Tag Archives: Uvalde shooting

Texas GOP: rigidity matters

Yep, by all means it is true that the Texas Republican Party has gone bonkers over its fealty to the gun lobby.

The State Republican Executive Committee voted 57-5 to censure state Rep. Tony Gonzales of San Antonio over his vote for gun-control legislation. No can do, said the GOP, which now has opened the door for the party to oppose Gonzales in the next Republican Party primary race in that district set for the spring of 2024.

What a sham! And a joke! Not to mention a disgrace!

Texas GOP censures U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales | The Texas Tribune

“The reality is I’ve taken almost 1,400 votes, and the bulk of those have been with the Republican Party,” Gonzales said, according to the Texas Tribune. Ahh, but this vote was the deal-breaker.

The Tribune reported: Gonzales did not appear at the SREC meeting but addressed the issue after an unrelated news conference Thursday in San Antonio. He specifically defended his vote for the bipartisan gun law that passed last year after the Uvalde school shooting in his district. He said that if the vote were held again today, “I would vote twice on it if I could.”

Good for you, Rep. Gonzales.

His campaign issued a statement: “Today, like every day, Congressman Tony Gonzales went to work on behalf of the people of TX-23. He talked to veterans, visited with Border Patrol agents, and met constituents in a county he flipped from blue to red. The Republican Party of Texas would be wise to follow his lead and do some actual work,” campaign spokesperson Evan Albertson said.

Unbelievable, yes? Not really.


Yes! on money for training center

Mention the word “Uvalde” and you’re going to get a smorgasbord of responses. One of them should be what the Department of Public Safety is asking of the Texas Legislature.

DPS is seeking that it calls a $466 million “down payment” on a statewide training center aimed at refining law enforcement responses to situations such as what occurred earlier this year at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

The money hasn’t been officially requested as part of the DPS’s funding package. But it’s a must-spend, given what transpired in Uvalde.

You know the tragic story by now. Nineteen fourth graders and two teaches were slaughtered by a gunman. The response — or lack of response — by the Uvalde school district police force, DPS, county deputies and city police officers has been the subject of considerable discussion and debate in the months since the tragedy.

The Texas Tribune reports: The Texas Department of Public Safety wants $1.2 billion to turn its training center north of Austin into a full-time statewide law enforcement academy — starting with a state-of-the-art active-shooter facility that would need a nearly half-billion-dollar investment from Texas taxpayers next year.

DPS operates a training center in Williamson. The “down payment” request seeks to provide a dramatic upgrade to the DPS effort to prepare its troopers for future situations such as what occurred at Robb Elementary School. Make no mistake: there will be another explosion of violence.

As the Tribune reports: A “state-of-the-art” active-shooter facility would be built with the first round of funding next year and could be used “right off the bat,” independent of the rest of the proposed upgrades, to immediately enhance active-shooter response by Texas law enforcement, McCraw said in a brief presentation before the Texas Legislative Budget Board on Oct. 4.

Texas DPS wants $1.2 billion for academy, active-shooter facility | The Texas Tribune

I want to offer a hearty and heartfelt endorsement of what DPS is seeking from our Legislature. They are going to report for duty in January with a substantial surplus of funds. Here is a wise way to spend some of it … to help law enforcement protect our children from future madness.


Fake calls need stern punishment

Call it a disturbing sign of these most disturbing times, with tension running white-hot whenever police respond to calls of an “active shooter” on school grounds.

Still, with an increase of fake calls, police are being tested in ways they haven’t seen before. My own view is that those who make those bogus calls need to be sought out and punished strictly for the havoc they are create.

It is a disgraceful symptom of the era we entered a long time ago.

The Texas Tribune reported: “Events like this shake everyone to the core,” said Kathy Martinez-Prather, the director of the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University. “It is definitely a situation that is at the top of mind of parents right now.”

All of this appears to be part of the damage brought by the lunatic who opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. He killed 19 fourth-graders and two teachers before police — finally! — were able to shoot him to death.

A recent fake shooter incident involved Central Catholic High School in San Antonio. Police evacuated the 500 students enrolled in the school. Once they delivered the all-clear, officials said they would make counseling services available to the students.

Texas hoax active-shooter calls put parents, police on edge | The Texas Tribune

This is a reprehensible consequence of the Uvalde massacre. To think that more of these fake calls are coming in, subjecting students, teachers, administrators and parents to unnecessary trauma simply strains one’s tolerance for such nonsense.

Those who make those calls need to be hunted down — to the extent that law enforcement is able to find them — and given the harshest punishment possible.


Beto tosses in towel?

