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Supporters of President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.

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3 Calhoun Port Authority board seats up for election
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POINT COMFORT — Applications opened Wednesday for three seats on the Calhoun Port Authority‘s board of directors that are up for election.

Seats up for grabs include District 1, held by Shields A. Tony Holladay Sr.; District 5, held by Johnny Perez; and District 6, held by H.C. “Tony” Wehmeyer, Jr.

Board members are elected to the six-member board for four-year terms. Anyone who wishes to file for a spot on the general election ballot has until Feb. 12 to turn in their application.

As of Wednesday, Holladay was the only person who had filed for reelection. He has served on the board since 1993.

“We run a very financially successful port, and I want to continue doing that for the fellow taxpayers,” he said. “I’ve had as many as three people run against me before, and I’ve always been reelected, so let’s continue; let’s continue making money, making employment and lowering our taxes.”

Two other applications were picked up at the port, including one by District 5 incumbent Perez, who was appointed to the board in 2018 to fill the remainder of Aron Luna’s term after Luna resigned in July 2018 while facing several criminal charges unrelated to his service on the board.

Perez said he has learned a lot since he joined the board and plans to file for reelection because he wants to continue to attract business to the port, such as Max Midstream Texas, that will bring new jobs and financial prosperity to the community.

Baldemar “BG” Garza, an engineer who lives in Alamo Beach, also picked up an application.

With more than 30 years of experience in the engineering field, including experience working on projects for ports and industrial plants, Garza said he plans to file an application to run for the District 1 seat next week.

“I’ve always been interested in local politics, and with the port, I actually live on the water, and there is a direct impact for me and my neighbors,” he said. “So I just want to give back to the county, really.”

At the board’s monthly meeting Wednesday, the board unanimously approved paying the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District $84,667 for a portion of the port’s share of the engineering and design for the Matagorda Ship Channel Improvement Project.

The Matagorda Ship Channel Improvement Project was authorized under the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 that Congress passed last month as part of the omnibus funding bill. It will deepen the waterway by 9 feet, widen the bay channel by 100 feet and widen the offshore channel by 300 feet, allowing larger vessels, such as Aframax or Suezmax ships, to come into the port.

Max Midstream Texas, a Houston-based oil and gas company that entered into a public-private partnership with the port last year, previously agreed to invest $360 million in port infrastructure improvements by 2023, including $225 million to finance the Matagorda Ship Channel Improvement Project.

As the project’s nonfederal sponsor, the port has to cover 25% of the $2.75 million project engineering and design cost, though Port Director Charles Hausmann said there is a chance the funds allocated in 2021 will cover all or some of the port’s portion.

“In working with the port and talking to their administrative office, it looks like we may be getting additional funds from the fiscal year 2021 work plan that will be able to cover (project design and engineering) 100%,” he said. “That is not a guarantee, but that is what the Galveston District is working towards.”

Hausmann said the Corps has started the design and engineering process for the project. The port is hoping to get the process done in “a very short time, hopefully within 12 months, he said.

AP breaking centerpiece
Trump impeached after Capitol riot in historic second charge
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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House for a historic second time Wednesday, charged with “incitement of insurrection” over the deadly mob siege of the Capitol in a swift and stunning collapse of his final days in office.

With the Capitol secured by armed National Guard troops inside and out, the House voted 232-197 to impeach Trump. The proceedings moved at lightning speed, with lawmakers voting just one week after violent pro-Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol, egged on by the president’s calls for them to “fight like hell” against the election results.

Ten Republicans fled Trump, joining Democrats who said he needed to be held accountable and warned ominously of a “clear and present danger” if Congress should leave him unchecked before Democrat Joe Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20.

Trump is the only U.S. president to be twice impeached. It was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment in modern times, more so than against Bill Clinton in 1998.

The Capitol insurrection stunned and angered lawmakers, who were sent scrambling for safety as the mob descended, and it revealed the fragility of the nation’s history of peaceful transfers of power. The riot also forced a reckoning among some Republicans, who have stood by Trump throughout his presidency and largely allowed him to spread false attacks against the integrity of the 2020 election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invoked Abraham Lincoln and the Bible, imploring lawmakers to uphold their oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign “and domestic.”

