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Editorials

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...
New hospital promising; leaders now must avoid another two-tier system

New hospital promising; leaders now must avoid another two-tier system

Welcome, Austin’s newest hospital, Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas. The hospital, which opens today, is the result of years of planning, generous donations and a 2012 proposition approved by voters that steered $54 million in property taxes to health care projects, including $35 million for a medical school. That proposition was delivered on a promise that Central Health...
Austin school district voters need choices for bonds, not an ultimatum

Austin school district voters need choices for bonds, not an ultimatum

We urge Austin school district trustees to craft a bond package that is transparent, efficient and equitable and avoid waging an all-or-nothing gamble that might backfire with voters and leave schools — some in deep disrepair — in the lurch. Unfortunately, some school leaders seem headed in that direction by leaning toward a bond package on the Nov. 7 ballot that would offer voters a single...
Commentary: Texas House members have chance to save open government

Commentary: Texas House members have chance to save open government

Keeping our Texas Public Information Act operating effectively takes effort. That’s why open government advocates have worked with public officials and businesses over the past year to fine-tune the landmark state law. Transparency legislation resulting from these work sessions emerged out of frank discussions – and with an understanding that some compromise is necessary. Now, state lawmakers...
As SB4 legal fight looms, all Texans could suffer

As SB4 legal fight looms, all Texans could suffer

Reason is a guiding principle in any productive government. But where was reason when Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law one of the most divisive and intrusive pieces of Texas legislation in recent history: Senate Bill 4, banning so-called sanctuary cities? The new law, which takes effect Sept. 1, allows local law enforcement to question a person’s immigration status during a detainment, which...
UT pledges to fix alerts, but more focus needed on preventing danger

UT pledges to fix alerts, but more focus needed on preventing danger

The University of Texas, shaken to its core again by violence and death, has more work to do in improving campus safety. It’s a challenge that requires cooperation of police, administrators and students. Last week, first-year student Harrison Brown, 19, was fatally stabbed in an attack police say was committed by a fellow student. The suspect, biology junior Kendrex J. White, 21, also is accused...
Bonds will help local school districts with growth

Bonds will help local school districts with growth

Saturday is Election Day for several Central Texas school districts and cities. Though the date may have escaped the minds of many, as is often the case in nonpresidential elections, it is an important one with important local issues on the ballots. They range from selecting the next mayor to deciding on school bonds and choosing local school board members. As Central Texas continues to grow, more...
Reasons, voices opposing ban on sanctuary city outweighed support

Reasons, voices opposing ban on sanctuary city outweighed support

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday May 1, 2017. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN Gov. Greg Abbott made it clear soon after taking office in January 2015 that eliminating so-called sanctuary cities was one of his priorities for the 85th Texas Legislature.
Largest Round Rock ISD bond vote calls for big choices from taxpayers

Largest Round Rock ISD bond vote calls for big choices from taxpayers

Round Rock Independent School District taxpayers will head to the polls Saturday to vote on a $572.1 million bond package that school leaders say will help the district address its ongoing growth issues. Half a billion dollars is not chump change, but the district makes a fair request, given its needs. Through the district’s bond referendum, Round Rock will be able to simultaneously address...
For Texas, judging Trump’s 100 days means more than counting wins

For Texas, judging Trump’s 100 days means more than counting wins

Taking stock of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, which ended Saturday, is not as easy as adding up promises kept and promises broken. Sure, as comedic fodder Trump has killed it with audiences watching Alec Baldwin impersonate the president in hilarious skits on “Saturday Night Live” — including one that looks back at Trump’s first 100 days. “The...

EDITORIAL: LASA, Kealing magnets opens for more Austin blacks, Latinos

The Austin Independent School District has taken a bold step in addressing the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in its acclaimed Liberal Arts and Science Academy and Kealing Middle School magnet program. It’s about time. Now, we urge AISD trustees and Austin schools Superintendent Paul Cruz to take another giant step by establishing a middle school and high school — on par with LASA...
Editorial: Doors of Austin’s LASA, Kealing magnets open for more blacks, Latinos

Editorial: Doors of Austin’s LASA, Kealing magnets open for more blacks, Latinos

The Austin Independent School District has taken a bold step in addressing the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in its acclaimed Liberal Arts and Science Academy and Kealing Middle School magnet program. It’s about time. Now, we urge Austin ISD trustees and Superintendent Paul Cruz to take another giant step by establishing a middle school and high school — on par with LASA and Kealing...
Viewpoints: CPS overhaul needs holistic solutions, hearty funding

Viewpoints: CPS overhaul needs holistic solutions, hearty funding

The question has been asked: Is the job of a Child Protective Services investigator – or any job at the agency, for that matter –the toughest job in Texas? The answer depends on whom you ask. One thing is for certain: It doesn’t have to be. Whether or not the job – be that of caseworker, supervisor or front-line administrator – continues to be seen as among the worst...
Preserving Muny as a golf course is worth the effort

Preserving Muny as a golf course is worth the effort

The future of the Austin’s Lions Municipal Golf Course, which sits on land the city leases from the University of Texas, hinges on what happens locally or at the Legislature. In this case, the better option for the golf course, also known Muny, is the one that preserves its nationally recognized history in the nation’s civil rights movement. Preserving Muny pits two powerful interests...
Viewpoints: A border wall riddled with holes in logic

Viewpoints: A border wall riddled with holes in logic

Oh, where to begin with President Trump’s ballyhooed vision of a towering, impregnable and “beautiful” wall along the nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico? Rarely has a project promised so much when clear-eyed thinking should tell us that if built, the wall is likely doomed to epic failure. We all know the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But while...
A border wall riddled with holes in logic

A border wall riddled with holes in logic

Oh, where to begin with President Trump’s ballyhooed vision of a towering, impregnable and “beautiful” wall along the nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico? Rarely has a project promised so much when clear-eyed thinking should tell us that if built, the wall is likely doomed to epic failure. We all know the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But while...
Phillips: How Austin ISD botched decision to move an acclaimed academy

Phillips: How Austin ISD botched decision to move an acclaimed academy

It is a simple question: Who made the decision to move the Liberal Arts and Science Academy from the campus of Lyndon Baines Johnson High School in East Austin? We now know the answer: It was Austin school district Superintendent Paul Cruz. But until Wednesday, the answer had been elusive, as Austin ISD District 1 Trustee Edmund “Ted” Gordon can tell you. For two months, he had been asking...
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