The State of Texas: September 11, 2015
Paxton finally lawyers up, Jade Helm was a boon for the state guard, and UTRGV celebrates it’s first hiccup-y week of classes.
Image of the Day
This following photo pretty well sums up everything about double-dog dares and siblings. And you better believe there’s just the most adorable local news segment about it, too.
— Sal Guerrero (@SalDGuerrero) September 10, 2015
Paxton’s Posse — Attorney General Ken Paxton finally has a new legal team, and boy, did he go all out! He hired a former Dallas County first assistant district attorney as well as another attorney who is “ranked as one of the top white-collar criminal defense lawyers in America,” writes the Dallas Morning News. That top defense lawyer, Dan Cogdell, has a pretty, um, interesting (revealing?) client list. “Cogdell has participated in almost 300 jury trials in 16 states, successfully defending clients linked to the Enron collapse and the Branch Davidian standoff with law enforcement near Waco, as well as former Houston City Council Member John Peavy Jr., whose indictment linked to a late 1990s bribery scandal ended with a hung jury and charges dropped,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. Sounds like Paxton’s taking these three felony charges pretty seriously. As the Statesman dryly noted in its introductory sentence, Paxton “complying with a court-ordered deadline” when he named his legal team. Recall that when Paxton pleaded not guilty last month, his lawyer inexplicably bowed out, leading some to wonder if Paxton’s frequent line-up changes were part of a stalling tactic. Paxton objects to that charge. “I anxiously await my day in court,” he wrote in a statement. So, too, does the Texas press.
Every Crisis an Opportunity — There’s a interesting look at Texas’s military forces post-Jade Helm from a very unexpected source. “Documents provided to Gawker following a Freedom of Information request show that as misinformation and distrust grew around Jade Helm, and as the FEMA camp invasion fears became fodder for ridicule outside of Texas, those fears proved to be a boon to the state’s own armed forces,” writes Gawker’s Sam Biddle. Although Governor Greg Abbott’s publicly promised that the state would keep a watchful eye on the federal government in April, the State Guard wasn’t filled in about what this “monitoring” would entail. But people sure were ready for it! The Texas State Guard’s “recruiters took advantage of the public relations boost. In a message dated April 30th—two days after Gov. Abbott’s statement—Texas State Guard recruiter David Childers described a ‘substantial increase in interest apparently due to the Jade Helm announcement.’” Reading the emails is pretty fascinating, especially stuff like this: “Master Chief Petty Officer Gary Parker described the Jade Helm paranoia as a ‘great opportunity’ for the State Guard.” Or this: “recruiter credited national Jade Helm fears with over forty potential new members in just one week.” TxSC officials put a lockdown on any member’s direct mention of Jade Helm after Abbott’s announcement and not all the potential new recruits eagerly accepted. One recruiter wrote, “I am getting a lot of calls … they want to join the TXSG, simply because they think they can carry weapons, and this Jade Helm, is not helping things one bit.”
School Daze — Students, faculty and staff at UTRGV celebrated the university’s very first week of class. So how did it go? The report card kinda reads as “good, but needs improvement.” Perhaps the Brownsville Herald best sums it up in “Glitches and Fixes: UTRGV overcomes opening hurdles.” Those glitches included a wonky parking permit system for which “students experienced temporary distress,” not to mention the 1,500 students who were “displaced from their core courses when the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board informed university officials two weeks before class started that 20 of its 120 core courses were not approved.” Not mentioned in the Herald‘s story, but included in one of the McAllen Monitor‘s items was, of course, the controversy over the mascot and the increased tuition rates. Those are all minor issues. Or at least, they’re far less concerning than the number of tenured professors from University of Texas-Pan American who are suing the school, “all argue the university didn’t have sufficient or valid reasons to deprive them of positions with the new university,” writes the Herald. That issue, will take some time to sort out. Still, student body president Alberto Adame had an uplifting message for the university’s inaugural State of the Student Body address. “We all knew as a student body and student leaders that we were going to go through a very rough path,” Adame said. “But we were ready to start working with the administration and our fellow students.”