Commentary

Phillips: Last hurrah for Confederate groups in Veterans Day parade

Phillips: Last hurrah for Confederate groups in Veterans Day parade

During his 22 years in the Air Force, Lt. Col. Daarel Burnette observed Veterans Day events around the world, from Izmir, Turkey, to Colorado Springs, from military bases to the Pentagon. In all those places, during all those years, the emphasis was on sacrifice of U.S. veterans, said Burnette, who retired in 2001. It was about honoring soldiers who gave or risked their lives defending the U.S. Constitution...
Herman: After months of kicking it around, Austin goes major league

Herman: After months of kicking it around, Austin goes major league

Great news! We’re getting a big-league football team. Less great news for some: It’s the other football, the one in which you actually use your feet for something other than running. Me? I’m good with the Austin City Council’s 7-4 vote Wednesday that should clear the way for the Columbus Crew to relocate to Austin and eventually to play at a stadium to be built on city-owned...
Commentary: When I cut the cord to social media, I saw the change IRL

Commentary: When I cut the cord to social media, I saw the change IRL

Social media once made the world smaller. I connected with fellow nerds who liked Jim Thompson novels or the same Elmore James or Black Sabbath records. We could talk about “Pulp Fiction,” or where to get the best bacon cheeseburger from Galveston to Sydney. I’ve met friends who changed my life thanks to Twitter or Facebook. But then everything became toxic. Social media became just...
Editorial: Journalists are watchdog neighbors, not enemy of the people

Editorial: Journalists are watchdog neighbors, not enemy of the people

Politicians on both sides of the aisle have long decried unfavorable press coverage as erroneous or incomplete, seeking to blunt the impact of reporting that holds those in power accountable. President Donald Trump, however, has taken that tactic to the extreme, labeling stories he doesn’t like as “fake news” and branding journalists as “the enemy of the people” &mdash...
Letters to the editor: Aug. 16, 2018

Letters to the editor: Aug. 16, 2018

While Major League Soccer is professional, today it is very small in America. MLS wants to start small using a space in Austin that doesn’t accommodate expansion and also lacks necessary parking and retail expansion space. That is a shortsighted idea and creates a throwaway facility. MLS needs to think about its strategy for real success when the sport catches on, requiring a bigger facility...
Commentary: How Texas courts can do more to avoid wrongful convictions

Commentary: How Texas courts can do more to avoid wrongful convictions

On Monday, there will be a hearing for Joe Bryan in the Comanche County Courthouse in Comanche. For the last 30 years, Bryan has been in prison based on a highly questionable conviction for killing his wife. Bryan, a highly regarded high school principal in Clifton, is now 77 years old and has never wavered in his innocence. Recent attention on his case has further solidified the strong case for Bryan&rsquo...
Young: Is this the moment of truth for Trump’s EPA? No way

Young: Is this the moment of truth for Trump’s EPA? No way

James Hansen was stunningly prescient. Thirty years ago, in 1988, the NASA scientist testified to Congress that the planet would warm 1.9 degrees by 2017. So, how close was he? You judge. NASA figures show global temperatures climbed 1.6 degrees since 1988. Yes, that’s what one calls truth, as opposed to what President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency is pushing. It used...
Herman: Where you don’t have the right to say whatever you want to say

Herman: Where you don’t have the right to say whatever you want to say

Hello. Today, on a platform provided to me by a private employer with rules for what’s published on said platform, I’d like to share with you something that several people have been sharing in recent days. These are rules established for publishing on the website of another private, non-governmental entity here in Austin. Here it is, copied and pasted directly from the website where it...

