Flaps up in McKinney?

Voters in the next-door city of McKinney, Texas, are going to vote this week on a measure to expand the city’s airport to include commercial air travel.

I wish I could cast a vote this coming Saturday on this measure, which is a $200 million bond issue to add four gates to McKinney National Airport, expand the runway and build some parking lots. I would vote in favor of it … despite the organized opposition that is building against the plan.

There is something appealing to me, who lives in Princeton (about five miles east of the airport) to be able to drive just a short distance to catch a flight to — oh, I don’t know — somewhere, rather than drive all the way to Love Field or to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

I haven’t a clue as to whether this bond issue will pass voters’ muster. Opponents complain about the increase in traffic, congestion, noise and assorted other issues related to boosting air travel in the area.

McKinney Mayor George Fuller, though, talks about the huge job creation and the enormous economic impact an expanded National Airport will have on McKinney and the surrounding communities … such as, oh, Princeton! He also points out that H-E-B grocers are building a store in McKinney and that, too, will bring lots of traffic to the city.

There. I’ve had my say on that matter. I won’t be able to vote on it. I just thought it would be worth mentioning that I am going to cheer for the airport expansion with the hope that it will bring greater amenities to the city I call home.


Retired teachers could get a needed raise

Remember that big surplus that Texas legislators found when they convened their session in January? Well, they have found a way to spend some of it … and the cause is a worthy one, indeed.

The Texas House of Representatives has approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would give retired Texas teachers a raise in their pensions. The House vote was unanimous, which given the state of partisan politics these days is a huge statement for sure.

The amendment would allow the state to move $1.9 billion from the general fund to the teacher retirement fund, thus allowing the raise to take effect.

This is a good deal for the retired educators who spend their professional lives seeking to educate Texas’s children.

“These people teach our children; they taught us,” state Rep. John Bryan, D-Dallas, said. “We have a moral obligation to them.”

Yes, we do.

Texas House increases pension pay to retired teachers | The Texas Tribune

The bill is set to go to a conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Let us hope the spirit of bipartisanship continues as conferees hammer out those differences and send the matter to the voters later this year.

Our retired educators deserve to be treated with the honor and respect they deserve.


Fog is lifting … slowly

Every friend with whom I have discussed this matter has said the same thing: Do not rush your way out of your mourning and your heartache.

It will take time for your heart to heal, they say. Yes. I get it. My heart is still broken from the loss of my beloved bride, Kathy Anne, to cancer not quite three months ago. It isn’t likely to heal completely … ever!

I am not rushing anything. However, I am happy to report to those who have an interest in this journey I have been taking that I am beginning to establish a bit of a rhythm to my new life and, yes, the fog is lifting … albeit slowly.

Some things still pierce my soul; they bring tears to my eyes. One of them is the sight of the headstone with Kathy Anne’s name on it. The monument maker this week installed it and I have made two trips to the cemetery to see it. I’ll leave it at that.

But as I go through my day, I am finding an ability to accomplish tasks with dispatch. I take time to laugh at a joke. I play with Toby the Puppy, who continues to provide tremendous companionship … and who continues to entertain me in that way that only devoted pets can do.

And I am able to write about her on this blog, an exercise that gives me a form of emotional therapy.

I can talk openly about my bride now, whereas doing so just a few weeks ago would reduce me to blubbering.

Is any of this a startling revelation? Of course not! It is merely my understanding and appreciating the knowledge that my life is changed forever.

This much hasn’t changed since the day Kathy Anne left us: I still think of her practically every waking moment of every single day. Maybe one day that will change. Just not yet.


No pleasure in criticizing good folks

Let me be crystal clear about something, which is that I take no pleasure at all in criticizing the fine men and women who serve on the Amarillo City Council.

I just believe the council messed up when it foisted on voters a $260 million debt obligation in the form of “anticipation notes,” despite the undeniable fact that city voters had delivered a resounding “no!” vote on a bond issue to pay for the projects sought by the council’s anticipation notes.

At issue is the Civic Center renovation. Does it need to refurbished, expanded, modernized and gussied up? Probably, yes. Had I been able to vote on the 2020 bond issue calling for the work, I likely would have supported it.

But … I also accept the verdict of a voting majority who said no to the project. Which also is why I reject the move that the council sought to pull off by passing those anticipation notes, in effect going over the voters’ heads.

