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.
Well, it has been a busy couple of weeks since the last update - but I guess that's nothing new. This week, we had a nice little break from the typical Texas July climate with cool weather and much-needed rain. Of course the side-effect of all that rain is that now we're going to have to mow the grass a little sooner.
As of Tuesday, all of Denton County was still in Extrem drought, but we'll find out on Thursday whether that rain changed our official level. According to the National Weather Service's DFW records, we've had 0.81 inches of rain this month, but as you may have heard, there were parts of Denton County that got almost 11 inches in one day. Most of that fell in the Lewisville Lake watershed, and that has caused the lake to rise from a low of 513.60 feet to its current level of 515.23 feet - a 1.63 foot rise. That means we are still 6.77 feet low, but that's much better than where we were at. Dallas Water Utilities reports that overall lake depletion for its reservoirs is at 28.67% - well short of the 50% number that would trigger the next step of water conservation measures.
For what it’s worth, scientists think that higher temperatures and dryer soils are contributing to a lack of needed rains and resultant runoff needed to keep our lakes full over the long run. According to this Texas Tribune article, state water planners are only focusing on water needs of a Texas with a larger population, not a Texas affected by climate change. Pretty bad when even Oklahoma figures climate change into their planning, and we don't.
In Denton, you may have heard that citizens there started a petition to ask their City Council to completely ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing. The problem has been that despite the City’s ordinances and setbacks, owners of pre-existing old-fashioned wells have claimed they were not subject to the city’s ordinances due to “vested rights”. This past week, the Council met to consider whether to pass the ordinance or send it to the voters to decide. After hearing citizen input in the public hearing until the wee hours of the morning, it almost seemed like the Council was going to talk itself into passing a ban, if for no other reason than to get the drillers to the table to put the burden on them for negotiating an ordinance they would obey. But in the end, with great frustration they decided 5-2 to send the issue to the voters in November. Denton Record Chronicle’s Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe has done a great job covering the ongoing story, so we don’t have much to add.
Lewisville Fire Chief Tim Tittle is a leukemia survivor, and is being honored in an event called the Big D Climb, 2015, which will raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
According to a WFAA article, Denton County Criminal Court Judge Jim Crouch threatened a domestic violence victim with jail if she failed to show up and testify at her batterer’s trial. The woman had a pre-scheduled and very expensive trip to Romania that she could not reschedule, and that she had informed the court about months in advance. Crouch should face discipline from the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct for re-victimizing a victim, and telegraphing a message to women that if they report domestic violence, they should expect to have their lives disrupted at great expense for many months.
The Lewisville Citizens Police Academy is taking applications. This is an opportunity for citizens to learn how their police department operates, and get a taste of the training that their police officers must go through. Your editor did this a few years back, and considers it invaluable experience that gives him much better insight on the department.
I should be clear that although it’s common knowledge that Denton used to be the home of a nuclear missile base, we can’t vouch for the accuracy of the claims made by this website, but you might find “Denton Underground Secrets” interesting. Anyone interested in renting a backhoe, and going exploring?
Years ago, I used to attend a local mega-church, which shall remain nameless. At the time, my oldest son was a baby, and I stopped going because it was just such a hassle dealing with him and the crying and diaper issues. When he was a little older, I went back, but only a time or two, because I really didn’t like the fact that it had turned into a cloister flock - a church that seemed to want to serve to further isolate its members from the community at large by having its own book store, coffee bar, sports leagues, and all those manner of things. Anyhow, this article in the Texas Observer struck home to a degree.
If you’ve read LTJ for very long, you know we love satire. There’s now a satire website for the University of North Texas in Denton called The North Texas Pigeon. I’ve often thought about separating the occasional satire we do here into its own website, but it would have to have a really good name. Too bad “Pigeon” is now taken.
Here’s a common problem with today’s political discourse though: assuming that the words or actions of one person reflect the thinking of the party that person is purportedly affiliated with. For example, there was backlash a couple weeks ago when a supposed Democratic Party candidate for office tweeted some dumb stuff, and was then targeted by conservative pundits. Thing is: he’s not even a real candidate. To some extent, you can hold a party responsible for its candidates, but to do so, you have to 1) actually have a candidate, and 2) have competitive primaries.
When Weird Al’s lyrics are better than the original ones, you know something is wrong. Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines has such a nice funky groove to it, but it was too bad the lyrics were as some described: “rapey”. Here’s a version you can listen to guilt-free.