TWO VIEWS: ‘Red flag’ law makes us vulnerable to ‘thought police’

Trending its way through the United States and touted as an answer to the “not one more time” demand, “red flag” legislation provides a dangerous solution to a misdiagnosed problem. So, why all the hype? Americans are still reeling from the horrifying venue shootings this year. They want answers — and they want action. Creative minds have responded with a flood of ideas...
TWO VIEWS: Let’s send a ‘red flag’ message to ourselves

TWO VIEWS: Let’s send a ‘red flag’ message to ourselves

What happened? How did we travel from a time of school paper drives, kick ball and May Fetes to a time of school metal detectors, armed teachers and live shooter drills? How did we go from ABCs to AK-47s? Before examining that question, can we acknowledge together the wearying nature of our national “conversation” about guns in America? The Wild West’s famous Gunfight at the OK Corral...
INSIGHT: Eugenics. Segregation. U.S. universities facing racist pasts

INSIGHT: Eugenics. Segregation. U.S. universities facing racist pasts

The Trump administration recently announced plans to scrap Obama-era guidelines that encouraged universities to consider race as a factor to promote diversity on campus, claiming the guidelines “advocate policy preferences and positions beyond the requirements of the Constitution.” Some university leaders immediately went on the defense. Harvard University stated that it plans to continue...
Commentary: I’m Georgetown mayor. We raise a glass to renewable energy

Commentary: I’m Georgetown mayor. We raise a glass to renewable energy

I want to thank the American-Statesman for publishing the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s editorial concerning Georgetown’s move to 100 percent renewable energy. The city of Georgetown has been fortunate to receive coverage from across the world regarding our energy portfolio. One analysis shows that the move to renewables has garnered over 2.1 billion impressions around the globe, which...
Herman: At the Capitol when they said ‘Babe’ you knew who it was

Herman: At the Capitol when they said ‘Babe’ you knew who it was

Among the challenges of a long life is that you can outlive your fame. So let me tell you about Aaron Robert Schwartz, who died Friday in Houston at 92. The cause of death was cardiac arrest. Schwartz had suffered from a combination of health challenges in his latter years. If you’re under a certain age, you’ve probably never heard of Aaron Robert Schwartz. And if you’re over a certain...
Herman: The Daughters of the Republic of Texas close down and pack up

Herman: The Daughters of the Republic of Texas close down and pack up

It was a tired museum in a tired building tucked under a freeway in a tired part of town ripe for a reawakening. Ditto, some might say, for the longstanding organization that ran the now-closed museum. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas museum closed July 27 after being on East Anderson Lane, just went of the U.S. 183 and Interstate 35 interchange, since the early 1990s. Everything’s being...
Editorial: Travis County voters must check their ballot’s paper trail

Editorial: Travis County voters must check their ballot’s paper trail

The most critical piece of any election is getting the results right. That simple goal involves highly complex logistics when it comes to voting equipment. Travis County has hundreds of different ballot combinations tailored to voters in different congressional, legislative and local districts, making preprinted paper ballots an unwieldy option — particularly in a county where any voter can...
INSIGHT: Think Confederate markers are racist? Look at pioneer statues

INSIGHT: Think Confederate markers are racist? Look at pioneer statues

In San Francisco, there is an an 800-ton monument that retells California history, from the Spanish missions to American settlement. Several bronze sculptures and relief plaques depict American Indians, white miners, missionaries and settlers. A female figure symbolizing white culture stands atop a massive stone pillar. The design of the “pioneer monument” was celebrated in newspapers...
Commentary: Our Capitol’s plaque lies about history. Let’s remove it

Commentary: Our Capitol’s plaque lies about history. Let’s remove it

It has been a year since a horrific tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, caused a loss of life and painfully reminded us that bigotry still exists and needs to be confronted. It was bigotry also — and, a backlash to the Civil Rights movement — that likely motivated state officials to hang a demonstrably false and incendiary plaque in our state Capitol during the late 1950s. We’ve...
Commentary: Texas issues A-F grades for schools Aug. 15

Commentary: Texas issues A-F grades for schools Aug. 15

On Aug. 15, the Texas Education Agency will issue report cards for our schools. We do this for two main reasons: First, parents should know how well our schools are performing, so they can better support their children; second, educators benefit from having clear information about school performance, highlighting successes and challenges, to help improve support for students over time. This year,...
Herman: Churchill and Gov. Greg Abbott together again for the 1st time

