“She was really determined. She had to really work at it. This wasn’t a staircase for her.”

—Jessica Scherry, primary caretaker of the jaguars at the Abilene Zoo, to the Abilene Reporter-News. The zoo completed its investigation into how two-year-old Estrella the jaguar escaped her enclosure and attacked a spider monkey earlier this month. Apparently the 120-pound cat managed to climb a rock wall and squeeze through an eight-inch gap in the habitat’s caging and wall.




RIP School Finance
The Texas Legislature’s public school finance reform bill, House Bill 21, died on Wednesday after lawmakers failed to come to an agreement on what it should and shouldn’t include. It leaves behind a pretty big mess—public schools in Texas won’t receive any additional money over the next two years. Although HB 21 lived a short life, it was certainly eventful. The original bill, filed by Representative Dan Huberty, a Republican from Houston, started off as a $1.6 billion infusion into the public education system. That was cut down to just $530 million in the Senate, where a “school choice” program—a controversial redirection that would allow students to use public school funds to pay for tuition at private schools—was added on. Lawmakers couldn’t agree on whether the new “school choice” provisions were good or bad, so they opted to simply put the bill out of its misery instead. Huberty had said earlier on Wednesday that he would refuse to accept the changes made in the Senate to HB 21. “It’s the Legislature’s job… to equitably fund school finance in the state of Texas,” Huberty said, according to the Austin American-Statesman. “They stripped the bill of all the solid policy work. Our committee worked very hard, and in most cases we made compromises.” Blaming the Senate for the bill’s death, Huberty called for the Lege to fix the bill in a conference committee. But that won’t happen. “That deal is dead,” Senator Larry Taylor, a Republican from Friendswood and Chairman of the Texas Senate Education Committee, told the Texas Tribune on Wednesday. “There won’t be a conference committee.”


Wall Talk
Senator John Cornyn pulled no punches on Wednesday when he criticized President Donald Trump’s newly proposed budget allocation for a wall along the Mexico border. “What I’d like to see is a real plan rather than a piecemeal approach,” Cornyn said according to the Dallas Morning News, calling Trump’s proposal a flawed approach to border security because it focuses on construction of the wall without first having a more comprehensive plan in place. “I don’t see the benefit to doing this on a piecemeal basis, and it’s harder for Congress to know is this really going to work.” Trump’s proposed budget sets aside $1.6 billion for wall construction, which would hardly pay for much wall at all—just a 60-mile expansion along the Rio Grande and 14 miles of replacement fences in San Diego, according to the Morning News. Some Texas lawmakers also grilled Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly about the wall during a House hearing on the budget. Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Laredo, said that the wall would be too costly and ineffective. “You can put the most beautiful wall that you want to but they’re either going to fly in, drive through a bridge or come through a boat,” Cuellar said, according to the Morning News.

Need For Speed
The U.S. Census Bureau released estimates of population growth in 2016 on Thursday, and Texas made up half of the top ten—and four of the top five—fastest-growing cities with populations of 50,000 or more, according to the Associated Press. The suburbs came out on top, with Conroe (outside Houston; 7.8 percent population increase), Frisco (north of Dallas; 6.2 percent increase) and McKinney (also north of Dallas; 5.9 percent increase) taking spots one through three on the list. Austin suburb Georgetown rounded out the top five, with 5.5 percent increase, while San Antonio suburb New Braunfels came in at number nine. Austin’s Cedar Park managed to crack the top fifteen at number twelve on the list. Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and Austin all made the top ten in overall population increase, ranked sixth through ninth respectively, and our state tied with California for the most cities on the bureau’s list of the fifteen most populous cities, thanks to Houston (number four, with 2,303,482 people), San Antonio (seven; 1,492,510), Dallas (nine; 1,317,929) and Austin (eleven; 947,890).

Forget The Alamo?
San Antonio’s tourist attractions haven’t been getting much love lately from out-of-towners. Not long after a Chicago politician railed against the Riverwalk, Business Insider recently fired some shots at the Alamo, putting it atop a list of the “worst tourist traps in every state,” the San Antonio Express-News reported on Wednesday. “Remember the Alamo? More like, spend a day at the Alamo and you’ll remember to never go back,” Business Insider savagely writes. “The building’s remains are so small they consistently disappoint visitors. History buffs might get a kick out of it for an hour or so, but looking at a picture will suffice for most.” Bet they wouldn’t say that to Davy Crockett’s face. The publication disrespectfully puts our Alamo in the same disgraced class as Virginia’s “Foamhenge” (literally a Stonehenge replica made of foam), Nebraska’s “Carhenge” (a Stonehenge replica made of, uh, cars), a mound of nuclear waste in Missouri, and a Wisconsin cheese castle (which, to be honest, actually sounds pretty amazing).


Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.

A mistrial for a Fort Worth cop who shot and killed a mentally ill man holding nothing but a BBQ fork Fort Worth Star-Telegram

In case you were wondering, here’s the best dresser at the Texas Capitol Austin American-Statesman

An East Texas high school principal shot and killed himself in the school’s parking lot KDFM

A Portland man is suing an iron manufacturer for allegedly coating the city in black dust Corpus Christi Caller-Times

You can now shoot feral hogs from hot air balloons in Texas KXAN