Tag Archives: Texas Tribune

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.

New charges against Paxton

My peanut gallery perch admittedly doesn’t give me much insight into the nuts and bolts of the case building against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

However, the latest allegations coming forward surely seem to paint an increasingly grim picture of the future that awaits the embattled AG.

Here is a small part of what the Texas Tribune has reported: In new allegations revealed Wednesday, Texas House investigators accused suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton of engaging in a complex cover-up to hide his relationship with real estate investor Nate Paul as senior aides grew increasingly concerned about Paxton’s willingness to use his office to benefit Paul.

Uber account? Cover-up? Extramarital affair? Eek, man!

Ken Paxton worked to hide relationship with Nate Paul, new allegations say | The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate trial is set to begin Sept. 5. Paxton has been impeached by the Texas House of Representatives in an overwhelming vote. He is suspended from his job as the state’s chief law enforcement officer pending the outcome of the trial.

What fascinates me is that even Paxton’s own fellow Republicans from the district he formerly represented in the House, in Collin County, all voted to impeach him.

I realize senators cannot take this issue into consideration when they deliberate Paxton’s fate, but how in the world does even an acquitted AG return to work with all these marks sullying his reputation, not to mention the office he occupies?

My sense? He cannot return to work … ever! Nor can he expect to deliver any sort of effective decisions in the future.

The Tribune also reports: And once Paxton learned several high-ranking officials in his office reported his behavior to the FBI, the House impeachment managers alleged, he took immediate steps to cover up his relationship with Paul, including wiring a $122,000 payment to a Paul-affiliated company in an effort to hide home renovations that Paul had provided for free.

Hold on, my fellow Texans. This trial is going to be a doozy.

Hits just keep coming for Paxton

Ken Paxton, the impeached Texas attorney general, just can’t stop making “hits” that cause state House of Representatives investigators to keep dancing.

Now the House is examining some potentially dicey real estate purchases Paxton made with his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton. They total more than $3 million. Paxton’s lawyer said the couple merely was looking into purchasing the property while interest rates were low.

But wait! Is this the kind of thing we can expect from our state’s chief law enforcement officer? Good grief!

He is set to stand trial beginning Sept. 5 in the Senate on allegations that he has abused his office. The House has until early August to determine whether to add to the impeachment articles already on the Senate’s trial agenda.

The Texas Tribune reports: The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Paxton, his wife and a family trust doled out nearly $3.5 million on six properties from July 2021 to April 2022 in Oklahoma, Florida, Utah and Hawaii. The timing and amount of money drew the attention of House investigators, according to the newspaper.

Texas House looking into Ken Paxton real estate buys, report says | The Texas Tribune

This guy is a joke!


This victim made ‘history’

Keith Adams was recalling to the Texas Tribune about his memories of a man named James Byrd Jr.

“He was a clown,” Adams said. “Always singing, always doing impersonations. He said he was going to make history.”

Well, Byrd made history all right. Three racist pigs chained him to the back of a pickup and dragged him about three miles down a remote Piney Woods road. Byrd’s body was decapitated and mutilated.

The reason for the incident? James Byrd was a Black man. His attackers sought him out as a target because of his race.

The crime put Jasper, Texas, on the map. It elevated the discussion of hate crimes to a national level. It was hoped — perhaps even thought — that Texas could lead the way out of the racist darkness that continues to shroud so many Americans.

Oh, no! Instead, Texas now can claim to be No. 1 nationally in the incidents of white supremacist incidents.

Two of the three men convicted of killing Byrd have been executed by the state. The third killer got a life sentence and will rot in prison for the rest of his time on Earth.

The Tribune reports: “We can’t just say that what happened to James is another day in Jasper,” said Louvon Byrd Harris, Byrd’s sister, who is 65 years old and the youngest of eight siblings. “As of now, we are on our own to keep his memory alive.”

James Byrd Jr. murder 25 years ago sparked hate crime laws | The Texas Tribune

Twenty-five has passed since James Byrd Jr. died at the hands of those monsters. Some things have changed, for the better. We have newer hate crimes laws on the books. Sadly, they haven’t deterred the haters from spreading their filth.

Just as sad to this Texas resident is that my state is leading the way down that path … straight into the sewer.


Paxton support at home is, um, shaky

What do you know about this? The Texas Tribune reports that all the state legislators who represent portions of Collin County — Attorney General Ken Paxton’s home county — voted to impeach him at the end of the Texas Legislature’s session.

