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Rod Aydelotte  

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Baylor’s Will London looks up from his block before the start of the men’s 400 dash where he placed third.

Trump: 'Good chance' now for tariff deal with Mexico

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced late Friday that he had suspended plans to impose tariffs on Mexico, tweeting that the country “has agreed to take strong measures” to stem the flow of Central American migrants into the United States.

A “U.S.-Mexico Joint Declaration” released by the State Department outlined the details of the deal, saying the U.S. “will immediately expand the implementation” of a program that returns asylum-seekers who cross the southern border to Mexico while their claims are adjudicated. Mexico will “offer jobs, healthcare and education” to those people, “according to its principles,” the agreement stated.

Mexico has also agreed, it said, to take “unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration,” including the deployment of the Mexican National Guard throughout the country, especially on its southern border with Guatemala. And Mexico is taking “decisive action to dismantle human smuggling and trafficking organizations as well as their illicit financial and transportation networks,” the State Department said.

The U.S. announced in December that it would make some asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases were being proceeded — a begrudging agreement with Mexico that has taken months to scale and that has been plagued with glitches, including wrong court dates, travel problems and issues with lawyers reaching their clients.

Homeland Security officials have been ramping up slowly, and were already working to spread the program along the border before the latest blowup. About 10,000 people have been returned to Mexico to wait out the processing of their immigration cases since the program began Jan. 29. More than 100,000 migrants are currently crossing the U.S. border each month, but not everyone claims asylum and migrants can wait an entire year before making a claim.

Any sizable increase may also be difficult to achieve. At the San Ysidro crossing alone, Mexico had been prepared to accept up to 120 asylum seekers per week, but for the first six weeks only 40 people per week were returned.

Trump’s had announced the tariff plan last week, declaring in a tweet that, on June 10, the U.S. would “impose a 5% Tariff on all goods coming into our Country from Mexico, until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP.” U.S. officials had laid out steps Mexico could take to prevent the tariffs, but many had doubts that even those steps would be enough to satisfy Trump on illegal immigration, a signature issue of his presidency and one that he sees as crucial to his 2020 re-election campaign.

After returning from Europe Friday, though, Trump tweeted, “I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico.” He wrote that the “Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended.”

He said Mexico has agreed to work to “stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border” and said those steps would “greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States.”

The reversal marked a change in tone from earlier Friday, when his spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters in Ireland before Trump took off: “Our position has not changed. The tariffs are going forward as of Monday.” Trump has often said unpredictability helps him negotiate.

The 5% tax on all Mexican goods , which would increase every month up to 25% under Trump’s plan, would have had enormous economic implications for both countries. Americans bought $378 billion worth of Mexican imports last year, led by cars and auto parts. Many members of Trump’s Republican Party and business allies had urged him to reconsider — or at least postpone actually implementing the tariffs as talks continue — citing the potential harm to American consumers and manufactures.

U.S. and Mexican officials met for more than 10 hours Friday during a third day of talks at the U.S. State Department trying to hash out a deal that would satisfy Trump’s demand that Mexico dramatically increase its efforts to crack down on migrants.

The talks were said to be focused, in part, on attempting to reach a compromise on changes that would make it harder for migrants who pass through Mexico from other countries to claim asylum in the U.S., those monitoring the situation said. Mexico has opposed such a change but appeared open to considering a potential compromise that could include exceptions or waivers for different types of cases. The joint declaration, however makes no mention of the issue.

Leaving the State Department Friday night, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said he thought the deal struck “a fair balance” because the U.S. “had more drastic proposals and measures at the start.”

Earlier, Ebrard tweeted, “Thanks to all the people who have supported us by realizing the greatness of Mexico.”

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also tweeted. “Thanks to the support of all Mexicans, the imposition of tariffs on Mexican products exported to the USA has been avoided,” he said, calling for a gathering to celebrate in Tijuana Saturday.

Trump in recent months has embraced tariffs as a political tool he can use to force countries to comply with his demands — in this case on his signature issue of immigration. And he had appeared poised earlier Friday to invoke an emergency declaration that would allow him to put the tariffs into effect if that was his final decision, according to people monitoring the talks.

“If negotiations continue to go well,” Trump “can turn that off at some point over the weekend,” Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, told reporters earlier in the day.

Beyond Trump and several White House advisers, few in his administration had believed the tariffs were a good idea, according to officials familiar with internal deliberations. Those people had worried about the negative economic consequences for Americans and argued that tariffs — which would likely spark retaliatory taxes on U.S. exports — would also hurt the administration politically.

