Columns/Opinions

Thu
21
Sep

Citizens, government agencies continue hurricane recovery work

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — Help-is-on-the-way announcements from the governor’s office came last week as residents of hard-hit counties of the state labored to pull themselves out the watery mire and windblown nightmare of Hurricane Harvey.

On Sept. 14, Gov. Greg Abbott spotlighted Texas Department of Transportation contractors’ efforts to remove debris along state roadways in the Coastal Bend, the area that took a full frontal assault from the deadly storm that plowed ashore and battered Texas in late August and early September.

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Thu
14
Sep

Texas begins long march toward recovery from Hurricane Harvey

By Ed Sterling

 

AUSTIN — As contaminated waters receded and mountains of debris from flooded homes and ruined belongings grew last week, a picture of post-hurricane Texas developed and the process of weighing impacts to lives, property and infrastructure began.

 


Gov. Greg Abbott delivered a series of announcements and proclamations related to catastrophic flooding and wind damage brought by Hurricane Harvey to more than 50 Gulf Coast and inland counties in late August and early September.

 

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Thu
14
Sep

Mary Kay turned glass ceiling into pink Cadillacs

By Bartee Haile

 

Starting with her life savings of five thousand dollars, her grown son and nine employees called “consultants,” Mary Kay Ash opened her first cosmetics store in Dallas on Sep. 13, 1963.

 

Don’t bother looking for the birthplace of the famous cosmetics queen on any map or even in the Texas Almanac. The small community of Hot Wells disappeared decades ago but not before leaving behind a heck of a story.

 

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Thu
24
Aug

The media normalize the Antifa extreme

In March, "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd made an ad for his show in which he lamented to the public:

 

"What about our politics? Are there any rules anymore, and if so, will anybody play by them?" Todd assured viewers that he and NBC would enforce some rules.

 

"These days, politics could use a little refereeing," he intoned. "And we're not afraid to blow the whistle." Wrong. The rulebook is being shredded. The antifa movement, or anti-fascist movement of far-left-leaning militant groups, is justifying violent action in the streets to beat back racists and neo-Nazis. Violence — not as an accidental outburst but as an explicit strategy — used to be seen as a beyond-the-pale extreme. Now Todd & Co. are ushering antifa's extreme into polite society.

 

Thu
24
Aug

Special session ends over impasse on property tax reform bill

By Ed Sterling

 

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott gave legislators 20 must-pass items, but the lawmakers delivered only 12 bills to his desk during the first called session of the 85th Texas Legislature. Both the House and Senate gaveled to final adjournment on Aug. 15, the 29th day of the 30- day session, after deadlines left negotiators without enough time to resolve differences in Senate Bill 1, the property tax reform bill.

 

The House adjourned first, leaving the Senate to accept its substituted version of SB 1 or let it die. The Senate adjourned and the bill died.

 

 

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Thu
17
Aug

Abbott signs 3 bills with few likely to reach his desk in final week

By Ed Sterling

 

AUSTIN — Three bills reached Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk last week, with the 30-day special session of the Texas Legislature set to expire Aug. 16.

 

Abbott signed all three into law on Aug. 11:

 

-- Senate Bill 5, increasing criminal penalties for voter fraud, by Kelly Hancock, RNorth Richland Hills, and sponsored in the House by Dan Huberty, R-Kingwood;

 

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Thu
17
Aug

Middle-aged clerk turns to robbing trains

By Bartee Haile

 

On Aug. 23, 1892, a Gainesville newspaper confirmed the rumored death of a local politician turned train robber.

 

Eugene Franklin Bunch did not fit the stereotype of the late nineteenth century outlaw. He was not an illiterate saddle tramp nor a trigger- happy sociopath but the well-educated son of a Mississippi planter. So why did he chose a life of crime at the age of 43?

 

Soon after the Civil War, Bunch moved to Louisiana where he taught school and married a southern belle from the same social class. Sometime in the early 1870’s, the couple emigrated to Cooke County, Texas, living briefly in Dexter, a source of illegal whiskey for reservation Indians, before settling in Gainesville.

 

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Thu
10
Aug

House passes bills to give retired teachers relief from rising costs

By Ed Sterling

 

AUSTIN – The Texas House on Aug. 1 approved House Bill 20, legislation appropriating $212.7 million from the “rainy day” reserve fund to help defray rising healthcare costs for retired school employees.

 

Primary authors of HB 20 include: Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin; Drew Darby, R-San Angelo; Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston; John Zerwas, R-Katy; and Donna Howard, D-Austin.

 

The House also approved HB 80, legislation that through the Teacher Retirement System of Texas would make a one-time cost-of-living adjustment to the retirement benefits paid to certain retirees, disability retirees and survivors. To be eligible for the increase, the annuitant must have retired between Aug. 31, 2004 and Aug. 31, 2015.

 

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Thu
10
Aug

Mexican Revolution spreads to South Texas

By Bartee Haile

 

In the running war with Mexican bandits, six U.S. Army cavalrymen fought a brief battle with hit-and-run raiders on Aug. 10, 1915 twenty-five miles on the Texas side of the Rio Grande.

 

It was only a matter of time before the violent convulsions wracking Mexico would spill over the border. In the summer of 1915, halfway through the revolution that eventually took two million lives and drove hundreds of thousands into exile, Texans living in the Valley suddenly became targets in a shooting war.

 

On Aug. 6, a dozen bandits rode into Sebastian 35 miles north of Brownsville. The proprietor of the general store in the sleepy hamlet turned to greet the always welcome customers and found himself staring down the barrels of two rifles. The robbers helped themselves to his sparse shelves before moving onto the next business.

 

Thu
03
Aug

House, Senate have not yet engaged in back-and-forth on key bills

By Ed Starling

AUSTIN — Not a single bill had been agreed to by the state House and Senate as of July 28, exactly 10 days into the 30-day special session of the Texas Legislature.

Lawmakers have a tall order served up to them by Gov. Greg Abbott in the form of 20 mustresolve matters in the first called session of the 85th Texas Legislature. Something could be on Abbott’s desk in short order if toppriority “sunset” legislation to ensure the continuation of the Texas Medical Board and several other healthcare-related state oversight boards gains approval by both chambers. The Senate’s version is SB 20 by Van Taylor, RPlano; the House has produced two versions: HB 1 and HB 2, both by Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock. There are enough differences in the bills to spark elongated floor debates, if lawmakers are so inclined.

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