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Recent editorials from Texas newspapers

September 11, 2018

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Texas newspapers:

Abilene Reporter-News. Sept. 8, 2018.

It was nice to see you, Dan Patrick.

The lieutenant governor was in Abilene last week, though you, Joan and John Q. Public, probably missed him. His small jet on Sept. 4 taxied right up to Abilene Aero and he deplaned after staff set up a podium affixed with the seal of his office and a backdrop that announced him as the state’s No. 2 elected official.

He made his pitch to the media, took four questions and was gone.

Patrick made a similar visit in June 2015, when his “Bold New Day in Texas” tour landed at Abilene Regional Airport.

If Patrick as an elected official has been inside Loop 322, we’re not aware of it.

His stop here could’ve been anywhere. The backdrop shielded any sense of presence, though it did hide a plate of cookies and a coffee machine inside the facility.

And what he said more than likely is what he wanted to say elsewhere. He was gracious enough but it was like we were at an In-N-Out Burger.

We understand his visits to San Angelo, Wichita Falls, Midland, Lubbock and Amarillo also were as quick.

Patrick, the first-term incumbent Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Mike Collier, who has been taking shots at his opponent’s schedule and unwillingness to debate. For several weeks, Collier’s campaign has announced Patrick’s public campaign schedule for the week as: “No public events scheduled.”

Collier’s camp goes on to say the race has the Democrat within 2 points of Patrick. Democrats seem to be putting up a better fight than normal in Texas this year.

Patrick spoke about education, especially in light of the Santa Fe High School shooting earlier this year. The past year, he noted, was not a good one in Texas, considering that shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the mass church shooting in Sutherland Springs.

The Santa Fe shooting led to a series of serious meetings about what to do. Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott were part of those talks that included Craig Bessent, assistant superintendent of the Wylie Independent School District.

Patrick said he and his wife bought 10 metal detectors for the South Texas school and that 90 percent of Texans support their use.

He emphasized that choice still rests with school districts as to arming teachers and/or adding metal detectors. Neither plan currently is in place for the two local school districts.

The Abilene district has police officers at high school and middle school campuses while the WISD has one officer serving the district. The marshal plan is in place for both districts.

Patrick noted that all 11 non-binding propositions on the Republican primary ballot in March passed with ease. That tells him that Texas Republicans are unified in their beliefs. Education, jobs and property tax relief are their priorities, thus his priorities, though protecting women and children in public restrooms remains a concern.

He hopes to see that agenda translate to the statehouse, where there was friction between the Senate and the House during the 85th legislative session, and even among Republicans. Patrick said he was disappointed in how House Speaker Joe Straus spoke about the governor but noted Straus is going, going, gone.

Patrick succinctly thanked Straus for his service (“I thank him for his service”) and seemed to be looking forward to a new speaker come January. Six Republicans are vying for that job, including Drew Darby of San Angelo and Abilene Christian University graduate Travis Clardy of Nacogdoches.

Could one of them stand up to Patrick? Will there be reason to do so?

Patrick noted Texas Republicans who voted in March overwhelmingly were in favor of picking a House speaker by secret ballot “without Democrat influence.” One Democrat, Eric Johnson of Dallas, is a speaker hopeful.

Patrick seems like a guy who would enjoy shooting the breeze with you. And maybe someone voters would like to meet. They did enjoy rubbing shoulders (literally, in a crowded barbecue restaurant) with Ted Cruz.

So maybe Dan Patrick has seen enough of our lovely airport (at least part of it).

We invite him into the city next time.

There is more to campaigning than just flying in and flying out.


Longview News-Journal. Sept. 9, 2018.

A state historical marker now designates the site in Rusk County where the Monte Verdi Plantation stands, and it has an important emphasis that not so long ago likely would have been neglected.

Specifically, the marker lists the names of the slaves who were held on the plantation and served there. More than 100 descendants of those slaves were on hand as county and state officials unveiled the plaque, which is near Cushing.

Make no mistake: Those slaves built the plantation. They planted and harvested the fields. They did the work to prepare the harvest for sale. Without them, the plantation and most others would have failed, leaving an uncertain future for the growth of Rusk County and, indeed, the South as a whole.

It is more than proper those slaves should be honored by name. It is essential that we honestly remember their contributions and forced sacrifices.

The Rusk County site honored this month with a Texas Historical Commission marker is not the only significant place in East Texas with a marker that commemorates black East Texans’ contributions. A major one is Wiley College in Marshall, which, in 1873, became the first college west of the Mississippi River to serve black students.

There are at least three such sites in Gregg County, including Pleasant Green Baptist Church and the site of the Shiloh School, both founded by freedmen. St. Mark C.M.E. Church in Longview also is the site of a marker.

