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.
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.
A woman reported she was raped by two young men in L.L. Woods Park in Lewisville Monday night. The men, in their late teens or early twenties knocked the woman out and sexually assaulted her. Citizens with tips should call the Lewisville PD Tip line: 972-219-TIPS (8477).
Unless you were hiding under a rock today, you probably heard that Congress passed a bipartisan bill to avert the ridiculous and self-inflicted "fiscal cliff". This is the text of the bill. Although it does extend the Bush tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans, do be aware that for the past few years, we've had the Obama tax cuts in place on our payroll taxes, which have amounted to about 2% of our earnings, and those are NOT being extended, nor were they ever intended to be permanent. The agreement also extends the deadline for two months on an agreement for spending cuts, kicks the Medicare S.G.R can down the road, and extends many business tax credits and deductions. Lewisville Rep. Michael Burgess was among the Republicans voting against the bill. Despite the screeching from the far left about President Obama giving up too much in fiscal cliff negotiations, Jason Easley thinks Obama cleaned the Republicans' clocks. House Speaker John Boehner adjourned the House without passing a relief bill for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Reagan and Bush policy adviser Bruce Bartlett makes a conservative case for "the welfare state". I dislike that term because it is overused to imply that the beneficiaries are a bunch of lazy ne'er-do-wells who sit around collecting checks. It's a meme that some ignorantly sell, because it suits their narrow-minded ideology, and they can always find an anecdote to "prove" it, though there just isn't empirical backup. Setting up a safety net to protect the poor, the young, the old, and the sick from the permanent and dire consequences of temporary need frees us up to move forward and take risks that ultimately take our economy further. I don't buy the argument that the safety net is a disincentive to productivity though. I don't doubt there are some idiots out there who will abuse it, but mostly the safety net is nothing more than a lifeline, and life will suck for those who have to rely on it very long. Those of us who work hard, but know that we're all just one major injury, one layoff, one serious mental illness, one death in the family away from falling hard on our luck, know that it's worth paying in a little to know that it will be there someday for us or our children if we need it. Of course, I still believe welfare is one of those things that if you work long-term, you could spend less on by focusing more on education and public health.
Lastly, I thought this was cute: The restaurant industry contributes more to GDP than oil and gas, so what would it look like if they had also bought off Congress and gotten the same sweet deals?
As an update to the Camelot Landfill expansion story, I wanted to let you know that Farmers Branch has finally responded to the long list of deficiencies in their application. The document is huge at 93mb, since it contains the entire revised permit application. Download it here. Happy reading...
The gun debate is something I haven't written much about here-- not because I'm short on opinion about it, but because it's a very complex topic, a lot more nuanced than the two extremes. I think that Harold Cook's article pretty much nails my thoughts about the issue too. Neither the gun ban advocates nor the gun nuts of the NRA are helping the issue or elevating the discussion much.
For example, here is one way to make gun owners even more paranoid: Publish their addresses online, just like one would publish for instance a map of homes with sex offenders in them. Although the information is public information in New York, I think this fails the public interest test. These asshats think the public should be alarmed because someone in their neighborhood has a gun permit? Then you have a blogger, upset with them, publish the addresses of the journalists. The whole thing is just dumb.
What do you think about this tattoo? Would this look good on me?
Writing in The Atlantic, Charles Fishman talks of an insourcing boom - bringing jobs back to America as the pendulum swings back. The rationale makes sense, in that getting the marketing, engineering, and manufacturing aspects all under the same roof can reduce manufacturing costs by making it smarter rather than just throwing tons of cheap labor at it. I hope GE's experience touted here is really the beginning of a trend.
This textbook chapter is a great primer for anyone who would like to understand how renewable energy compares to conventional forms, in both price and physical properties such as utility, reliability, and portability.
What do you think about putting RFID chips in student ID cards in public schools? One family is suing a Texas school for requiring their daughter to wear "the mark of the beast". Are you kidding me? Mark of the beast? Call me back when the school wants to implant devices or you know, actually tattoo "666" on your student. This family's reaction is ridiculous. As long as schools are going to be funded based on attendance, it makes sense to let technology keep track. Lets free up teachers to actually teach class instead of taking roll. BTW, yes, there are some nut jobs out there who want to believe that somehow the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") is going to make Americans get RFID chips implanted. I won't link to any of these idiots' conspiracy theory websites, but I will share the link to Snopes' debunking of it.
Stupid things to sue for: How about sitting on a hot bench, and staying there long enough for your ass to sizzle and cause a 3rd degree burn? Sue the sun? No, sue the owner of the bench, and claim they should have put a sign warning about the bench getting hot in the sun. What is doubly frustrating about these kinds of suits is that the lawsuit abuse provides cover to corporate-owned politicians who would like to weaken our judicial system and give the plutocracy free reign to rip off the general public without fear of being held to account for it.
