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.
Once again, it's been a couple weeks since we posted an update with links. They've piled up lately.
On Thursday, we will celebrate Thanksgiving, but in the days before, celebrate Friendsgiving. We appreciate all of our friends here at LTJ; especially those who have taken the time to chip in a few bucks. It's that time of year when a whole bunch of bills come due for hosting, domain names, and so forth, so we really appreciate that you've helped us just about hit our goal.
I've been busy lately reading up on Texas local government laws and election laws, trying to get some background before Lewisville's Charter Review committee gets under way in January. I'll be on that committee. I don't really have a change agenda in mind, and am not 100% sold on anything at this point, but I am concerned about how our city government continues to operate in a unified way once Castle Hills is annexed, and the remainder of growth happens on the east side of town. Single member council districts are an option, if we want, but they do carry their own problems, so I'm trying to think outside the box and figure out a way that every area of the city can have proportional representation, and decisions can continue to be made for the benefit of the city as a whole. I have spent some time studying the way other cities do things, and I've probably picked up more in the way of what not to do. We have it pretty good here, and I hope to keep it that way.
I am interested in any input anyone has on this, one way or the other.
Lewisville’s Blue Ribbon Bond Committee has been meeting frequently to consider the city’s backlog of capital projects, and how they can be funded. The city's remaining bond authority is expired, so with all this growth coming on, we can either allow our infrastructure to deteriorate more while we save our pennies up to do these projects years from now, or we can float bonds and enjoy the improvements and increases in property value sooner. Another plus with bonds is that in a growth situation, you are letting the new residents share in the cost of the infrastructure you are having to build to accommodate them.
Lewisville resident Patrick Booth is participating in the World Race, visiting 11 countries in 11 months. The World Race is a mission trip where participants abandon their worldly possessions and go out to help others. We wish Patrick safe travels, and will check in on him from time to time.
Vista Ridge Mall is not in great financial shape, according to this Dallas Morning News article. Along with Collin Creek Mall in Plano, it could end up going back to the lenders. Collin Creek is in worse shape than Vista Ridge though, according to the article.
Income inequality is getting worse. The United States is going into a new gilded age. To be clear, nobody is calling for an equal distribution of income, but what is bad for the economy and bad for America is a system where hard work and innovation is not rewarded to the same extent as being born rich, or being a Wall Street parasite. Upward mobility is limited, and we are becoming a plutocracy. The best illustration I can think of is the old joke: “A CEO, a manager, and a union worker are sitting at a table, and there is a box of a dozen Twinkies. The CEO immediately grabs 11 of the Twinkies, and tells the manager: ‘You better watch out for that union guy; he wants half of your Twinkie!’”
Idiocy. US Rep Michael Burgess (R, Lewisville) would like the EPA to hear more from paid representatives of polluters, and less from actual peer-reviewed scientists.
The Lewisville High School student council is once again sponsoring its Adopt-an-Angel program. Needy students from schools throughout LISD are identified by counselors, and each student has a few things they need or want - like clothing and a toy or two. You can adopt one of these students and wrap up a gift for them to return to LHS by 12/10 for delivery to the students on 12/11. You can view the list of students and their wish lists, and choose one to adopt here.
Lewisville ISD would like residents to fill out a survey to help it figure out what should be in an LISD graduate profile. This profile will define the most important skills, attitudes and habits of mind that students will have when they graduate from LISD schools.
Rain is expected for Tuesday, which is election day. Unfortunately, there are some people out there who will use that as an excuse not to go to the polls and vote. It’s okay though, I mean people have given their lives, and fought the good fight for you to have the right to vote, but you can’t be expected to get your hair wet. And it’s not like everyone, including LTJ, has been begging you to go early vote because it’s so much more convenient, and anything can happen on election day.
Ladies and gentlemen: Douchebags. We share not so much because we think there needs to be a slur, but because this sheds some light on what makes an insult hurt. Most white people would laugh off an insult like “honky” or “cracker,” because there is just no sting to it. Being called a douchebag would sting because you would have a pretty good understanding of what you are being lumped in with. The takeaway from this, I think is not that you need to go around calling people douchebags, but that we all need to try to examine our points of privilege and not be douchebags.
