The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. December 19, 2019
Preventable mistakes killed worker at dickies Arena. We need to know who’s responsible
Juan Carlos Julian Jr.’s young life shouldn’t have ended as he worked to clean up at Dickies Arena.
A basic failure — the improper installation of a switch for a gate — was responsible for Julian’s death, Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Gordon Dickson discovered in an investigation. Dickson’s findings show how a tragedy is compounded when it could have been so easily avoided.
But there was no mesh, and the switch was installed on the gate’s post, easily reachable from outside the gate. Julian, a 24-year-old who was cleaning the arena in the early morning hours of Dec. 7 after a TCU basketball game at the arena, was apparently locked out. He reached through to activate the gate and got his arm caught. He was pinned and his body was crushed.
he installation mistakes were easily preventable. But there’s a lot we still don’t know about how they happened because city officials, arena managers and Julian’s employer all declined to answer Dickson’s questions.
They are in the middle of investigations, including by federal workplace safety officials. But Fort Worth owes answers to the taxpayers who own the arena. For one thing, as of Wednesday night, the switch remained in the wrong location and no mesh was installed on the gate. That needs to be fixed immediately.
And while the arena and its contractors will no doubt look to manage their legal liability, a full accounting for the mistakes is due. It could end up being costly if, for instance, installation instructions were disregarded or questions were raised but ignored.
Dickies Arena is a gem for Fort Worth. Private donors — chiefly financier Ed Bass — gave hundreds of millions of dollars over the city’s capped contribution to make it a great venue for sports and concerts. The thought and attention to detail are one reason it’s already seen as a prize.
This tragedy shouldn’t diminish that. But it does demand answers and a thorough accounting of what went wrong, for Julian’s family and for the arena’s owners: the people of Fort Worth.
El Paso Times. December 18, 2019
Texas GOP lack of diversity is a problem, not a ‘narrative’. Here’s what to do about it.
Does the Texas Republican Party have a diversity problem? According to the party, that’s a “narrative driven by the Democrats.” So let’s take a look at where Democrats got that narrative.
Texas House: 83 Republicans, one is Hispanic (Rep. J.M. Lozano of Kingsville), one Asian (Rep. Angie Chen Button of Garland).
Texas Senate: 19 Republicans, one is Hispanic (Sen. Pete Flores of Pleasanton).
Statewide office: All Republicans, one Hispanic (Land Commissioner George P. Bush).
U.S. House delegation: 23 Republicans: One black, Rep. Will Hurd of Helotes, who’s not running for re-election. Rep. Bill Flores of Bryan, who doesn’t identify himself culturally with an ethnicity other than American, traces his family roots to Spain.
U.S. Senate: Ted Cruz, who is of Cuban descent, and was famously not conversant enough in Spanish to debate Spanish-fluent non-Hispanic El Pasoan Beto O’Rourke in Spanish in 2018.
Texas: Population (2018): 28.7 million; 41.5% non-Hispanic white (shrinking percentage-wise); Hispanic, 39.6% (growing, fast); black, 12.8%; Asian, 5.2%., other: 0.9%.
This is not a narrative invented by Democrats. It’s a plain fact and Democrats just noticed it. How could anyone not?
IS THERE A DIVERSITY STRATEGY?
It’s hard to say. Lately, Republicans, to their credit, have responded quickly and harshly to prominent party members who are caught saying something racist or inappropriate. Two examples:
State Rep. Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land, apologized and withdrew his candidacy for re-election after saying some of his opponents were running because they’re Asian in a district with many Asians. Before he backed out, his local party repudiated him and Gov. Greg Abbott withdrew his endorsement.
The state’s top Republican leadership, including Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Land Commissioner Bush and party chairman James Dickey called on Galveston County party Chairwoman Yolanda Waters to resign after the Galveston Daily News reported a text exchange in which she used a racist slur to describe a local party member who is black.
This kind of response should be the party standard. But it poses some problems for this party:
· Lt. Gov. Patrick is the same guy who criticized Black Lives Matter on national television after the 2016 shooting attack on Dallas police during a march in which the shooter targeted police while marchers’ lives also were at grave risk.
· The Texas GOP enthusiastically supports a president who called Mexicans rapists, promised to wall off Mexico, and puts refugee children from Central and South America in cages.
· Yolanda Waters is a woman of color who identifies as both Hispanic and African American. Coming down on her, though warranted, appears uneven-handed considering the pass that the party has given to Patrick and Trump.
THE REAL PROBLEM:
The party has pursued policies that aren’t friendly to people of color. For example:
The party has sought to disenfranchise low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, and immigrant naturalized citizen voters it assumes will vote Democratic — all in pursuit of vote fraud, which for the most part can be described accurately as an imaginary Republican narrative. The party in recent years pushed into law an overly stringent voter ID requirement that effectively priced hundreds of thousands of poor people out of voting.
