Home Improvement: There are many property owners in Amarillo upset over recent property tax increases from Potter-Randall Appraisal District. I briefly scanned the PRAD website this week, and came across this under “frequently asked questions” — a question wanting to know why improvements can be listed as reasons for a tax rate increase when a property owner has made no improvements. “According to the Texas Tax Code, the definition of ‘improvement’ is any building, structure, fixture or fence, whether moveable or not, and whether new or existing. It does not indicate that you have made or added improvements to your property. ‘IMPROVEMENT,’ is a descriptive term.” I’m sorry, but if a government entity is going to increase my property taxes because of improvements, specific improvements should be identified. When it comes to taxpayer money, “descriptive” is not good enough.
Word Up: This email news release came across my desk this week from Texas Freedom Network: “The Texas Freedom Network and ACLU of Texas are increasingly alarmed by the flurry of religious refusal amendments we’re seeing — particularly amendments to must-pass state agency reauthorization bills — in the waning weeks of the legislative session here in Texas. The attached brief focuses on what we see as a stealth, piece-by-piece strategy by the right to undermine equality and women’s access to reproductive health care services.” Reproductive health care services? Would one of these “reproductive health care services” be abortion? Just call it what it is.
Reality Check: Consider this absurd comparison from Duncan Williams, associate professor of religion and East Asian languages and cultures at the University of Southern California, and Gideon Yaffe, professor of law, philosophy and psychology at Yale University. Wrote Williams and Yaffe in a Washington Post column (headlined “Trump’s administration says the travel ban isn’t like Japanese internment. It is.”): “Lives were disrupted, homes and businesses were lost and Japanese Americans were incarcerated in barracks surrounded by watchtowers and barbed wire. Muslims today face the same set of nativist fears of a threat to a narrowly conceived American identity.” Speaking of “narrowly conceived,” I’m not aware of any barracks in America forcibly housing Muslims.
Phone Call of the Week: This week, it was an emailer wanting to know if online comments to articles on the Amarillo Globe-News website (amarillo.com) will be coming back. To be honest, I had mixed feelings about the decision to remove online comments from the AGN website, but now that it has been a while, I’m not sure anonymous online comments added much to AGN content or to our readers. In other words, I don’t miss online comments. I never understood the appreciation for anonymous online comments. If a reader does not have enough confidence in his or her opinions to be identified, why should I or anyone else put much stock in their comments?