The Tribune reports: But a unanimous vote to impeach Paxton by the five Republican representatives from Collin County — Frederick Frazier of McKinney, Jeff Leach of Plano, Matt Shaheen of Plano, Justin Holland of Rockwall and Candy Noble of Lucas — exposed a statewide rift within the GOP that’s apparently also been playing out in Paxton’s backyard.

Not only that, but Rep. Leach is one of the House impeachment managers who will make the case to the state Senate, which is set to begin trying Paxton for an assortment of allegations no later than Aug. 28.

“It has been true that Paxton had the support of Collin County, but that support has been decreasing over the years, and when the crunch came, it was simply no longer there,” according to Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University and a Collin County resident.

This is fascinating stuff for me, given (a) that I, too, live in Collin County and (b) that I want Paxton to be booted out of office.

We all should have smelled that Paxton was in serious jeopardy when so many GOP House members voted with their Democratic colleague in impeaching Paxton, who becomes the first Texas AG ever impeached.

Ken Paxton’s impeachment hints at shaky support in Collin County, his longtime base of power (msn.com)

There might be a reckoning to be had when the Senate convenes its trial. At least one can hope.


‘Yes!’ on park investment

Finally, I’m tellin’ ya — finally! — I get to offer unabashed enthusiastic praise for a Texas legislative policy decision without qualifying it in any fashion.

The Texas House has given final approval for a $1 billion investment in the state park system, seeking to add more parks to the state’s already impressive network of public recreational sites.

It’s not entirely done deal just yet. The Texas Senate has approved it already. It heads for Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for his signature. Then it comes to us — you and me — for a final vote this November as an amendment to the Texas Constitution.

I am going to vote enthusiastically for the measure.

“This would create a new golden age for our state parks,” said Luke Metzger, the executive director of Environment Texas. “We have a lot to celebrate. What a great birthday present to give all Texans for the state parks system’s 100th.”

Indeed, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department is celebrating the centennial of the state park system.

The Texas Tribune reported: According to a report by Environment Texas last year, Texas lags behind most others states in state parkland: The state ranks 35th in the nation for state park acreage per capita, with about 636,000 acres of parkland for a population of over 29 million as of 2019. The report suggests that Texas needs to add 1.4 million acres of state parks by 2030 to meet the needs of its residents.

Texas House approves bills to spend up to $1 billion for more state parks | The Texas Tribune

The Trib also noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state park system became even more popular with Texans, who faced interstate and international travel restrictions.

So … they packed up their gear and headed for our state parks.

My late wife and I were among those Texans who have embraced all that the park system has to offer. By my unofficial count, we visited roughly two-thirds of the state parks during the years we were hauling recreational vehicles behind our pickup.

I am distressed to learn, of course, that the state has lagged behind other states in dedicating resources to state parks. I hope that can change with this investment.

I just want to offer a heartfelt “bravo!” to both legislative chambers for the decision they have made to set aside more land for development into state parks.

We need them … and Texans will use them.


Slaton: GOP poster boy

Bryan Slaton is the newest poster boy for Republican Party hypocrisy, the type that allows pols to preach about family values while living a life that steers far, far away from such righteousness.

Slaton is the newly expelled member of the Texas House of Representatives. He hails from Royse City, just down the road from me in North Texas.

He campaigned for the office in 2020 claiming to be a champion against those who “groom” underage girls for sexual conduct.

Oops! What happened to Slaton? He got caught having sex with a 19-year-old intern at his Austin apartment; he also filled her with booze. All the while, this moron sought to preach about the family values he said he held dear to his heart.

The Texas Tribune reported: Slaton resigned Monday and was expelled from the House by a unanimous vote Tuesday, but his hypocrisy has cast a harsher light on Republican-led efforts to crack down on supposedly grooming-related activities, including drag performances, gender-affirming care for transgender minors and classroom discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Bryan Slaton’s downfall could complicate GOP fight against “groomers” | The Texas Tribune

The Texas GOP surely needs to re-examine its message and the people it uses to convey that message to voters.

Politicians such as Slaton, those who get caught doing something far from the message they are preaching, deserve to be excoriated and condemned in the harshest terms possible. Slaton’s expulsion vote, which was unanimous in the House, serves as a graphic reminder of the penalty that awaits those who fail to live as they demand of others.

Whether the message that Republicans want to convey remains viable in the wake of Slaton’s lying and marital infidelity is to be determined.

My own advice for the GOP would be to lose the anti-grooming mantra. Every Republican who invokes the message will bring Bryan Slaton to the minds of those hear it.

That is not a good fit.