Flower Mound will get its first hotel. In the past few years, the Town of Flower Mound has taken an aggressive and reasonable approach to attracting development and bringing in business. I see them as a threat to Lewisville’s local dominance of the commercial space. Of course, there are still those in Flower Mound who are vocal about wanting to slam the doors shut on any development that takes place after they moved in. We will see what happens, but I very much like it that much of the sales tax revenue in Lewisville comes from residents of Flower Mound and other local cities. If Lewisville stands still, we fall behind. That’s why I’m grateful there is a lot going on in Lewisville. For example, Myers & Crow is building yet another large office building in the Lakeside business park. It will be 81,000 square feet. This is supposedly the last building that the development has room for.
Well, bless his heart... Trey Radel, a Republican US Rep who voted for legislation to require food stamp recipients to be drug tested, was busted for cocaine possession.
In Denton, iconic Frenchy’s Lawn and Tree is being told by city code enforcement that he has too many American flags. Under city code, a business is allowed to display one American flag, one Texas flag, and one other flag on their property. While I understand the need to limit commercial signage, and have some control over what is presented to the public along roadways, I join a lot of others in Denton and support what Frenchy does with his flags and using his trucks as billboards to promote local events and congratulate people. I hope the City of Denton will find a way to tweak the ordinance to let him continue.
Here is a pretty distressing report by ProPublica about the American Red Cross’ purported failure at responding to hurricanes Isaac and Sandy. The Red Cross leadership allegedly failed to connect resources to people in need, and seemed to be more concerned about appearances and PR than providing actual relief - in some cases using critically needed response vehicles as props in press conferences. The Red Cross has responded to the story, and it is worth a read. Some of the responses are comforting, but others just seem weak. What we hope is that everyone involved learns something from those disasters and does a better job next time around. This is also a good reminder that we all need to take responsibility for our own preparations in advance of emergencies and disasters. Our family has our kit put together, and we need to periodically check it to make sure it’s still ready.
If you follow us on Facebook, you probably saw the pictures we posted of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River when the dam had been shut off, and it was dry. A writer at DFW Urban Wildlife took the time to document the situation and its impact on wildlife.
Most of us middle-class working folks in suburbia who drive cars, have no problems producing an ID to vote, but there are many situations where it can be expensive and burdensome to obtain it. My thinking is that it ought to be free. Texas also has some really ridiculous and unnecessary requirements, such as rejecting other perfectly legal and secure forms of ID, requiring that IDs not be more than 60 days expired, and charging for birth certificates that the state keeps in their computer systems. The so-called "free" voter ID actually requires that you pay the State of Texas (if you were born here) to produce a birth certificate. Why doesn't the DPS just hook into the state's computer system and check it themselves? You know why. Why do they require a drivers license be no more than 60 days expired? Do you cease being yourself when it expires, or does your driving privilege just end? You know why this ridiculous requirement is in place.
Sunday was a gorgeous day, and an even more beautiful morning. I was up on top of the Lewisville Dam, looking out over Lewisville Lake on the left, and LLELA on the right. By all accounts, the inaugural year of That Dam Half - a half-marathon (13.1 miles) was a great success. 1200 runners were registered for the run, most of whom were for the half-marathon on the dam, and some of whom ran the 5k. We’ve heard nothing but great things from those who attended. I was a volunteer at the water station at mile 8, but truthfully I would have done almost any job just to have the opportunity to legally be up there, since it’s normally strictly off-limits to the public. I got a lot of great shots that I will be posting here and on our Facebook photos page.
Speaking of the lake, the quick update is that recent rains added a couple of inches to the lake level, which has since gone back down to 515.16 feet. This is about 7 feet below conservation pool. The hope is that we can get a lot of rain over the winter, which is expected to be wetter than average, and maybe get it filled back up to the 522 mark.
Plano West beat the Lewisville Farmers Friday night 55-22.
If you have used your credit card at the Dairy Queen in Lewisville, you may want to check your statement. The company was hit by a hacker, who gained access to customer names, credit card numbers, and expiration dates.