I don’t need to remind anyone that in a representative democracy, the voters are the bosses, not the people who represent them.

All this is my way of endorsing a Texas Senate bill that aims to attach stricter regulations on the issuance of these kinds of financing tactics. The Senate puts a five-year minimum on cities; Amarillo sought to shove the anticipation notes down voters’ throats in two years. It prompted a lawsuit by a local businessman, who eventually won his court fight.

I want to stipulate that during my many years living in Amarillo I was generally supportive of most initiatives that came from City Hall.

Not this time.

Timing, as the saying goes, is everything. Amarillo’s council was too quick to pull the trigger on those anticipation notes. The voters of the city clearly had not forgotten the decision they delivered in rejecting the bond issue.

The result has been that the City Council has learned a tough, but necessary, lesson about the government they inherited. It is that the voters clearly deserve the last word when it comes to spending their money.


Monument to mass shooting victims? Yes!

Joe Moody has an idea that he hopes his fellow Texas legislators will move into final passage and ultimately into law.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear likely that the El Paso Democrat’s idea will see a fruitful end. He wants the state to erect a monument to all the victims of mass shootings in Texas. He wants the monument to be erected on the Capitol grounds to remind visitors — and legislators — of the crisis we are enduring with the spate of gun violence that continues to plague our society.

According to KERA-TV: “There are too many victims now, and there’s bound to be more in the future,” Moody said. “I remember when I was younger, and Columbine happened. It was unthinkable at the time. But in the years since, mass shootings have become almost commonplace.”

Moody’s community has felt the pain of mass shootings. He also served on a three-member legislative committee that examined the recent Uvalde massacre at Robb Elementary School.

As KERA reported: The text of the resolution lists mass shootings in Texas that date back to 1966, when a lone gunman killed 15 people from the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin. The text continues by mentioning the 19 children and two teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in May 2022 and the back-to-back shootings in 2019. In early August of that year a gunman killed 23 people at an El Paso Walmart, and another shooter killed seven in late August in the Midland-Odessa area.

Texas Democrat urges Legislature to approve a monument honoring victims of mass shootings (ketr.org)

I fear the bill won’t go anywhere in a Legislature dominated by Republicans, who themselves are dominated by those who are reluctant to enact any meaningful anti-gun violence legislation. Yes, I refer to the gun lobby.

If only we could remove the stubborn resistance to significant gun reforms from the minds of our state legislators.


Texas Senate sticks it to Amarillo

Wow! What does one say about the Texas Senate’s approval of a bill that is in direct response to an action taken by the Amarillo City Council that, according to the bill’s sponsor, flies in the face of the will of the voters.?

Senate Bill 2035 would restrict city governments from enacting “anticipation notes” sooner than five years after voters reject a spending proposal. Sound familiar?

Amarillo City Council members voted to enact anticipation notes in 2022 just two years after voters in the city rejected a $275 million bond issue to renovate the Civic Center and build a new City Hall complex. The council decided it wanted to proceed anyway, so it acted … prompting a lawsuit filed by local businessman Alex Fairly contesting the action.

Senators voted 20-10 to approve the bill. One of those voting in favor is the newly installed senator from District 31, Kevin Sparks, who lives in Midland but represents the Panhandle in the Senate.

“The City of Amarillo should never had gone behind their voters’ back to finance a project that their voters overwhelmingly voted down,” Sen. Paul Bettencourt, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement. “It’s an appalling example of an Elected City Council and Mayor thwarting the will of the voters!”

A friend of mine calls this “Ginger’s Law,” named after outgoing mayor Ginger Nelson, who spearheaded the anticipation note idea. Nelson isn’t running for re-election this year, so this could remain as her most visible legacy during her term as mayor.

It’s a shame, given all the good she was able to accomplish during her time as the city’s presiding officer.

But you know … I cannot blame the state Senate for taking this action. Now it heads for the House of Representatives, where I am certain the city’s two lawmakers, John Smithee and Four Price, are paying very close attention.


Tarrant County may hire an election denier? Seriously?

Our neighbors over yonder in Tarrant County are facing a serious dilemma. County Judge Tim O’Hare has to hire a new elections director in the wake of the resignation of a guy hailed and lauded by his peers as being one of the best in the state.

