful to the promise it has made.

If the school district cannot progress with building these campuses, its constituents will feel the pain of watching the school system struggle to keep pace with the inexorable tide of residents demanding space to enroll their children.


Anger permeates our politics

Make no mistake that I will go to my grave never accepting the devolution of our nation’s political climate that has occurred in the past half-dozen or so years.

We have gone from a nation where political foes could break bread together, set aside their differences and act as friends to a nation where pols are afraid of those on the other side of the aisle.

Yes, that fear runs mostly among Democrats who are demonized by their Republican colleagues. The GOP side has taken to inciting physical threats to politicians’ health, to their well-being and to their family members.

What’s the source of this intense animus? Hmm. Let me think. Oh, gosh, it must be Donald John Trump, the former POTUS who stated publicly that it would be OK for rally attendees to “beat the crap” out of protesters. Or that he would be willing to “pay your legal bills” if the authorities brought them up on charges.

This stated expression of outright hostility by a leading politician has bled into the fabric of our system of government. Members of Congress — yes, chiefly Republicans — have echoed that mantra on occasion, suggesting that their opponents are to be reviled and scorned. They are the “enemy.”

To be fair, Democrats have responded with equally harsh rhetoric. Let me clear about something: Democrats have “responded” to their foes’ expressions of hatred. The response comes after the other side delivers the opening salvo.

The late Republican Vice President George H.W. Bush sought the presidency in 1988 by declaring his intention to seek a “kinder, gentler” political climate in Washington. I’m not sure he achieved that noble goal, but his intention was honest and forthright.

Let’s not misunderstand anything here. I don’t mind vigorous debate one bit. I welcome hearing both sides argue their points. I find it exhilarating. What I do mind is when one side accuses the other of hating America merely because they hold a contrary view on a policy matter. I long ago lost count of the number of times I have heard MAGA-leaning pols accuse others of hating this great land because they dispute the right-wingers’ world view.

This level of hatred, simply stated, is unacceptable.


Outrage doesn’t change

Five police officers beat a Black man, Tyre Nichols, to death in early January and now are facing multiple felony charges, including second-degree murder, aggravated assault and kidnapping.

The Memphis (Tenn.) Police Department fired the officers immediately. The district attorney calls the video of the incident one of the most horrific things he’s ever witnessed.

Now, what makes this case so different from previous officer-involved reports of brutality? All five of the former cops are Black!

Memphis police are planning to release the video to the public later today. Big-city PDs are gearing up for potential violent reactions from the communities they protect. We have two big cities near us in North Texas, Dallas and Fort Worth, and those cities’ police departments are preparing for the worst, which no one wants to occur.

The mother of the man who died in Memphis has asked that any protests occur peacefully.

Police brutality is the same heinous act no matter the race of the officers or of their victims. Thus, police departments throughout the land are wise to be on guard to react to violent protests should they occur.

May their preparation deter any response that crosses the line separating peaceful protest from all-out mayhem.