This topic is for links to relevant news, interesting websites, quick opinions and inane ponderings. Postings in this thread are considered "open-thread", meaning that anyone can post a comment on any of the articles, whether the comment relates to the post or not. If you have something random to say, this is the place.
Yesterday was George Washington's birthday. In honor of our first President's belated birthday, we bring you this edition of the Saturday Morning Update.
I've been out of town all week working for a client, and am currently in a project that is going to take some intense focus for awhile, so these updates may not be as regular as they should be. Hopefully Brandon Cooper will step in to fill in the gaps.
New Tool for Neighborhoods The first thing I want to let you know about is a new social media website for neighborhoods called NextDoor.com. I don't normally jump on the bandwagon for new social media sites, but I think this one can serve a good purpose. The site links physical neighborhoods to allow neighbors to discuss those hyper-local neighborhood issues like crime, streets, development, and so forth. My neighborhood has about 20 people signed up so far. The site requires the use of real names, and uses address verification to ensure that only residents of the neighborhood can join the group and see posts. So it's not same kind of thing as the other types of social media websites.
Other local cities - notably our neighbor, Flower Mound, have homeowner associations that help connect residents to each other and to their city government. This type of thing may be just what we need to help get more involvement. So I hope you'll consider logging in and signing up. If you use this link to sign up, and you're the first in your neighborhood, and your neighborhood site gets the 15 or so people it takes to launch, NextDoor will give us both a $50 Starbucks card. (Sweet huh?)
The Lewisville Leader has a pretty good article about Lewisville City Councilman Rudy Durham's bid for re-election. We'll do our best to get an interview or questionnaire to him and the rest of the candidates in the coming month.
Texas Sharon takes another look at that case of water contamination in Parker County. You remember the one where the guy's well was spitting out natural gas, and Range Resources sued him for defamation because he dared to blame them after they fracked a well nearby? Sharon says "I told you so."
The Lewisville High School girls and boys basketball teams just barely made the playoffs, but already have some interesting stories to tell. The girls’ team, which went 6–24 during the season, defeated the District 6-5A champion Colleyville Heritage, who were 25-11, in the first round, but were defeated in the second round by Mansfield Timberview.
The boys team, on the other hand, defeated defending 5A state champs Marcus High School in a “loser goes home” tiebreaker game to decide who went to the playoffs. Word has it Marcus lost its rhythm when the LHS team refused to break for tea and crumpets. LHS plays–you guessed it–Colleyville Heritage on Tuesday night.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has released it's Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) information from the latest school year. You can look it all up on their website. Be prepared to use the zoom function on your browser, because the data pretty much scream "I hate your eyes."
Alright, I've fallen behind again at posting an update. Basically, I spent Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and most of the day Sunday either videoing or producing video of the City Council Retreat or the roller derby bouts. It's taking up all my spare time. Still, I've been collecting some links for you:
During the discussion over the city’s upcoming long-term plan at the Lewisville City Council retreat this weekend, the idea of using social media as a way to promote participation came up. Everyone in the room was well aware that face-to-face communication will still be the crux of the process, but there’s no denying the fact that social media outlets provide a new way to expand participation in Lewisville and encourage communication between city leaders, businesses, the media, and residents.
That said, some of that is easier said than done, especially if you don’t know where to look or who to follow. With so many possible subjects to explore on various social media networks, seemingly routine municipal matters can quickly sputter down your news feed when competing against pictures of grumpy cats and quotes from famous people superimposed over solemn photographs.
The purpose of this post is to point the average reader in the direction of social media accounts and websites that anyone active with city issues can–and should–actively engage with. To make it this bit more dynamic than just a list of links, I’ll be using an embedded Storify article:
It's Superbowl Sunday, and not a single damn is given here in our household. I should be on a plane to New Orleans tonight so I can go work for my client, but the Superbowl has the city all jam-packed, and no hotel rooms are available anywhere at any reasonable prices. So, instead, I'll be in town all week again. Yeah, I've got the TV on, but really only to see funny commercials.
This past week was the start of filing in local elections, which is always exciting to me. I look forward to the end of the filing period when we can really focus in on the candidates and bring our readers the information necessary to make good choices.
My thought is that as long as the posting didn't reveal any credit card information, I really don't see how it violates any privacy. This pastor obviously wanted her identity known, because she didn't just sign it, but put her title on it. It definitely doesn't rise to the level of termination. At any rate, it's interesting to see how the public reacts when a franchisee does something, and the entire chain is punished. It's basically the opposite of the reason why you join a franchise, which normally brings with it a certain amount of goodwill. These days, I'm wondering if it's not more of a liability. Any particular franchisee can do something really dumb, and the whole chain will suffer. For instance, a Denny's franchisee took it upon himself to impose an "Obamacare surcharge" on his guests, which caused major problems for the chain and threats of boycotts from the left. Yet another Denny's franchisee recently caused threats of boycotts from the right after kicking out some detectives for having their guns in plain view. As for me, I don't eat at either restaurant. I prefer to support locally owned and operated independent restaurants or small chains for the most part. Applebees lost my business years ago by serving watered-down drinks at premium prices.
