Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Columns”

Just Between Us: One Thing I Didn’t Expect About Motherhood

By Kristan Hoffman

One Thing I Didn’t Expect About Motherhood: How much I would think about bodies. My body. My children’s bodies. The way they grow, stretch, scar and heal. Their softness and their strength. Through pregnancy, birth and recovery, I’ve become more forgiving toward my body, though it hasn’t always felt like mine. Its changes aren’t easy to accept, nor are the demands to share it so frequently. I marvel at my children, so awkward and elegant. Why are we drawn to embrace so often? Why does touch offer such comfort? I am not religious, but since becoming a mother, I have learned to worship. Our bodies are holy.

This piece was originally published in the New York Times in July 2020 as part of their “Modern Love: Tiny Love Stories” series. Reprinted with permission.

Kristan Hoffman is the daughter of this newspaper’s publishers, an author, and a columnist for this newspaper.

CAPITAL HIGHLIGHTS: Supplemental funding legislation draws from “Rainy Day Fund”

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — A few of the funding priorities expressed by the executive, legislative and judicial branches are not covered in Senate Bill 2, the state’s tentatively approved appropriations bill for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

So, on March 13, the Senate voted unanimously in favor of SB 500, $6 billion in supplemental funding to plug many holes. Some $4.3 billion of the total would be taken out of the Economic Stabilization (“Rainy Day”) Fund. Authored by Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, the legislation proposes the following allocations:

• $3 billion for Hurricane Harvey recovery expenses;

• $2.1 billion to address the Medicaid shortfall;

• $100 million for school safety, with an amendment that gives districts greater flexibility on the type of safety equipment they can buy;

• $300 million to improve state hospital facilities;

• $542 million to address pension liabilities for the Teacher Retirement System and provide retired teachers a “13th check” up to $500;


Charlotte’s Web: Civic Involvement

By Charlotte Jackson

Earlier this week, I served as the Presiding Judge at one of the Precincts located in Senate District 6. There were only 33 eligible voters who cast their ballot at our location, as well as three who needed to visit another location. In addition, we had eight local residents who took time out of their busy day to stop in to vote. Unfortunately, they reside in Senate District 15 and were not eligible to vote in this Special Election.

Several of those who voted asked how were the Election Workers chosen. Some of them did not realize the workers were paid. Some were under the misconception that you had to be retired to work. As we explained to them, I realized that perhaps there were others with these same questions.

If you are a Registered Voter, you can contact the Harris County Clerk’s Office and ask to be added to the list of those who are interested in working future elections. Typically, if your voting precinct has an elected Precinct Chair, they are contacted to serve as the Presiding Judge for the upcoming election. They are then responsible for recruiting workers.

People ask why would someone spend 12 – 14 hours on Election Day working for $10 an hour. To me, it is something that I learned early in life. When I was a Senior at North Shore Senior High, my Government Teacher, Ms Mary Lou Dillard, handed each student an application to become a registered voter. She did this the first week of our Senior year. She then returned it to us 30 days before our 18th birthday so we could verify that the information was still correct. Then she mailed it to the County Clerk’s Office. She taught us throughout that year that if you did not take the time to vote, you would not have the right to complain is the elected leaders did not work for you.


Charlotte’s Web: Community Angels in Channelview

In a world where so many people are stressed out and have way too much on their “plate”, I am thankful for those who do not understand the word “no”. Last week, our community was rocked with the horror of the Channelview Band bus accident, yet in the midst of this, we all saw some amazing people step up as well as those who just stay ready to help.

From the pastors and ministers involved with the Channelview Ministry Team, to the School Board Members, Band Alumni and community members, love was felt EVERYWHERE. I cannot say enough about how Superintendent Greg Ollis cares about the students and the community. He was running on prayers as I know he did not take time to eat. From the morning of the accident and continuing daily, he has been the lighthouse in the midst of the pain. There were several members of the Crisis Chaplaincy of Texas present and these individuals under the direction of Lunetta Mitchell were a blessing to the families who were waiting to hear from loved one. Among those volunteers was Diane Collette Pinkney, who happens to also be a bus driver for CISD. To say that Diane loves her job is an understatement.

Over the past decade, I have seen her pray for the children that she transports to and from school as well as support them in their activities and love on them as a surrogate grandmother.

School Board Members who continued to communicate with the community and be present to join the Prayer Gatherings for the students and families were invaluable. Steve Dennis is to be commended for the pride he has in the District and the Community. Even when he is not in the best of health, he is there to remind us to pray for the families and support the schools. Greg Johnstone, Patrick Lacy, Kyle Campbell, and the other board members.

Pastors such as Johnny Brady, Irvin Clark, Rob Morris, Byron Murray, Christopher Shackleford, Charlie Tutt and Kent Wilson are often referred to as my brothers because each one of them has been there for me over the years when I have needed a pastor to encourage or direct me in some way. Each of these amazing men where present last Tuesday as we waited on the students.

