Tag Archives: Dan Patrick

Institute shouldn’t ignore diversity

Alex and Cheryl Fairly are paying it forward in a big way at the university from which they both graduated.

The Fairlys are contributing $20 million to West Texas A&M University, creating an institute they say will promote West Texas values.

“The mission of The Hill Institute is to encourage reflection upon the importance of ten West Texas, Texas, and American values and, through study and scholarship, promulgate the values among students within the diverse disciplines of the University and the extended community,” according to a flier distributed by WT.  The institute is named after Joseph Hill, the second president of WT.

I hope they’ll allow this word of caution about the way of life the institute hopes to promote. Do not neglect or give short shrift to the immense diversity that is occurring throughout West Texas. I refer to ethnic, religious and racial diversity among the population that is growing throughout Amarillo and, indeed, in many of the surrounding communities.

The gift is the largest ever given to WT and for their generosity, the Fairlys deserve high praise.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick attended the announcement ceremony of the Fairlys’ gift. He said, according to the Texas Tribune, “This is the America that all America used to be, it should be again,” Patrick said of the sprawling, pastoral region whose rural counties and smaller outposts have long been a Republican stronghold. “These are American values here.”

West Texas A&M gets $20 million gift for new institute | The Texas Tribune

Let’s understand, though, that the Panhandle is now home to an increasing number of non-Anglo, non-Christian families. Let’s not deny them their place in the shaping of the Panhandle’s future. Nor let us not forget that even the Texas Panhandle is drifting toward a more “urban” society than it has known.

These changes are inevitable and likely cannot be reversed.

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.

Fight is far from finished

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made his point with crystal clarity … which is that the fight among Texas Republicans is far from over in light of the acquittal of Attorney General Ken Paxton in his historic impeachment trial.

To be honest, I really shouldn’t give a rat’s backside of the looming GOP fight. I just fear it’s going to bring even more scorn to the state my wife and I chose to call home nearly 40 years ago.

Patrick, as president of the Texas Senate, presided over the AG’s trial and, to my thinking, did a credible job of staying out of the way. Then came the acquittal by 30 senators. That gave Patrick license, in his mind, to declare that the impeachment was a waste of time and money. It was nothing of the sort.

He blamed House Republicans — who voted overwhelmingly to join their Democratic colleagues to impeach Paxton — for what others have called a “kangaroo court” and a “sham.” The GOP controls both legislative chambers, so in Patrick’s view, most House members were “supposed” to join their Senate colleagues in giving Paxton a pass.

We are witnessing a Texas version of what is transpiring nationally with Republicans fighting among themselves, divided between those who are loyal to the rule of law and those who adhere to the doctrine of a political party.

It looks horrible at a national level … and it’s just as ugly as it plays out in Austin.

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.

Lt. Gov. deserves props

Dan Patrick deserves a good word from this blogger today … for the way he is conducting the trial of his fellow Republican, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Patrick, of course, is the GOP Texas lieutenant governor who at the moment is presiding over Paxton’s impeachment trial. Patrick pledged to be impartial and non-biased when the Senate received the overwhelming impeachment articles from the Texas House.

I had harbored private doubts that Patrick could be faithful to his pledge. I was mistaken.

So very often in high-profile judicial or, in this case, quasi-judicial proceedings, the presiding judge seems to hog the spotlight. Example given? Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lance Ito, who presided over the so-called “trial of the century” in 1995 in the case of OJ Simpson and whether he killed his former wife and her friend.

Ito let the lawyers go on and on, ad nauseum, refusing to constrain them, which he could have done as the presiding judge.

Dan Patrick has been hardly mentioned in this first week of the Paxton trial. Which is a good thing. He has let the lawyers for Paxton and the House have the floor and has administered the proceedings efficiently and without bias.

Why was I concerned about Patrick? Hey, he’s a politician … and a gregarious one at that!

Whether this impeachment trial results in a conviction or an acquittal shouldn’t hinge on Patrick’s conduct as the presiding officer. That doesn’t appear to be the case and for that I, as a keenly interested Texas resident, am grateful.

Yes on gag order!

It’s rare when this blog offers a word of support for a policy decision coming from Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick … but today is one of those days.

I believe strongly that Patrick is correct in issuing a sweeping gag order on the Texas Senate, which on Sept. 5 will begin a trial to determine whether to remove Attorney General Ken Paxton from office after the Texas House impeached him in an overwhelming vote.

Patrick is acting as judge in the Senate, over which he presides as lieutenant governor. His order means that violators can be prosecuted, fined or even jailed.

Patrick’s concern is legit. He worries that statements made outside the chamber could cause undue influence and could taint the proceeding that will occur inside the Senate chamber.

