Sunday, May 31, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Dr. Michael Hinojosa, Superintedent of the Dallas Independent School District and I had dueling op-ed columns in the Dallas Morning News yesterday.Dr. Hinojosa believes that cuts in the budget of magnet schools and learning centers in DISD are required in order to avoid loss of Title I and stimulus dollars for education. He also believes its an issue of 'fairness'. Let's just say, I disagree.
I've been hoping that school board trustee Carla Ranger would be elected President of the DISD school board. She was voted 2nd VP. Adam Medrano has been elected president and Lew Blackburn is 1st VP. All should be steps in the right direction...
In the category of REALLY GOOD NEWS - Jerry Lee Evans became the 20th man freed from prison, exonerated by DNA evidence. Mr. Evans is 47 years old and has been in prison 22 years!“I’m not angry at all, said Evans. Amazing. Absolutely amazing...
Interesting read? Why Black Radio Doesn't Deserve Our Help.
Finally, what am I reading now: 'The Power Broker", by Robert Caro.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I think its something we ought all remember, when we are tempted to be complacent in the face of those threats that would make us less free, or settle for less freedom for others.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
He actually found someone qualified who is basically a moderate with a mixed record. Judge Sonya Sotomayor, does indeed fit the need on the Supreme Court for diversity in life experience, gender and ethnicity. She is a moderate liberal, who has sided with business and ruled against minority lawsuit plaintiffs. So what's to complain about?
Mark Davis, a local columnist with the Dallas Morning News: "President Obama has, unfortunately, given us exactly what he promised, a nominee who allows feelings and personal agendas to color her judicial temperament."
Ronald Cass of Real Clear Politics opines: "President Obama [picked] a nominee less for her intellect, her understanding of the law, or her facility for interpreting and explaining the law than on her identity. Worse, he picked someone who sees identity as important to deciding what the law is, how it applies, and who wins and loses."
"Sotomayor also referred to the cardinal duty of judges to be impartial as a mere "aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others." And she suggested that "inherent physiological or cultural differences" may help explain why "our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.""
"So accustomed have we become to identity politics that it barely causes a ripple when a highly touted Supreme Court candidate, who sits on the federal Appeals Court in New York, has seriously suggested that Latina women like her make better judges than white males."
This is going to be very, very interesting!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
This falls in the category of something I never thought about seeing!
Congratulations, Rabbi Stanton! Wow, talk about about making strides!!!
Alysa Stanton is set to become the first African-American female rabbi when she is ordained next month.(Courtesy Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion)
But that day will come June 6 for the single mother who will be ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, becoming the first African-American female rabbi in the world.
You can read the rest of the article here...
Monday, May 25, 2009
On Thursday, I was explaining to them how our permanent supportive housing program, called Destination Home works.
When one of the students asked where we get referrals to this program from. I explained that we get some from the Bridge, Dallas' homeless assistance center. Then I said that we also get some referrals from the Veteran's Administration Hospital. Then something struck me and I guess I was musing out loud:
The country, pro-Iraq war and anti-Iraq war, take great pains to say how much we love our troops. And how every American should be proud of them, their sacrifice and their that of their families. And they are all absolutely right!
But we have a habit of not treating our veterans well after the wars are over, and it dawned on me...some of these patriots, whose virtues we extol, will come back with mental health issues, financial problems, and broken families. Advances in medical science mean that soldiers who might have died with the same injuries in Viet Nam, will have disabilities and all of these circumstances will contribute to many of our fighting boys and girls ending up on the street.
We welcome them with banners and balloons now. But I wonder will we love our troops then?
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
AFL Hall of Fame Quarterback, Politician, Congressman, Vice-Presidential Candidate, Author
"When people lack jobs, opportunity, and ownership of property they have little or no stake in their communities."