Truly what blessed me even more was the young people who showed up to support the students. Nico Izaguirre is a 2017 graduate of Channelview High School as well as a current student at San Jacinto College and he was present to comfort and support the families as we waited on the bus to arrive. Later that evening he was one of the young adults who led the group in prayer for the healing of the group. It is no surprise that he and his mom were among the supporters at Chick-fil-A on Tuesday. Joseph DeCola who operates both the Wallisville and the I-10 locations is another angel among us. He donated all profit from both locations and it totaled more than $8400 to help the Channelview Band. Other restaurants in the area are planning similar fundraisers.

While others may think they live in the best community, those of us who are a part of the North Channel Area truly are the most blessed. I love you and there is NOTHING you can do about it.

NORTH CHANNEL CHAMBER: Mattress Mack speaks at luncheon

mattress mackBy Gilbert Hoffman

I’ve known Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale since about 1980, when we both arrived in Houston from “up north” — he Dallas, me Pennsylvania. Over the years, I have heard him speak dozen of times, yet I never tire of his message, and his delivery. His energy, dedication, and focus is amazing for a man with 300 employees, and major health problems.

His message is about hard work as the key to success, and the importance of the customer and his or her interests.

Over the years, his “stump speech” has been refined, and now it is not just about his life’s story of creating a successful business, but more about the trials, challenges, and triumphs he and his family faced along the way, and the importance of relationships.

Do you know anyone else as optimistic, with a big smile, who has had their building set on fire by an arsonist, undergone major heart surgery, and had a daughter with a serious debilitating disease, OCD?

Mack paced the stage of the San Jacinto Monument Room last Friday, as he told his story to an enthralled room of Chamber members and guests.


Texas: Botsky’s

botskys hot dogBy Russell A. Graves

The menu speaks volumes: MacDaddy & Cheese, Slawdog Millionaire, and other fun and catchy names hint at the fun you’ll have in this downtown Lake Charles, Louisiana eatery long before the hot dogs are delivered to your table.

This unique eatery does one thing and does it remarkably well. They specialize in hot dogs.

I parked just down the block on Pujo Street and headed west towards the place and one of the first things I noticed was the simple sign hung from the vintage building’s facade. It features a mythical creature: the jackalope.

This is my kind of place.


Touch of Life: Quilts at San Antonio’s Texas Cultural Center

don springer headshotBy Don Springer

Each year while I am visiting with my son Dave in Crosby we make our way to several of the Texas cities and towns. We did again this year-my 15th winter to be spent in Crosby. Almost all of those years we have found our way to San Antonio, one of my favorite American cities. The winter of 2015 was no different.

We went to San Antonio last week for about five days and found our way to the usual haunts. On all of our trips we have visited two of the SA sites, The Alamo and Riverwalk. We visit the Alamo for obvious reasons-out of respect of those who fought and died there. As for the Riverwalk, I go because I have always found it enjoyable and Dave, perhaps because he knows I want to go tags along. We always take a leisurely stroll along the river, usually take a boat ride although that was not so this year, and then pick a restaurant, for a fine evening meal.

We have never been disappointed with our choice of an evening meal there nor have we ever been disappointed with our visits to San Antonio. It is a great place.


Getting Rid of Clutter

Whether you plan to stay in your home forever or sell it and move to smaller accommodations, getting rid of clutter can make your life easier and safer.

Here are a few very good reasons to declutter:

• Fewer opportunities to trip and fall. Consider what happens when a senior falls and breaks a bone: hospital, rehab and the question of where to go afterward. Can the senior go home and live independently again? Sometimes the answer is no.

• Organizing makes things easier to find.

• Clutter can be dangerous. If emergency services have to come to your house, will they be able to get to you? Or are pathways in rooms too narrow? Taken to an extreme, holding on to too many possessions can be called hoarding, and sometimes social services will step in to deal with it. Your best bet is to declutter long before it gets to that point.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

• Magazines and newspapers: Allow yourself three of each. When a fourth monthly magazine or daily paper arrives, throw out the oldest one in the stack.

• Keep incoming bills or correspondence in one spot, perhaps a basket or folder on the dining-room table, until you write checks or reply.

• Instead of viewing it as an overwhelming task, work on decluttering for an hour a day. (more…)

State Capitol Highlights: Grand jury indicts governor on counts

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — A Travis County grand jury on Aug. 15 indicted Gov. Rick Perry on two felony counts: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant.

Count I alleges Perry, on or about June 14, 2013, intended to harm Rosemary Lehmberg, Travis County district attorney and chief of the state’s Public Integrity Unit, by intentionally or knowingly misusing public property in withholding funding approved by the Texas Legislature for the operation of the Public Integrity Unit.

Count II alleges Perry by means of coercion and in his official capacity as a public servant threatened to veto legislation funding the Public Integrity Unit unless Lehmberg resigned as district attorney.