Republicans in Congress had also warned the White House that they were ready to stand up to the president to try to block his tariffs, which they worried would spike costs to U.S. consumers, harm the economy and imperil a major pending U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal .

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., greeted Friday night’s news with sarcasm. “This is an historic night!” he tweeted. “Now that that problem is solved, I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future.”


Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Colleen Long, Paul Wiseman, Lisa Mascaro, Darlene Superville and Padmananda Rama in Washington and Jonathan Lemire in Shannon, Ireland contributed to this report.

editor's pick
Landfill stink back in court
Landfill opponents push back against city on multiple fronts
 Tommy Witherspoon  / 

If one thing is certain, it’s that no one wants a regional landfill in their backyard.

The city of Waco is finding that out the hard way, although city officials certainly anticipated opposition.

The Waco Regional Landfill is expected to reach capacity in 2024, and even uncontested landfill permitting processes can take years. With two potential sites for the landfill conceivably still in play, the city finds itself in battles on a number of fronts while the ticking clock grows louder.

The city and a citizens’ group led by Wanda Glaze were back in court Thursday in a dispute over the city’s initial intentions to put a landfill on property adjacent to the current landfill off U.S. Highway 84 on Old Lorena Road.

Glaze, an Old Lorena Road resident, was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit 27 years ago when the city was planning the landfill. The city paid Glaze $50,000 to settle the suit in 1992, got its permit for the landfill and agreed not to expand it.

The current lawsuit, filed by the group in January 2017, seeks a permanent injunction against the city and alleges that building a new landfill adjacent to the old one would violate the terms of the 1992 settlement not to expand the present site.

Attorneys for the city are claiming governmental immunity from the suit and argue the new site will require a new permit and would not constitute an expansion, but would be a new landfill. Thursday’s court date was held in Waco’s 10th Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments in the city’s appeal of a judge’s ruling to allow Glaze’s new suit to proceed to trial. A ruling from the 10th Court will come later.

While Glaze’s name was on the lawsuit as plaintiff, she said the first lawsuit was brought by a group who call themselves Citizens to Save Lake Waco. She said many of them are dead now, and she finds it difficult to believe she still is fighting the battle over the city landfill so many years later.

Staff Photo — Rod Aydelotte, file 

With the Waco Regional Landfill expected to reach capacity in 2024, the city is facing opposition to its plans to place a new landfill outside Axtell and facing a lawsuit over its now-past proposal to place a new landfill next to the current one.

Glaze declines to state her age or to say how much she and her group have spent on legal fees. She said she remembers city officials referring pejoratively to her group in 1992 as “those old ladies wearing tennis shoes driving Cadillacs.”

Glaze never drove a Cadillac and she is almost three decades older now but no less committed to her cause.

“If we are going to be expected to abide by the city’s laws and guidelines, I think they should abide by the laws as well,” Glaze said. “We had a settlement and a contract with them. I was sure that they would keep to it. I had no idea that they would come back and try to expand that landfill. I worked with them years ago, and they have honored that up until the last year.”

After Glaze’s new lawsuit was filed and city leaders were swamped with protests from another group called Citizens Against the Highway 84 Landfill, city leaders shifted gears, bought 1,290 acres for $5.4 million near Axtell and have filed an application for a landfill permit for that area.

Despite the city’s apparent about-face, Glaze and her attorneys say it is important to follow through with her lawsuit because the city has not yet ruled out the Old Lorena Road location as a potential landfill site.

“We told them three years ago that they need to go somewhere else and that they were violating the terms of the agreement,” said Waco attorney Billy Davis, one of Glaze’s attorneys. “They finally acknowledged that and last year bought the Axtell property. But still, they have refused to say that they would never expand on our adjacent land, and in fact, have just recently said publicly that they are keeping that as an option. So that is why it is timely to have this litigation to determine the rights of the parties.”

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte, file 

TK Parkway is seen heading toward Highway 31, near the site the city of Waco is seeking to use as a landfill.

Mayor Kyle Deaver attended the 10th Court of Appeals hearing. He said the state permitting process is ongoing for the Axtell site and that the city has not filed an application for a permit for the Highway 84 location. He said the city did not appeal the ruling denying its motion to dismiss Glaze’s lawsuit as a way to keep a backup plan in place should the Axtell site fall through.

