March saw plenty of commentary on gun violence, including protests of lax gun laws, the influence of the NRA on politicians and, most notably, outrage over the McLennan County Republican Club’s decision to book controversial, right-wing rocker Ted Nugent for another address on gun rights, including a rant against gun-free zones. A sampling of Trib Facebook comments:

On the eve of a hearing at which two Twin Peaks shootout bikers were seeking to disqualify McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna from prosecuting their cases, Reyna instead began dismissing biker cases, effectively blocking potentially damning testimony from witnesses such as former prosecutor Greg Davis and retired Waco police detective Sherry Kingrey. Trib courthouse reporter Tommy Witherspoon’s coverage this week prompted plenty of Facebook comments:

Veteran Trib entertainment writer Carl Hoover’s interview with creators of the six-part miniseries “Waco” and the producers’ concern over viewers forming an “us-versus-them mentality” regarding the Branch Davidian religious cult and federal and local law enforcement stirred up plenty of opinions. A sampling:

Trib staff writer Cassie L. Smith’s story about McLennan County pressing the state to reimburse $600,000 in costs associated with the first Twin Peaks trial sparked plenty of outrage from readers — not over the Trib’s account but because of District Attorney Abel Reyna, subject of allegations he hijacked a murder investigation from Waco police after the 2015 biker shootout and threw 177 individuals in jail on dubious charges. He is now fighting for re-election amid county concerns about not only criminal trials but civil lawsuits piling up. Here’s a sampling of comments on the Waco Trib Facebook page:

Opinion editor Bill Whitaker’s Sunday column about 75-year-old, sign-carrying, anti-Trump protester Gale McCray’s travels across America, including his two visits to Waco, prompted lots of Facebook ire, including a separate thread on the idea (unmentioned in the column) of Oprah Winfrey running for president. A sampling of opinions from all perspectives:

Trib staff writer Carl Hoover’s Dec. 29 story, headlined “Approaching Branch Davidian anniversary brings out programs on Waco” but clearly stressing in the text the raid and 51-day siege took place at the religious sect’s Mount Carmel complex near Elk, fired up folks about the location of the event. Some obviously read only the headline. A sampling of comments from the Trib Facebook page:

Saturday’s death of Ann Roznovsky, 81, longtime face of the Waco Tribune-Herald and an upbeat, energetic, highly visible presence in our community, struck sadness in many, judging from the Facebook comments following veteran Trib staff writer Mike Copeland’s Sunday story about her life and accomplishments, both at the Trib and beyond. Here’s a sampling of some thoughts and observations:

Trib staff writer Cassie L. Smith’s Dec. 2 story on Waco Pedal Tours’ soft opening for its four-wheeled, pedal-powered cart fitted for 14 plus jovial driver (Danny Abarca) sparked plenty of interest, both on city streets and on the Trib’s Facebook page. Passengers reportedly don’t have to be in top shape to pedal around town — a small motor is in reserve for hills and flagging vigor. While riders generally provide the horsepower, the tour guide has control of the vehicle with steering and brakes. And while the barrel on the front of the cart will reportedly store supplies such as blankets, not booze, some tours will indeed be BYOB. Guests will be limited to beer or wine, with no hard liquor allowed. A sampling of observations:

The Tribune-Herald’s Sunday editorial, “President’s recklessness could provoke a catastrophe,” voicing growing concerns about the failure of President Trump to grow into the role of a mature, visionary chief executive amid “daily digressions into hate-mongering, conspiracy theories and artless put-downs,” went nationwide after Richard Painter, former ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush and now vice chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, spread it via his popular Twitter feed. The editorial, which cited Painter as well as a protester seen on a street corner in Waco holding a sign that read “Trump — That Boy Don’t Act Right,” suggested Trump’s recklessness could cost lives left unchecked, including in the war of insults with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Opinions far and near were posted on our Facebook page, some nearly unintelligible, some profane. Here’s a survey of some we could read and publish, lightly edited:

Saturday’s Trib story about a sworn statement by veteran prosecutor Greg Davis testifying that District Attorney Abel Reyna dismissed criminal cases for his friends and major campaign donors for political and personal gain and reportedly remains under federal investigation sparked plenty of comments from readers. The affidavit also alludes to Reyna’s alleged drug use and refers to information provided by a confidential informant about a sports bar Reyna reportedly frequents.

