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November 17, 2017      4:34 PM

Smith: Abuse and Harassment in the Political World

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith says it’s time to fight sexual abuse and harassment, minute by minute in our daily lives. Politics alone won’t solve it.

Donald Trump bragged on tape about his sexual abuse of women, and still some sixty-two million Americans ignored his confession and voted for him anyway. His election devastated many in ways that go far beyond politics.

Among the alarmed, the saddened and the disgusted were American women tragically familiar with abuse. Far more have suffered harassment and abuse than we collectively admit. For them, this wasn’t just a political loss, though it was that. It was another form of abuse. Millions of Americans had ignored reports of sexual harassment and abuse, and in so doing aided and abetted that abuse.

It’s a struggle to come up with an analogy to help men understand.

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By Glenn W. Smith

November 3, 2017      5:44 PM

Smith: A National Anthem in Mime

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith notes that a moment in the 2017 World Series contained an important lesson for all of us. You don’t have to be a baseball fan to get it.

There was an inspiring American moment in the first inning of the seventh game of the 2017 World Series. Well, to this fan there were many. But, one stands out.

Before stepping to the plate for his first at bat, Astro Yuli Gurriel paused, and with a look of contrition in his eyes, tipped his helmet to Dodger pitcher Yu Darvish. Darvish then stepped to the front of the mound and nodded in recognition of Gurriel’s gesture.

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By Glenn W. Smith

November 2, 2017      4:57 PM

David Dunn: Charter Outcomes are Improving

The head of the Texas Charter Schools Association offers a rebuttal to former SBOE Vice Chair Thomas Ratliff’s argument that charter schools are failing to live up to their promises

In two instances within the last month, former State Board of Education member and lobbyist Thomas Ratliff instigated a public revival of tired charges that students at Texas charter schools are underperforming as compared to students at traditional ISDs.  

In both a press release for the Texas AFT chapter and a column that appeared in the Quorum Report, Ratliff calls for “legislative outrage for these substandard achievement numbers” in an effort to expose facts, all the while failing to disclose that he now counts the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) as one of his clients. I can share with some authority that TASB’s educational priorities are not always aligned with those of public charter schools. In full disclosure, I was also once employed by TASB in the late 1990s.

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By David Dunn

October 24, 2017      3:45 PM

Ratliff: How long do we wait?

Republican former SBOE Vice Chair Ratliff points to the state’s data on charter schools and asks “Where is the legislative outrage for these substandard achievement numbers?”

When charter schools recently were accused of sub-standard performance, the Texas Charter School Association defended their performance as “steadily improving” over time.

While charter schools have seen improvement over the 20 years since their inception, it’s clear from five years of TEA data that charter schools underperform as a whole compared to their ISD counterparts. 

This isn’t an opinion; it’s the facts.

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By Thomas Ratliff

October 13, 2017      2:53 PM

Smith: The Dark Carnivals Our Elections Have Become

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that there are several reasons our democratic elections are out of control

Consider a hypothetical. A business broker has been carrying messages for an alleged party to a criminal conspiracy. The broker is only providing a venue for the delivery of the information. As a federal investigation into the conspiracy widens, the broker, already part of the investigation, decides to destroy this customer’s communications, normally archived as a regular part of its business practices.

It’s not hard to imagine that the proprietors of such a business in that circumstance might worry that maybe the destruction of evidence wasn’t the brightest of moves.  Visions of the pokey, the hoosegow, the joint, the calaboose, that is, prison, might float menacingly through their minds.

Now, for the non-hypothetical.

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By Glenn W. Smith

October 9, 2017      4:36 PM

Greenfield: Raising returns and reducing costs at ERS is achievable

Economist Dr. Stuart Greenfield argues that if ERS had invested in a market index fund, its total return would have been 3.6 percent greater over five years

While attending college and taking a class in economics, my major, a professor after listening to my response to a question asked:Are you stupid or just from Jersey.” With my usual wit I replied, “both.” I hope the analysis that follows isn’t a repeat performance.

After attending the recent Employee Retirement System’s Trustee meeting, the change in investment policy appears to violate the fundamental rule of finance; higher risk should be compensated by earning higher returns. The adopted changes will reduce investments in fixed income securities and domestic stocks and redirect these reductions to alternative investments, i.e., real estate, hedge funds. This reallocation intends to improve the rate of return on the ERS portfolio.

According to the Pew Trusts, the ranking of ERS is not world-class. In fact, it is not even TRS-class. As the Table One shows between 2005 and 2015, the performance of ERS relative to other public retirement systems has deteriorated.

In other words, the ERS ranking has gotten worse over time.

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By Dr. Stuart Greenfield

October 2, 2017      11:38 AM

Orr: Texas Acts to Prevent Elder Financial Abuse

President of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Texas says financial advisors are happy to now be a first line of defense when scammers target the elderly

We think it will never happen to our parents or us. Yet, it happens every single day.

Financial sharks and scammers prey on the elderly to the tune of about $36.5 billion a year.

Fortunately, with the leadership of Rep. Tan Parker (Flower Mound) and Sen. Kelly Hancock (North Richland Hills), the Elder Financial Protection Law effect on September 1. It provides new teeth for combatting financial scams and abuse. It enables others, including financial advisors, to step forward to protect seniors when they see something is amiss.

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By Joseph Orr, II

September 29, 2017      5:20 PM

Smith You’ve Got a Friend in Me

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith wonders whether a political storm over Hurricane Harvey recovery has been calmed. But is it still political hurricane season?

Was it just a tempest in a teapot, this brewing storm between Gov. Greg Abbott and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner? You be the judge. Their joint press conference in Houston today sounded something like this.

Abbott brought Houston $50 million worth of love to Turner, an amount that helps the city avoid a temporary tax increase for recovery efforts.

That’s enough to make anyone sing like Randy Newman sings in “You’ve Got a Friend,” from the film, Toy Story:

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By Glenn W. Smith

September 22, 2017      1:23 PM

Smith: North to the Future, It All Comes Down to Alaska

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith travels among the carnies otherwise known as leaders of today’s Republican Party

In a better world, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un are not actually leaders of nuclear-armed nations but are instead just marginal pro wrestling personalities posing as bitter foes in a World Wrestling Entertainment undercard.

Does fake wrestling have undercards? No matter.

The above is not the real world, of course. It’s just a harmless fantasy designed to relieve a bit of the stress caused by the Odd-Haired Couple’s nuclear game of the Dozens, a name for a street game involving an escalating “pattern of interactive name-calling” (thank you, Wikipedia).

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By Glenn W. Smith