Quorum Report News Clips

May 25, 2018: All Newsclips

Early Morning - May 25, 2018

Lead Stories

Houston Chronicle - May 24, 2018

Democrat gubernatorial candidate Valdez owes $12K in overdue property taxes

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Lupe Valdez, who has campaigned to close loopholes in the state's broken property-tax system, owes more than $12,000 in overdue taxes on seven properties in two counties, official records showed Thursday. In addition, Valdez provided incorrect details on her official financial-disclosure report : A Dallas property that she owns is not listed, and two companies listed on the filing have incorrect names on the form. Her campaign attributes those mistakes to typos. Valdez's campaign officials acknowledged that she owes taxes on several properties, but said she is paying them in monthly installments because she cannot afford to pay the total amounts, which were due at the end of January. In a statement, she blamed Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott for the fact that Texas property taxes are so high.

Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

Koch-backed group hits top Texas Republican in ad campaign against $1.3 trillion spending bill

A conservative group backed by powerful GOP donors Charles and David Koch is taking to task a prominent Texas Republican as part of a national campaign that chides lawmakers for recently passing a $1.3 trillion spending bill. Americans for Prosperity said on Friday that Round Rock Rep. John Carter will be subject to mailers and other ads in the coming days over concerns about "wasteful government spending." "Washington does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem," said Jerome Greener, AFP's state director in Texas. "Regrettably, Judge Carter has been part of that problem. We believe it is high time for him to start being a part of the solution." The campaign will also hit Rep. Beto O'Rourke, an El Paso Democrat now running for U.S. Senate, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo.

Austin American-Statesman - May 24, 2018

3 maps that explain graying areas of Texas, U.S.

The U.S. population has changed substantially in the last half century, growing by nearly 63 percent. Perhaps the two most prominent demographic changes over the past 50 years relate to age. In 1968, the baby boom had just ended, and the oldest members of its cohort were only 22 years old. As baby boomers age, the nation has substantially aged as well. In 1970, the median age in the U.S. was 28.1. In 2016, it was 37.9. Demographers and geographers like myself have watched as this aging cohort transformed the U.S., from young children in the 1950s and 1960s to senior citizens today. This graying of America has left a distinctive geographical fingerprint.

Washington Post - May 25, 2018

‘A lot of dial tones’: The inside story of how Trump’s North Korea summit fell apart

nside the White House residence, the first alarm sounded about 10 p.m. Wednesday when national security adviser John Bolton told Trump about North Korea’s public statement threatening a “nuclear-to-nuclear showdown” and mocking Vice President Pence as a “political dummy.” Trump was dismayed by Pyongyang’s bellicose rhetoric, the same theatrics Trump often deploys against his adversaries. Bolton advised that the threatening language was a very bad sign, and the president told advisers he was concerned Kim was maneuvering to back out of the summit and make Americans look like desperate suitors, according to a person familiar with the conversations. So Trump called it off first.

State Stories

Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

Suspected Santa Fe gunman's parents also to blame for school massacre, victim's relatives say in suit

A lawsuit filed Thursday accuses the parents of the suspected Santa Fe High School gunman of negligence for failing to properly secure their guns and keep them out of their son's hands. The suit, filed in a Galveston County court by Christopher Stone and Rosie Yanas, the parents of Christopher Jake Stone,seeks more than $1 million in damages. It alleges that Antonios Pagourtzis and Rose Marie Kosmetatos were negligent by permitting their son to access their weapons and ammunition, failing to obtain mental health counseling and services for their son, failing to properly warn the public of the teen's "dangerous propensities" and entrusting their weapons to him.

Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

Exonerated judge sues former Collin County DA, former AG Abbott and prosecutors over alleged 'sham investigation'

A former district judge declared innocent last year of multiple felony convictions has filed suit against Collin County and the four men she says misrepresented the law and targeted her in "a sham investigation." The federal civil suit filed Wednesday by Suzanne H. Wooten is the latest move in a years-long dispute mired in politics, improprieties and legal maneuverings. Wooten claims not only that her constitutional rights were violated but also that the charges against her were part of a larger "pattern of abuse of power and malicious prosecution for political gain" plaguing the Collin County district attorney's office at that time.

