Columns

Thu
19
Apr

Officials see room for improvement in criminal history reporting

By ED STERLING

Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton on April 11 sent a joint letter to eight state criminal justice agencies and associations, urging them to review their processes for reporting criminal history to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or “NICS.”

The NICS checks available records on persons who may be disqualified from receiving firearms. Abbott and Paxton said a recent study found that only 68 percent of arrests in state criminal history files nationwide were reported to the NICS. But Texas’ overall rate is 84 percent, with a 95 percent reporting rate for arrests within the past five years.

 

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Thu
19
Apr

Deja Vu

By Lisa Phillips

Dear Editor,

Here we go again. PISD is pushing to become a “District of Innovation” with absolutely no plans of innovating anything.

Oh, they will argue how wonderful it is, and how much “flexibility” it gives them as a district. Flexibility simply means they would be free from following rules set by the Texas Education Agency in certain educational aspects.

 

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Thu
05
Apr

Bedraggled Hordes

By MARC ROBERTSON

 

The airliner dipped and turned, giving us new views of the metropolis, sometimes from above the sleepy comforts of suburbia, sometimes the blank concrete blocks of factories and warehouses. Finally, we drifted laboriously over the tip of the island and caught columns of speckled light in pale blue and chalky white where thousands had left desk lamps and fluorescent ceiling panels lit through the night in the World Trade Center towers. The Kuwaiti jetliner touched down with a reassuring thump to the collective relief of the hundreds crammed into its shuddering cabin. The splash of the spittle and pistachio shells against the bulkheads was followed by the jarring rattle of every panel, seatback and floorboard as the thundering juggernaught fought the laws of physics and threw every wing flap in the face of the onrushing winter air. And then there was peace.

Thu
05
Apr

Question to appear on upcoming census stirs opposing viewpoints

By ED STERLING

 

Ted Cruz of Texas was one of three United States senators who requested that respondents to the 2020 decennial census be asked if they are citizens of the United States. When Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross responded in the affirmative last week, Cruz said, “I applaud Secretary Ross for honoring this request by my colleagues and me. It is imperative that the data gathered in the census is reliable, given the wide-ranging impacts it will have on U.S. policy. A question on citizenship is a reasonable, commonsense addition to the census.”

On March 28, state Sen. Sylvia R. Garcia, D-Houston, who chairs the Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus, took issue with the question. “Adding a question on citizenship at this time would only seek to fan the flames of fear and distrust in the Census, further risking depressed response rates,” Garcia said.

 

Thu
29
Mar

Living in the moment

BY TERESA VILLARREAL

Have you ever heard the phrase “there’s no time like the present”? That was my first impression of Jesse Turner’s positive attitude the moment we met.

It was past midnight on a Friday night. The Wild Hog Cook-Off and festival had ended on an explosive note with Turner’s band Siggno’s captivating musical performance. Faithful fans lined up and waited afterwards for pictures and, one by one, they were allowed to have their photo taken with all of the band members. The fans were greeted with energetic smiles, hugs, and handshakes.

 

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Thu
29
Mar

Bombing suspect ends own life as officers approach him

By ED STERLING

The primary suspect in a string of terrorist-style bombings died in his pickup truck on March 21. Mark Anthony Conditt, 23, of Pflugerville, detonated explosive devices in his truck on an Interstate 35 access road in Round Rock as two law enforcement officers approached the vehicle on foot. One officer was injured in the explosion. The other officer reportedly fired a rifle at the suspect.

Intensive search and surveillance operations began on March 2, when a bomb later traced to Conditt exploded and killed an Austin man who picked up what appeared to be a normal package delivered to his residence. Similar packages exploded in the Austin area on March 12, one killing a teen and injuring his mother, and another injuring a 75-year-old woman. On March 18, two men were injured by a tripwire-triggered improvised explosive device in Austin.

 

Thu
22
Mar

Appellate court’s ruling on immigration law draws reactions

ED STERLING

 

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on March 13 praised a ruling by a panel of the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upholding a new state law that bans sanctuary cities.

 

The Legislature enacted Senate Bill 4 in 2017 to set a statewide policy of cooperation with federal immigration authorities’ enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws.

 

“I’m pleased the 5th Circuit recognized that Senate Bill 4 is lawful, constitutional and protects the safety of law enforcement officers and all Texans,” Paxton said. “Enforcing immigration law prevents the release of individuals from custody who have been charged with serious crimes. Dangerous criminals shouldn’t be allowed back into our communities to possibly commit more crimes.”

 

 

Thu
15
Mar

How much for one rib?

By TERESA VILLARREAL

It was a breezy Saturday evening, and I was hanging out with my new friend, Kevin. (You can read about him and his pals on our FB page). Anyway, I’m sitting back, having a beer when I see a guy walk up to the barbeque pit. He takes a piece of food out of a foil container and turns around and says, “How much for one rib?”

His cheesy smile and Chris Rock quote cracked me up, and I started laughing. No one else got the reference, but that didn’t keep him from laughing at his own joke. He looks at me and points in my direction and laughs a little more.

 

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Thu
15
Mar

More Texans than usual cast ballots in primary elections

By ED STERLING

In early voting, Texans participated in greater numbers in the state Democratic primary than the Republican primary, but on Election Day, March 6, the Republican turnout exceeded the Democratic turnout by half a million votes.

Primaries historically have been lightturnout affairs. This time, about 10 percent of the state’s 15 million registered voters cast ballots in the Republican primary and about 7 percent in the Democratic primary. In contrast, in March 2014, 7 percent of the state’s 13 million registered voters cast ballots in the GOP primary and 3 percent cast ballots in the Democratic primary.

 

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Thu
08
Mar

No Wodges Tonight

By MARC ROBERTSON

Pff…” Dave read from a sign after we had stop-started our way out of the city for some time. “Pff… what?”

“Pflugerville.”

“Weird name.”

“It’s German, I think.” I looked at the few buildings visible from the frontage road. They didn’t look very German. “Except for the ‘ville’ bit. I’m pretty sure it means ‘town of the plowman.’”

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