As a few representative examples, others in East Texas include:

— Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, which was established in 1912 and remains as the only historically black college opened by the Christian church.

— Macedonia Baptist Church and cemetery in Hemphill. The church was established in 1885 and the cemetery holds the graves of more than 500 black East Texans, including many who were born as slaves.

— Zion Hill Historic District in Nacogdoches, an area of the city where blacks, mostly service workers, lived after the Civil War.

Those are by no means all the sites with markers remembering the history of black East Texans, but even with an exhaustive list it would be important to note they remain far less than the proportion of their contributions. Much work remains to have a true representation of the major role blacks have had in the history of Texas and particularly in our area.

Though most resistance to such historical markers has disappeared over the years, catching up will not be a simple or inexpensive matter.

We know Gregg County alone has sites that should be noted and that many competent historians live here. We would be pleased to see a push in this direction over the next few years.

This will not come about quickly, we understand that. But what isn’t started is never done at all. This is a good time to begin more honestly remembering our region’s history, including honoring all who toiled to make East Texas the great place it is today.


The Monitor. Sept. 9, 2018.

Dozens — perhaps even hundreds — of Rio Grande Valley residents now have a special kinship with former President Barack Obama: Donald Trump is questioning the authenticity of their birth certificates.

Residents reportedly are receiving notices that their applications for new or renewed U.S. passports are being rejected. Some have been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, and some who have tried to re-enter this country with current passports have seen their passports confiscated and been denied entrance. Some have been deported. All of them are lifetime U.S. residents and some are decorated military veterans.

And all have U.S. birth certificates.

Most of those targeted were born outside of major hospitals; midwives delivered them at home, a clinic or community health center. It’s a common practice in an area such as the Valley, where a large percentage of the population has low income and lacks insurance that would help pay hospital and obstetrician costs.

Some families simply choose a more natural birth at home rather than at the more impersonal setting of a hospital. They should not have to fear that their choice could subject their children to possible expulsion from their home country.

Some of those targeted, however, were born at local hospitals. For some reason, people who were delivered by the late McAllen obstetrician Jorge Treviño also are being targeted. The Trump administration has refused to say why it has flagged people delivered by Treviño, who died in 2015 and who, it is presumed, utilized local medical centers. The government also has refused to provide any information on the midwives it has targeted and the reasoning for doing so.

The anger and frustration of those affected is understandable, especially since we’ve been through this before. And it should have been settled by now.

Rejection of birth certificates began under the George W. Bush administration, after some midwives were convicted of fraudulently preparing certificates of U.S. birth for babies who were born in Mexico.

Even if those cases were a minute portion of the midwives’ deliveries, they threw into doubt all of their other certificates.

The ACLU in 2008 filed a class-action lawsuit, Castelano v. Rice, challenging the rejections. It carried over into the Obama administration, replacing new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as defendant when she replaced Condoleezza Rice.

The Obama administration settled the lawsuit, setting standards for information that would support claims of U.S. birth and allowing the plaintiffs to resubmit their passport applications without paying new fees.

The Trump administration needs to recognize those standards or set new ones so that people actually born in this country know what to do. Natural-born Americans shouldn’t fear wrongful deportation or have to live their lives in limbo without the documentation they need to travel, conduct business and vote.

Midwives must remain an option for people who can’t afford hospital births, or who simply prefer that option. Acceptable procedures must be established so people born outside of hospitals don’t have to fear getting kicked out of the country in the future.

And border residents need to know that at any time the whims of our government officials could turn innocent decisions such as the use of a midwife into a nightmare for their children.


The Dallas Morning News. Sept. 10, 2018.

We join with our community in trying to make sense of the senseless.

Another of our innocent citizens, 26-year-old Botham Jean, was shot and killed last Thursday by a Dallas police officer in Jean’s own apartment. Officer Amber Guyger, returning home from a 15-hour shift, reportedly mistook his apartment for hers and shot him in the chest.

Guyger, on the force for nearly five years, was arrested Sunday and charged with manslaughter.

No matter how you look at it, this is a tragedy.

Even if it was a heartbreaking mistake, too often a shoot-first mentality prevails in these incidents. An arrest was just. Time, and evidence, will tell if the manslaughter charge is the right one.

We still have a lot of questions that need answers. We don’t know if race played a role. Jean was black; Guyger is white.

Why did Guyger work such a long shift? How could she not have realized she was in the wrong home? Why do these police shootings of black citizens keep happening across our nation?

For the sake of this community’s healing, we praise Police Chief U. Renee Hall for bringing in the Texas Rangers to investigate. Only a fair and unbiased determination of the truth will assure our community that officers will be held accountable for their actions, especially when they have lethal consequences.