Some were outraged at Wendy Davis’s campaign commercial pointing out hypocrisy with Greg Abbott. I thought it was fair shot. She wasn’t attacking his disability, but the fact that he got quite a hefty settlement for his own injury, then spent a career trying to prevent others from obtaining their own justice.
Dawn Cobb has a nice story about four boys in Highland Village who were walking home from school one day and found a bicyclist who had fallen and had a head injury. The quick thinking of Joshua Smithwick, Elia Mata, John Wegendt and Aiden Cooper led to the man’s rescue.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NTCOG) has awarded funding of $28 million in its Transportation Alternatives Program, which funds pedestrian and bike trails, and non-driver access to public transportation projects. Lewisville is receiving $1.5 million for Approximately 4.2 miles of shared-use paths, sidewalk, and on-street bike lanes from the North Garden Ridge Boulevard interchange at IH 35E southward to North Valley Parkway and West Main Street.
Lewisville Morning Rotary will conduct a flag retirement ceremony at the MCL Grand Theater in Lewisville at 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 25th. Community members can bring their worn or torn flags to be destroyed appropriately.
Today is the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, or day of atonement.
Thursday's rain was great, wasn't it? The sky was so dark, and the wind was ferocious. It was brief, but it came down hard. Our readers reported receiving from .25 to 1.25 inches, but NWS rainfall totals showed around .5 inch average for our area. Lewisville Lake rose a little over an inch, putting us at 515.3 feet, which is almost 7 feet below conservation pool. We desperately need to catch up on rain over the Fall and Winter months.
The Marine Corps Birthday Ball is an annual tradition to celebrate the birthday of the USMC on 10 November, 1775. This year in Denton County, the LCpl Jacob R. Lugo detachment of the Marine Corps League will hold its ball on November 15th at the Gateway Center at UNT. I wish I could go this year, but I'll be at my brother's wedding.
Apparently there is a tradition at Lewisville High School that has been in place for a number of years, where marching band students sing the Lord’s Prayer before the football games. A parent reported on Facebook (since deleted) that her child was told the students can no longer do that. Queue the huge argument where Christians pretend they are persecuted when all of society and its institutions are not allowed to institute religious acts, and where people blame society’s problems on a lack of prayer in the schools. You can also queue those on the other side whose opinions range from nasty attacks to “I’m a Christian too, but this isn’t appropriate for school.” Texas House District 63 candidate for State Representative Daniel Moran, who is an atheist weighed in with this column.
I reached out to LISD to get the story, and this is what they had to say:
“About a month ago, two parents emailed through the Let’s Talk section on the district¹s website and shared concerns about students reciting the Lord¹s Prayer prior to the LHS band¹s performance.
The district looked into these concerns and learned that reciting the Lord¹s Prayer has been a long-standing tradition that started prior to the current band director joining LHS. The district shared that reciting the Lord’s Prayer must be student-driven. If students would like to gather and pray or recite the Lord’s Prayer before their band performance, they may do so. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer can’t be mandatory.
I have no problems with this. The requirement that it be student-led is in conformance with prior court decisions. That ensures that there is no pressure from our taxpayer-funded teachers for students to join in if they are uncomfortable. And lest you think that only atheists and others worthy of contempt would object, you might want to read Matthew 6, where Jesus warns against public prayer as a show of false righteousness, and says that people should go off in private to pray. It’s the same place where Jesus gives the Lord’s Prayer as an example of how one might pray. Yet, as Christians, we effectively ignored the jist of what he was trying to say, and took to reciting it by rote as a public display.
Yes, it took a couple days for me to get the answer about the situation directly from the district, since this happened on Friday, and it took until Monday to get the answer. But these days, it’s no fun for people to wait. Instead, get on Facebook and start throwing bombs. Ruin someone’s reputation by accusing them of violating someone’s civil rights. Sadly, this has been too common lately on the City of Lewisville Facebook group, with people publicly complaining about situations they should first try to take care of directly. At other times, it's public shaming - even going so far as to post photos of drivers they feel have transgressed.
