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Paxton’s office warns AISD in flap over church’s gay-marriage beliefs

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office on Friday warned Austin school district officials against blocking a Christian church that opposes gay marriage from using district facilities, saying such action would violate state law and the First Amendment. Celebration Church of Georgetown has been holding services most Sundays since Aug. 26 at the Austin district’s Performing Arts Center...

TEXAS DIGEST: Funeral held for 4th victim of serial killings

LAREDO Funeral held for serial killings victim About 150 people gathered at a Texas church for the funeral of one of the four women who authorities say were killed by a Border Patrol agent they’ve described as a serial killer. Saturday’s funeral for 35-year-old Guiselda Alicia Cantu at a Catholic church in Laredo is the last of the memorial services for the women who authorities say were...
Letters to the editor: Sept. 23, 2018

Letters to the editor: Sept. 23, 2018

Re: Sept. 20 commentary, “Hard liquor ban is first step in safer Greek life culture.” Fraternities are to be commended for addressing hazing and alcohol misuse. However, your editorial leaves the misleading impression that some forms of alcohol are “softer” than others. While the new policy requires a licensed third-party in order to serve spirits, a more effective approach...
PolitiFact: Cruz didn’t say what viral image alleges

PolitiFact: Cruz didn’t say what viral image alleges

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has been openly opposed to same-sex marriage, but he didn’t blame gay people for mass shootings and public nudity during a 2014 speech. A 2015 viral image that falsely quotes Cruz is gaining traction again on social media as the Republican incumbent looks to keep his seat against Democratic nominee U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke. This meme about Cruz was flagged as part of...
For some sex offenders, their deal with the state wasn’t really a deal

For some sex offenders, their deal with the state wasn’t really a deal

When the Beaumont police detective called him in 2014, Curtis wondered what the officer might want. His only run-in with the law had been half a lifetime ago. In 1985, he had been charged with indecency with a child, his stepdaughter. Curtis, then 34, struck a deal with prosecutors. He would plead guilty, but if after 10 years he kept out of trouble, the conviction would go away. He paid his fees...
Herman: Ted and Beto debate the issues, Part One

Herman: Ted and Beto debate the issues, Part One

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke finally had a much anticipated face-to-face during a Friday night debate that highlighted two different ways to do politics and personhood in modern America, a contrast that has attracted national attention to a race we once thought was destined to be a little ol’ Texas contest with the usual ol’ Texas outcome....
Cruz, O’Rourke tangle in first of 3 debates

Cruz, O’Rourke tangle in first of 3 debates

Embroiled in an unexpectedly competitive race, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, squared off Friday night for their first face-to-face debate, and sparks flew right from the first question on immigration. Each candidate accused the other of supporting policies that are out of step with Texans. “When it comes to immigration, we need to...
Texas agency dumps proposal to raise retired teachers’ health premiums

Texas agency dumps proposal to raise retired teachers’ health premiums

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas officially decided Friday to ditch a proposal to raise health insurance premiums for retired teachers under age 65. The system’s board over the summer had considered raising premiums for about 68,000 retirees and their dependents by $50 a month in 2019. But amid pressure from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, board members on Friday decided with very little discussion...
Creative options on table as UT, city negotiate regarding Muny’s future

Creative options on table as UT, city negotiate regarding Muny’s future

The city of Austin and the University of Texas are getting creative in their negotiations aimed at reaching an agreement to preserve Lions Municipal Golf Course as important deadlines near and political pressure intensifies. The city-operated course sits on UT-owned land in West Austin, and the university wants to realize upward of 10 times the nearly $500,000 a year it receives in lease payments...
Cruz and O’Rourke engage in taut debate at SMU in ‘toss-up’ Senate race

Cruz and O’Rourke engage in taut debate at SMU in ‘toss-up’ Senate race

UNIVERSITY PARK — In a crisp, rapid-fire debate — the first of three in what looks to be a taut race — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, played to their strengths. Cruz was the sharp-tongued defender of conservative values presenting O’Rourke as a fashionable avatar of far-left thinking out of place in Texas. O’Rourke presented...

