Commentary

Commentary: How housing costs are changing Central Texas’ demographics

Commentary: How housing costs are changing Central Texas’ demographics

The demographic trends in Texas are clear: The combination of a youthful Latino population and an aging white population has led to Latino dominance in the state’s population growth. Between 2006 and 2016, the Latino population grew six times more rapidly than the white population. Of the nearly 4.4 million persons added to the Texas population during this period, 57 percent are Latino, while...
Herman: A Texas town weirder than Austin?

Herman: A Texas town weirder than Austin?

Yes, we all know that Austin is the righteous and rightful center of the universe and there’s not much reason to care about what goes on in the lesser world around us. But I think it’s healthy to periodically glance outward beyond the Superiorplex and see what’s going on elsewhere in Texas, especially when the goings-on going on in other towns rival our town’s weirdness. So...
Commentary: Why Jerusalem policy makes art of the deal hard for Trump

Commentary: Why Jerusalem policy makes art of the deal hard for Trump

Fifty years ago, former U.S. Consul General to Jerusalem, Evan Wilson, penned a memoire entitled “Jerusalem: Key to Peace,” in which he argued the multifaceted reasons why that city’s status will ultimately determine whether a Palestinian-Israeli peace is attainable. The closest the U.S. ever came to achieving peace — the Barak-Arafat negotiations in the twilight of President...
Commentary: For the sake of Dreamers, don’t fall for the ‘Cornyn con’

Commentary: For the sake of Dreamers, don’t fall for the ‘Cornyn con’

Over the next two weeks, immigrant youth from across the country will double down on their efforts to call on Congress to pass the DREAM Act before the end of the year. In Texas, young immigrants have been marching and making calls, demanding that our state’s delegation do the right thing and support the more than 120,000 so-called Dreamers who claim the Lone Star State as their home. The fight...
Commentary: Failure to fund research is a failure to support Texas

Commentary: Failure to fund research is a failure to support Texas

Congress recently passed another fractious short-term measure to avert a government shutdown. This piecemeal approach to federal spending is not good for our local Texas economy, nor is it a viable solution for the entire nation. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn is in a position to set things right. A long-term deal is needed to reduce constraints impacting basic research funding under the Budget Control Act...
Commentary: Why congressional tax plans would crush scholarship funds

Commentary: Why congressional tax plans would crush scholarship funds

Today, U.S. government leaders have enormous decisions to make about tax reform. Their choices will affect the future of our students and our universities. If the proposed policies are put in place, the ability of Texas students — both now and in the future — to earn life-changing degrees will be compromised. We are the presidents of two universities in Texas — one public, one private...
Commentary: End Texas’ long history of abusing juveniles in detention

Commentary: End Texas’ long history of abusing juveniles in detention

Ten years ago, I published a commentary in this newspaper on the physical and sexual abuse of youth in Texas’ juvenile correctional facilities. Noting that adult officials had participated in or sanctioned the abuse of youth placed in their care, I warned that the state had traveled this path several times before. Today’s reports sadly echo the lurid inventory of abuses that has characterized...
Ruben Navarrette Jr.: Dreamers: Don’t let Democrats fool you

Ruben Navarrette Jr.: Dreamers: Don’t let Democrats fool you

SAN DIEGO — So Democrats are now the saviors of the Dreamers? How in the world did that happen? For those of us who have paid close attention to the immigration debate over the last couple decades, it’s surreal watching Democrats in Congress threaten to go to the mattresses for a legislative fix that protects undocumented young people. After all, when Democrats had the chance to get Dreamers...
David Brooks: The glory of democracy

David Brooks: The glory of democracy

In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and Communism fell with it. Liberal democracy seemed triumphant. Democracies sprouted in Central Europe. Apartheid fell in South Africa. The Oslo process seemed to herald peace in the Middle East. Then it all went bad. Tribalism and authoritarianism are now on the march while the number of democracies declines. Far worse has been the degradation of democracies, especially...
Herman: Why Blake Farenthold should step down now