I’m just going to say it: We live in a very wussified society. Case #1: “How letting my kid play along outside led to a CPS investigation”. Case #2: Man stops his truck to talk to his kids, and a woman with a very active imagination reports “stranger danger” to the school and on social media, resulting in a police investigation and a news release by the school district. I have no problem with someone contacting the authorities when they have a suspicion of abuse or neglect. It’s required. Let them do their job. What is not required, and what shouldn’t happen is plastering these suspicions all over social media in a way that can cause hysteria and witch hunts. But some folks' attention-seeking is easily justified as long as it's about making the children's safety their "upmost" [sic] priority.
Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History is a course designed by the College Board for high school students that mirrors curriculum commonly taught in college. At the end of the course, students are able to take the AP exam, and if they pass, they get college credit. In our last update, we mentioned some controversy because conservatives think the AP curriculum leaves things out. Here is the College Board’s curriculum framework for AP U.S. History. Here’s a paragraph I wanted to share:
The curriculum framework that follows is just that — a framework for conveying the content and skills typically required for college credit and placement. In order for teachers to have flexibility in how they help students develop these skills and understandings, the framework is not a curriculum and thus does not consist of a list of the historical content (names, events, dates, etc.) that teachers will choose for classroom focus. Instead, the framework consists of four components, each described below. The result is a course that prepares students for college credit and placement while relieving the pressure on AP teachers to cover all possible details of U.S. history at a superficial level.
The curriculum framework does not focus on providing particular names, dates, or events, but does in some cases provide examples - only where teachers reviewing the framework thought that it might be helpful. This has apparently cause a lot of confusion at best, and purposeful demagoguery at worst. The framework document itself explains why Black Panthers are specifically listed as an example, and Martin Luther King, Jr. is not:
3. Gray boxes containing possible examples were inserted in the framework only where teachers reported uncertainty regarding what content they might choose to teach for a particular concept. These boxes indicate content that is relevant for a particular concept, but this content is illustrative — not mandatory.
When the new framework was first reviewed by AP U.S. History teachers, they indicated that it would be useful to provide examples for teaching some of the concepts. For most concepts, AP U.S. History teachers know exactly what figures, events, and sources they will focus on, but for others, they asked that the framework provide suggestions. Gray boxes were inserted only for concepts for which teachers indicated a need for ideas. For example, AP teachers reviewing the concept outline clearly identified which concepts called for inclusion of Civil Rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, but they were uncertain what examples might be effective for the teaching of Concept 8.2.III.C (attacks on postwar liberalism). Therefore, the Committee inserted a gray box for that concept, suggesting the examples of Students for a Democratic Society and the Black Panthers. In no way does this signal that it is more important to teach the Black Panthers than Martin Luther King, Jr. Rather, this gray box signals that AP teachers were already confident in their inclusion of King and Parks elsewhere in the outline, but uncertain where they might choose to include the Students for a Democratic Society.
A former United Methodist minister reveals some things about scripture that most pastors would not teach. I share this not so much to convince you of anything, but because I think it’s a good read, and that when one reads things that challenge beliefs, it can be helpful in refining those beliefs. For me, although I count myself as a believer, I no longer believe that scripture is the infallible, literal truth, because you just can’t explain away these types of conflicts without violating occam’s razor.
Western Days is next weekend - Friday the 26th and Saturday, the 27th, and we are excited! Everything you need to know about Western Days is on the Lewisville Western Days website, and you can download your free tickets here. We highly recommend downloading and printing at your earliest convenience just in case there are problems with the website or with your printer on the day of the festival. The festival begins Friday night at 7 p.m. and goes until 11:30 p.m. Saturday, the festival opens at 10 a.m. and goes to 11:30 p.m.
Live music is the biggest draw for the festival. Friday night, the big act is Robert Earl Keen playing on the main stage at 10 p.m. Saturday night, it’s Thompson Square at 8 p.m. and Kevin Fowler at 10 p.m. But music acts are all day on two outdoor stages.
We’ll be posting more about Western Days this week, and we hope to see you there!