Well, we hope everyone had an enjoyable Fourth of July, and paused at least for a moment to reflect on the meaning of the day, and the audacity of those who signed the Declaration of Independence. I took my youngest son to Independence Fest in Flower Mound, where we saw Kansas and took in a nice fireworks show. There was one thing about the festival that bothered me just a little bit, though. A nice young lady took the stage and began to sing The Star Spangled Banner, and people didn't seem to know how to act. Of all the days, when the purpose of a celebration is to honor our country, why would people think it's alright to just ignore the anthem and keep walking around jabbering. Everyone around you is standing silently, facing the flag, with hands on hearts, and you just need to keep walking so you can get yourself to the corn dog stand. I won't necessarily question your patriotism, but if you do that, you're kind of a douche.
Even worse though, was what I heard from a friend, who was on his way through the gates when this happened. They had security people at the gates searching bags, so everyone with a bag was lined up to get in. These security personnel refused to let this veteran and his family stop and observe the National Anthem, and instead kept rushing people through - basically ignoring the purpose of the day. We hope that people will contact the Town of Flower Mound, and make sure that at least this situation is rectified for next year, since it's easy to fix. We have reached out to Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden, and will let you know if we hear anything.
BTW, Lewisville Animal Services reported Saturday that the animal shelter is FULL. If you are missing a pet, please contact them.
Currently, 87% of the State of Texas is still in drought, with all of Denton County still in “Extreme” drought. 23% of Texas is in Extreme or Exceptional drought. So far this year, the DFW area has had 10.59 inches of rain-- only about half of the normal 20.41 inches by this time of year. Dallas Water Utilities reservoirs, including Lewisville Lake are 30.02% depleted right now. Lewisville Lake is still down 8 feet.
Speaking of the lake, we want to remind readers about the problem of zebra mussels invading Texas lakes. The City of Denton is about to spend $3 million to deal with zebra mussels in its water system intakes, and Lewisville and Dallas probably won’t be far behind.
From the Texas Department of Transportation, regarding SH 121: "The Northbound and Southbound U-turns near Valley Parkway will be closed from 8 months to a year during construction of the SH 121 bridge over Denton Creek."
As a society, we never seem to have the money or resolve when it comes to dealing with serious mental illness. Yet we always seem to be able to pay for more prison cells, and victims and their families always pay the cost for what we are unable to do. An article in the Virginian-Pilot, “Dangerous Minds / Insane System” takes a look at how the mental health and criminal justice systems intersect and fail.
Facebook has blown up in the past week over the case of a 19 year-old Texas woman who posted some photos of herself with her kills when she went on an African hunting trip. You know, I’m all about preserving nature and protecting wildlife. I’m not a hunter, and haven’t been hunting in years - although I would definitely go on a deer hunt or hog hunt if someone would invite me. I would be all over this young woman (or any person) if it turned out that she was poaching - which she wasn’t. But I just don’t understand why she has been singled out over this legal hunt. It’s not the kind of hunting I would do, for sure, but I can’t help but wonder if the treatment she is getting is because she is a young, “cute” female. Would your average Bubba Joe Sixpack get the same treatment? Devon Razey has an article that takes a closer look.
First, to my friends on the left: No, employers are not “controlling” access to birth control - yet. While there are probably exceptions, even Planned Parenthood puts the cost of them at about $15 - $50 per month. And Hobby Lobby will still have to cover 16 out of 20 FDA-approved types, while the rest of private-sector employers will need to cover all of them. The four types not covered are the types that inhibit a fertilized egg’s attachment to the uterus. While Facebook is plastered with new calls to boycott Hobby Lobby, the chances are that you already shop there about as often as I do, which is never, because I don’t need yarn or scrapbooking supplies, or Chinese-made tchotchkes.
For my friends on the right, there seems to be a good bit of ignorance about what birth control pills do. Birth control pills are not abortion because they are simply not abortion - no matter how strenuously you might object to them. This article explains how they work. As for the supposed “moral objections” of Hobby Lobby, you might want to know that the company’s retirement plans held investments in mutual funds that invest in the companies making abortifacient pills. Yes, it’s kind of a pain in the rear to always know what your mutual funds are investing in, but it’s also a pain in the rear to fight a lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court, so there is some hypocrisy there.
As for me, I think the whole debacle just points out for the millionth time how stupid our healthcare system is in America, being so tied to employer-provided insurance. It is a bad path that our country went down, and now we have got ourselves into a situation where we pay twice what the rest of the world pays in terms of GDP, and our outcomes really are not that great. Think of what America could achieve if we could shift this burden off of employers and move to a single-payer system. We would still all pay for it in the form of taxes, but the overall cost would be much less, as you eliminate the insurance overhead, the administrative overhead, and the insurance-based incentives to over-bill. It’s not a magic bullet - nothing is - and you’d still need action to increase the supply of healthcare providers.