Herman: Why Blake Farenthold should step down now

A bit late, U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, told us Thursday he didn’t know how to run a congressional office when he won the job in 2010. It’s kind of too bad he didn’t tell us that back then or during his latter three successful races for the office. The overdue admission came as he announced he’s changed his mind and will not seek a fifth term. Good call, Farenthold...
Viewpoints: Trading Austin park for MLS stadium should go to voters

Viewpoints: Trading Austin park for MLS stadium should go to voters

In setting the table for Major League Soccer coming to Austin, we offer this advice to Precourt Sports Ventures, which owns Columbus Crew SC: Don’t pretend Central Texans don’t drive; don’t be stingy with community benefits; and let Austin residents vote. Certainly, it’s easy to envision MLS in Austin’s core. Soccer is the kind of sport that fits with the city’s...
Commentary: How Hanukkah has changed in the U.S.

Commentary: How Hanukkah has changed in the U.S.

The Jewish holiday Hanukkah is upon us, and to mark the eight-day holiday, dignitaries will gather to light the National Menorah across from the White House, and families will light their own nine-armed menorahs, known as Hanukkiot, one candle per day for eight days. Although Hanukkah today is one of the most popular and recognizable of Jewish holidays in the minds of non-Jews, this is only a relatively...
TWO VIEWS: Why leaving CodeNext in voters’ hands is a leap of faith

TWO VIEWS: Why leaving CodeNext in voters’ hands is a leap of faith

Should you and I, as residents of Austin, have a say on CodeNext, the first major rewrite of Austin’s land development code in 30 years? Yes. Should you and I, as registered voters of Austin, get to vote on CodeNext, the most important policy question facing our city in at least five years? No. Proponents of a CodeNext referendum claim that it would be more democratic and would lead to a more...
TWO VIEWS: CodeNext will test Austin’s talk about community inclusion

TWO VIEWS: CodeNext will test Austin’s talk about community inclusion

CodeNext may be exhausting, but rewriting our land use laws from 1984 is our opportunity to decide what kind of city we want to be. We’ve all seen friends leave for cities where it’s easier to build a good life for their families, but we’ve never truly reckoned with the fact that our government strongly shapes who gets to live where. We’ve consistently used that power to make...
Commentary: Police contract doesn’t do enough to change what’s wrong

Commentary: Police contract doesn’t do enough to change what’s wrong

Lack of transparency combined with toothless oversight. As an environmentalist, I’ve fought this formula when industry is damaging our environment in its pursuit of profit. But today, I’m speaking about the Austin Police Association. The Austin City Council will soon vote on a proposed 5-year contract with the APA that just isn’t good enough for the price we will all pay. And it...
Commentary: Your new home in the country comes with new billboards

Commentary: Your new home in the country comes with new billboards

When their workdays end in Austin, Lawrence and Monica Willis make the 20-mile trip home to near Driftwood. They drive South MoPac Boulevard, cross Texas 45 and begin the final lap along FM 1826. “All of a sudden you’re in the country,” says Lawrence, 48. “We live in a corridor to the Hill Country.” Right now, Lawrence and Monica, 45, have unobstructed views of the Hill...
Herman: The 2018 Texas primary matchups worth watching

Herman: The 2018 Texas primary matchups worth watching

Now that we know the fields, let’s look for the fun. Monday was the filing deadline for the March primaries. Seems like we’ve got some potentially interesting/entertaining races. Hurray for us. Let’s see what’s going to be worth keeping an eye on. Atop the list is the possibility that the Democrats could lose their own gubernatorial primary. Let me explain. Ten candidates have...
TWO VIEWS: Why 2017 is the year of obscenity in Texas and America

TWO VIEWS: Why 2017 is the year of obscenity in Texas and America

The year 2017 began on Oct. 7. The calendars may claim Jan. 1st as the first day of a new year. Here, near the end of this one, we know better. The year really began the day a video was released in which Donald Trump bragged that he was so famous he could abuse women at will. “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything…grab ‘em by the…,” Trump...
TWO VIEWS: This was the year Texas bucked restrictive local policies

TWO VIEWS: This was the year Texas bucked restrictive local policies

Over the past 12 months, Texas’ public policy landscape has undergone some big changes, especially when it comes to local governance. Take the issue of local control, for example. For years, powerful special interest groups representing cities, counties, and school districts at the Capitol have advanced their interests by arguing that local control is sacrosanct. This view suggests that local...
Commentary: Obamacare will die without the individual mandate