The Texas Tribune has a good rundown of the House Speaker's race for the upcoming legislative session. Unless a whole lot of people are really, really good at keeping secrets, it seems like Joe Straus has it in the bag. I think that is a good thing. There is very little that's right about how our legislature works (or doesn't), but I think that having both parties vote on the speaker's race is a good dynamic that should keep the extremists from being able to take the gavel.
Well, it's December 22nd, and we're still here. This one is going to be quick, because we're going to have a house full of guests, and I have to go make the place wheelchair accessible - which basically means clearing a path through the junk.
Did you see the story about the women who were strip-searched on the road side because the DPS trooper thought he smelled marijuana? He brought in a female officer to sexually molest both women, for the ostensible reason that they might have hidden marijuana in a body cavity. They were probed by the female officer without any privacy, and all on the dash camera of the police car. The grossest part: the female officer going from back to front, then not changing gloves between the women. The troopers found nothing. The women have sued, and the female trooper was suspended. How screwed up is it that we allow our government to be so paranoid over a little marijuana that we allow people to be sexually molested over it? We will send small-time users and dealers to prison for a long time on the taxpayer dollar over the smallest quantity of marijuana, but I'd be highly surprised if these troopers were fired and prosecuted like they should be. We really need to get our priorities straight.
Howdy folks, I'm back - and trying to catch up. The updates have been scarce lately, I know. But that's kind of what happens in an all-volunteer organization when the day job gets in the way. The past couple of months had been a little lean on billable hours, but this month I started a new gig, and jumped in with both feet. It has be traveling a bit more than normal. I have been working near New Orleans, Louisiana, and did manage to make it into the French Quarter one night the first week for dinner and entertainment. Boy howdy, there sure are a lot of ways to get in trouble out there. I got my hurricane in a Styrofoam cup and walked around, thoroughly enjoying the street performers - especially the musicians.
Upcoming stories: - Brandon Cooper will have more on the efforts under way to legalize backyard chickens in Lewisville - We'll try to get you more details about the I-35 expansion project, which just got an apparent green light for construction starting in 2013.
Followups: - Regarding the Camelot Landfill expansion, apparently after that public meeting, Farmers Branch decided at some point that they needed more time to respond to the notice of deficiency. They applied for and were granted an extension. We assume for 30 days, but are not sure. This link will take awhile to load, but so far there have been 666 public comments submitted electronically to TCEQ. The vast overwhelming majority of commenters oppose any expansion of the landfill. Go ahead and search the comments for the words "support" or "approve". I've yet to find anyone there in support.
Do you write? We're always looking for a variety of viewpoints and topics. If you have something you would like to write about for the Lewisville Texan Journal, we would love to hear from you. Email email@example.com.
I also want to remind folks that we're approaching the end of the year, and The Lewisville Texan Journal would like to honor an outstanding community member who really went above and beyond in 2012 to do something good for Lewisville. Read more here, then go and submit your nominations before December 25th.
Recently 31 student athletes from Lewisville ISD signed letters of intent to compete in collegiate sports. Three of the students were from Lewisville: - Niko Buentello will play baseball for Oklahoma University. - Jada Butts will play basketball for Texas Christian University - Emily Lasky will play softball for Incarnate Word University. If that last name in the list looks familiar, it's because Emily is the daughter of former Lewisville Fire Chief Rick Lasky. Lasky said that she earned both academic and softball scholarships. Congratulations to all the student athletes.
A few months ago, Eagle Gun Range opened in Lewisville with quite a bit of fanfare. The indoor range is the first of its kind in Denton County, and the facility is by all accounts top-of-the-line, but that wasn't what brought most of the media attention. In a PR move that seemed clever at the time, the range's owners announced that the facility would host kids' birthday parties for children as young as eight years old.
Prior to this week's horrific events, much of the press coverage this idea received was positive. The Dallas Morning News, Fox & Friends, and various other outlets picked up on the story. Judging from the comments I read on various sites, including this one, there were quite a few parents who supported the idea, or at least claimed to. The proponents of this idea frequently tout these lessons as something that the kids should know "just in case" they should ever come into contact with a firearm.
Of course, the proper response should always be to avoid any contact with the firearm and inform an adult. Why anyone feels the need to show their child how to fire a gun in order to teach them not to fire it is beyond me. It's a lesson millions of kids (including myself) learned without ever having to go near a gun, and it comes straight from the National Rifle Association: Quote:
If you see a gun: STOP! Don't Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult.
As it was, I was willing to let much of this slide, considering it as a well-intentioned idea now seen in a different context. The range's latest stunt, however, has simply crossed the line.