Austin American-Statesman - May 18, 2018

AAS: More work needed on Texas Capitol’s harassment policies

A single, sobering fact accompanied the allegations that surfaced late last year about several Texas lawmakers groping, forcibly kissing and propositioning women who worked at the Capitol. No one ever filed a formal complaint. Rather, the alarming accusations came to light through investigative reporting by the Daily Beast and the Texas Tribune, amid the national conversation over sexual harassment sparked by the #MeToo movement. Women at the Capitol — staffers, lobbyists and even some journalists — have quietly warned each other for years about the men to avoid at the statehouse. But in the absence of strong policies that would truly hold offenders accountable, the women didn’t dare go public. (Indeed, most spoke to the Tribune and the Daily Beast on the condition their names not be used.)

Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

DMN: To stop school killings, Texas needs to spot troubled kids and get them help before they turn violent

Here's a potential game-changer that all Texans can rally around: Austin needs to invest more time and money on services that can keep vulnerable kids from falling through the cracks and being found only after they shoot up a school. For example, after the deadly rampage at Santa Fe High School last week, Gov. Greg Abbott pointed to a Lubbock-based program that has shown promise in identifying middle-and-high school students at risk of committing violence and providing intervention services to prevent such tragedies. We're intrigued by what we've been able to learn so far about this Texas Tech effort and hope Abbott explores the possibility of scaling the program across the state.

Dallas Morning News - May 23, 2018

Wehmeyer: If every adult gave an hour a week to show up for a child who's hurting, maybe we could stop the violence

I heard the news of the massacre at Santa Fe High school while I was driving the short distance from my home in Dallas to the elementary school where I volunteer each week. My big tote bag of candy, crafts and the day's lesson rested in the passenger seat beside me. Ten dead. An angry 17-year old. I wondered if he was once like any of the fourth graders whom I'd be working with that day. The school counselor assigned 10-year-old Alex to my group because he's been picking verbal fights in the classroom and refusing to follow directions. His mom moves him to a new school every year. Ryan lays his head on the desk in class and cries. He has almost no interpersonal skills. Little Brianna, with her long braids and wiry body, talks tough and gets angry at her classmates.

Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

Schnurman: Trump backlash? Dallas, Houston and others put out the welcome mat for immigrants

As in America, there are two kinds of Texas. One pushes a bathroom bill that targets transgender students and dismisses the hit on Texas’ business-friendly image, and the other rises up in opposition and holds off the measure. One passes a “show me your papers” law that bans sanctuary cities, and the other files a legal challenge with the backing of San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Austin and more. One sues to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program to protect unauthorized immigrants brought here as children, and the other embraces the notion of becoming welcoming cities that nurture and integrate immigrants.

Austin American-Statesman - May 24, 2018

Intense, tearful meeting with shooting survivors ends Abbott gun talks

Gov. Greg Abbott ended three days of gun violence discussions Thursday with an intense, sometimes tearful session devoted to survivors and victims of mass shootings in Texas. Many in the state Capitol room attended Santa Fe High School or had children who were there when a gunman killed eight students and two teachers last week, and while there was not universal agreement on the cause of school shootings or solutions to the problem, one common theme emerged — many students said they’d feel safer with more police officers on campus. The morning the shooting broke out, school band member Grace Johnson was taking a quick nap in the practice hall. She woke abruptly, and somewhat dazed, to the fire alarm.

Austin American-Statesman - May 24, 2018

State to fine company, give students reprieve after STAAR glitches

Texas fifth- and eighth-graders affected by two widespread online testing disruptions in as many months won’t have to pass the state standardized test this year to move on to the next grade, the Texas Education Agency announced Thursday. In addition to dropping the testing requirement, the agency will levy $100,000 in penalties on New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service, which administers the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, for the testing problems. “As we continue to build upon our online platform to provide greater support to students, we cannot allow technical disruptions during testing,” Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a news release. “We are committed to providing a positive assessment experience for our districts and students.”

