Herman: Lupe Valdez and ‘newspaper language’

Meepzat nipzor, kunder Pflugerville zingo calamari rondo kronanian.

Oops. Sorry. Forgive me for slipping into the patois of my people, the jargon of journalism, a mysterious vocabulary branded recently by a Texas gubernatorial candidate as “newspaper language.” Frankly, I didn’t know there was such a thing.

But Democrat Lupe Valdez, during the May 11 debate with runoff foe Andrew White, cited her lack of familiarity with “newspaper language” as a reason she’s gone oh-for-Texas in picking up newspaper endorsements.

RELATED: Valdez holds her own debating White, but questions on readiness remain

Debate moderator Gromer Jeffers of The Dallas Morning News, following up an audience-submitted question, asked Valdez about “some of the criticism from some newspapers and quite frankly some Democrats that you’re not as sharp on issues as Andrew White.”

“Well,” Valdez replied, “it’s not that I’m not as sharp because I am just as sharp. The problem may be that I don’t talk newspaper language. I talk people language.”

Herewith, then, highlights from Valdez’s recent session with Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial board members Shelley Kofler and Bud Kennedy. For those who don’t speak “newspaper language,” I’ll translate the questions into “people language.”

We’ll start with school finance, a topic on which White supports legalizing casino gambling at existing pari-mutuel tracks.

Kennedy question (newspaper language): “What’s in your specific plan and what do you think of gambling?

(Translation into people language): “What’s in your specific plan and what do you think of gambling?”

Valdez: “Well, I think that gambling, just as a few other things, has to be left up to the local community. The local community decides what it is they want. There are some communities that will never be in favor of gambling yet there’s others that will be. It’s up to the local communities. I’m for local rule in most of these areas.”

Kennedy question (newspaper language): “Are you for or against gambling in Texas?”

(People language): “Are you for or against gambling in Texas?”

Valdez: “You know, I’m a law enforcement person. … . I’ve seen the effects of gambling but I’ve also seen the benefits of gambling. So, again, I’m going to say it’s up to the local folks to decide what it is that they prefer. If some of those folks want gambling, then they should be able to do that. On the other hand we shouldn’t force it on folks who do not want it.”

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Kofler question (newspaper language): “As governor, you know, you would have a bully pulpit to say, ‘I support this’ or ‘I don’t support this.’ ‘I think casino gambling is a good way to do this.’ (or) ‘I oppose it.’ How would you come down on it?”

(People language): Ditto.

Valdez: “Well I think there’s other resources. There’s new resources that we can look at to bring funds into the state. Renewable energy and, of course, looking at the tax code. We need to continue looking at the tax code to scrub the old loopholes. There’s, I can’t remember, I actually looked at the number of loopholes that are in the taxes. There’s a whole bunch of loopholes. We should look and make sure that those are still valid for our current day.”

Kennedy question (newspaper language): “I want to ask you about infrastructure in the state. First, toll roads. Dallas-Fort Worth needs help both with LBJ (freeway), with completing I-35 North in Tarrant County around the Alliance area. What’s your view of the state’s funding of toll roads and should it continue? Should it end?”

(Translation unnecessary.)

Valdez: “I think the toll roads are like a two-edge sword, you know, they’re necessary but they end up being the roads for the well-to-do. A person, the everyday Texan who is struggling, is not going to spend the money to find a faster way to get somewhere. They’re going to use their money for other things. Although, I do think it should be up to the local governing areas, the local cities, the local government, whether they’re going to put up the toll roads or not because I do think, as I mentioned before, it’s a two-edge sword. In some cases, you need the toll roads, but the people who need them the most are not going to be able to use them.”

Having cleared that up (?) the discussion moved on. Let’s fast forward to tuition at state universities and colleges.

Kofler: “And who should set the tuition rate? It’s currently something that universities and colleges do. Previously the Legislature did it. Who do you think should set tuition rates?”

Valdez: “I think it should be forces from all sides should come in and come to the table and argue their position and come to a conclusion. Time and time again, as (Dallas County) sheriff, I had to bring in several groups to come out with a final decision and I always started out by saying, ‘You’re not going to get everything you want when we come to the table, but we’re going to come out with a reasonable solution.’ And we should do the same for tuition.”

Kofler: “Who should get the final say: Lawmakers or the university?”

Valdez: “I think it’s a combination of both. I think it’s a combination of the lawmakers with the university input.”

After interviewing both candidates, the Fort Worth paper endorsed White and said “throughout the conversation, Valdez seemed to search for answers and what she came up with was often simplistic.”

In her closing statement, Valdez proclaimed herself the candidate of the “everyday Texan.” She talks a lot about “everyday people.” Seems like kind of a broad category that includes folks of varying interests, political and otherwise.

“Different strokes for different folks,” Sly and the Family Stone sang in their 1968 hit “Everyday People.” “So on and so on and scooby dooby dooby.”

Scooby dooby dooby? Is that newspaper language?

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