She said of Trump: “He must go, he is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love.”

Holed up at the White House, watching the proceedings on TV, Trump later released a video statement in which he made no mention at all of the impeachment but appealed to his supporters to refrain from any further violence or disruption of Biden’s inauguration.

“Like all of you, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the calamity at the Capitol last week,” he said, his first condemnation of the attack. He appealed for unity “to move forward” and said, “Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. ... No true supporter of mine could ever disrespect law enforcement.”

Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in 2020 acquit. He is the first president to be impeached twice. None has been convicted by the Senate, but Republicans said Wednesday that could change in the rapidly shifting political environment as officeholders, donors, big business and others peel away from the defeated president.

Biden said in a statement after the vote that it was his hope the Senate leadership “will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation.”

The soonest Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell would start an impeachment trial is next Tuesday, the day before Trump is already set to leave the White House, McConnell’s office said. The legislation is also intended to prevent Trump from ever running again.

McConnell believes Trump committed impeachable offenses and considers the Democrats’ impeachment drive an opportunity to reduce the divisive, chaotic president’s hold on the GOP, a Republican strategist told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

McConnell told major donors over the weekend that he was through with Trump, said the strategist, who demanded anonymity to describe McConnell’s conversations.

In a note to colleagues Wednesday, McConnell said he had “not made a final decision on how I will vote.”

Unlike his first time, Trump faces this impeachment as a weakened leader, having lost his own reelection as well as the Senate Republican majority.

Even Trump ally Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, shifted his position and said Wednesday the president bears responsibility for the horrifying day at the Capitol.

In making a case for the “high crimes and misdemeanors” demanded in the Constitution, the four-page impeachment resolution approved Wednesday relies on Trump’s own incendiary rhetoric and the falsehoods he spread about Biden’s election victory, including at a rally near the White House on the day of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

A Capitol Police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot and killed a woman during the siege. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. The riot delayed the tally of Electoral College votes that was the last step in finalizing Biden’s victory.

Ten Republican lawmakers, including third-ranking House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, voted to impeach Trump, cleaving the Republican leadership, and the party itself.

Cheney, whose father is the former Republican vice president, said of Trump’s actions summoning the mob that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a President” of his office.

Trump was said to be livid with perceived disloyalty from McConnell and Cheney.

With the team around Trump hollowed out and his Twitter account silenced by the social media company, the president was deeply frustrated that he could not hit back, according to White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

From the White House, Trump leaned on Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to push Republican senators to resist, while chief of staff Mark Meadows called some of his former colleagues on Capitol Hill.

The president’s sturdy popularity with the GOP lawmakers’ constituents still had some sway, and most House Republicans voted not to impeach.

Security was exceptionally tight at the Capitol, with tall fences around the complex. Metal-detector screenings were required for lawmakers entering the House chamber, where a week earlier lawmakers huddled inside as police, guns drawn, barricaded the door from rioters.

“We are debating this historic measure at a crime scene,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

During the debate, some Republicans repeated the falsehoods spread by Trump about the election and argued that the president has been treated unfairly by Democrats from the day he took office.

Other Republicans argued the impeachment was a rushed sham and complained about a double standard applied to his supporters but not to the liberal left. Some simply appealed for the nation to move on.

Rep. Tom McClintock of California said, “Every movement has a lunatic fringe.”

Yet Democratic Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo. and others recounted the harrowing day as rioters pounded on the chamber door trying to break in. Some called it a “coup” attempt.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., contended that Trump was “capable of starting a civil war.”

Conviction and removal of Trump would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate, which will be evenly divided. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling for Trump to “go away as soon as possible.”

Fending off concerns that an impeachment trial would bog down his first days in office, Biden is encouraging senators to divide their time between taking taking up his priorities of confirming his nominees and approving COVID-19 relief while also conducting the trial.