Austin American-Statesman - May 24, 2018

3 Texans approved by Senate committee for federal judicial posts

The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved three Texas nominees for lifetime judicial appointments. Andy Oldham, general counsel to Gov. Greg Abbott who had earlier drawn sharp criticism from Democrats, was approved along party lines, 11-10, for a post on the powerful 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that sits in New Orleans. Beaumont attorney Michael Truncale also was approved along party lines for an East Texas district judgeship while Austin lawyer Alan Albright proved to be non-controversial and was approved by voice vote, without dissent, for a district judgeship in Waco.

Austin American-Statesman - May 24, 2018

Herman: Runoffs that didn’t have many Texans running to the polls

Posted: 2:26 p.m. Thursday, May 24, 2018 It’s quite possible that Rebecca Marques, a political strategist for the ACLU of Texas, is giving the Republicans too much credit. (And, FYI, POC is people of color.) “It’s almost as if #txlege has done everything to make it harder for Texans — especially young people/POC/low income — to vote in November let alone in a primary runoff in May,” she tweeted sarcastically the morning after the May 22 runoff elections that again certified nonvoters as the state’s largest electoral bloc. Sure, the GOP’s beloved voter ID law makes it more difficult for some people to vote. But when it comes to voting, nothing suppresses like self-suppression, something that Texas Dems will have to overcome if they’re ever going to be competitive again in statewide contests.

Austin American-Statesman - May 22, 2018

Texas among leaders of new U.S., Canada cryptocurrency task force

The hype surrounding cryptocurrencies continues to attract attention from more than just investors looking for big returns. Regulators have been increasingly worried about fraud amid the boosterism, and a coordinated crackdown by more than 40 securities agencies from across the U.S. and Canada is their latest effort to try to root it out. The enforcement action — called “Operation Cryptosweep” — has been organized by the North American Securities Administrators Association. It was announced in Washington on Monday during a financial technology conference, where officials with the group described the prevalence of crypto-related fraud as “a significant threat to Main Street investors.”

San Antonio Express-News - May 24, 2018

Garcia: Allison deserves props for principled stand on guns

Steve Allison did the voters of this state a favor. He raised an issue that’s been begging for clarity for three years. It was back in 2015 that Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill allowing licensed firearms owners to openly carry holstered handguns. What the law left vague, however, was the question of whether law enforcement has the right to stop people openly carrying and ask to see their permit. To Second Amendment absolutists like Matt Beebe, who ran against Allison in the Republican runoff to succeed Joe Straus in Texas House District 121, it’s a question with an obvious answer.

San Antonio Express-News - May 24, 2018

San Antonio Express-News lays off 14 journalists

Nancy Barnes, the executive editor for Hearst Texas Newspapers and the Houston Chronicle, told the Express-News staff in an hour-long meeting that the company wants to maximize collaboration between newsrooms. In addition to San Antonio and Houston, Hearst’s Texas holdings include daily newspapers in Beaumont, Laredo and Midland. Barnes said the Express-News will continue to focus on local news, but that the San Antonio and Houston newsrooms will combine efforts on coverage of statewide issues such as energy and immigration, and on certain coverage areas including college sports. As part of the process, the Washington, D.C. bureau and the Austin bureau of both newspapers are being combined. Two employees of the Houston Chronicle’s Austin bureau were laid off Wednesday. The 14 positions lost at the Express-News included one reporter in the Austin bureau.

Houston Chronicle - May 24, 2018

Ramirez: Why the NRA's spokesperson thinks Houston police are watching her

National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch wants to know if Houston's finest are watching her. The absurd notion comes from a lengthy Twitter feud with Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo that began earlier this week. Last Friday, the chief made national headlines when he spoke out after the Santa Fe shooting and inadvertently joined the gun reform debate. "I know some have strong feelings about gun rights but I want you to know I've hit rock bottom and I am not interested in your views as it pertains to this issue," Acevedo wrote on Facebook. "Please do not post anything about guns aren't the problem and there's little we can do."