Café Herrera is one of the three restaurants scheduled to come to Old Town Lewisville in a new development across the street from the MCL Grand Theater, incentivized by the City of Lewisville. The problem is that their Denton location just got locked out for non-payment of rent. (See photo below) The restaurant just couldn’t seem to please customers, who gave it a very poor 2 star rating on Yelp. The Denton Record Chronicle has more on the restaurant’s troubles. We attempted to contact the company via email, but that bounced. We spoke with the manager of the Mockingbird Station location Sunday morning, but he didn’t have any information about whether the Lewisville location would still be opening. The Denton location was still locked out as of Saturday night. Photo by Joseph Carr
Mosquitoes carrying West Nile disease continue to be a problem in Lewisville. One problem location has been literally right outside the back door of the Lewisville Texan Journal’s office on Edmonds Lane. We are next door to a retirement village where residents are more susceptible to West Nile due to their age.
After surgery, a man received a surprise $117,000 medical bill from a doctor he didn’t even know. Unfortunately, this is pretty common. We all love to pile on the insurance companies over the cost of healthcare, but sometimes the problem is just flat-out greed on the part of providers. We all expect and pretty much desire that doctors be well-paid for their work, based on their education and dedication. But at some point, you have to draw a line and say that “No, you don’t get to earn $20,000 per hour for your work.” It’s yet another perfect example of why healthcare does not fit the free-market model, and simply cannot ever fit. Healthcare is not an optional service we can simply choose to avoid, and none of us who are not doctors are really qualified to second-guess what our providers tell us. We are not equipped, and in emergency situations do not have the ability to negotiate or shop around.
First Choice Emergency Room is asking the Lewisville City Council to consider a variance to allow them to have a taller sign. Their application states that their lease is up soon on their corporate headquarters in Lewisville, and they’ll consider the Council’s actions when deciding whether to stay or go. Here’s what First Choice said in response to our inquiry:
First Choice Emergency Room does have a pending application into the City requesting a variance for sign height. The request for the variance is a result of tall trees at the site which currently obscure visibility from the street. Our application simply asks for the approval to build a 50' pylon sign (current sign stands at 30') to be visible above the trees, and to ensure people seeking life-saving emergency care can readily locate the facility. The location of the facility is in Lewisville located at 1596 West Main Street; a nearby fast food chain also located on Main Street in Lewisville is an example of a sign that stands 50’ or higher. First Choice Emergency Room is a strong corporate supporter in the community and with our headquarters located in Lewisville, decisions to extend the lease will take into account support from the City.
While I don’t much care about whether the sign is 30 or 50 feet, and would be okay with granting a variance based on the situation, First Choice has a lot of nerve trying to pull this type of extortion. It’s bad enough that freestanding ERs like this increase the healthcare costs for all of us by billing insurance companies non-negotiated rates for service. While they do have nice facilities and see patients quickly, you need to know that you are going to end up paying a bunch more out-of-pocket if you use them. We recommend that you skip the freestanding ER and go to an urgent care clinic for things that are urgent, or the hospital emergency room if you have to. For a true medical emergency, call 911.
The Dallas Morning News has a story that explains some claims that Senator Wendy Davis voted on projects while she was on Fort Worth City Council that indirectly benefitted her employer. Basically, the Council approved economic development agreements for companies, who in a couple of cases used Davis’s employer to handle the title insurance. Davis was paid a flat salary for her work. What is not entirely clear to me is whether one would know whether a certain title company had already been chosen for a deal at the point that the Council would vote on it - which certainly can take place a long time before closing a land sale. While Davis did have the City Attorney's opinion that there was no conflict, it certainly would have avoided the appearance for Davis to abstain on these if she knew her employer would indirectly benefit. I am disappointed in this, but much less so than with Greg Abbott.
Despite the rain last Friday, Lewisville Lake sits at 515.76 feet, or about 6.24 feet low. We really didn't pick up anything in the lake from that last rain. But we sure have enjoyed this cooler weather.
On Saturday, the Lewisville Morning Rotary club invited me to join them for the city’s second-Saturday Household Hazardous Waste event at the Residential Convenience Center. These are a great bunch of people who do a great thing for our city by disposing of things that do not need to go to the landfill. You can see my photos on the LTJ Facebook page. For more information about this event, visit the City of Lewisville website. The next event is Saturday, October 11th. For more info, see the City of Lewisville's website.