“I would not put it exactly like that,” Deaver said. “(Thursday’s) hearing is the city trying to get resolution on the lawsuit for now or in the future for a landfill site and simply trying to preserve options for the citizens of the future. It’s such a fluid situation and there are so many variables that you just have to look after each domino falls.”

Waco City Councilman Jim Holmes, whose District 5 includes the current landfill, said he opposes the Old Lorena Road proposal for “a whole host of reasons.”

“First, that area is the fastest growing area in Central Texas. It is a growth site,” Holmes said. “When the landfill was built 30 years ago, there practically was nobody out there. There were a few developments, but now there are a lot more developments and a lot more people out there.

“If you look at other peer cities, nobody puts their landfill inside their city limits. Peer cities put their landfills on average about 4 miles outside the city limits. The Axtell site is 5 miles away from Axtell. I appreciate the dialogue, but it is 5 miles from Axtell.”

More growth in the area is expected and being encouraged by the construction of a Highway 84 overpass at Speegleville Road, Holmes said.

“It seems paradoxical if you are going to spend the money for that interchange there to have a landfill less than a mile away,” he said.

City officials are “real sensitive” to the concerns of the Axtell-area residents, Holmes said. The city plans to use a fifth of the about 1,300 acres for the landfill, and the rest will serve as a large buffer area between residents and the landfill. Any permitting hearings will be public, and the process will be as transparent as possible, he said.

The city’s assurances, however, are not convincing to Axtell-area residents and will not dissuade them from protesting the permit application, said Lacy Hollingsworth, an organizer of the opposition forces. She said State Rep. Kyle Kacal, R-College Station, has requested that Texas Commission on Environmental Quality officials conduct a public hearing on the application.

“It it very frustrating for our residents,” Hollingsworth said. “They want to know if we are going to have a landfill here or not. We have told them this could be a five- or seven-year battle because it will take TCEQ that long to determine if they are going to permit it.

“We feel ready for the next step. We are just waiting to see when TCEQ announces they are going to have our public hearing. The city is going to do what is best for the city, the path of least resistance, and we are trying to make sure we are not the path of least resistance.”

City of Waco spokesman Larry Holze said the city is sympathetic to those concerns. However, the city is running out of room at his current landfill and must make arrangements to provide this valuable service.

“We have bought property in both places, and the city owns the properties,” Holze said. “There are still feasibility studies going on. We have to be a responsible government and provide a means to dispose of people’s waste. It’s said that everything you buy someday will end up in a landfill somewhere. It is the responsibility of local government to provide a place somewhere to throw your trash away. We are trying to do so as cost efficiently as we can. It has to be somewhere.”

Doughnut Day

Jaicey Belle Hunter, dressed as a World War I Salvation Army Doughnut Lassie, hands Navy veteran Greg Bilton a doughnut Friday at the Doris Miller Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

editor's pick
New Waco ISD trustees come from different backgrounds but have similar goals for board
 Brooke Crum  / 

On the surface, newly appointed Waco Independent School District trustees Robin Houston and Jose Vidana appear monumentally different.

Vidana, 41, is a bilingual mail carrier who immigrated to Waco from Mexico at a young age. He became a U.S. citizen at 18 years old and has worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 15 years.

Houston, 48, is an assistant district attorney in the juvenile division of the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office, where she has worked for more than a decade. She was born in the Netherlands, while her parents were stationed in Germany during their Air Force service. She grew up in Waco, South Dakota and Wyoming.

But dig beneath that surface, and the two trustees share plenty of common ground. Both have children who attend Waco ISD schools. Both strongly support the paths the school district offers its students, and both want to see the school board hire a superintendent who will build on the progress the district has already made.

The Waco ISD Board of Trustees unanimously voted Wednesday to appoint Vidana and Houston to the board. Vidana replaces Larry Perez, who represented District 3, and Houston replaces Pat Atkins, who served in an at-large seat, representing the whole school district. Both Perez and Atkins served on the board for 17 years.

The five trustees reviewed letters from 20 candidates interested in filling the vacant positions. They interviewed several applicants Wednesday during closed session before voting to appoint Vidana and Houston.

“It’s something me and my wife talked about before Larry even announced he was stepping down,” Vidana said. “With the two oldest kids leaving school, I figured I’d have more free time, and we talked about it and thought one of us should do it.”

