Editorials

VIEWPOINTS: Ruling in Kleinert case weakens police accountability

VIEWPOINTS: Ruling in Kleinert case weakens police accountability

Last week’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to not take up a case involving a former Austin police officer who fatally shot an African-American man was a huge victory for the officer, ending a saga that began in 2013. For Travis County prosecutors who took the case to the high court in hope of holding Charles Kleinert criminally responsible in the death of Larry Jackson Jr., the ruling was...
VIEWPOINTS: New tax code is harsh on nonprofits. How Texans can help

VIEWPOINTS: New tax code is harsh on nonprofits. How Texans can help

When local, state and federal programs fail to serve Central Texas families and individuals who are the most in need, local nonprofit organizations help fill the gaps by using the generous contributions of those who find value in giving their neighbors a hand up when they need it. The recent federal tax overhaul, however, has nonprofits bracing for a significant decline in contributions because millions...
Viewpoints: TEA needs damage control. It can start with parents’ trust

Viewpoints: TEA needs damage control. It can start with parents’ trust

The Texas Education Agency’s abrupt decision to walk away last month from a special education data-mining project — after defending it for months despite legal and transparency questions — was the right thing to do. Now, the agency, which has been under long-standing pressure to improve special education services, must ensure it does right by students, parents and advocates. The...
Viewpoints Q&A: What’s new for CodeNext in 2018? The City Council gives us answers

Viewpoints Q&A: What’s new for CodeNext in 2018? The City Council gives us answers

CodeNext, which is undergoing its third revision since being rolled out in January 2017, remains controversial, confusing and complex. Given that it aims to overhaul Austin’s cumbersome land-use and zoning regulations, some of that was to be expected. But much of the confusion is self-inflicted. The city marketed CodeNext as a strategic tool in meeting Austin’s ever-increasing demand for...
Viewpoints Q&A, Part I: Casar, Flannigan, Pool, Alter on CodeNext

Viewpoints Q&A, Part I: Casar, Flannigan, Pool, Alter on CodeNext

CodeNext, which is undergoing its third revision since being rolled out in January 2017, remains controversial, confusing and complex. Given that it aims to overhaul Austin’s cumbersome land-use and zoning regulations, some of that was to be expected. But much of the confusion is self-inflicted. The city marketed CodeNext as a strategic tool in meeting Austin’s ever-increasing demand for...
Viewpoints Q&A, Part II: Garza, Renteria and Kitchen on CodeNext

Viewpoints Q&A, Part II: Garza, Renteria and Kitchen on CodeNext

This is the second installment of a three-part series on CodeNext, the overhaul of Austin’s cumbersome land-use and zoning regulations, which has reignited battles between neighborhood groups and developers. Next month, the city is expected to unveil the third CodeNext draft — and officials say that a vote could come in spring, despite looming questions about how the new code would generate...
Viewpoints Q&A, Part III: Adler, Houston and Tovo on CodeNext

Viewpoints Q&A, Part III: Adler, Houston and Tovo on CodeNext

This Q&A with Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Council Member Ora Houston (District 1) and Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo (District 9) are the final installment of a three-part series about CodeNext. The proposed overhaul of Austin’s cumbersome land-use and zoning regulations has reignited battles between neighborhood groups and developers. Next month, the city is expected to unveil the third CodeNext draft...
Viewpoints: The meaning for the season is similar for us all

Viewpoints: The meaning for the season is similar for us all

The signs of the holiday season are everywhere. The festive lights adorning our homes and trees, the bustling stores and shopping malls, the ubiquitous commercials reminding us we have gifts to buy. That’s all fine, but the meaning of the season is much deeper, of course. Even after a year full of headlines about injustices, tragedies, bloodshed and disasters, the spirit of the season shines...
VIEWPOINTS: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

VIEWPOINTS: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

Every year around Christmas, the American-Statesman looks back on a beloved holiday tradition — the sharing of the most-reprinted letter to the editor in American journalism history. It is our hope that republishing the letter will remind us all of innocence, hope and magic. Penned in September 1897 by Virginia O’Hanlon, an 8-year-old girl who was curious about the existence of Santa Claus...
VIEWPOINTS: The meaning for the season is similar for us all

VIEWPOINTS: The meaning for the season is similar for us all

The signs of the holiday season are everywhere. The festive lights adorning our homes and trees, the bustling stores and shopping malls, the ubiquitous commercials reminding us we have gifts to buy. That’s all fine, but the meaning of the season is much deeper, of course. Even after a year full of headlines about injustices, tragedies, bloodshed and disasters, the spirit of the season shines...
Viewpoints: Why Austin voters may have the last say in MLS turf deal