Last Monday, the City Council voted to grant an amended permit to Atlas, the operator of the Prologis gas wells on McGee near FM 407. The company is the successor to Titan, which had developed the pad, and did not originally include a permit for a compressor in their original plans. At some point when the wells were not producing at a high enough level to feed the pipeline without compression, they simply installed one, which is what is behind that ugly temporary sound curtain you see at the site now. Rather than go through the process of getting a permit for it, which they knew full well they needed, they thought they would sneak it on. It was discovered during an inspection by one of the city’s oil and gas inspectors. Rather than write a citation and set a timetable to come into compliance with our city’s gas well ordinance, the Fire Marshal tried to work with them to get a permit application from them. Unfortunately that process dragged on for nearly two years, and Council was not informed. Earlier this summer, during a visit with the Fire Marshal, he told me about this issue, but I wasn’t aware at the time that it had gone on as long as it had, or that no citation had been issued.
Long story short, Atlas got suffered no penalty for flouting our city’s ordinance, and got exactly what they wanted on the timetable they wanted. It’s a terrible precedent for our city. I know that our city council members were not pleased with the situation, but in the end, each of them voted to grant the permit. I had asked them to table it, order a citation, shut in the operator, and grant the permit only after it had been adjudicated. To be clear, I have no problem with there being a compressor on that site. I do have a problem with operators thinking they are above our laws. Council met with the City Attorney in closed session for about 1/2 hour prior to this vote, so I can only assume that counsel told them they had few options due to the city’s tacit consent to the compressor, allowing it to run for nearly two years without a permit.
Councilman Ferguson cited the uniqueness of the situation in that the company that did the compressor (Titan) was not the company now stuck with the problem (Atlas). He and I disagree on that point. When Atlas merged with Titan, that did not, and cannot result in the company shedding all of its liabilities and responsibilities. Titan was folded into Atlas, its assets, liabilities, and all. Nevertheless, Ferguson chided Atlas, telling them they got the permit only by the skin of their teeth.
The City Council did direct the City Manager to create an administrative directive to city staff to avoid this type of prolonged situation happening again. I hope that helps, but I do fear the precedent that this has set. I think that the only thing gas operators understand is their profits, and that as a city we’re going to have to demonstrate that we are not afraid to enforce our own ordinance up to and including the $2,000 per day fine, well shut-in, and/or permit revocation. We do not need Lewisville to end up in the same situation as Denton.
NBC 5 has a story about the delays on the Old Town Park Plaza construction. There is not much we can add to this, other than some four-letter words. The last update was that "substantial completion" should be by 9/25, which leaves no buffer for Western Days. There are numerous excuses for the delays - some reasonable, and some that seem dubious. In any case neither city staff nor council are pleased with the progress, and Councilman Tierney wants a complete “investigation” or post-mortem afterwards to make sure everything is understood so that it doesn’t happen again. The dirt pile there across from city hall is now so old that it has its own Facebook page, and has begun posting funny statuses. The Lewisville Leader also has a story about it.
We are looking forward to Western Days though - whether or not the plaza is complete. We won’t have a booth this year, as we’ve had too little time, and not enough money. But I’ll be there taking pictures. I’m not that familiar with the “headliner” Kevin Fowler, but Fluffy and I are fans of Robert Earl Keen, and we’ve seen Thompson Square when they were on tour with Lady Antebellum. The Dallas Morning News posted a list of can’t-miss fall festivals in the area, and Western Days comes in at #13.
Jason Stanford wrote about University of Texas professor Walter Stroup, who argued that Texas’ high-stakes STAAR tests were not being used correctly. By picking a fight with the special interest the state had spent almost half a billion dollars on, Stroup got a target painted on his back. The article is a very long read, but well worth the time if you want to understand why the testing scheme is invalid, and how the testing-industrial complex protects its turf by any means necessary. If you prefer, Diane Ravitch has a shorter summary.
