Tag Archives: mask mandate

Texas AG sues districts … for seeking to keep everyone safe?

There’s a lot of things that get past me. Not this item.

Masks help prevent the spread of a deadly virus. Local Texas school districts are defying a governor’s order that bans them from issuing “mask mandates.” The Texas attorney general, who’s under felony indictment, has sued six Texas school districts for defying Gov. Greg Abbott’s order prohibiting them from issuing mask mandates.

So, wait. Does that mean that Abbott and the AG, Ken Paxton, don’t want districts to do what they can to protect teachers, students, parents and staffers? Really?

Two of the districts — Sherman and Richardson — are in North Texas. This is a ridiculous waste of time and money. Why? Because the governor is flat wrong to ban local officials from doing what they can to protect their constituents against the COVID-19 virus.

The Texas Tribune reports: Some 85 school districts and six counties have instituted mask mandates of some kind in defiance of Abbott’s ban — citing the need to protect schoolchildren too young to get the vaccine amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19.

Texas AG sues Sherman, Richardson, other ISDs over masking (ketr.org)

This is preposterous in the extreme. School districts have an obligation to do what they can to protect children, teachers and anyone who enters these public buildings. They shouldn’t be fighting the governor — for crying out loud! — in that effort.

As for the AG, he’s got his own legal battles to fight, as he is awaiting trial on a Collin County indictment that he committed securities fraud.

Abbott and Paxton are managing to enrage me more each day.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A rebellion takes hold

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Let’s call it what it appears to be: a schoolhouse rebellion.

Nearly 50 independent school districts in Texas have decided to defy Gov. Greg Abbott’s no-local-measures mandate and declared that their students, faculty and staff will mask up when they enter these educational institutions.

That’s good news, at least it is to me. The even better news is that the state is not going to dig in and force the school districts to abide by Gov. Abbott’s ridiculous — and dangerous — executive order.

It is ridiculous because it flies directly against the traditional Republican political mantra that declares local control is the better way to manage public policy issues.

It is dangerous because situations differ from community to community and for the governor to issue an order prohibiting school districts from requiring masks puts everyone in potentially dire peril of being infected by the COVID-19 virus or the Delta variant that has sprung forth.

You want more good news? The Food and Drug Administration this morning gave full authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to be used to inoculate human beings against the coronavirus.

President Biden has declared that vaccination rates are climbing again.

Yes, there remain the fearmongers out there who continue to spread lies about the vaccines. Hospitals are at or over capacity. Children are getting sick. Fully vaccinated Americans are coming down with the virus. So it’s not all peaches and cream, right?

In Texas, though, there appears to be some semblance of sanity and reason taking root in classrooms throughout the state.

Thank goodness.

Paris ISD swims against the tide

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I have ruminated over the past several days — privately and on this blog — about the political realities in play as school districts defy Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s mandate banning local governments from issuing orders such as mask mandates in this COVID virus era.

The reality is this: School districts that have taken action in defiance generally represent constituencies that lean toward Democratic politicians and away from Republican pols, such as the former POTUS, No. 45.

Then we have Paris, Texas, where the public school board has voted 5-1 to impose mask mandates for students, faculty and staff. Why is that noteworthy? Because Paris sits in a community that voted overwhelmingly for POTUS 45 in the 2020 presidential election.

The Paris school board’s decision to include face masks as part of the students’ dress code was an inspired and creative way to outflank Gov. Abbott’s ridiculous no-mandate mantra.

They are more concerned in the Paris Independent School District about children’s safety and health than about whatever push back they might get from their constituents.

I simply want to offer this: Bravo!

Paris ISD has a solution

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

When in doubt, just change the in-house rules to counter external pressure. So seems to be the mantra at the Paris (Texas) Independent School District.

Paris ISD has just decided to add masks to the district’s student dress code. thus defying the no-mask mandate order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Hmm. Creative, don’t you think?

Abbott has been pushing back against school districts issuing mask mandates to battle the COVID outbreak caused by the Delta variant. Paris ISD — a small district up yonder next to the Red River — decided to perform an end-around the governor.

KETR-FM radio reports: “The Texas Governor does not have the authority to usurp the Board of Trustees’ exclusive power and duty to govern and oversee the management of the public schools of the district,” a release from Paris ISD said after the meeting. “Nothing in the Governor’s Executive Order 38 states he has suspended Chapter 11 of the Texas Education Code, and therefore the Board has elected to amend its dress code consistent with its statutory authority.”

