QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job. My wife told me I’m supposed to do this.”
—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the Independent Journal Review. The Wichita Falls native and former Exxon CEO had no plans to do anything other than enjoy his impending retirement from the corporate world by spending time with his grandkids, until President Donald Trump unexpectedly offered him the position as the nation’s top diplomat. His wife apparently convinced him to take the job by shaking a finger in his face and telling him, “God’s not through with you.”
Governor Greg Abbott said on Tuesday that he wants a “broad-based law” that would allow the state to “pre-empt local regulations,” according to the Texas Tribune. Local control has been an issue for Abbott since assuming office, but this could very well be the first time he’s publicly pushed for actual, extensive statewide legislation that addresses the state control in a more general sense. “Economic freedom in this country rests not with the federal government, not with state government, not with local government,” Abbott said as the featured speaker at the Economic Freedom Summit in Corpus Christi, which was hosted by a conservative think tank, according to the Tribune. “If you really want to talk about local control, you reduce it to the lowest common denominator and that is the individual. We retain the right as individuals for our own local control, for each of us, to be able to chart our own course, chart our own destiny based upon our own DNA.” During his tenure as governor, Abbott has already targeted local control issues like city bans on fracking and plastic bags. One of the biggest issues within local governments has been so-called sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants, which Abbott has actively fought against, ultimately withholding state funds from Travis County for implementing a sanctuary policy. He’s also remained conspicuously silent on the Lege’s pending bathroom bill, which would block local ordinances that allow transgender people to use publicly-owned restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. Whatever the “broad-based law” Abbott has in mind would look like, we won’t see it introduced this legislative session—the deadline for filing bills has already passed.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn helped make Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s second day of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee as smooth as possible. Both senators greeted Gorsuch with a warm reception and continued to clown around a bit, joking about things like the Supreme Court’s basketball court (which is apparently known as “the highest court in the land,” pun shamelessly intended) and the potential SCOTUS justice’s odd last name (which is apparently frequently auto-corrected to “Grouch”), according to the Dallas Morning News. Both Texans have already expressed their support for Gorsuch, so it’s no surprise that they threw him some softballs on Tuesday. For example, Cornyn asked Gorsuch, “Does a good judge decide who should win, and then work backward to try to justify the outcome?” According to the Morning News, Gorsuch responded, with a smile: “That’s the easiest question of the day, Senator, thank you. No.” Cruz, meanwhile, giddily asked Gorsuch, “What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything?” To which Gorsuch simply replied, “forty-two,” according to the Washington Post, referring to the fictional book series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
The city of San Antonio has hired an outside law firm to look at the way San Antonio police detectives investigated a fatal shooting, according to the San Antonio Express-News. It’s been three years since Marquise Jones was shot and killed by police, but, as the San Antonio Current notes, “critical details in the case remain murky.” In particular, there are questions about the way the gun found near the scene of the shooting was handled by the police. Police said Jones pointed the gun at officer Robert Encina, but the weapon was never conclusively tied to Jones, and for years the city claimed the gun had never been tested for fingerprints. But last week, according to the Express-News, the city discovered that the gun actually had been tested for fingerprints, though not until January 2016. No fingerprints were found on the gun. The city still says Encina was justified in killing Jones, and a spokesperson told the Express-News that the city hired a law firm to conduct an external review only out of “an abundance of caution.” Meanwhile, a federal civil rights lawsuit filed against the city by Jones’s family will go to trial next week.
The latest chapter of the Alamo’s esteemed history was written this past weekend, when, on the monument’s hallowed grounds, police detained a man who was wearing nothing but his underwear while riding a stick horse and waving a rubber chicken. Matthew Silver, a performance artist and clown (his words), stripped down to his tighty-whities at the Alamo on Saturday before hopping on a stick horse and waving around the rubber chicken, yelling “I’m at the Alamo,” the San Antonio Express-News reported on Tuesday. He made it about five seconds before he was swarmed by Alamo rangers. The incident was captured on video. Silver told the Express-News he was “scared shitless,” but he avoided spending time in the slammer because he technically wasn’t naked. Apparently it’s legal to prance around the Alamo in your undies. But please don’t do it. Please. Even though Silver remains a free man, he is now banned from all federal property in Texas, according to the Express-News. The underwear stunt is a go-to move for Silver, who said he’s done it for years in New York. But, uh, Texas is not New York. Silver learned that the hard way.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
The New York Times‘s editorial board weighs in on Texas’s voting rights problem New York Times
$6.4 million in funds is unaccounted for in the city of La Feria, and no one can figure out where it went Valley Morning Star
Texas Wesleyan University won the NAIA men’s basketball championship Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The TSA has recovered more guns at Dallas airports so far this year than anywhere else in the nation WFAA
The Terminator will be the commencement speaker at the University of Houston this year KHOU