- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Texas newspapers:

San Antonio Express-News. Feb. 9, 2018.

The NCAA took a chance on San Antonio, selecting the Alamo City for this year’s men’s Final Four on the promise the Alamodome would be upgraded and because our hospitality is second to none.

City of San Antonio officials have delivered. The upgraded dome will make for a fabulous game experience this spring and undoubtedly serve this community well for years to come.

The $56 million in renovations touch the fan experience in small and big ways. The sound system has been upgraded. Massive video boards are in every corner. A new wireless network should ensure anyone in attendance will have access to the internet. Other improvements include a concourse expansion to give crowds a bit more space, outdoor concession areas, a 360-degree ribbon board and a new media room.

The Alamodome was built with the intention of landing an NFL team. Nonetheless, it has served the community well and is a real asset.

In its nearly 25 years, the dome has served as a home venue for the San Antonio Spurs and now the University of Texas at San Antonio football team. It has hosted Final Fours, as well as major concerts, exhibition games and conferences. And, of course, it is home to the Valero Alamo Bowl, which graciously contributed $6 million to these upgrades.

These improvements will be paid for through parking increases and ticket fees, essentially a user tax for attendees. Importantly, they will ensure the dome continues to serve the community for years to come.

___

Amarillo Globe-News. Feb. 10, 2018.

Civility - or the lack thereof - goes both ways in U.S. Congress.

Following his recent State of the Union address, President Donald Trump criticized Democrats, primarily Nancy Pelosi, for failing to clap.

Said Trump: “Can we call that treason? Why not! I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”

Granted, some Democrats, such as Pelosi, had a look on their face during the SOTU as if they had just sat on a tack.

And we are of the opinion the president does not really think that the Democratic sourpuss face during his SOTU is tantamount to treason. The president says - and tweets - things just to get a reaction. This is what he does.

However, the president would still be well advised to remember that this absurd claim of treason goes both ways.

During a joint session of Congress in 2009, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., infamously shouted “You lie!” at President Barack Obama. Obama was claiming health care reform would not include coverage for illegal immigrants.

Accusing someone of being a liar - even the president - is not treason, but it certainly trumps (pardon the pun) on the classless scale Democrats and their stone-faces during the recent SOTU.

What does the comparison mean? Not much, other than when it comes to a lack of professionalism if not respect, both parties can play the game.

___

Victoria Advocate. Feb. 10, 2018.

Game rooms continue to darken Victoria.

The popularity of the gaming business is growing as new game rooms pop up on a regular basis. The gaming public notices.

Drive by any game room any time, day or night, and the parking lots are full. It is hard to believe so many people are flocking to these businesses to collect cheap non-cash prizes as their winnings, as state law mandates. Just the opposite is happening - gamers are getting their winnings paid in cash prizes that far exceed the $5 maximum set by the state.

The city police recently raided a game room, arrested employees and seized illegal gambling equipment and cash.

One raid is not going to get the attention of those who are operating the facilities illegally.

We understand it takes time to investigate complaints and to make cases that will stand up in court, but it is time for more intervention.

It is time the police, sheriff’s office and district attorney join together to declare war on illegal game room operations. It is time for the agencies to actively enforce the laws on the books, which will drive the illegal operators out of business and out of town.

It will be tough to enforce the terribly convoluted law enacted by Texas legislators. Police rely on complaints from the public to start investigations. People who are breaking the laws tend not to snitch on one another for fear they too will be investigated.

But it is obvious the owners/managers have no regard for the law. Even after the police chief talks to them face to face to explain the city ordinances, the state laws and the consequences of breaking the law, many still operate the game rooms illegally.

The game rooms generate enormous amounts of money. Some officials estimate close to $1 million a year leaves Victoria from the game rooms to elsewhere as a front for other illegal activities such as drug dealing and human trafficking. This is far from a victimless crime.

Even the criminals who commit crime at the game rooms will tell you the illegal activities go unreported for the most part. Recently, a man on trial for robbing a game room said he did so because he did not think the owners would report the robbery.

Law enforcement must continue to hold game rooms accountable. A task force of the city, county and district attorney’s office would help weed out those operating illegally.

Our state legislators could make law enforcement’s job much easier by clarifying this terrible law. At the same time, lawmakers should reconsider the hypocritical world they have created of promoting and operating a state lottery but not allowing casino gambling.

Let the public decide whether gambling should be legal or not. If the public wants it, then we should reap its economic benefits and tightly regulate the industry.

In the absence of clear leadership from the state, Victoria and other Texas cities must fight to keep from being dumping grounds for criminals.

