QUOTE OF THE DAY
“You’ve gotta learn to treat yourself, you know?”
—Richard Overton to the Austin American-Statesman. Overton, the country’s oldest World War II veteran, turns 111 on Thursday. He’ll celebrate with a block party at his East Austin home, and to commemorate the occasion city council passed a resolution to give his street the honorary name of Richard Overton Avenue. According to the Statesman, Overton’s learned to appreciate the little things, like his favorite foods, a good cigar (or six or seven), and the splash of whiskey he puts in his coffee each morning.
Both of Texas’ senators fully support President Donald Trump’s surprising and controversial decision to can FBI Director James Comey. This isn’t a huge surprise, even though some of their fellow Republicans in Congress slammed Trump’s actions (along with pretty much all of the Democrats). According to the Texas Tribune, Cornyn told reporters on Wednesday that Trump was “within his authority” to kick Comey to the curb, dismissing concerns that his firing would impact the credibility of the FBI’s probe into the 2016 elections and the Trump administration’s ties to Russia. “I’ve heard what I think is a phony narrative that he did this somehow to squelch the investigation into Russia, which I don’t believe there’s any evidence of,” Cornyn said, according to the Tribune. “But if you assume that, this strikes me as a lousy way to do it. All it does is heighten the attention given to the issue.” Cruz, meanwhile, said Comey’s ouster was justified because the embattled director was just not the right man for the job. “The Director of the FBI needs to be above reproach, with an unquestioned reputation for fairness and impartiality,” Cruz said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Mr. Comey had lost the confidence of both Republicans and Democrats, and, frankly, the American people. The next Director needs to be someone of the utmost integrity who can successfully restore the public’s confidence and lead the men and women of the FBI who selflessly serve and defend our great nation.” As members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, both Cornyn and Cruz will have a say in Comey’s replacement. The lone Lone Star Republican in D.C. to come out against Comey’s firing so far has been U.S. Representative Will Hurd, an ex-CIA guy who now represents a district spanning from San Antonio to El Paso. According to the Houston Chronicle, Hurd said the firing was “troubling, especially since the Justice Department Inspector General was conducting an independent investigation into Comey’s handling of the Clinton email case.” In a statement, Hurd also added: “Due to the ongoing criminal investigation into Russian interference in our elections, I’m concerned that Comey’s firing is going to create new concerns around the public trust in the Department of Justice.”
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Legislation aimed at decriminalizing marijuana may go up in smoke unless the Texas House takes the bill up for a vote before Thursday’s midnight deadline. Kind of like the story of Cinderella, but instead of turning back into a pumpkin or whatever as the clock strikes midnight, it just dies. Anyway, House Bill 81 would make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a civil offense instead of a criminal offense, meaning you could essentially carry small amounts of marijuana with around the same legal risk as a traffic violation. But, as the Austin American-Statesman notes, the Texas House slate is already pretty full, and those guys move about as fast as molasses, so the prospects of this particular bill don’t look too good at the moment. Still, the fact that the bill made it this far at all is reason to celebrate. “This is a big deal in a state that a few years ago wouldn’t even consider these (marijuana-related) bills in committee,” Representative Joe Moody of El Paso, one of the main sponsors of the bill, told the Statesman.
Whole Foods Massacre
Austin-based grocer chain Whole Foods just ousted half of its board of directors and named a new chief financial officer, according to the New York Times. The shakeup apparently is in response to concerns from shareholders as the company struggles through what the Times calls the “greatest crisis of confidence in its 37-year history.” The problems stem from declining sales and a troublemaking activist hedge fund, Jana Partners LLC, which has been an organically-grown thorn in the grocer’s side since the group publicly disclosed last month that it is Whole Foods’s second-largest shareholder. Jana has been pushing for changes at Whole Foods and suggested its own candidates for the board, and last month the group publicly pushed for Whole Foods to explore a sale. According to the Wall Street Journal, however, the new moves may not be enough to appease the multi-billion dollar hedge fund. But for now it’s the best Whole Foods can do. “We will now be watching carefully to see how they address the management issues at Whole Foods and to ensure that the board is seriously pursuing all avenues to maximizing shareholder value,” a Jana spokeperson told the Journal.
The Lone Star showdown could be coming to a close on Thursday night if the San Antonio Spurs beat the Houston Rockets in game six of the NBA playoffs. It’s been an even series, with both teams winning a pair of blowouts before Tuesday night’s memorable thriller, which the Spurs won largely thanks to a youthful performance by Manu Ginobili, who blocked Rockets star James Harden’s attempt at a potentially game-tying basket in the waning moments of overtime. But the Spurs may run into some trouble in Houston Thursday night. They’re already without injured veteran point guard Tony Parker for the rest of the playoffs, and they now could miss superstar Kawhi Leonard, who is listed as questionable after hurting his ankle Tuesday. The injury was serious enough to force Leonard to the bench for most of the fourth quarter and all of overtime in game five, but he insisted after the game that he’d be able to take the court Thursday. We’ll see. Meanwhile, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni gave his team the day off Wednesday to get their offensive groove back, and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner declared Thursday “Go Rockets Day,” allowing city employees to rep their Rockets gear at work.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
Representative Jonathan Stickland told a woman staffer to “smile for us” on the House floor San Antonio Current
The parents of the UT stabbing suspect say he was never the same after a car accident Austin American-Statesman
New census data shows Hispanic voter turnout in Texas in 2016 didn’t quite meet high expectations Texas Tribune
Rescuers saved a dolphin that was stranded in Aransas Bay Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Congressman Mike Conaway held a two-hour town hall meeting in Andrews on Wednesday night KWES