A recent investigation finds that some Texas public schools are still violating the separation of church and state, by teaching Christian theology. I have no problem with schools teaching comparative religion, or teaching the Bible and other religious texts as literature. But I believe the First Amendment requires that government leave the theology to parents and churches. From what I've seen, even the local group who supports LISD teaching bible courses really does so from the perspective of hoping to use it to proselytize, based on their comments to the school board in support of it.
The NRA has an enemies list, which pretty much just serves two purposes: 1. It makes them look crazy. 2. It makes them look outnumbered. Seriously, how does it bolster one's argument to post a gigantic list of celebrities, dignitaries, and respected organizations that you say support the other position? As I've said before, I'm a gun owner, and I support the second amendment, but I ditched my NRA membership years ago. They don't represent me; they represent crazy.
Here is a review of the last gun show in Lewisville, which had attendees lined up nearly around the corner. I've been a couple times too, and will say that they pretty much have everything you could want. The problem right now is that the hoarders are in full paranoia mode, and you can't buy anything for the right price.
I'm shocked - SHOCKED, I tell you, that Lewisville Councilman John Gorena didn't send us a press release announcing his re-election bid. Then again, he apparently didn't send one to the Lewisville Leader either, who instead interviewed him and let him say any old stupid ignorant thing he wanted to say. There is so much stupidity in this article, I'm basically speechless. Actually, I've got plenty to say, but it will be in a separate article.
The other day, my oldest son said the food in his school cafeteria was nasty, and it tasted like there was horse meat in the burgers. I have no idea how he would know what horse meat tastes like. In England, Burger King and Aldi got burned by a beef supplier using horse meat. They found equine DNA in the meat. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/artic ... e-meat.html#axzz2Jiam3aMN
A former Williamson County District Attorney faces a court of inquiry in the wrongful prosecution of a man who spent almost a quarter of a century in prison for the murder of his wife. The prosecutor withheld clearly exculpatory evidence, and now faces criminal action and disbarment.
The Lewisville Leader had an article about the Lewisville City Council. I think we have a preview here of Councilman John Gorena's campaign issues: Debt and water prices - the same winning issues that got Steve Hill elected. Oh wait, no, that didn't work for Hill.
Rezoning school attendance boundaries is a necessary, but thankless job that seems to always get parents up-in-arms. When one school is overcrowded, and an adjacent school has room, the district needs to adjust attendance boundaries to shift some of the load. Invariably, this results in some students living closer to one school, but having to attend another. Districts like LISD offer no guarantees that a given piece of property will always be zoned for a particular school. We think the best thing the school board can do is to make these types of adjustments slowly and far in advance of actual overcrowding. Use plenty of compassion and let students already attending a campus choose to stay there. Cross Timbers Gazette has more information about rezoning plans in Flower Mound. Some parents have started a petition to ensure that students from their neighborhood stay at their current middle school.
Supposedly, today is "Gun Appreciation Day", so today's update is brought to you by me and my little friend. I'm still looking at President Obama's various proposals for reducing gun violence, and hope to bring you some thoughts on that in a separate column.
Crazy conspiracy nuts have now taken to harassing someone who helped children after the Sandy Hook tragedy. These nutjobs are convinced the whole thing was a hoax put on by the government to drum up support for gun control. I sort of miss the days when the nutjobs were just ostracized and ignored, and didn't have such an outlet to join forces and spread their crazy theories.
It's Sunday, and your editor is about to hop on another plane soon for another week in Louisiana. I've been working on a project for a client there, and it's pretty intense, so I've fallen behind on some things here. One thing I want to do is get that Lewisville Citizen of the Year story completed. We do have a selection, but it will probably be next week before that will be one.
The big news this past week was the explosion Friday that leveled a duplex in Old Town Lewisville. WFAA and the Dallas Morning News, as well as a dozen other outlets have done a fine job reporting on that, so we'll mostly just link to their stories for now. WFAA has more about the victim* who was in the house. I also want to share the police and fire recordings from Friday, which you can listen to by going into our police and fire radio archives. The 12 o'clock hour was the one with most of the action. It's not really known at this point the mechanics of how the gas got into the house, but I'm sure that will come out in the investigation and eventual lawsuit(s). My suspicion, which is totally speculation at this point, is that perhaps the leaking gas found its way into the house through the sewer lines. *Update - 1/13 - 11 p.m.: NBC 5 reports that the victim, 55 year-old Scott Deahl has died from his injuries.
Lewisville City Councilman John Gorena wants to run for re-election. He campaigned on the idea that Lewisville should have term limits, and that someone should only be able to serve two terms. If he is fortunate to be re-elected, this would be his last term, by his rules. It is also interesting to note that he is looking for someone to run against place 5 Councilman, Mayor Pro Tem Rudy Durham.
BTW, I'm amused by this quote from his site:
"I am not going to talk bad about the liberal websites and their comments but I am also hoping that people are smart enough to know the difference between a blog and a "want-to-be" newspaper site."