Friday, May 22, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
HB1736 "...set(s) compensation, for all cases [of wrongful conviction], to $80,000 for each year served in prison and would be prorated for a partial year. Claimants would be entitled to receive $25,000 for each year on parole or as a registered sex offender, and would be prorated for a partial year. The bill would also require the Comptroller to make equal monthly payments to claimants based on an annuity derived from the present value sum of the wrongful imprisonment compensation, interest, and other actuarial considerations at the Comptroller's discretion. In addition, claimants would also be entitled to 120 hours of state-paid tuition and mandatory fees at a career center, community college, or state university if requested by a claimant before the seventh anniversary of the date the claimant received a pardon or was granted relief."
It would also "...provide reentry and reintegration services for a wrongfully imprisoned person. The bill would include a person who has served wholly or partly a sentence operated by or under contract with TDCJ and has received a pardon for innocence for the crime for which the person was sentenced or otherwise been granted relief because of being innocent of the crime. Also, the bill would require TDCJ to develop a reentry and reintegration plan that would include life-skills, job, and vocational training for a wrongfully imprisoned person following discharge, for as long as the services are beneficial. The bill would require TDCJ to provide the following to the wrongfully imprisoned person: a state identification card and financial assistance to aid in covering living expenses following discharge, not to exceed $10,000."
"This bill cannot make people whole," said Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, the measure's sponsor. "Surely no amount of money can make people whole, but I assure you, members, that we can do better than we're doing now...better benefits are needed because those affected, usually men falsely accused of sex crimes, have huge difficulty finding jobs and readjusting to society."
North Texas can be proud of its House delegation this time. Other sponsors for the bill were Representatives Yvonne Davis, Terri Hodge and Dan Branch; on the Senate side, Royce West and Florence Shapiro co-authored companion bill SB 2014.
Congratulations to the Innocence Project of Texas, to Jaime Page, Clay Graham and the interns from UTA, the Cole family, congratulations to the 81st Legislature, for stepping up and doing the right thing. This legislation hasn't received the publicity it deserverves. Texas now has the most generous exoneree compensation policy in the country.
Congratulations, finally, to one of the greatest groups of guys I've ever had the priviledge of knowing - the exonerees, whose patience, grace and courage made participating in this work one of the most meaningful episodes in my life!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
I certainly couldn't mention Arizona State's snub of President Barack Obama, without giving attention to Notre Dame's invitation to the president to give their commencement address AND to award him an honorary doctorate.
It was the subject of more than a little controversy.
The president's position on abortion rights was seen as a violation of the sacred teachings and values of the Catholic Church. And one can certainly respect the position of those who have honest disagreement with Mr. Obama and their venerated institution's selection of him as their speaker. There were some indeed who vehemently protested and dissented, as was their right.
But views upon the President's role in this commencement were apparently not unanimous...
"One Catholic leader, Archbishop Raymond Burke, accused Obama of pushing an anti-life, anti-family agenda. Burke, the first American to lead the Vatican supreme court, said Friday it was "a scandal" that Notre Dame had invited Obama to speak..."
"Yet polling and other evidence shows that Catholic voters have a largely positive view of the president, closely tracking other national polling. Obama's standing is more evidence that U.S. Catholics don't always follow the Church hierarchy, whether on issues such as abortion and contraception or political preferences. Also, the president's community service background and his opposition to the Iraq war appeal to some Catholics."
But this post isn't meant to deal with either the pro-choice or anti-abortion agenda.
Colleges and universities truly educate their students by exposing them to a broad range of issues across ideological spectra, and, while in all but the most egregious cases, do so without demonizing those who hold differing points of view. It is the intellectual 'safe haven' in which it is safe to learn something other than what you have always thought or known. To be introduced to, here about, or even hear from those who believe differently, is not to adopt their views or even sanction their perspective.
Real education happens when you learn more about what you believe because through exposure to thoughts different from your own - and from that informed vantage point decide whether your beliefs are worth holding on to.
Notre Dame, in my opinion, violated no standard, theological, ideological or otherwise. They upheld their highest standard as an academic institution of higher learning: to cherish informed debate as a tool of education thereby showing that no one is truly developed intellectually if all they ever hear are confirmations of what they are already predisposed to believe.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
She's not a big fan as of our state's standardized test (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills or TAKS) as a prerequisite for graduation. Neither am I. Of course I have issues with the emphasis we've placed on it anyway.
But Ms. Nelson's op-ed in the Dallas Morning News makes an interesting assessment and suggestion regarding testing for 'college readiness':
"Senate Education Committee chair Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, said, "The overarching goal is to raise the bar so that Texas students are prepared for success in life." I couldn't agree more, but I don't think denying a student a high school diploma because he can't perform Algebra II on a college-ready level is the best way to prepare him for success. In fact, if he gets discouraged and drops out, we are almost assured he will have less success in life."
"The fact is we already have tests in place that tell us how our students are doing when it comes to college readiness. They are the SAT and the ACT. Make every high school student take the ACT or SAT and see how we're doing."
Now I also have an issue with assuming which children are 'college ready' and which aren't. I don't think you know until they get there. But it is true. And the test that shows which one's are ready and which aren't - the one's that are actually recognized by colleges and universities, are the SAT and the ACT exams.
Maybe we ought to use the tests that actually mean something.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
It's all there: broadcast news drifting into 'infotainment'
Corporate Corruption and greed on massive scales
The numbing of civic culture
This scene is particularly engaging! It is a near perfect explanation of what our country is trying to extricate itself from.
Watching this recently made me think: suppose the torrent of ideological blather we've been hearing as been a clever distraction from the real issue - the 'ownership' of our country and the devaluation of our individual significance and our communal existence?
I'm not a conspiracy theorist. But watch the clip and see what you think.
Either way, its a great movie!
Monday, May 11, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
It may sound blasphemous for a Baptist preacher to say this, but: Not always...
Some of our greatest political leaders were nominally religious, some of the worst, very religious.
But it does warm my heart when an elected official is unafraid about such an ultimate commitment. While we don't elect men and women to be substitutes or even extensions of our personal faith convictions, when their public concerns are informed by those deep convictions, significant, meaningful things can happen.
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert is such a politician. At the Metrocrest Mayors' Prayer Breakfast, Mr. Leppert spoke of his convictions movingly and convincingly, "Our real goal in life is not to satisfy ourselves. Our real goal is to prepare ourselves to be with Him in eternity," Leppert told the crowd. "The message of Christ, I think, is really simple: It is to forgive us for our past, to give meaning to the present and to give us a promise for the truth."
Have I not heard those words before? Of course I have. I've also known several Dallas mayors. So far Mr. Leppert's sensitivity, responsiveness and willingness to listen and engage make him stand out in ways that very few who preceded him have. And while it should not matter, by the way, he is a Republican (and please don't get me started on that!).
Authentic Christian politicians, don't have to proselytize or make their colleagues of different beliefs or no belief feel inferior or wrong. The fact that we live in a pluralistic society means that there is room in the public square for all of us. Politicians who know what they believe, who don't use what they believe to troll for favor, and for whom conviction doesn't mean an absence of compassion, have much to offer our cities and our country. Leppert, has so far, shown himself to be one of those politicians.
Leppert's Christianity also makes him sensitive toward the needs of the poorest sections of our city, "We neglected the southern and western parts of our city. That imbalance has cost us over time," Leppert said Thursday to a crowd of more than 200 people gathered for the annual Metrocrest Mayors' Prayer Breakfast ..."If you're a Christian, you have to evoke an understanding and an empathy ... to address the challenges, the needs in these areas."
But social justice will also be found in economic success.
"The city is not going to be successful unless we capitalize on that great asset in the south in terms of land, in terms of human resources," the mayor said. "We're not going to move forward if we don't have everyone feeling engaged or feel ownership."
There will be time to begin to translate the rhetoric of Christian concern for equality, justice and opportunity for all into concrete public policy and sustained action. But no one I know expects this mayor, or any politician, to do it all themselves. That happens as they work with engaged citizens: believers and unbelievers.
Believing citizens, working with believing elected officials, joining unbelivers and people of different different faith backgrounds to bring progress, prosperity and real change to their city.
Imagine that! What a concept!
Many a church member's household (ours included), began their Sunday morning ritual by listening to Bro. Joe on the radio while 'getting ready' for church and on the drive to church.
Later, when Joe was on daily, he was still a staple for most African-American Christian listeners. But no more. Joe Bagby died this past Friday morning at the age of 70.
"It was a day of mourning at KHVN-AM (970), where news director Robert Ashley hit the airwaves to pay tribute to his friend and colleague who had been on Dallas radio for more than 50 years.
"Brother Joe was considered to be the godfather of gospel music," Ashley said."
"Bagby died at a hospital after a long fight with pulmonary disease, an illness that hadn't stopped him from reaching his listeners. His last broadcast was less than 24 hours before he died."
"He had a commitment and a love for God that was just beyond reproach," Ashley said."
"Many listeners called in Friday to pay their respects to Bagby, 70, who had remarked that age wouldn't keep him away from the microphone."
""I know that I am going to die sooner or later, so I am going to be faithful until death," he said in 2006."
There was probably a Joe Bagby in every major city. A gospel DJ whose infectious love of God and the music that extolled His praises, before any gospel song could be termed a "hit" or any gospel artist be referred to as a 'star'. You grow up with such people. They become kind of the 'wallpaper' of your life and when they're gone there's a different kind of mourning that you experience. A mourning that denotes the passage of time. Or as the gospel song says, 'Time is Windin' Up'.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
1933 - 2006
"Teaching was the hardest work I had ever done, and it remains the hardest work I have done to date."
Friday, May 8, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
"With light turnout, Bing outlasted Cockrel, the son of a political icon, by 52-48 percent. Bing serves until year's end and should take office in about a week once the results are certified by the Board of Canvassers. Cockrel returns to lead the council, a post he held before becoming mayor in September when Kwame Kilpatrick resigned and went to jail."
""What we will bring ... is efficiency, transparency, honesty and integrity back to the mayor's office.""
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
I wondered how long it would take. Although I was hoping against hope that it wouldn't happen, I should have started setting an over/under on it.
I mean blaming Mexican immigrants for the swine flu!
It happened during Hurricane Katrina, it took about two days before people started blaming the poor for not getting out fast enough. You knew it would happen.
And now this!
"...Thursday, Boston talk radio host Jay Severin was suspended after calling Mexican immigrants "criminalians" during a discussion of swine flu and saying that emergency rooms had become "essentially condos for Mexicans."
“Our people are calling us and they are concerned,” said Florencia Velasco Fortner, chief executive officer of Dallas Consilio of Hispanic Organizations, an umbrella of affiliated service groups. “Even our staff members are starting to get a little discouraged. There was anti-immigrant sentiment prior to this and this adds fuel to the fire.”
Its unfortunate, but there are people who wait to exploit any crisis as a reason why 'they' shouldn't be there (insert any group who happens to vulnerable or exploitable).
Its something that doesn't happen when the economy hums along, when we are at peace and when 'they' (whoever they may be), are willing to endure exploitation in silence.
But then again, real bigotry doesn't need an excuse. Just a microphone!
Monday, May 4, 2009
In any case, it appears in Dallas we've got to get serious about both!
The Dallas Independent School District decided (over the objection of two of its members), that after presiding over a budgetary debacle that left the district some $64-$84 million in the red and having to lay off hundreds of teachers and support staff as a result (some of whom had to be rehired); after facing the closure of several schools because of the inability to improve test scores and tanking morale among employees that they should extend their terms of office - quite arbitrarily, I might add. No vote, no poll, not even a questionnaire.
School Board Trustee Carla Ranger tried in vain to get them to hold off until they got an opinion from the state's chief legal expert also the Texas Education Agency), voted into office by the citizens of Texas, Greg Abbott the State Attorney General. No, said the majority, we pay lawyers and they say, 'Full steam ahead!'
Oh but wait! April 30, 2009 the Attorney General sends back his opinion which says what?
"Under the plain meaning of section 11.059(e) of the Education ode the board of trustees of the DISD was officially authorized to change the length of their terms, so long as they did so by December 31, 2007. No statutory authorization exists for changes in lengths after that date."
Oh, that's not all:
"A 18 special law naming article 2783d established the term of a member of the DISD board to three years...Altogether the DISD board was authorized by seciton 11.065(d) to change the length of its members' terms prior to December 31, 2007, the enactment of section 11.059(e) removed the option of doing so after that date."
Uh, this is embarrassing. Or in the words of one trustee, 'disappoining', "I'm disappointed," [School Board President Jack] Lowe said of the ruling. "That's not how our lawyers interpreted it."
How many interpretations could there be?!
Edwin Flores, another 'disappointed' school board members said, "...he supported the extension because trustees are not as effective when they are trying to avoid controversy while running for office." Avoiding what 'controversy'? Budget shortfalls? Failing schools? Accountability?!
Adam Medrano, who, along with Dr. Ranger, knew what time it was both politically and by the calendar, drew back the curtain and said, "...trustees discussed changing the terms at length and knew that they had missed the deadline to change it "by almost a year.""
So now what? A late election? Probably, had they followed the law, the election would have been held May 9th. Or there could be a lawsuit, so that the same lawyers who misread the law the first time could insist in court that the Attorney General can't read. After all according to Mr. Flores, "It's really just an opinion of the attorney general, and that's fine. It's not the law."
Will someone please get these adults under control, so we can at least TRY to educate the children?!
Sunday, May 3, 2009
"Amid intense debate over the use of torture against suspected terrorists, public opinion about this issue remains fairly stable. Currently, nearly half say the use of torture under such circumstances is often (15%) or sometimes (34%) justified; about the same proportion believes that the torture of suspected terrorists is rarely (22%) or never (25%) justified."
I'm partial to Elie Wiesel's opinion:
"Torture is always wrong, because the tortured person dies more than once."
Saturday, May 2, 2009
"If this work can contribute in any way toward proving this, and at the same time arouse the conscience of the American people to a demand for justice to every citizen, and punishment by law for the lawless, I shall feel I have done my race a service."
Friday, May 1, 2009
No matter how you feel about gay marriage. No matter what you think about gay rights. By any stretch of the imagination, this is insulting and ignorant.
Congresswoman Virginia Foxx from Virginia, should be ashamed.
Perhaps you're not even a proponent of hate crime laws. There is an intelligent (although, in my view, not totally) reasonable argument to be made against it. But the dismissive distortion of facts in order to make such a case is thoughtless and careless.
Matthew Shepherd was a young man from Wyoming was brutally murdered. He was indeed, targeted because he was gay. His assailants, as do all of those who commit hate crimes, found it easy to do so because as a homosexual, it was easy to regard him as less than human. In the same way as African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Jews, Catholics and others have been targeted. It is senseless and it is the result of hate.
Of course one can make the argument that all murders stem from insanity or hatred. I make the argument that when one murders has dehumanized someone to the extent that they no longer respect that person's right to live, it is indeed a special category of offense. If you don't believe that, then we have a basis for a healthy, even vigorous debate. But foolish and extraneous contortions of the facts and history disqualify you from participating in the conversation. Sorry!
Should women be included in hate crime statutes? Should the disabled? Should other minorities be singled out? That is a legitimate subject for public debate. But those who engage in that debate, should know the facts.
What's worse is that this is yet another sign that there are some Republican politicians who really don't understand how tired America is of this type of rhetoric. Again, it is one thing to oppose proposed legislation as extreme, or unnecessary. Its yet another to disparage and demean an incident that represents a sea change in the way our country views crimes against persons. And to do so in a way that is so clearly out of touch with what has been shown to be the truth simply gives credence to what Democratic pollster Peter Hart said, "Republicans have been tone deaf to the results of the 2008 election... They never heard the message. They continue to preach the old-time religion."
Its a message that most Americans rejected as not good enough in 2006 and last year. It doesn't sound any better today.