What we do know is that, by all accounts, Jean was one of our bright lights.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers accountant with the beautiful voice moved to Dallas after graduating from Harding University in Arkansas. He devoted himself to the ministries at Dallas West Church of Christ.

A church member at services Sunday told his grieving mother, Allison Jean, that he was the “spiritual tip of the spear ... the epitome of ‘send me and I’ll go.’”

It’s sickening that we won’t get a chance to know what Botham Jean could have accomplished in his life.

From what we know so far, there’s also room for sympathy for Guyger. Mistakenly shooting an unarmed man must be the ultimate horror for any self-respecting officer.

But this community has been through a lot. We just got through the emotional murder trial of white former Balch Springs officer Roy Oliver in the death of Jordan Edwards, a black teen.

That case showed why transparency is a must.

Most important, there has to be accountability in Botham Jean’s death if this community has any hope of moving forward — together.


Houston Chronicle. Sept. 11, 2018.

Rarely do meetings of the Planning Commission earn national attention, but the world of urban design turned its focus to Houston last week to hear a revolutionary proposal: The targeted elimination of required parking spots.

It is a plan long past due, one that deserves overwhelming support from City Hall.

Development in Houston is regulated by a strict regime of requirements known as parking minimums.

Businesses and residences in Houston are required to provide a certain number of parking spaces, and the specifics might as well be a bureaucrat’s dream. Do you know the difference between a small restaurant and a neighborhood restaurant? Or why a movie theater and a stage theater need different parking rules? Be prepared to answer those kinds of questions if you want to navigate Houston’s parking rules.

Despite boasts about being a low-regulation city, our parking minimums remain fairly high by national standards, according to Streetsblog USA, a website that reports on sustainable transportation and livable communities.

It doesn’t matter where in Houston you’re building, rules are the same citywide — except for skyscraper-dense downtown and parts of Montrose and the Texas Medical Center.

Overall citywide consistency for parking might have made sense when the regulations were first implemented in 1989, but it doesn’t take a civil engineer to know that developments near a light-rail stop probably need less parking than those next to a freeway on-ramp. As property values have grown, the parking rules have added an unnecessary and expensive burden to new construction within city limits.

It is time to strip away these outdated layers of red tape.

City Hall is moving in the right direction by considering a proposal to eliminate parking minimums in Midtown and EaDo. Downtown never had parking minimums, and this plan essentially expands those boundaries to encompass nearby neighborhoods that share downtown’s walkability.

But why stop there?

All developments abutting light-rail stops and Metro’s highest frequency bus routes should have their parking minimums removed. For all of Houston’s rhetoric about being a zoning-free city, these parking minimums essentially require us to be a place with a monolithic orientation around cars.

Developers and business owners are compelled to waste money and land, building parking lots they don’t need, while taxpayer dollars are spent on rail lines and bus routes designed to replace driving in the first place.

Houston’s parking rules don’t follow any academic metric or rational basis. They undermine transit and walkability and represent unnecessary government meddling in free market development. It is time to remove these rules from our books, and the changes to Midtown and EaDo are a good start.


Amarillo Globe-News. Sept. 11, 2018.

Seventeen years ago Tuesday, America — if not the world — was changed forever.

Terrorists attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001 — bring the World Trade Center to the ground and significantly damaging the Pentagon.

Close to 3,000 innocent people lost their lives.

The attack mirrors only Dec. 7, 1941 in this nation’s history as far as tragedy, horror and impact.

The attack shook America. The term “9/11” has been stamped into this nation’s memory — and we will never forget.

American came to learn the harsh and evil reality of the world.

We learned that there are individuals in the world who so hate freedom that they will resort to any means necessary to kill and murder those who live under freedom.

These individuals do not fight wars in the conventional way. They do not wear uniforms or represent a legitimate nation or country, and they hold no regard for humanity or civilization as we know it.

They justify their barbarism by clinging to a warped and distorted view of a religion. And they use this perverted view of a religion for their own benefit — to obtain power and authority through terror and fear.

This is what America learned 17 years ago Tuesday.

We also learned that there are individuals in this country who no matter the terror leashed upon them — they will persevere, if not prosper. They refuse to cower or bow to those who use terror as a weapon.

Since 9/11, there have been close to 7,000 U.S. soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom — they have lost their lives in a war on terror (a worldwide war) that continues today.

The attacks 17 years ago did change this country, but America has also changed the world.

The horrible reality of 9/11 has led to a resolve to rid humanity of the cowardice and evil that was unleashed on this nation. And this fight continues today. And this fight is evidence that America — and those who value freedom around the world — will never forget.

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