“New towns are springing up so rapidly in Texas that even the people of the State seem at a loss to keep track of them. Hence a stranger, traveling by rail, asking a Texas fellow-passenger the name of places being passed, will find from the response that a generic term has been adopted, viz: ‘Damfino.’ ” — Letter to the Editor, Texas Siftings, December 17, 1881
When Glenn Beck moved his media operation to Dallas in 2012, Texas solidified its reputation as America’s one-stop shop for fevered conspiracy theories. Our state’s passion for believing that small groups of rich, powerful men rule the world (a belief often held by other rich, powerful men) reached a high-water mark in the days leading up to November 22, 1963, when paranoid rantings about communism, the United Nations, and the Catholic Church poisoned the air of Dallas.
Of all the issues that the Legislature tackled last year, few were as unlikely as pension reform. When it comes to entitlements, the people who benefit from the status quo are usually suspicious of change, and the pols who are supposed to keep our finances sound are usually too concerned with the here and now to worry about how much money the government is going to have to hand out years down the line.
The City of Austin Water Utility revealed that it is considering imposing a “drought fee” to help it make up for millions of dollars in lost revenue. The shortfall was caused, apparently, by customers’ heeding the utility’s demands to conserve water.
Here in margarita land, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Texan who hasn’t heard about the Great Lime Panic of 2014, when the price of the humble fruit reached stratospheric heights due to a shortage in Mexico (which supplies a mere 98 percent of our country’s supply) and we were left dry and not the least bit high. Realizing for the first time how much we take those tart green orbs for granted, we had to ask ourselves some tough questions: What will put the zip in our guacamole and the tang in our tacos?
In the summer of 2011, New Braunfels, the watery old town between Austin and San Antonio, was undergoing an invasion. Sweaty refugees, turned away from rivers elsewhere in Texas whose waters had been diminished by the worst one-year drought in history, found solace in the town’s spring-fed Comal River. They came in great numbers, and they came to tube.
On April 29 a media frenzy erupted over a botched execution in Oklahoma. The story is now familiar: a doctor administered a three-drug cocktail to convicted murderer Clayton Lockett.
It’s become a familiar scene, especially in Texas: an innocent man walks out of prison, where he’s met by an exuberant crowd of family, lawyers, and journalists. The members of his family hug him, cry, and laugh with relief. His lawyers stand before the gathered press and raise serious questions about how the state could have made such a terrible mistake to lock up an innocent man.
One morning in June of last year, Houston defense attorney Jack Carroll arrived preoccupied at Harris County’s 338th District Criminal Court. He had never appeared before the court’s presiding judge, Brock Thomas, and he needed to ask for a continuance. As he waited for his client to be brought in, he ignored the disheveled woman in jail orange waving frantically at him, trying to get his attention.
The woman was Ana Lilia Trujillo, who was on her way to becoming the most notorious accused murderer Houston had produced in years. She’d been arrested for killing her boyfriend, Alf Stefan Andersson, less than 24 hours earlier, and already it was nationwide news.
If she had stabbed Andersson with a steak knife, it would have been unremarkable, a commonplace if terrible act of domestic violence. But instead she had stabbed him with her five-and-a-half-inch stiletto heel. The legal sharks of Houston’s criminal defense corps, who like nothing better than the kind of attention the case was receiving, sent emissaries to tout their skills to Trujillo.