The State of Texas: Trump Threatens To “Destroy” A Texas State Senator
Plus: Austin is named the best place in the nation to live, the bill against sanctuary cities makes its way through the state senate, and Ted Cruz faces off against Bernie Sanders in a debate over healthcare.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It might be the highest priority for [the] lieutenant governor, I can tell you we had three homicides the night of the Super Bowl in the city of Houston, and we’d like to find it, but I don’t think we’re burning the midnight oil worrying about a jersey. It’s just not the biggest, greatest importance in the big scheme of things.”
—Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo to Austin radio station 104.9 The Horn on Tuesday morning, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Acevedo apparently doesn’t rank finding Tom Brady’s missing Super Bowl jersey at quite the same level of importance as Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. The jersey was stolen after the Super Bowl in Houston on Sunday, and Patrick assigned the Texas Rangers to the case the next day.
No Laughing Matter
An unnamed Texas state senator unexpectedly fell in President Donald Trump’s crosshairs on Tuesday, when the president threatened to “destroy his career.” Trump met with sheriffs from across the country, including Sheriff Harold Eavenson from Texas’s Rockwall County, who took the opportunity to air his concern about asset forfeiture, a law enforcement measure allowing agencies to confiscate money or property if there is probable cause that it was obtained through illegal means. “We’ve got a state senator in Texas that’s talking about introducing legislation to require conviction before we can receive that forfeiture money, and I told him that the cartel would build a monument to him in Mexico if he could get that legislation passed,” Eavenson told Trump. The president responded: “Who’s the state senator?” Eavenson offered little more than a shrug. “Want to give his name?” Trump said. “We’ll destroy his career.” You can watch the video here, courtesy of the Washington Post. It all seemed like a joke—the room collectively chuckled following Trump’s comment—but Texas lawmakers were not amused. According to the Dallas Morning News, seven Democrats in the state Senate signed a resolution to “encourage the president of the United States to refrain from threatening elected officials.” Meanwhile, the hunt to find this anonymous senator rages on. The Austin American-Statesman may have narrowed it down to Senator Bob Hall, who represents Rockwall County. In an email to the Statesman, Eavenson ruled out two likely suspects, Senators Don Huffines and Chuy Hinojosa, who both filed bills proposing to limit asset forfeiture, but he didn’t respond to the Statesman‘s questions about Hall. “My point was to emphasize how much sheriffs opposed this philosophy (bill) which if passed would hurt law enforcement and benefit the cartel,” he told the Statesman. “It was not meant in a personal manner. It just would not be good for law enforcement nor for our citizens.” Hall, meanwhile, went radio silent on the Statesman, but he did tell the Texas Tribune that he had “no idea” if he was the guy Eavenson was talking about, and said he thinks he has a “very good relationship” with the sheriff. The mystery deepens.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
The U.S. News & World Report named Austin the best place to live in its annual rankings, released on Tuesday. As the Austin American-Statesman notes, the capital city jumped up a spot after taking number two in last year’s report. Among the factors that landed Austin at the top of the list: massive population growth, a flourishing job market, an abundance of entertainment options, and excellent access to parks and nature. Strangely, there was no mention of Franklin Barbecue. Still, Austin Mayor Steve Adler was pretty happy with the rankings. “We celebrate what we’re doing right to be ranked first, recognizing it also highlights the accompanying affordability, equity, and mobility challenges that our city faces,” Adler said in a statement, according to the Statesman. “Inherent in that ranking is the strength to manage growth so we can preserve Austin’s special spirit.” If you’re an Austinite, you should be proud, and you should also feel free to bookmark the report on your phone so you can read it again and again to reassure yourself that you’ve made the right choice while you sit for hours on end in one of Austin’s notorious traffic gridlocks.
The bill that would make it easier for state lawmakers to punish local governments for implementing “sanctuary” policies for undocumented immigrants passed the state Senate on Tuesday, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The debate over the bill, known as Senate Bill 4, lasted for six hours in the Senate, and the final vote was split along party lines, 20-11. SB 4 should get the Senate’s final approval on Wednesday before heading to the House for a vote. The bill was the subject of a sixteen-hour hearing before the Senate Affairs Committee last week, during which several hundred people testified against the bill. Should SB 4 eventually become law, it would allow the state to withhold state funds from jurisdictions that implement policies discouraging police from working with federal immigration agencies, in the same vein as Governor Greg Abbott’s actions to cut off $1.5 million in state grant funds from Travis County after the sheriff there enacted what the governor says is a sanctuary policy in Travis County jails.
Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Bernie Sanders squared off over the future of Obamacare during a town hall debate on CNN Tuesday night. It wasn’t quite the Thrilla In Manila (Sanders is 75, and Cruz is a soup-lover, not a fighter) but both senators still managed to get some decent punches in. There were no big surprises in the match, but the pair’s vastly contrasting styles and ideologies made for a fairly watchable event. “We’re tired of the premiums going up,” Cruz said during the debate. “We’re tired of deductibles going up. Should Congress move swiftly to repeal Obamacare? Absolutely.” Sanders countered with a few jabs of his own. “If you are one of 20 million Americans who finally has received health insurance, forget about it—you’re gone,” Sanders said. “That means when you get sick, you ain’t gonna be able to go to the doctor. And when you end up in the hospital, you’ll be paying those bills for the rest of your life, or maybe you’ll go bankrupt.” Cruz closed out the final round with a flurry of, uh, “more cowbell” war cries (hard to explain, please just watch).
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
Thousands of oil and gas wells have been left unmonitored for years due to a shortage of inspectors Houston Chronicle
This San Antonio mom makes $1,600 a week for “non-sexual cuddling” San Antonio Express-News
A legendary Houston music venue is under social media fire after the owner perpetuated racist stereotypes in emails to a producer Houston Press
A San Antonio impersonator is threatening to sue the Central African Republic for using an unauthorized image of him dressed as Marilyn Monroe on a stamp Out In SA
Garbage trucks apparently don’t make great gifts Odessa American