Local Issues Articles

Abstaining is not the way to serve the public interest

Austin American-Statesman, September 12, 2014

Of all the monikers for an elected official to strive to be known as, “the abstainer” is not one of them. That’s how Travis County Commissioner Ron Davis is known, and as a Sept. 8 American-Statesman story explained, on 26 votes cast in the 2014 budget sessions, Davis racked up a staggering 19 abstentions, four […]


Dress-down of media merited regarding Hillary Clinton coverage

Austin American-Statesman, June 25, 2014

The line into BookPeople on June 20 snaked from West Sixth Street and Lamar Boulevard (in full sun) north to West Ninth Street, east to Henderson Street, then south back to West Sixth Street. I live a few hundred feet away and was on an errand when I saw it. I pulled my scooter over […]


McPhee saved the babies, left spiritual legacy

Austin American-Statesman, April 19, 2014

The iconic Sr. Mary Rose McPhee, who died April 15 at the age of 95 at a Daughters of Charity retirement center in Evansville, Ind., was a celestial force in the lives of many thousands of people in Austin. She was the chief executive officer of what is now Seton Medical Center Austin when I […]


Vaccine fear derails triumph over disease

Austin American-Statesman, April 1, 2014

Arguably the greatest success story in public health, vaccines demonstrate the triumph of human achievement over disease. But during the last decade or so, I’ve watched through my fingers as vaccine risks get more attention than the diseases they prevent. Before I retired from neonatal intensive care a couple of years ago, convincing parents to […]


Predictions of water wars not far-fetched

Austin American Statesman, February 5, 2014

Long before “global warming” was a household term, my father-in-law, Dr. Jack Inglis, would pronounce that it would all come down to our killing each other over water. The conversation-stopping concept seemed, at best, farfetched. The respected Texas A&M ecology professor, who died 16 years ago in an ultralight crash, would have taken great interest […]


Nothing says Thanksgiving like a jar of green beans

Austin American-Statesman, November 28, 2013

Here we are at Thanksgiving, that holiday when we gather in a confined space to eat to oblivion with loved ones and rediscover all the reasons why we don’t actually live with them. But seriously, Thanksgiving is the near-perfect holiday, untainted by commercialism except for its promiscuous proximity to Black Friday. The annual celebration of […]


Religious sisterhood’s mission never ends

Austin American-Statesman, October 27, 2013

The announcement in September that the Daughters of Charity will leave Austin by 2014, after 113 years in this community, came as a shock to those of us who chose to ignore reality and pretend they would be here forever. But that’s not how it works. When Saints Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac […]


She was our rare Rose, and she left city better

Austin American-Statesman, June 1, 2013

At 1 p.m. Saturday, people will gather at the Central Presbyterian Church downtown to honor Rose Lancaster, who died last week at the age of 86. Lots of people. It may turn out that the Erwin Center would have been a more appropriate-size venue. I first met her in the ’70s when my son, Burton, […]


‘M’ is for the many things moms endure

Austin American-Statesman, May 12, 2013

On Mother’s Day, I think of the moms of the sick and premature babies I cared for in the neonatal ICU for more than 30 years. They all shared these characteristics: • They and their spouses/partners were sleep-deprived — dead-dog exhausted. • They were scared. • Neonatal intensive care was the last place on Earth […]


Governor, do the math on Medicaid expansion

Austin American-Statesman, March 3, 2013

I’ve never been a fan of former hospital executive Rick Scott, but he did the right thing last month in making the decision as Republican governor of Florida to expand Medicaid. His campaign three years ago was based on his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, so his hard-right supporters have since vilified him as […]