Houston Chronicle - May 24, 2018

HC: At long last, Texans have real contests in real elections

After what happened Tuesday night, now we’ve got some real contests. We’re not talking about the Rockets’ thrilling drive to the NBA Finals — at least, not yet. We’re talking about the match-ups that were finalized by Texans casting votes in the primary runoffs to decide who’ll appear on the ballot this November. Now that the primaries are over, we’re faced with some tough decisions and some serious disappointments. As always, it took Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart an inordinately long time to produce the numbers. His office’s tortoise-like election night performance has become an eye-rolling embarrassment in Texas political circles. But now that the ballots have been counted it’s clear that a lot of voters who’ve sat on the sidelines need to pay attention and make their voices heard in the fall, because we now have some serious candidates posing serious challenges for important seats in government.

Texas Tribune - May 25, 2018

Ramsey: Changing one Texas election watch list for another

Election phases can be like shampoo instructions: Lather, rinse, repeat. Tuesday’s primary runoffs set the table for November’s general elections and also the names on the ballot in the relatively small number of districts where a Democrat could overturn a Republican or vice-versa. Some contests are over now. In Cameron County, Alex Dominguez, a former county commissioner, upset incumbent state Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville. With no Republican on the ballot, that effectively made Dominguez a future state representative.

Texas Tribune - May 24, 2018

With primary behind her, Lizzie Fletcher's bid against U.S. Rep. John Culberson emerging as major midterm fight for fall

In the early spring of last year, Houston attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher attended a town hall hosted by her congressman, John Culberson. As he responded to constituents' questions about his views on health care, gun regulation, immigration and net neutrality, Fletcher didn’t like what she heard. “I shook his hand, and had a pleasant and brief exchange,” she said. And then, she decided to run against him. ... On Tuesday, Fletcher secured her party’s nomination to take on the Houston Republican. The Democratic primary, which erupted into a nationalized flare-up involving the House Democratic campaign arm and her runoff rival, Laura Moser, is now behind her, and it is finally game on with Culberson in the fall. Despite their political differences, the two candidates have much in common. Both grew up in the district. Culberson attended Lamar High School and Fletcher graduated from nearby St. John’s School. Both left the district for their undergraduate degrees – he attended Southern Methodist University and she went to Kenyon College in Ohio.

Texas Tribune - May 18, 2018

As cities sprawl, more Texans are exposed to tornadoes

Mark Fox cringes every time he relives the day his worst weather nightmare came true. April 3, 2012, was a hot and humid day in North Texas, and the unstable atmosphere spawned 17 tornadoes in five hours in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, one of the most destructive tornado outbreaks ever in Texas. The storms flattened neighborhoods, ruined elementary schools and took out approximately 110 airplanes at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, causing more than $700 million in damage overall. Fox has worked as a meteorologist in North Texas and the Panhandle — the bottom of the country’s infamous Tornado Alley — for nearly 20 years. As the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Dallas-Fort Worth office, he’s tasked with deciding when a storm is dangerous enough to warrant an emergency alert.

Texas Tribune - May 16, 2018

When Texas standardized tests have glitches, special education students can be deeply affected

When technical problems in 2016 affected more than 14,000 computerized State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness — or STAAR — tests, Sarah Martinez questioned whether online assessments were the way to go for her two daughters, who are both dyslexic. Now ages 10 and 14, Martinez’s daughters are each enrolled in the Fort Worth Independent School District and old enough to take the assessments — but their mom requests that they don’t take the STAAR test online because she said the system is “fraught with problems.” “I’m lucky and I’ve worked with some great teachers and administrators and we, as a group, decided the best thing for my kids was for them to take the test in small group settings with oral administration,” Martinez said. “There was just less opportunities for glitches that way, honestly.”

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - May 24, 2018

Allen: Ireland's pro-life experiment may be a road map for Texas

Imagine a place where the unborn and their mothers have an equal right to life under the law. Where maternal mortality rates are consistently low. Where despite the dire claims of pro-choice proponents, women are not dying in the streets or being butchered in back-alleys to obtain the so-called "health care" available to women on demand in many other progressive nations during the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy. That place exists. It's called Ireland. More than three decades ago, the unmistakably Western nation deliberately chose to buck the liberalizing trends of its neighbors and ban abortions, except in narrow cases involving the life of the mother. It was an audacious move in its time that has no doubt saved countless lives. All of that could change Friday when the people of that island nation vote to repeal or preserve the Eighth Amendment to the country’s constitution, thus giving the government the go-ahead to legalize the procedure and provide abortions as an on-demand service.

