The State of Texas: May 2, 2014
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Would there be anything more awesome than owning Willie Nelson’s golf course? The answer is yes: Willie Nelson’s custom-made bus from the 1980s leg of his life tour is apparently, via Craigslist, up for sale in Tyler, Texas. The interior features the kind of beautiful, ornate wood paneling not appreciated since the day of ole Western saloons. Under the hood, there’s a ’92 Detroit diesel engine that gets seven mpg with the generator on. The Village Voice has a few details about the hospitable seller. But the point is, this road-tested dream machine could be yours for just $29,999. “Cash is the preferred method of payment. No trades or financing.”
Video of the Day
A Dallas nine-year-old’s sight is deteriorating. But rather than sit around and wait for the inevitable, the boy is checking off items on his visual “bucket list.” So far, thanks to the Dallas Museum of Art, he’s seen a Van Gogh, and he plans on viewing other wonders, IRL. The Eiffel Tower and the Northern Lights are on the list, as is an Apple store (kids these days). The budget for some of these big visual items is beyond the family of seven’s means, so his siblings are raising the money themselves. The family love itself is a sight to behold:
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Disclosure — It’s not something you hear every day, but a number of politicians are actually pushing for more disclosure when it comes to anonymous donations from political groups. “A top Texas House committee on Thursday re-examined a possible crackdown on anonymous donations from ‘dark money’ political groups, defying Gov. Rick Perry, who has already vetoed a plan that would have subjected them to stricter disclosure laws,” according to the Associated Press. “The [previous crackdown proposal from 2013] would have required some politically active not-for-profit groups whose nonprofit status exempts them from campaign finance laws to disclose donors who give more than $1,000. That would make such organizations more like traditional political action committees, which are required to disclose top donors.” What’s even more surprising than the push for transparency is that it isn’t partisan. (Significant support is coming from Republicans legislators who are typically more vocal about their satisfaction with Citizens United.) But there is some pushback by “powerful tea party groups and conservative grass-roots activists who say any such rules would violate free speech.” How disclosure violates free speech, but secrecy means freedom is anybody’s guess. Still, it is a matter of scale. Dark money contributions “have accounted for less than 2 percent of all political donations in Texas since 2010,” but advocates say “their frequency has grown fast in recent months — and should continue to spike if disclosure rules aren’t changed.”
Gangs’ All Here — The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it arrested more 638 suspected gang members during a month-long operation known as “Operation Southbound.” Of those 638 arrests, more than 110, or roughly twenty percent, happened in North Texas. “Thirty-five of those arrested during ICE’s month-long Project Southbound, which began in March, came from Fort Worth; another 24 were rounded up in Dallas, with another nine coming from Mesquite and six more from Carrollton. But they were from all over Dallas-Fort Worth, from Addison to Richardson. Forty others without known gang ties were also arrested on state warrants,” according to the Dallas Morning News. The “arrestees had at least 17 different gang affiliations, but most were members of the Sureños (or Sur 13), the Aryan Brotherhood, MS-13 or Tango Blast, which is very much in keeping with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s latest gang assessment, which ID’d the affiliations of some 100,000 (and growing) gang members statewide.”
Goin’ To The Dogs — The vet scandal in Fort Worth keeps getting stranger and stranger. It started Wednesday, when police raided a popular veterinarian’s clinic following allegations that he was keeping supposedly euthanized dogs alive to provide blood transfusions. The vet was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty charges but called the accusations a “bunch of hooey.” As the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Thursday, however, the vet “admitted to state investigators that he kept five dogs alive after their owners left them to be euthanized — including one that was caged for two to three years.” Investigators called the clinic’s conditions “deplorable,” describing it as a bit of a trash heap. And a laboratory—”Animal organs stored in jars throughout the clinic,” reads Star-Telegram‘s Raymond Carver-esque sentence. For any concerned animal lover out there, the vet’s license as been suspended “until a hearing in Austin determines whether it should be reinstated, officials with the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners said.”
Stand (Away From) Wendy — Changing mouthpieces midstream is never a good sign for a campaign. “Bo Delp, spokesman and former communications director for Sen. Wendy Davis’ campaign for governor, has resigned,” reports the San Antonio Express-News. The details are slim, apart from the fact that Delp said, “I am proud of the work I have done, and know that my successor will continue to build on my successes, and my mistakes, to do what is necessary to win in November.” Translated to English, this seems to indicated that Delp was forced out. After all, Davis has had a series of missteps since she announced her run for governor, reflected most glaringly in her current, abysmal poll numbers.