While we are on the topic of women’s health, can we look at an actual medical argument that qualified doctors are having right now? The American College of Physicians is now saying that doctors should not do annual pelvic exams. Supposedly the evidence shows that unless there are symptoms of a problem, this doesn’t actually help outcomes. Pap smears are still recommended every three to five years based on a woman’s age. The article says all these extra pelvic exams add $2.6 billion per year in costs to the health care system.
Not all physicians agree though: from the article: “The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agrees that there is no data showing that routine pelvic exams save lives or do a good job of detecting ovarian cancer or infection. But routine pelvic exams do have value, it says. Its guideline, published in 2012, continues to recommend exams and encourages women to discuss whether to have one with their health care provider. If a woman doesn’t want the exam, she should still have an annual check-up.”
Ladies, what do you think? Are you relieved? Disappointed? What if this recommendation turns into insurance guidelines that would only pay for them on a less-frequent basis, or only when you have a problem?
While we are on the topic of gynecologists, local Congressman Michael Burgess has a Facebook page, and someone started a page called “Does Congressman Michael C. Burgess Hate His Constituency?” Hate is a strong word. Burgess’ true constituency are Republican primary election voters, just as it was engineered when the districts were drawn. Sadly, as you know, the crazy wingnuts have basically taken over that party in Texas and changed the conversation from questions about the role and scope of government, and the size of budget and debt (all topics we should be having rational conversations about). The new Republican party is all about willful ignorance of basic government, a full rollback of the social safety net, undoing all human and civil rights advances for the past 50 years, rolling back worker and environmental protections, legislating hate, and desperately clinging to power, overstaying their welcome long after the rest of American society has moved on. Unlike his true constituency, Burgess is an educated mature adult who ought to know better, but has made his choice to roll with the nonsense.
I try to think what it would be like to be in his shoes as a Democrat. What if I were the Congressman, and my party was taken over by the far left, turning the caricature of every crazy leftist idea into reality? Would I stand up to the moonbats and keep it real, or would the power of office be so alluring that I’d swallow the blue pill and go along with it?
Here's one gun guy's take on the idea of walking around with rifles in public, as the Open Carry Tarrant County group has been doing:
Lewisville actually got some rain over the weekend, and on Monday morning, and it was desperately needed. The total rainfall from Sunday was .59 inches, according to the National Weather Service, and early totals from Monday show about .45 inches. So before Monday morning’s gully-washer, we were still over 10 inches of rain shy of where we should be for this time of year. The lake barely budged, even with all the rain, and is sitting at 514 feet even right now - 8 feet low.
Speaking of the lake, we had plans over the weekend to go kayaking on the lake Sunday morning, but the sky had other ideas for us. So we ended up hanging out in the garage all morning, getting some cleaning done. The sky finally did clear up, and we got out on the lake just a little after 3 p.m., and it was really nice. The water was calm, and it was very serene-- until the airplane landed in the water. We heard this noise and looked across the lake to see what I at first thought was a very fast boat. But Fluffy quickly noted that it was an airplane. As far as we could tell, it wasn’t even the type of airplane with pontoons. I couldn’t even see landing gear of any sort. I wish I had my camera out at the time. Anyway, the guy actually lands on the water with the belly of the plane, then accelerates out of view. The whole time I’m seeing this, I’m thinking that we are witnessing a crash landing, and hoping it doesn’t turn out like this one. I'm not sure what the point of that was, other than to take unnecessary risk.
There was another drowning in Lewisville Lake last week. Michael Quach jumped into the water to save his nephew, who was wearing a life jacket, but drifting away from the boat. Quach went under, and never came back up. Please wear a life jacket any time you are in the water. They save lives. It is difficult for us to continue seeing these stories, then see people who let their children swim in the lake without this very basic protection. One thing that we have noticed in swimming areas of other parks, such as Lofers Bend in Lake Whitney, and Westlake Park on Lewisville Lake, are life jacket stations where anyone can just go up and grab one to use while they are out there. Fluffy and I would really like to see this get done at Lewisville Lake, and we are willing to chip in or help build one and stock it if we can get some help from others. Maybe we could even get the City of Lewisville to maintain it.
The big story today was about the missing bicyclist in Flower Mound. Unfortunately, Flower Mound Police report that they have found a body they believe to be Wesley Andrew Hixson, the missing cyclist. The body was found in a ravine Northeast of Twin Coves Marina. His body will be transported to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office to determine the cause of death.
The Railroad Commission of Texas, the agency charged with regulating the state’s oil and gas production has barred staff from talking to reporters. That should tell you all you need to know about who they work for, and whether they feel accountable to the citizens.
