Texas Sailor Killed in USS Fitzgerald Crash Off the Coast of Japan: Your Roundup
Plus: Sid Miller gets slapped with a fine for improper campaign finance reporting, Texans weigh in on the bathroom bill and immigration laws, and the leaders of the most corrupt little town in Texas go to trial.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I think I’m prepared both mentally and physically for the office.”
—Recently elected San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg to the San Antonio Express-News. Nirenberg is a competitive body builder and weightlifter. At his peak, he could bench press 320 pounds, dead lift 600, and squat 450. He still works out about three times a week and regularly benches 225 pounds.
Disaster At Sea
A Texas sailor was found dead after the Navy’s USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine container ship off the coast of Japan early Saturday morning. Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, a 26-year-old Weslaco native, was among the seven sailors found dead after the 30,000-ton container vessel tore a massive gash under the destroyer’s waterline and flooded two crew compartments, the radio room and the auxiliary machine room, according to Reuters. Commander Ron Flanders, a spokesperson for the U.S. Naval Forces in Japan, told KRGV that the sailors had just minutes to escape. “The crew shined in this moment and kept the ship afloat,” Flanders said. “Unfortunately, two of the ship’s crew berthing spaces where the sailors were sleeping were flooded, and seven sailors were trapped inside and were lost at that time.” Multiple agencies are investigating the cause of the crash, including the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, Japan’s Coast Guard, and Japan’s Transport Safety Board, the Washington Post reports. According to Reuters, this was the deadliest disaster involving a U.S. Navy vessel since the USS Cole was bombed off the coast of Yemen in 2000, killing 17 sailors. Collisions like this are extremely rare. The last time a warship was hit by a larger vessel during peacetime was likely in 1964, when Australia’s HMAS Melbourne, an aircraft carrier, crashed into the destroyer HMAS Voyager off the coast of Australia, killing 82 members of the Voyager’s crew. The U.S. Navy will hold a memorial service for the seven people killed next week.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Sid Miller is in trouble again. The agriculture commissioner was fined $2,750 last week after two complaints were filed by the Texas Ethics Commission accusing him of improper accounting during his 2014 campaign, according to the Texas Tribune. Miller was slapped with $2,500 for violations in reporting political contributions and expenditures leading up to his May 2014 primary runoff election win, when he claimed in disclosures that he had about $19,300 in his campaign account. However, his bank account actually showed Miller had more than $53,300. The commission also fined Miller $250 for messing up his January 2013 campaign finance report. Miller’s campaign spokesman Todd Smith told the Tribune on Saturday that the investigation was “nothing more than a politically motivated witch hunt,” and said the commission fixated on “very minor technical issues.” Smith added, “We believe that this was a two-and-a-half-year waste of time—of taxpayer money and resources—to investigate what where politically motivated complaints. This is one additional example of why the Texas Ethics Commission should be renamed the Texas Compliance Commission.” Miller has previously misused campaign funds for a trip to a rodeo in Mississippi and on a trip to Oklahoma, where he received a pseudo-scientific treatment called the “Jesus Shot.” Miller repaid the state for those incidents.
Texans weighed in on the bathroom bill and immigration laws in a new poll from the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Tribune. According to the survey, most Texans don’t really care about a law restricting bathroom use for transgender people. Only 44 percent of respondents rated bathroom legislation as “important,” while 47 percent said it was “not important.” But the divide over the bill is sharp among Democrats and Republicans. The survey shows that 54 percent of Republican respondents said bathroom legislation is important, but just 35 percent of Democrats answered the same. A whopping 70 percent of tea party voters said bathroom legislation is important. Meanwhile, over in the immigration survey, 58 percent of respondents supported laws requiring local police to work with federal immigration authorities, and 53 percent supported giving local police the right to check immigration status. Support for the “show me your papers” provision was sharply divided along racial lines. 59 percent of Hispanic voters and 57 percent of black voters opposed it, while 64 percent of white voters gave their support.
The local leaders that made Crystal City “the most corrupt little town in America” are set to go to trial on Monday, more than a year after one hundred agents flooded the tiny South Texas city and rounded up the entire political leadership, save for one city councilman, on charges of corruption. Former city manager and city attorney James Jonas III and former mayor Ricardo Lopez go to trial this week before a federal judge in Del Rio on charges that include bribery, wire fraud and conspiracy, related to accusations that they accepted bribes and kickbacks from people hoping to do business in Crystal City, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Jonas alone faces 18 counts, with of the offenses carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Four others involved in the probe, including former City Councilmen Rogelio Mata, Roel Mata, and Gilbert Urrabazo, as well as eight-liner operator Ngoc Tri Nguyen, have already pleaded guilty to single counts of bribery. Crystal City’s corrupt leadership will likely be reunited in court. According to the Express-News, the councilmen are expected to testify against Jonas and Lopez.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
After a whopping sixteen fights during high school basketball games last season, the UIL talks tough Beaumont Enterprise
The Bell County Sheriff’s Department said it banned “negative comments” on its Facebook page Killeen Daily Herald
A bird was responsible for a massive power outage in Galveston County Houston Chronicle
A child in a San Antonio military family grows up without a father San Antonio Express-News
Lamar County commissioners voted to keep a confederate monument outside the courthouse The Paris News