Viewpoints: Why Austin voters may have the last say in MLS turf deal

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...
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...
In Khizr Khan’s inspirational story, a mighty river flows

In Khizr Khan’s inspirational story, a mighty river flows

Khizr Khan, father of fallen U.S. Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan, speaks as his wife Ghazala listens at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 28, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Maybe sometimes it takes a stranger to remind us of our greatness and of the things we hold dear as a nation, but which we take for granted. Maybe it takes someone like Khizr...
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...
Viewpoints: City should not overlook Austin ISD in CodeNext talks

Viewpoints: City should not overlook Austin ISD in CodeNext talks

“We need a seat at the table.” That is the message the Austin Independent School District is sending to the city of Austin with a proposed resolution regarding CodeNext that trustees are expected to approve Monday. A firm statement outlining the district’s position on CodeNext is needed because city officials thus far have overlooked – if not ignored — Austin ISD&rsquo...
Viewpoints: How Texas should start assessing dam safety across state

Viewpoints: How Texas should start assessing dam safety across state

Texas has made progress in addressing dam safety — there is no doubt. But more needs to be done to keep Texans who live near dams safe. Twenty years after the Austin American-Statesman reported on widespread shortcomings in dam safety, another Statesman investigation by Ralph K.M. Haurwitz published last week found hundreds of dams in Texas remain at risk of failure. It also found that, as more...
Viewpoints: Voters show overwhelming support for modern Austin schools

Viewpoints: Voters show overwhelming support for modern Austin schools

If last Tuesday’s election were a football game, Team Austin Independent School District would have spiked the ball with the numbers it put up in passing a $1.05 billion bond package: The bond, the largest ever approved by voters in Central Texas, won with 72 percent of the vote. Superintendent Paul Cruz described the election as historic, saying “The winners are our students.” He...
Viewpoints: Austin should release names of city manager candidates

Viewpoints: Austin should release names of city manager candidates

Highly paid executives hiding their faces from the public or ducking in and out of doors at the Hilton Austin Airport Hotel. Reporters and photographers conducting stakeouts to catch glimpses of applicants for the job of Austin city manager. Concealing candidate interviews by moving them to an undisclosed location at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in a conference room blocked from the...
Viewpoints: Make your voice heard on two Travis County ballot items

Viewpoints: Make your voice heard on two Travis County ballot items

Judging by early voting results so far, Austin voters have not flocked to the polls to weigh in on the Austin Independent School District’s $1.05 billion bond package on the Nov. 7 ballot, despite ample news coverage and talk on social media about it. Nor have they moved in masses to cast ballots on Travis County $184.9 million bond package, though it contains measures for roads and parks, both...
Viewpoints: Road, drainage fixes needed — but parks can wait

Viewpoints: Road, drainage fixes needed — but parks can wait

On Nov. 7, as Austin school district voters consider a tough choice to approve a $1.05 billion bond package — which this editorial board has endorsed — voters throughout Travis County will also be considering a $184.9 million bond package for roads, drainage and parks that would increase the property tax burden. Unlike the Austin school bonds, which will pass or fail on one ballot issue...
Viewpoints: Austin ISD bond puts kids on track for 21st century jobs

Viewpoints: Austin ISD bond puts kids on track for 21st century jobs

Austin Independent School District voters face a rock-and-hard-place decision regarding the school district’s $1.05 billion bond proposition. The rock is rising property tax bills that are pounding their wallets. Voters’ tax bills will rise even more if they approve the single proposition on the Nov. 7 ballot. The hard place is the poor state of many Austin ISD facilities and obsolete...
Viewpoints: Push pause button on CodeNext until concerns are addressed

Viewpoints: Push pause button on CodeNext until concerns are addressed

With their recent actions to spend millions of dollars above the project’s original cost and plow on with a third draft of CodeNext in the face of mounting public skepticism, Austin City Council members are signaling that it’s more important to meet a self-imposed deadline than do due diligence and build public confidence. However well-intentioned, that is no way to tackle or complete...
Viewpoints: Texas should keep promise to Harvey-hit school districts

Viewpoints: Texas should keep promise to Harvey-hit school districts

State officials have promised Hurricane Harvey-affected school districts – some of which have yet to reopen their doors – that Texas will be there to help them rebuild safe and healthy communities for students and educators. It’s imperative that state leaders deliver on their promise to those most affected by Harvey’s epic destruction. Texas can’t afford to cut corners...
Viewpoints: Central Texas has incentives — but what can Amazon return?

Viewpoints: Central Texas has incentives — but what can Amazon return?