Herman: Churchill and Gov. Greg Abbott together again for the 1st time

A half-century after his death, Winston Churchill remains a towering figure worthy of revere (which is kind of odd because Revere once urgently warned his neighbors that people of Churchill’s nationality would be arriving imminently). So revered is Churchill that God continues to see fit to create many babies in Churchill’s image. And Churchill said so much awesome stuff that it&rsquo...
Commentary: How MLS in Austin can open the door to civic opportunities

Commentary: How MLS in Austin can open the door to civic opportunities

There has been a lot of discussion about the finances involving the MLS soccer deal before the Austin City Council. Is it economically good for Austin? How much are Precourt and MLS paying to Austin? How much low-income housing space is being provided? Who is paying for transportation in and out of the stadium? I have a question to our City Council: Do you know what has been lost in the discussion?...
Grumet: Girls deserve same perks as boys in Austin’s MLS stadium deal

Grumet: Girls deserve same perks as boys in Austin’s MLS stadium deal

This being 2018 and all, I naturally assumed the girls would share in the perks. But as we found out during last week’s City Council discussion on the proposal to move the Columbus Crew SC to Austin, the largest piece of the community benefits package, an elite youth soccer academy worth $48 million over 25 years, is for boys only. I hope that fact doesn’t sit well with you, either. The...
Commentary: Confederacy groups don’t belong in Veterans Day parades

Commentary: Confederacy groups don’t belong in Veterans Day parades

For about a quarter of a century, the Sons of Confederate Veterans have marched in various patriotic parades in Austin, notably, Austin’s Veterans Day parade. Last year might have been their last march. While grassroots volunteers organize the parade, the city finances it through fee waivers. On Thursday, the Austin City Council will take up a resolution proposed by the veterans organization...
Commentary: To help separated families, tap the experts

Commentary: To help separated families, tap the experts

As the Trump administration moves slowly toward reuniting refugee parents and children, we are hearing reunification stories from the front lines. Accounts from families, journalists, activists, political leaders and clinicians tell of the enormous distress that refugee children and parents have endured. A Honduran father reunited with his 3-year-old son after three months said: “He just kept...
Young: Trump cries ‘fake news’ as cybersecurity threats loom

Young: Trump cries ‘fake news’ as cybersecurity threats loom

Ah, fake news. In determining that Russian actors went on a social media disinformation rampage in 2016, analysts cited many markers. One was that bogus pro-Trump, anti-Hillary posts featured “language patterns that indicate non-native English and consistent mistranslation” of our language, according to the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. Not to throw anyone off...
Herman: Rough look of columns in Slaughter overpass at MoPac temporary

Herman: Rough look of columns in Slaughter overpass at MoPac temporary

Today, I give you something for which nobody has been clamoring: a columnist’s column columnizing about columns. This isn’t my fault. You can blame American-Statesman reader and curious South Austinite Suzanne LaPinta. (And I’m aware that some North Austinites think all South Austinites are “curious.”) LaPinta saw something that caught her eye, and she turned to me for...
INSIGHT: How nonprofits handle the fallout from taking ‘blood money’

INSIGHT: How nonprofits handle the fallout from taking ‘blood money’

The activist group Prescription Addiction Intervention Now, or PAIN, is organizing protests across the country at museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Sackler wing in New York City, Washington’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Harvard Art Museums. These protesters aim to pressure the Sackler family, which amassed a fortune after founding Purdue Pharma – the drugmaker that...
Letters to the editor: Aug. 6, 2018

Letters to the editor: Aug. 6, 2018

The coverage of the closing of The Frisco, the last of the Night Hawk chain, reminds me of a great compliment from the past. In the early ’70s, I enjoyed meeting artists and public figures as a member of the University of Texas Unions speakers committee. I got to host the well-known Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. He had previously spent time at UT and had come to make a speech. When I...
Commentary: Success, or failure, of new Army Command rests on Congress

Commentary: Success, or failure, of new Army Command rests on Congress

In July, the U.S. Army announced that Austin will be the location for its new Futures Command headquarters. The command, intended to be the spearhead of the Army’s modernization effort, will direct the research and development of new military technologies and build partnerships with civilian innovators in academia and industry. Futures Command has clear objectives, the authority of a four-star...
Commentary: Remember Hiroshima. Think disarmament