American-Statesman wins Texas freedom of information award

The American-Statesman was honored Friday by the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas for its efforts to shed light on the Austin City Council’s secretive search for a city manager. The Statesman won the organization’s Nancy Monson Spirit of FOI Award. “Through public information requests, the Statesman reported which candidates the city had been interviewing as well as possible...
Health premium increase for retired teachers unlikely in 2019

Health premium increase for retired teachers unlikely in 2019

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas appears unlikely to raise health insurance premiums for retired teachers under the age of 65 next year amid pressure from state officials. A board committee of the pension and health care system on Thursday followed a staff recommendation to keep premiums and deductibles the same. The full board likely will agree to the decision Friday. The board has been considering...
Locked in a surprisingly close race, Cruz fights back

Locked in a surprisingly close race, Cruz fights back

Midway through a rousing Ted Cruz town hall meeting at Baker Boys Boys BBQ on Saturday, Yesi Melcher, a slight 10-year-old standing small in the packed house, raised her hand. “Hon, what are you doing?” her grandfather asked. “Papa, I’m going to ask a question,” she replied. And when Cruz called on her, she did. “Why do Democrats always blame their mistakes on us...
Texas Democrat Mike Collier aims to bring compassion back to policy

Texas Democrat Mike Collier aims to bring compassion back to policy

Mike Collier, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, said Thursday that if voters choose him over his better-known, better-funded Republican opponent, it will be due to five major policy goals that spell out his hope for bringing compassion back to state policies. Collier also criticized Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, his opponent in the November election, for declining to debate him, stood by claims...
Former UT President Powers hospitalized after fall outside law school

Former UT President Powers hospitalized after fall outside law school

Former University of Texas President Bill Powers was hospitalized Wednesday after a fall outside the School of Law, where he is a professor. Powers, 72, was taken to the Dell Seton Medical Center at UT for treatment and tests, according to university officials. “Bill Powers is recovering at Dell Seton Medical Center from his fall,” Gary Susswein, a UT spokesman, said Thursday in a statement...
Where in Austin to watch the first Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz debate

Where in Austin to watch the first Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz debate

It’s finally happening, but where are you going to watch it?  Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, dueling in a competitive Senate race, have agreed to a series of three hour-long debates between September and October. The first debate is set for Friday at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The debate is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m...
Commentary: When the Endangered Species Act arrived, species revived

Commentary: When the Endangered Species Act arrived, species revived

When humans arrived, species died. Homo sapiens in our geologically recent dispersal out of Africa have left paths of destruction across the planet, the one place in the universe we actually know life exists. Now, the Trump administration wants to roll back the Endangered Species Act (ESA), one of the cornerstones for the protection of this living planet. But we seem little concerned through the ever-deafening...
Texas state officials recommend no premium hikes for retired teachers

Texas state officials recommend no premium hikes for retired teachers

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas on Thursday recommended to its board to not raise health insurance premiums for retired teachers under the age of 65 amid pressure from state officials. The board will likely agree to staff’s recommendation during its meeting Friday. The board had been considering raising premiums for retired teachers and their dependents under the age of 65 — about...
Former UT President Bill Powers hospitalized after fall

Former UT President Bill Powers hospitalized after fall

Former University of Texas President Bill Powers was hospitalized Wednesday after falling outside the School of Law, where he is a professor, according to university officials. Powers, 72, was taken to the Dell Seton Medical Center at UT for treatment and tests. “Bill Powers is recovering at Dell Seton Medical Center from his fall,” Gary Susswein, a UT spokesman, said in a statement Thursday...
HUD Secretary Ben Carson marks public housing milestone in Austin

HUD Secretary Ben Carson marks public housing milestone in Austin

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson announced Wednesday that his department has preserved 100,000 public housing units nationwide, thanks to a federal rental assistance program. Carson made the announcement during a stop in Austin for a ground-breaking ceremony for the latest public housing development, Pathways at Goodrich Place, a 40-unit property serving low-income families...
HUD Secretary Ben Carson marks public housing milestone in Austin

HUD Secretary Ben Carson marks public housing milestone in Austin

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson announced Wednesday that his department has preserved 100,000 public housing units throughout the country, thanks to a five-year-old rental assistance program. Carson made the announcement during a stop in Austin for a ground-breaking ceremony for the latest public housing development, Pathways at Goodrich Place, a 40-unit property serving low-income...
Willie Nelson doesn’t care if you’re mad about his Beto O’Rourke support

Willie Nelson doesn’t care if you’re mad about his Beto O’Rourke support

Mad that Willie Nelson is playing at a rally for U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke? You’re entitled to your opinion, the Austin icon and country music legend says. Nelson will headline a concert for the El Paso Democrat, who is running to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, on Sept. 29 at Auditorium Shores. That hasn't settled well with some conservative fans, who have taken to social media...
Flores’ upset victory casts doubt on ‘blue wave’ for Texas Democrats