The hunt for vote fraud has turned up two convictions for voter violations in this state of nearly 30 million people. In one case, an immigrant who had been brought here as a small child assumed wrongly that she was eligible to vote, and registered and voted a few times before it was noticed. In the other case, a woman on parole who wasn’t sure if she had regained her right to vote asked poll workers if it was OK, and they let her vote provisionally. Both got prison time and Attorney General Ken Paxton continues to celebrate.
More recently, then-acting Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, the official in charge of voter registration and elections, claimed inaccurately to have discovered tens of thousands of potential fraudulent immigrant voters, based on drivers license information. They turned out to be naturalized citizens who had obtained their drivers licenses before becoming citizens and registering to vote. After Whitley failed to win Senate confirmation because of the scandal, Abbott rewarded him with a job on his staff at a salary of more than $200K.
The Republican-controlled state government in recent years has flooded border counties with an expanded DPS presence on the notion that the region is a vast, lawless security risk. The border region is still as low-crime as it already was. But now there are more troopers issuing speeding tickets. Considering that the border-counties population is overwhelmingly Hispanic, it’s unavoidable that more Hispanics are being ticketed.
The so-called show-me-your-papers law, another GOP initiative, allows law enforcement officers to inquire about citizenship or residency status when detaining people for as little as a traffic infraction. It allows harassment of dark-skinned Texans.
1. Admit the diversity problem. Stop claiming it’s a Democratic plot.
2. Support policies that encourage rather than discourage voting, such as automatic voter registration and expansion of early voting and mobile voting.
3. Reverse anti-so-called-sanctuary-city policies that target brown-skinned people who are or appear to be Hispanic.
This is nothing short of proposing that the party abandon a plan of attack that made it what it is today. It has been a winning strategy, but it also is the reason for the diversity problem.
Amarillo Globe-News. December 16, 2019
Bain has had huge impact on local world of education
As fall commencement ceremonies took place at university campuses across the region, we were overjoyed to learn of West Texas A&M University’s plan to present an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy in Education to Barbara J. Bain, who has devoted her life to giving back and education in the Panhandle.
The ceremony took place during last Saturday’s commencement at the First United Bank Center.
Bain was honored for her lifelong commitment and contributions to education as her personal mission has perfectly aligned with West Texas A&M’s generational plan, “WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.” According to a news release announcing the honor, Bain has been “highly involved in both secondary and higher education as well as educator preparation for WT’s undergraduate and graduate students and children of Texas.”
Awarding an honorary degree gives an institution of higher education the opportunity to recognize excellence in a variety of fields, including public affairs, the sciences, humanities and the arts. Others include scholarship and education, business and philanthropy and social services. The barometer for such degrees is one’s significant and lasting contributions to community.
“The awarding of the honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree in Education to Mrs. Bain acknowledges the significant and lasting influence of Barbara’s lifetime of professional service and personal philanthropy on West Texas A&M University, the Texas Panhandle region and the untold number of Texas learners who have benefited from her dedication to public school and higher education,” Dr. Eddie Henderson, dean of the College of Education and Social Sciences, said in the news release.
Bain is a native of Hale Center who earned a bachelor of science degree in education from West Texas before embarking on an educational career spanning more than three decades. She served in schools in the Panhandle and New Mexico. One career high point occurred in 1991, when she was named Teacher of the Year by the Dimmitt Independent School District.
Along the way, she has been recognized as a distinguished graduate of WTAMU’s College of Education and Social Sciences. More recently, she was named Citizen of the Year in 2018 by the Canyon News.
Although she “retired” in 1998, Bain has remained extensively involved in educational endeavors. She served on the Dimmitt ISD Board of Trustees from 1990 until 2008 while also holding a variety of leadership positions in that district’s retired school personnel association as well as the Region 16 Education Service Center Retired Teachers Association. These days, she is involved as a member of the board of directors of the Canyon ISD Education Foundation.
Likewise, she has given of her time and talent to a handful of West Texas A&M advisory boards, including the College of Education and Social Sciences Advisory Council, the WTAMU Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Buffalo Club Board of Directors.
As we have said before, educators change the trajectory of young lives. They come along for a season, sharing knowledge, wisdom and yes, love, with young people. They spend their careers planting seeds without any guarantees of seeing what the harvest might look like.
Virtually everyone has a story of one special educator in their life, someone who not only challenged them to realize their potential, but who also paused long enough to remind them how special they already were.
Bain has spent a career as a servant to and encourager of others. We congratulate her on this well-deserved honor and thank her for her years of devotion to the Panhandle.
We likely will never fully know the difference you have made.