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Answer Line: Are there qualifications to be president?

Jan. 4, 2017 at 11:29 p.m.


QUESTION: What are the requirements for the presidency of the United States of America? Is any high school diploma, GED, associate of arts, bachelor's degree, master's, or any kind of office that needs to be held before applying to be the top officer of the United States of America?

ANSWER: The Constitution is the authority here, and it doesn't actually have a lot to say about what it takes to be president. It requires the president to be at least 35 years old and a natural born citizen who has lived in the United States for at least 14 years. (I won't get into the debate here about what constitutes a natural born citizen.)

Here's a little perspective on what might seem like few requirements, though: If we think about the time the Constitution was written, at least some of those terms you mentioned didn't exist. Adding more would take a constitutional amendment.

I'll add that even our first president, George Washington, had limited formal education. From what I've read, though, he worked to rectify that through his own efforts.

Perhaps the guys who wrote the Constitution just trusted future generations to take great care about the people selected for this job. I can't help but wonder how they would think we're doing.

Q: When the newspaper publishes "judgments" from the courts, usually on Monday, they are often followed by three letters in parenthesis starting with OC. What does this mean or stand for?

A: The three letters actually are "OCA." District Clerk Barbara Duncan told me the abbreviation is a reference to a monthly statistical report the state requires counties to send to the "Office of Court Administration." In other words, it has no bearing on the cases listed in the News-Journal every Monday.

Q: Who was George Richey, the man the road is named for?

A: Well, now Answer Line feels old. I heard your question and thought, "Oh, I answered that not too long ago." Turns out not too long ago is five years.

I only had a partial answer, though, because I wasn't able to find out exactly when George Richey Road received that name and I couldn't find the last piece of the puzzle to say without question that the road was named for the man I'm about to describe.

Here's what I found, with help from a number of sources: George Walter Richey was born in South Carolina on Sept. 16, 1863. He found his way to Gladewater, where he was a farmer who owned quite a bit of land — including land in what is now the George Richey Road area. (The road, by the way, runs from Gladewater all the way to Eastman Road in Longview now.)

His family also owned the Richey Five and Dime for a while, and he was a prominent Gladewater resident. He sold off the land and in about 1935 moved to Longview with his second wife to what was described to me as a "mansion" on South Green Street. He died on March 2, 1949, in Longview, and is buried in Rosedale Cemetery in Gladewater.

Q: If a person is being laid off from a job and is provided a severance package, or if that person is being offered a severance package to quit a job, is that person eligible for unemployment benefits?

A: This is a tangled web, and the terminology used and the specifics involved have great bearing on whether an employee in this situation is eligible for unemployment benefits.

"A lot depends on the wording of the separation agreement that the individual signs," said Debbie Pitts, a spokeswoman for the Texas Workforce Commission. "Therefore, the answer must be provided on a case-by-case basis. In general, a severance package for a person who is laid off does not necessarily preclude them from receiving unemployment benefits. However, under Texas law, they cannot receive benefits while receiving certain types of severance pay."

The word "quit," however, implies that the person voluntarily left a job, and, in that situation, would not be eligible for unemployment benefits.

For information on specific cases, contact the Texas Workforce Commission at (800) 939-6631 or bit.ly/2hRxfYf

— Answer Line appears Thursday and Saturday. Email questions to answerline@news-journal.com, leave a message at (903) 232-7208 or write to P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.

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