Commentary: Obamacare will die without the individual mandate

As Congress debates getting rid of the individual mandate to buy health insurance to better afford a tax overhaul, I’m reminded of one of the mandate’s leading advocates — Uwe Reinhardt, one of the greatest minds in health care economics. In 2009, as Congress was debating the Affordable Care Act, he was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air. She asked him about the...
Juan Castillo: In Khizr Khan’s story, a mighty river flows

Juan Castillo: In Khizr Khan’s story, a mighty river flows

Maybe sometimes it takes a stranger to remind us of greatness and of the things we hold dear as a nation, but which we take for granted. Maybe it takes someone like Khizr Khan, a Pakistani immigrant who chased his American dream and is living it. You remember Khan. At the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016, the Gold Star father of a Muslim U.S. soldier killed in combat in Iraq...
Herman: Hancock Drive isn’t named for whom you might think it is

Herman: Hancock Drive isn’t named for whom you might think it is

Recently, in an error rectified by officialdom, I noted that an overpass on MoPac Boulevard erroneously referred to “HANCOCK RD” instead of “HANCOCK DR” All of us longer-term Austinites know Hancock is a Drive not a Road, as well as golf course, neighborhood and shopping center. And we know that all of the above are named for Lewis Hancock, Austin’s mayor from 1895 to...
Proposed police contract advances transparency, accountability

Proposed police contract advances transparency, accountability

Austin community activists and city council members have been open and passionate regarding the new, proposed police employment contract. While police union officials point to the 18 months spent in negotiations and the concessions they’ve made to the city, many community activists point in the opposite direction with concerns of transparency and accountability. No one should become alarmed...
MoPac express lane benefits will be many and lasting

MoPac express lane benefits will be many and lasting

If you’re one of the thousands of drivers who use MoPac every day, I hope you’ve noticed the difference north of Lady Bird Lake. Such as an additional express lane giving commuters a choice for a more reliable means of getting to points between Parmer Lane and Cesar Chavez. A lane where CapMetro transit riders can travel in the express lane without paying a toll. Or the improved pavement...
John Young: Deposing the Lyin’ King

John Young: Deposing the Lyin’ King

President Donald Trump’s rally in Missouri was a set-piece of distortion about taxes and the economy that “compounded his growing legacy of false tales on Twitter …” Those weren’t the opening lines from some loser liberal commentator. They were from the Associated Press. The editors at AP at some point realized that their job wasn’t just to report what newsmakers...
Commentary: An apology, and a call for a second chance

Commentary: An apology, and a call for a second chance

For the better part of the past two years, I looked with skepticism at the whole Facility Master Plan process and what it meant for East and Northeast Austin, particularly in terms of equity for my district, District 1. Although I voted against the FMP for reasons related to my concerns about equity, I ultimately supported the $1 billion school bond proposition when it became painfully apparent that...
Viewpoints: Cruz must do more to fix trust damaged from closure plans

Viewpoints: Cruz must do more to fix trust damaged from closure plans

We welcome Austin Independent School District Superintendent Paul Cruz’s efforts to assuage concerns and fears that several East Austin schools will be closed or consolidated by next August based on timelines the district established without input from the people most affected by the potential closures. “I realize the excitement and eagerness to work coupled with aggressive project timelines...
Viewpoints: CapMetro needs to avoid secrecy in its search for new CEO

Viewpoints: CapMetro needs to avoid secrecy in its search for new CEO

Capital Metro board members are doing what they can to keep from the public the names of candidates vying to be the transit agency’s next president and CEO. We’ve seen this type of maneuvering to hide candidates’ names before, and we urge board members not go down that road again. Seven years ago, the last time the Capital Metro leader’s post was open, the agency wouldn&rsquo...
Herman: Andrew White launches bid to return to Governor’s Mansion

