Guest writers

Uncommon Sense with Glenn Mollette

The only way to get out of the darkness is to follow the light. Sometimes it’s just a very faint light. Often you have to be in the darkness long enough to refocus your eyes so that you can look for a glimmer of light to follow out of the darkness.
Darkness is never enjoyable. Often it’s a long valley that seems hopeless and inescapable. There are different forms of darkness such as poverty, failing health, family difficulties, work dissatisfaction, discord in your relationships, failures of all kinds and the list goes on. You may have been there or you may be there now. You may not see any way out and may have given up to just try to survive the darkness of your life and existence.
The worst feeling of all is the feeling of hopelessness. Hopelessness is when we see no way out or no chance of things getting better. We go to the doctor with hopes of medical treatment. We go to work in hopes of financially caring for our selves and the people we love. Sometimes we seek other kinds of help in hopes that an addiction or other life altering habit might be solved so that we might be freed to be at peace with life.
I read this a long time ago and claim it every day in different ways. Walk in the light while you have the light before darkness overtakes you. Throughout life I’ve learned if I walked in the light that I had then I usually would receive more light.
When I was a kid we had a light bulb in the ceiling of most every room. There would be a long string attached to the little silver chain that would pull the switch and turn on the light. Throughout my childhood I often would go into a dark bedroom at night and search for that dangling string. Finding that string was a relief because it turned on the light. A room with light was much easier to navigate than a dark room.
Often we look for the dangling string for a long time to turn on the light. Sometimes we eventually find it and sometimes people never do. Some people live in desperation of trying to find the dangling string while others simply gave up a long time ago.
I tried for years to break through in publishing a book. I was about ready to give up when one morning I was reading the daily newspaper and read one sentence in that newspaper that turned on the light. I now have twelve books and have helped numerous others. Following that one sentence of light gave way to more light that enabled me to see the way to numerous other endeavors and projects. Following that light showed me the way that I needed at that time.
There is something to this old saying that is true, “Let us not grow weary in doing good. We will reap a harvest if we don’t quit.” Another truth that I have heard is, “Believe in the light while you have the light so that you may become children of light.”
I don’t know what you are dealing with today but don’t quit. It’s easier said than done, I know. However, maybe, if you hang in there and keep your head up and your hand stretching out in front of you, then just maybe, you will feel the sting dangling in the darkness.
Glenn Mollette is an American author whose syndicated column is read in all 50 states.

               Bennett Sandlin

By guest writer Bennett Sandlin

Destroying city neighborhoods one step at a time requires too much effort. So Texas governor Greg Abbott wants one sweeping state law to ban city residents from having a say in protecting health, safety and property values in their communities.
While the state legislature is debating dozens of bills to overturn local ordinances and voter-approved referendums, Abbott said last week: “I think a broad-based law by the state of Texas that says across the board, the state is going to preempt local regulations, is a superior approach”.
The governor said this scorched-earth approach is “more elegant”. Maybe he meant more regal or more tyrannical.
Nearly 28 million people live in Texas now. Eighty-five per cent, more than 23.6 million of us, live in urban areas that cover about four per cent of the state’s land area. That’s a lot of people living very close together.
As cities have grown larger and more crowded, people have insisted upon community rules that protect their safety, health and property values.
Local zoning rules protect your home value by preventing your neighbor from putting a toxic-waste dump next door or putting a strip club next to your child’s daycare center. Local health regulations and inspections give customers confidence that food is safe, enabling restaurants to flourish.
There is nothing new about cities adopting rules that reflect the will of their voters, nor about special interests running to the state legislature when they can’t get a city to conform to their desires.
When Abbott and special interests complain about “a patchwork quilt of local regulations”, what they are saying is that the convenience of big businesses – usually out-of-state corporations – is more important than Texans’ desire for a voice in shaping the character of their community.
In an Austin election last year, voters spoke clearly that they wanted tough criminal-background checks on ride-sharing drivers. They wanted assurance of safety when they hail a ride.
Several ride-sharing companies now flourish under those rules but two others, Uber and Lyft, are spending millions of dollars on Austin lobbyists to persuade the state legislature to run over the voters in that and other Texas cities.
In Fort Stockton, ranchers were alarmed about plastic grocery bags, blown by the west Texas wind, threatening their livestock feeders and covering their fences. They asked their city leaders to ban the plastic bags and the community is happy with the result. Citizens in other cities from Kermit to Laredo have done the same.
In neighborhoods across the state, people are waking up – in the middle of the night – to discover the home next door has been converted into a party destination right out of the movie Animal House. Responding to the concerns of their citizens, city councils are adopting local rules about short-term rentals to protect property values and the character of residential neighborhoods.
Have these cities suddenly gone out of control? Have Texans suddenly decided to trample on liberty and freedom? That’s ridiculous. They simply want some common-sense rules to protect their families, their homes and their neighborhoods.
Year after year, Texas cities lead the nation in the number of companies and people moving in. Clearly, the way that our cities are operating is friendly and welcoming to businesses. And countless businesses ranging from Dairy Queen to Walmart have proliferated across the state, adapting to the different local rules and regulations of many different towns and cities.
But a handful of companies say all Texans must conform to the way they want to run their businesses and they are intent upon using their money and their lobby power in Austin to legislate us into submission.
Texans don’t want to be told they have to conform to one way of thinking or living – whether it comes from Washington or from the governor’s office in Austin. We are proud that our state is unlike any of the others.
In the only state that was once an independent nation, Texans have always celebrated the unique character of our people, culture and heritage, as reflected in our more than 1,200 cities, every one of which is proudly unique.
Texans love being different and debating our differences. Whether it’s burnt orange or maroon, sweetened or unsweetened, red salsa or green, there’s not just one way of being Texan. If we feel warm and comfortable under a patchwork quilt, companies who seek
to do business here – and our governor – should recognize and respect that.
Bennett Sandlin is executive director of Texas Municipal League, an association of 1,153 cities throughout the state.

