D<em style="bold">USTER</em>: For House Speaker Joe Straus, who first failed to ensure bills closing gaps in public records law moved out of his ill-named Committee on Government Transparency and Operations, then rejected a Senate attempt to do what his chamber would not. The effort was only still alive because of the heroic efforts last week of Sen. Kirk Watson to attach them to another measure that was sent back to the House. But the senator's efforts were for naught; Straus denied the attempt. In a statement, Watson said: "I have worked and fought all session to protect the rights of Texans to know how their tax dollars are being spent and what government is doing in the name of the people. That right ought to be beyond debate. Unfortunately, it's not and some special interests that want to keep Texans in the dark are winning."

GUSHER: For Capt. Duellis Davis, whose 42 years of service as a reserve deputy with the Gregg County Sheriff's Office stand as an example for all of us about the importance of placing service above self. Capt. Davis was among more than two dozen law enforcement officers honored at the annual Giants of Law Enforcement banquet for their dedication to protecting and serving East Texas. We thank each of the honorees and the Longview Centurion Club, which has sponsored the event since 1992.

DUSTER: For the self-named Freedom Caucus, the small group of state representatives whose childish tantrums burned a damaging path through the legislative process. The group took it upon themselves to kill dozens of uncontroversial House bills with parliamentary maneuvers at a crucial deadline. The reason? They have failed to always get their way. We hope those who took part in this destructive effort soon face challengers who can offer their constituents more thoughtful — and grownup — representation.

GUSHER: For the apparent impact of the threat of city-imposed fines on the owner of a crumbling former care home in Longview. Less than a week after it was made, Houston-based Seven Landlords Joint Venture promised it would soon begin demolition of the eyesore on one of Longview's main thoroughfares, which was damaged in a 2015 tornado and subsequently hit by arson.

DUSTER: For whomever is behind recent thefts of bronze markers from military veterans' graves in Upshur County. It takes a special kind of depravity to steal anything from a grave, but defacing the final resting places of those who served our nation is truly beyond the pale. We hope the culprits are caught and fully prosecuted.

GUSHER: For Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd, who said he was asking the Texas Rangers and Upshur County Sheriff Larry Webb to investigate shenanigans that have been taking place at City Hall in East Mountain. We have been pleased by increasing attention to cleaning up that little town, and salute those who have been making it happen.

GUSHER: For a bipartisan effort to tighten oversight of absentee ballots cast at nursing homes in Texas. Though many spurious allegations of voter fraud have been made in recent years, absentee and mail ballots are where some actual fraud occurs. We hope efforts also are afoot to crack down on abuse of mail-in ballots such as that long occurring here in Longview.

— Readers are invited to nominate events as gushers or dusters. They may be emailed to lnjletters@news-journal.com or mailed to Letters, P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.

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