Photo by Richard W. Rodriguez/AP/REX/Shutterstock 

I can’t stand it when candidates I support say the kind of thing that came from Texas Democratic Party candidate for governor Beto O’Rourke.

O’Rourke responded to a question involving a recent poll showing that he continues to trail GOP Gov. Greg Abbott in the head-to-head race for governor.

“The only poll that counts,” said O’Rourke, “is the one on Election Day.”

I winced when I saw those remarks. You see, that is the kind of response one sees coming from trailing candidates who seem to secretly acknowledge that they’re cooked, that they have no chance of catching the opponent.

It’s a form of political code-speak.

I hope that’s not the case with O’Rourke. Quite clearly, I cannot read the candidate’s mind, unlike some pundits out there who believe they can do the impossible.

Maybe it’s just a throwaway line that O’Rourke decided to toss into the air. Whatever, we have a month to go before Midterm Election Day. Abbott still must be held accountable for his non-response to the Uvalde school massacre, for his showboating by sending migrants to New York and other “liberal” states.

I just don’t want to hear O’Rourke seeming to give up a fight that still is worth the struggle.


Uvalde commences housecleaning

Well now, this was something I didn’t see coming … the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District suspending its entire police department and then learning that the superintendent is going to retire.

Whenever you think of “Uvalde,” you know the first thing that pops into your head: the slaughter in May of those 19 precious children and two teachers who sought to protect them from the madman who opened fire with an AR-15 rifle at Robb Elementary School.

The fallout from that horrifying event just continues to shower a school district that is searching deeply for answers.

The Texas Tribune reported that the Uvalde district fired a police officer after it learned he was one of the first Department of Public Safety troopers on the scene when the carnage exploded. The trooper, it turns out, has been under investigation by DPS for her conduct when the shooting erupted. The district also has fired former Police Chief Pete Arredondo. This week, it suspended two school district officers and reassigned all the others to various assignments within the district.

Now comes the report of a pending retirement from Superintendent Hal Harrell. Get a load of this: Harrell graduated from Uvalde High School and has spent his entire career as an educator within the school district, serving as superintendent since 2018.

There once was a time when you thought of “Uvalde,” you would have thought, perhaps, of Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey — a native of that community. No more.

Uvalde school district suspends its entire police department | The Texas Tribune

All of this makes this latest development so astonishing.

Our entire state continues to grieve over the horrendous loss of life on that day. This year’s campaign for governor has focused intently on the action — or inaction — by the state in response to what happened that day.

The Uvalde CISD has many issues to unpack and correct as it moves forward. I am going to believe the district will enlist officers from the city police department and the sheriff’s department to assist in securing its campuses.

The state and nation will be watching … intently.


‘Three men’ ad sticks like glue

The ad is labeled simply “three men,” and focuses on three Texas politicians, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton. They’re all Republicans.

It is paid for by a PAC called Coulda Been Worse LLC, referencing the Uvalde school massacre in May that killed 19 children and two teachers.

What is most fascinating is the emphasis on the “men” aspect of the ad. It seems to dovetail off another TV spot that discusses how these “three men” forced the Legislature to ban abortion in all cases, except for the health of the mother. No exception for rape or incest. The “three men” made it happen.

Now we see that theme being carried over to the issue of the electrical grid, which Coulda Been Worse LLC notes still hasn’t been fixed.

I happen to like the ad. No surprise, given that I oppose the re-election of all three of the principals mentioned.

My request to Coulda Been Worse LLC? Keep ’em coming.


Use the ‘bully pulpit’ to end gun violence

Greg Abbott has a forum called the “bully pulpit” to advance causes he deems essential. The Texas governor has used it with minimal effect to call attention to illegal immigration.

The Republican, though, needs to fire it up to talk about another key issue on the minds of parents, students and educators: gun violence in our schools.

You know what I’m talking about. The Uvalde school massacre in May remains on the top of Texans’ minds as Abbott campaigns for re-election against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

We’re seeing campaign ads now calling attention to what Abbott has failed to do in the wake of Uvalde. He has opposed efforts to increase the minimum age for those who purchase weapons from 18 to 21 years of age. He has failed to call a special legislative session to deal forthrightly with gun violence.

O’Rourke is seeking to make Abbott’s non-response to Uvalde a campaign issue. I don’t yet know whether it is resonating with voters who are sickened by what happened at Robb Elementary School, when a lunatic packing an AR-15 rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammo walked into the school and slaughtered 19 fourth graders and two educators who sought to protect the children.

One of our nation’s greatest Republicans, Theodore Roosevelt, used to proclaim that the bully pulpit existed precisely for officeholders to further worthy causes. Protecting our children against random acts of evil certainly qualifies … yes?