AG Paxton’s defenders in the Senate have popped off needlessly already, as has one of the lawyers hired to prosecute the case, Rusty Hardin. Dan Patrick is having none of it, nor should he allow any comments to go unchecked prior to — and during — the Senate trial. Patrick, moreover, is acting within the trial rules approved by the Senate.

This is serious stuff, folks, and members of the Senate need to give these proceedings the serious attention it deserves.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issues gag order for Paxton impeachment trial | The Texas Tribune

Nothing that anyone can say to me at this point is going to change my own mind. I made my mind up long ago, that Paxton needs to go. He is an embarrassment to the high office he occupies.

But I also believe in the sanctity of the process that is about to unfold. Senators who will act as jurors need to keep their thoughts to themselves … period!



Why do I care about these matters?

It’s time to come clean on something, which is part of this journey I have been traveling since I first started collecting Social Security retirement benefits.

It deals with the current dispute in the Texas Legislature over how to reduce property taxes. I haven’t followed the issue as closely as, say, some members of my family. Why not? Because the state of Texas does an extremely good job of protecting us old folks from the pressures of paying increasing property taxes.

You see, we have these homestead exemptions and senior exemptions that freeze our property taxes.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t care about how local governments are spending my tax money. I do watch the Princeton Independent School District, the City of Princeton, Collin County and Collin College spending issues carefully. I don’t want the taxes I pay to be wasted on frivolous expenditures.

It’s the debate over the amount I pay that slides past me.

Legislators are bickering among themselves over how to cut property taxes. So are Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan and Gov. Greg Abbott. They’re sniping among themselves over which plan is suitable. Gov. Abbott says he’ll keep calling lawmakers back to special sessions for as long as it takes to get his way on the issue.

Meanwhile, he’s vetoing legislation that does affect me and my fellow Texans to force legislators to see it his way. That’s not a good look, governor.

I’ll just let ’em keep bickering over property tax reform. I have no particular opinion on which plan works best for me. I’m an old guy. The Legislature already has solved the issue for me.


Special sessions loom

So much, it seems, for setting priorities before the start of a legislative session.

The Texas Legislature reportedly had placed property tax reduction at the top of its to-do list. Well … the list’s major priority remains something “to do.” The Legislature adjourned at the end of May and property tax reform wasn’t completed.

I spoke at the beginning of the session with state Rep. Gary VanDeaver, a New Boston Republican, who said the state had to do something to relieve Texans of the property tax burden. His view had been echoed loudly and clearly by other legislators of both parties, not to mention from Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan.

What the heck happened?

Special sessions loom in the weeks to come. There might be several of them, the Texas Tribune reports.

The failure to enact any property tax reform guarantees, according to the smart money, that a special session will occur. Likely will be soon, too.

I have trouble following the Legislature’s rhythm at times. Lawmakers venture to Austin from hither and yon across the vast state. They spend — seemingly — forever and a day to get busy. I sense a good bit of lollygagging in Austin. Then they seek to rush to get these bills enacted and sent to the governor’s desk.

Too often, though, they run out of time.

If property tax reform was such a big deal, why can’t the Legislature act in a manner that demonstrates its importance?

The Legislature didn’t act. They’ll have to shuttle back to Capitol Building and do what could have been done during the 140 days legislators were gathered.

This time, ladies and gentlemen, get it done! The Senate has another big matter with which it must deal … the trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton. That’s a big … deal, too.


Patrick and Hancock: men in the hot seat

Dan Patrick and Kelly Hancock are the top two officers in the Texas Senate and they both likely face the tasks of their political careers later this summer.

The Senate is going to convene a special session to begin a trial to determine whether Attorney General Ken Paxton should be tossed out of office after being impeached by the House this past week.

Patrick is the state’s lieutenant governor and he presides over the Senate. Hancock represents Senate District 9 in Fort Worth and is the Senate president pro tem. They’re Nos. 1 and 2.

Hancock prides himself on being a strong fiscal “small-government” conservative.” Patrick, well, considers himself to be a fire-breathing social conservative.

According to a political science professor at the University of Houston, Brandon Rottinghaus — an acknowledged expert on Texas government and politics — said in an email that he “isn’t sure exactly how they’ll do it or if they will share duties. But Patrick will decide all of the process/procedural questions.”

I am suspicious of Patrick, given what I know of him and his reputation for hyper-partisanship. He already has declared his support for Paxton, who stands accused of committing a series of serious ethical violations and is under criminal indictment for securities fraud. The House’s overwhelming vote to impeach the attorney general is a clear signal — at least it is to me — that many Republicans in government are fed up with Paxton’s behavior.

How this trial proceeds will depend on the manner that Patrick answers those “procedural questions” mentioned by Rottinghaus.

I hope he walks the straight and narrow path and disallows any bias to creep into these critical decisions.