Vidana or his wife, Letitia, planned to run for the District 3 seat if the school board did not appoint Vidana on Wednesday. The trustee plans to run in the May 2020 election, when the term for his position expires. Trustees serve for three-year terms.

Houston also plans to run for office in the May 2020, when a special election will be held for the final year of that position’s three-year term. She said she was interested in serving on the school board because she has a son in seventh grade in the district and a daughter who graduated from Waco High School last week.

“I do still have a kid who’s a student in the district, and I think it’s important for people who are in the schools to have a little bit of input,” she said. “Sometimes we have some insight that people who don’t have children going to the school might not have.”

All of Vidana’s six children either attend or graduated from Waco ISD schools. His eldest son and daughter both graduated from University High School, in 2013 and 2016, respectively. The daughter, Tiffany, was No. 4 in her class and took advantage of the dual credit program the district offers. She graduated high school with 31 college credit hours that transferred to Oral Roberts University, where she graduated from this year. She also participated in the health science academy at University, which paved a path for her to earn her bachelor’s in psychology.

Likewise, Vidana’s twin daughters graduated from University High School last week. Savannah was the salutatorian, and Gabriella was third in her class. Both also received an associate’s degree through the district’s dual credit program.

But Vidana’s two youngest children are still in Waco ISD schools. His son Thomas will be a seventh grader next school year, and his daughter Apollonia just finished second grade.

Houston said her daughter also took advantage of the district’s “excellent academic offerings,” including extracurricular activities. She said that was one of the reasons her family chose Waco ISD when they moved back to Waco after 14 years in Austin.

“When I was really looking at the things that we wanted for programs, I really thought they had the best offerings,” she said. “We felt like this was the best fit for our family.”

Both trustees want to ensure students continue to have access to the type of opportunities their older children benefited from, and they want the next superintendent to recognize how vital the programs are to students’ success.

“There’s a lot of good things going on at Waco ISD, and we need to make sure that whoever comes in recognizes places that there’s been progress made or places that are working really well, while also realizing that there’s some things that need improvement,” Houston said. “I would like to find somebody who’s going to build on the successes the district already has.”

Similarly, Vidana wants the next superintendent to support students, but he also would like to see the district’s new leader listen to students and staff and get to know each school’s personality.

“Each school is different. Each school has different problems,” he said. “We don’t listen to the students enough. We listen to teachers and staff, but we also need to listen to some students because they’re the ones who have the most contact with WISD.”

The Vidanas met with former superintendent A. Marcus Nelson a couple times when they had parental concerns and would like to see that kind of openness and accessibility from the next superintendent, as well. Vidana said he plans to be accessible to his district, and he plans to start by meeting with faculty at each of the schools in his district.

“The South Waco community to me doesn’t support their kids as much as they should. Especially the Spanish-speaking people, they don’t come out to meetings because half the time there’s no translation and they get lost in the translation,” he said. “They just stay silent. I want to try to get them involved and try to get them to understand that we want to try to get you to communicate with us so we can see what we need to do and relay that to the school board.”

Houston said she believes her experience dealing with juveniles in crisis or with trauma will help her serve her constituents well.

“I’m a listener. I really believe in consensus- and team-building and listening to everybody’s voice,” she saaid. “I work with families that are from all over the county and all over the district, both through kids who have had some problems and also through people who have been victimized. I see a lot of different families in crisis. I like to listen to people and I work with a lot of different kinds of people so I think it’s important to have all voices come to the table and say what they want to have happen.”

The newly appointed trustees will be sworn in at the board’s next meeting on June 24.

editor's pick
Harwell jail passes state inspection ahead of county takeover
 Kristin Hoppa  / 

As LaSalle Corrections prepares to relinquish control of the Jack Harwell Detention Center to the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, the jail has passed its first state inspection since August last year.

During a surprise inspection late last month, Texas Commission on Jail Standards inspectors found the jail was in compliance with minimum safety standards, according to a letter the commission sent to county officials. The jail would have been forced to reduce its inmate population if it had failed the most recent inspection because of a remedial order the commission issued in response to three failures in a seven-month stretch.

“I am glad they are in compliance, and it will make the transition easier if they are in compliance rather than when they are not,” Sheriff Parnell McNamara said. “I think it is going to be a good thing and I think we will be able to manage both jails successful to make every effort to see that Jack Harwell as well as our jail is always in compliance.”

The McLennan County Sheriff’s Office will take control of the Harwell jail Oct. 1 after LaSalle agreed to the transfer last month. The county built the 1,162-bed jail adjacent to the McLennan County Jail in 2010 and has hired private for-profit companies to run it since it opened.