‘Uvalde’ takes on added weight

Forgive me if I am overstating what appears to be occurring, but it seems to me that the very name “Uvalde” is taking on a significance given to few communities struck by the kind of tragedy that befell that small South Texas town.

It’s as if the very name of the town is becoming a rallying cry, kind of like “Remember the Alamo!” has become part of Texas lore. The Uvalde reference, though, reaches far beyond the state borders. It touches the entire nation, if not the world.

Uvalde no longer is just Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey’s hometown, which very well could have been enough to sustain it during another era.

It was the place where a madman opened fire in an elementary school and slaughtered 19 precious children and two teachers who fought to protect them. It was the place where combined law enforcement, in the words of Texas Department of Public Safety director Stephen McCraw, delivered an “abject failure” to protect those innocent victims.

Uvalde has become the symbol of the call for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special legislative session to enact laws that make it just a little bit tougher for individuals to purchase the kind of weapon the shooter used at Robb Elementary School.

And Uvalde has become the catalyst for school systems throughout the state and the nation to rethink their security protocols and to do whatever it takes to protect the lives of the children and those who are assigned to care for and to teach them.

I fear for the community’s sake that whenever any of its 15,000 residents travel and someone asks them, “Where are you from?” that they’ll receive a sad, but perhaps heartwarming response from those who pose the question.

The love that might come back to Uvalde is worth retaining. The sadness? At some level I hope it dissipates … but that it doesn’t disappear completely.

Society needs reminders, I regret to say, of the tragedy that can erupt in any community within this great country.


School cops get a bum rap

Let’s examine this issue of public school district police forces and whether they are equipped and trained to respond to tragedies such as what unfolded recently down yonder in Uvalde, Texas.

The Uvalde Independent School District chief of police, Pete Arredondo, commanded a force of five officers. They were all certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement that issues those certifications.

Put another way: Arredondo was not in charge of a corps of mall cops. 

The chief is on unpaid administrative leave pending a decision by the school board whether to fire him. My opinion? He needs to be cut loose and sent on his way to … somewhere other than another law enforcement job.

The officers under his command, though, do not deserve to be criticized — as they have been in some circles. Yes, other agencies’ officers responded to the slaughter of those children and their teachers. However, the Uvalde ISD officers were fully capable of responding appropriately when the need arose … and boy howdy, it arose that day at Robb Elementary School.

School districts throughout Texas are hiring police officers, putting them on school district payrolls and entrusting them to protect our children. I cover a school district in North Texas, Farmersville ISD, that has such a force. It is run by a veteran police officer with many years of experience.

Farmersville ISD, indeed, is set to hire at least one additional officer for its force of four officers — including the chief. Additionally, the district is considering the hiring of school campus “monitors” who will serve as eyes and ears on site for the police department.

I want to stipulate once more that the FISD officers are fully certified by the state and are fully qualified to respond to emergencies as they develop.

The Uvalde tragedy was a failure of leadership. Pete Arredondo, from what I have been able to discern, failed to act decisively in the critical moments early on as the tragedy unfolded. So, too, did other force commanders who arrived at the school to deliver assistance.

Let us not dismiss the actions of one small police force as emblematic of the kind of law enforcement that our children deserve and receive.


Police chief just can’t stay

They were supposed to meet today in Uvalde, Texas, to decide whether to fire an embattled chief of police. The chief’s lawyer asked for a delay on “due process” concerns.

No one yet knows when the Uvalde public school board will meet to consider the fate of its police chief, Pete Arredondo.

I’ll just weigh in now with what I believe is patently obvious.

Arredondo did not do his job when a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in May, killing19 fourth graders and two teachers who sought to save them from the slaughter.

The chief choked. He didn’t know he was in charge. Actually, in my view, he should have seized command and ordered an assault on the gunman.

The community is grieving. When it is isn’t crying, it is full of rage. At the chief. At many of the officers under his command. At city cops. At Department of Public Safety officers and at the U.S. Border Patrol. All told, 376 officers responded to the carnage. They waited 77 interminable minutes before killing the gunman.

Arredondo — who has been place on unpaid administrative leave — has been at the center of the community’s grief and anger. From my perspective, there can be no way in the world he stays on the job. What’s more, I happen to believe his career as a law enforcement officer is over as well.

Uvalde school board postpones meeting to discuss Chief Pete Arredondo’s fate | The Texas Tribune

This man will be scarred for the rest of his life by the tragedy that unfolded in Uvalde. Talk about being a “distraction.”

When the school board finishes processing its “due process,” its task is clear. Fire the chief and look for a new school district top cop who will pledge to take command in a future emergency.