- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Texas newspapers:

The Daily Sentinel. May 5, 2018.

Some of the best news this year regarding the media came out of the NRA Annual Meeting in Dallas.

U.S. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn - the senior senator from Texas - said he’s actively opposing a tariff on Canadian newsprint put into place earlier this year.

“Newspapers are beleaguered already and I don’t think we need to make that any harder than it already is,” Cornyn told The Daily Sentinel.



For the news industry, and for you, dear readers, it was some of the best news of the day.

Cornyn said he had spoken in opposition to the tariff with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and was “hopeful we’ll see some positive results.”

“People need access to well-researched and well-written, accurate news,” Cornyn said.

Cornyn’s right, and we are pleased to have the No. 2 Republican in Congress as an advocate for our industry.

Canadian newsprint makes up 75 percent of the paper used for American newspapers. That’s not because, as one company complained, Canada is undercutting prices. It’s because paper mills have been closing across the United States for more than a decade. We saw it in the Pineywoods in 2004 when Abitibi shuttered its mill in Lufkin.

Since circulations of major metro papers have decreased, mills began shutting down newsprint production. Now, America simply cannot produce enough paper to keep up with demand.

The tariff has tacked on an undue burden to newspapers and newspaper readers. Papers across the country have made cutbacks. Employees have lost their jobs. Stories go uncovered. Some government agencies are now without a watchdog.

The tariffs are not yet permanent but are still in effect. Soon the International Trade Commission will rule on the tariffs, and we encourage newspapers readers to contact U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, Gov. Greg Abbott, and Sen. Ted Cruz and let them know these tariffs must not continue.

Community journalism depends on it.

Having Cornyn on the side of the newspaper industry helps, but readers must make their voices heard to our nation’s leaders.

During our interview with Cornyn, there was no glitz, no TV cameras, no expensive microphones. It was just Cornyn, flanked by aides and Secret Service agents walking and talking with a reporter from your hometown newspaper.

Anyone watching on TV missed it. Instead they heard President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and the National Rifle Association’s top lobbyist bash the media - some criticism may be deserved but most is not. You couldn’t read this in The Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle or anywhere online.

You’ll only find this story in your local paper. That’s what we’re here for.

___

Longview News-Journal. May 6, 2018.

The shuttering of the American Dream Inn on the east end of U.S. 80 in Longview is, without equivocation, progress.

The motel, which operated for years with an RV park, has been a focal point for crime in this city - just about every kind of crime within the Texas Criminal Code but particularly relating to drugs, prostitution, theft and violence. We remember not many years ago a late-night gun battle between two groups raged across U.S. 80 in the area, endangering anyone who might have been driving through.

The American Dream is not just an eyesore - though it most certainly has become that. Its operation gave some criminals a base of operations, a place to call home or at least do business.

It is not the only motel that poses such problems in that area. Just down the street, the Globe Inn is now for sale and, if it sells, the property would almost certainly be used for another purpose. That would be another step of progress.

And, yet, there is still more to be done. All one has to do is drive U.S. 80 and look at the motels and other properties in that area to know the transformation, while certainly getting started, is not complete.

Action by city inspectors is at least partly responsible for the demise of these two problem properties and will certainly be a key in helping rid Longview of some others. We don’t know the name of the city official responsible for the push on East Marshall Avenue, but we hope he or she gets recognition at some point.

The city earlier shut down the unauthorized RV park at the American Dream, which might have been the tipping point for that business. Regular fire inspections also put pressure on the motels to upgrade their properties.

For the owners of these and similar properties, upgrading is probably not an option. Photos published a week ago of conditions at the Globe and American Dream are proof that renovation would cost far more than any possible projected income could cover.

Those two sites are not the only ones on East Marshall Avenue that need to go, but perhaps their closing will build momentum to keep changing that part of Longview for the better.

Empty fields would be better than what exists now. And that could be what we have to live with for some time. Not all changes happen quickly, and we suspect East Marshall Avenue will be a slow transformation. Patience will be needed.

We should not forget that with genuine progress often comes pain.

And there are some individual tragedies in this story that should not be overlooked. There are those - admittedly few - who have relied on these motels for housing and did not take part in the criminal activity. It might not have been comfortable or even safe, but it was better than finding a place in the woods on cold winter evenings.

As the motels close, options for those struggling folks will narrow considerably. We should not forget their plight. They are victims, simply trying to get by in a city that does not offer them many options.

Those who owned the businesses also face failure, but it is much more difficult to feel compassion for their plight. In most cases, they did little to change the situation.

The passing of the American Dream is proof that progress is possible, that Longview can become better. We can make it happen.

___

Houston Chronicle. May 7, 2018.

Television journalist Chris Hayes got handcuffed and shackled to a bench after objecting to being barred from a public meeting on June 30, 2016. He’d gone to follow-up on his investigation of a tiny town’s uninsured and unregistered police cars.

On Sept. 7, 2017, a crowd of police officers knocked down Mike Faulk, a newspaper reporter covering a protest, and pinned him to the ground. One peppered sprayed him in the face. Then Faulk got hauled off to jail.

Hayes and Faulk were eventually released. But journalist Manuel Duran, a Salvadoran national, remains in custody - he too was arrested while covering a protest and carrying press credentials on April 3.

World Press Freedom Day, May 3, filled social media with images of journalists jailed or killed in countries ruled by dictators and wracked by violence. But the arrests described above occurred in America. They involved journalists such as Hayes of Fox 2 in St. Louis and Faulk of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as well as Duran, an independent journalist who remains in U.S. immigration custody though charges filed by Memphis, Tennessee, police were dropped.

More troubling episodes appear in a new report called “Press Freedom Under Threat - Mission to the United States.”