___

Marshall News Messenger. Feb. 11, 2018.

Not many cities can claim that a particular type of music originated within its limits.

But Marshall can do just that. According to historians, the Boogie Woogie style was started around the 1870s in a logging-camp house somewhere around Caddo Lake and Marshall. Loggers, hoping to be entertained after a long day of work, would play pianos in the shacks at night. The constant sound of steam engines roaring past likely influenced the style of playing, which ultimately led to what was once called Fast Texas, but is now known universally as Boogie Woogie.

It’s a wonderful heritage that should be preserved and celebrated. But the City Commission’s recent vote to allocate an additional $5,000 from Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funds to Boogie Woogie won’t put more heads in beds as it stands now.

That’s because there isn’t a plan for how to spend the extra money.

At the commission’s Jan. 11 meeting, the group had voted to cut Boogie Woogie’s funding from $10,000 to $5,000, upon a recommendation by the Convention & Visitors Bureau. This week, CVB member George Carter spoke out against the increase, stating that his group is well-equipped to decide which organizations receive HOT funds.

We agree that the CVB knows what it’s doing in terms of trying to attract more visitors to the city. Also, the extra $5,000 will have to come from somewhere else, and that’s a substantial allocation.

Carter had assured the commission that the CVB has detailed accounts of each group that receives HOT funds - and how many heads in beds are generated from each. The CVB does its homework and they know what event or group brings out of town visitors to Marshall. Josey Ranch and Ed and Amanda Smith’s HealthFest clearly have the largest tourist impact on the city. Boogie Woogie puts very few heads in beds for their events. City Commissioner Doug Lewis, who serves as ex-officio on the CVB board, spoke in favor of listening to the wisdom of the CVB Board.

The CVB presently has $126,400 to award to eight groups. Giving Boogie Woogie an additional $5,000 could impede the group’s ability to accomplish other goals, such as to advertise.

We agree with Commissioner District 2 Gail Beil that there is tremendous potential for Boogie Woogie to do great things for Marshall. But no one has yet begun plans for a festival or another type of event to recognize it.

For that reason, it doesn’t seem to be the best use of HOT funds at the moment. If there were plans for an annual event, for example, the funds would be very worthy. But so far, it isn’t in the works.

We agree that Boogie Woogie is part of this area’s rich cultural heritage and should be treasured. But having a concrete project to celebrate it, with goals in place, should be the first step.

___

The Dallas Morning News. Feb. 12, 2018.

How sad it’s come to this: Dallas ISD is pressed to come up with plans to help students who might come home to find their parents or guardians have been swept up in raids by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents.

The district is smart to plan ahead, especially since it’s believed that thousands of students (the district can’t ask immigration status) could be affected here. It’s disheartening to think of these young people suddenly without the loved ones charged to take care of them. Exactly where are these kids supposed to go?

This palpable fear underscores why the debate taking place right now in Congress on fixing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and wider immigration reform is so important right here at home. Our lawmakers in Washington must come up with common-sense solutions to bring some much-need certainty to these families, who are living in our neighborhoods with kids in our local schools.

And it isn’t just a problem for those kids and their families. Imagine the disruption in classrooms and the further strain on Child Protective Services and the foster care system if suddenly thousands more kids need homes.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said he doesn’t want to create a panic. But he knows his district has to prepare should the government fail to extend the DACA program, which is set to expire in March, or address overall immigration.

In Dallas, the fear of kids losing parents to arrests or possible deportation is increasingly real.

Consider that the Dallas enforcement area, which include about half of Texas’ counties and the state of Oklahoma, had the most ICE arrests in the country in 2017. There were 16,520 arrests, ahead of Houston which had 13,565. These arrests included many North Texas parents and guardians of newly arrived immigrant children.

This newspaper has urged Congress to immediately deal with the crisis involving the 800,000 Dreamers, whose parents brought them here illegally as children. But lawmakers also must provide a fuller solution for the roughly 13 million immigrants here illegally. We’re encouraged that President Donald Trump has indicated he’d support comprehensive reform.

There should be a path to legalization, whether it’s citizenship, work visas or long-term residency, that will bring these immigrants out of the shadows. Many are contributing mightily to our communities, paying taxes and building local economies.

But we’ve also agreed with Republicans that if we help unauthorized immigrants but fail to better control illegal entry into the country, we may only encourage more illegal entry.

Stuck in the middle of all this are vulnerable students. How are they supposed to learn with the fear that their parents could be swept away hanging over them? DISD is right to try to protect them.

Congress needs to do its job and find solutions now.


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