KXAN - May 24, 2018

TxDOT cited but not fined for Dripping Springs dumpsite

The Texas Department of Transportation, prompted by a KXAN investigation, is removing 6,000 tons of tainted soil mixed with garbage, dead animals and oil that state employees dumped outside Dripping Springs for years, in violation of state regulations. KXAN first exposed the dump in a February report, after weeks of undercover surveillance using stationary cameras. That initial report showed state employees actively dumping garbage-laced dirt and carcasses and prompted the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to open its own investigation.

Texas Monthly - May 22, 2018

Ratcliffe: Dan Patrick’s School Shooting Idea Is Not Crazy, Just Unworkable

After last week’s mass murder at Santa Fe High School—with ten dead and thirteen wounded—Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick suggested that Texas needs to harden its schools to limit access. One way in, going past security. The immediate reaction I saw on social media was that Patrick is crazy. But the idea already is implemented in inner city schools in New York and Detroit. It is the expense and shortcomings that make the idea unworkable. Without doubt, this idea came from Patrick’s own experience with a gunman. On January 21, 2010, Fausto Cardenas followed one of Patrick’s female staffers into his Capitol office while carrying a concealed handgun. He left when she called security. Cardenas then walked out on the south steps and discharged his pistol several times into the air before he was arrested. Patrick was not present at the time, but demanded that the Capitol’s open door policy be replaced by increased security—resulting in $3 million in security upgrades: metal detectors at all four entrances manned by armed Texas Department of Public Safety troopers.

Texas Observer - May 22, 2018

Barajas: Something Has Changed in the Gun Debate in Texas

Thoughts and prayers aren’t good enough following Texas’ latest mass shooting, not even for some of the state’s gun-loving officials. “We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families,” Governor Greg Abbott declared at a press conference on Friday, just hours after a shotgun- and pistol-wielding teenager forced his way inside a Santa Fe high school art class and began firing, ultimately killing 10 people, eight of whom were his classmates. The tragedy was so fresh that Abbott briefed reporters on basic details of the crime, suspect and police search for explosive devices that the shooter had left behind — that is, after the governor announced his new plan to address “school safety” in Texas.

City Stories

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - May 24, 2018

Welcome to Boomtown. Fort Worth is now the 15th largest in the country, census says

With all of the rapid growth in North Texas, it should come as no surprise — Fort Worth is now the 15th-largest city in the country. With a population of 874,168, Fort Worth jumped past Indianapolis, which has a population of 863,002, according to the Census Bureau's 2017 population estimates. And with its rapid rate of growth, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price believes Fort Worth could climb even higher next year. Columbus, Ohio, is just ahead of Fort Worth, ranking 14th, with a population of 879,170.

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram - May 24, 2018

She accused a Texas state trooper of sexual assault. Then her lawyer apologized

An allegation that a white Texas state trooper sexually assaulted a black woman last weekend in Waxahachie went viral on social media. But after the Department of Public Safety published the full body-cam video of the incident, Sherita Dixon-Cole's attorney, Lee Merritt, apologized online and said that the trooper in question had been "falsely accused." ... The allegations, which the DPS denied Sunday evening, were amplified on social media by Merritt and social activist and journalist Shaun King, who wrote that Cole had been "kidnapped and raped" in posts that were widely shared and re-tweeted from his Facebook and Twitter accounts. He also alleged in an article he wrote for BlackAmericaWeb.com that Hubbard threatened to kill her fiancé if she said anything.

Houston Chronicle - May 24, 2018

Houston’s meager population growth puts $17M hole in city budget

In posting a sluggish population growth estimate for Houston, the U.S. Census Bureau blew a $17 million hole in the city budget. City officials had expected the count would show Houston had added about 30,400 people by January from the year prior. The Census Bureau on Thursday, however, estimated the city grew by just 9,200 between July 2016 and last summer. Because the revenue cap voters approved in 2004 limits the city’s annual increase in property tax collections to the combined rates of inflation and population growth, that means Mayor Sylvester Turner must adjust his proposed $2.5 billion general fund budget.

Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

TxDOT gets the long-awaited go-ahead to move forward with LBJ East project

After months spent hashing out how to pay the $1.6 billion tab, North Texas' most pressing freeway need at long last gained the blessing of the Texas Transportation Commission at its Thursday meeting. The Texas Department of Transportation now has its governing body's approval to seek bids on 10.8 miles of Interstate 635 between Central Expressway and Interstate 30 — known as LBJ East to planners. A contract will be awarded in the summer of 2019, and construction is to finish in 2024. The result will be another free lane in each direction, continuous frontage roads that the 50-year-old freeway doesn't have now, and an improved interchange at Interstate 30. The current HOV/Express Lanes in each direction, which are tolled, are "grandfathered" into the deal and will be rebuilt.

Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

At sprawling VA hospital in southern Dallas, a righteous battle to keep the promise to care for America's vets

America has made an expensive yet richly merited promise to its veterans. It works like this: If you serve our country and get injured or spend your career in uniform, then our country will pick up the tab for your medical care for the rest of your life. That's a two-way pact with our veterans that should find room in our hearts this Memorial Day weekend. The holiday is geared explicitly toward remembrance of those service members who did not survive the dangers we sent them to face, but it's also fitting to recall the debt we owe those who returned home. It's an especially warranted reflection here in North Texas, where so many of those veterans have chosen to live. The Department of Veterans Affairs tells us that half a million veterans reside in the North Texas service area. Soon, officials told us recently, this region will boast the highest concentration of veterans living anywhere in the United States.

National Stories

Politico - May 24, 2018

N. Korea says it’s willing to talk to U.S. ‘at any time, at any format’

North Korea signaled its willingness to engage in talks with the United States “at any time, at any format,” just hours after President Donald Trump on Thursday canceled his planned summit with Kim Jong Un and scolded the North Korean leader in a letter for “tremendous anger and open hostility” while bluntly reminding Kim of the United States’ nuclear prowess. Kim Kye Gwan, first vice minister of foreign affairs, issued a statement on Friday, local time, saying the North was “willing to give the U.S. time and opportunities” to reconsider talks, The Associated Press reported. He added that his country’s “objective and resolve to do our best for the sake of peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and all humankind remain unchanged.”

Washington Post - May 24, 2018

Trump’s cancellation of summit with Kim raises fears of renewed tensions, destabilization

President Trump’s abrupt decision Thursday to abort a summit next month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left the White House scrambling to explain the outcome to allies amid fears that the collapse of talks would mean a return to heightened tensions between nuclear powers in East Asia. Trump announced he was pulling out of the planned meeting in Singapore on June 12 in a letter to Kim that came less than 12 hours after a North Korean official had personally disparaged Vice President Pence and warned of a nuclear showdown if the United States did not alter its tone ahead of the summit. In a missive that aides said the president dictated, Trump was by turns regretful of the missed opportunity and adamant that he would not tolerate the “tremendous anger and open hostility” from North Korea. The president pointedly warned Kim that he oversees a nuclear weapons arsenal that is “so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”

Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

Three Texans are the only Democratic holdouts in push to force DACA vote

Three Texas Democrats are the only members of their party who haven’t signed a petition that would force a vote on legislation intended to protect young immigrants living in the country illegally. Reps. Henry Cuellar of Laredo, Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen and Filemon Vela Jr. of Brownsville, who each represent border communities, say they want a solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Donald Trump moved to end last fall. But they can’t support the current effort to force the House to vote on several immigration bills because it could lead to funding for Trump’s border wall, which they vehemently oppose.