NE Texas rep faces expulsion

Bryan Slaton, arguably one of the more incendiary members of the Texas House of Representatives, is facing the seriously real prospect of being kicked out of the House.

You see, Slaton — a Royse City Republican and one of the most ardent social conservatives ever elected to the House — has been recommended for expulsion because he reportedly had sex with an underage staff member after serving her alcohol.

The Texas Tribune reports: A scathing report by the House General Investigating Committee, distributed to House shortly after noon Saturday, found Slaton did not dispute allegations that he had sex with the 19-year-old woman and provided alcohol to her, nor did he express regret or remorse for his conduct. Instead, the report said, Slaton’s lawyer argued the complaints should be dismissed because the behavior occurred in Slaton’s Austin residence, not the workplace.

Texas House committee recommends expulsion of Rep. Bryan Slaton | The Texas Tribune

Here is what makes this matter so, um, astonishing: Slaton is a former youth minister for a Christian church, where he presumably preached the importance and sanctity of family values.

Did I mention that Slaton is married? There. I just did.

A vote by the full House could come as early as Tuesday and Slaton isn’t getting any help from his Republican colleagues in the House of Reps. In Hunt County, the GOP chair has said Slaton needs to go. I keep hearing of Republican legislative colleagues expressing shame and disgust at the party’s stain delivered by Slaton’s conduct.

Yep, it looks to me as if Bryan Slaton is headed for a one-way walk out of the Texas House of Representatives. Does it bother me? Not even a little bit!


Patrick picks needless fight

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick just continues to piss me off to no end at all.

Why? Because the fire-breathing head of the Texas Senate insists that the entire state must kowtow to his idiotic notion that everyone in the state believes as he does. It ain’t so … Dan.

Patrick’s petulance is showing itself as he continues to feud with House Speaker Dade Phelan over the House’s alleged refusal to approve the socially conservative agenda that is part of Patrick’s mantra. Patrick has taken to calling Phelan “California Dade,” an apparent reference to Phelan’s inclination to stick to a more business-friendly approach to legislation and steering the House away from the divisive socially conservative views that Patrick wants to see become law.

Such as? Oh, according to the Texas Tribune: That list includes bills limiting medical treatments for transgender kids; a push to end tenure as well as diversity, equity and inclusion practices in public universities; and a “school choice” push to allow parents to use state dollars to send their kids to private schools, which opponents say would harm the funding of the state’s public education system.

Texas House, Senate leaders clash in final weeks of Legislature | The Texas Tribune

Phelan, meanwhile, touts the House’s fiscally conservative budget, which is more in line with traditional GOP principles. That isn’t good enough to suit Patrick, who is threatening to force Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session if the Legislature — which is set to adjourn its regular session in about a month — doesn’t pass Patrick’s ham-handed agenda.

Look, I get that Texas voters elected this guy as the state’s No. 2 government executive. And that voters elected a conservative Legislature as well. However, there remains a significant number of Texans — such as yours truly — who dislike the tone and tenor of the agenda that Patrick wants to shove onto Gov. Abbott’s desk.

The guy is a MAGA loon who seeks to appeal only to those on the far right who buy into his nonsense.


Horrifying sign of the times

There can be no mistaking what is happening in school districts across Texas.

The Texas Senate has approved a bill that requires school districts to implement “active shooter” policies, or else face being taken over by the state education agency.

The legislation is in response to the Uvalde school massacre a year ago in which students and educators were gunned down by a madman.

This is a shocking and horrifying sign of the times in Texas … and everywhere else that has become victimized by the spasm of gun violence.

The Texas Tribune reports: Senate Bill 11, filed by Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, would create a safety and security department within the Texas Education Agency and give it the authority to compel school districts to establish active-shooter protocols. Those that fail to meet the agency’s standards could be put under the state’s supervision.

Texas Senate passes bill to strengthen school active-shooter plans | The Texas Tribune

I happen to believe this is a reasonable approach to helping reduce the casualties inflicted by shooters. I didn’t think it would be possible to support such a move, but given the alternatives, it makes sense.

One of the alternatives is to arm teachers, give them the authority and ability to open fire on shooters. Bad idea! I continue to oppose the notion of asking teachers — individuals whose calling is to “educate” children — to take up arms and start firing weapons at individuals … hoping they don’t hit innocent victims in the melee.

With so many incidents erupting around the country, I welcome the Texas effort to force public school systems to enact policies aimed at dealing with this existential threat to the safety of our children and educators.

I suppose you can call this the 21st-century version of the “duck and cover” drills many of us once did while the nation was frightened about a possible nuclear attack.

This threat, though, is frighteningly real.