Because of an increase in anecdotal reports of attacks against U.S. journalists, international human rights experts recently completed that unusual mission in America. One stop was Houston. Reporters here told of receiving threats and hate mail after writing about hot button issues like immigration reform. Texas journalists and others who cover and cross the U.S.-Mexico border shared accounts of unreasonable searches and seizures of equipment, including video, notes, cameras and cellphones.

The report highlights troubling trends: reporters subject to manhandling and arrests while conducting interviews or covering protests; unreasonable border searches; aggressive use of subpoenas - beginning under the Obama administration - to compel journalists to identify sources, and a rise in inflammatory political rhetoric that has declared the press an enemy.

Of course, journalists elsewhere in the world still face greater danger. But America’s leadership and its constitutional commitment to press freedom has slipped. We can all help reverse this by supporting nonprofits like the Committee to Protect Journalists, which monitor press freedom. It also helps to subscribe to outlets that support watchdog reporting. And those who serve in the military, government and police can assist by remembering that journalists serve as the public’s eyes and ears - and should not be subject to beatings, unreasonable searches or arrests for doing their jobs.

___

The Dallas Morning News. May 7, 2018.

If you believe in the Texas miracle, as we do, you might want to hear about an under-reported trend now unfolding in our state.

In broad terms, there are only a handful of ways to expand an economy. One involves increasing productivity, such as developing new technologies or shifting workers to higher-skilled vocations. Another is to increase the number of people who are working.

For years, Texas has done both. But a new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas indicates that the flow of new workers to the Lone Star State is slowing, and for years, that influx has been fueling our rapid growth.

Workers, of course, move to Texas from around the country and around the world. Both categories are important, and one has declined sharply while the other has hit a plateau.

Last year, Texas added almost 190,000 migrants, which approaches the number of newborns. But total migration was one-third lower than in 2015 due to a steep drop in cross-state relocations. Other regional economies are improving and baby boomers are retiring, so fewer U.S. workers have to go to Texas to chase their dreams.

Since 2000, the net increase from migration - that is, the difference between those moving in and those moving out - has averaged about 200,000 people a year.

These migrants usually move for jobs and often bring strong skills and academic credentials. Compared with the Texas population, transplants from New York, California and Illinois are much more likely to have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The education gap is greater with certain foreign-born workers. Over three-quarters of Texas immigrants from India have at least a college degree, as do over half from China, Korea and Canada. Among Texans, just over 1 in 4 has a bachelor’s or higher.

Foreign-born workers account for over half the state’s medical scientists, 45 percent of software developers and one-third of physicians and engineers, according to the Dallas Fed. They’re also a major source of low-skilled labor. Hailing largely from Mexico and Central America, they make up over half the state’s painters, housekeepers and construction laborers.

Since 2000, immigrants accounted for about 40 percent of the growth in the state’s workforce. So as Pia Orrenius, a Dallas Fed senior economist and coauthor of the report, put it: “There wouldn’t be a Texas miracle without immigration.”

And that raises a fundamental question: Today, with the flow of foreign workers slowing down and domestic newcomers in decline, how can Texas keep expanding its skilled workforce and keep leading the nation in economic growth?

One of the best ways is to nurture our own. We have to increase the number of Texans who earn a college degree or postsecondary certificate. Such progress would lift many families out of poverty while stoking the economy, regardless of the trend among migrants.

One way or another, Texas needs all the talent it can get.

___

The Monitor. May 8, 2018.

If you were among the 1,728 voters who cast a ballot for the city of McAllen’s two bond elections last weekend totaling $25 million, give yourself a pat on the back. You were among just 2.5 percent of the city’s 68,118 registered voters who bothered to go to the polls.

Both bonds passed - $22 million for drainage upgrades and $3 million for traffic improvements - but given such an abysmal low voter turnout that resulted in a small percentage of voters deciding a tax hike that will affect everyone, this is nothing to celebrate.

A robust democracy is dependent upon an energized and participating populous. To shirk our duties, as U.S. citizens, is not what our Founding Fathers expected when they built this great nation. It also doesn’t make us very good role models for our youth, who could be learning from our apathy and might result in even lower voter turnout numbers in the future (if that’s even possible.)

Congratulations to residents in the much smaller city of Hidalgo, who showed those in McAllen, that they, at least, value their right to vote. Over half of Hidalgo’s registered voters participated in Saturday’s mayoral election where former city council member Sergio Coronado defeated Hidalgo Mayor Martin Cepeda. Nearly 3,700 of the city’s 7,200 registered voters cast ballots.

If you live in McAllen and own a home valued at $128,133, expect your annual taxes to rise $24 to cover the two new bonds; if your home is valued at $256,266 then expect a $48 tax hike.

If you’re not happy about that, don’t complain if you didn’t take the time to vote.

City Manager Roy Rodriguez told Monitor reporter Mitchell Ferman that construction would begin this week on these new bond projects.

This includes 23 new drainage projects to aid with water problems throughout the city, such as widening drainage outlets and increasing detention ponds. Two projects will be aimed at reducing high water flow at the troublesome areas of 29th Street and Northgate Lane in north McAllen, and Ranch Road and McColl Road in south McAllen.

The $3 million traffic bond will fund new traffic hardware and fiber to be put throughout the city on most north/south and east/west busy thoroughfares to help synchronize traffic signals and to help traffic flow better.

The bond projects are expected to take five years to complete.

We remind city leaders of the bonds totaling $45 million they requested in 2013, included a bond for $15 million that voters approved for construction of a new youth baseball complex and softball fields through the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. It was supposed to be completed in three years. But five years later, those fields still aren’t ready to play ball. We hope these new projects will be done on time and as promised.

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