Tyler closer to formalizing sister city relationship in China

A city in southwest China is closer to being named the sixth official sister city of Tyler. The Tyler Sister Cities program is exploring a new partnership with Qujing, a city of more than six million residents located in southwestern China, located about 700 miles west of Hong Kong. Earlier this year, the Tyler City…

Legendary political consultant, journalist, professor heading into retirement

What a great privilege to spend an evening celebrating my former professor, Raymond Strother. The famed political consultant, author and journalist is retiring as the Erbon & Marie Wise Endowed Chair in Journalism at Northwestern State University. The university held a retirement reception for Strother on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at the NSU Alumni Center….

Reporter’s Notes: Lessons learned in Germany

As I stepped off the platform onto my train to the Frankfurt Airport, my world seemed to transform into a slow motion flood of memories. After three weeks in Germany as a fellow with the RIAS Berlin Commission, this life experience had just become my standard by which all others will be measured. Gazing out…

Germans take to social media to create traditions for national holiday

Germans have reason to celebrate Tuesday as the country marks 27 years since East and West Germany were peacefully reunified, forming the Federal Republic of Germany. Though the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, the task of joining two countries didn’t go into effect until nearly a year later, with the adoption of the German…

Pay to pray: Understanding Germany’s church tax

A so-called church tax in Germany may be behind a steady decline in the European nation’s church membership numbers. The Pew Research Center, a non-profit, non-partisan public opinion group based in Washington, DC, cites the tax as a factor behind an exodus of Germans officially leaving their religious communities. Germany is among several European countries…

An unfamiliar place: Making sense of the current political landscape

Time and again the current presidential campaign has defied tradition, shedding any familiarity to previous election cycles. After a brutal primary season for candidates, the two presidential nominees and their running mates are ramping up the rhetoric. The next 100 days are sure to mired in mudslinging, with more tweets, nicknames, and distractions from the…

Texas DMV rejects hundreds of ‘indecent, vulgar’ personalized license plates

Picking a personalized Texas license plate isn’t a free-for-all. The Department of Motor Vehicles uses very specific criteria for reviewing vanity plate requests, resulting in more than 1,600 rejected requests. Car enthusiasts at Saturday’s ‘Classic Cars & Art in the Park’ in Mineola are very familiar with the application process. Dozens of hot rods, rat…

Larger than life: Remembering Congressman Charlie Wilson

The outpouring of comments, calls, and e-mails made it quite apparent that most every East Texan had at least some memory of Charlie Wilson’s influence. Following his death from cardiac arrest on February 10, 2010, everyone I came in contact with had an opinion of some sort. Many recalled the first time they met Wilson….

Camera cops are watching our streets

In the blink of an eye, you’ve not only run a red light, but now you’re facing a automatic traffic ticket. Since moving to East Texas, it’s been hard to find an intersection that doesn’t have a set of electronic eyes watching and waiting for a car to run the red. Photo-enforced intersections aren’t as new as you’d…

Voting is becoming big business for non-partisan companies

Can you measure the value of a vote? Does each one really count? Obviously in 2008, a person’s right to vote is held in high regard. With two days left until the election, early and absentee voting numbers have been staggering. This trend will probably carry over into the turnout numbers for the general election. Do…

One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State

What will likely be remembered as one of the longest and most unpredictable presidential races in history is nearing an end. With absentee voting already underway, voter turnout could reach levels exceeding the record turnout in the 1960 presidential election between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Until recently, this campaign cycle actually focused on issues, rather…

“…And I approve this message.”

Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other new media have assumed a more prominent role in the 2008 Presidential election. Barack Obama is touting more than a million Facebook friends and John McCain is capitalizing on his “Original Maverick” brand of advertising. This historic campaign is unlike any that we’ve seen in recent history, with a number…

Governor Jindal vetoes legislative pay raise

Today, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal vetoed Senate Bill 672, which would have more than doubled the salaries of state legislators.  The bill would have increased legislator’s pay from $16 thousand a year to over $37 thousand. Sponsored by Senator Ann Duplessis of New Orleans, the bill originally proposed tripling legislator pay.  That proposition was later…

NBC News’ Tim Russert dead at 58

I just learned of the death of Tim Russert, long-time moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press. As we approach Father’s Day on Sunday, I can’t help but think of the many stories I remember hearing in interviews about his close relationship with his father. This is certainly very sad news for journalists, young and old….

Raymond Strother: The Father of Political Consulting

Using the word “colorful” to describe Louisiana’s political scene has become so cliché. With grandiose political personalities in every corner of the country from Senator Robert Byrd, to Governor Schwarzenegger and Senators Larry Craig and Ted Kennedy, Louisiana isn’t the only state with famous politicians. Louisiana, however, still maintains control of its own style of…

Day 13: And the winner is…

I’ve always been a huge history buff. Whether it’s the Articles of Confederation, the Lincoln presidency or World War II, I’m fascinated.  Being interested in history plays a huge role in why I’m studying to become a journalist. Watching current events unfold before my eyes each day and being able to share this news with countless others is exactly what drives…

Day 8: Living in Cowboy Country

After only one week in the Lone Star State, I’m starting to immerse myself in the culture of Cowboy Country. This morning’s DART Rail commute to the station led to a surprise discovery on my iPOD. I don’t recall having 45 minutes of country/western music on my playlist, but apparently it was just what I…