Lehmberg was arrested for drunken driving in April 2013. She served a short jail sentence, publicly apologized, underwent counseling and returned to her elected post as district attorney and chief of the Public Integrity Unit, a division of the district attorney’s office that investigates and prosecutes criminal activity involving state government and state government officials.

Lehmberg refused to resign. Perry reacted with a line-item veto of the funding approved for the Public Integrity Unit ($7.5 million) in the state’s 2014-2015 general appropriations bill, SB 1. Perry explained the veto this way: “Despite the otherwise good work the Public Integrity Unit’s employees, I cannot in good conscience support continued State funding for an office with statewide jurisdiction at a time when the person charged with ultimate responsibility of that unit has lost the public’s confidence . This unit is in no other way held accountable to state taxpayers, except through the State budgetary process. I therefore object to and disapprove of this appropriation.”

Mary Anne Wiley, general counsel for Perry, issued a statement saying, “The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution. We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail.”


Keeney’s Korner: Change is in the air for Texans, UT, and college football as 2014 season nears

mike keeneyBy Mike Keeney

“Change” is definitely the word in these parts when it comes to the 2014 football season.

Houston Texans fans got the change they asked for when longtime head coach Gary Kubiak was fired last December and replaced by former Penn State, and Bill Belichick acolyte, Bill O’Brien in January. University of Texas fans got the change they clamored for when Mack Brown stepped down after 16 years leading the Longhorns and was replaced by former Louisville head football coach Charlie Strong.

And college football fans finally got the change they had been asking for when the highly unpopular Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was done away with and the College Football Playoff was born. The new system will pit the top four rated teams chosen by a selection committee made up of individuals with coaching experience, student-athletes, collegiate administrators and current athletic directors. The committee will choose the top four teams for the playoff, rank them (1-4) and assign them to the semifinal games. The selection committee will choose the four national semifinalists based on strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparison of results against common opponents and other factors.

This year’s semifinal games will be held on Jan. 1 and will be the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. The No. 1 and No. 4 seed will meet in the Rose Bowl, while the No. 2 and No. 3 seed will meet in the Sugar Bowl. Each year, the national semifinals will rotate among those two bowls and the Fiesta, Orange, Cotton and Peach bowls in coming years.

The inaugural national championship game will be played on Monday, Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium (formerly known as Jerry World). Read on to see who yours truly thinks will be the four teams to be this year’s semifinalists and the overall national champion, along with a number of other predictions.

While University of Texas fans are hoping their team will be making the trek to Arlington for the national title game, they might be getting a bit ahead of themselves. The ‘Horns still have some holes in their team, but I have a feeling UT fans will like what they see from their new head coach. The no-nonsense Strong laid down the law right off the bat and dismissed seven players from the team during the spring and summer for violating team rules. I have a feeling Texas will be a more disciplined team in 2014 and will be much better on defense. The key to how far they go will center on quarterback David Ash, who missed a majority of the 2013 season with a concussion. He followed that injury up by breaking his foot during spring drills, but has been cleared for the upcoming season. The 6-4 Ash has talent and speed and if healthy would be a huge plus for the UT offense, which should field a strong running game led by the powerful Malcolm Brown and the speedy and elusive Johnathan Gray, who is coming off an Achilles injury but has also been cleared to play this season.

Texas should be in the Big 12 mix, but it appears Oklahoma and Baylor are the class of the league heading into the season. Bob Stoops’ Sooners finished off the 2013 season in impressive season by blasting Alabama 45-31 in the Sugar Bowl. The Sugar Bowl was a coming out party for quarterback Trevor Knight and he should be ready for a big season in 2014. The offense is loaded and so is the defense as nine starters return this year.

Scoring won’t be a problem for Art Briles’ Baylor Bears, who won the Big 12 last year and return a pretty fair signal caller in Bryce Petty, who set a school passing record last season. He has plenty of weapons to call on once again, but the big question in Waco will be how much improved will the Baylor defense be? That unit was exposed in the Fiesta Bowl by Central Florida and the Bears will face much better offenses than CFU with the likes of OU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas on their schedule.

Not only will Baylor be looking to win a second straight league title, but they will also be opening a new stadium, named after former Houston Astros owner, and major Baylor contributor Drayton McLane Jr.

Please read below for how one person thinks the major conferences will shake out this year.


Touch of Life: Yard Work

don springer headshotBy Don Springer

I’ve been home a month today and I’m right back where I am every year at this time — behind. At least the grass has been cut twice since returning and trimmed almost all the way around the house at least once, mostly twice.

Every year I think I’m returning earlier so I will be in step with my neighbors on outside house and lawn care but it never happens. I think of the colder temperatures here in March and decide the Houston area is more appealing to me. Now, everything is nice and warm here and Dave tells me you have had some really hot and humid weather there already.

Saw in the paper where the temp. hit 106 in Brownsville a few days ago. Hottest April day in history I read. I’m ready to submit to the gods when it gets that hot and humid. Experienced a lot of those hot temperatures the two years we were in Saudi, but never the humidity.