One summer when I was growing up, my vacationing family stopped for lunch at a small town diner. Tired and hungry from our journey, we asked why our food was taking so long. The young waitress urged us not to worry explaining, “the patties are real thick.” We were pacified for a moment, but as she walked away we realized all four of us had ordered not hamburgers but grilled cheese sandwiches. Since then, our family has said “the patties are real thick” when folks are talking about one thing when the “meat” of the discussion – the real point – is elsewhere.
As I looked around the Kaycee Club Friday at the faces of Exchange Club members listening to State Sen. Don Huffines address their weekly meeting, “the patties are real thick” came to mind. Huffines spoke about being a “fifth-generation Metroplexer,” he talked about his four sons being Eagle Scouts and he told a story about his grandfather abandoning hot-weather work on the railroad to go to business school and work inside a bank. All the while, his audience seemed to be counting the minutes until they could ask about school finance and LBJ East.
Before the Q-and-A, Huffines did talk about his work to shore up the problems of the Fire and Police Pension Fund. (“Nobody was really happy, so I figured we got a good bill,” he joked.) He worked to stop the practice known as “Pass the Trash,” where teachers caught in relationships with students are moved to new schools in new districts. He pushed to abolish Dallas County Schools (DCS), which operated Richardson ISD’s school buses and were “financially corrupt.”
Next session, Huffines will seek term limits for legislators.
“We’ve got a revolving door down there of legislators that want to be lobbyists,” Huffines said.
Huffines then faced multiple questions about his active opposition to optional managed toll lanes on LBJ from an audience overwhelmingly in support of the project. By poll of hands, all but one in the full room backed the on-again, off-again project, green-lit again last week.
“The good news is that the Texas Highway Safety Commission approved it,” said Huffines. “I’m all for widening the road as wide as we can get it. The problem we’ve got is that I’m not for toll roads. It’s not me, but neither is the governor, the lieutenant governor or the legislature.”
Huffines was also asked about the state’s inadequate contribution to school finance, leading to proposed property tax increases here in Richardson ISD.
“The school finance committee has been meeting and working, and I hope they put everything on the table. I know one thing that a lot of members are talking about is getting rid of some of the school taxes and moving it over to the sales tax bucket.”
Sales tax of 12 percent could result if such a plan is adopted, Huffines said.
Also at the meeting, new Bell Boy sponsor and LHHS 2005 graduate Brody Lyons introduced his new Bell Boys: Joe Williams, Isaac Solovio, Drew Keatts and Pierce Walling.
Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall, a Lake Highlands resident, will speak to Exchange Club members next Friday.