So, make sure you know the difference, because it's important to know what to call things so that you don't have to put actual thought into whether the information is credible or not. Also, I guess to Gorena, a website can only be a blog or a "want-to-be" newspaper site. That's really not a nice way to talk about the Lewisville Leader. ;)
Why does it seems to so often be true that people who are so virulent about condemning others for their homosexuality, or going after pornography, turn out to be the ones with the biggest problems and secret lives full of sin? Here's a woman who worked for for an anti-gay group, and ended up being convicted for having sex with her 14 year old daughter, as well as videotaping her having sex with men. For every one of these that we, the public, find out about, how many of these repressed individuals are leading secret lives doing things that are much worse? Look around and see who is making the most noise, then just imagine. The feminist website Jezebel has an interesting story about a guy who took it upon himself to have a website where he stalked pictures of high school girls, then held online discussions of how they were dressed - either condemning them for showing too much, or alternately condemning them when they didn't look feminine enough for him. How much you want to bet the guy just wanted an excuse to stalk high school girls, and doesn't really give a shit about modesty? Well, no matter because the site has been taken offline now.
We all want to believe that winning the lottery wouldn't ruin our lives. We are different, we think. I swear to God, I would stay a good person if I won. But can you control all the people around you? One day after collecting his winnings, this man was poisoned to death by cyanide.
Our priorities should begin where our future does — in public education.
More than 5 million children are enrolled in our public schools, which is more than the total population of 29 states.
More than 3 million of them are deemed economically disadvantaged, and almost 1 million of them speak limited English. The education of all our students will determine whether Texas is a land of prosperity or lost opportunities.
There should be no sacred cows when it comes to our children — including our accountability system. For more than a decade, this state has used an increasingly rigorous series of standardized tests to measure academic excellence.
But by now every Member of this House has heard from constituents at the grocery store or the Little League fields about the burdens of an increasingly cumbersome testing system in our schools.
Teachers and parents worry that we have sacrificed classroom inspiration for rote memorization.
The goal of education is not to teach children how to pass a test, but to prepare them for life. The goal of every teacher is to develop in students a lifelong love of learning, and we need to get back to that goal in the classroom.
To parents and educators concerned about excessive testing — the Texas House has heard you.
We will continue to hold our schools accountable. But we will also make our accountability and testing system more appropriate … more flexible … and more reasonable.
State Rep. Steve King wants the State of Texas to freeze hiring and not fill unfilled positions. I suppose rash actions like that are much easier than actually thinking about whether a position is needed or not. My take is that if a position in state government is really necessary, then it is a necessity in good years as well as bad. For many things, you actually need more government in bad years economically, because you end up with a higher demand on social services. Given that Republicans have controlled the state for many years now, when I hear them grandstanding like this, then to me, it's an admission that they have up to this point been blowing money. It's not true; Texas runs lean already. We have to fill vital positions in state agencies, but we always have to stay on top of efficiency, and write our regulations and set law enforcement priorities so that we don't waste money.
What would gun nuts collect if guns were outlawed? Probably this:
People love picking on welfare recipients. So much so, that discussions about welfare frequently are fact-free. And for those with an ideological opposition to helping the poor, it's apparently hard for them to discern when numbers used are credible or not. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott got taken in by this chain email that got a "pants on fire" rating from politifact.
When it comes to addressing contemporary issues, the Lewisville ISD administration does its best to come up with practical solutions. When it became apparent that the district’s technology policy had become outdated, they replaced it with one that gave teachers more discretion as to when to use mobile technology in their own classrooms. Much in the same way, the district’s policy on students’ attire must also be updated to meet the needs of this generation, not the expectations of the previous one.
Although the district has a general policy on attire, the current practice allows each principal to modify and add to it as he or she sees fit. Reasonable limitations on students’ attire, such as prohibiting inappropriately revealing clothing and anything advocating illegal or unsafe behavior, make sense. When composing a larger list of prohibited attire, however, it becomes important to pick and choose battles carefully. It’s here where schools often wade into subjective grey areas, and individual administrators often base their policies–and enforcement–on personal preferences, rather than practical concerns.
The Lewisville Lake level as of this morning was 515.69 feet ASL, or about 6.5 feet below conservation level. We might get some rain the middle of this week, and it could be a "frog strangler", they say. Bring it on!
Meanwhile, a court ruling allows Texas to go forward with its women's health program that specifically excludes Planned Parenthood, in violation of federal regulations, at a cost to the state of $30 million. The federal government had paid roughly 90% of the cost of the program, which provides access to women's health for low-income women.
Republican Rep. Steve King filed a bill to "end birthright citizenship". King apparently is unaware that Congress must act only in accordance with the constitution, which is crystal clear on citizenship as a birthright. There is not even any room for interpretation with the wording. Thus, it's clear that to some, the constitution is sacrosanct only when it's convenient. Perpetual wingnut dumbass Rep Louie Gohmert is a cosponsor. Someone send these guys a copy of the constitution so that they can at least understand the process to use to pass a constitutional amendment if they really feel they must.
What did the Senate do Tuesday? Unanimously confirmed a ton of President Obama's appointments.