Washington Post - May 24, 2018

GOP immigration rebels push forward after Trump promises to veto any bill without wall funding

House advocates for moderate immigration policies stood at the cusp of forcing votes on bills that would give young undocumented immigrants a pathway to U.S. citizenship — even as President Trump threatened to veto any legislation that did not hew to his hard-line views. Backers of a “discharge” petition that would spark an immigration debate over the wishes of House Republican leaders stood five signatures short of reaching the necessary 218 after two Republicans and six Democrats added their names Thursday. They signed as conservative and moderate Republicans negotiated with House leaders to avert the discharge — and hours after Trump responded to the effort by pledging to veto any bill that does not build “a real wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

Veasey: Immigrants who serve their country shouldn't get deported

Our country is at a crossroads. As a nation, we strive to embrace and uphold our Constitution, to accept all races and religions, and to welcome our neighbors. But the Trump administration has turned its back on many of our nation's veterans, teachers and doctors who are unauthorized immigrants. As representatives of this country, we have been called upon by our fellow Americans, as their elected members of Congress, to hold ourselves to the highest standard. The U.S. Congress has a duty to protect those who have given their blood and sweat to our country. We can and must choose a different path forward. U.S. immigrants are our fellow Texans; they are teachers in our classrooms inspiring our children to reach higher every day, engineers who design our defense equipment, nurses who care for our families, architects who build our hospitals and schools, and moreover, members of our armed forces who fight for our country overseas.

Associated Press - May 24, 2018

Dem, GOP leaders get classified briefings on Russia probe

Republican and Democratic lawmakers huddled Thursday in classified briefings about the origins of the FBI investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election, a highly unusual series of meetings prompted by partisan allegations that the bureau spied on Donald Trump's campaign. Democrats emerged from the meetings saying they saw no evidence to support Republican allegations that the FBI acted inappropriately, although they did express grave concern about the presence of a White House lawyer at Thursday's briefings. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News he had learned "nothing particularly surprising," but declined to go into detail.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

Houston Chronicle - May 24, 2018

Cromley: Ted Cruz wouldn’t talk to kids in March, but he was willing to mourn them in May

Two months ago, I marched to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's office alongside Mayor Sylvester Turner, Chief Art Acevedo and other teenagers who had organized the Houston March For Our Lives with me; an estimated 15,000 people marched behind us. We chanted as we walked, arms linked together, sweating under the glaring Texas sun. It wasn't long before we were standing under our senator's building. I stood up on a scaffolding trying to quiet the crowd. Most people were still marching at this point — I found out later that the crowd stretched back to Tranquility Park, where we began. I was scanning the mass of people, reading the homemade signs, when I suddenly realized what they were saying. MOST POPULAR Heart Failure At Santa Fe High School, my daughter phoned: 'I'm hiding in a closet. I love you, Mom.' Ted Cruz wouldn’t talk to kids in March, but he was willing to mourn them in May [Opinion] Steve Kerr on the beefy Rockets: ‘They look like they can play football’ Immigrant families separated at border struggle to find each other NFL says players must show respect for flag or stay in locker room Chief Art Acevedo battles NRA in heated exchanges after Santa Fe massacre "Where's Ted Cruz? Where's Ted Cruz?" Over and over again. Standing on that platform, listening to the chanting crowd, I turned around and looked up at my senator's building.

Austin American-Statesman - May 24, 2018

McCarthy: With shootings and small checks, why would anyone teach?

Teaching is one of the largest and most important professions in the United States. Currently, there are more than 3 million teachers in the U.S., and this number is not expected to change soon. Teaching is not a profession we can outsource to other countries, and we cannot replace educators with technology. Yet, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the number of degrees awarded in education dropped by 10 percent between 2009-2010 and 2014-2015. A survey conducted by The Chronicle of Education found only 4.2 percent of first-year college students planned to major in education, a low point going back decades.

Houston Chronicle - May 24, 2018

Hawkins: How do you design safer schools?

Today, the issue of security and safety at schools during an active-shooter situation is right in line with fire and natural disasters — maybe even more so. As architects look to design safer places for our children to be educated, there is a complex array of issues to confront and resolve. One of those issues is access. Access to the building is one area in which design can hinder the progress and capabilities of an active shooter. The main design idea here should be one of creating "controlled access" to the school. There are many possibilities that an architect can implement. One of the easiest is to limit access to the main portion of the school by requiring all traffic to come through an office or central checkpoint. This is an easier design solution that can be completed with little cost to the school.