“DHS/I&A assesses that lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States. Information from law enforcement and nongovernmental organizations indicates lone wolves and small terrorist cells have shown intent—and, in some cases, the capability—to commit violent acts.”
The Texas GOP finally released their official platform from the 2014 convention, and it is still just as incoherent and self-conflicted as the draft that we shared last week. If you are a literate adult, and think that you are conservative, you really should give this a read, and see if you can figure out the grade level of the people who wrote it, and think about whether you would like to have this band of idiots actually governing things. These people can’t even spell right, or use the right words for things. Texas GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri at least spoke out against the “reparative therapy” for gays plank.
As another example of their conflicting planks, note that the GOP pays lip service to “local control” for school districts - as long as the GOP-controlled state government has total control over that local control. They also hate unfunded mandates, except the things they want to mandate, like textbook approval
Local Control for Education- We support school choice and believe that quality education is best achieved by encouraging parental involvement, protecting parental rights, and maximizing local independent school district control. District superintendents and their employees should be made solely accountable to their locally elected boards...
Textbook Approval- The Texas Education Code (TEC) must be amended to empower the SBOE to require each ISD that adopts non-state approved instructional materials to conform to the state approval process to protect citizens’ right to petition, correct factual errors, prevent corruption and fulfill legislative intent in the TEC. Local ISD boards must hold public hearings on such materials. Parents should have access to review classroom materials upon request.
Unfunded Mandates- We oppose all unfunded mandates by the federal, state, and local governments. Amend the Texas Constitution and statute to restrict the power of the legislature to impose unfunded mandates on local governments.
The Lewisville High School family was shocked and saddened Friday to learn of the sudden and unexpected passing of a teacher who was adored by many, and deeply involved in the community. Darren Ryan was a teacher, and Social Studies Department Chairman at Lewisville High School for 22 years. Ryan graduated from Lewisville High School in 1983. Ryan played in a band called “The Grenadines”, and loved to teach. A memorial service will be held Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 10:00 am at Trietsch Memorial Church at 6101 Morriss Road in Flower Mound.
LHS activities director Allison Stamey had this to say about Ryan:
“He was an amazing teacher and man. Everyone adored him. I'm sending my thoughts and prayers to his family and wife, Pam. They were a large part of the Lewisville HS activities. He was the junior state of America advisor for years and brought his students on many trips and held many political debates. He was a constant for us. He graduated from LHS in 1983 and loved the farmers with all his heart. He had just worked graduation on Monday night tweeting and posting about it. All who knew him are devastated by his loss. We will miss him every day.”
The Lewisville Texan Journal staff also extend our sympathies to Ryan’s family, friends, and students. A video of Ryan’s band is at the end of this article.
Lewisville ISD is required under House Bill 5 to submit community-based accountability ratings to the state for all of its campuses for eight areas of concern that are not the standard high-stakes testing numbers. Ratings for Digital Learning Environment and Gifted and Talented were the most likely areas to fall short of the exemplary goal. See how your kids’ campus did.
The third annual Lewisville Hey! Day will take place Friday, Aug. 15 from 6-9 p.m. at Lewisville High School’s Max Goldsmith Stadium. The event is a welcome-back to all students who go to schools within the Lewisville High School feeder pattern. Suitable for all ages, the event showcases the local schools and their extracurricular programs, and connects students and parents to resources.
Navy Seaman Apprentice David R. King, son of Marty E. Kennedy of Tyler, Texas and Cathy E. King. Of Lewisville, Texas, was recently promoted to his current rank upon graduation from U.S. Navy basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill. King received the early promotion for outstanding performance during all phases of the training cycle. King is a 2008 graduate of Lewisville High School, Lewisville, Texas.
Army Sgt. Andrew W. Peck stood on hallowed ground in Normandy, France, as he and hundreds of other American service members commemorated the 70th Anniversary of the Normandy D-Day invasion. Peck is a member of A 307th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., and spent approximately a week in the Normandy region, participating in ceremonies and representing the Americans who fought here 70 years ago. "I'm a proud American and a proud paratrooper. I'm extremely proud and grateful to participate in this jump in honor of those brave men who jumped in 70 years ago. God bless Texas. God bless America and God bless France," Peck said. Peck is the son of Steven and Debbie Peck of Shady Shores, Texas, and is a 2005 graduate of Lewisville High School.
The Lewisville Leader’s Heather Goodwin has a great article about how Lewisville police work to combat crimes against women. If you ever look at our police blotter, you see that there are quite a few arrests on family violence charges. Rape and family violence happen much more than what even gets reported. These are problems that cross all races and socioeconomic levels, as well as both genders. We all need to be aware, and do our part to stop rape and family violence, and to raise our children not to do it.