With the deadline approaching, Austin and Central Texas leaders are scrambling to put together a proposal for wooing Amazon to the region, knowing they are competing against upwards of 200 cities in the U.S. and Canada for a project so huge — $5 billion — it’s considered an economic transformer for the community that lands it. It’s no wonder then that the competition has turned...
Viewpoints: City should define ‘affordable housing’ in CodeNext talks

Viewpoints: City should define ‘affordable housing’ in CodeNext talks

Like its predecessor, the second draft of CodeNext — the city’s proposed overhaul of its land-use and zoning code — largely has been sold as a way of increasing affordable housing for residents who cannot find homes in Austin’s hot housing market. But does it live up to its hype? The answers are elusive in large part because the “affordable housing” label has morphed...
Viewpoints: Young would-be voters should learn value of their ballots

Viewpoints: Young would-be voters should learn value of their ballots

When the time comes to teach kids about voting, Austin High School government teachers Rolando Duarte and Stephanie Harris provide students with a robust, engaging lesson plan that includes voter registration drives, schoolwide mock elections and daily conversations about current events and hot-button issues. Their approach, studies suggest, help build the foundation for a habit-voting citizen. Unfortunately...
Viewpoints: Council has chance to help homeless, give to preservation

Viewpoints: Council has chance to help homeless, give to preservation

In the world of politics, the win-win deal tends to be more elusive than tangible. That is true in Washington and too often in Austin, in which a majority of Austin’s 10-1 City Council frequently flattens a minority. On Thursday, however, the public might well see a win-win if council members approve Mayor Steve Adler’s so-called “Downtown Puzzle” plan. They should. We offer...
Viewpoints: Taxing districts can stop sticker shock by collaborating

Viewpoints: Taxing districts can stop sticker shock by collaborating

With each passing year, as the appraised values of Austin homes increase, homeowners receive a higher property tax bill than the year before. That’s become the norm. Yet, every year, the mixed messages sent by taxing jurisdictions contribute to the sticker shock property owners experience when they receive their tax bill. When setting budgets — and the tax rates that finance them &mdash...
Viewpoints: Who do Texas leaders call for disaster aid? Big government

Viewpoints: Who do Texas leaders call for disaster aid? Big government

As Texas attorney general, Gov. Greg Abbott bragged that a typical day was to wake up in the morning, sue the federal government and go home. Then do the same thing the next day. It was a line that garnered big laughs and applause in Republican circles that shared Abbott’s cynicism and scorn of big government’s regulatory authority over states. But in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey...
Viewpoints: Congress should stand by Dreamers, grant them legal status

Viewpoints: Congress should stand by Dreamers, grant them legal status

Since 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has protected young undocumented immigrants raised and educated in this country from deportation and granted them work visas. That could very well come to an end by early next year. If it does, the threat of deportation once again will hang over the heads of potentially hundreds of thousands of people. The Obama-era program was always...
Viewpoints: City should look to proven models to address homelessness

Viewpoints: City should look to proven models to address homelessness

When it comes to Austin’s homeless population, advocates agree something must be done to get more people off the streets. They also all agree that it takes a lot of money to get the job done. That’s pretty much where the agreements end as various groups jockey over the best ways to help the homeless. Though some argue that the solution requires more permanent and transitional housing,...
Viewpoints: Council should consider both plans for convention center

Viewpoints: Council should consider both plans for convention center

With so much at stake, including potentially tens of millions of dollars to address homelessness and funding for cultural arts, music and preservation projects — all without adding a dime to homeowners’ tax bills – the Austin City Council should not shut the door on the mayor’s “Downtown Puzzle.” Mayor Steve Adler’s puzzle plan has drawn competition that if...
Viewpoints: Relocating Confederate statues to UT museum was right move

Viewpoints: Relocating Confederate statues to UT museum was right move

The University of Texas’ reputation for being among the finest universities in the world is born at least in part to its commitment to diversity. Until Monday, however, a stroll through the school’s main lawn brought reminders of the South’s complicated history, a past entwined with the ugliness of Jim Crow, segregation and slavery. Now some of those reminders are gone. At last....
From Cornyn, a border security plan less Trumpian, more Texas-friendly

From Cornyn, a border security plan less Trumpian, more Texas-friendly

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn points to a poster with an image of barrier on the Texas-Mexico border as he announces his border security plan Thursday on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo) For President Trump, a border wall is a signature piece of his domestic agenda, of such magnitude to him politically that he fumed with Mexican President Peña Nieto and pleaded with him...
Viewpoints: It’s time for Rep. Dawnna Dukes to step down

