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Do we need drones and eight-foot fire-truck ladders?
by Susan Bankston

I’m fixin’ to tell you an absolutely true story. Many years ago in a galaxy far away, I was a young reporter at a small-town city council budget meeting. The fire chief presented the fire department’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. To me, the budget seemed a bit extravagant for a small town in southeast Texas. Among other fancy-pants big-city things, the fire chief wanted an eight-story fire-truck ladder.

A councilwoman seemed genuinely confused about this item and asked, “Chief, why do we need an eight-story fire-truck ladder when the tallest building in town is only two stories?” She asked it nicely, because she assumed it was something she didn’t understand about fire ladders.

The chief thought silently for a full 30 seconds and then puffed himself up all tall, smug, and knowledgeable before answering, with a completely straight face, “Because you never know.”

Writing a straight news story about that answer was the hardest writing I have ever done.

You never know.

Only sometimes you do. You kinda know you won’t need an eight-story ladder to fight two-story fires.

“You never know” happens just about as often as you’d expect in crazzzzzy Texas. During any given legislative session in Austin, about half the bills fall into that twilight zone You-Never-Know category.

You know I’m fixin’ to give you an example, right?

Texas Republican State Representative J.M. Lozano is a man of vision. And that vision is drones. He wrote and introduced HB 3429, which reads: “As soon as practicable after the effective date of this Act, the office of the governor shall adopt the policies and procedures, establish the unmanned aircraft program, and acquire unmanned aircraft for state agency use as required by Section 490G.001, Government Code, as added by this Act.”

Lozano wants the governor to have drones. I do not know what possible reason the governor has for wanting or needing drones. Nor do I even want to know, because I’m dead-solid certain that that information will just give me facial tics. But, off the top of my head, I can think of 1,295 reasons why it’s a real bad idea—and the top of my head is the first reason.

We can’t pay for education. We can’t pay for healthcare. We can’t build or fix roads. But, bygawd, we can let the Gov and JM have a drone to play with on the weekends and crash-land on the roof of my house. Fortunately, my house is only two stories, so the fire chief has got that covered if we need to put out the subsequent fire.

A drone. I am certain, deep in my heart, that if you asked JM or the governor why we need drones, their answer would be . . . You never know.

And that ain’t all that’s happening in the Texas State Capitol. Welcome to Crap, Texas. Population: millions and millions.

My own personal state representative, Rick Miller, is a nincompoop. He has an impressive 94 percent approval rating from the Preservation of Damn Meanness PAC.

Miller introduced House Bill 1556, which would undo all LGBT protections instituted in a lot of Texas cities, including Houston, Fort Worth, El Paso, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin. Added up, 7.5 million Texans are covered under these local LGBT civil rights ordinances.

There’s a slew of stuff wrong with Miller’s bill, but two distinct things point to the fact that he’s all salt and lime and no tequila. (1) Miller is a Republican who bellows “Local control!” a dozen times a day, but now—only now—he wants to override local control. And (2) Miller’s son is a highly respected and perfectly wonderful proud gay man in Houston.

Miller contends that the LGBT protections enacted by cities “interfere with economic liberty and discourage business expansion.” I think he’s saying that he wrote a bill that removes protections from his son’s life for “business” reasons. Goodness gracious, even the Mafia puts families before business.

And as the finance chairman at the Sugar Creek Baptist Church, surely Rick Miller knows that God told Abraham not to sacrifice his son Isaac.

This is the man that my neighbors elected to represent us in state government. I do not want to go outside my house. I’m afraid of these people.

If you would like to call Rick Miller, his office number is 281.980.0117. If you call, do not be mean, because Rick has already cornered the market on that. Do not be sarcastic, because I own the Texas distributorship on that. Just be nice, and remind him that all people should be protected in the workplace.

Also, instead of being worried about what we’re doing, he needs to be worried about why he’s worried about what we’re doing.

Susan Bankston lives in Richmond, Texas, where she writes about her hairdresser at The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc., at juanitajean.com.

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Susan Bankston

Susan Bankston lives in Richmond, Texas, where she writes about her hairdresser at The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc., at juanitajean.com.
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