It has been a week already, and the Republican Party of Texas has still yet to publicly post their 2014 platform, (We’d be embarrassed too.) but we did want to share this early draft we found. Not only is it basically a bat-shit crazy caricature of a caricature of what the Republican Party used to be, but it’s fairly incoherent, and self-conflicted - reading a bit like a laundry-list of conspiracy theory and insane ramblings from that weird uncle who always makes for uncomfortable conversation at family reunions. People who consider themselves conservative might want to actually have a read, and ask themselves whether the party is still connected with reality.
Example of two items that are literally 3 paragraphs apart: Quote:
Item 1-5: “We decry the appointment of unelected bureaucrats, and we urge Congress to use their constitutional authority to defund and abolish these positions and return authority to duly elected officials, accountable to the electorate...” Item 1-8: “Expand the Sunset commission to be a majority citizen-led commission on government reform (appointed by Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House)”
How about these items that are literally one paragraph apart: Quote:
Item 1-26: “We strongly oppose any constitutional convention to rewrite the United States Constitution. We urge the Legislature to rescind its 1977 call for such a convention...” Item 1-27: “... We urge the Texas State Legislators to take the lead in calling for an Article V Amending Convention of States for the specific purpose of reigning in the power of the federal government.”
Or two sentences in the same paragraph: Quote:
“We support the U.S. maintaining continued control of the internet. We also demand that no American government at any level should have any kind of “kill-switch” capability, either by executive order or by statute.”
Well, which is it? Should the U.S. control the internet or not? Perhaps the terms “U.S.” and “control” do not mean what you think they do.
Further down, the RPT would like juries to have the ability to judge and overturn (or nullify) the law, but want elected judges to exercise restraint. (See sections 1-60 and 1-61)
Lewisville band “The Grenadines” featured the late Darren Ryan :
It sure was nice this morning, sleeping in, then getting up to get coffee and seeing that it was raining. We had wanted to take the kayaks out this morning, but I’ll definitely take the rain.
As of this morning, Lewisville Lake was up about 0.05 inches to 514.10 feet ASL, or just shy of 8 feet low, where it has been hovering for months. The National Weather Service has not yet posted rain totals from this morning, but what we’ve seen so far is not going to make much difference. We sort of need a tropical storm to sweep over the gulf and park over North Texas for a few days if we hope to catch up. Dallas Water Utilities lakes are 28.8% depleted at this point, which is still well below the 50% depletion level that kicks in further conservation measures, but I am concerned about Super Summer.
Lewisville police are changing their policy with regards to towing disabled vehicles on or near our highways, and it has logistic and financial implications for Lewisville’s motorists. The gist of it is that police will immediately try to move vehicles off the roadway after an accident, and vehicles left along roadways will be towed away much sooner than before. If you have to abandon your vehicle to get help, you’ll need to call Lewisville PD and advise them right away unless you want your car towed and impounded. We’re still researching that story and hope to bring you some additional facts and tips this week. You can read the basics in the Lewisville Leader.
Speaking of the police, The Lewisville Texan Journal congratulates Assistant Police Chief Jay Powell on his recent promotion from Captain to Assistant Chief.
Did you know that Lewisville posts food service inspection scores online for the public to review? Go to this page and search through the records to find your favorite restaurants and see how they scored.
In Denton, the citizen-led initiative to ban “fracking” (hydraulic fracture stimulation of gas wells) continues to move forward, with the petitions having been accepted, and a public hearing scheduled. I will continue to assert that this is the kind of thing that will happen when local officials are tone-deaf to resident concerns and fail to act responsibly in regulating an industry that has the capability to cause environmental disasters and destroy neighborhoods. This is the backlash, and the pendulum swing. If this passes - which I suspect it will, it will cost Denton as well as the gas exploration companies a lot of legal fees before it is litigated.
America: What the hell is wrong with us? I have seen a lot of shameful articles, “news” stories, and Facebook posts over the past few days regarding the release of American prisoner or war, Bowe Bergdahl. Not only have the facts been misrepresented (primarily by Fox “News”), but faux patriots have been downright hateful, and some have even resorted to death threats. Some people need to stop and think about what it means to be an American, and what the central tenets of our justice system are. We don't need to make heroes, and we don't need to vilify. We have military courts and mental health professionals who will deal with the details. The hypocrisy is running strong with too many folks on this.
I’m not a fan of mixing politics with religion, because in my opinion, it corrupts them both. We have seen lately a problem with “fake Christians” who seem to view Christianity more as an identity rather than as the following of what Jesus Christ actually taught. And it seems the more vocal they are, the more fake they are. Hrafnkell Haraldsson goes into more detail in his column “The Problem of Fake Christians”. I couldn’t agree more.