                         Amber Adams

By guest writer Amber Adams

National Pet Week, which starts today, Sunday, and runs until next Saturday, is a great opportunity to highlight some of the ways in which citizens’ support allows the county animal shelter to make a positive impact on the lives of thousands of loving pets.
The shelter, the largest, most modern and best-equipped animal shelter in the county and officially known as the animal resource center, or ARC, provides animal services to the residents of Bayou Vista, Hitchcock, Kemah, La Marque, Texas City, Tiki Island and unincorporated Galveston County.
At the shelter, we often ask for your help promoting pets on social media – and you always answer the call! Collectively, our Facebook posts have now achieved more than a million views, tens of thousands of shares and countless likes. Social-media posts, more community organizations welcoming us to their events and adoption specials funded by BootKikkers Bingo are huge factors in ARC adoptions being up 20 per cent from five years ago.
It takes a special person to volunteer to take an animal into their home until a permanent one can be found, especially when the pet needs medical care. That’s exactly what rescue groups do and they’re vital to our success. We’ve worked with more than 300 such groups, resulting in a five-per-cent increase in animals sent to rescues during the past five years.
Realizing your pet has escaped his home is terrifying. When one of our animal-control officers picks up a lost animal, our goal is to find its owner and send the furbaby home, a task that’s so much easier when the pet is microchipped.
Over the past five years, the number of ARC pets returned to owners has increased by five per cent. We think that has a lot to do with responsible owners microchipping their pets, as is now required by regulation in the communities we serve.
The biggest obstacle for any animal shelter is pet overpopulation. That’s why we’re so proud that our adoption fee includes spaying or neutering, in addition to a rabies vaccination and a microchip.
This means that pets adopted from ARC won’t have litters that end up in a shelter. Sterilization can cost hundreds of dollars, so our $85 adoption fee is a bargain – and our frequent adoption specials are even a better value! Animal Alliance Of Galveston County is a valuable partner in this effort.
All of these factors have helped reduce our euthanasia rate by 25 per cent in the past five years. This is a remarkable achievement for our community. While we work daily to reduce the rate even more, we are committed to staying an open-intake facility. That means that, when people who live in the communities we serve bring their pets to the shelter, we do not turn them away.
When shelters choose to turn pets away, it can lead to danger if the animals are abandoned on the street or to increased burden on another shelter if the rejected animals are taken there.
We encourage you to go online to arcpets.org or facebook.com/garcpets or to call 409-948-2485 to learn more about ARC and the many pets we have who are looking for homes.
You’re always welcome to stop by the shelter – we’re at 3412 Loop 197, which is also known as 25th Avenue North, in Texas City.
Happy National Pet Week and thank you for your support!
Amber Adams is ARC’s animal services manager.