Trib staff writer Cassie L. Smith’s eye-opening story on one month of increased security at McLennan County Courthouse costing more than $400,000 in overtime pay for the first Twin Peaks shootout trial spurred outrage from readers via our Trib Facebook page. The expenses bring the county’s total costs for the deadly 2015 biker melee to nearly $1 million. A sampling of comments on the county expense and the trial itself, repeatedly hampered by eruptions over timely release of discovery evidence to the defense attorney:

The McLennan County Republican Party’s recent fundraiser featuring GOP congressmen Trey Gowdy and Bill Flores attracted plenty of comments reflecting not only the divide between Republicans and Democrats but one between Republicans. At one point, Flores voiced concern about being attacked by segments of his own party as he works “against the forces of socialism and the left.” A sampling of thoughts:

Lively, thought-provoking Trib Facebook comments followed Trib staffer Shelly Conlon’s Wednesday story about a Waco Independent School District community meeting — the first of three — on five long-troubled school campuses and district plans to avoid state-prescribed closure if students at those campuses fail in state-mandated testing next spring. Many readers focused on who’s to blame for our failing schools. A sampling:

The news that Waco’s first couple Chip and Joanna Gaines have decided to leave their hit HGTV series “Fixer Upper” after its soon-to-start fifth season for some personal restoration time shouldn’t totally surprise anyone. Still, it nonetheless fueled thoughts of the home-restoration show’s folksy impact on Waco and beyond (including busy Magnolia Market at the Silos) as well as wild, baseless rumors that have mercilessly dogged the couple. A look at comments of our readers on Facebook:

Debate among readers broke out after we published an Associated Press story about how only a small fraction of homeowners in Harvey’s path of destruction had flood insurance, which means families impacted “will have to dig deep into their pockets or take on more debt to fix up their homes. Some may be forced to sell, if they can, and leave their communities.” Incidentally, a friend of ours in the insurance business tells us most lenders do require home buyers to have flood insurance, though the latter often let it lapse after mortgage obligations are fulfilled:

A crowd protesting the Aug. 1 police shooting of Kerry Bradley shut down the Aug. 15 Waco City Council meeting, shouting, “No justice, no peace,” and clapping to represent shots fired at Bradley. One of the crowd carried a baseball bat. The group of 30, including Bradley’s family and social justice groups from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, attended the meeting carrying signs, chanting and demanding the council remove the police department from investigating Bradley’s death.

Last week’s Trib story on the vandalism of a predominantly African-American church near Speegleville founded by ex-slaves shortly after the Civil War prompted plenty of concern, even before the news of violence and death in Charlottesville, Virginia, involving KKK members, Nazis and white supremacists as well as counterprotesters. McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara, who described the scrawling of “Trump,” “Satan” and a swastika in the church fellowship hall as a “disgrace,” said the incident was being investigated as vandalism. Texas ranks third in a Southern Poverty Law Center tally of states with the most hate incidents since the 2016 election of Donald Trump as president:

Readers, mostly women, offered great compassion after considering our story about the mother of a newborn baby girl who walked into Waco’s Fire Station 11 Tuesday evening, asking firefighters to take custody of her 3-day-old daughter. The mother told firefighters she had given birth to the baby at home, was unable to care for the newborn and wanted to give up her rights to the child under the 18-year-old “Baby Moses” or Safe Haven law. This law allows the parent of an infant younger than 61 days to relinquish rights to a child at an emergency infant-care facility or designated safe place without fear of prosecution.

Trib coverage about the McLennan County Commissioners Court closely scrutinizing the need for more, improved weaponry for constables during budget sessions prompted healthy debate among our readers, with a focus on one constable’s remark about the visual impact that certain weaponry offers in discouraging resistance among suspects and another who could only convince commissioners to replace his aging pistols. A sampling of thoughts offered:

Sunday’s Trib story about the owners of a “Fixer Upper” home in North Waco who felt “deceived” by the city of Waco and Magnolia Realty after a motorist plowed his car into their home ignited strong feelings. The couple complained it was like “the Wild West here. There’s been a lot of commotion coming from the bars and the store across the street.” Opinions from our Facebook page:

Veteran Trib staff writer Mike Copeland’s follow-up story on the real-estate listing of a shotgun house at 624 S. Seventh St. for almost $1 million prompted plenty of opinions. Even though the house has a measure of fame because of its renovation by Chip and Joanna Gaines of “Fixer Upper” fame, many balked at the house’s small size — 1,050 square feet — and its location. A sampling of Facebook comments:

Lots of folks chimed in on our Facebook page in reaction to Trib staff writer Mike Copeland’s story on a shotgun house on South Seventh Street extensively remodeled by Chip and Joanna Gaines for an episode of “Fixer Upper.” The story’s kicker: The house has hit the real-estate market at $950,000, even though it’s only 1,050 square feet and appraised for tax purposes at $132,010. A sampling of thoughts and comments:

Trib staff writer J.B. Smith’s story about tourists patronizing HGTV reality stars Chip and Joanna Gaines’ insanely popular Magnolia Market at the Silos and parking congestion in already crowded lots around Second Street and Franklin Avenue prompted plenty of debate among our readers, many of whom made strong points. A sampling:

Veteran Trib staff writer J.B. Smith’s story about President Trump’s preliminary budget revealed millions of dollars in lost revenue for local government and nonprofit agencies. Among the hardest hit: programs for low-income housing, homeownership efforts, assistance for seniors and low-income families, school-teacher training and public radio. Comments were lively, complete with the usual discussions on how certain taxation is just socialism:

Trib readers sounded off on our Facebook page about 363 potential jurors simply failing to show up for jury duty two weeks ago, prompting 54th State District Judge Matt Johnson to order issuance of show-cause notices so they could explain before the judge why they should not be held in contempt of court. Most claimed on Friday they never received the jury summonses (but did receive the show-cause notices). One suggested that her dead husband might have thrown it out. Another suggested the jury summons might have been snatched: “Some of the neighbors are not too neighborly.”

Many readers praised both Waco Police Chief Ryan Holt and those protesting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Feb. 9 visit to Waco for a Republican fundraiser. The chief readily acknowledged police erred in asking protesters to move back a certain distance beyond what protesters regarded as fair and reasonable.

While the politically diverse but outdoor-loving Friends of Big Bend National Park Facebook group rigorously avoids any and all political discussion — to the degree such talk is quickly shut down — President Trump’s signing of an executive order to build a U.S.-Mexico wall changed all that. One member asked innocently where the wall would be built. Responses include:

Shortly before addressing supporters of school choice rallying at the state Capitol on Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott posted a Facebook message touting his support of such reforms. Plenty of folks on both sides of this controversial issue subsequently chose to sound off. Among the pearls:

This week U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz went on Facebook to praise President-elect Trump’s appointment of fellow Texans Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corporation, as secretary of state and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as secretary of energy. Reactions raced in:

On Thanksgiving Eve, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott took to Facebook to praise a judge who blocked a U.S. Department of Labor rule on overtime pay that made more than 4 million private-sector workers eligible for mandatory extra pay or time off. The rule was meant to correct a situation in which salaried employees paid more than $455 a week were deemed “managers,” even if they had few real supervisory duties. They thus had become ineligible to be paid at higher overtime rates if they worked more than 40 hours per week. The Labor Department regulation raised the salary threshold, prompting outcry from business organizations. Abbott’s comment on the court ruling: “Obama legacy ending as it began: Federal judge in Texas rules another Obama executive order is illegal.” Reactions:

One-half of our nation is in jubilation, one-half finds itself in something approaching deep grief. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has not only won the election but also transformed the Republican Party. Comments from our Facebook page:

Judging from Facebook posts we’ve received regarding the local couple whose Hillary Clinton signs were vandalized and sidewalk was defaced with anti-Hillary commentary, two truths dominate: First, vandalizing someone’s property because of his or her political expression is deplorable. Second, some people deserve it if they support the wrong candidate. Oh, well. A sampling:

By a 3-3 vote Tuesday, the Lacy Lakeview City Council bowed to rankled neighbors and denied a permit for the owner of the Barndominium, forcing its operations as a vacation rental to cease at a site made popular by the TV show “Fixer Upper.” The council’s action means owner Kristi Bass will no longer be allowed to operate the Barndominium. Responses on our Facebook page were equally indignant but in favor of Bass:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott won praise last week for lambasting Texas Child Protective Services, insisting any child welfare backlog is unacceptable. His demand for “specific and substantial overhauls for swift improvement” drew passionate responses on his Facebook page. A sampling:

The surprise news that Baylor University Title IX Coordinator Patty Crawford was resigning this week because of what she termed resistance by certain administrators to her efforts to bolster Title IX policy on campus sparked debate among our readers via Facebook. Excerpts of the most telling comments:

Friday’s stunning announcement by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, that he would endorse reality TV star, real-estate mogul and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after famously refusing to do so at the Republican National Convention in July pleased many Republicans originally angry at his stand against Trump. It also outraged those who stuck by Cruz out of principle. A sampling from the senator’s Facebook page after Cruz’s bizarre weekend appearance at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, where he refused to fully embrace Trump, even in the wake of his endorsement just a day earlier:

The film “Sully” directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks sparked a lot of conversation on a Facebook page devoted to promoting the film with comments from those who have seen it. Much debate arose over the plot device of National Transportation Safety Board bureaucrats trying to blame heroic pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger and his decision to save lives by landing in the Hudson River. The airliner was incapacitated by some unlucky Canadian geese mid-air.

Actor Jeff Bridges’ patterning his performance as an aging Texas lawman after McLennan County Sheriff and former deputy U.S. Marshal Parnell McNamara made the latter-day Western “Hell or High Water” something special in its Waco screening. Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan based the character on McNamara, his cousin. We decided to check out the film’s Facebook page to see what others were saying about this picture.

Red-faced Waco Independent School District officials announced last week they hired without fully vetting a teacher who had lost her previous job last year after a racially provocative Facebook post regarding an uproar over a white McKinney police officer’s arrest of a black teen during a pool party gone awry. Among the more constructive comments from our Facebook page:

To the surprise of some, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush endorsed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, despite the attacks Trump launched on Bush’s father, Jeb, and uncle, George W. Bush, and their refusal to endorse Trump. A sampling of reactions from the commissioner’s Facebook page:

To some, this week’s prime-time address at the Republican National Convention by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, tea-party idol, struck a blow for true conservatism and principle. For others, his refusal to endorse Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was traitorous. Evidence of both sentiments peppered the senator’s Facebook page. A sampling:

Last week, Republican Congressman Roger Williams issued a statement about the Dallas tragedy that claimed the lives of five police officers, saying that the “spread of misinformation and constant instigation by prominent leaders, including our president, have contributed to the modern-day hostility we are witnessing between the police and those they serve.” Many returned fire on the congressman’s Facebook page, crediting Williams with political opportunism or worse.

The Texas Legislature doesn’t convene till Jan. 8, but this week state legislators began filing bills. Let’s hope Central Texas legislators do nothing to encourage the distracting sideshows we witnessed during the 2017 legislative session, including discriminatory legislation regarding public bathrooms. Let’s demand they add thought and muscle to adequately and equitably fund public schools and reform property-tax appraisals to more accurately reflect our property values.

Flashback

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

Saturday’s Trib story about a sworn statement by veteran prosecutor Greg Davis testifying that District Attorney Abel Reyna dismissed criminal cases for his friends and major campaign donors for political and personal gain and reportedly remains under federal investigation sparked plenty of comments from readers. The affidavit also alludes to Reyna’s alleged drug use and refers to information provided by a confidential informant about a sports bar Reyna reportedly frequents.

Trib staff writer Cassie L. Smith’s eye-opening story on one month of increased security at McLennan County Courthouse costing more than $400,000 in overtime pay for the first Twin Peaks shootout trial spurred outrage from readers via our Trib Facebook page. The expenses bring the county’s total costs for the deadly 2015 biker melee to nearly $1 million. A sampling of comments on the county expense and the trial itself, repeatedly hampered by eruptions over timely release of discovery evidence to the defense attorney:

The McLennan County Republican Party’s recent fundraiser featuring GOP congressmen Trey Gowdy and Bill Flores attracted plenty of comments reflecting not only the divide between Republicans and Democrats but one between Republicans. At one point, Flores voiced concern about being attacked by segments of his own party as he works “against the forces of socialism and the left.” A sampling of thoughts:

Lively, thought-provoking Trib Facebook comments followed Trib staffer Shelly Conlon’s Wednesday story about a Waco Independent School District community meeting — the first of three — on five long-troubled school campuses and district plans to avoid state-prescribed closure if students at those campuses fail in state-mandated testing next spring. Many readers focused on who’s to blame for our failing schools. A sampling: