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House passes school reform legislation

April 26, 2017
House passes school reform legislation

The Texas House of Representatives on April 19 approved school finance legislation that would reduce the amount of local tax dollars that property-rich school districts are required to share with other school districts under the so-called “Robin Hood” process.
House Bill 21 by House Public Education Committee Chair Dan Huberty, R-Houston, passed on a vote of 134-16. It would increase per-student state funding for most school districts and charter schools and would adjust formulas used to calculate how much funding the state sends to school districts.
House Speaker Joe Straus, who designated school finance reform a top priority for lawmakers to address in the 85th session of the Texas Legislature, lauded the passage of HB 21.… Read the rest

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Revealed! How to graduate college in just 14 years

April 26, 2017
Revealed! How to graduate college in just 14 years

There was one thing I was determined to do in my lifetime: Become the first person in my family to get a college degree.
And I did – eventually.
(Of course, I was then going to become a famous film writer/director who commuted between New York and Hollywood when not at my private island; that has not happened – yet.)
I graduated from Meridian, Texas in May 1974 and could not wait to get out of there (like every other teenager in every other small town).
The big city beckoned; I enrolled at UT-Austin in the fall of ‘74. Everything was all mapped out: graduate college in four years then begin my awesome career, armed with my Radio, Television, and Film degree.… Read the rest

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Don’t say this. I mean it.

April 26, 2017
Don’t say this. I mean it.

I was going to title this post “Things you should never say to someone going through a tough time,” but it was too long for a headline. I might also call it, “Stupid things people say to hurting people,” but that seems particularly uncharitable and might actually qualify as something you shouldn’t say to someone.
But let me be clear: Words matter. When we are speaking to someone who is struggling, we can either increase or lighten their burden. And the fact that we meant it to be helpful and our heart was in the right place doesn’t really count for much if we add to their pain through careless words.… Read the rest

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Tough Texas Ranger cleans up a town in the 1930s

April 26, 2017
Tough Texas Ranger cleans up a town in the 1930s

This column first appeared March 19, 1992.

From a new book about the Texas Rangers (law enforcement kind) called Just One Riot, I found new evidence to illustrate the old axiom of “one riot, one Ranger.”
This story involves just one crime wave in San Augustine, Texas (near the Louisiana border) in the 1930s. A couple of families of hoodlums were intimidating everyone in town. A gun battle had taken place in a local hardware store in which four people were killed, but the sheriff seemed to be able to do nothing. Assaults, rapes, robberies, and murders had increased significantly over two years with few arrests or indictments.… Read the rest

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Battle lines: It’s mom versus son in the dress store

April 26, 2017
Battle lines: It’s mom versus son in the dress store

By this point, I should know better than to take a 10-year-old boy shopping for anything other than Pokémon cards and video games unless it is absolutely necessary.
I should have known that doing so would be an open invitation for always entertaining Grayson-isms.
Dress shopping with a teenager is no one’s idea of a dream outing. Throw a 10-year-old boy in the mix, and you’ve upped the pain factor by about 100.
A few Saturdays ago Grayson, my sister, and I rolled up to the mall on a mission – Operation Find Victoria A Prom Dress And Still Be Able To Afford Food.… Read the rest

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Hippy Jesus: Taking in Godspell over Easter

April 19, 2017
Hippy Jesus: Taking in Godspell over Easter

I go to church with a lady who absolutely hates contemporary Christian music.
The King James Bible, “Power in the Blood,” and the Gaither Family have been good enough for generations of believers and still should be today!
(She surely was happy when, on Easter Sunday, we all got to belt out a verse of “Up from the Grave He Arose” – a hymn the Blue and the Gray were likely singing mighty heartily back during the Civil War.)
I saw three Christian movies over the holiday weekend.
Like watching It’s a Wonderful Life, it wouldn’t be Easter without viewing at least some of The Ten Commandments.Read the rest

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‘Me, too.’ The gift of going second

April 19, 2017
‘Me, too.’ The gift of going second

Do you ever grow weary of people’s drama and complaints? Do you avoid asking some people, “How are you?” because you know they are going to report their aches, pains, frustrations, and disappointments? Do social media rants make you want to go on a rant?
If you answered “yes” to any or all of those, you and I are kindred spirits.
I would so prefer to hear someone talk about the good things going on in life. I’d rather hang around with glass-half-full people or at least the-glass-is-refillable people. And yes, there are people who I will deliberately avoid if possible, and put a time limit on if avoidance is not possible, because they are joy suckers.… Read the rest

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A civilian’s sad tale set during Texas’ early years

April 19, 2017
A civilian’s sad tale set during Texas’ early years

This column first appeared September 6, 1990.

I’ve read many, many fiction novels for pure relaxation which a formula plot. A well-bred young English woman, recently orphaned and now impoverished, is left totally on her own when her parents died.
The young lady, barely out of the schoolroom, married a wealthy man twice her age, mostly for security. Although he is a stranger to her when they marry, they fall in love…
Imagine my surprise when I found a similar story in the pages of Western history, in fact, in the pages of Texas history.
The true story came from the journal of Ann Raney Thomas Coleman who filled seven notebooks with her journal.… Read the rest

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A close encounter of the worst kind on 730 North

April 19, 2017
A close encounter of the worst kind on 730 North

In my job, I frequently see how people’s lives can change in an instant.
Mostly for the worse, and primarily through their own bad choices.
In rarer cases, people have their lives destroyed by the actions of others.
About two weeks ago, my life could have been ended or turned on end by the split-second mistake of someone else.
It was a Friday evening, and I was headed up 730 North when I came over a hill between Briar and Boyd and was met with a speeding truck in my lane.
I can’t say exactly how far away he was, but it was much too close for comfort.… Read the rest

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Again feds say Texas voter ID law discriminatory

April 19, 2017
Again feds say Texas voter ID law discriminatory

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi on April 10 ruled the State of Texas has failed to prove that the voter identification law was not written with discriminatory intent and purpose.
The ruling came in response to a charge by the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that Judge Ramos re-examine the evidence and her 2015 findings in Veasey et al., plaintiffs, v. Greg Abbott et al., defendants.
Plaintiffs alleged racial discrimination in violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act of 1965 in response to the passage of Senate Bill 14 by the Texas Legislature in 2011.… Read the rest

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