Viewpoints: It’s time for Rep. Dawnna Dukes to step down

Twice now, Rep. Dawnna Dukes has rejected offers by the Travis County District Attorney’s office to drop a corruption case against her in exchange for Dukes’ resignation. She first rejected then-DA Rosemary Lehmberg’s offer in September. On Tuesday, she did the same with DA Margaret Moore’s deal. Dukes, who has denied any wrongdoing, now heads to court in October to face 13...
Viewpoints: Federal housing cuts will further hurt Texas’ working poor

Viewpoints: Federal housing cuts will further hurt Texas’ working poor

It takes a village made up of folks from the nonprofit world and the private and public sectors to address Austin’s lack of low-income affordable housing. In Austin, as in Texas and the U.S., the affordable housing village relies on a variety of funding sources to get the job done. The sources – from federal vouchers that help subsidize rent, to corporate tax credits for projects to create...
As Trump pulls back on a border wall, some aren’t pleased

As Trump pulls back on a border wall, some aren’t pleased

A boy runs up toward the U.S. border fence from his backyard in San Benito in June. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald via AP) Like the twisting Rio Grande, President Trump’s position on a border wall is changing course. The president, who made the promise of a “big, beautiful border wall” one of the cornerstone promises of his campaign, significantly ...

Viewpoints: Central Texas pushing back against state, federal policies

With recent news of President Donald Trump’s retreat on the landmark Paris climate agreement and the U.S. Justice Department teaming up with the state of Texas to force Austin and Travis County to obey Senate Bill 4 — which local law enforcement says would make Austin less safe — there is good reason to fret. That is especially true, given that Gov. Greg Abbott has called a special...
Viewpoints: Why Senate should go back to drawing board for health bill

Viewpoints: Why Senate should go back to drawing board for health bill

Senate Republicans promised to write a different – if not better — health care bill after the House delivered its widely criticized attempt at an Affordable Care Act repeal in May. Instead, the Mitch McConnell-led Senate proposes much of the same: a bill, named the Better Care Reconciliation Act, that would provide tax breaks for the wealthy and would hit even harder than the House version...
Viewpoints: Legislature should end illusion and provide real tax cuts

Viewpoints: Legislature should end illusion and provide real tax cuts

To successfully pull off their stunts and tricks before audiences, great magicians employ the art of misdirection. The same is true for some politicians, such as Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has crafted a clever misdirection in the form of Senate Bill 2. Patrick, a Houston Republican, claims the measure “would bring about the largest property tax reform in history,” and in so doing...
Viewpoints: AISD trustees should take more time to call bond election

Viewpoints: AISD trustees should take more time to call bond election

The Austin school board on Monday is expected to call for a November election on a bond package that at least for now totals nearly $1.1 billion and is clouded by uncertainty. Trustees should delay the vote. Several factors warrant slowing the process. Some projects the board is weighing, such as relocating Eastside Memorial High School to the Old Anderson campus and creating a new medical magnet...
The trouble with Trump’s bragging

The trouble with Trump’s bragging

President Donald Trump attends a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House June 12. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images) Some of the worst advice I ever got came from my father.
Viewpoints: CPS leaders should focus on stability to build on progress

Viewpoints: CPS leaders should focus on stability to build on progress

Some of the long-sought changes necessary to overhaul the state’s embattled child protection agency — such as more staff and better pay — are steadily but slowly taking shape. But agency leaders must not lose sight of those who stand to have the greatest impact on improving care for some of the state’s most troubled children: its staff members. The latest sign of overhaul at...
Abbott’s target on individuality of cities is anti-Texan

Abbott’s target on individuality of cities is anti-Texan

Here we go again. The Texas Legislature’s assault on cities is headed for another round. With a few choice words last week, Gov. Greg Abbott summoned legislators back for another session in July, taking aim at local control and delivering another political punch at the very entities that greatly contribute to the economic success of Texas — its large cities. “I’m calling for...
Viewpoints: Austin took punches from Legislature — but not all was bad

Viewpoints: Austin took punches from Legislature — but not all was bad

Texas Republicans proved once again this legislative session that local control is not as sacred an issue as they claim. Instead, a GOP-led Legislature passed measures that overrule cities’ home rule and open the door for future state interference on a host of local issues big and small. The state’s overreach threatens to harm long-fought efforts by previous lawmakers and local and business...
Legislature endangers all Texas children with ‘bathroom bill’ myopia

Legislature endangers all Texas children with ‘bathroom bill’ myopia

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Senate Republicans would have us believe that few issues require the immediate attention of state lawmakers more than regulating which bathrooms transgender Texans can use. Such urgency for a manufactured problem conjured by Republicans has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with mandating the type of bathrooms transgender Texans, including students, can use in...
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