Tag Archives: Texas Tribune

Mayors want ‘local control’

A cadre of big-city Texas mayors has delivered a critical message to state legislators who have gathered in Austin for the 88th Texas Legislative Assembly.

The mayors want to retain control of their cities’ destiny.

Man, what a concept!

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, president of the Texas Big City Mayors Coalition said the group’s battle to keep control at city hall will be central to their observance of the Legislature.

Too often, it seems that legislators purport to know how cities should govern themselves. From my standpoint in little ol’ Princeton, the most egregious example of that stemmed from the debate over whether cities should have the authority to install cameras at signaled intersections to combat those who disobey stop lights.

The Legislature grudgingly allowed the cities to enact such ordinances, then took that authority away. said at a conference Friday along with eight other members of the Texas’ Big City Mayors coalition.

“As mayors with the responsibility of managing services and operations that largely impact the daily lives of our residents, we believe we are best positioned to determine local policies,” Nirenberg said. Well, there you go. End of argument, right? Not even close!

As the Texas Tribune reports:

Texas mayors want to keep control of local issues | The Texas Tribune

“Boots on the ground.” There you go. Mayors don’t want — or certainly don’t need — politicians from faraway places telling them how to run their cities.

The message I gleaned from the Big City Mayors outfit?

Butt the hell out!


Bipartisanship is best for Texas

Dade Phelan has survived a challenge to his role as speaker of the Texas House of Representatives … and for that I am glad he did.

Why? Because the challenge came from a fellow Republican who doesn’t much cotton to the way Phelan doles out House committee chairmanships. You see, Phelan — a Beaumont Republican — handed chairmanships to some of those dreaded Democrats with whom he serves in the Legislature.

The insurgency came from Rep. Tony Tinderholt, a Tarrant County Republican, who sought to replace Phelan as speaker. The final vote was 78 to 6.

Phelan’s bipartisan handling of the speakership is not unlike so many of the individuals who preceded him. Speakers Joe Straus, Dennis Bonnen and Tom Craddick all handed chairman’s gavels to Democrats. The most recent Democratic speaker, Pete Laney, also was generous in sharing power with Republicans.

According to the Texas Tribune: In response to the vote Saturday, Tinderholt said on Twitter he is “undeterred in my fight to ensure we have strong conservative leadership this session” and added that he will “look forward to the floor vote on the first day of session.” The 88th Texas Legislature begins meeting on Jan. 10.

Texas House Republican Caucus endorses Dade Phelan for speaker | The Texas Tribune

The endorsement by the Republican legislative caucus only strengthens Phelan’s hand as the entire Legislature will vote next month to select the next speaker. Phelan needs 76 votes and the GOP endorsement would seemingly ensure Phelan has them.

Phelan merely is following a tradition set long ago in a legislative body that works best when Democrats and Republicans can find common ground on legislation that works for all Texans. Sharing some of the power in the manner Phelan has chosen is a step toward achieving that legislative success.


Lt. Gov. proposes mainstream agenda … who knew?

Hardly ever do I have a good word to say about Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, but today I am going to veer into virtually unknown territory.

I want to offer a word of cautious praise for the agenda he is proposing for the Texas Senate as it prepares for the start of the next Legislature which opens for business in early January.

Patrick is pitching several key issues as his top priority items.

They are: fixing the electrical grid; reducing property taxes; and shoring up our border security.

None of that sounds particularly alarming to me. Nor should it to anyone else. There might be a socially conservative issue or two hidden in Patrick’s sleeve. You might recall how he sought to impose the “bathroom bill” on Texans in the 2017 Legislature. That was the bill that sought to require transgender Texans to use the public bathroom that coincided with their “gender at birth.” That attempt at homophobic legislation died in the House, thanks to the will of then-Speaker Joe Straus, another Republican legislator.

I don’t want Patrick to try more of that kind of funny business the 2023 legislative session.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick lays out 2023 legislative priorities | The Texas Tribune

The electrical grid needs repair, even though Gov. Greg Abbott and Patrick said it had been fixed after the disaster that came to the state in February 2021, when hundreds of Texans froze to death.

As for property tax relief, I am unsure what kind of authority the state has over a matter that is decided by county commissioners’ courts, school boards, city councils and assorted other local governing bodies. However, as a taxpaying Texas resident of long standing, I welcome the effort.

Patrick cruised to re-election this year and is likely filled with plenty of political capital as he prepares the Senate — over which he presides — for the work that lies ahead.

I wish him — and the Senate — well as they get busy. I just want to offer a word of caution to the occasionally fiery and abrasive lieutenant governor: Keep your eye on the ball and let’s not try to legislate our moral behavior.


What? Cheney will dump GOP?

“I’m going to make sure Donald Trump, make sure he’s not the nominee … And if he is the nominee, I won’t be a Republican.”

Let’s ponder for a moment who made that statement.

It comes from Liz Cheney, the senior Republican on the House select 1/6 committee. She has been a Republican her entire adult life. Her dad is former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, a Republican’s Republican if ever there was one.