Speaking of religion, Christianity is the top religion in each state by percentage, but did you know what the second one is? In Texas, it is Islam. Personally, I think this is BS, since people self-classify as an identity based more on their tradition and upbringing than the actual tenets of their religion’s teachings. I’d like to see this redone with new categories of “spiritual”, “atheist”, and “heathen” added. I suspect you’d see a different result, and in some states, Christianity probably would not be on top.
Speaking of Islam, in Keller, bigoted school board member Jo Lynn Haussmann lashed out like an illiterate two-year-old at a newly-elected Southlake City Council member who happens to be Muslim, and ended up having to make a public apology. It’s not enough. Bigots like that have no business representing the people and conducting the people’s business. She needs to resign, and seek some psychiatric help.
Holy crap! Hide your wife, hide your kids! There are Democrats in Flower Mound! It seems that Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden made some comments on Facebook that basically implied that all Democrats are “immigrants” from other states, and that Texans should be careful. The backlash was covered by the local NBC affiliate, and has resulted in the Flower Mound Democrats congealing into an organized Facebook social group with more than 200 members joining in the past few days. The group is secret, so if you want to join, you will have to find someone to invite you. You might reach out to the group’s organizer, Kris Williams Thompson, who had this to say: “we really do accept anyone, but we will not tolerate drama in the group. The page is more about having fun together as like minded individuals than politics, although we do discuss politics as well.”
We’re still trying to get our hands on the final version of the 2014 Texas Republican Party platform, but here’s an early look at the more controversial planks. You know, I think it used to be that the Republican party valued facts, and a reality-based approach to things, but first the neo-cons, then the Tea Party have dragged them into a place where every new iteration is now a caricature of what it was the year before.
So far this year, the DFW area has received 7.32 inches of rainfall. The normal amount of rainfall by this time of year is 16.09 inches, which puts us down 8.77 inches below normal for this year. Before we even started this year, we were 3 inches below normal in rainfall and about 8 feet below conservation pool in the lake. Lewisville Lake has hovered right around 514.22 feet elevation, or just about 8 feet low for weeks now, with recent rains barely registering a blip. The overall depletion rate of Dallas Water Utilities’ reservoirs is 28.10%. Stage 2 water emergency kicks in when that depletion rate hits 50%. Most of Lewisville remains in extreme or severe drought, and water conservation measures are now mandatory year round in the Stage 1 water watch.
Want to be a boater, but don’t want the hassle of maintaining, hauling, launching, and docking one? The Nautical Boat Club is a country club for boats; pay a one-time fee of $995 and membership dues of $195 a month, and drive what you want from the club’s fleet. Sounds like a bargain to me. One day when I no longer have to feed teenagers, we might have to do this.
Cattle Drive Parade returns to Western Days 2014 Officials announced this week that the 2014 Western Days festival in historic Old Town Lewisville will feature the return of the Cattle Drive Parade, which was temporarily suspended after the 2010 event. Parade applications are available through the event website, LewisvilleWesternDays.com.
Western Days is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Sept. 26-27. The annual event will feature the best of Texas country music and a variety of local performers on four stages, gunfight re-enactments, trick ropers, cooking and grilling demonstrations, car and boat shows, the 10th annual World Tamale Eating Championship, a stickhorse rodeo for kids, and a special exhibit of Western art at the city-operated Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater.
The parade will start at 11:30 a.m. and will run down Main and Mill streets, with a herd of 30 longhorn cattle leading the way. The parade was a popular part of the Western Days festival from 2004 through 2010, when it was suspended to create room for additional vendors and other festival activities. Old Town Park Plaza, currently under construction across the street from City Hall in the heart of Old Town Lewisville, will be open in time for this year's festival. Some festival activities will be moved into the new park, which will allow the return of the Main Street parade.
Not going to lie here: We've been pretty busy lately, and have fallen way behind at posting links and updates. Of course the problem with that is that we end up having a huge backlog of things that end up increasingly aged to the point where it doesn't make sense to post them anymore, which makes more work, which makes me procrastinate more.
So, we're just clearing all of that backlog out and starting fresh with just a few recent things, plus some cartoons. We'll try to do better at staying up to date.
Memorial Day Observance The first thing I would like to remind everyone about is our annual Memorial Day Observance. We are meeting at 8:30 a.m. at the Lewisville City Hall in front of the Veterans Memorial monument. We'll take about 30 minutes or less, and we invite anyone who would like to say a few words, say a prayer, recite a poem or otherwise mark the occasion to do so. The event is non-political, and non-sectarian. Please join us. You can RSVP on our event page if you like, but it's not required. Just show up.