Paris ISD, Defying Abbott, Adds Masks To Dress Code | 88.9 KETR

Therein lies a template for other school districts to follow. It well might withstand any court challenge that Abbott or Attorney General Ken Paxton file decide to pursue to keep Abbott’s ridiculous no-mandate rule in effect.

I am going to offer a quiet, but still enthusiastic, hand-clap to Paris ISD for showing the way around what I continue to believe is the governor’s power grab.

Mask-mandate issue takes strange turn in Austin

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

What in the world do we make of this news?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the king of the no-mask-mandate realm of Republicans politicians, has been diagnosed as carrying the COVID-19 virus. He attended a political gathering in Collin County where — reportedly — there wasn’t a mask to be seen on anyone’s puss!

The governor is not showing symptoms. His wife, Cecilia, has tested negative. Those closest to the governor are undergoing tests. Abbott is isolating within the Governor’s Mansion.

Two thoughts come to mind immediately.

First, I wish Gov. Abbott a speedy and complete recovery. Really. I do. I do not want anyone — even pols who pi** me off with their reckless anti-mask-mandate rhetoric — to suffer from this disease.

Second, it is fair to wonder whether a positive test for a potentially fatal disease might turn Abbott from being a mask-mandate denier to someone who understands why local community leaders need the flexibility to issue mask mandates for themselves.

OK, I “wonder” about it. Will it happen? I doubt seriously that Abbott is going to reverse himself … just because he has tested positive for a virus that can be fended off by a face mask.

Abbott has been handed a bit of a public-relations setback with this COVID diagnosis. It counters the judicial support he got from the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court that has upheld his no-mandate authority, saying that he has the power to tell local governments they can do nothing more than what he allows them to do. I hate disagreeing with the learned justices … but they’re full of crap-ola!

Dallas public school officials are continuing to issue mask orders, along with their colleagues in Fort Worth, Houston and Austin. Our school leaders in Princeton, where my wife and I live, are leaving it to parents to decide; it turns out I see a lot of masks on children as they play in the school yard down the street from our house … which pleases me greatly.

There surely will be a lot of tittering over Gov. Abbott’s COVID diagnosis. I won’t go there. I intend to focus on his stubborn refusal to allow local officials determine the best way to protect their constituents against a disease that could kill them.

Why the ham-handedness?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Greg Abbott didn’t strike me as a politician who would rule with an iron hand, a clenched fist when he ran for Texas governor and then got elected in 2014.

I knew him as a Texas Supreme Court justice and then as Texas attorney general. He always seemed like a reasonable, thoughtful conservative Republican.

Now he’s governor and now he is acting like — oh, I don’t know — The Great Dictator. The latest example comes in the form of his refusal to let cities, counties and “independent” school districts decide on whether to require masks for their constituents.

Abbott insists that his statewide ban on mask-mandating stands. He won’t allow a county judge, a mayor, a school superintendent or school board president to decide whether the Delta variant of the COVID virus in their communities requires them to re-impose mask mandates.

Abbott seems to be saying, “There’s nothing to see here.”

Except that there is plenty to see. Texas and Florida account for the largest share of the Delta variant COVID infections. Memo to Greg: We ain’t doing too well, governor, in vaccinating Texans. Our dismal vaccination rates account for the spike in new infections in Texas. What that tells me is that the Texas governor should reel in his dictatorial tendencies, given that they aren’t working well enough to stem the infection that has gripped the state a second time.

What’s more, I always have understood one key element of Republican political orthodoxy to mean that “local control is best,” that local governments need not be dictated to by those in state capitols, let alone those in Washington, D.C. I guess I was mistaken.

Gov. Abbott is pushing back on President Biden’s insistence that the surge in infections is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Greg Abbott is seriously mistaken if he believes he knows better than communities spread across this vast state how to cope with a potentially unfolding tragedy.

Mask mandate lifted? OK, but …

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden has sort of spiked a proverbial football on the basis of a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ruling related to the killer pandemic that has put the entire planet on edge.

The CDC says fully vaccinated Americans need not wear masks.

Hoo-ray! Now does that mean we’re back to normal life? That all that worry and angst is a thing of the past? That we should toss all caution into the crapper?

Nope. Not going to go there.

Biden calls new mask guidance a ‘great milestone’ | TheHill

It means that fully vaccinated Americans — such as my immediate family (except for my younger than 12-year-old granddaughter) — would be wise to exercise some restraint and good judgment when mingling with crowds of people they do not know. Our granddaughter’s vaccination is approaching rapidly and for that I will be grateful beyond all measure.

That will continue to be our mantra as we regain our footing en route to life as we once knew it.