The City of Austin, which has its own municipal power utility, has just decided that by 2030, it will get 60% of its energy from renewables. Nick Cunningham thinks this will be a huge boost to solar providers help Texas become a “solar powerhouse”. Here in Lewisville, we don’t have a publicly-owned electric utility, but the Vision 2025 plan does promote solar energy for city facilities, and for private new construction by implementing the International Green Construction Code, which encourages that.
People continued to post trash complaints on the City of Lewisville Facebook page, so the City has added an online complaint form. You can click “Code Enforcement”, and the two trash-related categories are at the bottom, beneath that.
On October 19th, runners will have the opportunity to run a 5k through Lake Park, or a half-marathon across the Lewisville Dam. Normally people are not allowed on the dam, so this is a rare opportunity to get a breathtaking view of both the lake and the Elm Fork through LLELA. The run benefits Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area. They are also on Facebook here, so you can share this with your friends who run.
More from the "what the heck are they thinking?" department. It's not just that the guy was in uniform; it's that he "wasn't wearing a tie". Wait, what? Once again, school administrators picking incredibly stupid battles. This only comes to light because it affected someone in military uniform, but I suspect it's a major hassle to many other working dads. Ties? You gotta be kidding me. It’s bad enough that schools tend to be arbitrary with dress codes for students, but having a dress code for parents is pretty ridiculous. It's worth noting that the original story from the Fox News local affiliate mentioned the "tie" aspect, but when Fox News picked it up, they left out that part. Apparently, it's okay to be arbitrarily shitty to people, as long as they don't wear the uniform of our nation's armed services.
Political It seems some Republicans just can’t stand having their words exposed to the public. Here’s a journalist arrested for filming a Republican speech - even after she was invited to be there, and had permission to film. In my opinion, if what you say to any group can't be heard by all, then you must have something to hide.
A non-scientific online poll by the Dallas Business Journal finds that 88% of voters favor Wendy Davis for Governor, with just 11% for Greg Abbott, and 1% each for the Green and Libertarian candidates. The real polls tell a different story however, with Rasmussen being the most favorable to Davis, showing her 8 points behind Abbott. The average of all polls has Abbott with a 12 point lead.
We hope everyone is having a great extended Labor Day weekend. It's a great time to think about the contributions of American labor for the things we now take for granted - like weekends, living wages, and workplace safety.
These posts (every week or two) are a chance to share links to various stories elsewhere on the internet that we think might be of interest to our readers. Everything is on-topic for these posts, so feel free to leave a comment if something is on your mind.
The Lewisville ISD Education Foundation is hosting its “Fork and Pencil” fundraiser on Saturday, September 6th. Tickets are $75 per person or $130 per couple. Although the website does a poor job explaining exactly what it is, this is a sort of a gala dinner with live music, and catered by a variety of restaurants. There’s a silent auction too.
The Farmer football game Friday night against Rowlett was disappointing. The Farmers could have pulled off the win, but two bad snaps leading to a blocked punt killed those chances. But you couldn't ask for better weather Friday night, so it was hard to believe it's still August. Here's a Farmer Football Preview
Everything you need to know about trash service in Lewisville is on the city’s website. If you have a complaint about your trash pickup, please call Waste Management at 972.315.5400, because the rest of us are tired of hearing your bitching on social media. We have 22,000 households, and on any given week there will be problems, late pickups, misunderstood rules, etc. If all of them take to bitching on Facebook and Nextdoor, that’s all we’ll ever deal with, and the answer is always the same: Call Waste Management, and let them fix the problem.
In Ferguson, Missouri, court fines and fees add up to about 20% of the city’s budget, giving the city quite an incentive to get people tied up in the justice system. Incredibly, the judge keeps observers out of the court, and sometimes hears cases prior to the scheduled time, or locks the courthouse doors, resulting in people getting penalized for missing a court date.
For the past week, since Taylor Swift released her new single “Shake it Off”, it’s been a constant earworm. Dimensions Dance Company filmed a flash mob dance to this tune at a Lewisville Raising Canes restaurant, which resulted in Ms. Swift “hyperventilating”. If they had just invited me to show off some of my moves, I’m sure she would have needed a paper sack to breathe in.
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.