Toy Drive for the Children of Conway Arkansas The Simply Badd Outreach Program is organizing a toy drive called "Care for Conway, Arkansas". The community recently suffered a large tornado. Simply Badd is collecting school supplies, toys, and gift cards for children of all ages. You can drop off donations May 20th through June 9th at either of these location:
Westside Baptist Church 900 Bellaire Blvd Lewisville, TX 75067
Durham School Services 601 E Purnell St Lewisville, TX 75057
Update from Keep Lewisville Beautiful on the Spring Cleanup: On April 26, 2014 we had 686 volunteers come together in the city of Lewisville for our annual Spring Clean Up. This was a new record for KLB, in 2013 there were 522. The 686 volunteers collectively spent 2,638 hours cleaning up 9.8 TONS of trash, or 19,606 pounds. This was enough trash to fill two 30 yard roll off dumpsters and half of a Waste Management truck!
The Lewisville Texan Journal is quite pleased and proud of our volunteers, who along with EA Engineering, the LHS Naval JROTC, and the Hlatky family, cleaned up a bunch of illegal dumping around the Fox Hembry Cemetery.
It's Sunday, April 13th, and we are two days away from the April 15th deadline to file federal income taxes. Although we've already filed our federal taxes, we've been procrastinating from doing our business property tax renditions, which are also due Tuesday. Honestly, I don't know why I procrastinate. It's not that hard, but maybe just a bit tedious. I guess I might just run up to the office later and work on that.
Once again, we've gone too long without an update, so a few of the links I had been saving to share ended up so stale that I removed them. Here's what we have for today:
Teacher engagement was another issue. Gallup has some background information about teacher engagement, and how that compares to other professions. Not only does general K-12 engagement exceed most other professions, but at 45% engagement, LISD’s teachers far exceed the national K-12 engagement of 28-35% (based on experience levels), and LISD teacher engagement also far exceeds the national average of all occupations, which is 30%. Despite the narrative that somehow our teachers are not engaged, and that it somehow relates to strategic design or 1:X or something else that our district leadership is doing or not doing, the numbers plainly show that LISD is different. Now, any organization of any size is going to have some that are actively disengaged, and if you listen to any of them, these folks are going to paint a picture that “everybody” is just like them.
I will tell you that my initial take on the state’s study was that it was weak. I can’t seem to find my initial analysis of the DSHS study, but if memory serves me, the level of confidence they chose - 99% meant that even though they found a given disease was twice as likely to occur in their study area, it would have had to be around 10 x more likely to occur before they could definitively say it was a cluster. I also thought the study area was too large. Of course, the existence of a cluster, if proven, doesn’t imply causality. For all we know, there could have been certain construction materials used in the homes in these neighborhoods that are off-gassing and causing problems. I just can’t say that this type of study is capable of proving or disproving much of anything with regards to causality. Back in 2010, I posted my thoughts on what may be causing health issues.
Charles Murray, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has become one of the most influential social scientists in America, using racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women and the poor. According to Murray, disadvantaged groups are disadvantaged because, on average, they cannot compete with white men, who are intellectually, psychologically and morally superior. Murray advocates the total elimination of the welfare state, affirmative action and the Department of Education, arguing that public policy cannot overcome the innate deficiencies that cause unequal social and educational outcomes.
Lets be honest here. There is only one reason why election officials would restrict access to restrooms for voters. Republicans these days can only win elections when they can suppress the turnout. They do this by reducing polling places in poor and minority neighborhoods, and making it as damned inconvenient to vote as possible. If this is what you have to do to win elections, maybe that should be a clue that your ideas just suck, and you should go back to what conservatism used to be instead of making it a haven for anti-intellectual, anti-minority, anti-poor, anti-woman, and anti-progress cranks.
Girls Chase Boys - by the exceptionally talented and beautiful Ingrid Michaelson
Today is Texas Independence Day. On March 2nd, 1836, Texas declared independence from Mexico. In honor of Texas Independence Day, we hoisted the Texas flag here at the house, cooked a pot of Texas Red last night, and drank a couple of Shiners. You might say we’re just a little proud of being born in Texas, but we thank our lucky Lone Star that Texas joined the United States of America. You can learn more about the brief history of Texas independence here.
I’ve generally considered Texas Tribune to be a decent and reliable source of news in Texas, and from time to time we re-publish their stories. We have even at times considered going non-profit to follow their model. But they've been getting some criticism for taking money from big donors who have an interest in avoiding bad coverage. The criticisms there do cause me to reflect on our own operation and how we might avoid that kind of bias. Even if you take money completely out of the equation, it is easy to find yourself thinking twice before publishing something derogatory about a newsmaker who provides you with access and information.