She has declared at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin that if Donald J. Trump is the 2024 GOP presidential nominee, she will cease belonging to the party to which she has devoted her entire public life.

In one way that stuns me, given what I know about Cheney’s GOP credentials. In another way, I shouldn’t be surprised.

Wyoming voters cast her aside in August’s GOP primary. She sought another term as Wyoming’s lone member of the U.S. House. GOP primary voters said, in effect, forget about it, Liz; we don’t want you in the party. We censured you because you aren’t loyal to Trump.

According to the Texas Tribune: Cheney maintained that she is an ardent conservative on policy issues, voting in near lockstep with Trump’s legislative agenda when he was in office. But she warned a House Republican majority would give outsized power to members who have been staunch allies of the former president and his efforts to keep the White House, including U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and Jim Jordan.

And she is all of that. Cheney also believes in the rule of law, in the oath she and Trump both took to “defend and protect” the Constitution.

Frankly — despite the fact that she represents an ideology that I dislike and my belief that Trump won’t be nominated in 2024 — I happen to be proud of Rep. Liz Cheney for standing firm on behalf of the truth.


Personhood debate enters absurdity level

A North Texas woman got pulled over by a police officer because she was the sole occupant in a vehicle that was traveling down a high-occupancy vehicle lane — which requires two or more passengers to qualify.

Except that the woman is pregnant, so she has contested the citation issued in Dallas County, contending that her unborn child is a person, which makes the HOV restriction moot.

Hmm. How do I say this? This incident goes beyond absurd. It is ridiculous in the extreme, but it surely opens the door to endless debate over the whole “personhood” issue brewing now that Texas has made abortion illegal.

The driver in question, Brandy Bottone, said she isn’t trying to make this a “political” issue. Yeah, sure thing. It’s like the pro athlete who holds out for more money who then says, “It’s not about the money.” Of course it is … about the money. Bottone’s bitching about the traffic ticket is most certainly a political issue.

The Texas Tribune reports: Bottone argued that under Texas’ abortion laws, which went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion, a fetus is considered a living being. She argued the same should be true when it comes to the state’s traffic laws. “I’m not trying to make a political stance here,” Bottone said, “but in light of everything that is happening, this is a baby.”

Fetal personhood law is complex and Texas is only beginning to untangle it | The Texas Tribune

I have a fear that other would-be political activists are going to test this law and well could clog up municipal courts with ridiculous arguments that suggest that even though a woman is, say, six or seven weeks pregnant that she is therefore allowed to flout a reasonable law aimed at helping motorists who have actual passengers sitting next to them navigate their way through traffic congestion.

This whole matter appears to be taking an absurd turn.


Teachers want to bail

Finding and keeping high-quality educators is a difficult enough job even when conditions are ideal. Throw in a killer pandemic and then politics on top of that, then the public school system faces a seriously daunting task.

The Texas Tribune reports a disturbing trend: Results from a new online survey of K-12 teachers in Texas, released on Thursday, shows most “seriously considered” leaving the profession this year, a 19% increase from two years ago.

Not good, man. Not good at all.

Earlier this year we saw Dallas-Fort Worth area school districts pummeled by resignations of superintendents, some of whom were leaving districts that as recently a year ago were honored for superlative work in educating children.

What drove them away? In too many cases, it was the constant hectoring from parents over mask mandates and other restrictions made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tribune reports:

I tried my hand at substitute teaching in 2012 and learned right away I am not wired to work with other people’s children. My brief exposure to classroom work filled me with admiration for those who see it as a calling.

Therefore, I am unsettled to learn that politics is getting in the way of those who are dedicated to guiding young minds and to teaching them skills they will need to succeed.

New survey indicates more Texas teachers want to quit | The Texas Tribune

It shouldn’t need to be said, but Texas can ill-afford to let good teachers go because of political pressure. Our public school system, for which we all pay, suffers as a result.


GOP leader backs a Democrat for lt. gov.?

That’s how you make news: You go on a TV news show that is broadcast statewide and then declare that despite your loyalty to those who belong to your political party, you endorse the candidate for the state’s most powerful public office who represents the other major party.

Republican Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley, who’s leaving office at the end of the year, said he is going to support Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Mike Collier, who is running against GOP incumbent Dan Patrick.

The first reason that Whitley cited in turning his back on Patrick is Patrick’s association with Empower Texans, an outfit that has drawn plenty of barbs from this blog. Empower Texans is an ultra-right-wing political action committee dedicated to the task of challenging Republican officeholders who do not adhere to the PAC’s right-wing agenda.

I watched Empower Texans take aim at the likes of two friends of mine, state Sen. Kel Seilger and state Rep. Four Price, both of whom are Amarillo Republicans. Both are solid legislators. Seliger, though, butted heads constantly with Patrick.

I am glad Judge Whitley has decided to make news in this manner. He told WFAA-TV this morning: “The one person who I’ll support statewide that will get me a little in trouble: Mike Collier for lieutenant governor.”

I suppose I should weigh in with a thought on whether I believe Collier — who ran against Patrick four years ago — can break through the GOP lock on statewide office this time. I doubt it. Then again, I am not touring the state talking to folks about issues important to many Texans. Abortion comes to mind. The state has made performing an abortion a criminal act and has put the lives and emotional well-being of women in dire peril as a result.

Patrick, as the presiding officer of the Texas Senate, has been front and center on this heavy-handed policy discussion. I am going out on a limb by suggesting that Judge Whitley isn’t willing to side with Dan Patrick on that matter. Thus, he backs Mike Collier.

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley endorses Mike Collier | The Texas Tribune

If only this endorsement can open the door for other reasonable Republicans to enter.


Praying for DACA recipients

I am going to say my prayers tonight. Yes, I think often of my family and pray for their good health and safety and for my friends, many of whom have suffered death in their family.

I also am going to pray for the survival of a humane and to my mind a  totally acceptable public policy. The Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals needs to stay on the books. Why? Because it grants U.S. residents who were brought here as children protection from being deported … even though they have done nothing wrong as de facto Americans.

The Texas Tribune reports: In 2018, Texas and other Republican-led states filed a lawsuit against the federal government arguing that the Obama administration overreached its power by creating an immigration program without Congress’ approval. The lawsuit has led to a yearslong legal battle.

DACA recipients prepare for possible end of program as court ruling looms | The Texas Tribune

DACA came into being as the result of an executive order issued by President Obama. It is meant to protect those who came here as children, some of whom were infants and toddlers. Many thousands of these children have grown into responsible adults; they have paid their taxes; many of them have achieved academic excellence.

What’s more, they did all of this in the only country they ever have known. Those who were brought here as children only did so because they were too young to act independently.

And now some of us want them deported? To a country they don’t know? It is inhumane to the max to punish these DACA recipients in this manner.

Therefore, I will pray that they can be allowed to stay in this country, allowed to seek citizenship or permanent legal resident status and be allowed to continue to contribute to the country where they came of age.


Age limits on guns: ‘unconstitutional’?

Greg Abbott cannot be serious … but he surely is being serious when he declares that attempts to increase the minimum age for individuals to buy high-powered rifles are “unconstitutional.”

I will have to disagree with the Texas governor, a Republican who continues to hide behind a canard that declares the Second Amendment doesn’t specify age limits for keeping and bearing arms.

The debate has arisen in the wake of the Uvalde school massacre when an 18-year-old shooter purchased two AR-15 rifles, then walked into Robb Elementary School where he killed 19 children and two educators before the cops killed him.

The Texas Tribune reported: Abbott at his Wednesday campaign event brought up court rulings against gun restrictions from the past three months, including a federal court in Fort Worth on Thursday that struck down a Texas law limiting adults under 21 from carrying handguns. U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman wrote that the Second Amendment does not specify limits on age.

Greg Abbott says raising the age to buy assault rifle is unconstitutional | The Texas Tribune

Pittman is correct. The Second Amendment makes no mention of age limits. I guess the judge presumes, therefore, that a six-year-old is able to carry a pistol in his pocket. Hey, the Constitution is silent on age limits, right?

That, of course, is nonsense. It is in my mind just as nonsensical to suggest that state legislatures or Congress, for that matter, cannot enact laws that restrict the age of those who can purchase weapons such as those the moron used in Uvalde.

Therein sits one more reason to vote Greg Abbott out of office when Election Day rolls around.


Do as I say, not do …

This is the opening paragraph of a story published today by the Texas Tribune …

Monica De La Cruz, a firebrand Republican running in a fiercely competitive South Texas race, received thousands of dollars for personal business interests from federal COVID relief programs despite disparaging federal assistance programs as harmful to the U.S. economy.

Man, you just have to love the kind of reporting that exposes politicians’ hypocrisy in this Age of Hypocrites.

Here’s the rest of the story. Take a peek. It’s worth your time.

Monica De La Cruz cashes in on COVID aid, trashes programs | The Texas Tribune

The Tribune points out that De La Cruz is the latest Republican — yeah, this is mostly a GOP affliction — to criticize Democrats’ policies while scarfing up the goodies for their own gain.

So it is with this GOP candidate for Congress.

Do you recall in 2020 when Republicans railed against President Biden’s efforts to pump money into repairing and upgrading our infrastructure? Then, once Congress approved it Biden signed it into law, they stood up and boasted about all the money that was coming to their states and congressional districts.

The Tribune reported further about De La Cruz’s duplicity: “Monica De La Cruz raged against relief funding for Texas small businesses, but what she didn’t mention was that she and her family happily took nearly $200,000 of that same aid for themselves. Her hypocritical agenda of ‘Help for me, but not for thee’ is politics at its worst and South Texans deserve better,” said Monica Robinson, a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Where I come from, such blatant hypocrisy is a deal-breaker.