Heider Garcia is leaving his post soon as county elections director. O’Hare, though, says he might hire someone to replace Garcia who questions the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.

So … there you have it. The county judge might hire an election denier — a promoter of The Big Lie — to run the elections department of the state’s largest swing county.

Good grief!

Garcia resigned precisely because of pressure he was getting from O’Hare, who he said is following a policy that differs from the non-political course the office has followed.

O’Hare said that finding a successor to Garcia could include hiring an election denier, saying it is “not an automatic disqualifier.” Well, you know what? It damn sure should be!

Tarrant County likely will struggle to find new elections administrator | The Texas Tribune

The 2020 election wasn’t stolen from anyone. No one in the U.S. of A. has produced a shred of proof of any electoral theft in 2020. For the chief executive of Tarrant County to suggest that there might have been such an event is a disgrace to his office and a slap in the face to the fine men and women who work diligently to protect the integrity of our election system.


Embrace embodies Pence’s problem

Donald J. Trump’s embrace of a woman who has declared that Mike Pence should have been “executed” for his actions on the day of the 1/6 insurrection highlights a serious problem facing the former vice president of the United States.

Pence likely wants to seek the presidency in 2024. Trump already is in the race. The two men, of course, once were partners as POTUS and VPOTUS for a single term prior to the 2020 election.

Trump incited the assault on the Capitol on 1/6. The crowd stormed into the halls of the government looking for Pence and others. Pence was presiding at the time over a joint congressional session to ratify the results of the 2020 election. The crowd wanted to string Pence up.

How in the world does Mike Pence, therefore, campaign against Donald Trump, who still commands the fealty of the traitors — such as the nitwit he embraced this week in New Hampshire? Pence has been a highly reluctant critic of Trump. Yes, he calls Trump’s remarks on 1/6 “reckless,” but he also urged the House select committee reviewing the incident to not bring a criminal referral against Trump.

For that matter, only one leading Republican — former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — has shown the jewels to criticize Trump actively. The rest of ’em are dancing all around the issue and that includes Mike Pence.

I am one American patriot who is aghast, but surely not surprised, to see Trump hug on that moronic traitor. He signed some sort of program she shoved at him, mugging for the cameras. The guy is disgusting in the extreme, given that he has all but promised to pardon those accused of seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

So … the dilemma for Pence heats up as he ponders whether he wants to run for president in 2024. One of his potential foes happens to be the guy who endorsed the mob’s threat to kill him.

Nice …


Let’s quell this misinformation

Small-town politics can be as divisive and nasty as anywhere on Earth and it is with that caveat I offer a brief comment on an argument that is stewing in a city near my North Texas home.

Farmersville is going to have an election May 6 that seeks to establish a Municipal Development District. In order to move forward with the MDD, the city needs an endorsement by voters to allow the MDD to continue operating within an expanded “extraterritorial jurisdiction,” which comprises land outside the city limits.

A recent home-rule charter election Farmersville allowed the city expand its ETJ from half-mile to a mile outside its city limits.

Therein lies the rub, in the eyes of many residents living in the ETJ. They believe the city wants to annex their property. They also are expressing the view that the city will just reach out and grab their land.

Whoa! No can do!

The 2017 Texas Legislature enacted a law that disallows cities from annexing property at will. Cities need to acquire permission from the property owners to annex their land. That’s per state law. Period. It is beyond dispute.

The Farmersville discussion seems to be veering out of control, because of what I believe are fears from residents who are accusing the city of wanting to do something that it cannot legally do.

I do not believe Farmersville officials want to intentionally break state law. Those who ascribe such motives to their elected officials, though, are taking cynicism to a new level.


1/6 assault makes me angrier

There can be no denying this fact about the 1/6 assault on the government, which is that the more I see video of that horrendous event, the angrier I become.

Former Vice President Mike Pence testified today before a grand jury that is examining that event and its cause. I have been watching video from that attack, listening to one traitor declaring that the mob would “drag Pence through the streets” if they were to find him.

Then I heard the chant to “Hang Mike Pence!”

Were the traitors serious about those threats? Did they really intend to lynch the vice president? You know, I am not clairvoyant, but the mob seemed pretty serious about the threat and whether they would follow through on it.

Juxtapose that with the knowledge that Pence wants to run for president in 2024, but he likely is going to seek to appeal to the very men and women who threatened to string him up.

What the hell?