We recently had a big conversation on the City of Lewisville Facebook group regarding license plate recognition systems, and specifically the storage of data in them. Councilman Neil Ferguson wrote a response, which we posted here. I wanted to share with you the article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about the national database. I would just say that I’m wary about there being too much storage of that information, and the potential for abuse. The information collected definitely is useful in law enforcement; I don’t dispute that. It loses utility the longer you keep it. At some point, the usefulness crosses below a point where it outweighs the potential for abuse. I don’t know where that point is, but I hope that Lewisville Police Department and others will keep that in mind when determining how much data to keep.
This is some interesting drama: Denton Mayor Mark Burroughs bought a condo in Dallas for some reason, and is involved in a lawsuit because he refuses to return a $175,000 piece of art that was in the unit. He bought the unit as-is, and without an inspection, but is holding the art hostage over what he considers to be defects in the unit.
As you know, the Lewisville City Council as well as surrounding cities took steps to reduce the availability of e-cigarettes to minors. This NPR article discusses the rationale (or lack thereof) for banning their usage. For what it’s worth, I don’t feel there is enough evidence of harm from second-hand vapor to justify any bans. But property owners are free to do as they wish for their own establishments.
Here is something that gets me: We left-leaning folks genuinely believe in the process of science, and we think science should not only be taught in schools, but should shape public policy. We poke fun at idiots like Joe Barton, and the people who want to teach creationism as if it’s a scientific theory with equal footing as evolution. Yet, so many of our lefties also are willing to set aside discernment and jump on all sorts of bandwagons where the science is either non-existent, or has been totally ignored. A lot of folks are familiar with the Facebook page “I Fu**ing Love Science”, but do you know about “I fu**ing hate pseudoscience”? I recommend that everyone who professes to love science follow both - especially the latter.
Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson lives on a luxury estate in Denton County near Bartonville. He has joined a lawsuit against the Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp., which is building a water tower near his home. The lawsuit claims it will be an eyesore and hurt his property value, which is the main BS argument. What had gas drilling opponents fuming, and asserting hypocrisy was the suit’s assertion that the tower could be used to supply drilling operations, and that would result in a lot of truck traffic. Here is an open letter to Tillerson from a former oil company executive who now fights against the industry’s practice of “fracking” or hydraulic fracture stimulation.
Flower Mound will not have a city election this year because none of their candidates drew opponents. This could work to the disadvantage of Flower Mound candidates in the LISD races. Those candidates usually have an advantage because of Flower Mound’s high voter turnout.
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Excuse me if I’m appalled at the negative reaction to this sculpture by some folks who think Jesus wouldn’t be a ‘vagrant’.
The big international story right now comes out of Ukraine, where citizens ousted the Russian-affiliated leader, and Russian troops have now occupied Crimea. President Obama warned that there would be a price for Russia’s actions there. Here is a map that can help you understand the situation, and here is an article that explains some of the history behind Ukraine, Russia, and Crimea. It’s not a clear-cut situation of Russia invading because they just want it. Russia clearly has some interests to protect, but we should be concerned about the unilateral nature of their actions. I’m not sure their motives are entirely summed up by what they have stated. Nevertheless, the US has confronted them about it, and when two nuclear superpowers have words like, it concerns me greatly.
Here’s a move that I just can’t understand: The Dallas City Council put its water supply at risk by allowing the Seaway Pipeline, which will carry heavy tar sands oil, to pass through a piece of property that Dallas Water Utilities owns, and has water pipelines on. Don’t worry though: They got paid $1,600. All better now. I’m sure that any accident with the oil pipeline won’t cost any more than that. Dallas Water Utilities supplies treated and untreated water to the City of Lewisville.
This is an interesting article about Attorney General Greg Abbott prosecuting voter fraud. It seems some right-wing types were zealous about special taxing districts, and decided to claim voter registrations at a hotel so that they could legally vote themselves onto the directors of a road utility district that had been put together by developers and was in use to fund infrastructure for a business area.
Ted Nugent is a dirtbag draft-dodger, racist, and misogynist who in the past has made statements about affairs with underage girls. But Greg Abbott is traveling with him, and the two will be in Denton today. If you want to know someone’s values, pay less attention to the words they say, and more attention to what they do. Abbott talks a game about family values, and going after predators, but he’s hanging out with one today - showing that politics is really more important to him.
Kraig Parker will be performing at Sounds of Lewisville this June 3rd. Here's some video of Kraig from last year: