Columns

Thu
01
Feb

Governors seek disaster aid funding

By ED STERLING

Gov. Greg Abbott and the governors of California, Puerto Rico and Florida on Jan. 24 asked U.S. House and Senate leaders to hurry up and pass supplemental disaster funding, and to send the legislation to President Trump.

“Over the past several months, we have received numerous assurances that adequate disaster funding was imminent,” the governors wrote in a joint letter. “Its continued delay only exacerbates ongoing uncertainty in devastated areas. Simply put, the communities devastated by these storms cannot be completely put back together until the federal government makes good on its promise to our citizens. If ever there was a time and role for the federal government to urgently help its citizens rebuild communities damaged by epochal disasters, now is the time to step up and fill that role.”

Thu
25
Jan

Hurricane recovery efforts continue with much still to do

By ED STERLING

 

Gov. Greg Abbott on Jan. 17 extended for 30 days the state disaster declaration for counties affected by Hurricane Harvey, which pounded and flooded the Gulf Coast and moved deeply inland, spreading its destructive power.

 

“As long as Texas families are fighting to recover, they can rest assured that the State of Texas is fighting with them,” Abbott said. The 60 counties listed in the declaration will continue to be eligible for assistance as they recover and rebuild, the governor said.

 

Abbott, who remains in regular contact with congressional leaders and the Trump administration, said he has continued to request funds to rebuild Texas. On Jan. 19, Abbott said he shared Hurricane Harvey survivors’ aggravation over that fact that much-needed continuing federal disaster aid for Texas is bogged down in Washington politics.

 

 

Thu
25
Jan

Squeakery and Squawkery

By MARC ROBERTSON

 

One reaches the point at which the arrival of some new appliance in the home becomes an event generating excitement on a par with a new toy only a few years previously.

 

Honestly, I was never very excited about a new blender or hairdryer in the home when I was a child. They were just the sorts of things that my parents were bothered with. I wasn’t going to use them, so why should I jump with glee at their arrival? Now, if you had shown me a new electric train or a Lego kit when I was small – yes, I was small once – I would have been quite thrilled.

 

It would have been hard to transpose that sort of thrill to a blender.

 

 

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Thu
18
Jan

Recognize MLK Day

Dear Editor,

The third Monday in January is an observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is a state and federal holiday.

Our City and County offices are closed in observance of this holiday. So, I ask, is there anyone other than me wondering why our local School District does not observe this holiday?

 

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Thu
18
Jan

DPS acts to prevent violent confrontations at capitol

By ED STERLING

Enhanced security measures have been implemented at the state capitol complex and grounds, the Texas Department of Public Safety announced Jan. 11.

According to the DPS announcement, “It has been observed that some individuals or groups seek violent confrontations during protests and equip themselves for physical combat.

 

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Thu
11
Jan

FEMA clears way for public assistance to churches that aid in disasters

By ED STERLING

 

Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Jan. 3 announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s approval of their request to allow churches and religious organizations to receive the same public assistance available to other nonprofits aiding in

 

Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide previously offered assistance to private non-profit organizations, including zoos, performing arts centers and museums, and excluded facilities established or primarily used for religious activities. The revised policy is in force for any major disaster declared on or after Aug. 23, 2017. Abbott and Paxton sent a letter to President Donald Trump in September urging him to authorize this assistance.

 

 

Thu
11
Jan

Creating 21st Century Solutions

By WILL HURD

No one wants to hear about another hack. As our society becomes more and more reliant on constantly emerging technologies from smart phones to smart cities, we have not been able to keep our digital information secure while harnessing these innovations. Cybersecurity is no longer only about protecting your social security or bank numbers – it’s about keeping our electricity on and our economy functioning. Nearly every aspect of our lives nowadays depends on technology, which means they are also all vulnerable to hacks.

 

I came to Congress to find solutions and fix problems, which is why I’ m excited to team up with private sector leaders to develop real solutions as a trichair of the Aspen Cyber Strategy Group. This group brings together experts and thought leaders across industry sectors to keep up to date on the latest malicious cyber threats and trends.

 

Thu
04
Jan

Texas waits for Senate agreement on disaster aid funding

By ED STERLING

Gov. Greg Abbott on Dec. 21 released a statement applauding the U.S. House of Representatives’ preliminary passage of $81 billion in disaster aid to Texas, several other states and Puerto Rico.

Abbott called the House’s 251-169 vote in favor of the aid package “a step in the right direction” but added that “more needs to be done to ensure the funds Congress provides address the critical needs Texans are enduring from the largest natural disaster in our state’s history. We look forward to working with the Senate to improve the disaster funding to ensure it addresses the acute needs of Texans.”

The U.S. Senate went into recess on Dec. 22 without voting on disaster funding. The recess came after senators passed a continuing resolution to avoid a federal government shutdown for lack of a budget agreement.

 

Thu
04
Jan

Wisp of Woodsmoke

By MARC ROBERTSON

Like tiny animals awaking from hibernation, all fluffy and sleepy, the children emerged from their snowy burrows, their cottages in the hills, their humble little homes, and began to make their way with us into the valley. Footsteps in the freshly fallen snow became trails and then wider paths as the little ones converged on the village. Hooded, mittened, scarved and booted in red and blue and green, with tassels and bobbles, buttons and laces, we formed meandering tributaries down the lumpy hillsides that led to the confluence in the market square.

Thu
28
Dec

Officials name members to school finance commission

By  ED STERLING

 

Top state officials last week named members to the Texas Public School Finance Commission, an agency created by legislation passed last summer during a special session of the 85th Texas Legislature.

 

Gov. Greg Abbott named Scott Brister of Waco, a former justice of the Texas Supreme Court, as chair of the commission. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick named his appointees to the commission: - Senate Education Chairman Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood; - Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston; - Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas; and - Doug Killian, Pflugerville Independent School District superintendent. House Speaker Joe Straus announced his appointees:

 

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