Columns/Opinions

Thu
20
Apr

The charmed life of a frontier lawman

By Bartee Haile

 

A Texan for three years and a Ranger for less than one, Jeff Milton survived his baptism of gunfire on Apr. 25, 1881 just as he would many other brushes with death in the years to come. When the wife of Florida governor John Milton gave birth soon after secession, the pleased papa named the baby Jeff Davis in honor of the Confederate president. The elder Milton died in the closing days of the war, proud of the fact that his beloved Tallahassee along with Austin,

 

Thu
20
Apr

Federal judge says again, Texas voter ID law is discriminatory

By Ed Sterling

 

AUSTIN — U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi on April 10 ruled the State of Texas has failed to prove that the voter identification law was not written with discriminatory intent and purpose. The ruling came in response to a charge by the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that Judge Ramos re-examine the evidence and her 2015 findings in Veasey et al., plaintiffs, v. Greg Abbott et al., defendants. Plaintiffs alleged racial discrimination in violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act of 1965 in response to the passage of Senate Bill 14 by the Texas Legislature in 2011. The law changed the list of acceptable forms of identification voters may use at polls and enacted other restrictions.

 

The State of Texas argued that the law was passed not with a discriminatory purpose, but to combat voter fraud at the polls.

 

Thu
13
Apr

Renowned Ranger routs Rio Grande rustlers

By Bartee Haile

The sheriff of a South Texas county overrun by Mexican bandits sent the following telegram to Ranger headquarters in Austin on Apr. 18, 1875: “Is Capt. McNelly coming? We are in trouble. Five ranches burned by disguised men last week. Answer.”

Although the sprawling spreads south of San Antonio had been plagued for years by hit-and-run rustlers, previous losses paled in comparison to the current crime wave. Led by Juan Cortinas, part-time revolutionary and full-time thief, well-organized bands were driving hundreds of cattle every week across the Rio Grande for shipment to Cuba.

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Thu
13
Apr

Next step: House, Senate must work toward agreement on state budget

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — After more than 15 hours of floor debate, the Texas House of Representatives on April 7 approved a balanced, $218 billion, state budget for fiscal years 2018-2019.

During the debate, state representatives proposed some 378 amendments to the House version of Senate Bill 1, although many were tabled or withdrawn.

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Thu
06
Apr

Bloody triple murder in the Big Thicket

By Bartee Haile

 

Ten years into a 99- year prison sentence for murder, a trusty told the guards he was going fishing on Apr. 11, 1930 and vanished into thin air. In February 1915, a farmer and his son hunting in the Big Thicket, the impenetrable natural wonder that once covered portions of 11 southeast Texas counties, came upon a partially decomposed corpse in a shallow grave.

The coroner’s educated guess was that the man had been dead two weeks, but the bullet holes in the victim’s chest left no doubt as to the cause of death. The deceased was identified from his clothes and dental work as an oilfield worker named Richard Watts.

 

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Thu
06
Apr

Gov. welcomes Justice Department’s sanctuary cities announcement

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on March 27 praised an announcement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Department of Justice will withhold and take back federal funds from cities that do not comply with federal immigration laws and enforcement directives. “Texas joins the Trump administration in its commitment to end sanctuary cities and I look forward to signing legislation that bans these dangerous policies in Texas once and for all,” Abbott said. Senate Bill 4, legislation to prohibit sanctuary city policies in Texas, was passed by the Senate on Feb. 8. It was heard in the House State Affairs Committee on March 15, but has not been scheduled for a committee vote.

In 2015, Abbott’s office implemented a policy that requires the sheriffs for each of Texas’ 254 counties to certify their cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests or risk losing funding through the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division.

 

Thu
30
Mar

Dallas battles Houston over federal bank

By Bartee Haile

Civic leaders in Dallas and Houston waited nervously on Apr. 2, 1914 for the decision on which of Texas’ two largest cities had been awarded the new federal bank.

The rash of bank failures caused by the Panic of 1907 underscored the urgent need for effective monitoring and management of the national money supply. To avert future crises, the country required a bank for the banks.

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Thu
30
Mar

Senate panel OKs budget for upcoming two-year period

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — A state budget for fiscal years 2018-2019 cleared the first in a series of hurdles when the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved committee substitute Senate Bill 1 on March 22.

The legislation next moves to the full Senate for consideration.

“This budget remains a work in progress, but we will continue our work to make the most of every dollar, meet our priority needs and keep Texas moving in the right direction,” said Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, RFlower Mound. “This committee left no stone unturned looking for savings, examining our budget drivers and looking for ways to make smarter use of our limited resources.”

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Thu
23
Mar

State budget progresses toward vote by full Senate

By Ed Sterling

 

AUSTIN — The Senate Finance Committee, at work on the 2018-2019 state budget since January, on March 16 approved workgroup recommendations in preparation for a final vote.

 

Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said she expects her panel to vote on the state budget, Senate Bill 1, this week, March 20-24 After the committee votes, the next step for the budget is consideration by the full Senate.

 

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Thu
23
Mar

Ex-congressman negotiates release of Texans

By Bartee Haile

 

Waddy Thompson did not let the fact that he had been a private citizen for two weeks keep him from asking one more life-saving favor of Santa Anna on Mar. 23, 1844.

 

Texans naively presumed their neighbors in New Mexico would jump at the chance to join the Lone Star Republic. So, in the summer of 1841, President Mirabeau Lamar sent more than 300 soldiers, merchants and a grab bag of adventurers to deliver an engraved invitation and to stake Texas’ claim to the lucrative trade of the Santa Fe Trail.

 

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