Flores’ upset victory casts doubt on ‘blue wave’ for Texas Democrats

Casting doubt on Democratic hopes for a blue wave in Texas, Republican Pete Flores defeated Democrat Pete Gallego in Tuesday’s runoff election for a vacant seat in the state Senate — a seat that had been safely in Democratic hands for years. With the crucial midterm elections only seven weeks away, better-organized Republicans flipped the script, boosting voter enthusiasm to propel their...
A miniature horse, a gator, a grandma and a gun – an only-in-Texas tale

A miniature horse, a gator, a grandma and a gun – an only-in-Texas tale

The 12-foot alligator’s first mistake: crossing a Texas grandma with a Winchester .22 Magnum. From the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday came a tale as Texan as they come. Judy B. Cochran – mayor of Livingston in East Texas; a great-grandmother called Nana by her family – had long held a suspicion that a massive alligator had killed her miniature horse three years ago. As she...
New poll shows O’Rourke running about even with Cruz

New poll shows O’Rourke running about even with Cruz

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke is running about even with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in his bid to unseat the incumbent Republican, according to a poll of likely Texas voters released today by Reuters and Ispos in conjunction with the University of Virginia Center for Politics. The poll shows a narrow 2 percentage point lead for O’Rourke, within the margin of error of plus or minus...
Commentary: I lead Texas’ education board. Our decisions aren’t partisan

Commentary: I lead Texas’ education board. Our decisions aren’t partisan

History and social studies teachers in Texas schools must perform a daily quickstep if they want to keep up with rigorous curriculum standards that require them to educate children about high-priority topics and key historical figures. The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards set the bar high, with third-graders expected to learn about “the purposes of the Declaration of Independence...
In upset, GOP’s Flores defeats Democrat Gallego in Texas Senate runoff

In upset, GOP’s Flores defeats Democrat Gallego in Texas Senate runoff

Casting serious doubt on Democratic hopes for a blue wave in Texas, Republican Pete Flores defeated Democrat Pete Gallego in Tuesday’s runoff election for a vacant seat in the state Senate — a seat that had been safely Democratic in previous years. Flores will represent Senate District 19 when the Legislature convenes in January, filling the final two years of the term vacated when former...
Cruz opens up 9-point lead over O’Rourke, poll finds

Cruz opens up 9-point lead over O’Rourke, poll finds

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has a 9 percentage point lead over challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, according to a poll of likely voters released Tuesday. The Quinnipiac University poll has Cruz holding a 54 percent to 45 percent lead over O’Rourke. Ninety-three percent of those polled who picked a candidate said their minds were made up on the matter. As in previous polls,...
Herman: The Abbott/O’Rourke voters explain themselves

Herman: The Abbott/O’Rourke voters explain themselves

One of the more curious gaps in current political polling continues to be the margin between how Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Beto O’Rourke is running and how the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Lupe Valdez, is doing. The short version is O’Rourke seems to have a shot at winning. Valdez, not so much. So that means some Texans are planning to vote for O’Rourke over GOP incumbent...

Prosecutor: Man mistaken as thief was shot with hands up

A Dallas-area man mistaken for a thief last year as he tried to unlock his own truck had his hands in the air and was begging not to be shot when a police officer shot him twice, a prosecutor said Tuesday. Dallas County prosecutor Bryan Mitchell told jurors during opening statements in the trial of former Mesquite officer Derick Wiley that Lyndo Jones was struck in the back as Jones, who is black...

TEXAS DIGEST: Day care owner accused of tying babies to car seats

MESQUITE Day care accused of tying babies to car seats The owner of a Dallas-area in-home day care center has been jailed on child endangerment charges after she was accused of keeping infants and toddlers tied to their car seats for hours. An arrest warrant affidavit alleges that Rebecca Anderson kept the small children tied up in car seats for at least seven hours a day at her Mesquite day care...
Cruz opens up 9 point lead over O’Rourke, poll finds

Cruz opens up 9 point lead over O’Rourke, poll finds

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has a 9-percentage point lead over challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, according to a poll of likely voters released Tuesday. A Quinnipiac University Poll in August of registered voters — not likely voters — had Cruz, seeking a second term, holding an apparent 6-point lead. In May, another Quinnipiac poll of registered voters had Cruz topping...
These are the four state capitals better to live in than Austin, list says

These are the four state capitals better to live in than Austin, list says

How can Austin be both simultaneously the “best place to live in America” and only the fifth-best state capital to call home in the country?  Ask financial services company Smart Asset, which recently compiled a list of the “Best State Capitals to Live In” in 2018. In compiling the list, the site looked at factors like a capital’s unemployment rate...
Is Ted Cruz’s ‘summons’ letter deceptive, illegal or fair play?