Capt. Ricky Armstrong, county jail administrator, will oversee the transition to county operation of the jail and efforts to hire about 100 people needed to staff the facility.

“We are glad to see that JHDC (Jack Harwell Detention Center) operated by LaSalle is back in compliance,” Armstrong said. “Now we can focus our attention on working together for a smooth transition in October.”

On Friday, Harwell housed 700 inmates, including 335 McLennan County inmates, while McLennan County Jail housed 759. LaSalle officials did not comment on the passed inspection or about moving forward with the transition with McLennan County.

In the past three failed inspections for Harwell, officials identified various areas of noncompliance, including failure to use proper inmate identification procedures, failure to maintain the minimum ratio of one jailer to 48 inmates, inappropriate mental health screenings and failure to conduct visual checks of inmates at required intervals.

Commission on Jail Standards Executive Director Brandon Wood said because the jail passed the latesd inspection, the commission will not enforce the remedial order, which could have required the jail to reduce its population by 48 inmates.

Wood said the facility is still subject to unannounced inspections before LaSalle gives up control in October. He said the jail is still listed as an “at risk” facility because of the recent failures. The state is required to inspect jails once a year for compliance, but “at risk” jails often get more inspections, he said.

“If we get information that indicates that they aren’t meeting minimum standards, that would be a reason to have another inspection,” Wood said. “They will still be considered ‘at risk’ because they have failed a number of inspections in that time period for our records.”

Once McLennan County is operating both jails, the state will consider them a “system,” Wood said. If one jail fails an inspection, it will affect the record of the system, not just the individual facility, he said.

Undone by Brexit, May steps down as Conservative leader

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May’s time as Conservative Party leader ended Friday, not with a bang but a whimper.

May, who announced her departure two weeks ago after her career was undone by the Brexit mess, formally stepped down in a private exchange of letters with the party, leaving almost a dozen Conservative contenders fighting to replace her and resume the stalled quest to lead Britain out of the European Union.

The second female prime minister in British history spent the day quietly in her home constituency west of London, rather than the prime minister’s residence at 10 Downing St.

May will remain as acting leader and prime minister for a few weeks while the party picks a successor, who will become the next prime minister.

Conservative lawmakers will hold a secret ballot on Thursday, with any candidates who don’t get at least 5% dropping out. Further rounds will be held the following week until the field is narrowed to two.

The final two candidates will meet in a runoff that will be decided in a mail-in vote by the country’s approximately 160,000 Conservative Party members. The winner will be announced the week of July 22.

So far, 11 Conservative lawmakers are running to replace May, vowing to succeed where she failed and renegotiate Britain’s deal to pull out of the EU.

There’s just one problem: The EU says that’s not going to happen.

“There will be no renegotiation,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said — not for the first time — last week.

On Friday, Juncker lamented: “Everyone understands English, but nobody understands England.”

May, 62, has seen her three years atop party and country defined, and ultimately destroyed, by Brexit.

The Oxford-educated daughter of a rural vicar, she was picked as party leader in July 2016, weeks after Britain voted 52% to 48% to leave the EU and her predecessor, David Cameron, resigned.

After many months of negotiations, the 27 other EU nations finally agreed late last year to a detailed withdrawal plan with May’s government.

But in one humiliation after another for May, the plan has been rejected three times by Parliament, doomed by both lawmakers who wanted more of a clean break and those who wanted a softer Brexit that kept close economic ties to the bloc.

With British politicians deadlocked, departure day was postponed from March 29 to Oct. 31, and many of May’s Conservative colleagues decided she and her plan had to go.

The impasse has transformed the U.K.’s political map. May’s Conservatives and the main opposition Labour Party are both fractured over how to leave the EU.

Frustrated and angry voters are turning away from the big parties to the upstart Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage and — on the other side of the European divide — the Liberal Democrats and Greens, who want Britain to remain in the EU.

Farage’s Brexit Party came close to winning its first seat in Parliament on Friday, narrowly losing to Labour in a special election in the city of Peterborough. Labour’s share of the vote fell sharply from the last election in 2017, and the Conservatives came in third.

Despite the loss, Farage said the result showed that British politics has “fundamentally changed,” with the stranglehold of Conservative and Labour now broken.

Waco ISD photo  

Jose Vidana


Waco ISD photo  

Robin Houston