The impeachment bill draws from Trump’s own false statements about his election defeat to Biden. Judges across the country, including some nominated by Trump, have repeatedly dismissed cases challenging the election results, and former Attorney General William Barr, a Trump ally, has said there was no sign of widespread fraud.

The House had first tried to persuade Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke their authority under the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Pence declined to do so, but the House passed the resolution anyway.

The impeachment bill also details Trump’s pressure on state officials in Georgia to “find” him more votes.

While some have questioned impeaching the president so close to the end of his term, there is precedent. In 1876, during the Ulysses Grant administration, War Secretary William Belknap was impeached by the House the day he resigned, and the Senate convened a trial months later. He was acquitted.

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Rep. Cloud issues statement on impeachment
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Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Victoria, issued the following statement Wednesday concerning the impeachment of the president:

Last week’s violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was abhorrent, and I condemn every unlawful action that occurred. Every single person who participated deserves to be prosecuted. The intimidating acts against Capitol Police, other law enforcement, and congressional members and staff, including bomb threats, have no place in a free and functioning republic. I grieve for our nation and the Capitol Police and others who lost their lives and are still recovering as a result of the riot.

Information regarding last week’s attack is still forthcoming. Investigations are only beginning and there is much we do not yet know. Capitol Police leadership and other law enforcement agencies owe Congress and the American people answers. However, we do know the FBI office in Virginia has made clear that they had communicated potential premeditated threats to D.C. and the Capitol ahead of the Jan. 6th rally.

It is fair to say that the expectations for what could be accomplished in terms of certifying the election on Jan. 6th were inflated beyond what was reasonable — especially concerning the constitutional authorities of the vice president in counting the electoral college vote. But the president was clear that day in saying ‘I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

One year ago, over my objection, Congress took what was considered a once-in-a-generation vote to impeach a president. That vote followed a hyper-politicized effort that had begun before he was even elected. Sadly, under current Democratic leadership, impeachment has become a politicized tool — part of the cancel culture movement of the left to silence dissent. With only one week until Inauguration Day, it is not in the best interest of the nation to move forward in this way. And with only one week since the tragic events of Jan. 6th, it is not being done with the rigorous examination, debate, and due process such an extraordinary measure mandates.

During this time I have thought a lot about Ronald Reagan’s remarks that “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

As a nation, we are in need of healing and restoration. We need a return to honest dialogue and debate over political issues. Trading 280 character barbs will not lead to better policy for the American people nor the understanding that leads to healthy communities and families. I am firmly committed to standing strong for the conservative constitutional principles that have guided this great American experiment in self-governance — and opposing the doctrines that would seek to undermine free people. How we go about those debates is important and says a lot about who we are as a people. And while we work toward that more perfect union, it will do us well to remember Benjamin Franklin’s admonishment from scripture to us that “unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” May God bless you and have mercy on our nation.

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DPS: Lavaca County deputy failed to yield in fatal December motorcycle crash

Off-duty Lavaca County Deputy Dakota Moreno’s failure to yield at an intersection was a contributing factor in a fatal December crash, investigators have determined.

About 5:54 p.m. that Sunday, Moreno was traveling on Farm-to-Market Road 444 and failed to yield to an SUV turning left onto the frontage road leading to the entrance ramp of U.S. 59 near Inez, said Sgt. Ruben San Miguel, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Driving his 2005 Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle, the 24-year-old collided into the front-right bumper of the 2000 Chevrolet Tahoe, San Miguel said. The deputy was flown by helicopter to a hospital in San Antonio, and died of his injuries two days later.

The initial crash report is finished, San Miguel said, but the final state-required paperwork for fatal crashes is still in progress.

Moreno worked for the Lavaca County Sheriff’s Office for almost three years as a jailer and then as a patrol deputy.

Lavaca County Sheriff Micah Harmon and Becky De Luna Perez, the county jail’s administrator, started a GoFundMe fundraiser to receive donations from the community for Moreno’s hospital and funeral expenses. At the close of the fundraiser, $8,260 was raised.