         Melissa Skipworth

By guest writer Melissa Skipworth

Recently, I spoke at a candidate forum about the need for greater transparency from College Of The Mainland’s board of trustees. My opponent Roney McCrary also spoke and referred to COM’s need to pass a bond, saying: “Aging facilities are something that we do need to address. When the time is right, we need to do something about it …”
Why isn’t that time now, Mr McCrary? We know the answer. The board members have failed to focus on the good of the institution and shirked their responsibility to listen to the community. Controversial moves, such as the decision to end former president Beth Lewis’ contract, were deliberated in closed session with little justification for the actions provided to the public.
The Lewis decision was made with the full understanding that non-renewal was overwhelmingly opposed by the public and that proceeding would cost the college the community support necessary to pursue a desperately needed bond election.
The board’s actions put COM in the same place it was in six years ago – waiting for the right time.
The board has presided over four presidential administrations in the past six years and has paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance pay. The college now has one of the best qualified presidents in the state in Warren Nichols. It’s said that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Will there be a “controversy” over Nichols’ leadership in the coming years?
Do you want a community college for our mainland that is successful in spite of its leadership or do you want a college whose success is enhanced by that leadership?
I prefer the latter. I possess the skills needed to serve the community as trustee. I have a bachelor’s degree in business from University Of Houston and 15 years of human-resources experience. More importantly, I bring a set of fresh eyes and the will that’s needed to break through the college’s stagnation.
On May 6, hundreds of students will graduate from COM, having earned an associate’s degree or workforce certificate, while others will transfer to a three-year-course full university.
Many of you watch or act alongside students in COM’s theater productions, learn new skills in COM’s continuing-education programs or create memories with your families while feeding the ducks at Lake Eckhart. COM is an invaluable community resource and great things happen there every day.
With your support, we can enhance these successes and ensure that College Of The Mainland serves the community for the next 50 years and beyond.
Melissa Skipworth is a candidate for position 5 on College Of The Mainland’s board of trustees, running against Roney McCrary and Sharon Mitchiner in the May 6 election.
Editor’s note: The Post neither endorses nor opposes any candidate in any of the May 6 elections. All candidates are free to submit articles for publication and they will be considered on a first-come-first-served basis without any guarantee that they will be published before voters go to the polls.

 

                  Bob Jackson

By guest writer Bob Jackson

After a couple of weeks back in their districts for spring recess, members of the US congress return to Capitol Hill tomorrow, Monday, and you will soon start hearing again about shenanigans involving a very dangerous healthcare bill that many Americans had left for dead.
Just before leaving Washington, congressional leaders held closed-door meetings in an attempt to resurrect the legislation, called the American Health Care act. The problem is that, if they get their way, it would make
a bad bill even worse.
The current version would allow insurance companies to charge older people five times what they charge others for the same coverage. Compounding that problem, it would reduce the tax credit that lower- and middle-income Americans use to be able to afford coverage.
Charging older adults five times more than others and changing the tax credit produces an “age tax” that could total up to $13,000 a year more for older people, according to the congressional budget office.
In an effort to round up more support, AHCA proponents are now putting forward another awful idea – allowing insurance companies to deny coverage or dramatically increase costs for people with pre-existing health conditions like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Under current law, insurers are prevented from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions. This protection is critically important to millions of Americans and their families. Without it, they face the fear of great financial distress or ruin on top of dealing with a serious health problem.
People between ages 50 and 64 are especially at risk from
a plan that would end or erode protection for those with a pre-existing health condition. According to AARP’s public policy institute, 40 per cent of Americans in that age group – a total of 25 million people – have a pre-existing health condition. In Texas, approximately two million people between ages 50 and 64 have a pre-existing health condition.
To make matters worse, the bill would also weaken Medicare’s finances, opening the door for a voucher system. The 57 million Americans and the workers paying into the program could face increased costs and risks they can’t afford.
The bill also does nothing to lower prescription-drug prices while giving drug and insurance companies $200 billion in tax breaks.
From lifesaving cancer treatments to EpiPen allergy medicine, above, drug companies’ skyrocketing prices are pushing critical medications out of reach for those who need them.
Last year alone, prescription-drug costs increased by thousands of dollars. There
is no reason Americans should be paying the highest prices in the world.
Instead of the old saying, “First, do no harm”, the AHCA bill takes a radically different approach – keep doing harm and hope people aren’t paying attention.
Let’s make sure our representatives understand that
we will not accept this legislation because it punishes older Americans and rewards special interests. We won’t just stand by as they cut backroom deals that cut down on our health care.
We won’t forget who supports this bill in congress – and who stands against it.
Bob Jackson is director of AARP Texas, which advocates for people age 50-plus and has 2.3 million members throughout the state.

Epipen photo: MGN