Politics and Law – It ain’t like TV
By D S Gands
Jul 1, 2003
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"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Is there any doubt that the Statue of Liberty stands for that which is America?   None. The word freedom does not mean freedom to do whatever one wants.  Freedom requires tremendous responsibility of, by and for each other.  That’s why we are a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people.  With that, which our founding fathers sought, comes perpetual, responsible effort of progeny.   It is a gift and an honor.

We are the blending pot of the world.  According to the historical accounts, Christopher Columbus called it ‘The New World.’  The very best part about being an American in Texas is that we Texans tend to think outside the box.   We have definitive perspectives that are often unwritten and eloquently spoken at all times.  So it goes with our views of politics and law. 

Politics and Law issues are so overworked in the press that we tend to get bored with them or just plain sick of the twists, shouting, snipes, and finger pointing akin to a childish food fight.  There were times when I tuned in to Crossfire and thought I had gotten the Jerry Springer Show! 

Many think that the law is just like what we see on television.  Not.  It has been my experience that many people do not know what to expect in situations that require them to deal with the justice system or political processes.  As I once heard in a courtroom, ‘It ain’t like what’s on TV, son.’ 

Most of us have had a bump in the legal road, gone through a divorce or considered it, wondered what to do about our final wishes and what would happen to our children should we not be able or available to care for them, or know of a kid that has gotten into trouble.  Many of us have misconceptions about that process and sometimes end up walking out of a prosecutor’s office or a courtroom looking like someone just hit us right between the eyes with a two by four.  It’s quite an awakening.

Some of us are not interested in the least about what our lawmakers are doing in Austin, much less Washington – or even right down the street at the local City Council meeting.  We elected them and expect that they will do a proper job, just like what we thought they said they would do. Then the fees for something increase, or the permit approvals put a 200’ garbage pile in our backyard, school programs close, or the issues of fatherhood become so complicated that it would seem all births are from immaculate conception or by an ‘alleged’ or ‘proposed’ father – What is that, exactly?  Sometimes the law steps in, takes away all the rights, the kid is left dizzy with ‘Who’s your daddy?’, no momma, lost in the system, and adopted out on the tax break and welfare rebate incentives.   A representative of CASA of Grayson County told me that there were 7,000 calls to TDPRS involving children last year for this area.   The questions I have heard are:  ‘Can anyone tell me the reason for that?’,  ‘Can anyone tell me how much that cost me in tax dollars?’,  and, ‘Who’s responsible for all this?’  about any of the above.

There are the other intensities, too, such as the recent DPS biometric identification (Senate Bill 945) with everyone’s fingerprints, facial features, and social security numbers (instead of just the criminals) giving one breathless pause regarding personal security issues, especially after that alleged misleading call to the Homeland Security guys to find Pete Laney’s plane resulting in one more nail in the cynical political viewpoint coffin?  It didn’t pass.  And, of course, there was the budget, that wasn’t accepted.  It was alleged that a lawsuit could be filed.  Then, it was - accepted.  These issues impact everyone.

The landfill permitting race in Grayson County is on full throttle and seems to be raising a huge stink about compliance, health, safety, and environmental issues.   It’s still up for grabs, but the Grayson County Commissioners have come out in support of those who are protesting the landfill expansion in Luella.  It has been reported by Channel 12 (TV) that the City of Sherman is lining up and leaning toward permitting of the new TASWA facility in the Whitesboro area.  The residents on both sides of the county are up in arms.  This situation is an article topic all its own.  Senator Estes and Representative Phillips are very involved in this issue for their constituents.  The expansion permit for Luella hasn’t been issued, yet, so if this issue is important to you, you can weigh in by writing to the following: 

Office of the Chief Clerk

MC 105

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

P.O. Box 13087

Austin, TX  78711-3087

 

Permit # MSW 523-B.

In addition to all this and more, we have special elections that evoke partisan games, special session calls for obvious power agendas, and the bad penny this session known as the redistricting issue, which might be abated, again, and probably readdressed in the future.   If it gets hammered through this time, it will be a critical change for Texas.

No, it wasn’t like TV.  It was more like reality TV this session.   We might be calling it ‘Survivor – Austin’ before it’s all over.

But, there’s the good stuff, too.  The special appropriations for programs that help victims and communities, laws determining the governance of our State, remedies for situations that are adjudicated to be unfair or criminal in nature, new rehab and educational opportunities for prisoners redefining ‘criminal justice’ as ‘corrections’, and scores of other rules that apply to all areas of our lives.  Let’s face it, it isn’t perfect, but without the laws, we might as well be cave dwellers. 

Sometimes, we feel betrayed and we start a complaint campaign or just go away angry, when in fact, we need to take a look at the big picture, and we need to learn how to do that for ourselves. 

All of us should begin our review of what is going on in Texas by peeking into the website at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us.  There are some mighty fine pickin’s in the statutes and Bill Index.  The Attorney General’s Office (http://www.oag.state.tx.us) has got scores of brochures for consumers.  There’s even an alphabetical list of every department and state agency with a link to each.  (http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/trail/agencies.html)  It never hurts to take the time to look at what the representatives of your District are doing and drop a mail to their office introducing yourself, or writing about an issue to give them the opportunity to consider your take on it.  (See list below)

Even with all the challenges and opportunities, we are a part of the greatest nation on earth.  Because we offer such great bounty in the areas of liberty and freedom, the tired and poor aren’t just coming to the ‘golden door’.  They are slipping in the back door, and dying in truck trailers along our highways, which is a true human tragedy by any standard.  Federal laws for smuggling are enforced when an arrest is made, but the constant challenges for our borders and those illegal activities are an everyday issue.  Federal, state, and local law enforcement are doing a great job, but this shocking reality is magnified and hits close to home when someone hears screams for help from a tractor trailer in Anna, Texas.  This horrific concern doesn’t diminish any other issues.  It does make me very thankful to be a citizen defined by one of those eloquently spoken perspectives – ‘American born. Texan by the grace of God.’

Justice is intended to be red, white, and blue.  She is the sister of Lady Liberty and the guardian of freedom.  She is blind to influences leaving her pure in her quest for the truth.  Man, all created equal, exercises her creed through politics and law.  Bottom line – there are a lot of gray areas. 

Whoever Liberty and Justice turn out to be, on any given day –

We, the people, are responsible. 


Texas U.S. Representatives
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 4 - CONGRESSMAN RALPH M. HALL    State District Offices

Texas State Senators

Grayson, Cooke, & west - SENATE DISTRICT 30 - SENATOR CRAIG ESTES District Map: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/Icons/Dist_Maps/Dist30_Map.pdf

Fannin County, & east - SENATE DISTRICT 2 - SENATOR BOB DEUELL  District Map http://www.senate.state.tx.us/Icons/Dist_Maps/Dist2_Map.pdf
 

Texas State Representatives

Grayson & Fannin - HOUSE DISTRICT 62 - REPRESENTATIVE LARRY PHILLIPS District Map: http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/pdf/districts/62.pdf

Cooke & West - HOUSE DISTRICT 68 - REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD "RICK" HARDCASTLE  District Map: http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/pdf/districts/68.pdf

Wichita Falls - HOUSE DISTRICT 69 - REPRESENTATIVE DAVID FARABEE  District Map: http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/pdf/districts/69.pdf


D S Gands is a freelance writer living in North Texas.  You may contact her regarding this article at D Gands ds_gands@yahoo.com.  This article does not represent the position of this publication.  The opinions are those of the author.  This article is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. If you have a legal matter or question, you should consult an attorney regarding the specific facts of your case.

© D S Gands, 2003, All Rights Reserved