Political curmudgeons might well grouse that local attorney Pat Atkins should have completely fixed Waco Independent School District by now, given his 17 years on the Waco ISD board of trustees, including nine years as board president. Such cynics fail to realize that applying intelligent solutions is difficult when dynamics are always shifting, always raising new challenges and headaches — everything from losing an enormously promising and popular superintendent (for a minor, roadside pot arrest) to trying to prevent scores of teacher layoffs during a nationwide recession that instead shuttered schools (and with some of the public consequently and ignorantly blaming the school board rather than our state lawmakers who cut $5.4 billion from public education funding in 2011).

Given all the investment that parts of the media and many Democratic activists have made in former representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, it is riveting — and painful — to watch the effort to momentarily resuscitate his presidential campaign before the inevitable walking back and unwinding of that investment. In The New York Times last week, Lisa Lerer pointed out that O’Rourke is abandoning his fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants style for such old-fashioned campaign techniques as adopting policy solutions, hiring a pollster and going on cable shows. Why should we care? Well, that O’Rourke’s peaked-too-soon candidacy still matters tells us something useful about liberalism today.

When contemplating where we’re going in life during the massive and intricate improvement and expansion of Interstate 35 through Waco, it’s best to internalize that line from “The Outer Limits,” the 1960s sci-fi anthology: “You are about to participate in a great adventure.” Indeed. Before all is dusted and done, you’ll see all streams of traffic temporarily occupy one snarling side of the interstate. You’ll see lanes both ways increase from three to four. You’ll see the familiar 11th/12th Street overpass one day become an underpass. You’ll see the Eighth Street pedestrian bridge so popular with Baylor University students hoofing it to Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and Panera Bread disappear overnight, certainly by the time students reassemble in August. You’ll see continuous frontage roads. And you’ll spend part of your time in traffic, possibly backed up, if you don’t find alternate routes and stay updated via daily email alerts from the Texas Department of Transportation’s Waco District. Yes, indeed.

At Coach Clyde Hart’s retirement dinner last month celebrating his 56-year tenure, it was obvious as I listened to track and field teammates talk about their Baylor University experience under Coach that he is a living testament to the university’s foundational pillars. These pillars of transformational undergraduate education; Christian environment; research and scholarship; and arts and athletics were recently reaffirmed as the university launched its $1 billion Illuminate campaign.

Flashback

What were we talking about one year ago? Take a look back.

With some Republicans supporting the addition of drug-testing as a requirement for food-stamp beneficiaries at the very same time some NRA champions support decriminalizing marijuana’s use for leisure purposes, the issue of drugs in America remains alive and well. And while drug-testing was not part of the farm bill that Democrats and far-right Republicans torpedoed this month, it may figure into the mix when revived.

In what may well be a microcosm of our times, the Hewitt City Council opened its meeting Monday night with a plea that all assembled keep military personnel in faraway war zones in mind because “they’re the reason we can meet like this in a free country.” That done, the meeting erupted into furor over everything from allegedly defaming civil servants to a romantic affair that isn’t quite so scandalous to that most combustible signpost of all — Facebook indiscretions.