President Biden calls it a milestone. He is taking a victory lap of sorts, although he has been discreet in his outward behavior as we have cleared various mile posts along the way — much to his great credit.

“I think it’s a great milestone, a great day. It’s been made possible by the extraordinary success we have had in vaccinating so many Americans, so quickly,” Biden added.

OK. I’m all in with the new guidelines. I wish I could be totally serene about our collective future and our national health. I am not yet there, given all the “variants” and the crises that are erupting in places like India, Brazil and parts of Europe.

However, I am heartened by the progress the nation is making in eradicating this hideous killer.

 

Texas AG goes to war with Austin

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seems to suffer from a lawsuit fetish.

He has sued the city of Austin for having the temerity to refuse to comply with Gov. Greg Abbott’s lifting of a mask mandate. You see, it seems that Austin Mayor Steve Adler doesn’t want to lift the requirement in the city he governs.

Paxton, though, is wagging his proverbial finger at Adler and the city because he supposedly warned them against resisting Abbott’s order. So now he’s taking them to court again, Paxton said via Twitter.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sues Austin over mask mandate | The Texas Tribune

This clown we have for an AG is starting to annoy the daylights out of me. He tried to file a lawsuit that sought to block the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president of the United States, only to be rebuffed by the U.S. Supreme Court that said he lacked any standing to dictate how other states conducted their elections.

Now he’s at it again. Good grief, man.

The Texas Tribune reports: “[Travis County] Judge Brown and I will fight to defend and enforce our local health officials’ rules for as long as possible using all the power and tools available to us,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said Thursday in a statement. “We promised to be guided by the doctors, science and data as concerns the pandemic and we do everything we can to keep that promise.”

Meanwhile, the Texas AG will waste more money by filing lawsuits that seek to prevent local officials from doing what they deem is best for the people they take an oath to protect.

Safety trumps personal liberty

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is getting plenty of push back from critics of his decision to rescind the mask-wearing order he issued when the COVID pandemic broke out.

Others, though, are backing the governor’s decision. I hear it on the news, that they are relishing the notion of exercising “personal liberty” in choosing to go without a mask when they enter public places.

OK. I want to make a critical point.

I am all in favor of personal liberty. As an American citizen, I cherish it as much as the next red-blooded patriot. However, personal liberty should not trump community health and well-being. That is my way of saying that the mask mandate — along with social distancing and other activities — protect us all from the spread of a virus that is killing Americans to this day.

I want to be free of being told to wear a mask. I want a return to being able to stand next to strangers in the grocery line, or sitting next to someone at the movie theater, or going to an entertainment event and being able to yell at the top of my lungs without fogging up my glasses because of the mask.

But … first things first. We have to grab the virus with a stronger grip than we have at this time. More of us are getting vaccinated daily. We are getting closer each day to that thing they call “herd immunity.” But we ain’t there yet.

So, spare me the “personal liberty” canard. I don’t buy it when your liberty puts my family and me in potentially mortal danger.

Fans at games, too?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Greg Abbott’s big announcement today wasn’t as specific as perhaps it could have been.

The Texas governor declared that Texas businesses were “100 percent open,” meaning they could serve at full capacity. He implored us all to continue to observe social distancing, wash our hands and all that kind of thing.

The governor did not make specific mention of sporting events. Will sports fans be able to sit next to each other at venues to cheer on their favorite teams? That question has surfaced, for instance, among fans of the Amarillo Sod Poodles, the Double A baseball team that is set to open its second-ever season in early May.

Therein lies a dilemma, ladies and gentlemen. What about the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers, the Major Leagues’ two franchises? Or the other minor-league franchises scattered throughout Texas?

If I were King of the World, I wouldn’t have made the declaration that Gov. Abbott made today. I would have kept the mask mandate in effect and I would have required that sports venues limit seating to a certain percentage significantly less than full. That ain’t my call. It falls to the governor, I guess, to determine whether it is safe to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers in sports venues.

I suppose the final answer to whether Sod Poodles fans will be able to fill all of Hodgetown’s seats when the season opens there in mid-May falls on the team ownership, or perhaps Amarillo City Hall.

I don’t have a suggestion on how the team should go with this one. You know already what I think of Gov. Abbott’s decision to open business back up to full capacity; I think it’s a potentially disastrous mistake. The pandemic is still raging, albeit at a bit calmer pace than it was a few weeks ago.

Perhaps the governor ought to provide some further guidance on what sports fans all over the state should do, keeping in mind that Priority No. 1 must be everyone’s health and well-being.