The Public Dukes It Out Over Bathroom Bill Number Two: Your Texas Roundup
Plus: A survey spells trouble for Ted Cruz in Texas, Alex Jones testifies, and Austin and Dallas feel left out as Houston and San Antonio crack a prettiest cities list.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“What they’re interested in right now is how I’m going to fix their streets. That’s what they’re interested in—how I’m going to bring Donald Trump here to do a big hotel development.”
—Corpus Christi mayoral candidate Margareta Fratila to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. The Caller-Times found a number of items in Fratila’s impressive five-page resume that didn’t quite add up—Fratila claims, among other things, that there is a movie being made about an autobiography she is in the process of writing, and that she is personal friends with the Bushes. Fratila is a florist. In response to the Caller-Times, Fratila said questions about her resume were “nonsense” and that Corpus Christians aren’t interested in her resume. Corpus Christi’s last mayor resigned after 37 days on the job amid questions about his resume.
Duking It Out
A marathon public hearing on what’s being called an “alternative” bathroom bill that began late Wednesday night had the Texas House backed all the way up into the early morning hours on Thursday. According to the Austin American-Statesman, the House State Affairs Committee hearing on House Bill 2899 kicked off before midnight on Wednesday and finally ended about five hours later, at 4:39 a.m. on Thursday. Of the 72 people who testified before the committee, 66 opposed the bill. HB 2899, filed by Representative Ron Simmons of Carrollton, is a revised version of a bathroom bill similar to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s Senate Bill 6. Where SB6 limits transgender people’s ability to use the gender restroom they identify with, HB 2899 offers a broader roll back of non-discrimination rules in cities and school districts, some of which protect transgender bathroom rights. After staying out of the bathroom debate, Governor Greg Abbott finally took the plunge and gave his full support to a bathroom bill Wednesday, choosing HB 2899 over Patrick’s SB6. But his show of support was not shared by the majority of the crowd that testified Wednesday. According to the Statesman, the opposition—some of whom choked back tears as they testified—included trans rights activists worried HB 2899 would foster hate and discrimination, business leaders concerned the bill would have a detrimental impact on travel and tourism, and elected officials from Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and El Paso—which all have non-discrimination ordinances. Simmons defended his bill by framing the transgender bathroom debate as a safety issue, despite the fact that there is no legitimate statistical or anecdotal correlation to link non-discrimination laws with bathroom assaults. “It protects our citizens in an area they believe they need to be protected in,” Simmons told the committee, according to the Statesman. “This issue needs to be the same in Austin as it is in Abilene, the same in Houston as it is in Hutto.” The Committee closed the hearing without a vote on the bill.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
The second part of a Texas Lyceum poll, released Wednesday, reveals some trends in Texas that might seem troubling for Senator Ted Cruz and President Donald Trump. The survey shows Cruz is currently tied with his Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke. The poll says that O’Rourke, a Democratic congressman from El Paso who announced his 2018 Senate race last month, is currently locked in a dead-heat with Cruz, which is pretty shocking even when you consider that the Lyceum polls always tend to skew left. Each registered 30 percent support, although 37 percent of respondents said they were undecided. Additionally, the majority of respondents surveyed said they do not approve of the job Trump is doing so far in the White House. Trump garnered just a 42 percent approval rating, while 54 percent of respondents disapproved of the president’s performance.
Alex Jones, the controversial conspiracy theorist and host of Infowars, testified at his child custody trial in Travis County on Wednesday, insisting that his rants and raves are a reflection of his true self rather than acts of performance art, as his attorney had previously claimed. “I believe in the overall political program I am promoting of Americana and freedom,” Jones said on the stand according to the Austin American-Statesman, adding that anyone attempting to raise questions about his on-stage authenticity is “playing a trick on the public.” At stake is the custody of his three kids, ages nine, twelve, and fourteen. The attorney for his ex-wife has so far attempted to undermine Jones’s sanity and credibility as a father figure, using Jones’s erratic on-air and off-air behavior to paint him as unfit to be around his kids. Jones is in a tough spot at the moment—if he continues to say that his public persona is the true Alex Jones, it may ultimately cost him custody of his kids. If he denounces that persona as a fake public face, then he’ll risk losing his following. He’ll take the stand again on Thursday.
A recently released survey by Travel and Leisure lists Houston and San Antonio as among the prettiest cities in America. No, not architecture. People. According to the list, Houston is ranked number nine because it has a lot of malls and beautiful people love to shop. Also, as Travel and Leisure accurately notes, “Beyoncé is from Houston,” along with Patrick Swayze. San Antonio rounded out the list as the fifteenth most attractive city. Apparently Alamo City residents look pretty good in the lighting along the Riverwalk, but their personality shined brightest, as they earned a perfect score for being friendly. It’s great to see two Texas cities crack a list like this, but, uh, where does that leave Austin and Dallas? Austin certainly isn’t used to being cast as the ugly duckling, and Austinites are justifiably kinda salty about the snub. The Austin American-Statesman seemed particularly perturbed that its city was bested by Houston. “Beyoncé isn’t living there and Swayze, well, you won’t see him either,” the Statesman wrote in a rebuttal to the survey. “Perhaps… people just look better through a petrochemical haze. Or mosquito swarm.” So salty! And as the Dallas Morning News notes, the Big D likely found itself left off the list because it lays claim to the dubious distinction of being Travel and Leisure‘s eighth-rudest city in America. Maybe just take some time to work on yourself, Dallas.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
A 108-year-old San Antonio man reveals the key to a long life is women and vodka San Antonio Express-News
Andre Johnson signed a one-day contract to retire as a Houston Texan KHOU
Exxon has chosen South Texas as the future home for the world’s largest ethylene cracker plant Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Galveston’s “Hurricane Mayor” passed away Galveston Daily News
Dashcam footage of an officer-involved shooting that left a Navy vet dead contradicts police testimony Killeen Daily Herald