Commentary: Remember Hiroshima. Think disarmament

As we remember the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan — Aug. 6, 1945 — during World War II, let’s rededicate our efforts toward nuclear disarmament. The nukes dropped on Hiroshima and later Nagasaki three days later brought an end to World War II. Those bombs, which devastated the two Japanese cities, pale in comparison to the power of nuclear weapons today. We must continue...
Commentary: Women should decide what happens after an abortion

Commentary: Women should decide what happens after an abortion

Texas officials are again in court defending yet another medically unnecessary anti-abortion law. But this new law isn’t just the latest effort by politicians to interfere with the right of women to make their own health care decisions; it also tramples over the varying faith perspectives and beliefs around the issue. Senate Bill 8, which the Legislature passed last year, requires abortion facilities...
Letters to the editor: Aug. 5, 2018

Letters to the editor: Aug. 5, 2018

Re: Aug. 1 article, “Retired Texas teachers face giant hurdle to pension boost.” As a retired teacher, I am concerned with the health of the Teacher Retirement System. It was interesting that system officials stated that “changes in marketplace and the global economic outlook” were to blame for the projected return decrease. Seems I’ve heard this before, yet the stock...
Commentary: Don’t blame nonprofits for family separations at the border

Commentary: Don’t blame nonprofits for family separations at the border

Government-mandated separation of families at our southern border finally sparked collective outrage about the treatment of families seeking asylum in the U.S. But now we have a new problem: Some people are villainizing nonprofit agencies that have been serving immigrant families for decades. This is a mistake. These nonprofits need support now more than ever. Unfortunately, negative media attention...
Commentary: Give Austin a broader voice; vote on democracy dollars

Commentary: Give Austin a broader voice; vote on democracy dollars

The Austin City Council has an opportunity to help the people fight big money when it meets on Aug. 9. On their desk is a proposed charter amendment to empower all Austin voters to be small-dollar contributors in city elections. Seattle recently approved a similar measure and it’s been a huge success. Currently, Austin’s City Council candidates rely on money from outside their districts...
Commentary: In Austin library, a welcome glimpse of total inclusion

Commentary: In Austin library, a welcome glimpse of total inclusion

The stunning Austin Central Library, already a finalist for the International Federation of Library Associations’ Public Library of the Year, leaped in prestige by winning LEED Platinum Building Certification this summer. The award confirms that the space’s design and construction exemplify the utmost concern for human and environmental health. The library scored high marks for its green...
Letters to the editor: Aug. 3, 2018

Letters to the editor: Aug. 3, 2018

Re: July 31 article, “Austin’s top single-family water user in 2017: a U.S. congressman.” To users of more than a million gallons of water a year: What is it about the term “limited resource” you do not understand? Being able to afford it doesn’t entitle you to use more than your fair share of this limited resource. My average annual water use for the last three...
Commentary: Pies and politics. Eating at the Frisco in Austin’s 1970s

Commentary: Pies and politics. Eating at the Frisco in Austin’s 1970s

On Sunday, the Frisco on Burnet Road closed. My family and I ate at this venerable Austin restaurant for the last time two days before it closed. Seems like every one of a certain age in Central Austin had the same idea. The wait was about an hour, with many customers having to stand by the cash register until host Darrell Webber guided them back to a table. I didn’t grow up in Austin, but throughout...
Herman: A report says it’s sexy, but what exactly is a Texas accent?

Herman: A report says it’s sexy, but what exactly is a Texas accent?

An outfit called YouGov tells us what we think by asking us what we think and reporting back with headlines, such as “Majority of Americans say parents should travel sometimes without their kids” and “Band-Aid is the healthiest brand in America.” And this: “Southern accents are the sexiest in America.” Really, y’all? PLAN YOUR WEEKEND: Click to receive our...
Young: Go ahead, President Trump. Shut down this government.

Young: Go ahead, President Trump. Shut down this government.

Please shut down the government, Mr. President. Don’t make it an idle threat this time. You say that you must have that wall. Without it you won’t permit any government. So go ahead. Let’s go with that. We are inside 100 days from an election that is going to retire many in your legions of Capitol Hill enablers. Go ahead and assist in that venting. Shut ‘er down. We know this...
Commentary: Why the carbon fee and dividend plan isn’t a carbon tax

Commentary: Why the carbon fee and dividend plan isn’t a carbon tax

We know with certainty five things about global warming: It’s happening. It’s us. It’s bad. Scientists agree. We can do something about it. Global warming is happening. Thousands of measurements around the globe from weather stations, buoys, ships and satellites confirm a steady rise in global temperatures. Humans cause global warming by releasing greenhouse gases. We know how much...
Commentary: How America can birth a just and loving world

Commentary: How America can birth a just and loving world

Like many mothers, I feel the intense pain that families are facing when they are separated from their children, as we witnessed recently in Texas, in the flood of parents fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries. But those of us who work as midwives with Mama Sana Vibrant Woman, a community organization in Austin, are getting an up-close look at more horrifying dimensions of separations...
Herman: Renaming local things that need renaming

Herman: Renaming local things that need renaming

Now the rename game really gets really interesting. The city of Austin’s Equity Office has put the city’s name on a list — along with some local streets, parks and monuments — of things that might be worthy of a second thought because of for whom they’re named. Really? It’s right there on the list of “assets for secondary review,” including Pease Park...
INSIGHT: Why it’s hard to hold contractors accountable for suffering

INSIGHT: Why it’s hard to hold contractors accountable for suffering

Public outrage over the Trump administration’s detention of children, including babies, brought across the border when their families arrived seeking asylum is still simmering, as the number of lawsuits over this practice grows. Although federal detention is a government policy, the federal government does not directly run most of the facilities where families are detained or kids end up on...
INSIGHT: How Trump uses the ‘frontier myth’ to ostracize immigrants

INSIGHT: How Trump uses the ‘frontier myth’ to ostracize immigrants

“One of the reasons we lead the free world today is that we are a nation of immigrants.” These words were delivered by Harry Truman to the US Congress in 1952 when he addressed the problem of aid for refugees who were fleeing “the oppressed countries of Eastern Europe.” Since then, US presidents have widely defined the United States as “a nation of immigrants,”...
Herman: Texas State Cemetery superintendent tenure comes to abrupt end

Herman: Texas State Cemetery superintendent tenure comes to abrupt end

When it comes to state government, Harry Bradley knows where the bodies are buried. For 23 years, he was superintendent at the Texas State Cemetery in East Austin. He supervised workers, he took turns at the mower and the edger, and he took care of the needs of folks dealing with a recently departed loved one, often one of some prominence and importance. And, perhaps most importantly, Bradley was...
Commentary: Why the LCRA needs groundwater rights in Bastrop County

Commentary: Why the LCRA needs groundwater rights in Bastrop County

When it comes to water, the time to plan for tomorrow is today. The Lower Colorado River Authority is doing that in our application to produce groundwater from the prolific Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer in Bastrop County. As stewards of the roughly 600 miles of the Colorado River in Texas from downstream of the O. H. Ivie Reservoir in Coleman County to Matagorda Bay, we at the Lower Colorado River Authority...
Commentary: There’s not just one opioid crisis in Texas. There’s many

Commentary: There’s not just one opioid crisis in Texas. There’s many

Could the heavy media coverage of the national opioid epidemic be drawing attention and resources away from chronic mortality associated with other drugs of abuse? Recent news articles — like “We are not immune: how the opioid crisis is hitting central Texas,” published by the Statesman — amplify municipal and state calls for funding to fight this narrow battle at the expense...
Castillo: If views here don’t always match yours, we’re doing our job

Castillo: If views here don’t always match yours, we’re doing our job

In the cult movie classic “The Big Lebowski,” the ultimate stoner-slacker character The Dude delivers the ultimate stoner-slacker comeback when a rival vows to destroy him in a bowling competition. “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just like, uh, your opinion, man,” The Dude says. Opinions. Everybody’s got them. Trouble is, and this is human nature, we tend to embrace...
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