Is Ted Cruz’s ‘summons’ letter deceptive, illegal or fair play?

A “summons” letter from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s re-election campaign that has landed in Central Texas mailboxes in recent days has reignited the debate about what qualifies as a deceptive and illegal fundraising practice. Austin resident Sean Owen shared on Twitter Saturday such a letter from the Cruz campaign addressed to his grandmother. “Official Travis County Summons,&rdquo...
Final step: Judge dismisses voter ID challenge

Final step: Judge dismisses voter ID challenge

A federal judge formally dismissed the lawsuit challenging the Texas voter ID law Monday, the final step in a yearslong fight that will allow the state to enforce a weakened version of the 2011 statute. At the urging of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi issued a two-sentence order dismissing the case in light of April’s decision by...
Searching for new wedge issue, Cruz says O’Rourke will ban barbecue

Searching for new wedge issue, Cruz says O’Rourke will ban barbecue

Tofu or not tofu? That is the question U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has raised in his latest bid to create a cultural wedge issue between himself and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke in their heated Senate race. Appearing at a packed campaign event at Schobels Restaurant in Columbus, 90 miles southeast of Austin, on Saturday, Cruz said, “When I got here someone told me that even PETA was protesting and giving...
Staple in Austin’s Hyde Park neighborhood to close after 23 years

Staple in Austin’s Hyde Park neighborhood to close after 23 years

Austin’s Hyde Park will lose a 23-year-old neighborhood staple next month.  According to a Facebook post, Dolce Vita Gelato and Espresso on Duval Street will close sometime in October. The shop, which first opened in 1995, does not have an official last day yet, Eater Austin reports.   Dolce Vita is known for its extensive gelato selection, sandwiches and assortment of European...

Texas Digest: $2.5 million bail for Border Patrol agent in slayings

SOUTH TEXAS $2.5 million bail for Border Patrol agent A U.S. Border Patrol supervisor was in jail Sunday in lieu of $2.5 million bail after being accused of killing at least four women and injuring a fifth who managed to escape. Juan David Ortiz, 35, was being held in Laredo on four counts of murder along with charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful restraint, Webb County Jail...
Will these Texas veterans help rebrand the Democratic Party?

Will these Texas veterans help rebrand the Democratic Party?

When Joseph Kopser introduces himself to voters in the 21st Congressional District as a combat veteran, a successful entrepreneur and a Democrat, he gets double-takes. “Young man, are you sure you’re not a Republican?” Kopser, who lives in Southwest Austin, said he is asked almost daily. He is running to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, in a district that stretches...
Naming of white man to lead TCEQ follows familiar pattern

Naming of white man to lead TCEQ follows familiar pattern

Two senior officials at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality were among the unsuccessful candidates for executive director of the agency, according to documents reviewed by the American-Statesman through a request under the Texas Public Information Act. Instead, Toby Baker, who had been appointed as one of three TCEQ commissioners by then-Gov. Rick Perry in April 2012, got the job, announced...
Did backers of city audit proposition skirt ‘dark money’ restrictions?

Did backers of city audit proposition skirt ‘dark money’ restrictions?

The political action committee behind a ballot proposition that calls for an independent efficiency audit of Austin City Hall might have broken local campaign finance laws by shielding the identities of its donors, according to city officials. In the sole campaign finance report it filed with the city, Citizens for an Accountable Austin showed only a single source — a local nonprofit &mdash...
PolitiFact: PAC’s ad for Cruz misstates O’Rourke’s voting record

PolitiFact: PAC’s ad for Cruz misstates O’Rourke’s voting record

A super PAC backing the re-election of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas portrays Democratic nominee Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who represents El Paso in the U.S. House, as careless about border security. A TV ad from the Texans Are PAC associates O’Rourke, who opposes the border-long wall sought by Republicans led by President Donald Trump, with taxpayer-funded benefits for immigrants and &ldquo...

Sheriff: U.S. Border Patrol agent suspected in deaths of 4 women

A U.S. Border Patrol agent suspected of killing four women was arrested early Saturday after a fifth woman managed to escape from him and notify authorities, law enforcement officials said, describing the agent as a “serial killer.” Juan David Ortiz, 35, a Border Patrol intelligence supervisor, fled from state troopers and was found hiding in a truck in a Laredo hotel parking lot at about...
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