LETTERS: On ‘instilling fear’ and ‘bias’ and thwarting corruption in Texas

‘Instilling fear’ and ‘bias’

Regarding Sandra Sanchez’ May 9 column, “There’s more to fear in Texas now,” I am saddened when I learn of someone instilling fear and racial bias into the minds of their children. Why would anyone resent being asked where they were born? Most medical records, college enrollment forms and countless other documents request that information. Because of attitudes as described in her column, we have reached a point where it is necessary to pass laws, like the anti-sanctuary cities bill, in order to enforce laws already on the books.

The Hispanic members of my family and my Hispanic friends — all shades of color from dark to light — seem quite comfortable in their skins, and well they should be. None have chosen to embrace victimhood.

It has become more and more evident that those writing about or carrying signs and marching in protest against hate, racism and intolerance seem so full of it themselves that they cannot see how selective their indignation has become.

Historically people have risked their lives to come to this country to live under a nation of laws. The word of importance here is “law.” Respect for the laws of this country is what young people should understand and appreciate, not fear.

Marjorie Flados, Harlingen

Thwarting corruption

On the ethics front, the passage Monday by the Texas House of SB500, which would prevent legislators from collecting their retirement annuity if convicted of public corruption, “is good news, sort of,” according to Carol Birch, legislative counsel for Public Citizen’s Texas Office. “Legislators have already passed a law sending themselves and other public officials to their home districts for prosecution — reducing the likelihood of convictions. So the effect of this bill is limited.”

And bad news, maybe. The Senate sponsor of HB501, which is an increased disclosure bill, is considering stripping the significant improvements to transparency made in the House. The only way Texans can tell if public officials have a conflict of interest is through disclosure of their assets. And in Texas today, officials must only disclose their interests in business entities if they own 50 percent or more of a company. “This loophole can disguise huge conflicts of interest. The House version of this bill would require disclosure at 5 percent and above, which would go a long way toward revealing conflicts of interest,” Birch said.

“It’s looking like we’ll actually get some ethics reform passed this session, but we need to make sure it’s meaningful,” she added.

Luis Castilla, press officer,

Public Citizen, Austin