Washington Post - May 24, 2018

As well-funded Democrats seize ‘progressive’ label in gubernatorial races, progressive group endorses insurgent challengers

One of the country’s most ambitious liberal campaign groups is endorsing five “game-changing” Democratic candidates for governor — three of them in races where better-funded candidates have grabbed hold of the popular “progressive” label, to the consternation of activists on the ground. On Thursday, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee endorsed Stacey Abrams, who won her party’s nomination for governor of Georgia this week, as well as four candidates running underdog primary campaigns: New York’s Cynthia Nixon, Arizona’s David Garcia, Florida’s Andrew Gillum and Michigan’s Abdul El-Sayed. “We looked for candidates who’d use their platforms to turn states into models of progressive government,” said PCCC co-founder Stephanie Taylor. “During a primary, everyone says they’re progressive — which, to be honest, is kind of a problem.”

Wall St. Journal - May 24, 2018

Roger Stone Sought Information on Clinton From Assange, Emails Show

Former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone privately sought information he considered damaging to Hillary Clinton from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The emails could raise new questions about Mr. Stone’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in September, in which he said he “merely wanted confirmation” from an acquaintance that Mr. Assange had information about Mrs. Clinton, according to a portion of the transcript that was made public. In a Sept. 18, 2016, message, Mr. Stone urged an acquaintance who knew Mr. Assange to ask the WikiLeaks founder for emails related to Mrs. Clinton’s alleged role in disrupting a purported Libyan peace deal in 2011 when she was secretary of state, referring to her by her initials.

Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

Friedman: Honor us veterans by only sending troops to war when absolutely necessary

"Once you lose someone in combat," journalist and Iraq veteran Alex Horton wrote in 2011, "Memorial Day bleeds across the rest of the calendar." That's true. As veterans, we have our own anniversaries throughout the year. For some, it's the day of a major attack; for others, the night a close friend was killed. That can make Memorial Day weekend heavy for many veterans, as it compresses all those memories into a short time period. But the gravity many of us feel on Memorial Day is often diluted in American culture. That's not really anyone's fault. Most people just don't know anyone in the military, much less anyone killed in combat. For the majority of Americans, it's simply the first weekend of summer. It's retail sales, cookouts and beer.

Austin American-Statesman - May 24, 2018

Castillo: Yes, we speak English in America – and 350 other languages too

Speaking Spanish – something 40 million Americans do – is all over the news. When a Manhattan man went on a racially charged rant last week after hearing restaurant employees speaking Spanish, he said repeatedly, “It’s America.” You get the message — ‘This is America, we speak English here.’ He’s right, of course, we do speak English in America, but that’s not all — we also speak over 350 different languages at home, according to a census report. Indeed, more than 1 in 5 Americans over the age of 5 speak a language other than English at home, the 2015 report found. We are a nation of immigrants, after all.

Dallas Morning News - May 24, 2018

DMN: The would-be trade war with China is called off, and we're better off for it

We guess you might say that we traded up. With the would-be trade war with China being called off before any real economic conflagration began, we're all now a little better off. But even as the issue recedes, for the time being, it's worth noting what happened and why because trade has become a top economic issue for more Americans than some might want to admit. What happened is this: After threatening tariffs on some $150 billion of Chinese products, the Donald Trump administration recently announced it had worked a few things out with Beijing. Namely, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said China agreed to purchase more American products and ease access for U.S. companies to operate in that country. In exchange, the United States will forego a long list of proposed tariffs.

Dallas Morning News - May 23, 2018

Salter: Congress killed another opportunity to end our budgetary nightmare

Last week, the Senate voted on Rand Paul's radical budget plan, aimed at getting deficit spending under control. The plan would cut next year's budget by about $400 billion and strictly limit spending increases. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the plan would reduce spending by roughly $13 trillion over the next decade. Promisingly, the plan should balance the federal budget by 2023. It was voted down 21-76. It never had a snowball's chance of passing. Profligacy with the public purse is nothing new for Congress. Every public program, whether good for the country or not, creates an interest group strongly in favor of maintaining the program indefinitely. The bill for these often-wasteful programs is passed on to taxpayers. The result: benefits are concentrated and costs are dispersed, so almost nothing ever gets cut. It's only a slight exaggeration to say the Congress has institutionalized fiscal irresponsibility.