Herman: Andrew White launches bid to return to Governor’s Mansion

A Houston businessman on Thursday announced plans to move back into the Austin home in which he lived as a kid until the people of Texas threw his family out. His mom, Linda Gale White, who also lived in that house, sat in the front row, led the applause and had tears in her eyes when it was over. Linda Gale White says she’d love to spend some more time in that home, this time as a grandmother...
Herman: Lupe Valdez, off and running

Herman: Lupe Valdez, off and running

If Wendy Davis’ unsuccessful 2014 Democratic gubernatorial campaign began with hoopla — and it did when she revved up juiced-up supporters in a crowded coliseum near Fort Worth — Lupe Valdez’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign began in downtown Austin Wednesday with what we’ll charitably call hooplo. Valdez’s announcement came in a meeting room near Texas Democratic Party...
Commentary: Why Austin’s new Central Library is a vision for the future

Commentary: Why Austin’s new Central Library is a vision for the future

The Austin Public Library recently opened its spectacular facility with much fanfare to respond to a diversity of needs in the Austin community. Transformed from a traditional library filled with books and other sources of information including media, the new open design sets itself apart as a new standard to address user needs in the 21st century. The timing of the opening of the new Austin Pubic...
Commentary: Gerrymandering and the great Texas property tax swindle

Commentary: Gerrymandering and the great Texas property tax swindle

When the Texas Legislature meets to redraw our congressional districts after the 2020 Census, they’ll have more computing horsepower at their fingertips than Neil Armstrong had when he landed on the moon. Big data, the likes of which Eldridge Gerry and the good people of Massachusetts could never have imagined in the 1800s, will be used by the Republican-controlled Legislature to draw political...
Herman: A nontraditional gubernatorial candidate

Herman: A nontraditional gubernatorial candidate

Good morning, class. From the following list, please choose the one you’d least expect the Great State of Texas to be the first state to do. Remember, we’re looking for the one you’d least expect Texas to be the first to do: 1. Officially recognize football as a religion. 2. Make it illegal to be poor. 3. Declare education optional. 4. Make football the official religion of...
Commentary: Why the ‘attack’ on Christmas is an American fallacy

Commentary: Why the ‘attack’ on Christmas is an American fallacy

“If one more person says ‘Happy Holidays’ to me, I just might slap them. Either tell me ‘Merry Christmas’ or just don’t say anything.” So went a festive holiday message Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller made on Facebook a couple of years ago. Non-Christians can stop reading here, as this message is not aimed at you. Instead, I would like my Christian...
Commentary: How Austin could atone for policies that harm the homeless

Commentary: How Austin could atone for policies that harm the homeless

Imagine that you are an employer deciding between two people who seem equally qualified for a job you are offering. However, when examining criminal records, one person has a clean report but the other has seven convictions. You end the interview and hire the chap who’s “clean.” Now, imagine you are a landlord. The same two people are before you — and both have sufficient funds...
Jack Hunter: Fear mongering over GOP tax plan is getting ridiculous

Jack Hunter: Fear mongering over GOP tax plan is getting ridiculous

In 2013, Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said on the House floor of Obamacare, “let’s repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens!” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham once said that a failure by the U.S. to go to war with Syria would result in Charleston, South Carolina being nuked. Donald Trump said last year, “Thousands...
TWO VIEWS: Austin sick-leave policy pushes entrepreneurs to suburbs

TWO VIEWS: Austin sick-leave policy pushes entrepreneurs to suburbs

Once again, the Austin City Council is overreaching on an issue that was never intended to be governed at the municipal level. And, once again, Austin businesses will pay the price if they choose to keep their businesses here. When the City Council decided to require Austin businesses to provide paid sick leave to all employees, it also further decided that Austin isn’t a place where businesses...
TWO VIEWS: Sick-leave policy lifts struggling workers, city’s economy

TWO VIEWS: Sick-leave policy lifts struggling workers, city’s economy

The restaurant industry has been instrumental in educating consumers about the health and environmental benefits of sustainably farmed produce and humanely raised animals; we believe it is time for us to catch up to other sectors with how we pay our employees and what benefits we provide. Because our employees are consumers as well as workers, we believe that providing good jobs in an industry that...
Commentary: Why toll lanes for I-35 are the wrong solution

