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Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and NRA feud over gun background checks

Two usual political allies — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the National Rifle Association — traded rhetorical blows Friday after Patrick continued to advocate for requiring background checks for stranger-to-stranger gun sales.

Calling his support for the background checks a “political gambit,” the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action said in a prepared statement that Patrick’s “‘proposals’ would resurrect the same broken, Bloomberg-funded failures that were attempted under the Obama administration.”

“The NRA remains at the forefront of legitimate efforts to combat crime in our country,” the group wrote. “We encourage Lt. Gov. Patrick to join us in support of the same.”

The statement referenced former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the most prominent gun control advocates in the country.

In Texas, person-to-person sales of firearms do not require background checks, but after two mass shootings in the state in less than a month — one in El Paso and one in Midland-Odessa — the lieutenant governor has openly supported closing the supposed loophole. President Donald Trump has also endorsed the idea.

The man who fatally shot seven people in West Texas, Seth Aaron Ator, was federally barred from possessing a firearm, ABC News reported. It was later reported that he purchased his weapon in a private person-to-person sale, allowing him to avoid a background check.

In an interview with Fox News last weekend, Patrick said the NRA “needs to get behind” Trump on background checks for stranger-to-stranger gun sales. And in an extensive interview with The Dallas Morning News on Friday, Patrick called it “common sense” to tighten background check laws because in many instances, buyers in stranger-to-stranger sales aren’t required to be vetted through a federal database before they purchase firearms.

“That gap of stranger to stranger we have to close, in my view,” Patrick told the News. “Look, I’m a solid NRA guy … but not expanding the background check to eliminate the stranger-to-stranger sale makes no sense to me and ... most folks.”

Over the past few days, both Patrick, who presides over the state Senate, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen have appointed lawmakers in their chambers to committees on mass violence prevention and community safety. Both Republicans directed their committees to examine ways to keep firearms out of the hands of felons — and others who would not pass a federal background check — while protecting Second Amendment rights.

This story was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.


Local
City of Tyler reorganizes employees who handle streets and utilities

The city of Tyler has changed the way it staffs departments for street and utility repairs in a way officials say can get more repairs done.

City Manager Ed Broussard said during a recent editorial board meeting with the Tyler Morning Telegraph that the city does not plan to hire a replacement for former managing director of public works Scott Taylor, who left his job in February.

Hired in 2017, Taylor oversaw Tyler Water Utilities, which includes drinking water and sewer; the Streets Department; the Engineering Department; and the capital improvement projects related to those departments.

The position was designed to place all of the city’s major projects under a single department so they could be approached comprehensively, seamlessly and without duplication of services.

Now, ReNissa Wade, the previous human resources director, is overseeing the city engineers. The city government employs six engineers, including city engineer Lisa Crossman, who took over the department about a year ago.

“We did not see any additional reason to have oversight that is specific to their fields to manage their workload other than a managing director who can help them coordinate with my office and really the city’s direction,” Broussard said.

Wade previously said the savings from not replacing the managing director of public works was allowing the city to spend more on contract labor to get projects done.

The cost of salary and benefits for the position was $195,446, according to the city.

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Local
Tyler firefighters push in new engine at Old Omen Road station

Members of the Tyler Fire Department welcomed a new engine on Friday morning at station No. 10 on Old Omen Road.

They held a ceremonial push-in to bring in the new engine. The fire service tradition dates back more than 200 years.

Back then, horses would pull fire engines to the scenes of rescues. Horses could not push the engines backward into the station, so firefighters would do the pushing.

The roughly $600,000 Pierce Puc, which weighs more than 40,000 pounds, was paid for in the budget for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

It was the first new engine the city has purchased in a decade, said Fire Chief David Coble. It will replace a 12-year-old engine that will be placed in reserve status. A 20-year-old engine currently in reserve will be retired.

City Manager Ed Broussard said the new engine represents a commitment to police and fire services, which constitute more than two-thirds of the city’s general budget.

The fiscal year 2020 budget, which the City Council is likely to adopt at the end of the month, contains $670,000 for an additional fire vehicle.

Prior to the push-in, fire department staff and senior leaders with the city of Tyler splashed buckets of water onto the engine’s tires.

That was a representation of how fire departments used to wash down tires that were covered in dirt and horse manure.

Councilman Don Warren got soaked in the tire washing process when water splashed backward onto him from his bucket.

When he complained, another person with a bucket splashed additional water on him.

Coble said that’s part of the tradition, too.

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Local
City of Tyler website down after being hacked for 2nd time in a month; some links, directory available online

For the second time in about a month, the city of Tyler’s website was hacked and will remain down until further notice.

However, a list of links including job opportunities, bill pay, online permits and other resources is available at www.cityoftyler.org. A directory for all city departments with phone numbers and addresses also is available.

The city received notification of a website compromise about 9:30 a.m. Friday, according to a city news release. Within five minutes, contact was made with the city’s off-site, third-party website contractor and the site was taken offline.

An off-site third-party provider hosts the city’s website. Only the website itself was compromised, according to the city. No payment platforms or government service sites hosting credit card and residents’ personal information were compromised.

“We are investigating this incident with the website contractor, city of Tyler IT Department and the Tyler Police Department,” the news release states.

The city apologized for any inconvenience this may cause.

TWITTER: @Tylerpaper