Commentary: Why toll lanes for I-35 are the wrong solution

What part of “no” do some public officials not understand? Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick put the kibosh on more toll lanes for several Texas Department of Transportation projects, including Interstate 35. Almost immediately, state Sen. Kirk Watson and other area politicians cried foul. They insist that state money simply isn’t available to build all the free highway lanes...
Letters to the editor: Dec. 3, 2017

Letters to the editor: Dec. 3, 2017

Re: Nov. 28 article, “Gov. Abbott taps legal adviser for Texas Supreme Court.” Did I read that right? Chuck Lindell quotes Gov. Abbott as saying of his appointee to the Texas Supreme Court: “I wanted to make sure that the person I appointed was going to make decisions that I know how they are going to decide.” That, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with our current crop of so-called...
Herman: The guy you think is Charles Maund in the Toyota ads isn’t

Herman: The guy you think is Charles Maund in the Toyota ads isn’t

In the oft-wacky world of auto dealer TV ads, the ones featuring Mr. and Mrs. Charles Maund — stars of the high-rotation ads for their local Toyota store — are less annoying than some and more annoying than others. Some folks might find the Maunds entertaining. Some might find them grating. And some may find them omnipresent. I see them often while watching local TV news. And I see them...
Viewpoints: Congress must keep health insurance for CHIP kids

Viewpoints: Congress must keep health insurance for CHIP kids

About 400,000 Texas children and thousands of pregnant women are in danger of being tossed from their health coverage for no good reason — other than Congress is dragging its feet in reauthorizing the hugely successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). By late-December, state health officials will send families letters informing them they will lose CHIP coverage by about the...
Why we can safely assume Michael Flynn has flipped

Why we can safely assume Michael Flynn has flipped

It’s very likely that President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser and close confidante is now a confidante of an investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russians to meddle in the election. There’s one reason - one criminal charge, actually - that lets us safely assume Michael Flynn switched sides: He pleaded guilty to one charge of lying to...
Viewpoints: ‘Tis season for new traditions, helping neighbors in need

Viewpoints: ‘Tis season for new traditions, helping neighbors in need

Traditions this time of year are bountiful. Trimming Christmas trees, lighting the menorah, watching holiday films, and exchanging gifts are some of the many familiar rituals of the holiday season. Since 1999, one of our favorite traditions — and that of many Central Texans — is giving to Season for Caring, the American-Statesman’s annual charity campaign. Through their donations...
Viewpoints: Congress must keep health insurance for CHIP kids

Viewpoints: Congress must keep health insurance for CHIP kids

About 400,000 Texas children and thousands of pregnant women are in danger of being tossed from their health coverage for no good reason — other than Congress is dragging its feet in reauthorizing the hugely successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). By late-December, state health officials will send families letters informing them they will lose CHIP coverage by about the...
Herman: Ag commish Sid Miller links opponent to Nutella banana crepes

Herman: Ag commish Sid Miller links opponent to Nutella banana crepes

In this crazy, convoluted, contentious, carved-up world in which we live, there sadly is so much that divides so many of us. But when you get past factors like religion, ethnicity, international borders and whether you love or hate the Dallas Cowboys, you realize the planet’s 7.5 billion residents are divided into only two major tribes: those who laugh with Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid...
Herman: Is this South Lamar holiday greeting vulgar or good cheer?

Herman: Is this South Lamar holiday greeting vulgar or good cheer?

Noah Marion insists the holiday message prominently posted on the streetside sign outside his South Lamar Boulevard business is meant to be the sincerest of seasonal greetings. Others see otherwise. Marion’s Work Coffee Co. has been there, along with Noah Marion Quality Goods, which makes and sells leather goods, for four years. It’s drawn some positive Yelp reviews. In August, a Yelp...
Commentary: Why Austin city leaders should invest in public safety

Commentary: Why Austin city leaders should invest in public safety

As one of the fastest growing cities in the country, Austin also ranks as one of the safest cities in the U.S. But that didn’t happen by accident. Our community’s safety is largely due to the decisions by previous City Councils to invest in a police department of the highest quality. As more people move to Austin, we cannot pull back on this investment. If anything, we need to work harder...
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